Tuesday, October 4, 2016 by Casey Kelly-BartonWhat’s the first thing you do when you start looking for a job? If your first response is to update your resume, work your professional contacts, or sign up for some job fairs, you’re on the right track, but arguably the most important task is starting or updating your personal website. Whether you’re looking for a full-time gig with an established employer or want to land new clients who hire you directly, a website offers some job-hunting advantages that other tools simply can’t. Here are seven ways a professionally focused personal website can jump-start your job search.
Monday, October 3, 2016 by Kristen Hicks
If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve probably been on LinkedIn for a long time. If your company does content marketing, then you’ve likely shared your fair share of links with your connections or in LinkedIn Groups.
When LinkedIn launched its own publishing platform and opened it up to all members in 2014, you may have wondered what the point of it was. Sure, for LinkedIn it makes sense. More content that lives within their website means people spend more time there. But why should the average business owner or professional publish content there?
Why Publishing on LinkedIn is Worth It
A common recommendation you come across in content marketing is to avoid digital sharecropping. This isn’t a new idea, but it’s one that gains steam every time a social media network (most often Facebook, it seems) makes changes that push more business and publisher content out of sight.
The gist of the idea is that, the more you build up your business on any website other than your own, the more control you lose over your content and the way you interact with your audience. To give a timely example, many brands that put a lot of emphasis in building up a following on Facebook have recently seen their organic reach plummet due to Facebook giving more priority to user posts.
That seems to create a pretty open and shut case for LinkedIn Publisher. It’s “rented land,” so why use it?
Because even some of the experts that generally advise against digital sharecropping publish posts on LinkedIn.
Greg Ciotti has warned against digital sharecropping in the past, but has also written a post about how beneficial LinkedIn publishing has been for him.
Ciotti's article really gets at why using LinkedIn Publisher is worth it. By loading 35 previously published articles into LinkedIn’s publisher, he gained over 250,000 views and more than 3,000 new followers.
And many of those views came from people in high-level positions at companies likely to be in the target audience of HelpScout, the company he writes for.
In summary, there are three strong reasons that publishing on LinkedIn is smart:
- You can tap into a much larger audience than your own website likely has.
- You can tap into a valuable audience – especially if your business is B2B.
- You don’t have to create all new content for LinkedIn, they don’t expect exclusivity. You can use it as a distribution platform for content that already exists on your website.
How to Publish a Post on LinkedIn
Now that you know the why, the how of publishing on LinkedIn is fairly simple.
1. Log in.
You already have a LinkedIn profile, right? If not, you should get to work making that happen ASAP. If you do already have a profile, then this first step should take a matter of seconds.
2. Choose “Write an Article.”
In the default screen you see once you’re logged into LinkedIn, you should see the option “Write an Article.” Click on it to open a fairly intuitive editing screen.
3. Add your image.
Every post you publish on LinkedIn should have an image. If this is a post you already published on your own blog, then you should already have one ready.
Simply click on the box at the top of the post and select the correct image from your desktop.
4. Paste in your headline and content.
LinkedIn’s editor really talks you through each step. Type or copy-and-paste your headline where it says “Write Your Headline.” And add the content of your post where it says “Start writing.”
When you’re done, press the publish link in the top right corner.
Easy enough, right?
How to Get the Most Out of LinkedIn Publisher
Obviously publishing on LinkedIn is easy. Anyone can do it. So how do some people get truly impressive results from it?
One of the biggest markers of success on LinkedIn is becoming featured on a social channel on LinkedIn Pulse. You’re limited in what you can do to make that happen, as the ultimate decision is up to someone else (or rather, an algorithm), but there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of becoming featured and get more out of your post.
1. Identify the right social channel(s).
LinkedIn offers a number of different channels that members can follow. You can see them listed on the Pulse Discover page. Browse the list of options to find the ones most relevant to your business and the types of topics you write about.
The list on that page is ordered by how many followers each channel has, so any relevant channels that are high up are the ones you should give the most focus to in your efforts.
(Note: be sure to click “See More” to browse the list, so you’re not just viewing the first few channels.)
2. Pay attention to what articles do well there.
Spend some time reviewing the featured articles in the channels you’ve chosen. Look for trends in the types of topics and posts that get a lot of traction there. Do they tend to cover useful skills for getting work? Newsworthy trends? Tips for hiring and managing people?
Jot some notes on what the top-performing posts covered and keep those handy when you’re brainstorming what to write about. And pay attention to the people commenting as well. What are their typical roles in the industry, and what kind of reactions do they have to the posts?
3. Write industry-specific content that will benefit those that follow the channels you’re targeting.
Use what you learned in #2 to craft blog posts that are likely to appeal to the people following those channels. LinkedIn decides who to feature based on factors like the number of shares and comments from the followers in that channel, so you need to gain some traction in the community before you can even be considered. And naturally, you’ll want your post to be good enough to impress the audience there if it does get featured.
Pro Tip: You can’t actually specify the channel you’d like to be featured in anywhere within the LinkedIn Publisher editor, but you are able to add tags to your post. Tag it with the name of the channel you want to be considered for.
4. Spend time working on a strong headline.
Having a strong title that people want to click on is important to getting noticed and shared enough to get on the radar of the algorithm that decides which posts get featured. If you’re treating headlines as an afterthought, this is a good opportunity to change your approach.
Again, use what you’ve learned in studying the posts that do well to help point you in the right direction. As in general on blogs and social media, list posts and how-to guides tend to perform well. So do titles that include the words who, what, where, when, why, or you. But even though words often associated with questions perform well, posts that have questions as the title don’t. Writing a post that answers a question is a good thing, just make sure your title puts the question in statement form, such as “Here’s Why Good Employees Quit,” rather than “Why Do Good Employees Quit?”
5. Include a CTA back to your own site.
The point of using LinkedIn is to get more eyes on the content you’re developing. The point of the content you’re developing (at least the top-of-the-funnel content) is the get more of the people likely to buy what you’re selling to your website. Getting more attention on LinkedIn therefore isn’t worth much if it doesn’t help point people toward your website.
Make sure you include a strong CTA at the end of the post that will point people toward something you’re offering on your site, like a free ebook or guide. If you have something to offer that directly relates to the topic you covered in the post, even better.
Tom Fishburne the Marketoonist includes a link to a landing page to sign up for his email list, as well as a link to a page that allows you to browse the cartoons available to license from him. The post on LinkedIn may be on rented land, but if you like it, you know just where to go to find his “owned land” and potentially make a purchase.
6. Promote on social media.
As previously mentioned, the factors that determine which posts get featured are based on people starting to notice and engage with your post before LinkedIn features it. To give it an initial boost, do what you can to promote it yourself.
Share it in relevant LinkedIn groups and on on all the other social media networks your brand has a presence on. Share it through your personal accounts and encourage your employees to do so as well.
If you really think your post is a great fit for a particular social channel, copy @LinkedInPulse when you share it on Twitter to increase the odds of getting it noticed by the right people. Don’t overuse that tip though or you may train the people behind the account to ignore you. Save it for your best posts.
7. Respond to comments.
The community on LinkedIn often has a lot to say, and that’s a good thing. Posts that get a lot of comments will both show up in the feeds of more people and are more likely to get featured. When people comment on your post, treat it like a conversation.
Respond frequently and always try to say something meaningful in your comments. If someone asks a question, answer. If they pull out something meaningful they learned in the post, see if you can expand on it in your reply or point them toward a useful resource with more information.
Do your part to get a real conversation going in the comments. It’s a way to reward the people that show they care about your work and it will increase the reach of your writing to boot.
If you’ve been avoiding LinkedIn Publisher out of concern that it means building on borrowed land, here’s your nudge to reconsider. You can use it strategically as a tool to encourage more engagement with your content and draw more attention to your website.
Friday, September 30, 2016 by Kevin Wood
Choosing the right web host is a big decision. Without a host your website won’t work, period. There won’t be a place to store all of the necessary files need to display your website.
You’ll have a few options at your disposal when choosing a web host. Some of the most common are very basic shared hosting plans, virtual private server (VPS) hosting, and dedicated hosting.
Below we compare VPS and dedicated hosting, so you can decide which one of these hosting options is the best for your needs. Let’s get to it!
What is VPS Hosting?
With a VPS the resources of the server will be split between different websites or hosting accounts. Think of it as a home computer that has many different users, all of who use the machine in different ways.
Virtual Private Servers have both high end and low end options available. However, the cost usually ranges from $20/month all the way up to $100+/month. VPS servers usually have one or two hosting environments you can choose from, so they lack the absolute customization of dedicated hosts. But, this does mean easier setup for those who have more basic websites.
This style of hosting will be enough for sites that are simpler and don’t receive massive amounts of traffic. Overall, you can think of VPS hosting as a perfect solution for those who require root access on a server, but don’t want the expense of a full dedicated server.
If basic shared hosting doesn’t quite offer what you need and you need a little more control over your host, then VPS hosting could be the right fit for you. If you need a more advanced host with extensive customization options, then check out dedicated hosting below.
Click here to learn more about HostGator's VPS hosting plans.
What is Dedicated Hosting?
A dedicated server is a server that’s literally dedicated to your own personal use. You’ll have rights to all of the resources of the machine, and you’ll be able to configure the hosting environment however you wish.
Dedicated hosts are usually only worthwhile if you’re receiving over 500,000 visitors per month and have the necessary technical staff to maintain and optimize your server.
There is no right and wrong when it comes to hosting. Instead, it simply depends upon what’s the best choice for your website. We all have different needs. So make sure you take stock of what kind of hosting support you’ll need before you choose a web host.
However, since dedicated servers are almost always more expensive it’s generally a good idea to start with a VPS until your company is generating enough revenue to support the cost of a dedicated server.
Click here to learn more about HostGator's dedicated hosting plans.
What style of hosting do you prefer? Please share in the comments below.
Wednesday, September 28, 2016 by Syed Balkhi
As a writer, you may be looking for ways to enhance your WordPress blog and expand the reach of your content. The good news is, there are a vast number of WordPress plugins that can help. The bad news is, it can be difficult for writers to choose the best ones. Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about that.
In this article, we will share the 9 best WordPress plugins for writers that can enhance your blog and expand your reach.
Don’t have a website yet? No problem. Get your site published in minutes with HostGator's one-click WordPress installs. Learn more here.
1. Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is the best WordPress plugin for ranking your blog posts in the search engines. It optimizes your page title, meta description, focus keywords, sitemap, social metadata, and much more.
This plugin is a must-have for any content writer. (See this guide on how to install Yoast SEO.)
Cost: Free with multiple price tiers
2. Edit Flow
Edit Flow helps your editorial teams to collaborate on your posts and pages.
This plugin adds an editorial calendar to your dashboard so you can look at your monthly content plan. It also creates custom statuses for keeping track of the key stages in your workflow. You can even communicate with your writers and editors in the private editorial comments.
3. Monster Insights
Monster Insights helps you to monitor your daily blog traffic with Google Analytics.
This plugin allows you to easily setup Google Analytics on your WordPress site with just a few clicks. It highlights your most important stats, so you can easily grow your blog traffic and get a clear idea of how you are doing at a glance.
Cost: Free or pro version at $89 / yr
WPForms is the best WordPress plugin for adding forms to your site. Its features make it the most powerful and user-friendly WordPress form builder on the market.
This plugin creates contact forms and custom form types with a powerful drag & drop builder. It also includes simple and beautiful form templates that you can start with to save you time. Plus, you can create high performance forms with their smart conditional logic.
Cost: Free with paid upgrades starting at $39 / yr
5. ClicktoTweet by CoSchedule
ClicktoTweet is one of the easiest ways to get more shares for your content.
It is a simple WordPress plugin that encourages readers to share your content by adding Click to Tweet boxes in your blog posts.
6. Revision Control
Revision Control gives writers more control over the WordPress post revision system.
You can save revisions of posts or pages in your WordPress backend. It allows you to set the number of revisions for your content, and these settings can be changed according to your needs. You can also delete post or page revisions from Revisions post meta box.
7. Co-Authors Plus
Co-Authors Plus is the best author box plugin that adds multiple authors to one post. If you have two or more contributors working on one post, then this is the plugin for you.
You can add bylines to WordPress posts, pages and more with the search-as-you-type input box. It allows you to list the authors anywhere on your site using template tags. It also has multiple templates for displaying the authors.
8. Post Forking
Post Forking allows writers to create an alternate versions of their content for a collaborative approach to WordPress content curation.
This plugin gives authors the ability to submit proposed revisions and to edit published posts without the changes appearing immediately.
9. TinyMCE Spell Check
TinyMCE Spell Check helps you to identify the mistakes in your posts and correct them by adding a spell check button.
With this plugin, you no longer have to copy and paste your blog posts into a Word document to check for errors: you can do it right within your WordPress backend.
Cost: Free to try with upgrades starting at $29 / month
WordPress plugins make it so much easier for writers to enhance their blog and expand the reach of their content. Now that you know the best ones, choose one of the above plugins to start with. You’ll see the improvement in no time.
Tuesday, September 27, 2016 by Amelia WillsonThink about the About page on your website. If you don’t have one, you should create one immediately after reading this article. If you have one, what's the point? Is it to show customers who your team is, to put a “face” to the company? Or do you talk about the history of your company? Maybe it’s a recruiting tool? About pages can serve a variety of purposes. The key to making them successful, though, is knowing what that purpose is, and designing the page to address that purpose specifically. Your About page is the perfect place to encourage people to work with you, or to work for you. Below are some best practices to follow when designing your About page to achieve either of those goals.
1. Tell your storyYour About page is your opportunity to make a personal connection with prospective customers. Explain why it is that you do what you do. Are you passionate about improving your industry, your product, the world? Reveal your passion, and people will want to work with you. Nick Braun, founder and CEO of Pet Insurance Quotes, took this one step further by helping potential clients imagine themselves in his shoes. Braun's About page includes the key elements of any successful About page: contact information, trust-building industry badges of approval, and clear CTAs. What makes this page stand out is Braun's personal dog rescue story. He and his wife fell instantly in love with their new pup Beau, and started exploring insurance options so they could keep him happy and healthy for as long as possible. It was during this time that Braun realized how difficult it was to compare pet insurance providers, which gave him the idea to start the website. Braun’s site aims to help other pet parents avoid headache and heartache. “There is nothing fancy about it, but what it does that most other About pages don't is provide a story about why we're in business. I always find it frustrating when I can't get any sense of who the company is,” said Braun. “We decided to share my story as a pet parent to provide context and help connect with our audience.”
2. Establish credibilityChris Brantner recognized the sales opportunity an About page presents. Rather than offering another boring “About Me” story on CutCableToday.com, he designed a page to encourage customers to take action. The page begins with a trust-building banner. “It validates the site as an expert source in the industry by showing where the site has gained national media coverage,” said Brantner. Once he’s established trust, Brantner keeps things fun and conversational, allowing his personality to shine. “It's a great branding piece that allows people to get to know the site mascot, and the guy behind him (me).” Brantner understands that when people come to an About page, they’re already at a place where they're interested in the product, and what they’re looking for at this point is reassurance that this is the kind of person they want to work with. After building trust and rapport with potential customers in the previous sections of the page, the page ends with a contact form. “It drives people to action by convincing them to click internal links that will push them into the funnel, or at last resort, email asking for help to keep the conversation going.”
3. Feature your customersAs they say, the proof is in the pudding. There’s a reason why online reviews and customer testimonials are so popular… they work. User your About page to show off your portfolio of work and share how happy your customers are. Pet Checkers is a UK-based company that connects pet owners with pet care professionals when they go on holiday. As any pet owner can relate, it's nerve-wracking to leave your pet in the hands of a stranger. Not only do you want to know that they will be safe, you want to know that they will be cared for lovingly. Building that sense of trust is a tall order for any pet care company, but Pet Checkers found a clever solution to this challenge in the design of their About page. Owner Ben Doyle explained, “We worked really hard to make the page look as welcoming and as personal as possible. All of the images we used on the page (and the site) are of actual pets we look after, so our clients can see that we make a fuss of their pets on the site. We also introduce our staff members to make the readers feel like they’re getting to know us before any contact even takes place.” Does it work? You bet. “The click through rate from this page to the contact page is the highest of any page on the site,” shared Doyle.
4. Introduce the teamIntroducing your team is especially important if you’re a company where individual staff will be working closely and for prolonged times with clients. If this is the kind of business you’re in, be it a law firm, a design agency, or something else, hiding your team away can be a kiss of death. Make your team accessible through your website so your customers know they can expect openness and transparency in your working relationship. One company that took a clever twist on this approach is TunnelBear. Their mascot is a grizzly bear, so rather than displaying normal photos of their team, they created grizzly-inspired illustrations that reflect their unique personalities. The effect is endearing and makes you want to work with such a fun group of people. Accordingly, they end with a recruiting call-out and link to their jobs page.
5. Showcase your workNot to toot our own horn, but we're pretty proud of our own About page here at HostGator. We highlight the milestones in our company history, so customers can celebrate our successes along with us. These also help establish our credibility and tenure in the industry, as customers can note the growth of our company from a single office Houston to several international offices with over 2 million clients. At the end, we encourage potential hires to envision themselves working at HostGator and link to our Careers page.
ConclusionWe hope these About pages inspired you! When creating your About page, aim to follow these best practices:
- Tell your story.
- Feature your customers.
- Establish credibility.
- Showcase your work.
- Introduce your team.
- Incorporate your brand.
- Make it fun!