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How Conservation Blueprint is Saving the World, One Wildflower Seed at a Time

What do solar panels and honey bees have in common? At first glance, not much — though both are great for the environment. But Peter Berthelsen, a Nebraska wildlife conservationist and small business owner, sees an opportunity for an unexpected relationship. After all, he’s spent a 30-plus year career building all kinds of connections: between people and plants, wildflowers and water conservation, insects and songbirds — and solar energy and bees. As part of his new business, Conservation Blueprint, Berthelsen works with solar development companies to create habitats for honey bees and monarch butterflies at solar panel sites. Instead of planting grass that will need to be mowed or trucking in gravel, Berthelsen designs mixtures of native wildflower seeds to plant on the land, determining which plants can grow best in the shade of the solar panels while creating a pollinator paradise, brimming with nectar and pollen. “That’s the key to successful partnerships — bringing together multiple interests,” Berthelsen says. “At first you might not connect solar panels and pollinators, but it’s easy to combine those, providing solar panels and pollinator health benefits. In my opinion, it’s really a cool combination.” With habitat loss being the biggest threat to ever declining populations of pollinators (who are responsible for one out of every three bites of food you take) Berthelsen has dedicated his career to providing homes and forage for butterflies and bees. To accomplish this, he recently broke from the security of a steady gig to start his own business — and he’s never been happier. Falling Far from the Tree Growing up, Berthelsen was the bug kid. In third grade, his teacher brought an aquarium filled with monarch caterpillars to class; he watched as the insects transformed into chrysalises and erupted into bright orange butterflies before his class released them into the schoolyard. He was hooked. “There’s virtually nothing I can remember from the third grade, but I do remember that,” Berthelsen says.  “I think that experience had a formative impact.” Berthelsen decided in 10th grade he’d go to college to study wildlife management. Today he and his wife own a 65-acre ranch, where they cultivate pollinator habitats, harvest wildflower seeds, and provide educational tours to demonstrate sustainable farming practices — a far cry from his suburban upbringing. “I’m an oddity for sure,” he says. “My passion for conservation goes so far back, and it is such an intrinsic part of my makeup that there was never a conscious decision about what I would do with my life. I just always knew.” Want to Meet More Awesome Site Owners?Subscribe to the DreamHost Digest for inside scoops, expert tips, and exclusive deals.Sign Me Up Going Ice Fishing Berthelsen began his professional career in 1983 by working temp jobs. He bounced around between government organizations like the U.S. Forest Service, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department before landing a job with nonprofit organization Pheasants Forever. He ended up staying for 27 years, working with corporate, government, and private partners across the country to create and preserve habitats for pheasants. “I loved every minute there and thought I would never leave,” Berthelsen says. Years into his work with Pheasants Forever, Berthelsen spotted a business opportunity. “In their mission to develop wildlife habitats and work with private landowners, I saw overlap with pollinators,” he says. “There’s a very clean overlap between what you want for pheasants, quail, honey bees, monarch butterflies, and grassland songbirds. And those overlapping opportunities broaden to include sustainability and water quality, and soil health — pollinators are the glue that connects every single one of those interests.” He realized there might be a market for working with landowners to design custom habitats crafted to keep pollinators happy and healthy — with the mission of supporting the whole ecosystem. But even with an idea he suspected could both earn a living and make a real difference, Berthelsen put it on the backburner for years. “I am a very cautious person,” he says. “It took me a while to flip the switch.” In his resignation letter, Berthelsen equated his foray into entrepreneurship to going ice fishing: “It’s early in the season, and I’m not sure how thick the ice is.” He feared falling through the proverbial ice — but today, his only regret is not taking the plunge sooner. “I can’t wait to get to work every single day,” he says. “I get to interact with all kinds of different people who have an interest in doing things to benefit wildlife habitat and the environment. I feel like I get to make a difference in something that I am passionate about — how can you do better than that?” There’s a Seed for That When it comes to pollinators, not all habitats are created equal. This is a foundational philosophy behind the work of Conservation Blueprint: just because a plant is flowering doesn’t mean it can effectively support honey bees or monarch butterflies. “Different plants have different qualities,” Berthelsen explains, and each pollinator has unique needs. Monarch butterflies, for example, lay their eggs only on milkweed plants. The very hungry caterpillars chow down on the green leaves, but once they reach the adult stage, they need nectar to survive — which milkweed doesn’t supply. So if Berthelsen is working with a client who wants to target butterflies, he’ll craft a mix of seeds including milkweed and nectar plants, taking care to include native species and enough variety to keep flowers blooming throughout the growing season. Honey bees, on the other hand, thrive among plants brimming with pollen. Related: Growing an Herbal Remedy Empire, One Website at a Time “I’m excited about being able to help people with their objectives, whether they are a commercial beekeeper who wants their bees to be healthier or someone who cares about monarch butterflies,” Berthelsen says. “I design a seed mixture for them to meet their goals. It’s not as simple as, ‘Here are some flowers; the bees will love it.’ You have to be thoughtful to make sure you’re including the plant species that really do provide the maximum value.” He’s worked with clients from elementary schools and municipalities looking to plant a butterfly garden alongside a playground to farmers wanting to protect a water source. “A farmer might have a stream running through the area, and they want to plant a buffer between the farmland and the water to filter out the chemicals that are used in agriculture,” he says. “I have seed mixtures that will work here. There’s really a wide range of things where a public, private, or corporate entity could have a need to want to plant something that we can help them with.” Save the Pollinators It’s in everyone’s best interest to look out for pollinator habitats. “A pollinator is anything that gets pollen from the male part of the plant to the female part,” including bats, birds, beetles, along with bees and butterflies, Berthelsen explains. Some plants self-pollinate, but the majority, including 75 percent of the world’s crops, require help from pollinators. It’s no secret that bee populations have been in decline for years. Problems such as disease, pesticide exposure, and poor nutrition caused by a lack of foraging habitat make it a tough time to be a honey bee. A world without bees would strain to sustain the 7.2 billion-strong human population. Monarch butterflies are in trouble too. Without any concerted efforts to protect their populations, they have a 60 percent likelihood of extinction in the next 20 years. These butterflies are currently under evaluation for protection under the Endangered Species Act, with a decision expected in June. “It’s sad — we don’t want any species, especially the most iconic insect in the country, to become endangered,” Berthelsen says. Declining populations are dangerous for crop and plant health, “but we also don’t want the potential ramifications that could come to land management practices that would be an unintended consequence of an Endangered Species Act listing,” Berthelsen says. “It could impact agriculture — when you can spray, what herbicides you can use, roadside mowing. It has the potential to have a significant cascading set of impacts on how agricultural landscapes are managed.” Save the pollinators and benefit the crops, food supply, and farmers — and it all comes back to habitat. Beyond his business endeavors that support this cause, Berthelsen is engaged in nonprofit work dedicated to making it easier for landowners to build pollinator-friendly habitats. He’s the partnership director for the Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund, an organization that collects funding to provide free or reduced priced seed mixtures for qualifying 2-acre-plus projects on “private, public, and corporate land in the Midwest — a region of the country key to honey bee and monarch health,” Berthelsen says. Spreading the Word . . . with Awesome Web Hosting The world of social media marketing and website building was a mystery to Berthelsen when he first got started. “I’m just a biologist,” he says. He was able to connect with a web designer to build Conservation Blueprint’s website, and she got everything going for him with DreamHost. “She’s a very smart, capable person, and she was sold on DreamHost,” he says. “I love it; the design looks great.” His website greets potential clients with idyllic photos of fields of wildflowers and butterflies resting on blossoms — every one captured by Berthelsen, who’s been dabbling in photography since he took pictures for the high school newspaper. “I’m an amateur, but I’m an OK amateur. If you take enough photos, you’re going to get a couple here and there that are pretty good.” Related: Want to Build a Website in 2019? Here’s Your Game Plan Along with his beautiful photography, Berthelsen’s website hosts a series of short pollinator habitat tip videos that he produces and publishes once per month, discussing plant species, how to plant and maintain habitats, and more. “I don’t want to sound like a dinosaur, but how we communicate is completely different from when I started my career,” he says. “Having a website and communicating with people through two-minute video clips about something that you’re passionate about — people have instant access to you. A website where people are like, ‘Those are some good photos!’ gets somebody to give you one or two more clicks. That’s all part of how you make a difference today.” Shared Hosting That Powers Your PurposeWhether you’re saving the bees or selling t-shirts, we make sure your website is fast, secure and always up so your visitors trust you.Choose Your Plan Passion Project Biologists with a love for all things insects are often stereotyped as introverts who’d rather get lost in the woods than speak to a crowd. And this stereotype isn’t wrong, says Berthelsen — it just doesn’t apply to him. “I’m on multiple national pollinator committees. Through my roles there and with Conservation Blueprint and Bee and Butterfly Fund, I’m speaking somewhere in the country at least once a month.” He hosts national webinars about resource management; speaks to utility companies, state agencies, and departments of transportation; keynotes national beekeeping conferences; and considers himself lucky to have a voice and influence in work he’s passionate about. “It’s just another part of what makes my job so enjoyable, talking about these subjects with such a wide range of people.” He’s less than two years into Conservation Blueprint and is more than happy with its success. “I’m focused on building Conservation Blueprint into something that is impactful, makes a difference, and keeps food on the table — and all three of those things are happening.” Even better, Berthelsen has found a perfect blending of his passions: sustainable ranching, harvesting and growing prairie seeds, and teaching people from all walks about wildlife habitats. “I’ve been very fortunate to be able to thread the needle to where the things that I’m personally passionate about mesh very cleanly with my work, and to me, that’s the holy grail.” What You Can Do to Help? This year, give the environment an Earth Day surprise — take your own steps to support healthier pollinators. Even if you don’t own huge tracts of land, Berthelsen offers these tips: 1. Plant a Pollinator-friendly Garden Berthelsen has 65 acres of pollinator habitat on his property — but you don’t need 65 acres to make a difference. “You don’t even need one acre,” he says “If you build it, they will come. Gardens and parks and backyards can all collectively have a significant impact on pollinator health.” Remember, not all flowers are created equal. Instead of going for pansies or geraniums in your front yard or porch container garden, plant milkweed or bee-friendly sunflowers and lavender. Monarch butterfly habitats span much of North America, so chances are there’s some nearby that would appreciate your efforts. Look for species of milkweed, nectar, and pollen plants that grow natively in your area and plant your own backyard pollinator habitat. 2. Lobby Local Organizations Is your city building a new park? Are you on the PTA at your kid’s school? Is your workplace campus updating the landscaping? Suggest to the right people that room is made for pollinator-friendly flora. If you are the right person in these or similar scenarios, make restoring habitats a priority. 3. Support Nonprofits If you want to help out even more, Berthelsen suggests promoting opportunities and organizations that benefit pollinators. For example, happen to know someone in the Midwest who has two acres of land to manage? Let them know about the Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund’s free seed mixtures. Track down nonprofits and other groups, especially ones near you, that are working to restore pollinator habitats and find out how you can volunteer, contribute, or donate. The post How Conservation Blueprint is Saving the World, One Wildflower Seed at a Time appeared first on Welcome to the Official DreamHost Blog.

Building a More Inclusive Future in Tech

The past year has been filled with ugly headlines. Prominent men and powerful companies have been exposed for horrendous acts of harassment and assault. One of the worst things about all of these revelations is that for years, a culture of willful blindness and enablers allowed these predators to operate without consequences. Women were systematically victimized, marginalized, and maligned. These headlines are not an aberration. Our society has a terminal social disease, and we are at a crossroads. We can either aggressively fight this disease and create a healthier society, or we can die. There is no middle ground. One of the places this issue is most evident is in the tech industry. There are not enough women in tech, and the women who do work in tech have to fight too hard just to be safe, to be heard, and to be treated fairly. Making #MeToo a Launch Pad The #MeToo movement of yesterday’s headlines is a shocking reminder of just how widespread the issues of sexual harassment and sexual assault are in society and the workplace. I believe the best reaction to this movement is to tell women, “I believe you. I am ready to be the change we all want to see in the world.” It is not enough to say we agree there is a problem. I want to use the #MeToo movement as a launch pad for the tech workplace of the future. This involves taking five steps to make sure our workplace is the best place for women in tech. These are the five steps I am taking to build a better workplace as a starting place at DreamHost: Create a healthy workplace culture Shatter traditional workplace barriers for women Understand and reconcile any past failures at my workplace Bring more women into our tech space Create higher accountability Making a workplace that is welcoming to women makes us a stronger company, a more profitable company, and one that serves the needs of our customers better than ever before. Related: 30 Ways to Be an Ally for Women in Tech in 2019 Creating a Healthy Workplace Culture We spend one-third, or more, of our adult lives at work. The workplace must be a space that is not only safe for everyone but is also a place that makes everyone happy. At DreamHost, we have created a work culture that celebrates the joy of work. It is not a perfect workplace. But we support each other and are united in a set of common goals. We have also created a culture in which employees are able to live balanced, healthy lives. This means flexible work arrangements, providing employees with healthy food options, and encouraging everyone to be involved with their families and communities. Our culture promotes the virtues of hard work, empathy, and teamwork. We know that DreamHost only succeeds when our employees feel safe and have the freedom to achieve their dreams. It is not only a labor law, but it is beginning to reach further beyond into social culture at DreamHost; harassment or isolation of any kind is just not tolerated. Shattering Traditional Workplace Barriers The first step in creating a better work environment is to work daily towards shattering the glass ceiling and all the other barriers that have limited women’s advancement and participation in the tech industry. These workplace barriers include things such as lack of mentoring, lack of women in leadership, tolerance for sexual harassment, toxic work cultures, lack of flexible work schedules, and failure to actively recruit women into the industry. The key to having more women working in the tech sector is to do a better job of hiring women at every stage of the pipeline. As the industry gains more women in senior management positions, there will be a marked increase in women at every other level. Shattering these workplace barriers requires a deep commitment to the goal of bringing more women into tech, a firm belief that having more women (and people of difference) in tech is good for the business, and it requires actively creating a culture that is welcoming to women. We have ensured that pay is equal for women as to men with people in the same position leveling up experience, education, and ability. At DreamHost, we have set ourselves apart from the toxic culture so prevalent in tech companies. We have a deep philosophical and business belief: The more women and more diverse people we have working with us, the better our company can serve our customers. It is an ongoing movement, and we are ecstatic to embrace it into our culture. Understanding Past Failures Technology is a forward-looking industry. But when it comes to creating a welcoming environment for women in the workplace, we cannot ignore the failures of the past. Currently, at DreamHost, our workforce is only 23 percent female. Sadly, this percentage is higher than at a great many tech companies. But it is not high enough. We recognize that we have not done enough to actively recruit talented women at every level of our organization. This has been one of our failures. We are working hard to make sure that women at DreamHost don’t have to work twice as hard as men to receive half of the recognition. We are creating a vibrant, inclusive, and healthy workplace culture. Our team is not only proud of the quality of our work, but the way our work is accomplished. Here at DreamHost, we choose to actively break from elements leading to toxic tech culture and have expanded our recruiting outreach efforts to bring more women into the company. Related: Fixing Tech’s Gender Gap: 10 Questions with Author Therese Huston Bring More Women into Tech It is no secret that there are not enough women in tech. The reason for this difference is simple: tech has not been welcoming to women. DreamHost is working to change the entire industry by being a model of how to cultivate a positive workplace culture. However, culture alone is not enough. We are also actively recruiting women for positions at all levels. We are making sure that, instead of finding barriers to career advancement, women discover a network of mentors dedicated to helping them accomplish all of their goals. We know that as women become more visible at our company and throughout the industry, more young girls will have the role models and mentors they need to choose technology as a future career. This will not only help DreamHost or the tech industry as a whole in the future, but it will also help the entire world. Increased Accountability We like to focus on the positive at DreamHost. However, we also know we cannot gloss over the reality that no matter how great of a culture we work daily to build internally, the culture in our society can be toxic. Just like most companies, we have a policy in writing. DreamHost does not tolerate any type of discrimination or harassment. We have strict policies and procedures in place to protect our employees. We refuse to knowingly allow anyone at any level to bully, threaten, harass, or assault anyone else. But more than that, we are working to make it taboo in our culture by addressing unconscious bias. We are working on building a better future with technology. This is why we got into tech. But to make the kind of future we envision, we need many more talented women (or any marginalized groups) not to be afraid to work in tech. The work is too important and too exciting to allow a toxic culture to keep the best and brightest minds from being fully engaged. In my workplace, we may not be perfect, but we recognize and are committed to a better future; one that is inclusive of women and anyone of difference. If you are looking for a stimulating tech career in a positive environment where all differences are celebrated, come and join us. DreamHost is always looking to add new exceptional members to the team. The post Building a More Inclusive Future in Tech appeared first on Welcome to the Official DreamHost Blog.

Run a Small Business? Here are 8 Ways to Manage Your Stress

There are plenty of perks to owning your business — like being the boss, for one. You get to see your own plans and dreams come to life. And you can set the company track exactly as you see fit. But the downside to running a small business? All of the stress that comes with it. That’s why learning to manage stress is crucial for small biz owners. “Managing stress is important as a business owner because typically, we tend to be sole proprietors or have few employees,” says Amanda Pratt MSW, LCSW, CPLC, The Chronic Illness Therapist, Imagine Life Therapy. “This means that if we burn out, it can ultimately slow business progress or momentum and when we aren’t well, our businesses can’t be well. We also know that if we cope poorly with stress, we tend to have worse physical and mental health outcomes overall, so business owner or not, this is an area that I feel should be a top priority for all of us.” Reducing stress should always be at the top of your to-do list to keep you sane — and your company healthy, too. “That’s why it’s important not to feel guilty for stepping back or prioritizing some ‘me’ time,” says Poppy Greenwood, mental health advocate, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of female entrepreneur support platform Meyvnn. Luckily, there are plenty of small business stress management techniques that will help take away the tension and anxiety of your work. Give these tactics a try to manage your stress levels. 8 Ways to Handle Small Biz Stress 1. Recognize What’s Going Well “This is one of the first things I will point out to clients — it’s just as important to recognize what’s going well (if not more so) as it is to recognize where things aren’t going so well,” Pratt says. “Strategies that work best for us tend to play off our strengths. It’s also good to take inventory of areas of coping where we tend to have more engaged or active responses to stress (versus disengaged responses) and can inform our future attempts at other areas of stress management. We all have habits that come more naturally to us that are healthy, and I believe these are the strategies we should tap into first to address when creating a stress management plan.” Plus, when you consider what’s going right with your business, that instantly puts you in a positive mindset, which makes it much easier to combat stress. “Taking stock of things that have gone well helps you put into perspective the change you are affecting and the growth that you have achieved,” Greenwood says. “Feeling that you’re making progress, no matter how small, is one of the best ways to relax. It helps you to recognize you’re on a journey, and that your work towards whatever goal you have is pushing you forwards. “It also just makes you feel more organized,” Greenwood says. “Being able to identify where things are working or are not makes you feel like you have control over what is happening, in what can feel like the chaos of running a business.” Focusing on the good things about your business also keeps your mind in the present. “When you’re stressed, your brain tells you that you have to stay vigilant,” says Drema Dial, Ph.D., psychologist and life coach. “Your brain goes into hyperdrive with all the things that could be going wrong, will go wrong, might have already gone wrong, and how will you fix it! This is one way our brain uses to keep us locked into familiar routines. This is precisely why it’s imperative to break this cycle, which keeps us chained to unhealthy coping behaviors and keeps your stress level high.” 2. Identify Your Stressors “Identifying your stressors is vital to be able to tackle them,” Greenwood says. “Stress usually comes from a problem you haven’t yet started to solve or are having trouble solving. I think the best way to identify stressors is to take a step back. When you’re an entrepreneur, you’re constantly working and adjusting and testing to grow. Being in that kind of intense mindset all day long can really constrict a wider perspective you need to really pinpoint the areas that are causing you stress and how best to tackle them. Once you’ve identified what is causing you stress, you are much more able to work out how to deal with it. And even just identifying what is causing you stress can help alleviate some of it.” Remember that people respond to stress in their own unique way. “Self-awareness is key here because everyone is different,” says Mike McDonnell, international speaker, serial entrepreneur, global brand co-owner and podcaster. Once you know what stresses you out, you can delegate those tasks to others. If that’s not an option, knowing that a particular part of the job triggers anxiety can help you prepare to tackle it and just take a deep breath before going in. Over time, you can work on changing your response to the stressor. “We can do this through practicing mindfulness techniques to open our awareness to our body sensations, thoughts, and behaviors,” Pratt says. “We can also self-monitor through journaling or tracking mood states, symptoms and thought habits. And while it’s good to identify stressors, it’s even more important to identify our perceptions and responses to these stressors. Research shows us that it matters less what the stressor is and more how we respond to the stressor.” 3. Build a Solid Schedule “Structure is important because the more we plan, the less we have to actively anticipate what might happen,” Pratt says. “Planning helps us have a greater sense of self-efficacy or confidence in our ability to handle whatever might come up.” When you have a regular routine, you know what to expect at work, and that gives you a sense of peace and control, making it easier to keep stress at bay. If you know in advance that you have a difficult item to cross off your to-do list, tackle it first thing in the morning to avoid that sense of dread. Plus, you’ll feel accomplished and ready to conquer whatever else comes your way. Related: 17 Ways to Stay Focused When You’re Working from Home “Your body also likes a routine — it’s good for your circadian rhythm, which is effectively your internal body clock that can dictate things like when you feel tired or energized and can really impact your ability to focus,” Greenwood says. “For example, I know my energy and concentration dip around 3 p.m. So, in my routine around that time, I usually have a workout scheduled that gives me some time away to re-energize.” A common complaint from small business owners is that there are never enough hours in the day. “Usually when we delve into this issue, the problem is not a lack of time but a lack of a schedule,” Dial says. “A schedule allows a person to plan, to anticipate, and helps keep life organized. I recommend that all activities go onto a schedule, even play time!” 4. Prioritize Your Time There’s a reason “self-care” has become such a buzzword — we’ve come to realize just how crucial it is to carve out time for ourselves to keep a healthy mental state. Looking after yourself is key to keeping stress under control. “Prioritizing ‘me time’ is really important because it is so easy to get caught up in what you’re doing, you can really forget about yourself and who you are — separate from your business,” Greenwood says. “Taking time for yourself, or using it to go out with friends and family, is often what re-affirms your belief in what you’re doing. It’s really important to not lose yourself within your business, because that, in the worst case scenario, then can lead to your business itself losing its way.” As a small business owner, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of always being on the clock. Just as you schedule time for certain tasks you need to get done, you should schedule free time. “I teach clients to see their downtime as beneficial to creativity and efficiency because they tend to work better after taking a break,” Dial says. “Taking a break allows the brain to take in new information and to generate creativity.” 5. Learn to Say ‘No’ “When you’re starting out, you may not have the luxury of opportunities flying at you, so you say yes to everything,” McDonnell says. “But eventually you focus on your mission and ask yourself, ‘Will this help me get there?’ before deciding yes or no.” Of course, saying no can be really tough. But it’s important to remember your value and that you have limited time. “Instead of thinking you may offend the other person, it’s an opportunity to show them that when you decide to do something, you really value what you’re doing and you’re doing it on your terms,” Greenwood says. Otherwise, taking on more than you can handle is the fastest way to fall into a stress trap. “It’s important to learn that setting boundaries is necessary to safeguard small business owners’ well-being, their time, and to protect their business,” Dial says. “When approached with a request, the small business owner should ask themselves the following: ‘1. Is this something I want to do? 2. Do I have time to do it? 3. What is its importance level, and will it fit it into my schedule?’” Saying no is also key to setting boundaries. “When we don’t set boundaries, we end up feeling taken advantage of, burned out, stressed out, and end up as people pleasers, workaholics, isolated, or feeling misunderstood,” Pratt says. “Simply stated: Boundaries are one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health and wellness.” 6.Delegate or Outsource Tasks When you’re used to being the boss, it can be hard to let go and give up control. But as any small business owner knows, you can’t do it all. And if you’re trying to, then you’re probably not doing a good job at every single thing. That’s why learning how to delegate or outsource certain parts of the biz is a foundation for being successful. For example, do you struggle with Facebook but love working face-to-face with clients? Hiring a social media manager might free you up to do just that. Figure out how you want to spend your time — and what you’d rather avoid. Related: 10 Easy Social Media Tips for Your Hard-Working Small Business In the end, outsourcing allows you to grow your company. “It’s important early on to recognize where your weaknesses are, so that you can hand over those areas to other people who do them much better,” Greenwood says. “Doing this can also relieve so much stress, not having a task hang over you that you know you need to do but that you struggle with and find time-consuming.” 7. Choose Your Tools Wisely Work tools and software are meant to make your job easier — not harder. But if you’re spending more time learning how to use them than actually using them, it’s not doing you any favors. “It’s important to choose tools wisely, because they are meant to be the things that take away stress and help with tasks instead of adding to the problem,” Greenwood says. Opting for reliable small business apps, web management tools, and hosting services will always pay off in the end. Imagine if your business’ website went down? That’s why it’s worth using DreamHost hosting and WordPress to have one less thing to worry about. “Test out different software until you find the one that takes your stress away so you can benefit fully from it,” McDonnell says. Shared Hosting That Powers Your PurposeWe make sure your website is fast, secure and always up so your visitors trust you.Choose Your Plan 8. Unplug During Your Off-time “You’re not a robot,” Greenwood says. “You can’t work all the time and expect to maintain the same level of productivity and efficiency. You need to replenish your energy levels, and not just physically but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. When you’re working on your business, you want to be present and in the moment. That would be difficult if you’re unable to unplug in your off time and feel a conflict between your work life and your personal life.” As a small business owner, you probably feel tied to your phone, but you need time away from answering emails and checking in with customers. “Unplugging and doing a digital detox allows parts of your brain to rest,” Dial says. “Reading, watching TV, going for a walk, and talking with others are all great ways to engage a different part of your brain. Make sure you take time for activities you find enjoyable. It’s essential to combat stress by seeking out experiences that will help restore you.” It’s especially important to power down your devices and avoid blue light, which can keep you awake, at least an hour before bedtime. Plus, you won’t have to worry about an email keeping you up that night. You’ll sleep better so you can be rested and alert for the next day of tending to your business. Related: 5 Problems That Keep Small Biz Owners Awake at Night (and What We’re Doing to Fix Them) Breathe In and Out It’s no secret that running a small business is one of the most challenging (and stressful) things you’ll ever take on. But it’s also one of the most rewarding! So tell us: how do you manage your stress as a small-biz owner? What keeps you fired up as you “Rise and Grind?” Connect with us on Twitter and let us know your thoughts! The post Run a Small Business? Here are 8 Ways to Manage Your Stress appeared first on Welcome to the Official DreamHost Blog.

How to Make a Wedding Website with WordPress

These days, it seems like every wedding has its own site. It makes sense — if you have a website, guests can find all the information they need in one place. However, weddings are stressful enough without having to worry about creating a site. That’s where WordPress comes in. You can easily use the platform to create a gorgeous wedding website. It even enables you to add some key features such as wish registries, guestbooks, and more. The customization options are endless! In this article, we’ll discuss why you should use WordPress for your wedding site, and teach you how to make one in four steps (no wedding planner required). We have a lot of information to cover, so let’s dig in! Why You Should Use WordPress for Your Wedding Website WordPress isn’t the first platform that comes to mind when people think of a wedding website. However, the Content Management System (CMS) is perfect for more than just blogging. To give you an idea, right now WordPress powers over 30 percent of the web, so you know it’s doing something right. For wedding websites, you need a platform that’s easy to customize with the details of your special day. It also doesn’t hurt to have access to features that will take a load off your shoulders when it comes to planning. That includes keeping track of RSVPs, guest accommodations, gift registries, and more. You’ll also want a tool that makes responsive design easy. WordPress can easily handle these necessities. On top of that, the platform itself is free. So your upfront costs for setting up a website can be pretty cheap, particularly if you do it yourself. Related: How Much Does It Actually Cost to Set Up a WordPress Website? How to Make a Wedding Website With WordPress (In 4 Steps) Building a wedding site with WordPress may not require many steps, but some of them may take you a while. If your wedding is on the horizon, now would be a great moment to start working on its website! Step 1: Choose a Web Host and Install WordPress The first step of creating any website is to register a domain name and choose a web host. Registering a domain name is pretty simple, so we won’t take up much of your time with it. Likewise, choosing which name to use shouldn’t take long. If your name is Jack and you’re marrying Susan, give jackandsusanaregettinghitched.com a go. Choosing a web host, on the other hand, can get tricky. Since you’re probably looking to build a website on a budget, you’ll want to stick to shared plans. Whichever provider you choose should offer good performance and an excellent support system. It should also play nicely with WordPress. With that in mind, we’re going to throw our hat into the ring with our own WordPress shared hosting plans. The basic tier starts at just $2.59 per month, and it’s more than powerful enough for a wedding website. Once you sign up for a hosting plan, you’ll want to install WordPress. If you choose one of our plans, WordPress should be up and running already, so you can get started right away. Love at First SiteWedding planning just got simpler — build your website with WordPress and DreamHost.Get Started Step 2: Pick the Perfect WordPress Wedding Event Theme The foundation of any great WordPress site is the perfect theme. WordPress themes are essentially a template for the layout of your website, complete with everything you need to design a beautiful site — think fonts, menu structure, etc. As far as wedding websites go, you need a responsive WordPress theme that enables photographs to shine. After all, most wedding websites are filled to the brim with photos of the bride and groom. On top of that, any theme you choose should meet these three criteria: It gets constant updates. It has good ratings. The developers answer support queries. You’ll also want a theme that’s easy to customize. There are thousands of theme options to choose from, including free and premium themes, but we recommend you go with something that was built with weddings in mind. Take Jack & Rose, for example. This premium WordPress theme ($50) enables you to put photographs and videos front and center, which is perfect. It also makes excellent use of pastel colors and elegant design — which are perfect for a wedding website — and includes a countdown timer (we’ll let you guess to which date). Another great option would be the Moments premium theme ($59). This one isn’t just for weddings — it also works well for other types of events. The wedding templates this theme includes are gorgeous. They all feature a minimalist design that’s perfect if you want to put together a simple, understated wedding website. Keep in mind — these aren’t the only choices out there. A quick Google search for ‘wordpress wedding themes’ will reveal hundreds of options, including free wedding themes on the WordPress directory. Take your time to find the perfect one, and then install it on your site. Related: How This DreamHost Customer Grew a Photography Business with a Vibrant Website Step 3: Add Advanced Features to Your Website Using Plugins If you want to take your wedding website to the next level, you’ll want to use WordPress plugins. In this section, we’ll explore different features you might like to include, and introduce you to plugins you can use to implement them. Guestbook A digital contact form enables visitors to your website to send their best wishes, ask questions without blowing up your phone, and more. We recommend trying out the Gwolle Guestbook plugin. With this plugin, you can add a dedicated guest book section to any of your pages. Visitors won’t need to sign up to use it, and you get the chance to review comments before they go public. Wish Registry The best part of any wedding — aside from marrying the person you love, of course — is that you get lots of presents. These days, online shops have made it easier to set up wedding registries. With a wedding website of your own, you can dedicate a whole page just to the gift registry, so everyone knows what to buy for the happy couple. For this particular purpose, we recommend the WPGiftRegistry plugin. Using WPGiftRegistry, you can set up lists of all the items you want and include images, URLs, descriptions, and prices. Best of all, it works for almost any item you want, as long as you can find a URL to buy it. Google Maps Including a map on your wedding website is a smart move to make sure no bridesmaids and groomsmen get left behind. Just adding the location in plain text also works, but why settle when you can showcase a fancy map as well? There are plenty of online map services you can use to integrate maps on your website. However, we’re big fans of Google Maps, which means we’ll focus on plugins that work with it. First off, we recommend the WP Google Maps plugin, which enables you to ‘create’ multiple maps and add them anywhere on your site by pasting in a shortcode. If you’re more of a widgets person, you might prefer using the Google Maps Widget. This plugin enables you to add a map to your sidebar or footer. Regardless of which plugin you use, you’ll end up with a smart-looking Google map on your website. Countdown Timer One hallmark of wedding websites is a countdown timer that ticks the seconds away until you get to the altar. It’s easy to implement and adds a bit of fun to your website. There are plenty of plugins you can use to add countdown timers to WordPress. One of our favorites is Countdown Timer Ultimate, which enables you to add timers with fun designs. If you want something a little more classy, T(-) Countdown features some more toned-down styles, and it’s just as easy to use. In any case, you want to make sure your countdown timer is placed near the top of your home page. That way it’s easy to see, and everyone can keep track of the date. Photo Gallery Last but not least, we have a photo album. Every wedding website needs a place where you can show off all your pictures in a convenient gallery format. WordPress supports image galleries out of the box. However, if you want to have a little fun with yours, we recommend using a plugin such as Photo Gallery by 10web. You might also want to give Image Gallery by Robo a chance. This plugin also supports multiple gallery formats and enables you to add social media sharing options. As far as WordPress plugins go, photo galleries are one of the most popular subjects. That means you have dozens of options to choose from, so feel free to look around at some more if you want to! Step 4: Customize Your Wedding Website’s Pages Now comes the hard part, which is putting together all the pages you want your wedding website to include. You should now have all the tools you need to make that happen. To get you started, we’ll go over some of the most common pages wedding websites include, talk about their elements, and show you some examples. That way, you can narrow down what you want and get to work on it. Our Story No wedding website is complete without a little backstory on the couple. An Our Story page is the perfect place to share how you met, how long you’ve been together for, and other details about your relationship. Venue Earlier, we talked about how to add a map to your wedding website. A Venue or Location page is the perfect place to include that map, as well as the full address for the location, and what time guests should arrive. Accommodations A lot of people choose to get married in out-of-the-way spots. If you’re one of them, your guests will need someplace to stay. Usually, it’s your job to point them to the most convenient hotels. An Accommodations page is where you put all that information, including any special rates hotels are willing to give members of your wedding party. Guestbook We also showed you how to add a guestbook to your wedding website. Ideally, that guestbook should have its own page, so visitors can browse through the comments at their leisure. Gift Registry Something as fun as your wish list deserves its own little corner on your website. A Gift Registry page should include all the items you want and where to buy them. You can also enable guests to purchase items online from your site, using the plugin we showed you earlier. RSVP Form One of the most important parts of any wedding is the guest list. With an RSVP page, people can fill out a form to let you know if they’re going to attend and if they’re bringing a guest. Photo Gallery Photo galleries are so versatile, yours doesn’t need its own page — it can go anywhere you want! Some great places to include a photo gallery include your site’s home page, and your Our Story page. Blog If you want your site’s visitors to accompany you through your entire journey, you can provide updates on a blog. Luckily for you, WordPress is the best blogging platform around. You’ll have no problem writing and formatting posts using its editor. Tie The Knot If you want to create a wedding website on a budget, WordPress is a great choice. It’s is easy to pick up, and combined with the right theme and plugins, it makes building (and customizing!) a beautiful wedding website much simpler. Do you have any questions about how to make a website using WordPress for your wedding day? Follow us on Twitter and let’s talk! The post How to Make a Wedding Website with WordPress appeared first on Welcome to the Official DreamHost Blog.

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Start a Podcast With WordPress (2019)

Starting a new podcast presents a whole host of challenges. Not only do you have to battle any potential nerves that come with recording your voice for thousands of people to hear — but you’ll also have to set up a way to publish and share your new content. Fortunately, you can easily launch your new podcast with WordPress, the world’s most popular Content Management System. Several plugins can help you display your new show right on your website. That way, you can start expanding your brand to a new audience and even tap into an additional source of income. In this article, we’ll discuss what podcasts are and how you could benefit from starting one. Then we’ll provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to start a podcast with WordPress. Let’s jump in! An Introduction to Podcasts Podcasts are audio files that you can download or listen to on the internet. In some ways, they’re similar to radio shows, since they rely on the podcaster’s ability to engage the audience with sound, usually through speaking. Podcasts are often presented in a series of episodes, and there are several different styles and types. Some focus on telling true or imagined stories, while others offer commentary on specific subjects. It’s also common to bring guests onto a podcast, for interviews or panels. The Benefits of Starting Your Own Podcast Whether you’re looking to expand your existing brand or launch a podcast as a first-time content creator, there are many benefits to starting one. For some people, a podcast is a chance to dig deeper into subjects that interest them and can become a fulfilling hobby. Others find ways to turn their podcasts into a business through monetization. You can work with brands through advertising deals or even sell memberships and content. If you offer products or services, you could also use your podcast to promote sales. As far as branding goes, a podcast is an effective method for engaging with consumers. With a podcast, it’s easy to sit down and speak casually to your target audience, so you can really show off your brand’s personality and encourage trust and loyalty from your listeners. Of course, you’ll also have the chance to reach new audience members. While content such as blog posts or videos work for some people, others find audio preferable. People with long commutes, for example, may not have time to read a blog. However, they can listen to a podcast while they drive to and from work. How to Start a Podcast With WordPress (In 9 Steps) With WordPress, you can create a website that will both promote your podcast and enable your audience to find new episodes. Plus, WordPress integrates with the media hosting service Blubrry, which makes maintaining your podcast easy. In the following nine steps, we’ll show you how to get started! Step 1: Create a Plan for Your Podcast’s Content Without careful planning, you could end up in a sticky situation with your podcast. You don’t want to publish your first couple of episodes, only to realize that you’re out of ideas for content. Likewise, if you want to successfully monetize your podcast, having a strategy is key. To begin with, it’s necessary to find a specific topic or niche your podcast will fit into. This can make it easier to grow your audience and keep them engaged by providing content they’ll find relevant and interesting. The bigger your audience is, the easier it will be to get advertising deals. For example, the podcast Welcome to Night Vale shares eccentric fictional stories from an imagined town called Night Vale in the form of realistic radio broadcasts. This entertaining show attracts listeners who are interested in comedy and storytelling. It’s also helpful for listeners if you have a regular posting schedule, so they know when to expect new content from you. By posting consistently, you’ll have a better chance of maintaining and growing your pool of listeners. What’s more, it’s essential to take time to gather your resources. While it’s tempting to jump right into your first episode and worry about the rest later, that could cause problems later on. You don’t want to be in the middle of recording and realize you don’t have the sources or material you need for the episode. Finally, it’s especially vital to plan ahead when you’re working with others. For example, before you can do an interview, you’ll need to ask the interviewee’s permission and coordinate schedules. You may want to outline your first five episodes before going any further and make note of what you’ll need to have prepared before each recording. Step 2: Set Up Your Podcast Website While you could technically set up a podcast without a website, it’s not recommended. A site makes it easier to promote your podcast, share information about it, and build a community of listeners. You can also direct your audience to other relevant locations for your brand, such as your blog or specific product pages. To set up a new website, you’ll need a domain name and a hosting provider. You can quickly register your domain name with us at DreamHost. Just check the name you want in our Domains Search Tool to ensure that it’s not taken, then purchase and register it. As for web hosting, a managed option such as our DreamPress plan is ideal for self-hosted WordPress sites. With a managed WordPress plan, your hosting provider will take care of maintenance tasks such as backups and updates for you, so you can focus on creating your podcast and communicating with your audience. A managed WordPress hosting plan should also make it easy to install WordPress. At DreamHost, WordPress comes pre-installed on our DreamPress plans — right out of the box. If you opt for a different plan, you can easily add WordPress through our one-click installer. Just log in to your DreamHost account, navigate to WordPress in the sidebar, and select One-Click Installs. On the resulting page, select the WordPress icon from the list, and the installation options will open in a pop-up window. Click Install it for me now!, and you’ll soon have your WordPress site up and running. Then, all that’s left to do is customize your site with a theme, plugins, and any other features or content you want to add. Once your site is ready to go, you can start getting it prepared for your podcast. Get More with DreamPressDreamPress Plus and Pro users get access to Jetpack Professional (and 200+ premium themes) at no added cost!Check Out Plans Step 3: Host Your Podcast With a Media Hosting Service While your website is critical to the success of your podcast, it won’t do a very good job of hosting your audio files. This means you’ll want to look into a podcast hosting service that can store your files for you. As we mentioned before, Blubrry is an excellent option. Its plans start at $12 per month for 100MB of storage. You’ll receive an additional 100MB every month (for example, you’ll get a total of 200MB during your second month with Blubrry, 300MB during your third month, and so on). This is enough storage for a weekly podcast of about 20 minutes per episode. Additionally, you’ll be able to add a media player to your website so your audience can listen to episodes directly from your site. The player is ‘white-labeled’, so you don’t have to worry about third-party branding on your site, and you can customize the player to blend with your site’s design. Related: How to Start a WordPress Blog: A Comprehensive Guide Step 4: Acquire Your Podcasting Equipment With everything ready to store your podcast’s files, it’s time to actually create your content. First, you’ll need the right tools to do this. Creating a podcast involves both recording and editing audio, so you’ll want equipment that can handle both of these tasks. Using the right equipment ensures high-quality audio for your show, which in turn impacts how listeners perceive your podcast. If there’s too much background noise or it’s hard to understand what you’re saying, you’ll have a difficult time maintaining a following. To get the ball rolling, you’ll want a microphone that can capture your audio. If you’re brand-new to podcasting and want something easy to use, the SamsonQ2U is worth considering. You could also look into the Rode Podcaster, a mic designed specifically for podcasting. You’ll also need editing software. Podcast episodes can be fairly long, and you’re not expected to record each one in a single take. Having the ability to edit your audio will prove helpful since you can cut out any unexpected sounds (such as sneezes or coughs), take breaks, or fix mistakes. Garageband is free for Mac users and gets the job done with basic editing features. It’s a great tool for beginners because it’s easy to use and doesn’t require a financial investment. If you don’t use a Mac, or you want something with more advanced features, you can try Audacity. The downside is that it has a fairly steep learning curve and can be tricky to use when you’re first starting out. If you’re willing to pay for your editing software, Adobe Audition is another option used by many podcasters. It’s capable of producing professional-quality audio. However, at almost $21 per month, you might want to consider using a free platform until your podcast starts making money. Step 5: Prep, Record, and Edit Your First Podcast You’re probably itching to record your first episode by now. Before you do so, however, you’ll want to consider putting in some prep work. Creating an outline or even a full script for your podcast episodes can help you save time, by ensuring that you have enough content for the entire episode. If you’re going to be doing an interview or a panel on your podcast, preparing questions for your guests keeps you focused and is courteous to the people you’re working with. You don’t want to waste others’ time because you don’t know what to talk about at your own interview, after all. Once your preparations are complete, you can finally sit down to record. To ensure good sound quality, record in a small room and maintain a consistent distance from your microphone. It’s also a good idea to wear headphones, such as the ATH-M50x by Audio Technica, to prevent audio feedback. During the editing phase, you can also add interest to your podcast with background or intro music. For example, you can upload music clips to your editing software and combine them with your recording. Just make sure to avoid copyright infringement by using royalty-free clips. Step 6: Publish Your Podcast With WordPress The Blubrry PowerPress plugin makes publishing your podcast on your website simple. By installing and activating PowerPress, you’ll also be able to upload your podcast to Blubrry’s hosting platform via your WordPress site. Once you’ve activated the podcast plugin, simply configure its settings by filling in the required fields. You can also link the plugin to your Blubrry Media Hosting Account, which will streamline the rest of the process. To publish your first podcast episode, navigate to Posts in the WordPress dashboard and select Add New. Enter your episode’s title and any notes on the episode into the editor and then scroll down to the section labeled Podcast Episode. Here, you can drag and drop to upload your podcast to your site. Simply click on the folder icon next to the Media URL field, and select the podcast file from your computer. Once the file has finished uploading, scroll back up and click on Publish to add the episode to your site. You’ll still need to add the file to your Blubrry hosting account, which you can easily do within WordPress by navigating to PowerPress > Migrate Media. Click Select Media to Migrate, and choose the correct audio file from the list. Then click on the Request Migration button. Depending on the size of your file, it could take some time for your episode to migrate. Therefore, you’ll want to check back in on the migration page every so often. Once “Step 2” is shown as complete, click on Update Your Episodes to finish the process. Related: The WordPress Blogger Checklist: 10 Things to Do Before Hitting Publish Step 7: Submit Your Episodes to Podcast Directories While featuring your podcast on your WordPress website is important, it’s also beneficial to tap into the pre-existing audiences on a podcast player, such as iTunes or Stitcher. These directories are where many listeners look for new popular podcasts and can help you expand your audience and gain more subscribers. To submit a podcast to iTunes, you’ll need an Apple ID. Log in or create one, then navigate to the Podcasts section and click on the Submit a Podcast link. You’ll be asked to supply an RSS feed, which you can find via PowerPress. In the plugin’s settings, navigate to the Destinations tab, and select the Submit to iTunes link. You’ll be directed to a page on Blubrry’s site, which will display your RSS feed’s URL. Copy and paste that into iTunes. After that, you can review your podcast information and then click on Submit. It can take up to ten days for your podcast to be approved, although most are up in the Apple Podcasts directory within three days. If you want to submit your podcast to Stitcher, you’ll need to sign up to be a partner. Once you’ve submitted your contact information, Stitcher will contact you and help you create a partner account, which you can use to submit episodes. Apart from those platforms, you might also want to submit your podcast to SoundCloud, Spotify, or Google Podcasts. The more platforms you use, the wider reach you’ll have. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that this will also require more maintenance since you’ll have to update each platform with new episodes and other updates. Step 8: Promote Your Podcast to Gain Followers Now that your podcast is up and running, you’re ready to start promoting it to gain subscribers and grow your audience. While you’ll hopefully gain some followers organically through podcast directories, it’s difficult for a show to take off without a marketing strategy. Posting about your podcast on social media can make it easier to spark some interest. You might also try running a giveaway or special promotions for listeners, to encourage them to tune in regularly. Having guests on your show is especially helpful, as it lets you tap into pre-existing audiences. Finally, consider providing your podcast content in other formats. Some podcasters film videos while recording their podcasts, and post those videos on their websites, YouTube, or other social media platforms. Transcripts can easily be turned into a blog post, which makes your podcast’s content more accessible. Step 9: Monetize Your Podcast Once your podcast is off the ground and has started to gain traction, you can start thinking about monetizing it. There are several options when it comes to generating revenue from your podcast, and you can implement any or all of them to turn your show into a business. Ads are a very popular way of monetizing podcasts. You can reach out to sponsors and negotiate deals on your own or you can become part of an advertising network such as Blubrry’s. If your audience seems to be invested in your podcast, you can consider creating bonus content and charging for access to it. If people really enjoy your show, they may be willing to pay for more of it. You can also charge membership fees through platforms such as Patreon. Additionally, if your podcast is part of a larger brand, it can give you space to promote other content, products, and services. Just remember that the podcast itself shouldn’t become an ad, and should provide valuable entertainment and/or information (rather than solely promoting your business). Ready to Go On Air? Starting a new podcast can be both exciting and stressful. Fortunately, using WordPress to publish your podcast can help smooth out the process of launching your new show. With the help of a few plugins and the right equipment, you’ll be ready to take your brand to new heights. Do you have any questions about starting a new podcast with WordPress? Connect with us on Twitter and let us know your thoughts! The post Step-by-Step Guide: How to Start a Podcast With WordPress (2019) appeared first on Welcome to the Official DreamHost Blog.

6 Compelling Templates You Can Use to Create Your Website

Using a template for your website is a smart way to create a framework without having to build everything from scratch. If you’re a WordPress user, you’ll notice that templates serve nearly an identical function to themes. They give you a starting point, which you can then customize. The best templates are usually tailored to a specific purpose and should be easy to edit so they match your preferences perfectly. Fortunately, our Remixer website builder contains a number of compelling and functional templates, also known as Remixer themes. Each can be easily configured using a simple click-to-edit interface. In this guide, we’ll look at the different types of websites you can create in Remixer and show you the templates that will get you there. 1. Small Business As a small business owner, you’ll want a site that clearly highlights your products or services and provides all the information your potential customers are likely to need. Fortunately, the Small Business template is a great place to start. This template is ideal for small businesses that want a simple but attention-grabbing landing page. By default, it contains sections where you can highlight featured products with both an image and supporting details. The Small Business template is also equipped with an animated slider, where you can add customer reviews and testimonials. This is a perfect way to create a vivid and engaging page without making it feel cluttered. Toward the bottom of the page, you’ll find a menu and contact details. Here you can add practical information for your potential and existing clients. Naturally, the menu won’t apply to all businesses, but you’re free to use the Remixer tools to replace it with a section that is more appropriate to your requirements. Related: The 30 Best Apps for Small Businesses in 2019 Also Recommended: Bistro If your business is based around food (or you want a sleek and simple site for a restaurant or food truck), you might also want to consider the Bistro template. This option is focused on presenting information in a straightforward manner, featuring product images and a menu front and center. In a nutshell, Bistro is a no-frills option that still looks very appealing. With this template, you can easily create a functional and professional site in minutes by adding your own menu and images. 2. Professional Creating an effective website about yourself relies on solid storytelling. You have to show off your skills, experience, and accomplishments in a way that’s engaging. This isn’t always easy, but using the Professional template will help you along the way. This template is designed to highlight a professional individual and their accomplishments. Whether you’re a photographer, fashion designer, or another type of creative professional, this template can be used to show off your skills in the best possible light. There are places to add testimonials, along with plenty of images. The included gallery feature enables users to click on photos to see their full-size versions. Naturally, you can customize the gallery to suit your requirements. Plus, by adding your own story to this template, you can quickly display your skill set to potential collaborators and clients. Related: How This DreamHost Customer Grew a Photography Business with a Vibrant Website Also Recommended: Presenter If the focus of your site is not yourself but a single product, the Presenter template has your back. This is a very clean and simple template, which can be used to highlight an individual product or service effectively. The first thing you’ll see in this template is a prominent product image along with supporting information and a clear Call to Action (CTA). Scrolling down, you’ll find sections where you can discuss the benefits and features of the product. All you have to do is to replace the dummy content with your own copy, and you’ll have a robust product landing page in no time. 3. Event If you’re planning a gathering that requires complex logistics and information that needs to be made available to a lot of people, the Event template is a great fit. The default template uses a wedding as the event in question, but you can use it for pretty much any occasion you need an online portal for. This template includes sections covering the event’s location and time, and even offers an image gallery. You could also use this template for a wide range of events — from a birthday or graduation to a corporate event or conference. The great thing about this template is that Remixer enables you to make the finished site all your own, just as much as the event itself. Also Recommended: Capture The Capture template is a very basic but stylish alternative to Event. If your occasion doesn’t require as much complexity, this template might be for you. Perhaps it’s a concert or business event, for example, and you only need to provide simple information. The dark theme and pre-included photo gallery make Capture stand out without being flashy. If you scroll down, you’ll also see the contact form, which you can use to let visitors ask questions or even sign up for the event. 4. Creative Sometimes you want your work to speak for itself. As a creative professional, your primary focus is on the work you create, and you’ll likely want your site to reflect that. If that’s the case, the elegant Creative template is for you. This is a minimalist template with very little text content, which instead focuses on white space that lets the images take the spotlight. You can use this feature to highlight your portfolio, without cluttering the site with unnecessary content. Naturally, you can tailor your portfolio to match the kind of work you want to feature. For example, you can add more text to describe each piece or take the text out entirely to give your work even more space to shine. Using the Creative template is one of the fastest and simplest ways to highlight your artwork or designs on your website. The customizability of Remixer also enables you to easily configure the base template to create something unique with minimal time and effort. Also Recommended: The Traveler If you want to share an experience or story, The Traveler lets you do that with a captivating design. It’s a more content-heavy option and enables you to construct a story using your art. Images, colors, and text are used together to let you create something attention-grabbing and unique. You can choose from a handful of color schemes, and customize everything to construct a design that is best suited to telling the story of your work. Be Awesome on the InternetJoin our monthly newsletter for tips and tricks to build your dream website!Sign Me Up 5. Storyteller Storyteller is a breezy and versatile template that lets you work with several different types of content. While not strictly a blog, it uses a similar style to help text, video, featured images, and photo galleries all come together. As the name implies, this template is a solid choice for those who want to tell a story with their content. The way different elements are contrasted and complement each other opens up many creative design options. Also Recommended: Documentation If you want the most scaled-down, no-frills approach to website design, Documentation may be what you’re looking for. This is a template created especially for text content with minimal styling. It’s perfect if you want to include large amounts of text without any flashy formatting or content. Plus, it’s highly functional and very easy to maintain. 6. Startup If you’re a startup business looking to promote a unique idea, we recommend the aptly-named Startup template. The goal of this template is to present and explain your business using a clean design. Images and text get plenty of space to stand out, which makes it easy to highlight the benefits of your business. As with all landing pages, this one is built around a singular focus that you want to impart to the visitor. In this case, that focus is your idea. The sections that combine images and text enable you to tell your business’ story, explain what you do, and illustrate the benefits of your work. Also Recommended: Sound Perhaps your startup is a little more personal than a company that designs robots. Maybe it’s just you, your band, and your instruments. In that case, the Sound template is ideal for showcasing your work. This design includes a tour schedule, a place to introduce the band members, and a video section where you can show off your stuff. Need a Beautiful Website?Design it yourself with Remixer, our easy-to-use website builder. No coding required.Set Up Your Site Finding Your Perfect Fit Creating a website used to be a time-consuming, technical process that required experience and patience. But times have changed. Remixer, along with its many included templates, enables you to create just about any type of website you can envision. Plus, the click-to-edit interface makes it easy to customize your template to match your unique needs. In short, this is a perfect solution for when you want a fast, easy tool that requires little-to-no prior experience. The post 6 Compelling Templates You Can Use to Create Your Website appeared first on Welcome to the Official DreamHost Blog.

Tutorial: How to Use Synology’s Hyper Backup App to Sync with DreamObjects

If you’ve got a NAS (network attached storage) device at home, you know how great they are. These mini-computers full of hard drives live on your home network, ready and waiting to store and share all of your music, photos, and other media. You can grant access to yourself, your friends, your family, or everyone on the planet using any number of different apps! While NAS devices themselves are extremely fault-tolerant, that doesn’t mean that they could survive . . . a flood. Or a fire. A Godzilla foot would definitely destroy all your data. That’s why you should back up your NAS regularly. Synology has made this easy by providing powerful backup tools in their line of NAS devices. Today we’ll look at setting up Synology’s Hyper Backup app, and we’ll be using it to back up the contents of our Synology device to DreamHost’s DreamObjects cloud storage service. You’ll first need to create a private “bucket” on DreamObjects — this where your data will live. Doing this is quick and easy, and at the end of the process, you’ll have three things: a public key, a secret key, and a bucket name. Secure Cloud Storage HostingDreamObjects is an inexpensive object storage service great for hosting files, storing backups, and Web app development.Try It Free for 30 Days The process to create a bucket on the DreamObjects control panel is pretty straightforward, but if you need a little hand-holding, our knowledge base has got you covered: DreamHost Knowledge Base: What is DreamObjects? Once you’ve got your bucket created, log in to your Synology device’s web interface, also known as DSM. Click over to the Package Center, navigate to the “Hyper Backup” app, and click to Install/Open it. If you’ve just installed Hyper Backup, navigate to your list of installed apps where you’ll see that it now sits proudly under a spotlight, awaiting your click. Launch Hyper Backup. The first thing you’ll be asked is which where you’d like your backups to live. Navigate to “S3 Storage.” Why S3? Simple! DreamObjects is compatible with S3’s API, meaning that just about any app written for AWS S3 will work flawlessly with DreamObjects. Select “Custom Server URL” for your S3 Server. Your server address should be “objects-us-east1.dream.io” and your signature version can be v4. Once you provide your access key (public key) and secret key, all of your available DreamObjects buckets will populate the dropdown list. Select the one that you want to use (you might only have one.) The “Directory” will be a directory that lives at the top level of your bucket, and you can name it whatever you like. Now you’ll need to tell Hyper Backup which directories to include in this backup task. If you want to back up the settings and data from any of Synology’s own applications, you can do that as well on the next screen. You’ll now need to give this backup task a name so that you’ll be able to quickly identify it in the future. You’ll also need to choose how often you’d like the backup to run. Finally, you’ll need to determine your rotation settings. This is important. If you allow your backups to run every week, for example, you’ll end up with 52 backups by the end of the year, and you’ll end up paying for all 52 of them. That’s probably not what you want. What you select on this screen is up to you, but here’s the official word from Synology on how their Rotation Settings work. If all goes as planned, you should now see a screen like this: Whatever data you’ve selected from your NAS is now being backed up to DreamObjects! You can now kick back and never worry about having to retrieve it until you have to! If all goes well, you’ll see this: If you ever have a need to restore your data, just launch Hyper Backup and click this little fella to get started: Alternately, you can use Synology’s standalone utility, Hyper Backup Explorer to retrieve individual files buried within your backups as well. Backups automated with tools like Hyper Backup and DreamObjects can be key to ensuring the security of your data in a world full of ransomware, random hardware failures, and natural disasters. Be prepared! The post Tutorial: How to Use Synology’s Hyper Backup App to Sync with DreamObjects appeared first on Welcome to the Official DreamHost Blog.

How Long Does It Take to Build a Website?

If you’re launching a website, you probably want it ready as fast as possible. However, it’s difficult to gauge how long it should take to create a site if it’s your first time commissioning one. Without that information, you might end up hiring the wrong team for the job. Building a custom website from the ground up takes time. If you’re thinking about a serious project with a real budget, you might be looking at a timeline of weeks or months. That’s normal, but it’s also possible to get an excellent website off the ground much faster, depending on what you need. In this article, we’re going to talk about how the website development process works. We’ll break it down step by step, so you know what to expect. Finally, we’ll discuss website builders, a great alternative if you need to build a website as quickly as possible. Related: What is a Website Builder? Everything You Need to Know A Peek at How the Website Development Process Works First, it’s important to understand that every website is different. We can’t just say: “Your website should take exactly two months to build” since we don’t know what kind of project you have in mind. Even if we did, chances are high that you want particular functionality or a specific look. Translating all of that from your head into a fully-working website takes time. There are so many variables to the website development process that estimates are hard to make. We’ll give it a shot in a moment and share some numbers from our experiences. However, before we get started, it’s important to understand what actually goes on when you hire someone to develop a website for you. Here’s how that process might look: You share your needs with the developer or team you’re working with. They put together a plan of action, which you need to approve. You get to look at some mockups, also known as wireframes, for your site’s design and approve them or ask for changes. The development and web design process gets underway with some back-and-forth between you and your developer(s). Afterward, there will usually be a final round of revisions to get everything just right. One thing that surprises a lot of people is the amount of work that goes on before a serious developer or agency even begins to code. If they just launched into the development process without a solid idea of what you wanted, things would get messy. More importantly, a lot of time (and money) could get wasted. Even if you only want to build a small website, you’ll need to be methodical about it. Now, let’s break down how long each of the necessary steps is likely to take. Related: How Much Does It Cost to Build a Website? How Long It Takes to Build a Website (The 4 Basic Steps) For this section, we’re assuming that you plan to hire someone to build your website for you. Whether it’s a single person or an agency, the same advice still applies, although lengths of time can vary depending on the scope of your project. We’ll provide you with some rough estimates of what it would take to build a standard business website, however, so you don’t walk away empty-handed. If you think you’d like to tackle the task of building a website on your own, we’ll talk about what your options are soon. Even so, getting acquainted with these steps is fundamental so you know what process to follow. Step 1: Gauging Your Needs and Creating a Plan (1–2 Weeks) When you work in a kitchen, you learn that preparation is half the battle. If you know exactly how you want your final dish to look and what the necessary elements are, you’ll end up with a winner in most cases. In this scenario, you won’t be doing the actual cooking (or development). However, you still need to know exactly what you want your website to look like and what its elements should be. Without that information, whoever you hire will spend a lot of time trying to figure out what you need, which is not a productive use of their time. Keep in mind that an experienced developer will be able to provide you with insights you might not come up with otherwise. For example, they might tell you if a particular feature doesn’t make sense for your website or if the design you have in mind might affect the user experience. You should always listen to what they have to say, but ultimately, the decision on how to proceed is yours. If you want to build a website for your small business, here’s what you might tell a developer so they have an idea of what you want: Hello Ms. Developer, I’m interested in putting together a website for my business, John Doe Incorporated. I don’t have a web presence yet, so I want it to cover all the basics. This includes information about my company, details on to how to contact us, and examples of our past projects. Ideally, I want the website to look both professional and modern, but I’m open to suggestions on how to tackle the project. Here are some examples of other websites with designs I like, so you have an idea of what I’m looking for: Website one. Website two. Website three. I look forward to hearing back from you and talking about any ideas you might have and getting a sense of how long the entire process might take. In a best-case scenario, this step will take one to two weeks and involve several rounds of back-and-forth over email, Skype, messenger pigeon, or whatever method of communication you prefer. Be aware that if someone jumps onboard your project without asking too many questions about what you want, that is a red flag. The best kinds of developers will ask you a ton of questions before signing on so they have a clear idea of what you need and whether they can deliver it. Step 2: Getting Started on Your Website’s Design (1–3 Weeks) Once you have a plan of action in place, it’s time to get started on your website’s design. In most cases, the developer or agency should have dedicated web designers, who will provide you with mockups of how your website might appear. Mockups are like sketches on steroids. They show you what your website might look like based on your requirements so you can approve it. At this stage, you’ll probably want to make changes to your site’s design, which is encouraged. Development hasn’t started yet, so these revisions shouldn’t set the project back too much. If you’re ever in this situation, you should ask for full mockups of every page you want your website to include. They can consist of filler content and images, of course. What you really care about is seeing what elements each page will include, what their layout looks like, and even how everything will appear on mobile devices. This is the stage where your website really begins to take shape, and it can take anywhere from one to three weeks. So it’s important to remain a participant in the process and be proactive about asking questions and requesting changes. Related: 30 Best Apps for Small Business Owners Step 3: The Main Development Phase (1–2 Months) This stage is where the magic happens. Your team will take the information you’ve given them, and turn it into a fully working website that (hopefully) looks just like the mockups you approved. This part takes a while, partly because there are always setbacks in any project like this. You may want to change a key part of the website once you see it in action or a tree might fall on your developer’s laptop. Either way, in our experience it will take at least a month to fully develop a website for a small business. What most savvy agencies do is overestimate how long it will take them to complete your project. That way, they’ll give themselves some breathing room for any problems along the way, and you’ll be impressed when they finish work early. Again, it’s important to stay in touch during this phase. Good developers will keep you in the loop and show you how things are progressing, but you can and should be proactive about contacting them as well. After all, sometimes the team might be too busy figuring out how to inject caffeine and optimize your website to remember to send you updates. Step 4: The Final Review (1–2 Weeks) Before you can say that your website is officially finished, it needs to go through a final round of revisions. You’ll want to take a close look at how every part of the website looks and works, and decide if it meets the plan of action you traced out together at the beginning of the development process. In our experience, there are always corrections to be made, particularly if you commission a complex website. The fact that changes are required doesn’t bode ill of the development team, however. It’s just something to be expected when it comes to web development. Ideally, you’ll catch most of the big issues during revisions for the earlier steps. At this point, there should only be minor fixes left to be made, but your mileage may vary. In any case, if nothing important is broken, expect this process to take anywhere from one to two weeks. What to Do If You Need to Build a Website Quickly So far, we’ve only talked about how the development process works if you hire someone to build a website for you from scratch. As you can see, it will take some time. However, there are also solutions that enable you to create stylish and powerful websites much faster. In the previous sections, we estimated that building a simple business website should take anywhere from two to four months. That sounds like a lot, but when you think about it, it’s more than reasonable. After all, your website is likely to be a key component of your business. Spending a few months making sure it comes together perfectly can be worth the investment. Even so, you may need a website faster. Alternatively, you might just want to build something simple. In those cases, hiring a developer or an agency can be overkill. After all, there are tools you can use to create simple websites without any experience in web development. They are called website builders, and they’ve come a long way in the past few years. DreamHost users have access to a powerful click-to-edit website builder called Remixer. The goal of a website builder is to simplify the process as much as possible for beginners. Remixer does this by providing you with a collection of handy features, such as themes you can use to kickstart your website design. More importantly, Remixer enables you to add pre-built elements to your site in seconds, such as contact forms, galleries, and more. With this tool, designing a website becomes a simple matter of figuring out what elements you want and adding them wherever you’d like. Our Remixer plans start at $4.95/mo and include access to the platform, web hosting, and a free domain name. If you upgrade to Remixer All Access ($7.95/mo), you’ll also get your own email account and mail forwarding. Of course, DreamHost’s 24/7 support comes standard so you’ll never be without help. To be clear, there are limitations to what you can do with a website builder. However, it’s the perfect solution if you want to create a simple, yet stylish website quickly. With some practice, you could even create a website for a small business in as little as a day or two. Easily Build Your Dream WebsiteDon't know code? No problem. Our DIY Website Builder makes building a website as easy as sending an email.Set Up Your Site The Time It Takes Even websites that look simple at first glance can take a significant amount of time to build. Most sites these days offer plenty of advanced functionality and that means more time has to be spent developing them. You also have to consider how long your site will take to plan out and design. In our experience, building a website usually takes anywhere between two to four months if you’re working with a professional agency. However, you also have the option of using a website builder if you need to create a site more quickly. Remixer enables you to create professional-looking websites in record time, and you don’t need to be a developer to use it. The post How Long Does It Take to Build a Website? appeared first on Welcome to the Official DreamHost Blog.

How to Use Printful to Sell T-Shirts and Other Swag with WooCommerce

Making the decision to jump into e-commerce can be intimidating. There are a lot of factors to consider, including how you’re going to create an online store and ship your products. You also have to take into account the cost of each of those tasks and find a way to manage your budget. If you’re interested in selling products such as t-shirts and other fun ‘swag,’ using Printful and WooCommerce on a WordPress site can save you a lot of headaches. By granting you flexibility and providing a cost-effective method for printing on-demand, the combination of these two platforms makes selling your products simple. In this article, we’ll explore some of the reasons you might consider selling t-shirts and promotional merchandise online and discuss the benefits of doing so with Printful and WooCommerce. Then we’ll show you how to get started with these platforms. Let’s dive right in! Why Selling Swag Could Be a Smart Marketing Move for Your Brand Finding ways to promote your brand is an ongoing process. The more diverse and creative you can get with your marketing, the more likely you are to achieve success and increase your customer base. With that being said, you don’t want to spend your limited budget on promotional campaigns that don’t work. Selling swag has proven benefits and enables you to get a little more creative with your marketing. These types of products can increase your brand recognition since the people wearing or using them will be promoting your brand at almost no cost to you. What’s more, it’s generally a very cost-effective strategy. You can turn almost anything you can put your brand on into swag. T-shirts are a common option, as are tank tops, hoodies, and hats. Any products your customers can wear are perfect for promoting your brand. These products are very likely to be seen by other people, and your customers will endorse your brand by simply wearing them. There are, however, plenty of other options for swag. Tote bags, backpacks, and phone cases all provide opportunities for brand exposure. Customers aren’t as likely to carry around coffee mugs, posters, towels, or throw pillows, but they might leave these items out in their homes or offices where visitors will see them. They might even give those products as gifts, which also spreads the word about your brand. The more products that are out in the world with your brand’s name and/or imagery on them, the better. All you have to do is find a way to get your swag into the hands of your target audience. Choosing the Right Tools to Sell Your Swag Online Deciding how you will create, store, sell, and ship your products is a serious undertaking. Swag is usually very cost-effective, but choosing the wrong business to partner with could end up costing you more than you’d like. Plus, if you have to go to different companies to find all the services you need, it’s bound to be hard on your budget. Printful solves these problems for you. You can add your branding to a variety of products offered by this platform, and its print-on-demand services mean you don’t have to pay for storage if you don’t want to. Printful even handles shipping and delivers your products in a white-labeled box so it looks as though they’re coming right from you. Printful integrates well with a variety of e-commerce platforms, including WooCommerce. WooCommerce is an excellent e-commerce plugin for WordPress users who want to run their own online stores. It’s customizable and flexible so you can use it to suit your specific needs. You have complete control over your content and products, and you won’t have to pay any fees to use it. Related: WooCommerce vs. Shopify: An In-Depth Guide How to Use Printful to Sell T-Shirts and Swag with WooCommerce (In 4 Steps) Printful and WooCommerce make it simple for you to get started selling your products online. If you have your branding ready to go, you can set up an e-commerce site for t-shirts and swag in just four steps. Step 1: Set Up WordPress and WooCommerce If you don’t already have a WordPress site, this first step will be the most time-consuming. You’ll first need to create a new website, which includes acquiring and registering a domain name and finding a hosting provider and plan. Our DreamHost Shared Unlimited and WooCommerce Hosting plans are solid options for this kind of site. Once you have a registered domain name and a hosting account, you can install WordPress. Since WordPress is a flexible platform, there are lots of customization options, themes, and plugins you may want to look into to add functionality and style to your site. For now, however, we’ll just focus on the tools you’ll need to set up shop. The quickest way to add WooCommerce to your WordPress site is by navigating to Plugins in the sidebar of your WordPress admin dashboard. You can select Add New from the menu, and then search for “WooCommerce.” Once you’ve found it, click on the Install button. When the installation is finished, select Activate. With that, you’ve added WooCommerce to your WordPress site. Your Store Deserves WooCommerce HostingSell anything, anywhere, anytime on the world's biggest eCommerce platform.See Plans Step 2: Configure WooCommerce’s Settings After you’ve activated WooCommerce, you’ll need to configure its settings. The information you input here will be important for receiving payments, displaying your products, and enabling customer behaviors such as account creation and the checkout process. In particular, you’ll want to make sure the following settings are attended to: In the General tab, add your location information, enable tax rates and calculations, and select your currency. In the Products tab, determine which page will display your items, set measurements, and enable or disable customer reviews. In the Payments tab, specify your payment method(s). In the Accounts & Privacy tab, manage the checkout and account creation processes, configure your privacy policy, and determine your data retention settings. In the Emails tab, set up email notifications from WooCommerce to your customers. It’s important to note that, since Printful handles shipping, you don’t need to worry about configuring those settings in WooCommerce. You should also know that in order to integrate Printful and WooCommerce, you must have the legacy REST API enabled. You can find this option in the Advanced tab, by selecting Legacy API. Check the box to enable the feature, and save your changes. Then, you’re ready to move on to the next phase. Related: How to Customize WooCommerce With a Child Theme (In 3 Steps) Step 3: Integrate WooCommerce and Printful With WooCommerce ready to go, you can now integrate it with Printful. Head back to the plugins page and search for “Printful.” Then install and activate the official plugin. Next, select the new Printful option from the WordPress admin dashboard sidebar. Click on the Connect button. You’ll be asked to approve Printful’s connection to WooCommerce. After you select Approve, you’ll be redirected so that you can log in to or create a Printful account. Once you’ve done that, click the button to confirm your connection. This will sync your Printful account up with your WooCommerce store. Step 4: Create and Price Your Products Now that your Printful account is integrated with your website, you can start filling your store with swag. To do that, select from Printful’s products via WordPress or your Printful account. Then, upload a design for your t-shirt or swag, and position it however you’d like. You can also add information regarding what sizes and colors your product will be sold in, and what areas it will be shipped to. Printful also enables you to create mockups, which are the product images that will be displayed to your customers. Choose the image you prefer, and then move on to the product description. Here you can add your product’s title, details about the item, and a sizing chart if relevant. Once you’ve finished setting up the product and deciding how it will be displayed, it’s time to talk about money. You don’t have to do any math to figure out how much it will cost to create your products and how much you’ll have to charge to make a profit. Printful takes care of all that for you with its profit calculator. Finally, make sure your product visibility settings are not set to Hidden, so your product will appear in your shop, in search results, or both. Then select Submit to Store. If you have more swag to create, you can add more products by following the same process for each. Then you’re ready to start selling, and Printful is set up to deliver the products to your customers! Site Swag Selling t-shirts and other swag on your website is a smart way to promote your brand. Fortunately, the combination of Printful and WooCommerce is a flexible, cost-effective method way to display your customized products and ship them to customers. Do you have any questions about using Printful and WooCommerce together effectively? Connect with us on Twitter or Facebook and let us know! The post How to Use Printful to Sell T-Shirts and Other Swag with WooCommerce appeared first on Welcome to the Official DreamHost Blog.

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Website?

Creating a website is complicated enough if you’re a developer. However, things get even trickier if you want to hire someone else to do the job for you. After all, it can be hard to figure out how long the project should take, and (more importantly) how much you should expect to spend. Let’s be honest — the cost of building a website can vary a lot depending on what you have in mind. Even so, it will help if you have an idea of what similar sites cost to build, and what elements are involved. That way, you’ll be better prepared to deal with project proposals, developers, and freelancers. In this article, we’ll talk about the different approaches you can take when it comes to building a website, whether you need an online presence for your small business or a full-fledged e-commerce website. We’ll also discuss the development costs associated with the process and talk about why website builders make for an excellent alternative to hiring a developer. How to Figure Out What Type of Website You Want to Build Costs vary wildly when it comes to building a website. However, we can break down the options into two broad categories, depending on what type of project you want to tackle. First, you can commission a fully custom website. This is a site built from the ground up exactly to your requirements and often involves multiple developers and designers. As you might expect, the more people involved in the project, the more it will cost. However, not many people really need a custom website. In fact, more and more businesses are opting to use other approaches, such as Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress. These platforms provide you with a foundation to work with, but they don’t require you to code every feature from scratch. They fall into what we’d refer to as our second type of website: those built using a specific platform or site builder. Generally speaking, it’s impossible to predict exactly how much a custom website might cost, because we don’t know what features you want it to include and how much content you need. The more complex your vision is, the more you’ll need to spend to transform it from an idea into something real. As a rule of thumb, however, you should be ready to spend at least a couple thousand dollars if you want a small, fully custom website. This cost can get you something relatively simple, such as a business website that’s built to look great on either mobile devices or desktops. In our experience, though, you will almost always end up spending more than that. This is a strong argument for avoiding the custom route if you can. With all of that in mind, we’re going to break down the typical costs of building a website, so you have a rough idea of how much you should expect to spend to get your project off the ground. Then, we’ll talk about an alternative option that could end up saving you a ton of money. The Typical Costs Associated With Building a Website (In 3 Parts) While we can’t tell you exactly how much it will take to build the website you want, we can share our knowledge of the primary costs involved in the process. Let’s start with domains. 1. Buying a Domain Domains are usually the cheapest aspect of setting up a website. In most cases, you should expect to pay anywhere between $8-15 per year for a simple .com domain. That number will vary depending on which service you use to register the domain, but it seldom rises much higher than that. DreamHost, for example, offers .com domain names at $11.99 per year. This price includes free privacy protection, which is a feature that hides your personal information when someone looks up your domain. If you want to spend even less than that, it’s possible to find a Top-Level Domain (TLD), such as .store, .club, or .tech, for even cheaper. However, we recommend that you stick with .com if you’re starting a business. It’s a TLD people know and trust, so it’s well worth a few extra dollars. 2. Signing Up for Web Hosting Picking the right web host is one of the most important parts of putting together a website. If everything goes well, you’ll be using the same hosting provider for a long time, so you’ll want to make sure you choose well. More importantly, the cost of hosting services adds up over time. That means you’ll spend quite a lot of money on it, even if you opt for the cheapest plan you can find. Broadly speaking, you can break down hosting plans into three categories: budget, enthusiast, or premium. The budget category is primarily made up of shared hosting plans. Despite being cheap, shared hosting has come a long way in recent years. The field of web hosting is so competitive that even budget plans such as these are often powerful enough to run websites with decent traffic. In most cases, you should expect to pay around $5-8 per month or less for this kind of plan. Our Starter Shared plan, for example, starts at $2.59 per month and is a budget-friendly way to get online fast. Our Shared Unlimited plan is only $7.95 a month and gives you everything you’ll need to power your website for a long time to come. The next level, enthusiast web hosting, is dominated by Virtual Private Servers (VPS). This type of plan gives you get a lot more firepower to ensure that your website runs smoothly. That means if you have any experience with server management, you can configure every aspect to suit your needs. This type of hosting usually costs anywhere between $10-40 per month. Our basic VPS hosting plan comes in at $13.75. Finally, dedicated plans are at the top of the line when it comes to website hosting. With this kind of plan, you get an entire physical server all to yourself. As you might imagine, this doesn’t come cheap. However, dedicated hosting provides top-notch performance and lots of resources for large websites with high levels of traffic. For this type of hosting, you can expect to spend more than $100 a month, and the cap will depend largely on your provider. For example, we offer dedicated hosting plans starting at $169 per month. By now, you have a good idea of what’s out there in terms of hosting. A lot of people want to skip right onto options such as VPS plans since they don’t like the sound of shared hosting. However, for a new website, using a shared hosting plan is often the best idea. That way, you’ll minimize costs upfront. Plus, you can always upgrade to something better when the need arises. 3. Paying a Developer/Web Designer So far, you’ve probably spent less than $20 to get a domain and hosting for your first month. Now comes the costly part, which is hiring developers and designers to build the actual site. Depending on the scope of your project, you may want to hire a solo developer or work with an agency. The latter is naturally more expensive. We could stand around and ballpark figures all day. Instead, let’s talk about what it costs on average to hire one developer or designer. To do that, let’s look at some numbers from one of the most popular freelance job websites around: Upwork. In a study of their top American freelancers, they found that professional developers tend to charge anywhere within the $35-150 per hour range. That’s right — per hour. In our experience, you won’t find a lot of top developers at the lower end of that scale, either. If you want to hire someone with years of experience, expect to pay at least $100 per hour. Moving onto web designers, they usually charge a bit less. That’s not a reflection of their skill, however; it’s just the way the market works. In most cases, you should expect to shell out anywhere between $30-100 per hour for a professional designer. As with developers, the really good talent lies at the top of that scale. 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 Now, let’s assume you want to hire a developer and a designer to work together, both with great skill sets. Design work usually comes before the development process, and let’s assume the person you hire spends 10 hours working on your web design, spread out over a couple of weeks. That will end up costing you about $2,000. Then, your developer will bring the website to life. If he takes 40 hours to get it done, that’s about $4,000 more right there, for a total of $6,000. Those are, of course, back-of-the-napkin calculations. In real life, dozens of factors affect the time it takes to build a site and the average cost. It’s easy enough to find people willing to build full websites for $50-100 if you look hard enough. However, the quality of the work you’ll get will probably make you regret that decision. All of that brings us to this question: What if you want to build a professional website, but you don’t have thousands of dollars laying around? Fortunately, you have another option on the table. Related: How to Design a Website: 6 Key Tips for Success Website Builders: An Affordable Alternative Website builders enable you to create stylish pages without any web development experience. Website builders are tools meant to simplify the process of creating a site as much as possible. Usually, they enable you to set up any number of pages you want and customize them using pre-built modules or blocks. You’ll get access to basic elements like text, images, and video, as well as more complex features such as contact forms and galleries. More importantly, you’ll be able to tweak most aspects of these modules and rearrange them at will to create something unique. It used to be almost a requirement to have a web developer put together a website for you from scratch. However, website builders can help anyone create a do-it-yourself website on a budget and have it still come out looking awesome. Better yet, using a website builder can help you add new pages to your site in hours. Most importantly, they’re also easy to learn. In practical terms, using a website builder means you don’t have to spend money hiring a designer or a developer. All you have to pay for is hosting and a domain. Our own website builder, Remixer, even comes with its own hosting plans for as low as  $4.95 per month. Related: New Remixer Feature Exports Your Site to WordPress To be fair — there are limits to what you can do with website builders. For example, if you need to create a fully custom website with complex functionality, such as a social media site, you may still need a developer. Need a Beautiful Website?Design it yourself with Remixer, our easy-to-use website builder. No coding required.Set Up Your Site Adding It All Up Unless you’re doing everything yourself, building a website will set you back a bit financially. If you’re looking for the easiest and cheapest way to set up a web presence, site builders are your best option. Remixer, in particular, is less expensive than other tools on the market, and it comes bundled together with your web hosting. The post How Much Does It Cost to Build a Website? appeared first on Welcome to the Official DreamHost Blog.

What Is FTP/SFTP? A Guide for WordPress Users

WordPress is pretty user-friendly to those without much technical experience, especially with help from the right plugins. That said, there are some tasks that plugins can’t always help with, such as troubleshooting errors or implementing advanced customizations. In these situations, it can be helpful to understand File Transfer Protocol (FTP) and Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP). These will enable you to access and interact with your site’s files directly in order to make changes and additions. In this article, we’ll explain the basics of FTP and SFTP and discuss why they can be useful. Then we’ll teach you how to execute three common uses of these technologies, using the WebFTP feature for DreamHost customers. Let’s get started! Understanding FTP and SFTP (And When to Use Them) FTP is a way to communicate directly with a remote server, such as the one hosting your WordPress site. It’s generally used to manage the files stored on that server. This is important because some file management tasks can’t be carried out on the WordPress back end. The downside to using FTP is that it doesn’t necessarily take internet security risks into account. SFTP, the more advanced version of the same technology, enables you to manage files on your server just like FTP does. However, it uses a previously-established Secure Shell (SSH) connection to maintain the safety of your files and the site as a whole. There are several tasks for which FTP and SFTP are useful, including bulk file uploads, manually installing plugins and themes, editing files, resolving compatibility issues, and changing file permissions. Without direct access to your site’s files, these functions become much more difficult, or in some cases, impossible. An Introduction to WebFTP To connect to your site’s server and manage your files, you’ll need an FTP client. Typically, the term ‘FTP client’ is used whether you’re accessing the site via FTP or SFTP. There are a variety of third-party FTP clients available for download, but if you’re lucky, your web host will provide one for you. For DreamHost customers, we have a dedicated FTP client: WebFTP. It enables you to quickly connect to your server, without the hassle of logging in to a third-party client. Then, you can efficiently manage your files using a simple navigation scheme. WebFTP is available to any DreamHost customer with a fully-hosted site, including those using DreamPress, our managed WordPress hosting service. If that includes you, then you’ll be able to start using it right away! Get More with DreamPressDreamPress Plus and Pro users get access to Jetpack Professional (and 200+ premium themes) at no added cost!Check Out Plans 3 Key Tasks You Can Complete Using WebFTP It’s important to note that any time you use FTP or SFTP, there is some risk involved. Mistakes can easily be made, and some changes could irreversibly damage your site. Before you start managing your files with FTP or SFTP, therefore, you’ll want to back up your site just in case. That way, you can restore it if something goes wrong. If you’re a DreamPress user, then you can rest easy! We back up your website automatically for you each day. Plus, DreamPress customers can now create backups on demand via their control panel. As long as you take the right precautions, FTP and SFTP can improve your site by enabling you to manage files in ways not available within the WordPress back end. Without further ado, let’s look at some of the key tasks you can complete by using WebFTP to access your site’s server. 1. Upload Files to Your Site One use of FTP/SFTP is to manually install WordPress on your host’s server. You can do this by downloading WordPress, initiating a connection with WebFTP, and then uploading the WordPress files to your server. By using a similar process, you can also install plugins and themes manually. Note: If you’re a DreamHost customer, you’ll have a one-click install option for WordPress. This means you can get your site up and running in just a few minutes — no FTP/SFTP required. We recommend the one-click installation to our customers; it makes setting up a site easier and allows us to automatically update your WordPress software as new versions roll out. Since WordPress has a maximum upload file size, it can be difficult to add very large files to your site through the admin interface. It also prevents you from bulk uploading a large number of files at once, which can mean you have to upload them one at a time instead. If you want to upload large files or save time by adding several files at once, you’ll need to use FTP/SFTP. To upload files to your site, start by logging into your DreamHost account. Then, from the Domains drop-down menu in the sidebar, select Manage Domains. Under each domain you have that’s fully hosted with DreamHost, you’ll see a WebFTP option, which you can click on to launch our FTP client. Next, simply select the upload icon in the bottom toolbar. A window will pop up and enable you to choose files to upload. If you’re installing WordPress, this is where you would select the WordPress files you downloaded. If you’re installing a premium plugin or theme, you can upload its folder to the plugin or theme directory within the wp-content folder. As for media files, you can start by adding them to the uploads directory in wp-content. Then, you’ll need to register them with a plugin such as Add from Server in order to access them in your Media Library. Related: Tutorial: How to Install a WordPress Theme 2. Edit WordPress Files Sometimes the best way to customize certain theme elements and advanced settings is by editing files directly on your server. It’s important to note that, with few exceptions, it’s not recommended to modify WordPress’ core files. One exception is the wp-config file, which stores information about your site’s database. You can edit this file to disable automatic updates, change your database’s prefix, and carry out other advanced tasks. To edit a file on your site, select it from the list in WebFTP, and click on Edit to open the editor interface. Here, you’ll be able to make any necessary adjustments to the file. If you want to make changes to your theme, you’ll want to edit the style.css file, which is located in your theme’s directory in the wp-content folder. A common practice is to make note of everything you change in your files as you perform each edit. This way, if errors occur after you’ve finished editing, you can quickly look for mistakes in the changes you made. When you’re finished editing, click on Save to implement your changes. Then, you can check out your site on the front end to make sure they’ve been successful. 3. Change File Permissions File permissions determine who can access and edit specific files and folders on your website. If there is more than one person with access to your site’s back end, you may want to limit permissions for individual users, to make sure sensitive material isn’t tampered with. Changing file permissions can also be used to solve certain WordPress errors, including the 403 Forbidden – Access Denied error. This problem can be caused by corrupt files or poorly-configured security plugins, and denies you access to specific pages (sometimes even including your wp-admin page). To change file permissions with WebFTP, select the file you want to affect and click on CHMOD, or use the key icon in the bottom toolbar. In the resulting pop-up window, you can change the file permissions for different types of users by selecting and deselecting the boxes. In general, the best strategy is to give each user only the minimum permissions they need to do their job. As the owner, of course, you’ll want to retain the maximum permissions for yourself. When you’re finished making changes here, click on OK to save your permission settings. File This Away FTP and SFTP may seem intimidating on the surface, but once you start using them, you’ll find them to be handy tools for getting your WordPress site in top shape. Our new WebFTP feature for DreamHost customers makes the process even smoother with easy navigation for accomplishing all the most common file-related tasks. Do you have any questions about FTP, SFTP, or WebFTP? Join the DreamHost Community and let’s discuss! The post What Is FTP/SFTP? A Guide for WordPress Users appeared first on Welcome to the Official DreamHost Blog.

How to Create a Brand Style Guide for Your Website

Maintaining consistency is vital to a brand’s success. However, if you have several people involved in creating and maintaining your website, and they aren’t on the same page when it comes to how to portray your brand, consistency becomes difficult to achieve. A style guide can provide your team with the tools to better maintain your brand’s image, and give your site’s users a dependable experience. In other words, by establishing clearer and more efficient communication across your team, style guides improve the experience of your brand for both the people creating it and those encountering it. In this article, we’ll discuss what a brand style guide is and why it’s essential to your website. Then we’ll explain how to create one for your site in just five steps. Let’s get going! An Introduction to Brand Style Guides A brand style guide is a set of rules for how your brand will be portrayed, both online and off. Think of it as the foundation of your brand story. This includes its web design, tone, and content, the way you handle customer interactions, and more. Businesses are built on customers’ perceptions, so anything that impacts how your site’s audience sees your brand can be taken into account. Some specific areas of interest for your style guide might include visual design elements and choices such as color scheme, iconography and typography, site layout, images, and logos (including your marketing materials). Your web copy, ‘about’ page, blog, and social media content should also match your brand personality in the eyes of users. Any elements related to user interactions, including live chats and forms, also make an impact on how customers feel about your brand. How quickly you respond, what you say, and how you say it can turn a lead into a promoter for your brand. When done poorly, it can also lead them towards your competition instead. It’s important to note that a style guide, or brand book, is different from a pattern library. While pattern libraries are also useful, they only list the essential elements of your brand’s visual identity. They don’t provide any direction as to how those elements should be used. For example, without a style guide, your team may have a copy of your logo at hand, but they won’t know what to do with it. Why a Brand Style Guide Is Crucial to Your Website Having a brand style guide for your website keeps all team members on the same page about how to present your content to the world. It’s also helpful if you have to hire outside designers or developers to work on your site, as it can prevent them from taking off with their own ideas and leaving your site looking disjointed. Consistency is key to a brand’s success. Users will more quickly recognize your brand if you have a distinct style that you use everywhere. What’s more, if all aspects of your brand’s identity aren’t the same across your website, social media platforms, and anywhere else it appears, users may become confused and wonder if it’s all really part of the same brand. Implementing a thorough brand style guide as soon as you bring in new team members (or even freelancers, such as graphic designer or web developer) will set the standard for consistency right out of the gate. The more consistent you can be, the faster you’ll be able to start building your brand identity and acquiring repeat users. 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 How to Create a Brand Style Guide for Your Website (5 Key Steps) There are several factors to consider when creating your brand style guide. Most importantly, building it around your vision for your brand will enable you to craft brand guidelines that help you achieve your goals. Let’s talk about how that process works. Step 1: Decide Where Your Style Guide Will ‘Live’ Style guides can be created in a variety of formats. Where your guidelines will reside is up to you, but remember that a style guide is most useful when it clearly communicates your requirements and is easily accessible to anyone who needs to use it. Some businesses create subdomains for their websites that specify page layout, image and logo placement, font, and more. The advantage of using a subdomain is that it’s a visual representation of your style, instead of just a bulleted list of rules. Anyone using your guide will see precisely what the content they’re creating should look like. Alternatively, project management tools such as Trello are also a useful option. They’re made to be used by teams, so it’s easy to share your guide with anyone who might need it. This kind of tool also makes it simple to organize information in a way that provides clear direction to the people working on your brand. Of course, if you just need a quick and painless way to create a branding style guide, there’s nothing wrong with writing it up as a document. Including images with examples can help to clarify any complex points. Just make sure the file is easy to share, as you’ll have to make it accessible to everyone who creates content related to your brand. Step 2: Clarify Your Brand’s Mission You may have an idea of what you want to accomplish with your website, but writing out a clear and firmly-established mission statement is still important. It will be a useful reminder for yourself, and make it easier to communicate your goals to other people working on your brand. When creating your mission statement, make sure to focus on your brand’s purpose, and be specific about your values and what you hope to accomplish. You’ll want to communicate your big-picture goals, while also providing concrete examples that are easy for people to remember. Step 3: Define Your Brand’s Tone and Voice Your brand’s ‘tone’ is the overall feeling it conveys to your target audience, while its ‘voice’ is its specific personality. Tone can be easily communicated through images and written content. Voice will also come across in written content, and in interactions with users. Your brand’s tone and voice often define how users interact with your content, and what emotions it evokes in them. Using the same style consistently helps users get to know your business ‘personally.’ Just as a person who is joking around one minute and angry the next can be off-putting, sudden shifts in tone and voice will likely confuse your users. Incorporating tone and voice into your style guide can be tricky. However, you can start by listing qualities you want your content to express, and emotions you’d like it to trigger. It’s also smart to use your brand’s tone and voice to create the guide itself. If you’re going for a relaxed and welcoming vibe, for example, throw in a few emojis or some slang. On the other hand, more formal brands will want to present their guidelines in a straightforward manner. Step 4: Determine Guidelines for Your Brand’s Visual Elements In your style guide, you’ll also want to include specifications on your logo’s usage. This includes when and where it will be displayed. If you always want your logo to be set as the thumbnail for blog posts, for example, you would want to mention this in your style guide (so everyone who works on blog content will know what to do). Similarly, setting rules about what kinds of images will be allowed can help you maintain brand consistency across your site. For example, you may want to specify whether memes are appropriate for use in blog posts, or if they’re too casual for your brand’s tone. Mentioning licensing requirements in order to avoid copyright infringement would also be wise. Creating a clear list of all the brand colors, typefaces, icons, and layouts you want to use for your site will ensure that the people working on your brand know these specifications exist. It will prevent them from imposing their own preferences and help those with good intentions avoid mistakes, such as using a color palette that’s just a few shades off from your logo. Step 5: Allow Your Style Guide to Evolve With Your Brand As your brand grows and changes, your style guide will probably need to do the same. Feedback from users, changes in industry standards, and modifications to your mission statement might mean you’ll want to modify your tone or certain visual elements. It’s far more effective to let your style adapt with your brand than to cling to your old guidelines and end up with a style that doesn’t match your current goals. Remember, users’ perceptions can make or break your brand. If they find your style confusing or inconsistent with your brand’s message, they’re more likely to have a negative reaction (or to simply not remember you). Any time you make updates to your brand bible, be sure to alert everyone working on your site right away. People get used to doing things a certain way, so they may overlook your changes if they aren’t pointed out directly. Branding Matters Inconsistency across a website’s brand often leads to confusion for your users and your team members. Creating a style guide can help everyone working on your site understand exactly what it should look, sound, and feel like, so your visitors can have a positive experience. Do you have any questions about using or creating this type of style guide? Follow us on Twitter and let’s discuss! Image credits: Netflix, I Heart NY, Urban Outfitters, Spotify, DreamHost. The post How to Create a Brand Style Guide for Your Website appeared first on Welcome to the Official DreamHost Blog.

What is a Click-to-Edit Website Builder?

Building a website used to be a challenging, time-consuming endeavor. It required experience and knowledge of coding in several languages, and you rarely had an overview of how the final result might look. While some still use this manual approach to site building, it’s by no means the only option. In fact, today pretty much anyone can design a site in minutes without looking at a single line of code. This is thanks to the rise of the ‘page builders,’ which enable you to use an intuitive interface to edit your site’s layout and content directly. So what is a click-to-edit website builder? Glad you asked. In this article, we’ll look at click-to-edit page builders and why they can be useful. We’ll also introduce you to Remixer and demonstrate how you can use it to create your own website in minutes. What Are Click-to-Edit Website Builders (And How Do They Work) A page builder is a tool used for building websites without the need to write code manually. They usually take the shape of visual What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WYSIWYG) editors, where you can edit the layout and content directly on the page. While there are different styles of page builder, click-to-edit solutions use an interface where you simply need to click on an element on the page to edit it directly. For example, clicking on a piece of text lets you change its contents, styling, formatting, and more. These tools give you a previously unprecedented level of control over your site’s design and layout. However, does that mean they’re the right tool for you? Let’s find out! Why You Might Consider Using a Click-to-Edit Builder There’s no shortage of benefits to using a click-to-edit builder, but the most important is how accessible they make designing a site. As they don’t require any coding, a click-to-edit builder enables even beginners to create striking designs in a matter of minutes. This makes them ideal for budding designers with limited-to-no experience working with HTML and CSS. The intuitive, real-time interface also lets you immediately see how the final result will appear once published. Any changes you make will instantly be visible in the editor, so you always know exactly how your edits affect the site. This means it’s easy to make minor changes quickly, without needing external help. Finally, a good click-to-edit builder will also help you easily create responsive websites. The design you create can easily be adapted to work on multiple different devices, such as smartphones and tablets. This is important as Google will likely penalize your site if it’s not compatible with mobile devices. A Quick Look at Click-to-Edit Solutions We’ve covered the benefits of using a click-to-edit builder, so let’s dig deeper into some actual applications. There are plenty of available tools specific to WordPress. Some of the most popular options include Divi, Elementor, and Beaver Builder. All of these offer their own take on the page builder concept. For example, Elementor is an all-in-one solution for practically every aspect of site customization. While this makes it very extensive, it can also be somewhat daunting for a first time user. Meanwhile, the Divi Builder offers great performance and the ability to perform A/B testing but doesn’t have a free version. Because it relies on shortcodes under the hood, you’ll also have to handle the ‘locked in’ element if you wish to switch solutions in the future. In contrast, Beaver Builder is one of the easiest tools to use, but it’s also the most expensive. It also lacks the ability to perform in-line editing. Even so, it’s popular with many WordPress users. Even WordPress itself is getting in on the action with the Gutenberg editor. This will transform the current content editor with an interface inspired by page builders. An alternative to these solutions is the Remixer click-to-edit builder, which allows users to set up a site quickly and then easily export it to WordPress when they’re ready to add additional functionality. Let’s take a slightly extended look at this builder before we move onto the fun part of creating a site. An Introduction to Remixer Remixer is a click-to-edit builder by DreamHost that launched in 2017. Its goal is to offer a way for users to create an easy-to-maintain site without too much expense. Using Remixer, even a complete beginner can create a professional-looking website in a few minutes. This is largely thanks to its intuitive interface but also the gallery of pre-built templates and stock images that are free to use. If you want to create a simple site that’s easy to maintain, Remixer is the ideal choice. It doesn’t require any coding knowledge or additional plugins. The tool even features a site creation wizard to make things easier. Finally, Remixer is also included with DreamHost’s shared hosting plan. Plus, Remixer can grow with your needs. If you find you  need to add ecommerce or blogging functionality down the road, you can export your Remixer site to WordPress. Need a Beautiful Website?Design it yourself with Remixer, our easy-to-use website builder. No coding required.Set Up Your Site How to Create a Site With the Remixer Page Builder (In 3 Steps) Let’s now look into building a site using Remixer, which requires a DreamHost account. Step 1. Choose a Template When you’ve signed in, you can access Remixer straight from your DreamHost control panel. Simply select Remixer > Dashboard in the left-hand menu, then select the Start using Remixer button. This opens a new tab with the Remixer interface. Here, your first step is to select a theme to use as the base for your site. You will be able to edit this extensively so consider it just a starting point. You can either hover over a theme and click Select Theme to get started. However, if you’d like to customize the theme further first, you can click the Create option in the top right menu. This will open a short wizard consisting of a few steps where you can configure the theme. In the first step (Layout), you’ll be given a choice of three templates. When you select one, you’ll get the opportunity to choose a color scheme for your theme. Select one to see how the preview on the left updates. Click Choose Images to proceed to the next step. Here you can choose a set of stock images to use. Of course, you don’t need to use these images and will be able to import your own later. However, it can be useful to select suitable placeholder images that match your vision during the design process. Select the images you want, then click Choose Fonts. You’ll now be able to select a font pair to use on your site. Once you’ve chosen a pair you like, you can click Preview Site to see the theme you’ve created. As we said, this is not necessarily the final design but a solid foundation. However, you have just made some of the most important choices when it comes to your overall design and layout before fine-tuning your creation. To do so, click Save and edit this site to open the Remixer builder. Step 2. Edit the Design and Content Since the Remixer builder uses a click-to-edit interface, you’ve probably already figured out how it works. All you need to do is to simply click on any page element to edit it. To try this out, click on the subheader beneath the title text. You’ll see you can change the text and apply various styling and formatting. When you’re done, click elsewhere and you’ll see how your changes are instantly visible. Certain page elements have unique settings, which will appear dynamically when the element is selected. For example, if you were to select the header image, you’ll notice that the menu on the left will update to display settings related to the image. From here, you can easily change the image, crop it, adjust its size, or rotate it. You can choose an existing stock image or replace it with one of your own. Remixer even enables you to apply filters to images. If you want to add a new element, you should look for the blue New buttons placed between existing page elements. Clicking one of these opens a new section where you can select the element you want to add. Select the one you want, and it will appear instantly on the page, where you can edit it like any other element. You’re now free to design your site as you please, editing and adding new elements as required. Once you’ve completed the design, it’s time to publish it. Step 3. Publish Your Site With One Click When you’ve completed your site, all that remains is to publish it. Fortunately, this process is very simple. You can publish the site using a randomly generated domain, but it’s more likely you’ll want to use a custom domain. To do this, you’ll need to make sure no page element is selected so that the Website Directory option is available in the menu. Here you can select the domain you want to use for your new site. You can either select an existing one in the list or click the link to purchase a new domain. If you select a domain already assigned to a site, you’ll see a warning message. You can opt to replace the existing site with the one you’ve just created. The old website files will still be saved offline on your shared hosting server in case you wanted to switch back to your previous website. When you’ve selected a domain, click the Publish option in the top-right corner. This will compile your site and publish it. When you’re done, the button you just clicked will change to say View. Click this to see the site in a new tab, and your site is now live and ready to go! You can return to Remixer to edit the site as you please and publish your changes or create a new site altogether. Note: If you are publishing Remixer to your domain for the very first time, there can be an initial delay for DNS to propagate before your new Remixer site is visible in the wild. A Beautiful Site Is Waiting Click-to-edit website builders like Remixer have made site design possible for even those with zero coding knowledge. They let all users, regardless of skill level, create stunning, functional websites in a matter of minutes. The post What is a Click-to-Edit Website Builder? appeared first on Welcome to the Official DreamHost Blog.

Bibliophiles, Unite! Meet the DreamHost Customers Behind Silent Book Club

The idea originated from a heady combination of desperation and inspiration. Now, it reaches more than 30,000 people worldwide, even garnering a recent nod from Oprah’s magazine. Meet Silent Book Club, the low-maintenance option for introverted readers. The premise for Silent Book Club is simple. Instead of bowing to the pressures of traditional book clubs (does speed reading the day of an event sound familiar?), a group of like-minded people can meet up in a public place solely to read, relax, and enjoy the downtime (imbibing encouraged but optional). The club, which uses DreamHost for its web hosting needs, began with a couple of friends in 2012, namely Laura Gluhanich and Guinevere de la Mare. De la Mare was in the throes of toddlerhood with her two-year-old son who didn’t like to sleep, and she needed an occasional escape. “As a working mom, there is no ‘off’ switch. You have to demand downtime and carve out time in your schedule for self-care because no one is going to hand it to you unbidden,” de la Mare says. “Lounging in bed and reading for hours on a rainy morning is a lovely fantasy but simply not an option with a toddler in tow.” One evening she met Gluhanich at a bistro in between their San Francisco apartments, and the two began chatting about how nice it would be to be able to show up to a book club meeting and just read and drink wine — no homework necessary. During the next few years, the pair met up sporadically with local friends at wine bars to read. In 2015, Gluhanich, de la Mare, and Kristin Appenbrink launched silentbook.club, and bibliophiles began latching on. Clubbing with Friends Silent Book Club, which boasts more than 50 chapters worldwide, is really all about sharing a low-maintenance way for individuals to enjoy reading their own book — together. “Until Silent Book Club, I never found a book club that stuck,” de la Mare says. “I have been part of a YA book club, a ‘Read Women’ club, and a couple others. The constant thread through them all is that I was usually stressed out that I hadn’t finished the assigned book and anxiety-ridden that I wouldn’t have anything smart to add to the discussion. And don’t get me started on hosting/snack duties. Just, no.” Providing people with an alternative book club has been rewarding for its founders, especially when they hear about how it has improved lives. “It’s really delightful to hear from community members on how SBC has impacted them,” Gluhanich says. “They’ve rediscovered their love of reading, they finally found a book they loved that was shared in the group, they’ve connected with a new part of their identity.” And despite the lack of conversing, there is a lot of bonding going on. “I love seeing the same faces month after month. I’ve met so many people and made lasting friendships with people who have been coming to SBC for years,” de la Mare says. “Which is funny to think that you can become such good friends with people who get together once a month to not talk.” Want to meet more awesome site owners?Subscribe to the DreamHost Digest for inside scoops, expert tips, and exclusive deals.Sign Me Up A Penchant for Print Gluhanich, who grew up in western Michigan and spent a dozen years in the Bay Area before moving to Colorado last year, says her older brother and parents taught her to read when she was quite young. “We were frequent library patrons,” she recalls. “I can’t think of a time when being a reader wasn’t a central part of my identity. I used to get in trouble for staying up reading with a nightlight or flashlight when I was growing up. Though the quantity of books read has gone up and down depending on life, I’ve always loved reading.” Gluhanich now works on making the tech industry more inclusive and equitable in addition to co-running Silent Book Club. Besides reading, she spends her time climbing, hiking, skiing, and listening to live music. Similarly, de la Mare grew up in a family of readers. “I was fortunate to be surrounded by books from the very start,” says de la Mare, who was born and raised in Hawaii. “As a child, I was a voracious reader, and as an adult, I generally prefer fictional characters to real-life ones.” She moved to the Bay Area in 1994 to attend the University of California, Berkeley. Her first job out of college was in advertising at the height of the dot-com boom in San Francisco. After the crash, de la Mare began working in publishing as a copywriter at Chronicle Books. “When social media exploded in 2009, I launched the brand onto the internet as their first online community manager,” she says. “I currently juggle my day job as the editorial director at Storybird, an online creative writing platform for kids, my side job as co-founder of Silent Book Club, and my round-the-clock job as a mom.” When it comes to finding her next book, Gluhanich says the consistent thing she loves is an author who enjoys the characters they are portraying. “My longstanding two favorites are ‘Franny and Zooey’ and ‘Pride and Prejudice,’” she says. “I’ve always loved Agatha Christie as well. More recently I’ve really enjoyed memoirs.” For de la Mare it’s literary fiction — particularly sweeping, multigenerational family sagas — that hook her. “Some recent favorites include ‘The Immortalists,’ ‘Pachinko,’ ‘The Heart’s Invisible Furies,’ and ‘The Great Believers,’” she says. “I have a hard time labeling favorites, but I often credit ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne du Maurier as the book that had the greatest influence on making me a reader.” De la Mare isn’t just an avid reader, she’s also an author — and it might not be that surprising to find her tome, “I’d Rather be Reading,” is touted as a love letter to books and readers alike. Related: Everything You Need to Know About Using a Website Builder Fan Fiction Although Gluhanich and de la Mare knew there was something special about their Silent Book Club idea, they never thought it would become as big as it has. “Everything we’ve done that has led to growth has been organic,” Gluhanich says. “For example, we started the Facebook group because we couldn’t remember everyone to invite to our otherwise randomly-scheduled meetups. It’s now more than 30,000 people around the world.” Seeing the growth and enthusiasm around the world has been rewarding for the club’s founders. “From South Africa to Malaysia to Alabama to The Hague, there is this shared sense of relief and delight to have ‘found your people,’” de la Mare explains. “It’s a powerful reaffirmation that we are all part of the same tribe — at least, we introverts are.” Gluhanich believes the stress-free environment and companionable silence is one of the factors that draw people to the club. “I think it’s the lack of pressure to be reading a certain kind of book or to have a meaningful opinion about something they love — or hate,” she says. “I’m not gonna lie — for me personally, I like having a glass of wine with my reading, too!” Silent Book Club’s uniqueness and rapid growth recently caught the attention of O, The Oprah Magazine. “An editor at Oprah reached out to us because they were working on a story about book clubs and had heard of us,” de la Mare says. “It was in the February 2019 issue, a gorgeous two-page spread featuring a photo of one of our chapters. We’ve gotten great feedback and lots of interest from new members and people who want to start new clubs.” According to de la Mare, the in-person meetups are the heart and soul of Silent Book Club; however, she also acknowledges the way social media connects its members. “Silent Book Club is all about community, and we founded the organization with the intention of gathering people together in a shared space to read,” she says. “But we also recognize that not everyone can get out of the house, not everyone has a community of readers around them or a chapter in their town, and most people enjoy talking about books more than once a month. So our online presence is a way of extending the connections between readers across time zones, geography, and social divides.” The research, she continues, is clear that spending too much time on social media leads to depression and loneliness. “The best way to counter isolation and loneliness is to find a supportive community of kindred spirits. It can be really hard for people who are introverts or who are struggling with depression to put themselves out there in social settings,” de la Mare says. “So Silent Book Club offers a welcome opportunity to be in a shared space with others, having a communal experience, and hopefully feeling a little less lonely.” When people stumble upon a group of readers in public, there are a few stares and occasionally some hecklers. “One time in San Francisco, we were reading in the lobby of the Palace Hotel while a guy was playing guitar and singing — definitely background music style,” de la Mare says. “At one point in between songs, he tried to crack some jokes about how ‘nerdy’ it was to be reading books and didn’t we know how to have fun? Most of his audience that night was Silent Book Club members, and, boy, did he not know how to read a crowd.” Low-Key with DreamHost Low-maintenance is the essence of Silent Book Club, which is precisely why the club uses DreamHost’s shared hosting. “I think the sign of a great host (online or off) is that you don’t realize they are there,” Gluhanich says. “We’ve experienced consistent uptime and support, which is exactly what you want for anything online.” DreamHost was recommended to de la Mare a few years ago by a developer friend when she was looking to build a personal website. “I had always had a great experience, and since I already had a domain there, it made it really easy to add another. I have no experience in backend development (we use Shopify to run our site), and so I appreciate that DreamHost made it easy to find and register a .club domain and provide hosting services with a straightforward fee structure, all on one dashboard,” de la Mare says. The “Happy Hosting Plan” is a perfectly accurate name for the service, de la Mare continues. “For us, it was definitely ‘set it and forget it,’” she says. “DreamHost reminds me when it’s time to renew so we never lose our domain. It’s been great!” 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 Cultivating Readers Remember that sleepless two-year-old, the impetus for Silent Book Club? He’s now almost nine and has turned into a huge reader himself. “He loves graphic novels, ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid,’ and anything about dogs. We still read aloud together at bedtime; it’s a ritual that has stuck even when he became a solo reader,” de la Mare says. “But sometimes we choose to have ‘Silent Book Club’ before bed when we both read our own books.” De la Mare credits the club for helping her in a time that she desperately needed it. “Silent Book Club gave me a way to claim back my time for reading, to calendar in the self-care I needed to regain my sense of self, and, frankly, my sanity,” she says. As for the club’s plans for the future, the women in charge hope to see it grow and help other people who need an outlet — or an excuse to read. “Our goal is world domination, and we’re only kind of kidding,” de la Mare says. “We currently have more than 50 active Silent Book Club chapters around the world, on every continent except Antarctica. But we’re pretty sure the scientists down there spend a lot of time silently reading, so I think that counts.” The post Bibliophiles, Unite! Meet the DreamHost Customers Behind Silent Book Club appeared first on Welcome to the Official DreamHost Blog.

How to Design a Logo for Your Website That Visitors Will Love

Every website you visit — even the simplest ones — are made from dozens of elements. Most sites have sidebars, images, headers, buttons, and so on, and each of those design elements plays a role. However, few are as important as a site’s logo, as it’s often what grabs visitors’ attention. A quality logo should do more than just look good. It needs to represent your brand identity, demonstrate to your audience that you’re running a professional website, and let visitors know what to expect. Of course, if your logo also happens to stand out visually on top of all that, that’s even better. In this article, we’ll talk about why you need a logo and discuss what makes one effective. Then we’ll introduce examples of five different types of logos and talk about how you can create a logo for your website. Let’s get to work! Why Your Website Needs a Logo Logos are an essential part of web design. However, you’ll notice that not every website you visit bears a logo. In many cases, people will just showcase their site’s name and call it a day. Just because a site is lacking a logo doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t worth your time. However, it’s an indicator that the owner or company might not be thinking about branding. At the most fundamental level, logos are a visual representation of your business. However, they fulfill a larger purpose than just sitting there and looking pretty. Here are some of the ways a professionally-designed logo can impact your website: Over time, customers and clients will come to associate your website and its content with your logo. You can use your logo to quickly identify all of your site’s social media accounts. A logo gives you the opportunity to demonstrate what your site is about to newcomers. Visual branding can make your site look more professional (if done well). We’re willing to bet that most of your favorite websites and brands have attention-grabbing logos. In fact, those logos are probably one of the first things you picture when you think about prominent sites and companies. Effective logos don’t have to be flashy, either. Consider Twitter’s logo, for example. This is a simple image, yet there are few people who wouldn’t recognize it today. That’s powerful branding in action. Creating a unique logo is one of your best strategies for helping your website stand out from all the others. Be Awesome on the InternetJoin our monthly newsletter for tips and tricks to build your dream website!Sign Me Up The Essential Elements of a Standout Logo There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to logo design. If you hire four professional designers to help you come up with ideas, you’ll probably get four very different results. That’s OK, since logos should be unique. However, there are some fundamental things you should keep in mind when creating or commissioning a logo for your website: You’ll want to use your brand colors, so the logo’s ‘look’ fits with the rest of your design. It should be easy to understand or read at a glance. The design should be targeted towards your core audience. The first two points are straightforward. After all, you don’t want your logo to look out of place on your site or have potential customers be unable to make out what it says. The third element is a bit trickier, however, because it requires you to have a solid understanding of who your core audience is. Let’s say, for example, that you run a cooking blog. In that scenario, you may want to incorporate some cooking-related elements within your logo’s design. Knives, pots and pans, and aprons would all make excellent choices. While these may seem a little on the nose, they let visitors know right away what your blog is about. That being said, you should also feel free to experiment with your logo’s design. In our experience, it’s pretty rare to be happy with the first design you see. If you’re going to hire someone to help you create a memorable logo, you should consider multiple options before you settle on a favorite. Of course, you can always change your logo down the road. However, there’s a reason successful websites and companies often stick with the same logos for decades. Switching logos usually involves a full rebranding strategy, which takes a lot of time and effort. So you’ll want to get it right the first time if possible. 5 Types of Logos You Can Use on Your Website Logos come in all shapes and kinds. However, we can break down most types of logo designs into five basic categories. Let’s start at the top! 1. Emblems Emblem logos are some of the most common designs you’ll find both online and offline. An emblem is made up of one or more symbols or icons, combined with stylized text. Harley Davidson, for example, uses a crest-like emblem for its brand. Another unmistakable emblem is the Starbucks logo. Using emblems gives you the opportunity to add text to your logo design. Emblem logos tend to look classic, which makes them a solid pick for businesses and websites that want to establish a sense of professionalism and tradition. 2. Monograms If you’re looking for a clean and classic approach to logo design, then monograms might be up your alley. With the monogram approach, you design your logo based on your website’s initials. Consider Bavarian Motor Works, for example, which you probably know better as BMW. Perhaps the most well-known example of a company using a monogram logo is McDonald’s. We’d be willing to bet that most people in the world can recognize the company’s iconic “M.” Arguably, there’s nothing too special about this logo design. However, its simplicity and bold color choice have helped it become iconic. Monogram logos are all about simplicity. In some cases, people might even end up referring to your website by using its initials, which can make a monogram even more memorable and relevant. 3. Logotypes When most people think about logos, emblems and monograms are the first things that come to mind. However, many logos are constructed by only using text. Of course, that doesn’t mean your logo needs to be boring. Some of the world’s most recognizable designs are simple logotypes, such as Google’s. Most of us use Google on a daily basis, so we’re very familiar with that logo. However, chances are that if you weren’t familiar with the search engine and someone showed you this design, you’d think it was nonsense. Still, Google’s logo succeeds in two key aspects — it’s easy to read, and it makes smart use of bold colors to stand out. If you want another example of a logotype, check out FedEx’s. This happens to be one of our favorite logotypes, due to the way it uses negative space to hide an arrow between the “e” and the “x.” It aptly demonstrates that logotype designs don’t need to be dull. However, if you do choose to go this route, you’ll want to experiment with typography to find a design that doesn’t look like you just typed a word and called it a day. 4. Brand Marks So far, the logotypes we’ve discussed are mostly centered around letters and words. Brand marks, on the other hand, are all about imagery. To illustrate that, let’s take a look at one of the most iconic brand marks around. That is, of course, Apple’s logo. It’s so on the nose that it barely needs an introduction. This is a reflection of both Apple’s popularity and the power of a good logo. With brand marks, you can be as creative as you want. In fact, many companies choose a more abstract approach than Apple did, such as Nike. We know that this is the Nike logo. However, if you weren’t familiar with the company, this image wouldn’t tell you much at all about what it is they do. Still, it conveys a sense of style and speed that’s appropriate to the brand. Ultimately, brand marks are only as good as the company and the products they represent. This is a bold approach to logo design and can pay off in the long term even for websites. Plus, brand marks can work well for any type of web project, since you have free reign over their design. 5. Mascots Last but not least, we can’t forget about mascot-based logos. These days, using mascots in logo designs isn’t as popular as it used to be. However, that doesn’t mean it’s an approach you shouldn’t consider. After all, there are plenty of examples of iconic mascot logos, such as Planters. Another excellent example of a classic mascot design comes from Wendy’s. In this case, the mascot is a person. However, many more mascots are based on animals, fantastical creatures, cartoon characters, and so on. Mascot-based logos can be tricky to get right. However, they are often effective — especially if your website’s target audience is on the younger side. After all, mascots can make your brand seem more playful and accessible. Plus, your mascot can evolve and grow with your brand over time, as long as it remains recognizable. How to Create a Professional-Looking Logo for Your Website (In 4 Steps) Now that you know what your options are, it’s time to get to work! Everyone’s creative process is different, but we can break down the process of creating a logo into four primary phases. Step 1: Brainstorm Ideas for Your Logo Whether you decide to design a logo on your own or hire someone else to do it, the first thing you need to do is come up with some potential ideas. Chances are you already have some vague notion about what you want your logo to look like. However, before you commit to the first idea that comes to mind, here’s what we recommend doing: Check out some of your competitors’ logos to see if they share common themes. Do some research into brands you like and see if any of their logos inspire you. Think about the type of branding you want to use for your website and what your site represents. Naturally, you don’t want to copy what other brands are doing. What you can do is identify websites that have compelling logos, and then make note of the elements they have in common. A skilled graphic designer will be able to take a look at the logos you like and come up with original designs in a similar spirit. If you’re working on your own, checking out other logos can tell you what works and what doesn’t in your website’s niche. With that as a starting point, you should be able to come up with a strong logo more quickly. Step 2: Create a Detailed Brief For this next step, let’s assume that you want to hire someone to design your website’s logo. If that’s the case, you’ll need to give them as much information as possible, so they understand what you want for your website. In other words, you need to put together a simple design brief. Your brief should cover the following points to ensure that the person you hire can bring your vision to life: Some examples of logos you like Information on the colors you want the logo to include What type of typography you’d like to see within your logo An overall idea of the style you’re looking for The text you want as part of your logo (if any) At this stage, you may or may not already have a website up and running. If you do, you should also share it with your designer, so they can figure out what would work with your site’s style. Design can be very subjective so it’s crucial to be as specific as possible if you want to get back high quality results. Step 3: Start the Design Process By now, you have a clear idea of what you want your logo to look like. More importantly, you have documentation you can use to help someone create that logo and come up with a design you love. You now have a critical choice to make — whether you want to hire a designer or try and design the logo yourself. In most cases, we recommend against the latter option, unless you have some experience in graphic design. However, if you want to give it a try, there are a lot of toolsthat can help you design a stylish logo. Assuming that you don’t have much of a background in web design, you’ll probably want to try out a free logo maker. In that case, we’d recommend Canva, which you can use to create all sorts of graphics for the web (including logos). There are, of course, plenty of other online logo creator tools you can try out. However, we can’t recommend enough that you consider hiring a professional designer for this step. Logo design can be somewhat costly for professional work, but it’s an investment that will pay off in spades over the long term. Before you hire anyone, though, make sure to check out their portfolio and see if their past work fits in well with the vision you have for your site’s logo. 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 Step 4: Place the Logo on Your Website Once your custom logo is ready, all that’s left is to upload the final design to your website. You probably don’t need our help with that part of the process. However, it’s important you take this opportunity to review how well your new logo fits in with your website’s design. In some cases, there might be issues that don’t become apparent until you add the logo to your site. If you run into a situation like that, don’t worry — logo designers tend to include revisions in their prices (within reason). If you gave feedback during the design process, your site’s logo will probably come out looking just fine. However, it’s still a good idea to try it on for size, just in case! Make Your Mark When it comes to logos, you can let your creativity run loose. Your logo can be a single letter, a mascot, the classic image and tagline combo, or pretty much anything else you can imagine. What matters is that it represents what your website is all about, and that it’s easy to comprehend at a glance. Do you have any questions about how to come up with the perfect logo idea for your site? Find us on Facebook or Twitter and let’s brainstorm! The post How to Design a Logo for Your Website That Visitors Will Love appeared first on Welcome to the Official DreamHost Blog.

How to Design a Website: 6 Key Tips for Success

Designing a website is easier than it has ever been. Long gone are the days of manual coding and restrictive print-based layouts. Today, almost anyone can create a gorgeous, responsive, functional site in minutes — as long as you know where to start. Fortunately, the basics of website design are relatively easy to understand if you apply some common sense and careful planning. Your goal should always be to create a site that’s not just visually striking but is also easy to navigate and use. In this article, we’ll discuss the basics of designing a website and show you how to get started with six key tips. We’ll also introduce you to the Remixer website builder and demonstrate how you can use this tool to create a site quickly and easily. 1. Plan Your Design Thoroughly Before you do anything, you’ll need a concrete and thorough plan. At this stage, you should clearly define your goals and expectations for your site and outline what you hope to accomplish with it. Here are just a few of the questions you’ll want to have clear answers to: Is the site personal or commercial? Do you want it to make money and if so, how? Will you be using advertisements or affiliate marketing? How much traffic are you expecting? Put your thoughts and ideas down on paper and start drawing up a plan. We mean that literally, by the way. A smart method of planning your site is to create sketches of how you want it to look and operate. You should also take everyone’s ideas into account if you’re working with other designers or collaborators. By the end of your planning phase, you should have a blueprint of the site’s top-level framework. This includes a plan for its user interface (UI), sidebars, and other page elements, as well as an idea of how navigation will work. Doing this first will make it much easier to bring your vision to life. 2. Create Your Site’s Visual Identity When you’ve got an idea of what the structure of your site will be, it’s time to look at its appearance. You’ll need to choose the fonts and typography you’ll want to use. If you’re working from an established brand identity, consider how your choices match up to offline materials. It’s also worth exploring how well the fonts you choose work with multiple languages and how effectively they scale up and down on differently-sized screens. You’ll also need to decide on a color scheme. Again, if you’re creating a site based on a brand with an established visual identity, you’ve done most of the hard work already. Otherwise, picking a color scheme requires you to consider color theory and ensure your choices are accessible. Thinking about the ‘feel’ you want your site to have can make this decision easier. Colors represent different emotions and meanings, after all. For example, red is typically seen as an aggressive and impulsive color, while green is associated with health and the environment. You should take time to choose your colors carefully since they can help you create a cohesive visual identity. 3. Consider the Layout and Navigation If you planned ahead as we discussed earlier, this step will be a lot easier. You’ve already considered how navigation will work on your site. It’s now time to dig deeper and think about your visitor’s journey. The visitor’s journey refers to the possible paths that people can take on your website. In other words, you’ll need to consider how users will access other parts of the site from any given page. After all, you won’t always have control over how users first arrive on your site, so you can’t just rely on a homepage to serve as your hub. Navigation needs to be available across your site, and it has to be accessible and easy-to-use. You also need to plan out the layout of each page carefully. To do this, ask yourself what each page on your site is trying to achieve. For example, if you want people to fill out a contact form, you’ll need a strong Call–To-Action (CTA) button. Your CTA should always be prominent and clear. Every element on a page should be designed to promote the overall goal. It’s best to start simple and add elements over time to ensure you aren’t adding unneeded information or features. 4. Pay Attention to the Details When you’ve completed the overall design and layout of your site, it’s time to shrink your scope and focus on the details. These are the seemingly minor things that create the general look and feel of your site, such as buttons, menus, image placements, and so forth. Treat each component on your site as a stand-alone object and give it proper attention. This is the kind of precise work that can seem excessive but will greatly help to refine your site overall. Your goal should be to make the final product better than the sum of its parts, and spending appropriate time and effort on those parts is the best strategy. One way you can make your site ‘pop’ is by adding engaging elements like microinteractions. We’ve previously discussed that these are a popular trend — and for good reason. They help make your site feel more interactive and living since it’s able to respond to the user in small ways. You should also work on avoiding common mistakes, such as bad font rendering and poor color contrast. These are the kinds of issues that are easy to miss if you don’t get up-close with the individual components of your site. For that reason, make sure you give them the attention they require. 5. Prototype and Share Your Design Prototyping is an important part of the design process. A prototype is simply a demo version of your site that you can share with others. It can be presented as images or you can create a static HTML representation of how each page is meant to look with little-to-no functionality. Creating a prototype is an important way to give others an idea of what the site will look like when it’s done. If you’re working for a client, they will naturally want an overview of your plans and the chance to suggest changes. You should, therefore, show them a prototype early on so they can provide feedback. This will save you time down the line, as they won’t be surprised or displeased with your work when it’s nearing completion. One thing to remember: site builders make creating a site so quick and easy that you often don’t need a separate prototype. You’ll be able to quickly put together a new idea and solicit feedback from others without creating a demo (more on this later). Related: Everything You Need to Know About Using a Website Builder 6. Challenge Yourself and Be Willing to Experiment Finally, remember that web design is a creative endeavor, and you should always be willing to challenge yourself. This applies when you’re creating your first website or your 50th. For example, you can consider new ways of approaching a particular design goal. Maybe you’ll experiment with different color schemes, images, or a more accessible navigation layout. This step is more important than it might seem. Not only will it help you to grow as a creator, but it will also give you an extra incentive to find new solutions. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Giving yourself a challenge in each new project is an excellent way to keep yourself focused and invested in your work. One smart way to get started is by finding inspiration in recent design trends. You can consider how you can implement those trends yourself or even improve on them. How to Design a Website With Remixer When it comes time to put the tips we’ve discussed into practice, you’ll need the right tool for the job. With that in mind, allow us to introduce Remixer. This is a website builder that requires no coding and enables you to create your site using an intuitive visual editor. The best thing about Remixer is that it enables anyone, regardless of experience, to create a website using the basics we’ve outlined throughout this article. With Remixer, you don’t need to know your way around HTML, CSS, PHP, or any other coding language to create functional and visually-striking websites. To start using Remixer, you just need to sign up for a free account. When you have signed in, you can start creating your site in two ways. The first is to choose a theme. When you hover over a theme, you can either preview it or select it as your starting point. This will open the Remixer editor, which we’ll look at soon. However, you can also choose the Create option in the upper right-hand corner. This will instead give you the choice of three different types of website. After you select one, you’ll be able to choose your site’s color palette. Remember to consider color psychology when making your decisions. You can select an option to see a preview of how it will look. Next, you can click on the Choose Images link in the bottom right-hand corner of the page. This will enable you to select a series of stock images to use on your site. You will be able to replace these later, so consider them more as a guide for yourself as you design your site’s appearance. Finally, you’ll select Choose Fonts to proceed to the next step. As you might imagine, this is where you’ll pick the fonts to use on your site. Find and select a font pair that matches the visual identity you’ve settled on. When you’re happy with your choices, click Preview Site. You’ll now be shown a snapshot of how your site will look. To preserve your preferences, select Save and edit this site. This will open your site in the Remixer editor, where you can edit its layout and content freely. Remixer is a click-to-edit builder. So to make any changes, you just need to click on an element on the page. For example, to update text, you just need to select it and make changes right in the editor. Other elements, such as images, can be changed with the menu on the left. Select the element you want to manage, and relevant settings will appear in this menu. To add new elements to the page, click the New buttons, which appear between existing sections. This will expand a selector, where you can pick the element you want to add to the page. At this point, you can freely make changes to your site. Every edit will be shown in real-time so it’s easy to experiment and see how your changes will affect the final result. As long as you remember the tips we’ve discussed throughout this article, you should be only a short time away from creating an excellent website with all the functionality you require! Need a Beautiful Website?Design it yourself with Remixer, our easy-to-use website builder. No coding required.Set Up Your Site Ready to Design Your Site? Even if you’ve never touched a line of code in your life, you can still create a great-looking, functional website. All it takes is understanding the basics of what makes a successful site and using an intuitive tool like the Remixer website builder to put it all into practice. The post How to Design a Website: 6 Key Tips for Success appeared first on Welcome to the Official DreamHost Blog.

10 Reasons It’s Important to Perform a Website Backup

There are a lot of things you can do to keep your website safe, from choosing a top-notch web host to using strong passwords. However, the single most important step you can take is to perform website backups — early and often. Having a recent backup of your site can help you in many situations. If you lose crucial data or your website gets hacked, having a backup readily available can solve your problems. Plus, it often doesn’t take more than a few minutes to get that backup file ready. In this article, we’ll walk you through 10 reasons why you should back up your website right away. Let’s get to work! 1. Guard Against Human Error Everyone makes mistakes from time to time. You might delete an important file on your website, make a change that breaks some of its functionality, and so on. There are ways to fix these kinds of errors, but in our experience, few are as efficient as restoring a previous backup. To put this into perspective, imagine that a significant part of your website ceases to work. You have two options: Identify the problem and look for a way to solve it. Restore your website’s most recent backup and move on. The first method can be quick or take a lot of time, depending on how serious the problem is. However, with the second approach, you can have your site up and running quickly. All you need is a recent enough backup that you won’t lose any valuable data. The primary takeaway is that backups can save you in situations where you or someone else makes a mistake on your site. To be as safe as possible, you’ll want to create those backups frequently — even on a daily basis (keep reading to find out how DreamHost makes this process simple). 2. Reverse Problems During Updates Updates are necessary to keep your site functioning smoothly. At the same time, it’s not uncommon to perform an update to your site, only to see something unexpectedly go wrong. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make changes — you just have to go about them safely. Ideally, you’ll have an automatic backup system set up for your site. That way, if you update any of its key components, you’ll have a recent restore point available just in case. It’s also smart to make a manual backup before you start tinkering with your website. It might take you a few minutes or longer to get that backup ready. However, you’ll be happy you made the time if anything goes wrong during the update process. 3. Prevent Loss of Data Imagine that you have a blog with hundreds of posts, and someone on your team deletes one (or more) of them by mistake. In the past, we’ve seen people delete entire libraries of content because they didn’t know what they were doing or they gave certain users too many privileges. One of the primary reasons to maintain a backup system is to ensure that your data will be safe, even in situations like the one described above. That means you need to have a full backup of your site in place, and the same goes for your personal data as well. What’s more, data loss can occur even if there’s no human error involved. That means having backups is essential, even if you and your team know what you’re doing. If you’re worried about losing important data, we recommend you take things one step further. Not only should you have multiple backups available, but you should also avoid keeping them all stored in the same location. We recommend uploading your latest backups to the cloud, as well as keeping a copy on your server for redundancy’s sake. 4. Handle Compatibility Issues After New Installations If you use WordPress or any other Content Management System (CMS), then you probably rely a lot on add-ons, such as themes and plugins. Both types of tools can be incredibly handy. However, each time you install a new add-on, you’re introducing an element that might not play nicely with the rest of the site’s ecosystem. Just as with updates, this doesn’t mean you should avoid plugins and themes. Instead, what you need to do is be careful about the ones you install. Make sure they have good reviews and ratings, and that the developers update them frequently. You’ll also want to back up your website before you activate a new theme or WordPress plugin, just to be safe. With this approach, if a compatibility issue pops up, all you have to do is revert to a previous backup. Then, you’re free to install an alternative tool. 5. Resolve Malware Infections A lot of people think of malware as something that can only affect personal computers. However, a surprising number of websites are infected with some kind of malware, and a lot more of them are vulnerable to it. Even if you’re proactive about website security, attackers have highly-sophisticated techniques in their arsenals. Also, keep in mind that not even smaller, lesser-known websites are safe from attacks. WordPress users, for example, often face threats from bots looking for vulnerabilities they can exploit. Troubleshooting malware can be particularly tricky since it’s hard to know when your site is fully clean. Even then, if you don’t identify and patch the security ‘hole’ that led to the infection, you’ll remain vulnerable. Having a backup ready to go will help you get your website clean faster. 6. Provide Protection Against Hackers There may also be times when attackers try to access your site directly to deface it or steal important information. If someone manages to breach an account with administrative privileges, for example, they might change its credentials to lock you out of your site. This shouldn’t happen if you take the right security precautions. It’s especially critical to have Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) enabled on your site. If there is a hack, however, there are three ways you can proceed: Try to recover access to your account through your email. Contact your web hosting provider to ask for their assistance. Restore a backup from your hosting panel. The first option might not always work since attackers will probably change the email associated with the account right away. If you’re using a reputable web host, the company should be able to help you — but that can take time. Restoring a backup, on the other hand, can help you regain control of your site quickly. Once you do, you can update your credentials to ensure that attackers are locked out once more. 7. Simplify the Process of Migrating Web Hosts In a perfect world, you wouldn’t need to switch web hosts. However, a lot of people make the mistake of choosing the first provider they run into that looks decent. That usually ends up about as well as an episode of 90 Day Fiancé and often leads to messy separations. This means you may need to migrate from one web host to another at some point. The process involves moving all of your site’s files from one server to another. The good news is that if you’ve taken our advice to heart, you already have multiple full copies of your website ready to go. There are a lot of ways you can use backups to migrate your website. You can copy files manually, use dedicated tools, or ask your new provider to do it for you. In any case, having a backup ready means that you can switch web hosts at a moment’s notice if you need to, which gives you a lot of freedom. 8. Make It Easy to Create a Testing Version of Your Website Whenever you want to make a significant change to your site, the safest way to do so is by using a testing environment. That way, if something goes wrong during or after the update, you can keep it from affecting your live website. To do this, you’ll need what’s called a staging site. There are several ways you can go about creating one, and they’re all pretty straightforward. What’s more, having a recent backup of your site in place means you can be ready to set up a staging copy in minutes. 9. Ensure an Uninterrupted Revenue Stream If you make money from your website, then you need to ensure that it’s always accessible. Every minute that it isn’t working can cost you money. Just to give you an idea of the stakes, Amazon estimated that a little downtime during its Prime Day event cost it anywhere between $72–99 million. If you run a small business, you’re probably not working with those kinds of numbers. However, that means it’s even more important not to lose out on any potential earnings due to problems with your website. An hour’s (or a day’s!) lost income can be a significant blow to any business. Troubleshooting unexpected problems from scratch can take a lot of time, as we mentioned before. On the other hand, if you can restore a backup, you’ll get your website back online and earning money quickly. Then you can take your time to find out what went wrong in the first place and keep it from happening again. 10. Foster Strong Security Practices If we had a dollar for every time we recommended that website owners back up their data, we’d be millionaires. However, if you took a dollar away for every time someone ignored that advice, we might break even. The fact is that backups are about as versatile as sliced bread. Plus, you have so many options for how to back up your site that there’s no excuse not to do it. Backing up your data, in general, is the cornerstone of good digital security. If you take your website seriously, you’ll also want to read up on the other best security practices you can implement. However, the first step is to create a backup right away and repeat the process often. Sooner or later, it will save your site so now’s the perfect moment to start. How to Perform a Website Backup As we’ve mentioned, there are a lot of ways you can back up your website. Some web hosts will do it for you and others enable you to create backups on demand from your control panel. If you prefer a more manual approach, you can copy your files using File Transfer Protocol (FTP) or set up a backup plugin. Whatever strategy you use is fine as long as you have multiple backups and you create them often. For maximum security, we recommend keeping several duplicate backups in different locations. That way, even if you lose one, you’ll have a backup of your backup. That’s about as safe as you can get. If you’re a DreamPress user, then you’re in good hands! We back up your website automatically for you daily. Plus, thanks to a recent update you can now create backups on demand via your control panel, whenever you like. You can also restore your backups just as quickly, in case you encounter any of the situations we’ve described in this post. Always Be Prepared “Make a backup” is one of the most often heard pieces of advice when it comes to digital security. If you back up your site regularly, you’ll have a quick fix in case anything goes wrong. For example, having a backup can save you a lot of headaches if you have to perform troubleshooting or recover lost data. Do you have any questions about how to perform website backups? Join the DreamHost Community today, and let’s discuss! The post 10 Reasons It’s Important to Perform a Website Backup appeared first on Welcome to the Official DreamHost Blog.

Master/Slave: Addressing Problematic Coding Terms in the Open-Source Community

The coding world is full of weird terms. You have back ends, tags, frameworks, and plenty more. However, while some words and phrases might sound odd until you get used to them, they usually aren’t offensive. There are some rare exceptions, however, such as the frequent use of master and slave. It goes almost without saying that those are two potentially problematic words, due to their historical connotations. However, they’re still widely used in developer circles and multiple coding languages. In fact, their use is so built-in that most people have never stopped to think about the terms. Today, we’re going to talk more about these two problematic coding terms. We’ll discuss the controversy around their use, introduce the debate over the possibility of replacing them, and explain what some open-source teams are doing to tackle the issue. Let’s talk terminology! The Existence of Problematic Coding Terms in Open-Source Coding As we mentioned earlier, there’s a lot of controversy regarding the use of the terms master and slave within the open-source community. Usually, these terms refer to a communications model where one element has full control over a second one. For example, you can have master and slave databases, with the master being primary. If you’re not a part of the tech community, this might seem a little odd. We all know the meaning of both words, as well as their historical context. However, these terms have been around for a while, and most people who use them never question it or give them much thought at all. At the same time, for a while now some people have pointed out that their use could be problematic. We can find references as far back as 2004 to the controversy around this issue. During that year, the Global Language Monitor Initiative selected the master/slave coupling as the most egregious example of politically-incorrect terminology. Ever since then, there’s been a lot of discussion within open-source projects about the possibility of replacing both words.much time in developer circles. However, a lot of interesting arguments have been made about it To be honest, this whole affair might sound like it’s blown out of proportion if you don’t spend over the past decade, which is worth considering. Why There’s a Controversy About the Terms Master and Slave When the terms master and slave are used in the open-source community, they’re not referring to people. If that were the case, we could pack up this discussion quickly, since just about everyone would agree we’d need to come up with less offensive terminology. Instead, those terms are used to refer to elements such as databases, drives, and more. That brings us to the reasons some people are against replacing the terms master and slave, which we can sum up in a couple of points: Both terms have been around for a while, so it doesn’t make any sense to replace them. In the tech world, the words aren’t used in an offensive context. For some people, master and slave are just words, and the idea that we should discourage their use within coding seems like a waste of time. From a practical standpoint, it’s hard to argue against those points. However, if we’re being practical, then it’s also worth pointing out that replacing those terms wouldn’t affect projects in terms of functionality. Moreover, the argument that we should stick to using the same words because we’ve always done so isn’t particularly persuasive. As a society, it’s become normal for us to discourage the use of offensive terminology, even if that change takes time. It would be a simple matter to choose replacement words that are far less charged and start using them instead. That brings us to the core of the debate, which is whether a word by itself can be offensive regardless of context. Some people would argue that changing the terms master and slave sets a bad precedent since there will always be words that others find offensive. Slippery slope debates aside, though, it’s hard to argue against the fact that these two terms, in particular, have clearly negative connotations. All in all, it’s important to consider that while these words might not affect you personally, they can have a lot of impact on other people and the way they think. The open-source community is built around collaboration, so if we can improve the environment and make it more friendly to all by replacing a couple of words, then it might make sense to do so. Related: 12 Questions with Accessibility Expert Gian Wild How Open-Source Projects Are Discouraging the Use of Problematic Coding Terms The debate around the terms master and slave has been around for so long that several companies have already taken steps to address it. IBM and Microsoft, for example, use the words primary and replica when referring to databases within their documentation. As for open-source projects, Python, Drupal, and Django have already excised the terms from their documentation entirely. Python went the same route as Microsoft and IBM, using primary and replica. Django, on the other hand, opted to implement the terms leader and follower. Those are just the most high-profile examples we could find. There are also a lot of smaller projects that have taken steps to address the controversy. What’s more, the fact that several big players in the tech world agree that the use of these terms is worth taking seriously sends a clear signal that others will likely follow suit. In the end, whether to replace the terms master and slave is a personal decision for each developer. If you’re part of an open-source project, consensus can be harder to reach. However, it may be for the best that we move towards replacing these terms within developer circles. After all, the open-source ethos is one of accessibility for all, which is hard to achieve when commonly-used terms can turn away a segment of the potential community. Related: How to Design an LGBTQ-Inclusive Website Do You Think Problematic Coding Terms Should Be Changed? The terms master and slave are common when it comes to computing. For many people, the words don’t carry negative connotations, since they have very specific meanings within the IT world. However, it’s impossible to deny their historical weight. With that in mind, there will always be people who find the casual use of both terms within coding to be problematic. Although changing the terms we use in coding can seem inconvenient, it’s both possible and relatively simple. The fact that several well-known projects such as Python and Drupal are taking action to eliminate the use of master and slave is already a big step. Getting rid of those terms is not only a good PR move, but it also makes the community more friendly to those who might find them personally offensive. Do you think it makes sense to replace problematic coding terms in the language of software development? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook or Twitter. The post Master/Slave: Addressing Problematic Coding Terms in the Open-Source Community appeared first on Welcome to the Official DreamHost Blog.

How to Warm Up Your Website This Winter: 9 Hot Marketing Ideas

Hard truth: If you don’t keep trying out new marketing angles for your website and business, you run the risk of losing your audience’s attention. That’s why it’s a smart idea to always be brainstorming fresh ideas. And at no time is this more relevant than at the beginning of the year. Every season brings new marketing opportunities along with it. By paying attention to the latest trends, you can find plenty of ways to bring in more traffic to your website. That way, you’ll start the new year with your best foot forward and avoid a winter lull in conversions. In this article, we’ll go over nine marketing ideas to help you revitalize your website for the new year. We’ll talk about why each one works and how to go about implementing it. Let’s get right to it! 1. Hold a Product or Service Giveaway The easiest way to get people’s attention is to give them something for free. That holds true both in the physical world and online. The only difference is that giving away digital products or services can be a lot easier and cheaper. One very common (but effective) approach is to give away a free e-book in exchange for visitors’ emails. This is an excellent strategy because it doesn’t cost you anything to distribute an e-book as many times as you want. On top of that, you can easily automate the giveaway process using a modern email marketing platform. However, it may not always be feasible for you to put together an e-book, depending on what your website’s niche is. For example, if you run an online store, it might make more sense to give away products instead. In that scenario, you can lower the expense involved by holding a giveaway for a limited number of users. This lets you drum up enthusiasm, without having to give out a lot of free items. Regardless of what type of website you’re running, giveaways are a great way to get more sign-ups or to encourage users to share your pages. Here’s a quick breakdown of the process involved: Come up with a product (digital or physical) that you can give away. Determine the logistics of distributing the product. Put a time limit on the promotion so there’s a sense of urgency to drive conversions. In our experience, you can even get amazing results with e-book giveaways. This brings us to the next technique. 2. Compile Your Content Into an E-book As we mentioned before, e-books are a fantastic way to drum up interest and conversions for your website. However, writing a book (even a short one) is never easy. It takes time, patience, knowledge, and at least some talent to create a product people will want to read. The good news is that if you run a website with a lot of published content — such as a blog — you might already have a book on your hands. If you’ve written a lot of WordPress tutorials, for example, you could compile them into one e-book divided into chapters, to create an ultimate resource. With this type of e-book ready to go, you can launch new marketing initiatives, such as: Publishing about the new resource on all your social media pages. Holding a giveaway for new email sign-ups, as we covered in the last section. Publishing the book to digital channels, such as Amazon, and including links back to your site. In fact, nothing is stopping you from doing all of the above, since we’re talking about a digital product. With that in mind, take a look and see if you can repurpose some of your existing content into an e-book on a particular subject. While you’re at it, you might even add some new content as well, to increase the e-book’s value for your long-time readers. 3. Target Seasonal Keywords Within Your Content As the new year gets started, with it comes the perfect opportunity to publish targeted content. Just to give you an idea, here’s what comes up if you look for “best smartphones” using Google at the beginning of the year. As you can see, all the top results are time-based. This is the time of year when people are looking for the best products and content from the past year, and the most exciting newcomers for the upcoming year. Therefore, this is the perfect chance to publish a roundup of the best smartphones for 2019 or whatever fits your specific niche. Of course, the rest of the year also comes with plenty of opportunities for this kind of content. Here are some quick examples: The best new backpacks for going back to school Top 10 flip-flops to welcome the summer 8 heated toilet seats to stay warm during the winter Feel free to steal one of these ideas, and if you can make it work, kudos to you! In any case, you can apply the same formula to any season of the year, and even to special events in your area. 4. Ask Visitors to Donate to a Charity (Or Do It Yourself) These days, it’s become common for people to donate to charities or individuals online. That’s the entire concept behind sites such as GoFundMe and GlobalGiving. If you want to earn some karma points while also getting more eyes on your website, one great way to do so is by raising money for charity. Usually, you’ll do this by picking out a specific charity to support — something that’s relevant to your niche and audience. Then you reach out to your site’s visitors, your email list, and so on, asking them to donate money and explaining why it’s worth their time. Along with simply being a good thing to do, this kind of initiative has the potential to spread and raise awareness, as people are more likely to share it on social media. That, in turn, can bring new visitors to your website (and improve the effectiveness of the charity drive) Just remember that whatever approach you decide to take with your donation drive, make sure to include social sharing icons. That way, visitors will be able to share your post or the donation page with just a couple of clicks. 5. Offer Special Deals for the New Year The holiday season is packed with special offers and discounts. However, there’s no reason you can’t keep the party going in the new year, so to speak. In fact, many people will appreciate special deals more once the holidays are over, and they can focus on getting ready for the new year. On top of that, ‘new year deals’ are perfect if you run a store and need to get rid of extra stock from the holiday rush. This same approach can apply to many other types of sites. If you sell services online, for example, you might see a lull in business around the new year.  However, you can counteract that effect by offering a discount to bring in new business. If you want to take things a step further, you can even offer discounts for referrals. This approach not only keeps your existing users happy, but it can also help you market your business to new clients. 6. Retarget Your Ads Targeted ads can be relatively expensive. However, if you sell products or services online, they can also be highly effective at driving conversions. These days, you can even ‘retarget’ people who have visited your website but didn’t convert, so you get a second shot at convincing them. If you run ads on Facebook, for example, you can use the Facebook pixel to target users who visited your website but didn’t add items to their shopping cart or failed to go through with a purchase. That’s just one type of retargeting, however. You might also focus on cross-checking users who have signed up to your email list, and sending ads to them through social media. This may sound invasive, but as long as your ads are tasteful, retargeting enables you to market your website to people you already know are interested. That means all you have to do is persuade them to follow their instincts and give you a chance. 7. Create Videos to Accompany Your Content Not all people like to consume content in the same way. You might be more partial to written posts, for example, whereas others prefer to watch YouTube videos, listen to podcasts, and so on. This means that if you focus your website on a single type of content, you could be losing out on a much broader potential audience. To avoid that scenario, you can create complementary content in a different format — in this case, video. Creating video content from scratch isn’t a walk in the park, of course. However, there are some simpler approaches you can take, such as: Creating video versions of existing posts, either by recording yourself or using stock graphics Developing video summaries of some of your latest or most popular content Doing video interviews that might not translate well as regular articles No matter how you do it, putting together high-quality videos for your website does require some work and budget. However, the upside is that you can post the finished videos both to your site and to third-party platforms. If you add them to YouTube, for example, and include links back to your website, you’ll be opening up a whole new marketing channel. 8. Consider Creating a Podcast If you’re not interested in creating videos to market your content, there are other mediums you can dip your toes into. Podcasts, for example, have never been as popular as they are right now. Millions of people listen to podcasts weekly and most of them follow several. If you’re up to creating your own podcast and committing to releasing new episodes periodically, then you can tap into a huge potential source of traffic. There are several upsides to going with the podcast approach instead of video, such as: There’s a lower barrier to entry since you only need basic recording equipment. Podcast listeners are used to long-form content, so you can do more in-depth takes. You can launch your podcast on multiple third-party platforms, such as Spotify. To be fair, creating a podcast isn’t as easy as just picking up a microphone and talking your listeners’ ears off. If you want to sound professional, you’ll probably need to work out a script in advance for each episode. Plus, you may need to invest in better recording equipment than just a headset, if you want to maintain a high level of quality. 9. Talk About Hot Topics in Your Industry One of the most effective ways to market your website to a broader audience is to become a go-to source for news within your niche. Let’s say, for example, that you like to blog about WordPress. If that’s the case, you’ll know that writing about the new Gutenberg editor was a great way to attract traffic during the past year: Trends change, of course, and what’s a hot topic right now might not be relevant in a couple of months. This means that if you want to stay relevant, you always need to be on the lookout for new stories and content that will interest your audience. To do this, you’ll want to keep up-to-date with the latest news in your site’s niche. That means following competitors’ sites, subscribing to journals, keeping an eye on feeds, checking up on social media profiles, and so on. The more up-to-date you are with the latest happenings, the more marketing opportunities you’ll be likely to spot. Buh-Bye, Winter Blues The new year always brings change with it, and that should apply to your website as well. In other words, this is the perfect time to try out some fresh marketing initiatives. That way, you’ll have an easier time keeping old visitors engaged and bringing in new ones at a faster rate. Will you be making any changes to your website over the next few months? Tell us what you have planned on Facebook and Twitter! The post How to Warm Up Your Website This Winter: 9 Hot Marketing Ideas appeared first on Welcome to the Official DreamHost Blog.

How to Start a WordPress Blog: A Comprehensive Guide

Blogs have become a ubiquitous part of the online landscape. Most internet users and companies have one, and that’s no coincidence. However, while creating a blog is easier than it’s ever been, building one that draws traffic and can actually make you money requires both planning and effort. In most cases, this investment is well worth it. A blog can be an extension to an existing marketing strategy and can also be a lucrative method for making money online. Even if you don’t monetize your blog, it can be creatively and professionally useful for both individuals and businesses. In this comprehensive guide, we’re going to take you through all the steps required to create a successful blog using WordPress: Identify Your Blog’s Subject and Niche Name Your Blog Choose a Platform for Your Blog Purchase Web Hosting and a Domain from DreamHost Install WordPress Tweak Your Blog’s Appearance with a Theme Customize Your Blog With Plugins Brainstorm Blog Topics Write Your First Post Optimize Your Posts for Search Engines Set a Schedule (And Stick to It) Create a Style Guide Market and Share Your Posts Monetize Your Blog We’ll cover everything from coming up with a name and installing your site, to writing your first post and sharing it with others. There’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get started! A Brief History of Blogs Do you remember your first blog post? Maybe it was a slightly fumbling introduction to yourself, or a public diary entry about an event that had happened to you. It might even have been something more ambitious, like a review of a recent purchase. Alternately, maybe you haven’t written one yet. Whatever your personal experience with them might be, blogs have been a staple of internet culture ever since the ’90s. In the decades since, they have evolved from mostly aimless public diaries to encompass many different niches and goals. This expansion was bolstered by the rise of blogging platforms, which let those with no knowledge of HTML and File Transfer Protocol (FTP) create their own ‘weblogs,’ as they were then known. The most notable of these at the time was Open Diary, but it was soon followed by new blogging platforms like LiveJournal and Blogger. This explosion of tools led to a rise in new bloggers, which culminated in the early 2000s. Even with the rise of social media, blogs still stand strong as a medium. Their purpose has shifted, of course, and most ‘online journal’ blogs have largely been usurped by the less time-consuming and more direct alternatives of Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. However, the blog has evolved, and creating one today can still offer many creative and commercial benefits. The Benefits of Running Your Own Blog Today The reasons you may want to start a blog will differ radically, depending on what your goals and intended focus are. In the same vein, the ultimate benefits of blogging to you will be individually determined. For instance, if you want to run a journal-style blog, you may just be looking to express yourself in an open and honest way. Perhaps you have a cause you want to discuss in more depth or a particular subject matter that you’re passionate about. You might even just want an outlet to vent about your worries, which can help you clear your mind and promote progress in your everyday life. A blog can also be an excellent opportunity to express yourself creatively. You could use it to publish your writing, including reviews, short stories, or even poems. This can not only motivate you to keep improving your writing, but can also help to grow your audience. Some bloggers have even managed to turn their blogging into careers as published writers. However, as we mentioned earlier, blogging is not only for personal or creative use. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that many businesses have their own company blogs. This includes most giant international corporations like Google, Facebook, and Starbucks. However, smaller businesses also use blogs to grow their audiences, post updates about their services, and provide value to their readers. Of course, while we’re clearly fans of blogging, that doesn’t mean it’s free from potential problems and difficulties. For one, your blog requires a considerable investment of time and effort to be successful. There are also plenty of common blogging mistakes you’ll want to avoid, such as having an irregular posting schedule, using a site with long loading times, and most importantly, writing sub-par content. Even so, these are almost all issues you can avoid. If you take the time to plan, create a well-performing site, and work on improving your writing, you’ll be well-equipped to run a blog people will genuinely enjoy reading. How to Start a WordPress Blog (In 14 Steps) In order to improve the odds that your blog doesn’t languish in obscurity, we’re going to take you through the entire process of setting it up, from start to finish, with step-by-step instructions. Let’s get this blog on the road! Step 1: Identify Your Blog’s Subject and Niche First and foremost, you’ll need to decide what your blog should be about. Chances are you already have at least a vague idea of what the subject matter will be. However, it’s necessary to determine not only what general topics you’ll tackle, but also how and for whom. This will help define your blog’s identity and make it easier for you to tailor its content to your intended audience. A perfect starting point is to consider your own interests. What kind of topics are you passionate about and feel you could write about insightfully? For example, let’s say you’re a big fan of video games. In this scenario, you may be inclined to start a blog where you discuss and review games you enjoy. However, there are already plenty of blogs on this subject, so you’ll need to think about how yours might differ. This includes deciding what your blog’s focus will be (such as a particular genre or style of game), and defining your target audience (hardcore gamers or those new to the medium?). Doing some market research at this stage will be useful, as it can help you find a niche that may be underserved. Continuing with our gaming example, you might notice there are few blogs devoted to a specific type of game or that discuss games as a whole from a given perspective. These are both niches you could set out to fill. As a result, your blog will have a tighter focus and stronger audience appeal. Step 2: Name Your Blog While it might seem like a secondary consideration, naming your blog isn’t a task you should take lightly. After all, a name can help to brand your blog and make it more memorable. In addition, especially if your blog takes off, you’ll want your chosen name to be something you’re happy with. Most blog names can be roughly separated into two categories: Keyword-based. These are names that contain relevant keywords, in order to be descriptive and make the purpose of the blog clear. Some examples include British Beauty Blogger and Car and Driver. Brand-based. These blog names focus on a brand and tend to be shorter and more memorable. A few examples are Kotaku and BMWBLOG. If you feel stuck and need a bit of inspiration at this stage, some tools can help you out. For instance, there are several online name generators you can use to create potential names based on a word or phrase. One of our favorites is simply called Blog Name Generator. This site lets you enter information related to your blog, including its tone and subject matter. It then creates a series of names that you can use for inspiration. For example, here are some of the results we got for a “funny” and “informative” blog about “texting, traveling, and painting” (we set the author as Elsa Cox from New York). You can either use one of these options outright or take them as inspiration to help you come up with something unique. Either way, it’s essential that you make sure to search for your chosen blog name using Google to ensure that you don’t accidentally infringe on someone else’s brand. Step 3: Choose a Platform for Your Blog At this point, you’ll need to consider which platform you’ll use to build your blog. As we’ve previously discussed, there are numerous platforms available for this purpose. For example, you can choose a dedicated blogging platform, such as Tumblr or Blogger, both of which are free. However, we only recommend using these solutions if you’re creating a personal journal-style blog, due to their limited functionality and customization options. Using a blogging platform can also come across as ‘cheap’ or unprofessional, especially if the blog is tied to a business. Instead, we recommend that you use WordPress to create your blog. Not only is this platform easy to use, but it offers considerably more functionality. WordPress also lets you style your blog using themes, and add new features via plugins. It also helps to make your blog more secure and perform better with minimal work required on your end. As such, we’ll be using WordPress throughout the remainder of this article. If you’re unfamiliar with the platform, we’ve written extensively about it over the years! Here are a few articles to help you learn the ropes: What Is WordPress? The Essential Elements of a WordPress Site The Most Important WordPress Settings The Difference Between WordPress.com & WordPress.org (self-hosted WordPress) Best Online Resources to Learn How to Use WordPress Related: Everything You Need to Know About WordPress: A 5-Minute Crash Course Step 4: Purchase Web Hosting and a Domain from DreamHost You may have noticed our use of the term ‘self-hosted’ in the list above. This is because WordPress doesn’t provide hosting for your blog. Rather, it’s a Content Management System (CMS) that you need to install on a server. Don’t worry — this is not as complex as it might seem. All it means is that you will need to sign up for a web hosting plan if you want to get your site online. This will require some research to make sure you pick a host and plan that’s right for you. To help you out, let’s look at the main types of hosting that are available: Shared hosting is the cheapest option (DreamHost plans start at $2.59/mo) but can be limiting in terms of performance. On this type of plan, you share a server and its resources with multiple other sites. Shared hosting is best suited for new sites with low traffic. Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting is a version of shared hosting where each site has its own resources. It’s slightly more costly, but provides improved performance. As such, this kind of hosting is recommended if you want to focus on growing your blog. Dedicated hosting is the most expensive and powerful option. As the name suggests, you’ll get an entire server that’s dedicated to your site alone. This is usually overkill for a blog, however, unless you want full control over your server or your site draws unusually large volumes of traffic. In addition, you can decide whether or not you want managed hosting. When you have a managed plan, the hosting company will take care of several key technical tasks required to keep your site running smoothly. Related: ">Do I Need Managed WordPress Hosting? Finally, you’ll also need a domain name, which is the URL that will be used to access your blog. When it comes to creating a domain name, there are several things you’ll want to consider. We’ve written about this at length before, but one of the basic steps involves choosing which Top-Level Domain (TLD) you want to use, such as .com or .org. You should also aim to make the domain name memorable, which is easiest if you keep it concise. Of course, you don’t want to get your hosting and domain from just anywhere. Choosing the right provider is crucial, as this will play a key role in your site’s performance, security, and other vital factors. It’s also smart to look for a company that specializes in WordPress hosting specifically, as that means its services will be well-optimized for the platform. Here at DreamHost, we offer a number of top-notch WordPress hosting plans to choose from. These plans provide plenty of power for your site, along with tight security and fast performance. In addition, they come with handy features for WordPress users, such as pre-installed sites and automatic updates and backups. You’ll also get access to reliable and knowledgeable support via multiple channels. Our shared Starter plan is likely to be ideal for your brand-new blog. It only costs a few dollars per month and will provide plenty of resources while your site is still small. Later on, when your blog begins to receive more traffic, you can upgrade to a more powerful option such as DreamPress managed hosting. To purchase a shared hosting plan, simply select Sign Up on our plans page. Then, you’ll need to create a hosting account. The next step is to pick a domain for your site. If the one you want is already taken, you’ll be shown similar options you can purchase instead. In addition, if you already own a domain, you can also enter it here to connect it to your new site. Either way, the next phase of the process will prompt you to select a payment option. You can opt to pay monthly or save some money by committing to a year or more in advance. Select Continue, and you’ll have one additional choice to make. Here, you can choose to have WordPress pre-installed on your site. We highly recommend checking the box, as it simplifies the process of setting up your site considerably. Hit Continue one more time, and you’ll be prompted to enter some personal and payment details. Then you can complete your order! Once you have your hosting plan and domain name in place, the next step is to start laying the groundwork for the blog itself. Shared Hosting That Powers Your PurposeWe make sure your WordPress website is fast, secure and always up so your visitors trust you. Plans start at $2.59/mo.Choose Your Plan Step 5: Install WordPress As we mentioned earlier, we’ll be using WordPress to create our blog. This platform is both user-friendly and intuitive to get started with, but it does need to be installed on your site before you can use it (note: if you opted for managed WordPress hosting, we’ve already taken care of the installation for you). There are two main ways you can install WordPress: Manual installation. This requires you to manually upload and configure the WordPress software on your site. While the process is infamously quick, we only recommend this approach if you’re more technically savvy. One-click installation. This is an option offered by many web hosts, which enables you to install WordPress on your site almost instantly. As such, you don’t have to worry about configuration or manually installing any files. If you feel up to the task of installing WordPress manually, we recommend that you check out our complete guide on the subject. You’ll need to download the latest version of WordPress, and use an FTP tool such as FileZilla to upload it to your site. However, using a one-click installation tool is a considerably simplified process. You may have already completed this earlier, when you signed up for your hosting plan (see the previous step). If not, you can set up your site at any time. To get started, you’ll need to sign in to your DreamHost account and access your dashboard. Next, use the sidebar to navigate to WordPress > One-Click Installs. Here, you can see several different one-click install options. One of these will be WordPress, which you can go ahead and select. This opens an overlay, where you can configure your installation. All you need to do here is select which of your domains you want to install WordPress on. In addition, you can pick an existing database to use for your new site. However, in most cases, you can just leave this set to Automatically Create Database. The final option is Deluxe Install, which is selected by default. This provides a number of optional features beyond the basic WordPress installation. We recommend that you leave this checked, as it adds several useful tools for free. Then, you can click on Install it for me now! to start the installation process. This can take several minutes. As soon as the installation is completed, you’ll receive an email containing the link and login information for your new WordPress site. Step 6: Tweak Your Blog’s Appearance with a Theme With WordPress up and running, it’s finally time to start putting together your blog. First of all, you’ll need to consider how you want your blog to look. You can easily change the appearance of your site by using a WordPress theme. A theme works like a template you can install on your site, which determines its layout and overall design. Some themes also include additional functionality, and they can come in both free and premium varieties. Related: What Are WordPress Themes (And Where to Find Them) There’s a lot of ground to cover with themes, but for the time being you only need to worry about finding one that fits your blog’s intended style. Picking the right theme can be a struggle if you don’t know where to look, but a good place to start is by browsing the official WordPress Theme Directory. Here, you’ll find hundreds of free themes in several different categories. There are so many choices, in fact, that you’ll probably want to use the Feature Filter to narrow down the available options. As you can see, there’s even a search filter called Blog. If you select this, you’ll be able to see all the themes specifically created with blogs in mind. If you find a theme you want to use, you can download it here and then install on your site. However, you can also do this through your WordPress dashboard by navigating to Appearance > Themes. Here, you’ll see your currently installed themes and where you can install new ones by clicking on Add New. This will open the Theme Directory again, letting you download and activate themes directly from this interface. Hover over your choice, and click on Install. After the theme installs, you can select Activate to set it as the current theme for your site. If you can’t find a perfect theme using this method, you may be better off looking for premium alternatives. These will cost you some money, but they usually offer more options for customization and configuration. Step 7: Customize Your Blog With Plugins One of the reasons WordPress is so powerful is its built-in flexibility. This is in large part due to how easy the platform makes it to add new functionality to your site using plugins. In simple terms, a plugin is an add-on you can install to provide your blog with new features. The process for finding and using plugins is very similar to how themes work. You simply need to download and install a plugin, at which point it will become active on your site. You can find lots of free options in the WordPress Plugin Directory. Conversely, you can access this directory from your admin dashboard, by going to Plugins > Add New. As before, all you need to add a plugin is to look for one you want, and then click on Install followed by Activate. There are literally thousands of free and premium plugins at your disposal, many of which we’ve previously recommended: Plugins That Topped the Charts in 2018 Plugins to Keep Your WordPress Site Safe Plugins to Drive More Conversions on Your Website Plugins for Improving Your Workflow Plugins to Maximize Lead Generation However, when your site is first starting out, it’s best to stick to a few basic options. This will keep you from getting confused or cluttering up your site with unnecessary features. With that in mind, let’s look at a few of the best plugins for blog owners, starting with Jetpack. You can actually think of this as several plugins in one, as it contains plenty of functionality in a single package. In fact, it’s such a feature-heavy plugin that we don’t have room to discuss everything it offers in this article. However, to quickly summarize, Jetpack gives options for improving your site’s security, optimizing its performance, sharing your posts on social media, and much more. Best of all, Jetpack is totally free, although it offers premium plans that add even more features. The next plugin deals with something that concerns all sites but is especially pertinent for blogs: spam. To help ensure that spambots can’t take over your site, you’ll need a plugin to deter them. The best option for the job is Akismet Anti-Spam. This plugin automatically detects and filters out spam from comments and contact form submissions. It also lets you manually specify which comments are spam, which helps the plugin improve its detection abilities for the future. Next up, you’ll also want to consider a plugin like VaultPress. This lets you create real-time backups, which are copies of your site. This can be incredibly useful if something goes wrong with your site, such as if a hacker successfully attacks it or it breaks and you can’t access your content. In those situations, you can simply revert your blog to a previous backup to avoid losing data. And deal alert:  VaultPress is included for free with our DreamPress Plus and Pro plans. Naturally, there are many more plugins that can help you out and we’ll discuss more of them later in this article. For the time being, however, these should get your site started on the right foot. Step 8: Brainstorm Blog Topics At this point, your site is mostly ready to go. As such, it’s time to start thinking about content. It’s usually smart to have at least a few posts ready to go when the blog launches. You may already have a few ideas for initial posts, but if you don’t, you’ll have to start brainstorming now. Naturally, you’ll want to begin by focusing on your blog’s niche. For instance, are there any recent events or news you can discuss or spin off from? Alternately, you might prefer to write a tutorial or a comprehensive guide about a particular topic. Another way to find topics is to perform keyword research. You can use Google Keyword Planner for this, as it’s both comprehensive and free. With this tool, you can search for keywords related to your blog, to see what your audience is most interested in. For example, if you enter the keyword “men’s fashion,” you’ll see that popular keywords include “stylish shirts for men” and “men’s summer clothes.” You can then consider how to write blog posts that are optimized for these terms (something we’ll look more at later). Step 9: Write Your First Post After all this time, you’re finally about to put pen to paper and write your first post. WordPress recently released its new editor, so if you’re unfamiliar with the Gutenberg interface, you may want to familiarize yourself with it first. Then, to get started, access your admin dashboard and click Posts > Add New. This will open the WordPress editor. At this point, you can start putting together your post. We’ve previously written a comprehensive guide to writing quality blog posts, so we recommend you check it out. We’ll go through some of the basics here as well. First off, you’ll want to set a descriptive and attention-grabbing post title. The key to creating a snappy headline is to make it informative and specific. You should aim to accurately describe the article’s contents, while still being as concise as possible. Next, you can begin adding your body text by typing into the main paragraph block. When you’re writing, you’ll also find several relevant options in the right-hand sidebar. These settings will differ depending on the type of content you’re currently working on. You can add images and other media to your post by placing a dedicated block in the editor. For example, selecting an Image block will let you upload a new image file, or choose an existing one from your Media Library. When you’ve completed your post and included all its supplementary content, you can add the finishing touches. For instance, you can assign it one or more Categories and Tags. These help you organize each post based on its type and topic. Finally, you can set a featured image for the post. How this will appear depends on your theme, but it’s usually featured on both your blog’s homepage and at the top of the post itself. Select your headline, and use the Featured Image option in the sidebar to choose a file. Your post is now ready, so go ahead and click the Publish button in the top-right corner to make it live. You can also set how and when you want the post to appear on your site, if you’d like to delay its publication. You can also choose its visibility, which determines who can see it, or simply save it as a draft to work more on later. Step 10: Optimize Your Posts for Search Engines We previously discussed the importance of keyword research when it comes to finding topic ideas. Keywords are phrases that users enter into search engines to find what they’re looking for. By optimizing your posts for specific keywords, you can increase the likelihood that they’ll appear when users search for them. This is also known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and is vital for increasing traffic and visibility for your blog. SEO involves a number of tasks, including (but not limited to) increasing your site’s speed and getting backlinks from other sites. When it comes to your blog, the most important step is to optimize the posts themselves. There are several SEO tools that you can use to do this, but our recommended solution is Yoast SEO. This is a free plugin that adds a new section to your WordPress editor. Here, you can set a ‘keyphrase’ for your post, which is the keyword you want to optimize it for. Once you’ve done that, the plugin will show you in real time how well-optimized the post is, giving you specific advice on how you can improve it. Yoast also lets you add a meta description, which is a snippet of text that appears alongside the post in search results. By adding a description and following these guidelines, your posts will be likely to rank higher in relevant search results. Step 11: Set a Schedule (And Stick to It) To make sure that readers return to your blog, you’ll need to publish content regularly. When you offer new posts on a consistent schedule, your blog won’t go silent for long stretches of time, and your audience will be more likely to return. There’s no perfect publishing schedule for every blog, of course. How often you publish will depend on your available time and your blog’s subject matter. Regardless, it’s a smart move to set a strict schedule for yourself and make sure you follow it. You could even make this schedule clear on the blog itself, letting readers know when new content will be available (for example, every Tuesday and Thursday). Fortunately, there are tools you can use to help you stick to your schedule. One such solution is the Editorial Calendar plugin. This solution lets you create a calendar for your posts and even schedule drafts to be published at a specific time and date. With it, you can easily track upcoming deadlines and follow your schedule without slipping up. Step 12: Create a Style Guide Another helpful asset for any blogger is a style guide. As the name implies, this is a set of guidelines that determines how posts on your blog should be written and formatted. It helps you ensure that your content has a consistent tone and look over time, which in turn makes your blog appear more professional and authoritative. A style guide can also be useful if you ever decide to bring on additional writers. They can refer to your guide to ensure that they follow the same practices, ensuring that all posts on the blog maintain a similar style (regardless of who they’re written by). There are plenty of things you’ll need to consider when creating your blog’s style guide. However, here are a few of the most crucial elements: Voice and tone. Is your blog laid-back or serious? Is the writing casual or professional? Language. For example, do you use British or American English? Punctuation and formatting. Do you use en dashes or em dashes? When do you use single or double quotation marks? Naturally, a style guide will evolve as your blog grows and changes. As such, it’s best to think of it as a constant work-in-progress, rather than as unquestionable gospel. Step 13: Market and Share Your Posts Once you’ve published a few posts and settled into a groove of writing content, you might think you can relax. However, all your hard work thus far could effectively be for nothing, if no one knows that your blog even exists. This is why marketing your blog and posts is so critical. We’ve already discussed SEO, which is a key part of any online marketing strategy. Still, there are several other ways you can make sure you get more eyes on your new blog. Naturally, you’ll want to start by sharing your posts on social media. This will help get them more widely seen while encouraging those in your network to share your content with their own followers. It’s also smart to make your posts easier to share right from your website. One way to do this is by adding social media buttons to your posts, which you can do using the Jetpack plugin. This plugin enables you to add social media sharing buttons to your posts and integrates with the most popular platforms. Jetpack also includes a feature that automatically shares your post on social media, to save you even more time. Marketing your site and sharing your posts is one thing, but you’ll likely wonder when you can expect to see results. There’s no easy answer to this question, as each blog is entirely different. It’s possible that you might see lots of traffic right away, which is more likely if you already have a strong online presence. However, in most cases, it will take time for your blog to gain momentum. If you perform SEO, share your posts, and regularly publish high-quality content, you should see a gradual increase in readers. That increase will let you know you’re on the right track. You can also keep a close eye on your site’s analytics, to see how well it’s performing. Step 14: Monetize Your Blog Last but certainly not least, let’s consider the options you have when it comes to monetizing your blog. After all, you’ve put a lot of work into your site, and you probably wouldn’t say no to making some money from your content. In a previous post, we discussed several ways you can monetize your blog in detail. Right now, let’s recap some of the most common (and potentially lucrative) techniques: Selling products and services. Providing something purchasable alongside your posts is a great way to earn some income. For instance, you could write and sell an e-book, or produce a course on a relevant topic. Affiliate marketing. By marketing products from other vendors, you can earn revenue without the need to create or ship your own items. Crowdfunding. You can also ask your loyal readers to donate directly, which eliminates the need to market any external products. You can also implement advertisements on your site in the form of links and banners. A popular and easy solution for doing this is Google AdSense. This automatically generates ads that are suitable for your blog and audience, so you can focus entirely on creating great content. Create a WordPress Blog Today The number of reasons to start a blog is almost equal to the volume of actual blogs in existence. Not only can a blog be a phenomenally creative pursuit, but it can also be used to market your business, or even be monetized in its own right. Do you have any questions about the process of starting a blog or using WordPress? Join us on Twitter or Facebook and let’s start the conversation! The post How to Start a WordPress Blog: A Comprehensive Guide appeared first on Welcome to the Official DreamHost Blog.

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