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.
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.
Friday, January 27, 2017 by Kevin WoodAs a graphic designer you have a lot on your plate. Not only do you have to continue to advance your skills and creative mindset, but you also have to find new ways to showcase your work online. Luckily, WordPress makes showcasing your work easy with the massive selection of themes they have available. However, because there are so many themes to choose from, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when choosing one for your site. Lucky for you, we've culled out the best of the best WordPress themes for graphic designers. Keep reading and find a new favorite below!
1. NemesisNemesis is a great portfolio WordPress theme that allows you to easily highlight your best work. This theme has a few different built-in layout options, which allow you to customize the theme to your liking. If you’re a designer who prefers the minimalist aesthetic, then this theme might be a great choice for you. Plus, it’s responsive, so you can trust that it will look good, no matter what device it’s viewed upon.
2. CorpusCorpus does a great job of showcasing your work and the designer behind the work. Today you need to show a little personality to stand out in a crowded space. This theme allows you to do just that. Corpus is a very flexible theme and can be used for many purposes, but the clean and minimal aesthetic tends to attract a lot of designers to the theme. This theme is built on HTML5 and CSS3 and utilizes WPBakery’s visual composer, which makes customizing the theme a breeze. Corpus also allows for Parallax scrolling, for improved story telling and interactive design elements.
3. UncodeUncode is straight up gorgeous. If you’re looking for a simplistic theme that you can use to easily showcase your best work, then this theme is for you. It’s based on the Twitter Bootstrap framework and is incredibly fast. Better yet, the premium plugin, Slider Revolution, is included for no additional cost. This plugin allows you to easily embed beautiful sliders to showcase your latest work. Uncode allows for easy customization. It comes equipped with 30 basic samples designs that you can draw inspiration from.
4. NewArtNewArt might look simple, but it has a lot of power under the hood. This WordPress theme is a great fit for creative agencies, designers, and developers. It comes with a built-in drag-and-drop builder that allows you to create beautiful pages in as little time possible. Plus, it includes the Slider Revolution plugin, so you can create eye-catching visuals to draw your visitors in. If you’re looking to create a clean and beautiful website to showcase your best work, then give NewArt a try.
5. HeliumHelium is an accessible theme that allows graphic designers to showcase their work, and even write about it if they please. This theme goes beyond the simple portfolio themes and gives you a way to build an audience around your work. Plus, it comes equipped with the plugin Easy Digital Downloads, so you can sell digital goods to your readers. Helium also has a built-in page builder that enables you to easily create stunning pages for your site. If you’re looking for a graphic design theme that goes beyond what’s normal, then give this theme a try. We hope the themes above will help you revamp your current WordPress site, or give you inspiration to start one from scratch. Any cool themes we forgot to list above? Share your favorites in the comments below.
Sunday, January 8, 2017 by Kevin Wood
There’s no doubt about it – website speed matters now more than ever before!
As average internet connection speeds increase around the world, web users are becoming less and less tolerant of slow load times. At the same time, Google has stated unequivocally that it prefers to reward fast sites with higher positions in the natural search results.
To take advantage of these dual benefits, you need to make site speed a priority on your site. Any of the following seven tips will help to get you started on this important path.Test your HostGator server upload/download speed here!
Tip #1 – Size images before uploading themIf you use a content management system (CMS) like WordPress or Joomla, you’ve probably noticed that you can upload images at full size and then adjust their display size within your website’s backend. However, doing so forces web browsers to execute multiple commands – pulling up the initial images and then re-sizing them on the fly – which can slow down your site. To prevent this from occurring, use an image-editing program to adjust images to the correct size before adding them to your site. Most of us will have access to a simple tool like Preview (on Mac), or even Microsoft Paint (on Windows). With these programs all you have to do is open up the image and re-size it in your editor of choice. Once you’ve done this you can take your image editing to the next level with a compression tool. Even after re-sizing each image the total file size might be pretty large and this will slow down your site’s loading speed. One of the best tools available is an online tool called TinyPNG. All you have to do is click the link, upload your re-sized image and this tool will reduce the file size without reducing the resolution. Then, all you have to do is download the image and upload it to your site. With this tool your images will look exactly the same and will load much faster.
Tip #2 – Eliminate unnecessary pluginsThe huge number of plugins and scripts that are freely available today makes it tempting for website owners to add more than they truly need. Keep in mind, every plugin you add requires resources to run – and more resources mean a slower site. Before adding any new plugins to your site, ask yourself if the functionality you gain is worth the trade-off in site speed, or whether the plugin’s content could be coded into your site’s theme instead. If you notice your site is running slowly, or you believe it could be running much more effectively, perform a plugin run-through. This involves you disabling every plugin on your site, one by one. After you disable a plugin, run your site through a tool like GT Metrix. This will show you the speed of your website. If you find that the speed of your site greatly increases after deactivating a plugin, then you’ve found your culprit. If you absolutely require that specific plugin’s functionality for your site to work, then experiment until you find another plugin that doesn’t affect the speed of your site. Plus, getting rid of plugins can prevent plugin conflicts that arise when you have too many active plugins at once. The more plugins your site has active at any given time, then more likely their code may conflict and cause them to not work properly.
Tip #3 – Make sure your site’s scripts are up-to-dateDepending on the CMS or e-commerce platform your site uses, you may need to check back regularly to determine whether new releases of your site’s scripts are available. If they are, upgrade your site as soon as possible (making sure that you have a current backup file in place first). Site script developers are always working on improving their code for future releases, particularly when it comes to site speed. Updating your scripts to the latest versions could go a long way towards eliminating coded roadblocks that prevent your site from loading quickly. Now, remembering to check-in and update your website can be tough. After all, you have so much stuff on your plate already. Lucky for you this isn’t something you have to do on a daily basis. Often, once a month is enough to do a simple run-though of your site and install any updates that might be available. If your site runs on WordPress, then you’ll find these updates within the Updates tab of your WordPress dashboard. Just one click and your site will install the latest software updates. No need for anything else on your end. Set a recurring event on your calendar and set aside an hour every single month. Usually, it’ll take much less time than this, but it’s important to build the habit of always ensuring your site and plugins are running the latest version. Plus, having all of your software up to date will help to patch up any holes that could lead to your site being hacked.
Tip #4 – Make use of CDNsContent Delivery Networks, or CDNs, are vast networks of servers that are housed around the world. Typically, if you’re not using a CDN, then your users will have to access your web host’s server at its central location. This can lead to slow site speeds, especially if your visitors are located far away from the central location of your server. Additionally, if you’re just using a single server, there’s a chance it could get overloaded and cause your site to crash. CDN’s solve both of these problems by letting your users access a cached version of your site from the web host that’s closest to them. Better yet, if one of your server locations is overloaded, then they can be switched to a new server location. The result? Faster load times that will make your customers and the search engines happy. To get started, look into the CDN services offered by SiteLock TrueSpeed, MaxCDN, or Cloudflare.
Tip #5 – Enable browser cachingBrowser caching is a technology that allows a website visitor’s browser to store copies of your site’s individual pages so that, when the visitor returns in the future, the content can be called up from within the cache rather than reloading the entire page. This saves the number of resources used to display your pages, resulting in faster overall load times for your visitor. The easiest way to enable browser caching is with a plugin like WordPress W3 Total Cache. To install this plugin on your WordPress site, follow the steps below:
- Navigate to your site’s Dashboard, then Plugins>Add New, and search for W3 Total Cache. Click Install, then Activate.
- Once the plugin is activated, navigated to the new Performance tab at the top or lefthand side. This is where you’ll control all of the features of the plugin.
- There are a ton of features that you can turn on or off with this plugin. If you want to fully configure this plugin, then check out this post by WPMU DEV.