Posts Tagged "blogs"

The Ideal Blog for Your Website

Incorporating a blog into your web space is an excellent way to generate interest and let consumers into your world. However, there are blogs which engage readers, and blogs which send them clicking away as fast as they can. Here, we’ll review the best way to construct and maintain a blog which keeps your readers coming back for more.

Short and Sweet

You’ve probably received an email or a text message in the past which consisted of a giant block of text. If you’re like most, you found it difficult and frustrating to read. Blocks of text are not informative or entertaining—they’re irritating.

When you construct your blog posts, keep this in mind. Readers are most actively and easily engaged by shorter paragraphs. Bullet points or numbered lists, if complement your topic, are another excellent way to keep information separate and easy to read. You don’t want to bore your readers—you want to inform and entertain.

Punctuation and grammar are two important points which many bloggers overlook. In this digital age, shortened words, abbreviations and ‘text speak’ are becoming more accepted. However, they should be used sparingly, if at all, in your web space. Take the time to spell-check your posts, and have a grammar-savvy friend read them over if you’re unsure of your own grammar and punctuation skills. It takes a bit of extra time, but nothing screams ‘amateur’ like a poorly spelled or improperly structured blog.

Updating Regularly

A blog isn’t much fun if it’s never updated. You certainly don’t need to detail each day of your life. However, updating once per week is a fairly standard and acceptable time frame. It’s also a time frame which allows you time to think up quality content while keeping readers up to date.

Remember that this is your web space, so don’t be afraid to get creative and have fun with post topics. It’s even acceptable, on most blogs, to add personal stories. Some of the most successful bloggers frequently drop personal stories into their blogs, even radically off-topic stories. These glimpses into their personal lives allow their readers to get to know the blogger on a deeper level. They’re also a great option when you’re pressed for time and can’t think up an on-topic post!

Selling Yourself

Your blog is a place to express yourself, inform and entertain your readers and keep them current on your business. Don’t let the business aspect of your blog get lost in the rush to create entertaining content. You want to encourage customers to purchase from you again, and encourage new readers to become first-time customers. However, you also want to do it in subtle, engaging ways.

Pushy sales tactics rarely work. Instead, showcase your product or service. Include write-ups of new products on your blog, accompanied with pictures. Host a small contest with a reasonable, yet exciting prize. Do whatever it takes to get customers through your door, virtual or otherwise—just be careful not to push them away by trying too hard. A quality product or service, presented in an attractive and pressure-free manner, will sell itself. You can get started right away by checking out our top hosting pick and seeing how a well-run blog will enhance your web space.

Stuck for Blogging Ideas?

While blogging often looks ridiculously easy to readers, bloggers know that coming up with fresh, entertaining web space content on a regular basis can be downright nerve-wracking. If you’re feeling stuck, don’t despair—you’re not the only one. Writers’ block hits bloggers just as often as authors, and it’s just as frustrating. Here, you’ll find a few ideas to jump-start your brain and get those creative ideas flowing.

Simple Fixes

Sometimes, finding fresh inspiration can be as easy as reading. Pick up a few copies of magazines devoted to—or somehow related to—your web space content. You can browse websites as well, at no cost. If your web space is more literary, consider picking up a book in a related genre.

While it’s never a good idea to simply copy ideas, reading through related material can give you fresh ideas as to what readers are seeking. If you spot an article which catches your interest, changes are good that it will do the same for your audience. Read it carefully, paying attention to what you feel is wrong with it. Next time you sit down at the keyboard, spin those missing portions for a post which is entirely your own!

Going Way Outside the Box

If you run your own blog, it’s important to remember that you can do virtually anything you want in your web space. If an idea interests you, write about it! Even something totally unrelated to your typical subject matter can be entertaining if written in a fun, engaging way. Many of the most successful bloggers around occasionally drop in personal stories, and their readers it them up.

If you’re uncomfortable talking about personal life online, or if your blog is unsuited to anything too off-topic, get creative. Grab a topic—any topic—and twist it around until it relates to your web space content. This not only enhances your craft by forcing you to think outside your comfort zone, but it entertains readers by providing a totally unexpected take on a familiar subject.

An unfamiliar, exciting format or placement for your blog is another way to set yourself apart. You’ll discover some great options at our top hosting pick, as well as our other recommended hosts.

Something for Nothing

Everybody loves the chance to win something, and there are few posts easier to write than contests. Beauty bloggers, for example, have had huge success—and massive traffic increases—by offering a bundle of beauty loot. This basic concept can be applied to virtually any subject matter, and is virtually guaranteed to interest your readers. You don’t even need a physical prize—offering to feature a reader’s own writing on your blog is a completely free yet extremely attractive way to draw traffic.

Take It Outside

Blogging, especially as a job, can be draining simply because it’s an entirely indoor activity. Humans need a bit of fresh air every day, both for health and mental reasons. Sometimes that new idea you’ve been trying so hard to think up is—quite literally—just around the corner. Take a quick stroll and let your mind wander—you may be shocked at how fast the fresh ideas start rolling in.

As you can see, there are tons of simple, cost-free ways to increase your web space traffic and break through blogger’s block. Always keep this in mind, however—staring at your computer screen and willing an idea to come almost never works. Shake things up, look around and get a fresh perspective—you’ll see the results in increased traffic!

How to Keep Visitors Returning to Your Site

If you follow some basic ‘getting started’ guidelines, your web space will attract visitors in several different ways. While attracting customers is definitely a huge component of your success, retaining those customers is equally important. Here, we’ll review some simple strategies for visitor retention.

Keep it Fresh

Nobody likes returning to a web space to find the exact same content they viewed on their last visit. It sends an unprofessional message, which is the last thing you want to convey. To prevent this, simply keep things updated. If you host a blog, make posts on a regular—and frequent—schedule. Respond to visitor comments and questions as quickly as possible. Upload new pictures regularly, even if they’re as simple as the front of your restaurant in different seasons. Regularly updated content sends the message that you are a thriving, bustling business—even if you’re just getting started.

Keep it Attractive

Eye appeal is huge in the world of online business, and your web space needs to compete. Invest the time and money in creating a web space which is fun to look at, right down to the backgrounds and text fonts. Use as many pictures as is appropriate, ensuring that they are of the highest quality. Today, your phone and a free photo-editing app can produce a professional-quality picture, so there’s no excuse for fuzzy, blurry or poorly structured shots. In addition, update those photos on a regular basis to give visitors something new to look at each time they return.

Keep it Personal

Nobody likes doing business with a nameless, faceless corporation—this is why the world of commerce is trending backward and returning to small businesses. Take full advantage of this trend and connect personally with your visitors in every possible manner. Choose the interactive features which best suit your business and maintain them properly. Respond to comments and questions quickly and professionally. If at all possible, take your business real-world, advertise this event on your web space and connect with your customers in person. Anything you can do to connect personally will foster new customer connections and enhance existing ones, so put yourself out there!

Keep it Exciting

One of the most time-honored methods of attracting and enhancing customer relations is a contest. You can offer contests to your visitors in a number of ways. Bloggers can offer the chance for a visitor’s own writing to be featured. Service providers can offer a small service for free. Crafters, product-centered bloggers and restaurant owners can offer a free lunch, beauty product bundle or gift package. Contest options truly are limitless, so don’t be afraid to get creative. You can offer your prizes in a traditional random-draw scenario, as a reward for the best answer to a posed question, or in any manner which complements your unique business. Viewers—even those who haven’t entered your contest—will keep returning to view new entries and, eventually, see who won the prize!

Conclusion

Return business is the foundation of any successful web space. Visitors who stop by once and never come back aren’t going to do anything for your bottom line, so make it your mission to keep them coming back for more. Check out our highest recommendation today for hosting plans loaded with affordable and retention-minded features!

How to Lose Web Customers in Five Easy Steps

Attracting new visitors to your web space can be a challenge. Unfortunately, losing customers is much easier. Here, we’ve collected the top five ways in which customers are lost, and easy fixes for each issue.

Boredom

Visitors today have come to expect a visually exciting, informative, and fun-to-browse web space. If your site comes up lacking, you can kiss those visitors goodbye. Many small business owners and bloggers unwittingly lose customers by failing to pay attention to details like visual appeal and creating engaging content.

The Winning Strategy

In order to attract visitors to your web space and keep them there, simply ensure that your site is a fun place to be! Provide plenty of photographs and interesting information. If your site includes product descriptions, make them as vivid as possible. Pay attention to how each page of your site looks, and make changes as necessary. Once you’ve determined the unique aspects which make your web space exciting, you’ll be surprised at how little time it actually takes to keep them well-maintained.

Slow Response Times

If your web space hosts anything which invites visitor feedback, such as a forum, blog or chat, keeping on top of your response times is critical. Many visitors are immediately put off if their comment or question goes unanswered for a long period of time, and many will never return for that very reason.

The Winning Strategy

Set a schedule. You may want to place this response time on your web space, to let visitors know that while they may not get an immediate response, they will receive one in a timely manner. One week should be your absolute maximum amount of time, but a few days will create even happier visitors. A great way to get used to your schedule is to give yourself a week-long maximum reply time, but check in and reply to posts, questions or comments whenever you have a few spare minutes.

Infrequent Blog Posts

Have you ever become a fan of a blog, only to inexplicably see its creator simply disappear? Frustrating, right? Don’t leave your visitors with that same feeling of disappointment. If your web space includes or is centered around a blog, a schedule is essential. Visitors enjoy knowing that they’ll be treated to fresh content on a regular basis, and if you begin letting them down, they’ll become less and less likely to return.

The Winning Strategy

Set a schedule. Yes, another item for your schedule—but one which will reap huge benefits in visitor loyalty. Depending on your available time, set a fixed number of posts per week. It’s also a good idea to make this number visible on your web space, so visitors will know what to expect. Once you’ve set that expectation, meet it every single week. Even if you’re stuck for an idea, there’s nothing exciting to blog about or you’ve been out of town visiting relatives all week, type out something and post it. Visitors will appreciate the reliability, and you’ll see the results via increased traffic.

Lack of Basic Information

When visiting your web space, visitors should be able to see—or very easily access—basic information about your company, store, or business. This essential information varies, depending on what type of business you own. However, common examples include driving directions, phone numbers and hours of operation. Our top picks will guide you through much of this process, ensuring that vital data is never left out.

The Winning Strategy

Keep it Simple. This is, perhaps, the easiest of all fixes. Simply ensure that your essential information is easy to find on your web space’s home page. There may be other, more exciting things which you want to shine a spotlight on, but your landing page needs to include this information. Placing it at the very bottom of the page is perfectly fine, and actually very common. Just ensure that it’s easy to find.

Lack of Interactive Options

Even the most basic sites today usually feature some type of interaction. This can be as simple as the option to leave comments on a blog, or it can be as elaborate as the option to create a custom order. Choose the options which make the most sense for your unique business, then keep them well-maintained. Visitors to your site have become accustomed to interactive options, and a flat, boring page is a surefire way to send them away disappointed.

The Winning Strategy

Choose carefully. Don’t go crazy and pile all the interactive options you can find onto your site. This will only lead to confusion, and you probably won’t have time to properly maintain them all. Instead, pick the options which best complement your business, and maintain them extremely well. Keep your visitors up to date and current, respond in a timely manner if applicable and ensure that everything is running smoothly.

Conclusion

As you can see, losing customers is easy. Thankfully, with a bit of forethought and dedication, keeping them and winning new ones is just as simple. A guiding principle of retail sales is to never allow a customer to walk out of the store unhappy. Your web space is your ‘store,’ so ensure that each visitor leaves with a positive memory and a plan to return. Get started today with side-by-side comparisons of traffic-driving plans and features!

WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org

The Two Versions of WordPress:

You actually have two options with WordPress: the self-hosted version (wordpress.org), and the WordPress.com version (wordpress.com). Each version has its advantages and disadvantages.

In the WordPress.com version, you just sign up for a blog very similar to the way you sign up for free email. You get an instant blog that is hosted on http://wordpress.com/.

In the case of the self-hosted version, the software is free, but you need a domain name and have to purchase web hosting so you can host it yourself.

Pros and Cons of the WordPress.com Version

It’s easy to start a blog or website with WordPress.com. All you need to do is register and then start working on your website. You don’t have to worry about hosting, setup, upgrades, security, backups, spam, etc. which are all taken care of by WordPress.com.

WordPress.com does provide many themes and a lot of features, but you are limited to only those themes. You can’t do any custom code changes and you can’t upload any plug-ins. So basically, it has limitations as far as the functionality and customization options are concerned.

There are other drawbacks as well. WordPress.com does not allow you to monetize your blog using affiliate links and pay per click programs like AdSense or Infolinks. Although you can have your own domain name, like yourbusiness.com for your website, a paid upgrade is required. If you want it free, you only get a subdomain, e.g. yourbusiness.wordpress.com.

Pros and Cons of the Self-Hosted Version (wordpress.org)

In the case of the self-hosted version, which you can get directly at http://wordpress.org/, the advantages and disadvantages are different. You get a free script that you have to install on a web server. You are responsible for maintenance aspects of your site, like hosting, installation, security, backup, and fighting spam. However, these are not difficult to do even with minimal knowledge about web hosting. Good web hosts, such as the ones recommended here, have a one-click install of WordPress, and after that everything can be managed from the dashboard. For any technical issues, the customer support team of your hosting provider will be able to help you, though this is rarely required.

If you have a self-hosted version of WordPress, you have complete freedom. There are no restrictions on what you can do with your website, except the reasonable restrictions that your hosting provider may impose. With paid web hosting, this is not something to worry about.

If you want to get yourself a web presence, then one of the best ways would be to find WordPress web space that allows you to do one-click installation. It’s generally better to use the self-hosted version rather than live with the restrictions of WordPress.com.