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      Need an Online Portfolio? Get Yours Up and Running in Just 10 Minutes


      If you’re a freelancer, you probably already have a solid Facebook page, current LinkedIn account, or Twitter presence. But if you’re looking to land top clients and thrive in a saturated market, relying on social media isn’t enough. You also need an outstanding online portfolio.

      The benefits of a digital resume are tenfold — seriously. 

      A portfolio website can help you establish your personal brand, show off your talents and skills, land new jobs and clients, and solidify your professionalism in a way that social media just can’t on its own.

      So first, let’s talk about what makes up a good digital portfolio. Because, obviously, if you’re going to do it, you want to do it right. Then I’ll show you how you can use DreamHost’s own website builder to get your portfolio online in less than 10 minutes. 

      Yup, just 10 minutes!

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      What Makes A Good Online Portfolio?

      If you include the following must-have elements into your digital resume, rest assured potential clients will be wowed by your talent — and your website.

      1. Unique Domain

      It should go without saying that your online portfolio needs to be its own website — and that means you’ll need to choose the right domain name. As a freelancer, it’s often smart to either pick your own name or the name of your business for your domain name. While .com is still a very popular TLD, there are many more options available — at DreamHost, we offer 400+ domain extensions. All those domain options mean you can find a TLD that perfectly fits your business and your personal brand, whether it’s .photo, .guru, or .band.

      2. Responsive Design

      The best news about creating an online portfolio: You don’t have to know how to code to get a professional website up in minutes. Instead, when you use WP Website Builder, you can pick your favorite mobile-responsive website theme and then just add your own content.

      Remember: It’s vital to have a mobile-responsive design. Today consumers spend 87 hours per month browsing on their smartphones — and only 34 hours surfing on a desktop. If you want to reach all your future clients or potential employers, having a mobile-friendly website is not optional.

      3. High-Resolution Images

      There are several reasons why good graphics matter, but here’s the most important: The images you choose can make or break your website. That’s because your graphics are the first thing visitors see first. If the pictures look good, visitors will stay engaged and assume you know what you’re doing. But if you’ve got unattractive images or poor-resolution photos, your website can drive visitors away

      4. Samples of Your Best Work

      The main reason a prospective client goes to your website is to see your work samples. So whether you specialize in writing, design, or another skill, give them what they came for! Consider including 10 to 20 pieces of your best work or projects to showcase. If you don’t have real-life samples because you’re just getting started, feature spec work on your website instead. 

      5. “About Me” Page

      Not only do potential clients want to see your work, but they also want to get a sense of who you are from your professional portfolio. An “About Me” page is a great way to showcase your personality and pitch your work ethic. Think of it as an evergreen cover letter. 

      6. Videos

      Videos are the most widely consumed content on the internet. As you build your portfolio, consider showing off some of your samples and introducing your work in a well-crafted video that can be easily uploaded to your portfolio.

      7. Contact and Rate Information

      It’s common to have your central message on your main page, and then add other pages to your website for secondary information — think “Contact Info” or “Pricing.” If you’re looking to pick up freelance work with your portfolio, you need to make it easy for potential clients or employers to navigate your site. Here are five fail-safe rules for structuring your website’s menus and pages

      It’s as simple as that! 

      When you give your personal brand an online presence, you set yourself apart from other professionals and are one step closer to landing the perfect client. 

      How To Get Your Portfolio Online

      To boost your job prospects, you need to create an online portfolio website. But getting one up and running doesn’t have to be a complicated — or lengthy — process. Here’s how to create a great-looking portfolio site, step by step. (No advanced web design expertise necessary!)

      1. Connect to WP Website Builder.

      To get started, you’ll need to select “WP Website Builder” as an option during your DreamHost purchase. Then, we’ll automatically install WordPress and our website builder tools, BoldGrid’s Inspirations and Page and Post Builder, for you. Once you’ve logged into WordPress, you’ll see the Inspirations setup page.

      If you’re already set up with us (yay, you!), log in to your WordPress site or access your site from your DreamHost panel. On the left menu, select Inspirations. Here, you’ll access the tech that powers our premium site builder. 

      'Inspirations’ menu in the WordPress dashboard.

      You’ll see the BoldGrid three-step outline. Click the orange Let’s Get Started! button to begin.

      BoldGrid’s 3-step outline

      2. Pick your theme.

      Browse through the theme categories on the left side of the screen to find the template that works best to showcase your work. Hover over your prefered theme, and then click the Select button.

      WP Website Builder themes menu. 

      And don’t stress. The WordPress theme you choose doesn’t have to be perfect at this stage. Later on, you’ll be able to edit your theme to align with your brand.

      3. Add contact information.

      Now it’s time to add some simple contact and social media information. WP Website Builder uses this information to set up social media sharing for you, but you can also skip this step if you’re not interested. 

      "Adding your information.”

      4. Finish and Install.

      When you’re ready, click on the Finish and Install button. While you wait for the quick-start wizard to set everything up, feel free to take a well-deserved break. 

      5. Edit your theme.

      Now it’s time to add your personal touches. Make adjustments to your theme — editing colors, placement of text and other features, and fonts. Add and build out page options based on the functionality and look you want, explicitly gearing your layout to promote your work. Then it’s time to add some killer images and original content. Flex those creative muscles!

      “Making changes to a page.”

      Website Building, Explained

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      Ready to Get Started on Your Portfolio Site?

      Now that you know how easy it is to set up your own website, there’s no reason not to have your own online portfolio — unless, that is, you want fewer paying gigs. It’s time to start showcasing your work beyond social media accounts. 

      With a decked-out online portfolio website, you can position yourself in search engines for discovery and boost your job prospects. The best news? With DreamHost’s WP Website Builder, creating a professional online portfolio has never been easier. 



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      10 Ways to Move an In-Person Service Business Online


      We know you’ve been adapting to a new normal these days. 

      You’re a slave to your in-home wifi, your social interactions are taking place behind a screen, and your work “watercooler” moments are happening online, not around the office Keurig. But if you’re a business owner, those aren’t the only ways your working life has been transformed over the last few months. 

      Businesses are being profoundly affected by the global state of affairs. This is an unprecedented time for everyone, and as such, we’re learning to adapt and pivot how we do business.

      “It’s absolutely critical for businesses to pivot right now because the economic environment has completely changed,” says Jeremy Knauff, CEO of Spartan Media. “You can’t keep doing what used to work because everything is different right now. We’re facing a Darwinian business event unfolding.”

      Service professionals especially have been feeling the strain of how to transform their in-person business models into streamlined digital operations. Difficult? Absolutely. Impossible? We don’t think so.

      In this guide, we’re outlining 10 creative and lucrative ways that your service-based business can continue to make money and provide value during quarantine, while still planting seeds for future growth. 

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      10 Ways to Move Your In-Person Biz Online

      1. Analyze Your Business Plan

      Before you jump into a new money-making effort, it’s helpful to take a look at your business as it currently operates (or did, pre-pandemic). With that in mind, consider: What will pivoting really look like for your business?

      “It could be a very small change in your business model, such as how you’ll deliver your services,” says Susana Fonticoba of Clear Path Marketing. “Or it could be a major change that disrupts the who, what, where, and how. Whatever changes you make in your business model, it must always satisfy the revenue you need to survive, the income you want to thrive, the type of clients you’ll serve, the clients’ deep goals, and the offers you’ll sell to fulfill it all.”

      Take the restaurant industry, which has been hit particularly hard during quarantine. Many have pivoted by offering curbside and delivery service but have still faced massive loss. Na’ama Moran, co-founder and CEO of the restaurant supply company, Cheetah, took a unique approach to deal with her industry’s changing business landscape due to COVID-19. Moran switched from serving as a wholesale restaurant supplier into a grocery delivery service, selling direct to consumers.

      “Moran leveraged Cheetah’s infrastructure, staff, inventory, and technology to provide a streamlined way for people to purchase food and cleaning supplies without any contact with other people,” Knauff explains. “This unique pivot enabled the company to continue moving their inventory while supporting their local community.

      2. Adapt Your Services

      Even if your business offers in-person service, there can be ways to safely continue providing those services — with necessary modifications and added digital provisions. 

      Take the recent adjustments made by lawn care company GreenPal. We have changed up processes for how our vendor partners interact with their clients,” says Bryan Clayton, GreenPal co-founder. “We now have instituted a contactless procedure for when a homeowner hires a lawn care professional to mow their yard.”

      Because of these adjustments in operations, GreenPal has “seen a 17% conversion rate in many of the markets that we operate in,” Clayton adds.

      If your target audience is more hesitant to loosen the purse strings during an uncertain time, you can utilize digital tools to yield future growth.

      “More than anything, people are afraid to spend money right now,” says Bri Henke, owner and Design Director at Dig. “Because everything that used to be guaranteed just isn’t anymore — jobs, food, school, toilet paper — nothing feels safe about our world right now. So spending money on a luxury, like design, is slowing down. Right now, people are thinking about what they want to change about their home, and for that, I am trying to build up an e-design/concept package level to my business where we don’t have to physically interact, but we can make some positive changes to their space”

      3. Offer One-on-One Training or Tutorials

      Even when you’re taking your business online, you can still provide that essential person-to-person experience indispensable to service-based businesses.

      “A service is a personal experience,” says Jermaine Amado, photographer and owner of J Amado Photography. “It’s about building on the relationship with your client. So why not find a way to offer one-on-one support to your client through a video call? You could guide them through the process of taking photos, planning meals for the week, or a pedicure.”

      And pivoting your business for COVID-19 helps you not only prepare for future economic challenges but offers you a chance to target new audiences.

      “By offering one-on-one online photography courses and camera training, I feel like I was able to reach a new client base,” Amado says. “Adapting my services has allowed me to venture into an all-digital world where I don’t have to travel to offer my services.”

      No matter what field of industry your business occupies, you can adapt to bring offerings online.

      4. Offer Value Through Online Learning

      In addition to providing virtual services, you can make the most of the digital landscape by sharing your hard-earned knowledge, while establishing yourself as an authority and building your brand visibility. This strategy can help your business remain viable during a crisis and attract clients.

      For example, as a result of COVID-19, Southern Tax Preparation & Services moved from providing educational resources as part of its paid services to making those materials readily available through social media platforms and online communities, email campaigns, live video conferencing, and a podcast. This strategy shift is boosting the business in big ways.

      “We are establishing ourselves as an authority in the accounting and finance industry, and our audience’s desire to establish and maintain a stable financial structure has also increased,” says Jasmine Young, MBA, CPA, CFE, andSouthern Tax founder. “The increase in revenue from client referrals to purchase services that assist in creating a stable financial foundation is an obvious indication that our decision to pivot . . . was a step in the right direction for our company, as our gross income for the past quarter was 75% of last year’s gross income for the entire year.”

      The knowledge you have is valuable. Utilize it!

       

      5. Curate Customized Product Kits

      Pivoting your traditional business in difficult times is necessary to establish multiple revenue streams to compensate for the loss of income from main offerings. This has been especially vital for hair salons in the UK, as governments may limit their re-opening for another six months. 

      HairCraze by Naomi, a salon in Wales, has innovated new strategies to offer value and boost its online business. They filmed a video on DIY haircutting, and a banner ad was placed on their website and Facebook page notifying visitors that the video is accessible to people who subscribe to their email or newsletter. According to their marketing company, this tactic has helped the business build up a stack of email addresses from potential customers to hit up and market to once the lockdown ends.

      HairCraze by Naomi has also contacted their current clients that regularly utilize hair coloring services, offering to make dye for them based on their individual hair profile. These dyes can be mailed or delivered to customers at a discounted cost, helping them maintain color between salon visits — a better-than-boxed-dye solution at a cheaper-than-a-salon-visit price. 

      Now that’s creative innovation.

      6. Learn and Incorporate New Tech

      The health and fitness industry is seeing creative solutions to the prohibition on in-person gatherings as they seek to incorporate innovation and recoup lost earnings through digital offerings.

      Soofi Safavi, an entrepreneur and hot yoga enthusiast, pivoted his yoga business to operate virtually during the pandemic. When COVID-19 caused him to close his studios, instructors struggled with online class logistics and lost income, and his customers were without the habits they needed for their physical and mental health. Safavi acted quickly to create Wizard.fit, an integrated fitness app that allows instructors to virtually teach classes, collect payment, and instruct in a way that simulates a live studio. 

      Adapting to offer your business’ services on a digital platform doesn’t have to be a lengthy process. With the right network and tools, you can get virtual offerings up and running fast.

      “There are a myriad of opportunities available online for service-based workers,” said James Dyble, Managing Director of Global Sound Group. “For example, if you’re a personal trainer, jump on YouTube and start providing your services with that method. Possibly, even have a membership website or a mentoring program. . . . If the content is right, then the revenue will follow.”

      7. Improve How You Engage

      Running a business behind a screen can be a challenge for service-based companies that rely on an in-person relationship. Use this time as an opportunity to refine and improve the ways that you engage and connect with audiences.

      First, update your website during this crisis. Make sure your customers are aware of what new or adjusted services you’re providing during social distancing. Then, take connection a step further.

      “As an events producer, I enable entrepreneurs, speakers, and organizations to have engaging events. Wow, did COVID-19 ever change that!” says Connie Zeller of C.Zeller Events. “I’m fortunate that I have amazing clients who could see the value of a pivot. While a virtual event can’t deliver the energy, physical connection, gift bags, food, and the overall live experience, it can still deliver an impactful message and reach the goals and visions of a live event.”

      Thoughtfully consider and plan how you’re going to provide your winning service in digital environments. Without the in-person connection, your business needs to use available tech in innovative ways to prioritize your audiences and nurture relationships.

      “Technology is allowing connection in such a productive way without having to leave your home,” Henke says. “So the opportunity to offer your clients your time still exists; it will just be through a screen. Reassuring your clients that they still get you, I think, is key in all of this — rather than just them feeling that they are only worth an email. [Clients] need to know that we are still there with them, it is just in a different capacity than before.” 

      8. Expand Your Virtual Marketing Techniques

      As a professional organizer, Diane Eisenstein, founder and “Chief Organization Officer” of The Tidy Abode, has been experimenting with the addition of virtual services to her in-person business, offering coaching via FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom.

      “The most exciting part of it is that I have reached people from all around the country this way,” she says. “So many people staying at home want to be productive and get organized, but they get stuck on one part of the project. That’s where I come in! I give them advice on potential solutions and the products they need to get it done. I don’t get the big reveal moment at the end of a project, but I do see the ‘aha moments’ when I give my clients a suggestion that would work for their space.”

      Social media is likely already a part of your marketing strategy, so continue to expand your social media techniques to boost business! Host live tutorials on Instagram, Facebook, Zoom, or Youtube Live so you can communicate with your supporters in the comments in real-time. You can then upload these videos online to boost engagement and visibility.

      As a writer and vocal teacher for MusicGrotto.com, James Croad has been utilizing YouTube Tutorials to continue his vocal and guitar lessons remotely.

      “As a service professional, the transition hasn’t been easy, but it wasn’t impossible either,” Croad says. “It just takes a little bit of ingenuity! Regardless of the service you provide, we live in a digital age where there are multiple online platforms that can improve your business regardless of the quarantine. If you’ve got some grit and are willing to experiment, you can find a goldmine of efficient and profitable business practices online.”

      As you pivot and find things that work, market them vigorously. 

      “We are offering both free training and paid virtual 30-day masterminds to help businesses creatively explore their options and accordingly tweak or pivot their services,” says Janis Pettit, CEO of The 10x Zone.

      “For example, one company provides in-home occupational therapy for special needs children, and their business was down 70%. They decided to try teletherapy and it was approved by the insurance companies. After testing it and getting great results, we developed an aggressive marketing plan to promote it. It’s working, and weekly visits are going up quickly. And the best part? They can now serve clients not just locally as before but in the entire state!”

      Taking advantage of every opportunity to make $$$ (and build a loyal audience) can serve you well and help you develop the creative entrepreneurship needed to run a successful business, no matter the conditions.

      9. Expand Your Offerings

      Why not try something completely new? Offering a novel service to clients can expand your business — and your audience.

      “Since lockdown, I have recorded myself making healthy meals and putting them in the Whatsapp group that I have set up with my clients,” says Elliott Reimers, a certified nutrition coach at Rave Reviews. “They’re contributing a small amount each per month for these tips. In addition, I am making up batches of the meals I recorded and then dropping them outside clients’ houses once a week.”

      By supplying unique offerings, checking in with clients, and keeping a positive attitude, you can meaningfully connect with your audiences and provide value.

      How can other businesses do this?

      • Nail salons can curate and send clients boxes of supplies with illustrated (or video) instructions on how to care for their nails. 
      • A massage therapist can film a video of how to pinpoint trouble spots in muscles and how a tennis ball or foam roller can alleviate the pain. Then they can sell and schedule a private one-on-one session via Zoom to walk through this process with the client.
      •  An esthetician can schedule private video sessions to examine clients’ skin and recommend and order specific products for the client.
      • Physical trainers can provide virtual workouts or home-workout tips, creating video tutorials or doing it with them virtually to boost both of your physical activity and gains. They could also sell different protein shakes or guided meal plans.
      • Cleaning companies similarly can sell their cleaning products, supplied with step-by-step tutorials on how to clean various home spaces. 

      And all businesses can offer gift cards!

      10. Continue to Incorporate Digital Options

      Bringing parts of your business online can be a massive benefit to you as you target new audiences and expand your offerings. So don’t stop that momentum when things return to business as (mostly) usual. Keep utilizing the power of tech to boost your business. 

      “One valuable aspect of a digital service-based business is the convenience factor,” Eisenstein says. “In-person services require travel time, prep time, and schedules that need to be matched up. Even after COVID-19 conditions end, I will most likely conduct consultations over video calls, plus I plan to incorporate more virtual coaching into my schedule so I can reach more people around the world.”

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      Re-Homing Your Business in a Digital Landscape

      Pivoting your business into a digital landscape isn’t just valuable — it’s essential right now. Not only can virtual adaptation help you keep your business afloat, but it can ultimately help you run a better, more successful business in the future as you refine how you market, engage, and incorporate technology. 

      “The economic environment and marketplace have shifted, and the ‘new normal’ will not go back to the way things were,” Pettit says. “Businesses that don’t have a way to serve their customers’ needs as they are now will struggle or even fail. Look at businesses in the past that didn’t — Blackberry, MySpace, Sears, and many more. There is great opportunity here if you can creatively embrace it.”

      If you want to get your business up-and-running online and flex those creative muscles, you need to start at the beginning: partnering with a great web host for your site. We can help you set up your online presence — at a safe, virtual distance.



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      Networks and Online Gaming: 3 Ways to Improve Performance and Retain Your Audience


      What makes or breaks the technical success of a new multiplayer video game? Or for that matter, the success of any given online gaming session or match? There are a lot of reasons, to be sure, but success typically boils down to factors outside of the end users’ control. At the top of the list, arguably, is network performance.

      In June, 2018 Fornite experienced a network interruption that caused world-famous streamer, Ninja, to swap mid-stream to Hi-Rez’s Realm Royale. Ninja gave the game rave reviews, resulting in a huge userbase jumping over to play Realm Royale. And just this month, the launch of Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem was darkened by infrastructure issues as the servers couldn’t handle the number of users flocking to the game. While both popular games might not have experienced long-term damage, ongoing issues like these can turn users toward a competitor’s game or drive them away for good.

      Low latency is so vital, that in a 2019 survey, seven in 10 gamers said they will play a laggy game for less than 10 minutes before quitting. And nearly three in 10 say what matters most about an online game is having a seamless gaming experience without lag. What can game publishers do to prevent lag, increase network performance and increase the chances that their users won’t “rage quit”?

      Taking Control of the Network to Avoid Log Offs

      There are a few different ways to answer the question and avoid scenario outlined above, but some solutions are stronger than others.

      Increase Network Presence with Edge Deployments

      One option is to spread nodes across multiple geographical presences to reduce the distance a user must traverse to connect. Latency starts as a physics problem, so the shorter the distance between data centers and users, the lower the latency.

      This approach isn’t always the best answer, however, as everyday there can be both physical and logical network issues just miles apart from a user and a host. Some of these problems can be the difference between tens to thousands of milliseconds across a single carrier.

      Games are also increasingly global. You can put a server in Los Angeles to be close to users on the West Coast, but they’re going to want to play with their friends on the East Coast, or somewhere even further away.

      Connect Through the Same Carriers as the End Users

      Another answer is to purchase connectivity to some of the same networks end users will connect from, such as Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner, Telecom, Verizon, etc.

      A drawback of this option, though, stems from the abolishment of Net Neutrality. Carriers don’t necessarily need to honor best-route methodology anymore, meaning they can prioritize cost efficiency over performance on network configurations. I’ve personally observed traffic going from Miami to Tampa being routed all the way to Houston and back, as show in the images below.

      Network routing
      The traffic on the left follows best-route methodology, while the traffic on the right going from Miami to Tampa is being routed through Houston. This is one consequence of the abolishment of Net Neutrality.

      Purchasing connectivity that gets you directly into the homes of end-users may seem like the best method to reduce latency, but bottlenecks or indirect routing inside these large carriers’ networks can cause issues. A major metro market in the United States can also have three to four incumbent consumer carriers providing residential services to gamers, necessitating and IP blend to effectively reach end users. However, startups or gaming companies don’t want to build their own blended IP solution in every market they want to build out in.

      Choose a Host with a Blended Carrier Agreement

      The best possible solution to the initial scenario is to host with a carrier that has a blended carrier agreement, with a network route optimization technology to algorithmically traverse all of those carriers.

      Take for example, INAP’s Performance IP® solution. This technology makes a daily average of nearly 500 million optimizations across INAP’s global network to automatically put a customer’s outbound traffic on the best-performing route. This type of technology reduces latency upwards of 44 percent and prevents packet loss, preventing users from experiencing the lag that can change the fate of a game’s commercial success. You can explore our IP solution by running your own performance test.

      Taking Control When Uncontrollable Factors are at Play

      There will be times that game play is affected by end user hardware. It makes a difference, and it always will, but unfortunately publishers can’t control the type of access their users have to the internet. In some regions of the world, high speed internet is just a dream, while in others it would be unfathomable to go without high-speed internet access.

      Inline end user networking equipment can also play a role in network behavior. Modems, switches, routers and carrier equipment can cause poor performance. Connectivity being switched through an entire neighborhood, throughput issues during peak neighborhood activities, satellite dishes angled in an unoptimized position limiting throughput—there’s a myriad of reasons that user experience can be impacted.

      With these scenarios, end users often understand what they are working with and make mental allowances to cope with any limitations. Or they’ll upgrade their internet service and gaming hardware accordingly.

      The impact of network performance on streaming services and game play can’t be underscored enough. Most end users will make the corrections they can in order to optimize game play and connectivity. The rest is up to the publisher.

      Explore INAP’s Global Network.

      LEARN MORE

      Dan Lotterman


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