Thursday, February 9, 2017 by Jeremy JensenValentine’s Day doesn’t have to be just chocolates and rose petals on the bed. Although many have criticized the holiday as being another excuse to go out and spend wads of cash, it can also be an excellent opportunity to provide your significant other with something both useful and close to the heart. If you know your SO to be digitally savvy, then surprising them with the right gadget can be far more meaningful than flowers from the grocery store. We’ve hand selected gifts for a variety of budgets that should be able to satisfy anyone with an affinity for cool stuff. Most importantly, they’ll show how creative and thoughtful you are!
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.
Monday, February 6, 2017 by Taylor HawesAs a website owner, is there anything more terrifying than the thought of seeing all of your work altered or entirely wiped out by a nefarious hacker? You’ve worked hard on your website (and your brand) – so take the time to protect it with these basic hacking protections! In addition to regularly backing up your files (which you should already be doing, for various reasons), taking the following seven easy steps will help keep your website safe:
Step #1: Keep platforms and scripts up-to-dateOne of the best things you can do to protect your website is to make sure any platforms or scripts you’ve installed are up-to-date. Because many of these tools are created as open-source software programs, their code is easily available – to both good-intentioned developers as well as malicious hackers. Hackers can pore over this code, looking for security loopholes that allow them to take control of your website by exploiting any platform or script weaknesses. As an example, if you’re running a website built on WordPress, both your base WordPress installation and any third-party plugins you’ve installed are potentiallt vulnerable to these types of attacks. Making sure you always have the newest versions of your platform and scripts installed minimizes the risk that you’ll be hacked in this way and usually takes very little time to do. WordPress users can check this quickly when they log in to their WordPress dashboard. Look for the update icon in the top left corner next to your site name. Click the number to access your WordPress Updates.
Step #2: Install security plugins, when possibleOnce you've updated everything, further enhance your website security with plugins that actively prevent against hacking attempts. Again, using WordPress as an example, you’ll want to look into free plugins like iThemes Security and Bulletproof Security (or similar tools that are available for websites built on other content management systems). These products address the weaknesses that are inherent in each platform, foiling additional types of hacking attempts that could threaten your website. Alternatively – whether you’re running a CMS-managed site or HTML pages – take a look at SiteLock. SiteLock goes above and beyond simply closing site security loopholes by providing daily monitoring for everything from malware detection to vulnerability identification to active virus scanning and more. If your business relies on its website, SiteLock is definitely an investment worth considering. Note: Our Managed WordPress hosting plan has SiteLock built in, along with other features to help secure your site.
Step #3: Use HTTPSAs a consumer, you may already know to always look for the green https in your browser bar any time you’ll be providing sensitive information to a website. Most consumers know to recognize those five little letters as an important shorthand for security: they signal that it’s safe to provide financial information on that particular webpage. If you have an online store, or if any part of your website will require visitors to hand over sensitive information like a credit card number, you have to invest in an SSL certificate. The cost to you is minimal, but the extra level of encryption it offers to your customers goes a long way to making your website more secure and trustworthy.
Step #4: Use parameterized queriesOne of the most common website hacks many sites fall victim to are SQL injections. SQL injections can come into play if you have a web form or URL parameter that allows outside users to supply information. If you leave the parameters of the field too open, someone could insert code into them that lets them hack into your database, which may well contain sensitive customer information, like their contact info or credit card numbers. Obviously that’s information it’s your duty to protect. There are a number of steps you can take to protect your website from SQL injection hacks; one of the most important and easiest to implement is the use of parameterized queries. Using parameterized queries ensures your code has specific enough parameters so that there’s no room for a hacker to mess with them.
Step #6: Make sure your passwords are secureThis one seems simple, but it’s so important. It’s tempting to go with a password you know will always be easy for you to remember. That’s why the #1 most common password is still 123456. You have to do better than that – a lot better than that. Make the effort to figure out a truly secure password (or use HostGator's password generator). Make it long. Use a mix of special characters, numbers, and letters. And steer clear of potentially easy-to-guess keywords like your birthday or kid’s name. If a hacker somehow gains access to other information about you, they’ll know to guess those first. And make sure everyone who has access to your website has similarly secure passwords. Institute requirements in terms of length and the type of characters that people are required to use so they have to get more creative than going with the standard, easy passwords they turn to for less secure accounts. One weak password within your team can make your whole website more vulnerable, so set expectations with everyone who has access and hold yourself to the same high standard.
Step #7: Lock down your directory and file permissionsNow, for this final technique, we’re going to get a little technical – but stick with me for a moment… All websites can be boiled down to a series of files and folders that are stored on your web hosting account. Besides containing all of the scripts and data needed to make your website work, each of these files and folders is assigned a set of permissions that controls who can read, write, and execute any given file or folder, relative to the user they are or the group to which they belong. On the Linux operating system, permissions are viewable as a three-digit code where each digit is an integer between 0-7. The first digit represents permissions for the owner of the file, the second digit represents permissions for anyone assigned to the group that owns the file, and the third digit represents permissions for everyone else. The assignations work as follows:
- 4 equals Read
- 2 equals Write
- 1 equals Execute
- 0 equals no permissions for that user
- Folders and directories = 755
- Individual files = 644
Monday, February 6, 2017 by Shayla PriceToday, readers have several options to choose from when it comes to blogs. And with so many choices, it’s up to bloggers to separate themselves from the competition. The goal is to build a readership that believes in your values, shares your content, and engages with your community. “If you want to build a better blog, you need a thriving audience based around your blogging community. And you can only build a great community around your blogs when you have active readership,” states Harsh Agrawal, founder and CEO of ShoutDreams, Inc. Increasing your blog readership is possible. Here are five ways to get started.
1. Create Quality ContentCreating remarkable content is one of the top priorities for bloggers. Without it, your blog will lag in comparison to others in your industry space. But what is quality content? And how do you produce it? The best content speaks directly to your audience. It will address their interests and provide solutions to their problems. When writing blog posts, make sure you avoid jargon and convoluted details. Stick to telling stories that will earn and maintain the person’s attention. “Quality content is easy to read and understand, and matches the preferences of the audience for which it’s intended. Using a tool like the Readability-Score will help you ensure your content matches the reading level, expectations and preferences of your audience,” writes Forbes contributor Jayson DeMers. Research shows that “40% of people will respond better to visual information than to plain text.” So, experiment with adding photos, infographics, and even GIFs to your posts. [bctt tweet="40% of people respond better to visuals than text, so add photos, infographics, GIFs to your blog." username="hostgator"] Joy the Baker blog is very effective at including mouthwatering pictures along with its recipes. Readers not only receive step-by-step directions on how to prepare meals, but also see enticing images to encourage them as they cook. To grow your audience, first focus on producing quality content. Give people a reason to scroll through your posts.
2. Ask Readers to SubscribeOne of the reasons why your blog readership isn’t increasing is simple. You’re not asking readers to subscribe. Avoid falling into the trap of thinking people will do something without a distinct call-to-action. Offer readers the option to subscribe to your RSS feed or to sign up for your email announcements. [bctt tweet="One reason why your blog readership isn’t increasing? You’re not asking readers to subscribe." username="hostgator"] There are several ways to persuade your casual visitors to become devout readers. You can insert a subscription call-to-action within the post. This tactic makes it unavoidable for the individual to forget to sign up. You also can include a static sign-up form on your sidebar, so no matter what page the reader lands on he or she can take the necessary steps to subscribe. In the example below, Ramit Sethi of the I Will Teach You To Be Rich blog takes a different approach, he uses pop-up boxes that offer readers a small gift to convince them to take action. How can you lure more people to become active readers? Try giving away a free ebook, a quick checklist, or access to an exclusive event. If you want more readers, then start asking. And give your subscribers something in return for their loyalty.
3. Host Creative ContestsYou get a prize! You get a prize! And you get a prize! Contests are the hallmark of active community participation. People love competing in competitions with the chance to earn cool rewards. Think about the last time you entered a contest. The anticipation drives you crazy. And if you’ve ever won a contest, you probably were ecstatic and told all your friends. [bctt tweet="Contests are the hallmark of active community participation. Use them to draw people to your blog." username="hostgator"] When hosting a contest, create rules that are simple for everyone to understand. Tell readers what they need to do to participate and how prizes will be determined. It’s also wise to post deadlines in bold, red font. Rewards should appeal to the readers’ interests. If you’re a food blogger, a cookbook or a private cooking lesson would be perfect. If you’re a sports blogger, try a team jersey or an autographed cap. Protect your blog from any legal action. To ensure you’re adhering to local laws, contact your legal team or hire an attorney to discuss online contests. Use competitions as a tool to draw people to your blog. It’s an added perk to building relationships with readers. Contests really work to increase readership. When we hosted our HostGator Holiday Weekend Giveaway during Black Friday, we saw 4 times as many blog signups than we typically do in a similar timeframe.
4. Build a Social Media CommunityYour blog isn’t just a conversation between you and the reader. It’s also an opportunity for readers to meet and talk with one another. As you build your brand, invest time in creating a social media community for your audience to share and discuss topics together. This engagement will bring camaraderie and expand your blog’s reach. [bctt tweet="Your blog isn’t just a convo between you & the reader. It’s also for readers to talk w/each other." username="hostgator"] Select one to two social networks that your readers love. Then, observe how they use the platforms in their everyday lives. As you gather this information, focus on how your blog can add to the conversation. For instance, if you’re a fashion blogger, you might post weekly polls about what’s hot and what’s not. And don't feel like every social media interaction needs to be about your brand. It’s actually better to focus on the reader’s interests. “Build a personal communications plan that will enable you to stay engaged with your community. You don't need to be the center of the conversation, but your community members need to know you are there and that you CARE. Ongoing, reliable communication is vital in helping you build and maintain long-term relationships,” says Ravi Shukle, the community king at Post Planner. Aimee Song, a Los Angeles-based interior designer, engages with her readers on Instagram. With more than 4 million followers, she posts inspirational images around her apparel and jewelry lines. Take advantage of social media to jumpstart your readership. Community building leads to an active audience.
5. Partner with BrandsYou can’t accomplish your goals alone. Therefore, it might be time to enlist the help of others. Partner with brands that already engage with your targeted reader. From clothing retailers to local bookstores, your audience can be found interacting with various brands. Find out where people shop, play, and eat. Then, contact those businesses to learn about or propose partnership deals. But before you take the plunge, make sure the brand fits your values and represents a positive perception. You don't want to be attached to a partner that devalues your readers’ goals and lifestyles. “Taking ‘vanity projects’ that aren’t actually a good fit for your readers doesn’t help anyone. Look for opportunities to find a brand that’s an ideal fit for your readers, regardless of the name recognition the company already has,” states Jeni Elliott, founder of The Blog Maven. Also, decide how you will collaborate with brands. You can focus on advertising space on websites. Or you may want to host a Facebook Live event together. It’s essential to discuss the stipulations of the agreement. Your blog and your partner should both benefit from the relationship. Take your blog to the next level. Team up with a brand to increase your blog subscribers.
Boost Your ReadershipIt’s time to get more people interested in your content. So, adopt a plan to grow your audience. Create quality content that connects to the reader. Ask people to subscribe with easy to find sign-up forms. And host contests that engage people to visit your blog regularly. Build your blog community to increase your readership.