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  • Your Guide to Creating a Membership Website

    Monday, June 26, 2017 by

    Create Membership Website

    How to Launch a Successful Membership Website or Forum

    How does earning a consistent income, month after month, all from a loyal community, sound? Oh, and you get to engage, interact, and discover new ideas in the process. You create in-depth content once and get paid for it, time and time again. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Well, that dream can be yours with a membership site.  

    What Is a Membership Website?

    A membership-based website is a style of site with exclusive content that people pay a monthly fee to access. No doubt you’ve come across membership sites and forums in your time online. But, you might not realize how easily you can run your own, thanks to the amount of tools available today. Even if you have no previous experience, our guide below will walk you through how to create, launch, and run your very own membership site from scratch. Let's get started.  

    Why Membership Sites Are a Solid Choice

    Membership sites are a great way to present a lot of information and create a community around it. When you create an eBook it’s usually just a one-off purchase. If you develop your material into a course, then it’s usually the same as well. When you create an active membership site, you’re building a community around the high quality content you create. If you add a forum to your site, too, then you’ll be able to continue the conversation surrounding whatever kind of content you choose to create. A membership site allows you to create a nice stream of recurring income for yourself.  

    Step 1: Finding Your Niche

    Once you’ve made the decision that you’re going to start a membership site, it’s time to decide on your niche. The smaller your niche, the better. Whatever it is, it should be something that you’re passionate about. When doing your research see if there are already any existing membership sites in your niche. This is actually a good thing. Competition automatically verifies that the niche you’ve chosen is profitable. Other ways to test the viability of your niche might include looking for existing blogs, books, and magazines on the topic. If there’s a wealth of information surrounding your niche, then you know the market is big enough.  

    Step 2: Membership Site or Forum?

    There’s a ton of different membership models you can choose from when starting your site. The most common model is a membership site that drip feeds the content out over a set period of time. Usually, you’ll have other evergreen resources like webinars, classes, and forum access as well. You can also create a paid forum. Running a strict forum can be more difficult from scratch, as you’ll generally need a large audience to make it successful. However, it can work for some niches. A good way to test before diving in completely is by driving traffic to a landing page.  

    Step 3: Building Out Your Site

    Building out your membership site or forum doesn’t have to be difficult. If you choose a platform like WordPress, there are a number of plugins that will add membership functionality to your existing theme. When designing your site keep your user in mind. You’ll want your site to be very intuitive and have a content layout that makes sense. Confusing your visitors, or providing them with content in an illogical manner, won’t be much to keep them subscribers. Recommended WordPress Hosting  

    Step 4: Create Your Content

    When planning out what kind of content you’re going to create, you’re going to have a lot of options at your disposal. The most basic includes long-form blog posts and video content. You can even have interviews, webinars, forums, relevant resource lists, and much more. With membership sites you can really go crazy with the quantity of content you’re providing your subscribers. Just make sure that you present the information in a way that’s easy to follow and consume. Need inspiration? Check out how these subscription sites do it.  

    Step 5: Attract New Members

    Once you’ve created the initial content and have your site built out, it’s time to starting bringing in members. It can be helpful to let a few initial members in for free. If you already have an existing blog or website, you can gift these memberships to people who have been incredibly active over the years. This will help you to discover any content gaps you might have and provide your site with that initial engagement. Plus, there’s a chance these people will become your biggest fans and help you get the word out when it’s time to launch. Here are some more ideas of how you can generate new leads for your membership site:  

    Content Marketing

    Depending upon the niche you chose, doing things like guest blogging might be a good way to build initial interest. Simply find a few authoritative blogs in your niche that accept guest writers, and create an incredible post that links back to your site. In this link back to your site, make sure it points to a landing page that you’ve specifically created to capture a reader’s email addresses.  

    Paid Advertising

    With paid advertising you have all sorts of options, from Facebook ads, to Twitter ads, to Instagram, and even Google Adwords. Your ad should send the traffic back to a specific landing page similar to the one you would create for the guest blogging strategy above. This landing page will allow you to gauge user interest and create a simple email campaign to sign people up for your site.  

    Your Existing List

    If you have an existing email list or audience, then this should be the first place you start. This list is already familiar with you and your work and will be much more likely to hop on a new project you launch.  

    Step 6: Retain Your Members

    The overall profitability of your membership site will ultimately rely on your ability to retain your members. You can’t just create content once and expect the site to take care of itself. The best way to keep members engaged year after year is to consistently create new content that caters to their evolving needs. If you have an active forum or blog section, make sure you pay attention and engage with what’s going on. You can even create a survey that goes out every few months to see what kind of new features your members would like for the site. Creating, launching, and running a membership site isn’t easy work, but it can be incredibly rewarding. If you’ve been looking for an online business model that allows you to explore your passion in a new way, then membership sites might be worth checking out.   Now over to you. What big questions do you have about running your very own membership site? Have you created one in the past and had success? Share your tips!
  • How to Make an Enticing Restaurant Website

    Monday, June 19, 2017 by

    Make Restaurant Website

    6 Tips for Building Your Restaurant Website

    Your restaurant’s website is one of your most important marketing tools. Many of your customers will check you out online before they decide to visit, so your website needs to provide them with a stellar experience. On the other hand, if your website is poorly designed, it could turn them off from actually visiting your restaurant. When people visit your restaurant website they have very specific needs in mind. Address these and you’ll have one happy customer. Luckily, it’s never been easier to build a great website for your restaurant. However, your restaurant website needs to have certain elements in place if you want it to show up in Google and actually be useful for your customers. Let's take a look at what those are! HostGator Website Builder  

    1. Display Your Menu Prominently

    Your menu is one of the core features of your site. When potential customers visit your website they want to know what kind of food you’re serving and what your prices look like. You should make this information as easy to find as possible. A lot of restaurant websites make the mistake of displaying their menus as downloadable PDFs, or make their visitor’s search for the menu. This is a big mistake. Feature it front and center as a regular page on your website! This way Google can easily scan your menu and display it in the search results. Restaurant website in Google search results Also, make sure you choose a font that makes your menu easy to read, even on small screens.   

    2. Feature Your Hours of Operation and Contact Information

    Once a customer looks at your menu and has found it appetizing, then they’ll start looking around to see where you are and if you’re open. Make this information easy to find on your site. A lot of restaurants hide this information on a contact page, or aren't consistent with updating their hours. By displaying this information prominently and keeping it updated regularly, you’ll have visitors putting down their phones, leaving their homes, and enjoying a delicious meal at your restaurant in no time.  

    3. Offer Online Reservations Through Your Website

    If you decide to include an online reservation system, then you better make sure it works. If a potential customer goes through the process of making a reservation and the app crashes, or the reservation doesn’t go through, this will create a poor experience once they arrive at your restaurant before they even sit down. With so many restaurants to choose from, a single negative experience is often enough to stop someone from coming back again. The same can be said for your online ordering system. If you’re using a third-party ordering system, or have it natively installed on your site, then it needs to work. Make sure you spend time testing both systems for any errors before you make them available to the public.  

    4. Show Off Your Food with Beautiful Imagery

    You want the feel of your website to mimic the ambiance of your restaurant. Now, this doesn’t mean it’s time to populate your site with cheesy photos of families smiling. If possible, try to get actual photos of your restaurant and the food you serve. It can even be helpful to hire a professional photographer to take these photos for you. You want your food to look incredibly appetizing and just snapping a quick picture on your iPhone often won’t have the same effect. Since your visitor is already hungry, you want to invoke these senses even more with incredibly appetizing photos. Your goal should be to have your customers salivating and getting ready to place an order or come by your restaurant.  

    5. Make Sure Your Site is Mobile Friendly

    People search for restaurants when they're already out and about. Chances are a large proportion of your visitors are going to access your site via their mobile phones. If your site doesn’t load properly on a smartphone you’re going to miss out on a ton of potential customers. Plus, if your site isn’t mobile friendly this will have a negative impact on your search engines rankings in Google. This means that when someone searches for restaurants in your area you’ll be nowhere to be found. On your mobile website make sure your location, hours, and menu are very easy to find. When someone is on the go these crucial pieces of information will help them decide quickly whether to not to visit your restaurant.  

    6. Stay True to Your Brand

    It's possible your restaurant website will be the first experience that a customer has with your brand. For this reason your website needs to make an impression and be in alignment with your restaurant. If your brand is quirkier and caters toward a more vibrant crowd, then make sure you highlight this in your website copy and imagery. While, if your restaurant is very upscale, then you’ll want to speak to this. Your colors, layout, font choice, logo, and images all work together to convey what your restaurant is all about. You’ll want your visitor to have the same experience on your website that they do the moment they step foot into your restaurant.  

    Using a Website Builder to Create Your Restaurant Website

    Now that you know what elements to include in your restaurant website, it’s time to start building! There are a variety of options you’ll have at your disposal, from full-fledged content platforms to online web builders. It can be a little overwhelming trying to decide the best option for your needs, which is why we recommend using a website builder. HostGator's website builder is incredibly easy to use and has a number of beautifully designed templates perfect for any restaurant of cafe. All you have to do is plug in your unique restaurant details and you’re all set. Use a restaurant theme or customize one of the other pre-built layouts to your brand. restaurant website builder Best of all, all of the templates are mobile optimized, SEO-friendly, and easily integrate with your social media channels. Bring on those Instagram pics!  Your restaurant website is the virtual face of your restaurant. By focusing on the elements above you’ll have a restaurant website that’s enticing and makes your customers fall in love. Just make sure your online experience is just as good as in person and you’ll be all set.  
  • How Much RAM and CPU Does Your Website Need?

    Monday, June 12, 2017 by
    How much RAM CPU do I need for my website

    How Much RAM and CPU Does My Website Need?

    When you’re getting started online you’re going to have a ton of different hosting options to choose from. But, not every style of web host is going to be the best fit for your needs. This is actually a good thing, as it helps you narrow down some of your choices. Choosing the proper web hosting plan will be all about your needs. You need to take time to figure out the best style of web hosting that’ll support the goals of your website. When you select a hosting environment, many of the hardware components will be the same, but if you run a larger site, then you’re going to need to focus on the scalability of the server resources. Below we dive into what common hardware specifications you’ll need to look for when choosing a web host, including the amount of RAM and CPU you’ll need. Recommended WordPress Hosting  

    What is RAM? And How Much Do I Need?

    RAM is a form of memory that holds temporary data when your site is running multiple processes at the same time, such as when your site’s scripts have to execute. The more processes that run at once, the more RAM this will take up. If your site doesn’t have enough RAM to handle the load, this will lead to a ‘500 internal server error’ on the side of your visitor. If you have a smaller website you will probably be good with the stock amount of RAM. But, if your site receives a large volume of traffic and needs to keep up with all of the requests, then it’s a good idea to upgrade your RAM, or choose a plan that offers a higher amount. Below we offer a few site and server specifications that’ll help you determine whether you need more or less RAM:
    • If your site receives a high volume of traffic you’ll need more RAM.
    • Some server operating systems require more or less RAM.
    • Dynamic sites require more RAM than static sites.
    • CMS like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla require more RAM.
    • If your site uses caching, then you can get away with lower RAM requirements.

    What is CPU? And How Much Do I Need?

    The server that your site is hosted on will be comprised of multiple CPUs, just like on your home computer. The larger the capacity of the CPU, the more information it can store and process before having an adverse effect on your site's performance. If you’re on a shared hosting package, then these CPU resources will be split. The requests will be processed in the order they are received. However, the CPU will be able to process multiple requests at once, and can use time sling to ensure the requests are handled very quickly. Still, CPUs can get overloaded. If there’s a large surge in traffic, or  a huge amount of scripting requests, then the performance of your site will suffer. If you have a large, or high traffic site, we recommend choosing a hosting plan with higher CPU such as a VPS or dedicated server plan. Dedicated Server  

    What Other Hosting Specs Do I Need to Consider?

    Beyond RAM and CPU there are a few other things you’ll want to take into account when choosing a host. Below we dive into the importance of hard drive space and scalability for peak traffic. Most hosts will allocate a certain amount of hard drive space to your site. For example, HostGator's shared hosting plans provide unmetered disk space. If you have a particularly large website, then you’re going to need to make sure there’s enough storage for all of your site’s files. This is especially true if you’re planning on storing all of your site’s media files on your server as well. Finally, it’s important to address how easy it is for your site to scale. Some hosting options, like cloud hosting, give your site unlimited freedom in its growth. If you have a peak traffic day the server load will be balanced between multiple servers, so your site won’t crash. But, if you’re on a limited shared hosting plan your site might be throttled down, so it doesn’t impact the other sites on the server. Learn more about the differences between cloud and shared hosting When choosing the right web host for you you’re going to need to determine the overarching needs of your site. Both in the present and in the long-term. You want to choose a host that’s up to your current technical requirements, and can expand with you as your site receives more traffic.

    Our scalable web hosting plans grow with you as your site grows.

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  • 7 Best WordPress Plugins for Non-Profits

    Monday, June 12, 2017 by
    Best WordPress Plugins for Nonprofit Website

    7 WordPress Plugins for Non-Profits

    Sadly, a lot of stellar non-profits are limited by what they can do due to lack of funding. A website could be the solution to this problem, and you don’t have to be a tech genius to have a highly functional and useful website for your non-profit. With the help of WordPress you can transform your existing non-profit website into something that helps your organization grow. Below you’ll find the most useful WordPress plugins for non-profits and explanations of how they can help you solve specific challenges. The plugins below will help you with certain website and company issues like: overall website security, community event management, fundraising assistance, and website and community growth. Recommended WordPress Hosting

    1. Give

    Give Give is an incredible donation management plugin. This plugin allows supporters to make donations via PayPal. Sure, you could just include a PayPal donation button on your site, but this plugin extends that functionality even further. Give goes well beyond just being a simple payment processor plugin; it helps you do things like track who made donations (so you can thank them), set donation goals, and even track progress over time. Some of the main features of this plugin include:
    • Custom donation reporting
    • API support to integrate with other plugins
    • Zero commission charges from Give
    • Custom emails upon donation received
    • Goal tracking to hit funding goals
    Best of all this plugin is entirely free and will help take your online donations to the next level.  

    2. Yoast SEO

    Yoast Yoast SEO is the standard for SEO plugins. With the help of a solid SEO plugin you can help your website rank and get more traffic from search engines. Although community events and general word of mouth are both effective tools for non-profits, getting free search engine traffic can still be valuable. Even though you probably don’t have the time, or the budget, to create a full-fledged content strategy to maximize your rankings, this plugin will help you get the most from what you already have. Some of the main features of this plugin include:
    • On-site page analysis for your chosen keyword
    • Optimization recommendations
    • XML Sitemap creation and optimization
    • Meta optimization
    Yoast SEO is a great free plugin that can be a valuable addition to any non-profit website looking to amplify their existing traffic.  

    3. The Events Calendar

    Events Calendar Fundraising and hosting events are two crucial activities for any non-profit. For this reason it’s important to have an easy-to-access events calendar on your website. With the Events Calendar Plugin you can quickly setup great looking calendars that contain relevant event information. This information is invaluable to vendors, volunteers, donors, and attendees. Plus, this plugin integrates with Google Maps, so you can show the specific location of your event. Some features of this plugin include:
    • Easy and fast setup
    • Ability to save vendor and organizer information
    • Can export event details to iCal or Google Calendar
    • Widgetized for easy site placement
    If you’re looking to manage your events with even greater efficiency you can utilize a plugin add-on called Event Tickets. This plugin will give visitors the ability to RSVP to your events in order to help make planning much easier.  

    4. UpdraftPlus Backup

    Updraft Plus It’s always a good idea to backup your website on a regular basis. Sadly, a lot of non-profits neglect this and can end up losing precious files as a result. There’s nothing worse than scrambling to find a backup, only to realize your site hasn’t been backed up in years, or ever! Don’t let this happen to you. With UpdraftPlus WordPress Backup you can easily backup and restore your site. Plus, this plugin integrates with some of the most popular storage providers today. Some features of this plugin include:
    • Automatic and scheduled backups
    • Quick restore
    • File backup selection
    • Integration with storage environments like Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3 and more
    There are both free and premium versions of this plugin available, but the free version should be enough if you’re just getting started.  

    5. UkuuPeople

    UkuuPeople When you’re running a non-profit the relationships you have are everything. With this free plugin you can easily manage your contacts and relationships without the need of an expensive CRM. Plus, this plugin integrates right into the backend of WordPress, so you don’t have to leave your site to deepen valuable relationships. This plugin has a wide variety of features like:
    • Meeting assignment and management
    • File attachment support
    • People search function
    • Task assignment
    • Email list integration
    • Relationship tracking
    If you’re looking for a way to manage your relationships without the need of an expensive CRM, then give this plugin a try.  

    6. Wired Impact Volunteer Management

    Wired Impact Having a steady supply of volunteers is absolutely crucial for the survival of your non-profit. However, it can be difficult to keep in touch with your volunteers if you don’t have a system in place. This plugin is that system. This plugin will allow you to post volunteer opportunities as they arise, track participants, and much more. Some great features of this plugin include:
    • Create on-site sign up forms for volunteers
    • Send out reminder emails to volunteers
    • Quickly post new volunteer opportunities
    • Track participants and volunteers
    If your non-profit needs a steady supply of volunteers, then make your life and volunteer turnout better with this plugin.  

    7. SumoMe

    Sumo SumoMe is a great website enhancement plugin. SumoMe offers an entire suite of tools to help grow your site and retain your readers. This plugin is the perfect compliment to any existing website strategies you’re employing to gain traffic, collect leads, and retain readers. There are a ton of features of this plugin like:
    • Pop-ups to help grow your email list
    • Website analytics and monitoring
    • Heat maps to see where your visitors are clicking
    • Social sharing buttons
    Even if you just end up using one of the many features this plugin offers, it will be worth your time. There’s both a free and paid version of this plugin available, but the free features will be more than enough to get started. There is a near endless supply of WordPress plugins you can utilize to improve your existing non-profit website. The above plugins are a great way to get started and will help you get the most from your website. Any stellar non-profit plugins we missed in the list above? Share your favorites in the comments below.
  • What Is White Label Hosting?

    Wednesday, May 10, 2017 by
    What Is White Label Hosting White label hosting is commonly referred to as reseller hosting. This is the ability to re-sell another hosting company’s servers, bandwidth, and hosting services as if they were your own company. White label hosting can be a great addition to your existing business, or even offer you a way to build a hosting company from scratch. Below you’ll learn what white label hosting actually is, its benefits, and what this kind of hosting usually includes.  

    Who is White Label Hosting For?

    White label hosting is quite versatile. Literally anyone can use white label hosting to sell hosting services. Selling hosting services and taking care of all the technical requirements, like server management and maintenance, can be quite time consuming. White label hosting takes the hard parts out of selling hosting. White label hosting can be a great additional service to offer if you’re a web developer, agency, or even want to start your own hosting service. White label hosting can also be a great choice for web developers or designers who want to host their client’s sites with a separate cPanel, but don’t require extensive hosting packages.  

    Benefits of White Label Hosting

    If you’re a solo web developer or run a large-scale agency, it’s always a good idea to expand your offerings and find new ways to serve your customers. White label hosting can do just that. Below you’ll learn the different ways this can benefit your business.  

    1. Expands Your Services

    Adding hosting to your list of services makes it much easier for your customers to get everything they need. Instead of having to turn to a third-party provider, you can do it all in house. As an all-inclusive service you’ll also be able to charge higher prices, as you can handle every aspect of getting a customer’s site online. Instead of leaving it to the customer to figure out some of the technical elements themselves.  

    2. Improves Customer Retention

    By selling hosting you’ll be able to ensure that you develop a long-term relationship with your customer. Instead of selling them a single service and never speaking again you can serve them continually. You can bet when they need more web-related work done they’re going to turn to you. Also, a lot of people end up leaving their hosting providers because of an unsavory experience. With you acting as the intermediary you can ensure that never happens. You’ll be able to resolve any hosting issues that come up before the stress gets passed on to your customer. This will further help to strengthen your relationship and value to your customers.  

    3. Grows Your Bottom Line

    Selling hosting is great in that it’s a recurring payment. If you’re stuck doing one-off services for your clients, then you’re probably looking for ways you can increase your monthly revenue, and offering hosting can be a great way to do that. With a few hosting customers you’ll generally be able to cover the costs of white label hosting and be able to turn a profit from that point. If you were to offer hosting on your own servers, this would get costly, and take up a ton of space. With white label hosting you can offer hosting without any expensive costs on your end.  

    What’s Commonly Included in White Label Hosting?

    The hosting company you decide to partner with will determine the list of additional services you can offer to your customers. Most reseller hosting packages will offer you similar services to the ones listed below.  

    1. Billing Integration

    Most reseller plans will include WHM billing software that lets you easily bill your customers and manage their payment plans. This takes out the hassle of making sure your customers pay you on time.  

    2. Private Name Servers

    Private name servers will help to create separation from your brand and the hosting company whose servers you’re utilizing. Private name servers are a must have.  

    3. Easily Scalable

    With reseller hosting you should be able to scale up server resources if your client base is expanding, or you’re managing a site that requires more server resources.  

    4. Easy-to-Use Control Panel

    Control panel is a must-have for website management. With control panel access you’ll be able to make backend changes, and even give the client access, if necessary.  

    5. Domain and Email Integration

    Most reseller accounts allow you to sell email account add-ons, as well as domain names. Being able to add these to your hosting offerings takes your services to the next level. Website hosting will always be a service in demand, as long as the internet exists. With white label hosting you don’t have to deal with any of the costly or difficult parts of running your server, but can still offer the option to your customers. When considering the best reseller plan for your business, make sure you do you research. You’ll want to find a quality host that offer the right kind of server environment for you and your customers.

    Ready to get started with white label hosting?

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