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  • 8 Best WordPress Plugins to Monetize Your Blog

    Wednesday, April 5, 2017 by
    Best WordPress Plugins to Monetize Your Blog If your blog isn't monetized, you’re losing money. Blogs can be monetized regardless of their topic, number of followers, or purpose. Even if it’s your passion project, your blog can and should make you money. Both new and older posts can bring in passive income. Making money with your blog is easier than you might think; all you need are the right tools. We’re going to take a look at the 8 best WordPress plugins to monetize your blog. Don’t have a blog yet? No problem—get your site published in minutes with HostGator’s one-click WordPress installs. Learn more here.   HostGator Website Builder  

    1. OptinMonster

    Optin Monster

    OptinMonster is the most popular conversion optimization software available. It helps you convert abandoning website visitors into subscribers and customers, so you can grow your email list, increase your page views, and make more money. You can use their pre-made templates and drag-and-drop builder to create high converting optin forms including popups, slide-ins, and floating bars. The tool comes with behavior targeting so you can show the right message to the right person on the right page at the right time, thus making maximum revenue. Cost: Plans start at $9/month when paid annually.   

    2. WPForms

    WPForms WPForms is a customer acquisition tool that lets you easily create customized forms designed to capture visitor information for lead nurturing purposes. It has pre-built templates that are all mobile responsible and translation ready. This means you’ll never lose a single customer, no matter what device they’re on or where they live. WPForms offers additional features to monetize your blog. Their true customization options—including the ability for users to upload files and make payments or donations— lets you create forms for everything from initial contact request forms, customer service questions, new subscriber optins, and even membership and product orders. It’s the easiest form creation software to use, and it’s flexible enough that you can make any form you need to bring more profit to your blog. Cost: Plans start at $39/year  

    3. Insert Post Ads

    Insert Post Ads The Insert Post Ads plugin inserts ads directly into blog posts themselves instead of just having ads on the periphery of your page where they are easily ignored. In-content ads have increased visibility and a significantly higher likelihood of engagement, drastically increase click-through rates and revenue. The plugin can even insert these ads automatically so you don’t have to manually enter each one into every post, saving you a ton of time and simplifying the process. Its flexibility lets you choose where and how often you want the ads to show up, giving you complete control over how many ads are showing up in your content for maximum potential revenue. Cost: Free  

    4. ThirstyAffiliates

    Thirsty Affiliate

    Aside from ads, affiliate selling is perhaps the fastest way to monetize your blog. ThirstyAffiliates lets you import affiliate links from Amazon and other major selling sites. You can quickly and easily earn commissions from sales just by placing these links in your content. They have a link creator that cloaks the affiliate link in your URL; when a user clicks, they’ll see a redirection from your URL instead of a traditional affiliate link. This also ensures reliable sales tracking so you earn commission on every sale, guaranteed. Unlike other similar plugins, ThirstyAffiliates has options like “Open Link in New Window” so you won’t lose readers from your blog in exchange for commission. You can also add images and graphics to affiliate links to make them more eye-catching and dynamic, driving more clicks from the customer and commission for you. Cost: Basic plan is free, with add-ons available for purchase  

    5. WooCommerce Memberships

    WooCommerce WooCommerce’s Memberships plugin lets you create membership-only sections on your site. You are in complete control of how much access you want to give and to whom, allowing for different levels of membership (and price points) to be created. You can even drip content to different levels of membership, giving new content to “premium” members first, which can incentivize users to pay for more exclusivity. You can sell memberships as an exclusive product or as part of a different package purchase, so you can offer the types of memberships that benefit your business and sales most. Cost: $149/year for a single site  

    6. Ad Blocking Detector

    Ad Blocking Detector Ad Blocking Detector can detect the ad blocking software that has cost bloggers large amounts of revenue. This plugin will automatically replace blocked ads with other types of content like newsletter sign-ups, which provide alternative methods to monetize your blog and prevents overall loss of revenue. It recognizes all major ad blocking browser extensions to offer you the best protection possible against lost opportunities for monetization. Cost: Free  

    7. Videe.TV Monetization

    Videe.TV Monetization The Videe.TV Monetization plugin lets you place high-engaging video ads in your content. This means more clicks and more commission while enriching your blog posts with relevant videos. This plugin provides you with a library of video content you can choose from to create playlists that you know your audience will find relevant and interesting, maximizing views. Each user view earns you a commission, and their real-time reporting helps you track every cent as you earn it. Cost: Free  

    8. Mobile Ad for WordPress

    Mobile Ad for WordPress The Mobile Ad for WordPress plugin focuses on the increasingly-important mobile ad revenue. It offers ad units designed specifically for mobile users and sites. The ads they serve load faster and don’t use as much data as traditional ads, resulting in optimal performance and more clicks. This plugin gives you plenty of customization options, including different ad formats to choose from and the ability to choose when users see your ads. You can even wait to show users an ad until they’re clicking away from your site, so you don’t lose traffic until they’re already leaving.  Cost: Free  

    Conclusion

    Monetizing your blog doesn’t have to be difficult; these plugins allow you to generate additional income on all of your posts without a lot of hassle. Choose one of the plugins above to get started and you’ll be on your way to making money from your blog.
  • Setting Up Your World of Warcraft Server

    Friday, March 31, 2017 by
    set up world of warcraft private server World of Warcraft is an incredibly popular roleplaying game that’s enjoyed by millions of gamers around the globe, and if you’re a player, you’ve probably wondered what it would be like to play on your own server. Private servers can emulate the experience of an online game, but they allow you to change certain aspects of the gameplay for your own enjoyment. Below we’re going to show you how you can create a private WoW server that you can play on. Let’s get to it!  

    What is a Private World of Warcraft Server?

    At the core a private server refers to any server that’s privately owned. Most private servers will allow you to play a version of the game that’s different than those commonly played on the official servers. Sometimes you just really want to play an older vision of the game, or include certain character or gameplay modifications, or even include custom items in regular gameplay. A private server allows you to create a custom-tailored gaming experience specifically tailored to your preferences. Private servers can also allow you to play games that aren’t offered in your region of the world, or even play discontinued versions of the game, this makes private servers very popular. Keep in mind that creating a private WoW server is in a legal grey area, and you should by no means charge for the server, or include micro-transactions. Dedicated Server  

    How to Setup a WoW Private Server

    The steps below will help you install your very own private World of Warcraft server. However, before you jump in you’ll need to install a program called AC Web Ultimate Repack. You can choose the repack that works best for you; we used this one for the tutorial below. You’ll also want to install the Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 Service Pack, which you can install from this link. Once you have those installed we can move forward with setting up your very own server. Special thanks to Instructables for the configuration help.  

    1. Map Data

    You’ll need to collect the Map Data from your existing WoW install. If you don’t have the game downloaded to your computer, then you’ll need to do this now. You can access the download from your existing WoW account. Open up the WoW folder and locate the file titled ‘maps’. Now you’ll need to go to ‘C:/AC Web Ultimate Repack/ Tools/Map Extractor enUS’ and copy the ‘maps’ folder and the ‘ad.exe’ to the folder. Then, run the ‘ad.exe’ program.  

    2. Logon Database Configuration

    Now you’ll need to find the file called ‘ascent-logonserver.conf’, open it, and find the area that begins with, ‘LogonDatabase Hostname=’. Now, make sure you change the information, so it looks like the text below: ‘LogonDatabase Hostname = "127.0.0.1" Username = "root" Password = "ascent" Name = "logon" Port = "3306" Type = “1”’  

    3. Configure Ascent Realms

    Navigate to the file called ‘ascent-realms.conf’, and locate the portion that starts with ‘<Realm1 Name=’. Then, change the details, so they mirror the options below. ‘<Realm1 Name = “The Name of Your Server“ Address = "127.0.0.1:8129" Icon = "RP" Colour = "1" Population = "1.0" TimeZone = “1”>’  

    4. Configure Your World

    This is the fun part where you’ll be able to customize certain elements of your world. To get started with this navigate to the file, ‘ascent-world.conf’. With this file open you can then adjust the values under the ‘<Rates Health=‘ section to customize the gameplay experience.  

    5. Change the realmlist.wtf File

    Navigate back to the WoW directory and find the file called ‘realm list.wtf’. Now, delete the contents of the file and replace it with ‘set realm list 127.0.0.1’. You can then start your server by running ‘Control Panel.exe’ within your ‘SC Web Ultimate Repack’ directory. Once that runs, just click on the first three buttons and your server will be live. You can now enjoy your very own private WoW server. Happy gaming!
  • The Beginner’s Guide to Understanding cPanel

    Monday, March 27, 2017 by
    cPanel guide If you’re just getting started setting up your very first website, then you’re probably going to need to use cPanel. Most current web hosts use cPanel, so if you’re not using it now, you’ll probably need to use it eventually. cPanel can be used to accomplish a lot of website-related tasks. Uploading files, creating a domain email address, adding more domains to your hosting account, and installing WordPress can all be done in your cPanel. Even basic knowledge of cPanel can be very beneficial to website beginners. Let's dive into cPanel and walk through how you can accomplish a variety of hosting related tasks.  

    What is cPanel?

    cPanel is the control panel that allows you to easily manage your hosting account. cPanel doesn’t manage your billing preferences (go to your portal account for that), but rather the technical aspects of managing your website. When you log into your cPanel you’ll find a graphical interface that’ll enable you to manage your website. For the purpose of this tutorial we’re going to be using the HostGator cPanel for reference. Below we highlight a few things you can do from your cPanel dashboard. Get your cPanel login ready now, as you'll need it to access cPanel and perform the activities listed below. Your hosting provider should have provided you with your login credentials after you signed up for hosting.  

    1. Updating cPanel Preferences

    Before we jump into actually managing your site in cPanel, let’s get a little familiar with the backend. Once you login to cPanel you’ll be taken to the dashboard. HostGator cPanel dashboard At the top, you’ll find a search bar you can use to locate the plugin you want to utilize, or you can just use the ctrl+f command to find what you’re looking for. We'll be focusing on these sections of cPanel:
    • Mail
    • Files
    • Domains
    • Software and Services

    2. Managing Your Domain Names

    The Domains section of your cPanel will be useful anytime you want to add another domain to your hosting account, manage redirections, or create a subdomain that can be used to build a new site. Manage domains in cPanel To add a new domain, click on Addon Domain. This will allow you to add another domain that you’ve purchased to your existing hosting account. Now all you have to do is enter the necessary domain information and your new site will be ready to build! You can also manage redirects and create subdomains under an existing domain within this section of cPanel.  

    3. Managing Your Email Accounts

    Want to create an email address that matches your domain name? Navigate to the Email section. Click on Email Accounts, and you’ll be able to create an email under your desired domain name using the drop down tab. cPanel email management If you want to access your email for the first time, scroll down to where your email accounts and click on Access Webmail from the More drop down. Bookmark your inbox for easy access next time.  

    4. Understanding File Manager

    To manage your website’s files, navigate to File Manager. Then select the website you want files from and click Go. This will open up the list of files that make up your website. It’s important not to mess with these unless you know what you’re doing, as deleting just one of these files could render your website inoperable. cPanel File Manager  

    5. Getting to Know One Click Installs

    The final tool we’re going to look at in this tutorial is under the Software section and it’s called QuickInstall. cPanel QuickInstall With QuickInstall you can easily install WordPress and other popular content management systems on any domain you own. Below we’ll show you how to install WordPress with just a few clicks. With QuickInstall open, click on WordPress. Scroll down and you’ll see a box that looks like the one below: WordPress cPanel Click on Install WordPress, then select your domain name and populate the fields with your admin email, title of your site, and admin username. After the install is complete you’ll receive an email that allows you to login to the WordPress backend. Obviously, there’s a lot more you can do within your cPanel. But, the five items above are commonly requested by beginners.   Any other common tasks you use cPanel for? Share your favorites in the comments below.
  • 5 Ways To Evaluate The Success of Your Website

    Friday, March 17, 2017 by
    Evaluate Website Success Every website is different. What might be considered successful results for one website may be lackluster for another. To measure your own site’s success, you must first define what success means to you and develop a clear picture of how your website is performing according to these metrics. To start, ask yourself about the purpose of your site. Was it created to sell products? To boost fundraising efforts? To engage consumers in a particular niche? Defining the purpose of your website is essential to defining its success.  

    Setting Good Goals

    Next, you need to set some clear goals that coincide with your website’s purpose.

    Make sure you set S.M.A.R.T goals:

    • Specific: Who, what, where, when, and why?

    • Measurable: They should include numbers and figures.

    • Attainable: Your goal should present a challenge, but not be impossible.

    • Relevant: Does your website goal fit with your overall marketing and business goals?

    • Time-bound: Do you want to reach this goal in a week? Six months? A year?

    As an example, say you’re a business owner who sells jackets online. Your organizational goal is to generate revenue through jacket sales, so one goal of your website is to get visitors to buy jackets (a specific website visitor action). Your goal might be to sell 500 jackets per month through your website (which is both measurable and constrained by a specific time frame), up from the 400 you sold last month (which is challenging, yet realistic).  

    Website Metrics That Matter

    Though the definition of website success will vary from business to business depending on goals, everyone can measure the performance of their website using analytics software. The factors that you measure with analytics are called metrics. According to the Content Marketing Institute, all metrics fall into four categories: Consumption, Sharing, Lead Generation, and Sales. Keep an eye on these key metrics to get a good idea of your website's performance.  

    Consumption Metrics

    Consumption refers to the content that your visitors see and consume when visiting your website. Examples of these metrics include:

    • Page Views: Page view metrics track how many people have seen the pages and content on your website. These are the easiest metrics to find and record.

    • Video Views: Video view metrics track how many people have seen your videos. You can measure these using YouTube Insights, or its equivalent if you use another video host.

    • Document Views: Document view metrics track the number of views for any documents embedded on your site. You can measure these views through document sharing websites like Paper.li and Slideshare.

    • Downloads: Download metrics track the number of times people download your downloadable content.

    Consumption metrics are important because they help you understand how your content is viewed.

     

    Sharing Metrics

    These metrics measure how many people are sharing your content across the web. Content sharing has become a common indicator of content usefulness and popularity, so these metrics are good indicators of your website's performance. They include:

    • Social signals that people give by clicking social share buttons on your website. They come from sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Google+.

    • Backlinks. A backlink is created whenever another website links to your site. You can measure this through Google Analytics (or any other analytics software), and through Pingbacks on your blog.

    • Email open rate and forwards. You can measure these through a list management provider like Aweber or MailChimp.

    You can encourage content sharing by using share buttons on your blog posts, articles, and other content. If your blog doesn't have them already, check out websites like AddThis and ShareThis.

     

    Lead Generation Metrics

    Lead generation is a critical goal for businesses, especially B2Bs. The goal of providing rich content is ultimately to move website visitors down your sales funnel, transforming them from passive viewers to active and loyal followers (and customers). Examples of the metrics you should be paying attention to:

    • Conversion rates: The number of unique site visitors measured against the number of conversions.

    • Form completions and call-to-action downloads: The number of times a visitor signs up for your newsletter, downloads a special report, etc.

    • Blog subscribers: You can measure this via your blog account or through your email marketing provider like Constant Contact.

     

    Sales Metrics

    If you use your website to sell products and services, then this one probably matters the most to you. Tracking sales metrics usually involves analyzing data within the CRM system you have in place for your business and customers. In order to effectively track sales metrics, you must include trackable components on your website (like a call-to-action to a product landing page). You can also include call-to-actions at the end of blog posts. By doing so, you will be able to track which content on your site is actually driving visitors to purchase your products or services.

  • How You Can Choose The Best Domain Name For Your Blog

    Thursday, March 16, 2017 by

    choose best domain name for your blog

    You’ve decided to start a blog. You know what it will be about, you know who your target audience is, and you’ve drafted a list of individual post ideas you can use to keep up a regular posting schedule. The only thing standing between you and your first published post? You need a domain for that new blog. Suddenly, your new blog project feels a bit daunting. How do you choose a great name when millions of names are already registered? Should you go with .com, .blog, .cat or one of the hundreds of other top level domain options? How do you protect your privacy when you register your domain? What about SEO? Don’t get overwhelmed. There’s a lot of great information online about the best way to select a domain name for your blog, and we’ve sifted through it to bring you the highlights. (We also know a thing or two about registering domain names ourselves.) Here are the 11 most important things to consider as you decide on your blog’s domain name. Create Your Blog  

    Your domain = Your brand

    What’s your blog’s brand? If it’s a blog for your business, it’s part of your business brand. If it’s a personal blog, it will reflect on you personally, whether you’re seeking jobs, promoting your services to clients, or keeping visitors entertained. Take the time to think about the feelings, values, and uniqueness you want your blog to convey, and use that information to guide your domain name choice. [bctt tweet="Your domain name = Your brand. Don't forget that! #branding" username="hostgator"]  

    Keep it short

    Short domain names are easy to remember, type in, and share. Short domain names also display fully on even small screens, an important consideration now that most US digital media consumers browse on smartphones instead of computers.  

    Pass the “radio test”

    If you say your domain name aloud and a listener can type it into their browser, it passes the “radio test.” This is important because, according to both Entrepreneur and Moz, pronounceable domains are easier to remember and more likely to be shared. [bctt tweet="Does your domain name pass the Radio Test? Say it out loud, and people should be able to type it in." username="hostgator"]  

    .com or bust?

    There are so many top level domain options today that making a decision can be intimidating. Here’s a timesaving solution: Go with .com if you can. Even after all these years, .com is still the market leader and .com still appears to have a trust advantage with internet users. However, there are times when an alternate TLD can enhance your domain branding. Someone who blogs about data security, for example, might choose the .tech TLD, and a blogger who reviews monthly product-box deliveries might be able to work .club into the domain name. You can explore TLD options at HostGator partner Domain.com, which offers more than 300 TLDs, including .design, .wedding, and .recipes. Domain Name  

    Keep squatters away

    Cybersquatting is a real problem, and while registering a domain using someone else's trademark is illegal, squatters (and even domain registrants acting in good faith) can create confusion around your domain by registering variants, like the plural version or the same name with another top-level domain. To avoid confusion, you may want to spend a few extra bucks to register domain names very similar to yours and redirect them to your blog. Some real-world examples:
    • Stabucks.com redirects to Starbucks.com
    • HostGators.com redirects to HostGator.com
    • Amazon.sale redirects to the “Today’s Deals” page at Amazon.com
    You may not have the budget to register every possible variation of your domain name, but it’s a good idea to pick up the .info, .net, and .biz versions if you can.  

    Scout social-media availability

    Make sure the domain name is available as an account name in the social media channels you’ll use. Otherwise you’re setting up your blog for visitor confusion and possible trademark battles (see below).  

    Avoid domain name confusion

    You’re not likely to copy or reference the domain name of a major existing brand like Amazon or Starbucks, but you might accidentally step on the toes of a smaller blog or brand. Spend some time online looking for businesses and blogs with similar domain names. Adjust yours, if you need to, to avoid confusion and potential lawsuits. As Rand Fishkin says in the Whiteboard Friday video below, “it's not your judgment. It's not even your audience's judgment. It's what you think a judge in the jurisdiction might have the judgment about.”
     

    Keywords in your domain name? Maybe

    It makes sense to use search keywords in your domain name as long as they’re part of your brand and you understand you won’t get an SEO value from them. A decade or so ago, the internet was full of generic-sounding keyword-rich domains like CheapCottonShirts.com or RemoteControlCarBlog.com. At best, search engine honchos say keywords in the domain name don’t enhance SEO enough to make the loss of unique branding worth it these days. At worst, Google may even penalize you for it.  

    Hyphens in your domain name? No way

    Take it from someone with a hyphenated name: Hyphens are a hassle. Worse, research shows that a hyphenated domain name can undermine your blog. Not only are they difficult for users to remember and type in, they can also look spammy to search engines. If you’re considering a domain name that only works if it includes hyphens, head back to the drawing board and come up with hyphen-free alternatives. [bctt tweet="Avoid hyphens in your domain names - they're tricky for users and look spammy." username="hostgator"]  

    Protect your privacy

    When you register your domain, you’ll have the option to buy domain privacy protection, which keeps your billing address and name out of the international WHOIS searchable database of domain registrants. With privacy protection, when someone looks up your domain, they’ll see the corporate address of your privacy protection service, rather than your home or business address.  

    Remember to renew

    Depending on the domain registration service you use and the length of time you pay for, you may need to manually renew your domain registration and privacy protection every year or two. This takes only a couple of minutes, but it’s easy to overlook the renewal-notice email, and if you don’t renew within a certain time, your domain name can go dark or be sold to someone else. HostGator helps bloggers and businesses avoid this problem by auto-renewing your domain registration by default.   Take your time choosing your blog domain and remember that if you want something different later on, you can always choose a new domain and 301 redirect your blog to it. Learn more on the HostGator blog about how your blog can make you money and maybe even change your life.