Monday, February 13, 2017 by Greg NarayanAce the SAT writing section? Desire to work from home someday? Always look at the world wondering, hmm, could we do that one thing better? If this sounds like you, these may be signs you were born to be a blogger. Stop ignoring the signs and embrace your calling! In this post I'll reveal five common examples from the real world which could be your calling to start a blog, along with a few examples from my own blogging-filled life. Each example includes a "what it means for you" section where I share advice on what you should look out for in the real world. Hopefully you can use these tidbits to gain an edge on your competition, make a blog, and start blogging for life, too. If you just know this is you - maybe you already saw the sign (Ace of Base, anyone?) - then HostGator can help! Launch your blog easily today like thousands of other new bloggers have done with one of their shared web hosting plans.
Friday, February 10, 2017 by Kevin WoodConverting cold traffic into warm leads and eventual customers can be quite the difficult process. After all, cold visitors don’t know what your website is about, and aren’t familiar with anything you’re doing. One of the best methods to transform this traffic into new subscribers is through utilizing the power of a landing page. However, not just any landing page will do. You need a landing page that’s properly optimized to address the concerns of your audience in such a way they literally can’t wait to hand over their email address. Below we cover a few central elements that every high converting landing page needs to have to be effective. Ready? Let’s dive in.
You Truly Need a Compelling OfferToday’s web users are more inundated with information than ever before. They’re also bombarded with popups and dozens of requests to enter their email information. Because of this people have become more defensive over exactly who they allow into their inboxes. One of the most effective ways around this is to create a downloadable opt-in offer your visitors can’t refuse. Your opt-in offer should speak to a deep need, or underlying problem they haven’t been able to solve. However, make sure the problem you’re addressing isn’t so large, that you can’t deliver on the promise inside your downloadable PDF.
5 Must-Have Landing Page ElementsOnce you’ve solidified your offer your visitors can’t wait to get their hands on you’re going to build a page around that offer. Below we highlight some of the must-have elements you’ll want to feature on your page.
1. A Benefits-Oriented HeadlineOne of the most important elements of your page is your headline. This is the first thing people are going to read, and it needs to grab their attention immediately. Your headline needs to be clear and speak to the exact need you’re going to be solving for them.
2. A Relatable VideoRecent research has continually shown that pages with video tend to convert higher than those who don’t. Is it an absolute necessity? No. But, think about it this way. When a visitor lands on your website for the first time they have no idea who you are, so a video will allow them to connect in a deeper way. A video can even help to convince the reader to enter their email address, as it can be a lead in to the full solution you’re presenting in your downloadable offer.
3. “Less Salesy” Page ElementsSometimes, a landing page can feel a bit too much like a sales page, which can put pressure on your reader. To create a more relaxed environment you could consider adding the little sidebar share buttons to your page. This will make it seem more like a blog post, and could also lead to some social shares and more traffic for you.
4. Easy to See Signup BoxesYour signup box needs to clearly stand out from the rest of your page. If your page does include a video, then include the box directly below the video, with a reference to the location of the signup box in the video. If you don’t have video, or you have a longer landing page, then consider adding the signup box to multiple locations throughout the page.
5. A Clear and Compelling CTAYour call-to-action is equally as important as the headline. It’s what’s going to make the visitor input their email into the signup box. It doesn’t have to be spectacular, but it should be very clear. Think of it as explicit instructions telling your visitor what to do next. Don’t be afraid to spell it out for them. Vague call-to-actions will only leave your reader feeling confused, unsure of what to do next.
ConclusionTurning cold traffic into email subscribers is time well spent, especially if you receive large amounts of new traffic to your site on a regular basis. By implementing the tips above you’ll be on your way to building a high converting landing page that your visitors love.
Thursday, February 9, 2017 by Jeremy JensenValentine’s Day doesn’t have to be just chocolates and rose petals on the bed. Although many have criticized the holiday as being another excuse to go out and spend wads of cash, it can also be an excellent opportunity to provide your significant other with something both useful and close to the heart. If you know your SO to be digitally savvy, then surprising them with the right gadget can be far more meaningful than flowers from the grocery store. We’ve hand selected gifts for a variety of budgets that should be able to satisfy anyone with an affinity for cool stuff. Most importantly, they’ll show how creative and thoughtful you are!
Valentine's Tech Gifts Under $50For those of you with a budget in mind, do not panic! These three gifts under $50 will seem like you splurged, yet they’re incredibly practical.
1. Tile Mate - Key Finder, Phone Finder, Anything Finder ($24.99)For those of you with an iPhone, there may have been a time (or two, or three) when you were delighted to find your phone using Apple's Find iPhone feature. If your partner has a reputation for losing other important items, namely their keys, wallet, or dog, then that little fantasy you’ve always had about built in GPS has finally come true. Tile comes in a variety of sizes and quantities, providing a discrete homing device that won’t become detached easily. The Tile app works both ways as well. For instance, if you have your keys but can’t find your phone then you can press the Tile to sound off where your phone was put. We love this gift because saving yourself from moments of stress when you're running late can really have a positive impact on your life. Available on Amazon.
2. 365 Day Custom Tearaway Calendar - Social Print Studio ($40)Does your Valentine love Instagram? How about photography? Maybe just photos of the two of you, every day of the year? Social Print Studio has developed a web page that easily imports your social media photos and turns then into a tear calendar for the entire year. Several companies have already offered Instagram booklets and keepsakes, but considering most avid social media users have over 365 post-worthy photos, it’s a glorious idea to be able to reflect on all your best moments over the course of a year. What’s more, Social Print Studio uses a thicker paper weight, so if you'd like a more permanent keepsake than a tearaway calendar, you can tear and place the photos on your wall in a mosaic of memories. Available on SocialPrintStudio.com.
3. Google Chromecast ($35)Technologically speaking, we’ve gone from large bulky devices down to compact smart phones, and now we've found ourselves desiring the capability to watch streaming content on bigger screens again. Google saw an easy opportunity to bridge the gap between devices large and small. With the Google Chromecast you can stream any content from your smaller devices right to your TV using Bluetooth and an adorable device the size of a fifty cent piece. Available in coral, lemonade, and black. Available on the Google Store.
Valentine's Tech Gifts Under $100$100 is stepping into a price range with wide open possibilities, but for the sake of thoughtfulness, we honed in on a couple items we think have a particular relevance to couples and the time of year.
1. Fitbit Fitness Trackers ($79.99)If there’s one thing tech enthusiasts find sexy, it’s well organized data. Pair that with body sculpting fitness motivation and you have a Valentine’s Day gift beneficial to both partners. Sleek in design and function, Fitbit has a dominant stake in the fitness tracking industry. Some of its popular features include measuring steps, duration and quality of sleep, heart rate, and calories burned. Plus, it pairs with your smart phone to display caller ID, texts, and reminders, so you don’t have to pull your phone out in the middle of exercising. This gift is perfect for the active, or seeking-to-be active, couple. Having just started a new year it can be very easy to lose the fitness motivation by February 14th. Don't be a cliché - keep up with your New Year's resolution for a healthy 2017! Available on Fitbit.
2. Portable Cell Phone Charger - Mophie Powerstation ($60)It's not uncommon for your cell phone to die with regular use over the course of a business day, and what says I love you more than “I want to be able to call you no matter what!”? Portable charging devices have been on the market for some time, yet their popularity has been underwhelming at best. Having just gone through the most brutal January of my life in Lake Tahoe, with an unusual abundance of power outages, I can personally testify to the usefulness of this device. Spare your SO the hassle of being without mobile connectivity and give them some backup power. Available on Amazon.
Valentine's Tech Gifts Over $100Sometimes it’s fun to buy a gift not just for your partner, but for the "us," if you catch my drift. These gifts are perfect for unique couple experiences, and those who like to travel light.
1. Portable Mobile Projector - RIF6 Cube Mobile Projector ($275)Nothing says James Bond more than pulling out a mini projector in times when you want to cozy up to your movie buddy. Two inches square and powered by 50 lumens, this projector is capable of screening full 1080p with 90 minutes of battery life. The RIF6 comes with HDMI and MHL connection cables, a USB charger, Remote control, flexible mini tripod, and a comfortable 1-year warranty. Potential uses include movies in the backpacking tent, screening parties in your hostel abroad, or impressive client displays for your business life. Available on Amazon.
2. Portable Photo Printer - HP Sprocket ($129.99)Nowadays we’re taking more photos than ever before thanks to smart phone cameras, but how often do we print our photos? A portable photo printer makes it easy. Snap a photo on your smart phone, and then print it out immediately for your loved one to put on the fridge. The photos print at 2” x 3” on sticky back paper via Bluetooth. What’s nice is you don’t have to make the extra investment buying a new-age Polaroid. All you need is a smartphone! Available on Amazon.
Bonus Gift: A Brand New Website!Sure, the gadgets above are neat, but if you want to really impress your valentine, consider getting them a gift that's all digital. How about powerful web hosting that includes a free website builder, one-click script installs, and 24/7 support? We may be biased, but we love the idea!
Tuesday, February 7, 2017 by Kevin WoodBlogger is a great free tool for those just getting started online. But, if you’re starting to take your online efforts seriously, then you’re probably going to run up against the limitations of the platform rather quickly. If you’ve made the decision to switch from Blogger to WordPress, then you probably don’t want to lose all of the content you’ve created thus far. That's exactly why we created this guide. Read on to learn how to switch from Blogger to your new self-hosted WordPress site.
The Limitations of BloggerBlogger can be a great tool for people just getting started with blogging. In fact, it’s one of the most common beginner blogging platforms out there. But, if you’re taking your online presence and website seriously, you’ll probably reach a point where you’ll want a little more control. One thing that Blogger lacks is customization options. Even if you do manage to turn a profit with your blog, you run the risk of a third-party being in control of your work. If you want to grow your website and turn it into a full-time business, then you’re going to need the level of customization and control that WordPress provides. But, if you already have a lot of content on your Blogger blog, then you probably want to take it with you. We show you how in the steps below.
Transferring from Blogger to WordPressWhen making the transfer you probably don’t want to lose any hard earned rankings or traffic. The steps below will help you easily migrate your site without the usual headache.
1. Get a New HostBefore you make the switch you’ll need to purchase web hosting and a domain name. So, only move forward once you have those setup. You’ll also need to install WordPress on your domain. This quick post will show you how to do that (assuming you’re hosting your new site with HostGator). Don't worry, it only takes a few minutes.
2. Export Your Blogger SiteThe first actual step in the import is going to be exporting your current Blogger site. To do this, login to your Blogger dashboard and navigate to Settings>Other. On this page click on the Back Up Content button under the Import & Back Up section. Save your backup to a safe location on your computer. This file will be saved in a .xml format.
3. Import via WordPressNow, we’re going to login to your brand new WordPress site and import all of the Blogger data you just downloaded. To do this, login to your WordPress dashboard and navigate to Tools>Import. You’ll notice one of the options is Blogger. Click on it. If you haven’t used this feature before, then you’ll need to click Install Now to activate this feature. Once this is installed you’ll notice an option called Activate Plugin & Run Importer. Click on that. Now all you have to do is upload your .xml file from Step 2. After this finishes running through, you'll need to assign an author to all of the imported posts.
4. Switch Over Your PermalinksYour permalinks are how your URLs are structured. Since you’ve imported all that content from Blogger we want your URL structure to mimic that as closely as possible. To do this navigate to Settings>Permalinks. Select the box that says Month and name. This is the closest we can get to mimic the structure of your Blogger posts.
5. Redirect From Blogger to WordPressNext we’re going to redirect your blogger site to your new WordPress site. We’ll need to do this on a site-level and on a per-post basis. This will ensure everyone visiting your Blogger site will land on the correct page on your new WordPress site. We recommend using the help of a plugin to handle your Blogger redirects. To do this install the plugin called Blogger 301 Redirect. Activate this plugin on your existing WordPress site and follow the instructions to get this plugin up and running. Finally, we’re going to redirect your RSS feed to your new WordPress feed. To do this, navigate to Settings>Other within your Blogger dashboard. Click on Add next to the Post Feed Redirect URL section. Now, add the URL of your current WordPress feed.
6. Import Your ImagesSometimes, not every image will get transferred over to your new site. To remedy this, all you have to do is find the original images. Once you’ve downloaded the originals navigate to Media>Add New within your WordPress dashboard. Then you can drag and drop the images that got left out, and add them to the relevant posts and pages. Migrating from Blogger to WordPress isn’t difficult, but it does take time. Once you’ve done the import and followed the steps above it’s a good idea to comb through every post and page on your old and new site to make sure nothing got left out. If you’ve completed the steps above you’re now the owner of a beautiful WordPress website, nice work!
Monday, February 6, 2017 by Kevin WoodHaving a website is basically mandatory for any profession, including musicians. In fact, with the ability to build an audience and sell directly to your fans, establishing an online presence is becoming even more enticing. Luckily, WordPress has a lot of tools available for musicians. Even if you’re not very tech-savvy, you can still use the power of WordPress to create a beautiful and functional website. Below we dive into a few of our favorite plugins that will help take you, or your band’s, website to the next level. If you tour on a regular basis, then GigPress is a plugin you’re going to want in your arsenal. This plugin allows you to easily manage your upcoming and past performances. This plugin allows you to easily customize how you want your tour dates to look, so you can integrate your upcoming shows into your existing site. It even includes links for your fans to buy tickets, and is easy to organize your shows. If you currently have your music uploaded to Soundcloud, then why not let fans listen while they're on your website? This plugin displays your Soundcloud playlists or tracks you’ve uploaded yourself. However, if you don’t utilize Soundcloud and your music is on Spotify, then you can use the plugin called Spotify Master. This enables you to display entire albums, playlists, or even select tracks. As you grow you’re going to need a way to keep in touch with your fans. It’s easy in the early stages when you can take the time to respond to everyone, but over time it’s nearly impossible to respond to every request, comment, and email. One cool plugin we like is called Thank Me Later. Whenever a fan adds a comment they will receive an automatic response via email thanking them for the comment. Little personal touches like this can really go a long way. Some musicians prefer to be in complete control of how their music gets distributed. A great plugin that allows you to sell your digital music directly to your fans is called Music Store. This plugin also includes an audio player, so your fans can profile the track before they decide to buy. The free version of this plugin lets you share basic tracks, but if you’re looking to sell entire collections of music, run discounts, and offer coupons, then you’ll have to upgrade to the premium version. As a musician you make most of your money selling music and playing live shows; however, a good portion of your income can also come from merchandise sales. Most of this stuff is usually sold at a booth at your live shows, but you can still sell the same goods online. Luckily, there are a variety of plugins you can use to sell your merchandise to those fans who desperately want a t-shirt with your latest album cover. One of the most common storefront plugins is Foxyshop. This plugin connects to their hosted shopping cart service, which enables you auto manage your inventory from within your WordPress dashboard. Foxyshop also has support for selling digital goods and subscriptions too. The above plugins are a great way for you to connect with your fans and bolster your income as a musician. Did we miss any must-have plugins? Share your favorite WordPress plugins for musicians in the comments below.