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  • 9 Best WordPress Plugins for Writers

    Wednesday, September 28, 2016 by

    Best WordPress Plugins for Writers

    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 WordPress

    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

    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.

    Cost: Free

    3. Monster Insights

    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

    4. WPForms


    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

    Click To Tweet

    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.

    Cost: Free

    6. Revision Control

    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.

    Cost: Free

    7. Co-Authors Plus

    CoAuthors 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.

    Cost: Free

    8. Post Forking

    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.

    Cost: Free

    9. TinyMCE Spell Check

    Tiny MCE Spellcheck

    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.

    Recommended WordPress Hosting

  • 5 Tips For Creating An Awesome About Page (With Examples)

    Tuesday, September 27, 2016 by
    Create About Page Think 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 story

    Your 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.” About  

    2. Establish credibility

    Chris Brantner recognized the sales opportunity an About page presents. Rather than offering another boring “About Me” story on, 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.” About CutCableToday  

    3. Feature your customers

    As 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. About Pet Checkers  

    4. Introduce the team

    Introducing 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. About TunnelBear  

    5. Showcase your work

    Not 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. About Us HostGator  


    We 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!
    What is your About page all about? Do you have a favorite we've missed here? Let us know in the comments!
  • For Digital Entrepreneurs, The Proof Is In Your Website

    Monday, September 26, 2016 by
    Creative Agency Website

    James Trumbly understands the power of a well-built website. As the founder and managing partner of Austin’s HMG Creative digital agency, Trumbly has seen his own business website evolve through three iterations (with a fourth in the works) as his agency has grown from a small startup to an award-winning shop that serves major corporations, nonprofits, and government institutions. At the same time, he’s seen his clients’ website needs change as the digital landscape has become more crowded and the web’s role in everyday life has expanded.

    HMG Creative, which Trumbly launched in 2005, now counts IKEA, RetailMeNot, Texas A&M University, and the State Bar of Texas among its clients. In April 2016, HMG Creative’s design for the nonprofit public-school advocacy group Raise Your Hand Texas website won an Award of Distinction in the 22nd annual Communicator Awards competition, judged by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts.


    A Professional Website Builds Credibility

    Trumbly said that a good website allows businesses to highlight not only their products and services but also their culture, connection to the community, and industry expertise. That’s as true for his own business as it is for HMG Creative’s clients.

    “As a digital agency, it’s important to be able to showcase our work, and a great website builds credibility,” he said. “In the beginning, we wanted to share the HMG Creative brand with the world in addition to highlighting our incredible team, culture, and client projects. Our goal, other than providing excellent service to our clients, is to be known as a thought leader throughout the industry. By filling our blog with industry related content and fun snippets of Austin culture, we are able to show our company voice and love for Austin.”

    HMG Creative Website

    Trumbly said his agency’s site is the company’s second-most productive source of new leads, after word of mouth. Having a high quality site to show clients has been the key to HMG Creative’s growth.

    “HMG Creative didn't start with an in-depth portfolio. We relied heavily on personal relationships and our team members’ personal portfolios and we hit the ground running. We began partnering with smaller brands with limited budgets and from there we expanded to what we are today. Being able to showcase our creative chops has helped bring in business. We’ve been able to partner with many Fortune 500 and 1000 brands.”'


    Take Web Design A Step Further With Reseller Hosting

    The agency has worked with HostGator since 2005, Trumbly said, because “their support and reliability and uptime was the best in the hosting industry.” HMG Creative is now a HostGator reseller, to provide seamless service to its web design clients.

    A reliable, easy-to-access web hosting option supported by a well-known brand gives HMG another way differentiate itself in a competitive field. “There are many great digital agencies, especially in Austin, but being able to compete alongside them has been both challenging and rewarding. The constantly changing landscape has also helped our team grow within this industry.”

    [bctt tweet="'For digital agencies, a great website builds credibility.' - James Trumbly, founder of @hmgcreative" username="hostgator"]


    Your Business (And Your Website) Should Constantly Evolve

    Trumbly’s advice to new business owners and entrepreneurs is to embrace change and choose your partners and advisors wisely. “As an entrepreneur, it is important to always accept change, never stop learning, and to always grow from it. You should be willing to pivot and adapt to an ever-changing landscape, while taking calculated risks to enhance and grow your brand. The most beneficial thing a new entrepreneur could do is to find a trusted advisor from day one that you can ask for guidance. Being able to bounce ideas off someone that has been in your shoes goes a long way.”

    That comfort with change extends to companies’ site design, as well. “A website is a constant evolution. Technology is rapidly advancing so it’s important that we’re present and constantly adapting. It’s in our DNA never to stop learning about the web or you’ll end up behind everyone else.”

    Evolve your business. Evolve your website.

    Get Started With HostGator!

  • Send These 7 Emails to Your Small Business Customers

    Monday, September 26, 2016 by

    Small Business Emails

    Email starts relationships.

    It’s the go-to communication for brands. Right now, more than half the world is connected to an email account.

    And, by the end of 2017, email addresses are expected to increase, jumping from nearly 3.9 to over 4.9 billion accounts worldwide.

    “Email is the most direct channel, it boasts a higher ROI than any other channel and it helps build loyalty and relationships on a much deeper level than any other channel,” writes Tony D’Anna, CEO of PostUp.

    When sending emails to your small business customers, you need an effective strategy. Here are 7 emails to get your plan moving in the right direction:


    1. Welcome Email

    First impressions are everything. And a welcome email sets the tone for the relationship. So, roll out the red carpet for your customer.

    According to Experian, welcome emails generate 4x the open rates and 5x the click rates compared to other bulk promotions.

    Moreover, studies found that subscribers who receive a welcome email increase their long-term engagement with a brand by 33%.

    Therefore, greet your new customers. Let readers know more about your small business. And tell them what type of emails they will receive in the future.

    Welcome Email Example

    “Write in a conversational tone. A welcome email is like a virtual handshake that accepts a new member to your group. It should be inviting and warm,” writes Lisa Furgison, a contributing author at VerticalResponse.

    Also, consider the timing of your welcome email. It shouldn’t be two weeks after the customer bought your product or signed up for your newsletter.


    2. Adoption Email

    An adoption email is designed to keep your customers engaged with your products. Once they make a purchase, you want them to actually use it.

    Heather Rast, senior content manager at MarketingProfs University, offers a deeper explanation:

    “Adoption emails can be distributed in a timed sequence or to correspond with specific behaviors/actions taken. Like a good concierge, adoption emails acknowledge where recipients are in a progression, offer suggested solutions, and reaffirm motivations for the original purchase decision.”

    These type of email campaigns lead to faster adoption of the product or service, greater incremental revenue, and increased customer loyalty.

    Adoption Email Example

    So, start sending emails with links to video tutorials and how-to guides. And urge customers to contact you if they have any questions or concerns.


    3. Thank You Email

    Build rapport with your customers. Your team’s ability to make customers feel valued is the difference between a good business and a great one.

    According to U.S. Small Business Administration, “68 percent of clients leave because they perceive the business does not care for them.” So, start treating customers more like friends and less like sources of revenue.

    Sending a thank you email shows customers you appreciate them. It’s a simple gesture to build a meaningful connection.

    Here’s an email message from Ralph Lauren. It’s simple and straightforward.

    Thank You Email Example

    “Writing an amazing thank you note doesn’t take long at all, but the impact that it has is huge in today’s digital world,” says Gregory Ciotti, marketing at Help Scout.

    Don’t assume customers know you appreciate their business. A thank you email is a reminder that you do. And showing signs of appreciation can certainly drive growth.


    4. Customer Feedback Email

    Customer satisfaction is a key factor in maintaining your business. You want buyers happy with your products.

    Research shows that a 5% increase in customer retention can boost a company’s profitability by 25-95%. To maintain more customers, make the shopping experience better.

    Use email to gather feedback from your small business consumers. Learn what they liked and disliked about your services.

    “Collecting customer feedback has to be an integral part of your business process. Getting negative and positive feedbacks are equally important,” writes Csaba Zajdo, CEO of OptiMonk.

    Don’t be afraid to receive negative reviews. It will only help your team improve your business operations. So, encourage customers to provide honest feedback.

    Here's an example of what we at HostGator send our web hosting customers.

    Customer Feedback Email

    Depending on your industry, you may want to attach an incentive to your customer feedback email. Offer the customer a small discount for their feedback. Or promise to give them a shout-out on social media.

    Improve the customer experience. Ask for feedback.


    5. Promotional Email

    Persuade customers to spend more. People love hearing about discounts and specials offers from their favorite brands.

    For every $1.00 spent on email marketing, the average return is $44.25. And customers are far more likely to use that purchasing power if emails contain compelling discounts.

    “[L]everage exclusivity by framing the promotion as a ‘private’ sale. Often times, this type of positioning makes the recipient feel like they’ve specially chosen, which encourages them to take advantage of the special opportunity they’ve been presented with,” says Carly Stec, staff writer for HubSpot.

    The example below stresses the exclusivity of the promotion. Plus, the buyer has only two days to shop.

    Promotional Email Example

    Don’t water down the effect by sending promotional emails every single day. They should feel special—not expected. Also, create clear calls to action, so customers know it’s a promotion.

    Highlight the product benefits. Entice customers to buy from your company.


    6. Reminder Email

    According to a Baymard Institute study, 68% of online shopping carts are abandoned. That’s a lot of missed sales.

    Use email to lure customers back to your site. A gentle nudge may spark a desire to buy a forgotten product or service.

    “An abandoned shopping cart does not automatically translate to a ‘lost sale,’ because three-fourths of shoppers who have abandoned shopping carts say they plan to return to the retailer’s website or store to make a purchase,” writes Cooper Smith, a senior research analyst with BI Intelligence.

    And don’t just email customers about their shopping carts. Remind them of the value. Tell your customers why it’s important that they purchase the product.

    For example, your buyer purchases a monthly supply of vitamins. Encourage them to reorder so they don’t miss a dosage.

    You can see several examples of abandoned cart emails, like the one below from Nordstrom, in this article from Ometria.

    Cart Abandonment Email Example

    Email reminders can increase revenue with little investment. Prompt your audience to take action today.


    7. Educational Email

    Always make an effort to educate your customers. It’s an effective tool to ensure your customers remain engaged.

    Relevant content informs the customer about topics important to them.

    Sloan Review contributors Andreas Eisingerich and Simon Bell write, “Efforts to enhance customers’ knowledge and provide them with the skills and abilities to use critical information can help companies differentiate their service offerings and provide a strong foundation on which to build trusting relationships with customers.”

    But don’t disguise marketing materials as educational. Marketing ploys can quickly turn your customers away.

    Instead, teach consumers something about the industry. Or even show them new ways to use your product. That’s what JotForm does in the example below.

    Educational Email Example

    Moreover, educated customers make the best brand ambassadors. With their newfound information, they will be more willing to share your brand with others.

    Ignorance doesn’t result in confident customers. So, strive to keep your customers informed.


    Email = Relationships

    Email helps facilitate the customer relationships. Your team has the opportunity to talk directly with the buyer. Therefore, it’s vital to make every email account.

    Send a welcome message to introduce your brand. Thank customers for their purchases. Send promotional discounts. And educate the buyer about your product.

    Start communication. Build relationships with email.

    In need of an email marketing provider? Look no further than Constant Contact.

    HostGator customers can get a great deal by clicking this link.

  • 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.