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  • Shared Hosting vs WordPress Hosting – What’s The Difference?

    Friday, September 23, 2016 by

    Shared Hosting vs WordPress Hosting

    Hosting is an absolutely critical aspect of any online business. Without the proper hosting, you won’t have a website, it’s as simple as that. However, choosing the right kind of hosting package for your needs is another thing entirely.

    There are a variety of options you’ll come across. The most common being basic shared hosting, VPS, managed hosting, and running a dedicated server. To keep things simple we’re going to look at two of the most commonly used hosting options for websites that utilize the WordPress CMS.

    Below we dive into managed WordPress hosting, versus a basic shared hosting plan where you’re just using WordPress as a CMS.

    Recommended WordPress Hosting

     

    What is Managed WordPress Hosting?

    Managed WordPress hosting is a hosting environment that’s specifically designed to cater to WordPress websites. Think of it as wearing a well-tailored suit, custom fitted to your body. Rather than grabbing a suit off the rack, with your eyes closed!

    Managed WordPress hosting has a number of advantages for your website:

    It’s incredibly fast. Every aspect of the server has been tweaked to cater to WordPress’s setup. This level of hosting can often drop page load speeds by a second or more.

    It’s much more secure. This kind of hosting offers increased security protocols and more individualized attention. Plus, if you do get hacked you’ll have a support team who has experience with WordPress-specific attacks.

    Your server is always up to date. The team who manages your hosting will always ensure the server is running the latest software, so your site will perform as efficiently as possible. Their goal is to keep you, and your website, happy.

    Dedicated support. The support teams who run managed WordPress hosting accounts are generally WordPress experts. Who would you rather have looking after your site?

    Increased uptime. Since your site will be sharing resources with less websites, and in some cases, none, your site is able to use a greater portion of the server resources.

     

    Are There Any Drawbacks?

    Since managed WordPress hosting is a more customized hosting solution, there are a few drawbacks that come with the upgraded service. For instance, the costs for this kind of hosting are generally higher.

    Sometimes, there are also limitations on the amount of customization you can do across your site. Some managed WordPress hosts won’t allow your site to use certain plugins. So, if your site requires certain plugins to function, and those plugins are on the host’s restricted list, and then you might need to find another hosting option.

    Also, you can only run WordPress on managed WordPress hosting. Any other kinds of CMSs aren’t allowed.

     

    Why Would I Use Shared Hosting?

    Shared hosting can be great if you’re just getting started with building a website and are unsure if you want to commit all the way, or not. But, if you’re looking to grow your website and are expecting to receive a very large amount of traffic, then you may want to consider upgrading to something more reliable.

    For instance, when you use a shared host your website is put on a server with hundreds, and sometimes thousands of others. You have no idea who these other websites are, and whether or not they have proper security measures in place, or are using a properly coded theme.

    The resources on the shared server will get divided between every website using the server. This means that if a website on the server experiences a large surge in traffic from a post going viral, then your site may load slowly as a result.

    Shared hosting just isn’t as reliable and custom tailored to the WordPress environment.

    There’s no “right” hosting choice for every kind of business out there. But, if you can afford the additional costs of WordPress managed hosting, and have plans to grow your website in the future, then managed WordPress hosting is generally the way to go.

    If you’re unsure about the higher price point, then stick with the basic shared hosting, you can always upgrade in time, as your site grows!

    What kind of hosting do you prefer for your website? Please share in the comments below.

  • Best WordPress Plugins for Affiliate Marketing

    Wednesday, September 21, 2016 by

    WordPress Plugins for Affiliate Marketing

    Affiliate marketing can be a great way to monetize your website. You already have the traffic and readership, but you don’t have something to sell. Instead of spending all that time creating a product, you can recommend similar products to your audience and receive a commission for each sale.

    Best of all, if you’re dealing with digital products, then the commission you receive will be much higher than the typical commission that’s offered from most physical product retailers.

    Yet, you might be struggling to find out the best ways you can actually sell and promote these offers to your audience. Luckily, WordPress has your back. There are a slew of great plugins you can use that’ll simplify your affiliate marketing efforts.

    Below we highlight five different plugins you can use to bolster your affiliate marketing efforts, or help to get them off the ground.

    Note: Whenever using third-party plugins, be thoughtful of your resource usage to avoid any surprises from your hosting provider.

    1. WordPress Referral

    WordPress Affiliate & Referral Plugin

    In some cases you might not be interested in promoting and selling others’ products, but instead have recruited people to promote and sell your own digital courses and guides. In this case, you’re going to need a way to track and manage the sales of your own affiliates.

    The WordPress Affiliate and Referral plugin will enable you to easily manage the affiliates who are promoting your products. This plugin has features like:

    • The ability to manage and track affiliate performance
    • PayPal integration to easily pay affiliates
    • Integration with your existing eCommerce system, such as, WooCommerce
    • The ability to setup referral banners and links for promotional use

    2. EasyAzon

    EasyAzon

    If you’re planning on selling Amazon products for an affiliate commission, then you need to be using this plugin. EasyAzon will save you a ton of time when you’re trying to create a link for the Amazon product.

    This plugin is a must-have if you’re promoting Amazon products, just look at a few of the features this plugin has to offer:

    • Add Amazon affiliate links to your pages and posts without leaving the WordPress dashboard
    • The links will automatically adjust to the visitor’s geographic region
    • The plugin allows readers to automatically add a product to their cart, which can increase conversions

    3. Thirsty Affiliates

    Thirsty Affiliates

    Thirsty Affiliates can be seen as an all-in-one affiliate solution. Essentially, it’s a link-cloaker, which allows you to create affiliate links that don’t look like affiliate links.

    This increases the chances of your visitors clicking on the link, as it doesn’t resemble a spam link, or a link from an untested source.

    Some additional features of this plugin include:

    • A tool to choose the correct affiliate link for your product
    • Allows you to add media files to your links, such as images or video that pop-up when the link is hovered over.
    • An automatic link-shortening feature
    • A lot more, there are additional add-ons that can be purchased to extend the functionality of this plugin

    4. Pretty Link Lite

    Pretty Link Lite

    Pretty Link Lite allows you to shorten and cloak any affiliate links you’re using across your entire site. This is a very small and simple plugin that does this task incredibly well.

    Plus, there’s a nifty tracking feature built into this plugin, so you can see which links are garnering you the most clicks and if any links are underperforming. Since this plugin isn’t specifically created for affiliate website it has other useful features like:

    • Allows you to create 301 and 307 redirects
    • Can export the link data into a CSV file to more easily analyze
    • Automatic creation of URL slugs for each link

    5. Custom Sidebars

    Custom Sidebars

    If you have a sidebar ad that you’re trying to use to sell affiliate products, then the Custom Sidebars plugin will help you reach your goals. Most affiliate programs will come with a set of image-based ads you can use to promote their products.

    All you have to do is install the plugin, upload your ad images with a tracking code, and you’re all set to begin generating revenue. This plugin comes equipped with a ton of useful features including:

    • Display custom widgets and sidebars depending on page or post type
    • Easy WordPress integration
    • Well-coded, so it won’t slow down your site

    WordPress is a great choice when you’re building an audience to sell and promote products to. The plugins above will help to more easily manage and promote your digital goods.

    Did you know? HostGator has an award-winning affiliate program! If you're interested in earning up to $125 per qualifying signup, click here to learn more.

    What WordPress affiliate plugins do you recommend? Share your favorites in the comments below.

  • What To Do If Your Dream Domain Name Is Already Taken

    Thursday, September 15, 2016 by

    What To Do If Domain Name Is Already Taken

    It can be frustrating when you’ve finally came up with the perfect domain name, only to find out that someone else already owns it. Coming up with the right domain name can be hard enough, and this hurdle can be enough to really take the wind out of your sails.

    Sometimes people will even squat on certain domain names, all for the purpose of trying to make some quick cash. You won’t be able to force another person to hand over a domain, but there are a few things you can do.

    Below we dive into what these things are. Keep frustration at bay by following some of the tips we outline below.

     

    1. Will a Different Domain Work?

    I know you probably have your heart set on a specific domain; otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. But, is it possible that you could modify the domain slightly?

    Sometimes adding a word after, or before, your ideal domain will change it enough, so that it becomes available. However, don’t overcomplicate things too much by adding hyphens, or hard-to-spell words.

    You still need to make sure that your domain remains memorable in the eyes of your visitors.

    Domain Name

     

    2. Can You Use a Different Extension?

    A lot of people tend to focus on the .com domain extension. However, there are literally dozens of different extensions you can use for your domain. Some have more authority than others, but keep in mind that you don’t just have to use a .com.

    Domain extensions like, .net, .co, and .me, are still very commonly used. See if your dream domain name is available with a different extension. You can always end up buying your dream extension later (if it becomes available), which we’ll dive into next.

     

    3. Find Out Who The Owner Is

    If you’re 100% set on using your dream domain and domain name extension, then be prepared to make an offer on the domain. To get started you can use a Whois Lookup.

    Just search for the domain name and you’ll receive all of the publicly available contact information about the domain owner. Often, this will give you their email address, so you can get in touch with them to see if they’re willing to part with the domain.

     

    4. Make an Offer on the Domain

    Before you actually reach out to the domain owner there’s a few things you should know.

    • Their asking price might be a little higher than you expected.

    • Don’t make an offer in your first email. Often, it can be cheaper to ask the owner about their domain and if they’d be willing to sell.

    • Feel free to make a counter offer, if their initial offer is incredibly high. It’s not uncommon for people to overestimate the value of the domain names they hold.

    If you don’t want to deal with the negotiations yourself you can also hire a domain name broker like Sedo, which will help to simplify the process on your end.

    Lastly, if you can’t find the contact information of the person who owns the domain, then your best bet is to just wait for the domain to expire. More on this below.

     

    5. Watch the Domain (Just in Case)

    If you’ve been unable to negotiate a fair price for the domain, then you can always just wait for the domain to expire and try to buy it before the owner has a chance to renew. But, this isn’t 100% guaranteed to work, so don’t bank on it.

    The renewal process will depend upon the registrar they purchased the domain through. You can see where they purchased the domain name in the Whois information you found earlier. To keep tabs on a domain you can use a service like Dynadot to see if and when the domain becomes unregistered.

    Just because someone else already owns your dream domain name, it doesn’t mean you have to give up. Hopefully, the steps above will give you a little light to make it through this dark time.

    Has your dream domain name ever been stolen from right under your feet? What did you do? Please share your experience in the comments below.

  • The 25 Best WordPress Plugins Recommended By Marketing Experts

    Tuesday, September 13, 2016 by

    Best WordPress Plugins for Marketing

    As a marketer, you’re great at growing a website, but you probably don’t know how to make one from scratch. That’s not a problem because you can easily create one using WordPress.

    WordPress makes it super easy to create a website by installing “plugins.” Just like on your smartphone, plugins are “apps” you can install to give your WordPress website more features, and without having to write a single line of code.

    But the problem with WordPress is that there are over 44,000 plugins to choose from, and the majority of them, well… suck. Some of plugins are so bad that they can dramatically slow down your website, which may have negative consequences to your search ranking results.

    Recommended WordPress Hosting

    Fortunately, with this list, you’ll only see the best WordPress plugins recommended by the best marketers. Everyone mentioned in this list have built several websites and have tons of experience using WordPress plugins.

    Let’s get started...

     

    1. Noah Kagan (Co-founder of SumoMe and AppSumo)

    Noah KaganNoah was employee #4 at Facebook, Director of Marketing at Mint, and is currently the Co-Founder of SumoMe & AppSumo.

    Suffice to say, Noah has built plenty of websites and many of them on WordPress. His favorite plugin is Share. Share makes it very simple for your visitors to share your content to their friends, family, and others. The more people that share your content, the more viral traffic you’ll get to your site.

           

    2. Pat Flynn (Owner of Smart Passive Income)

    Pat FlynnPat’s website, Smart Passive Income, has over 150,000 email subscribers and his podcast has been downloaded over 8 MILLION times. One of the most common questions he receives is which plugins his website uses.

    Here’s his response each time:

    Pretty Link: “Pretty Link allows me to take long links with lots of characters and quickly create nice looking, short and trackable links that are easy to share and remember. This is handy for me, but also handy for those listening to my podcast or watching my videos who don't have access to a computer or pen and paper!”

    CoSchedule: “CoSchedule allows me and my entire team to be on the same page when it comes to our editorial calendar. It can even help you schedule your social media posts to promote your content ahead of time.”

     

    3. Lewis Howes (Host of The School Of Greatness)

    Lewis HowesLewis has built several multi-million dollar online businesses, including The School Of Greatness podcast, which has received millions of downloads.

    His favorite plugins?

    LiveFyre: “This lets me show all the social media comments from my podcast episode posts on the actual show notes blog post as well as comments people make on the blog. It's awesome to be able to have all the comments consolidated in one place under the show notes, plus I can moderate the comments easily from that plugin.”

    Pretty Link: “I can make short, easy to remember URL links like http://lewishowes.com/book to redirect anywhere I want. This is super helpful to promote things like my books and podcast without the hassle of getting my developer to make special links for me.”

     

    4. Chris Guillebeau (Owner of The Art of Non-Conformity)

    Chris GuillebeauChris is both a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller. He’s the author of The Art of Non-Conformity (translated into 20+ languages), The $100 Startup (300,000+ copies sold), and The Happiness Of Pursuit (NYT Best Seller).

    For his personal blog, his two favorite plugins are:

    Wufoo Shortcode Plugin: This plugin makes it super easy to include surveys into your site so you can gain a better understanding of your audience. Here’s what Chris had to say about it, “It helps me integrate awesome survey forms (example: http://chrisguillebeau.com/side-hustle-survey)”.

    Widgets on Pages: The default WordPress settings makes it difficult to manage widgets on your page. But this plugin makes it super easy, as Chris said, “It makes arranging and updating things so much easier”.

     

    5. Jeff Goins (Author of The Art Of Work)

    Jeff GoinsJeff is an author of four books including the national bestseller, The Art of Work. He also has a personal blog where he shares his reflections on writing and life. For his blog, these are his two favorite plugins.

    Welcome Mat: Jeff was able to acquire 100,000 readers in just 18 months. To do this, he used Welcome Mat to display a full-screen call to action like a welcoming landing page to collect his visitors’ emails. What were his results? Here’s what Jeff had to say, “Crazy conversions on that thing!”

    All In One SEO: On top of being an author, Jeff is also really good at SEO. Just type his domain into Ahrefs and you’ll see that he’s able to rank for some pretty competitive keywords. A big part of this is using the All In One SEO which automatically optimizes his site for SEO. Here’s what Jeff had to say about it, “Great simple tool to make sure all your metadata is solid.”

     

    6. Sol Orwell (Co-Founder of Examine)

    Sol OrwellSol has been an online serial entrepreneur for over 15 years, created 6 companies, and generated more than 8 figures. With all his current projects, he does not take any outside investments and instead bootstraps them all himself.

    Which plugins does he use for his sites?

    Yoast: “Why Yoast? Because it makes optimizing for Google, Facebook, and Twitter (modified tags are KEY for virality and social sharing) simple stupid.”

    Facebook Comments Plugin: “I'm a big fan of associating comments with the actual person who makes it; it builds a one-on-one community aspect, makes it easy to comment (most people have FB), and keeps the trolls at bay.”

     

    7. Nathan Chan (Creator of FoundrMag)

    Nathan ChanNathan is the creator of Foundr, a digital marketing magazine dedicated to helping entrepreneurs all over the world.  He’s interviewed some of the highest profile entrepreneurs including: Richard Branson, Tim Ferriss, Seth Godin and many more.

    His favorite WordPress plugins?

    Optimizely: “Great for A/B testing to find out what's working and what's not. It's extremely important for us as a data driven company to constantly re-work and out perform our conversion stats.”

    Smart Podcast Player:  “Looks amazing, and allows people to access our podcast easily. Our podcast is a big part of what drives traffic to our site, so it's important that we make it super simple for people to listen to episodes when they view our website.”

    Pretty Link: “Nice little easy tool to create custom links that we use frequently!"

     

    8. Justin Mares (Founder of Kettle & Fire)

    Justin MaresJustin is only 26 years old and has started several successful companies, including: Programming For Marketers ($60K in 5 months), Traction Book (over 175 5-star reviews), and Kettle & Fire (6 figure business in less than 1 year).

    Whenever he uses WordPress for his websites, these are his two must-have plugins:

    SumoMe: “Makes capturing email addresses SUPER easy”

    GoSquared:It's a really cool real-time dashboard to use to evaluate traffic stats.”

         

    9. Ryan Stewart (Founder of Webris)

    Ryan StewartRyan is a leading digital marketing consultant who has been featured on many of the top blogs including Kissmetrics and MarketingProfs. For his clients, he often recommends these two plugins:

    Yoast SEO: “It’s a pretty heavy plugin, but it's worth it. If you've ever optimized a non-WordPress site for SEO, you understand how much of a pain it is to change titles, metas, URLs, sitemaps, etc (especially if that site has thousands of pages). Yoast cuts through needing a dev or access to a site's root, it's incredibly powerful and the team at Yoast is constantly updating the software with new features.”

    Live Composer: “It's a front end page builder that allows you to drag and drop pages, similar to designing in Weebly. My background is actually in graphic design so I've always been a HUGE believer in building content that looks amazing. Using a plugin like this also allows us to be agile, get things done quicker without having to go through Photoshop and our dev team. I don't use it to build websites, but it's incredibly handy to design blog posts and content / guides.”

     

    10. William Harris (Founder of Elumynt)

    William HarrisWilliam is a growth marketer who has helped several businesses grow exponentially. He’s been featured on publications such as: Entrepreneur, SocialMediaToday, Search Engine Journal, and much more.

    As far as his favorite plugins goes, whether if it’s for his clients or for his personal blog, he highly recommends these two plugins:

    Postable: “I love drafting in Google Docs, but hate having to reformat everything in Wordpress.  Postable makes it super easy to migrate my Google docs articles to WordPress with literally a click of a button, which is a huge time saver.”

    Plugin Vulnerabilities: “Because I really really really hate the idea of getting hacked, and want to keep my plugins up to date”

     

    11. Sarah Peterson (Owner of Unsettle)

    Sarah PetersonSarah has built several passive income businesses and is also the Marketing Sumo at SumoMe. For every single online business she builds, she always downloads these two plugins:

    List Builder: “List Builder is one of the apps that contributes the most to the growth of my email list. By creating a bonus for my most popular articles, visitors have to provide their email to access the bonus material. Since I don’t know how to code, I use List Builder’s Click Trigger feature to do all of this. I’ve created Click Triggers that convert over 70% for my content upgrades.”

    Yoast SEO: “I love Yoast because it guides me through optimizing my content without me having to be an SEO expert. It makes SEO simple, and also allows for custom meta so you can control how your content shows up on different social platforms.”

     

    12. Benji Hyam (Co-Founder of Grow And Convert)

    Benji HyamBenji has built several websites, including ThinkApps where he was responsible for turning it into one of the top 30,000 US websites with the most traffic. For each of his websites, he installs these two plugins:

    Revive Old Post: “It automatically takes old post from your blog and shares them on Twitter. All you have to do is set it up once, and it automatically schedules and tweets out old content.”

    Shortcodes Ultimate: “It allows us to place nicely designed callout boxes and buttons on our blog, which helps us increase our conversions.”

         

    These Plugins Are Just The Tip Of The Iceberg

    We just gave you 25 of the best plugins determined by expert marketers. But there are still plenty of amazing WordPress plugins you should be aware of (we have blogs on the best WordPress plugins for photography, SEO, video display, e-commerce sites... just to name a few).

    That’s why we decided to crowdsource, curate, and brainstorm all of the best, plugins out there - no matter what you need. We then organized it so you can easily find the exact plugins that are relevant for your business.

    Click here for the 57 best WordPress plugins to help you take your website to the next level.


    Wilson Hung writes actionable step-by-step guides for SumoMe. Join our Sumo community of over 450,000 subscribers to learn how to grow your website and build your email list. Click here for the 57 best WordPress plugins to help you take your website to the next level.

  • Is Managed WordPress Worth It?

    Thursday, September 8, 2016 by

    Is Managed WordPress Worth It

    Are you wondering what managed WordPress hosting actually is? You’ve probably wondered why managed hosting runs at a higher price tag than the less expensive shared hosting plans you’ve seen.

    Is there really that big of a difference in the quality of your site? There’s no cut and dry answer. For most it depends on the size of your website, your overall tech skills, and how much traffic you’re getting.

    Below we explore a few reasons you might need to upgrade to managed hosting and highlight a few benefits you’ll be able to realize for your business. 

    Recommended WordPress Hosting  

    Common Signs You Need to Upgrade

    People upgrade to managed WordPress hosting for a number of reasons, many of which are on the technical side of things. If you’re experiencing any of the issues below, then you might want to think about upgrading.

     

    1. Your Site is Slow

    Today’s website users demand that your site loads fast. Attention spans are decreasing and people simply won’t stick around and wait for your site to load. If it takes more than a few seconds for your site to load, and you’ve been able to diagnose that the issue isn’t related to your actual site, then it could be your hosting server.

     

    2. Your Site is Feature-Rich

    It’s easy for WordPress sites to become bloated with time. With the sheer number of plugins and customization options available the chances are high your site will begin to take up more and more server resources the longer it exists.

    Naturally, this means that your site will take a much longer time to load. But, if you have a very thin site that has nothing more than a couple of pages, then a shared host should be able to handle your site.

     

    3. You’re Not a “Tech” Person

    When tech issues arise, are you able to handle them all on your own?

    If you’re a tech person and love the challenge of maintaining your own server, then managed WordPress hosting might not be right for you. But, if the thought of the command line, or any technical errors overwhelms you, then a managed WordPress host might be exactly what you need.

     

    Benefits of Managed WordPress Hosting

    If your site’s been experiencing any of the issues above, then maybe it’s time for you to consider upgrading to a managed host. Below we dive into a few of the most common benefits you’ll start to see.

     

    1. Speed

    It’s easy for WordPress sites to become bloated and slow. Managed WordPress hosts are designed in order to support WordPress and ensure they’re as fast as possible. Plus, they are continuously optimized, so you don’t have to worry about any slow downs, even as your site grows.

     

    2. Security

    It’s unfortunate, but sites do get hacked on occasion. Usually, WordPress sites are hacked through the backend, or through using faulty plugins or themes.

    Shared hosts can potentially be more vulnerable than managed WordPress hosts. Managed hosting solutions will also look at every aspect of your site to ensure that your site is always protected against the latest threats.

     

    3. Growth

    Most shared hosting plans aren’t equipped to handle very large amounts of traffic. You’d hate to have your site crash once you start to receive large numbers of traffic.

    Managed hosting is equipped to grow with you, so your site will be ready to handle all of the traffic you send at it.

     

    4. Support

    Do you consider yourself a technical person? If the answer is no, then you might want to consider a managed WordPress host. When you have a shared host any issues that arise fall back on you.

    With a managed host you’ll have an entire technical team behind you that’ll help you to troubleshoot any problems that might arise.

    Are you ready to enjoy all the benefits listed above? Check out HostGator's managed WordPress hosting!

     

    Get Started With HostGator!