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      How to Create a  Freelance Writer Website That Actually Gets You Writing Gigs


      The future is freelance. Did you know? By 2020, 50% of the U.S. workforce will do some type of freelance work — and it’s predicted that by 2027, freelancers will make up the majority. Whether you work exclusively freelance or take on additional side projects in conjunction with your full-time work, you’re joining an ever-growing population of successful, flexible, untethered, and creative craftspeople.

      What’s more, the innovation and growth of technology have made the work environment more fruitful for freelancers: 64% of freelancers found work online — a 22-point increase in the last five years.

      And you freelance writers, bloggers, and web content writers — we see you. We know you’re out there, coloring the world with your beautiful language and lightbulb ideas.

      But because freelancers must do their own marketing legwork, you need to take advantage of every tool available to you in building a prolific writing business. One of the biggest weapons in your arsenal? A relevant web presence. Forget scouring the wanted ads to find work — establishing an online presence and showing off a strong virtual CV is vital for getting seen and earning $$$.

      How to put your best foot — and word — forward online? A top-of-the-class website. For writers, a killer freelance writer website is a make-it-or-break-it tool for getting you leads on quality writing gigs. And we’re going to show you how to do it. Here’s what we’ll cover in this guide (in case you want to jump ahead):

      With a website, you can flaunt your talent and personality, create sustainable sales, build your writing portfolio, and connect with potential and return customers, building your business and financial success — all in one place.

      Build Your Online Portfolio with DreamHost

      We make sure your freelance writing website is fast, secure and always up so you never miss a gig. Plans start at $2.59/mo.

      Why is Having a Good Freelance Writer Website Important?

      You’re a writer — you know, good ‘ol pen and paper. Why do you even need a website in the first place? With a well-built freelance writer website, you can:

      • Showcase Your Online Portfolio. One of the most significant advantages of creating a freelance writer website is having a living, breathing portfolio that is easily accessible online. Prospective clients can access your work, and through a broad range of content, get a feel for your style, voice, and writing ability. They can view your previous work and a wealth of relevant content that will help them trust their business to you.
      • Increase Brand Visibility. Your website is a visible showcase of your writing ability and a crucial tool for establishing awareness of your brand. With a powerful online presence, visitors don’t have to go digging around to discover info on your offerings. Not only do you make it possible for people to find you online, but your website also helps you build likability. With great content and engaging content, visitors start to care about you and your work and will entertain the prospect of working with you. It illustrates your legitimacy as a writing professional and helps you position yourself as an authority in your field. By making your work accessible, you broaden your visibility and provide social proof which, in turn, increases your chances of getting rewarding freelance writing work.
      • Strengthen Brand Legitimacy. Let’s be real. Companies without a website or an internet presence tend to raise some red flags in the e-commerce ecosystem, right? Everything’s on the web. These days, a dot com is an essential requirement in the biz world. If internet users can’t find your virtual corner of the web, customers seeking out a particular product or service will instantly think: can we trust that business if they’re not online in an everything-digital age?

      It’s a no-brainer that if you want to do business and market a product or service in the world we live in, potential clients need to be able to find you with just a couple of clicks from their browser. So on a very basic level, having a website helps establish your brand as a legitimate business, rather than just operating amateur or letting customers rely on what they gather from your social media presence. What’s more, the better you are at outfitting your site with great content and strong visuals, the more that legitimacy will increase and work in your favor. To bless your bottom line and earn trust from internet visitors, it’s crucial to demonstrate not only your tech-savvy web skills but also your ability to establish a professional and valuable web presence.

      We know you’re wondering: Do I have to have a freelance writer website if I’m just getting started? The short answer: No. BUT — having an established site for your freelance writing (your services and a showcasing portfolio) is the best way to build a marketing funnel and establish a legitimate, cohesive, and authoritative brand. It’s a clear way to put your best foot forward and secure quality writing jobs.

      OK, but hold up. It’s 2019, you say. Can’t I just use social media, like a LinkedIn company page, instead of a website to promote my writing business? Sure. But a website, even a simple one, is a good idea. With a well-established freelance writer website, you build authority as a brand, and increase your chances of getting seen by potential clients. Plus, you’ll own all the content on your site — something that isn’t always true on social media sites.

      Perhaps building a high-performing and snazzy-looking freelance writer website seems like an overwhelming task. But putting in the effort to set up a website is an investment with guaranteed returns.  A site to be admired — and get you hired.

      How to Build a Great Freelance Writer Website (7 Steps)

      Like we said, creating a great-looking freelance writer website doesn’t have to be rocket science or overly time-intensive. We’ll show you how to set up a website in seven easily-manageable steps.

      1. Brand Your Business

      Time to pick a name, business owner! If you’re branding yourself and marketing your skills, you can use your own name, but ask yourself a few of the following big-picture questions before nailing down a moniker:

      Would you ever sell your business? Even if you’re not entirely sure of your long-term business plan, you probably have an idea if you ever intend to pass the torch on your writing business or include others’ services or products in conjunction with your business.

      If you’ve entertained the idea of selling your brand one day or partnering up, don’t brand yourself with your own name. Obviously, that is unique to you and won’t transfer. Also, if your name is difficult to spell, pronounce, or remember, consider the possible confusion using your name might cost your business.

      But then again, your personal name might help brand you uniquely as potential clients can differentiate you from other common-name writing businesses. So consider your options before jumping into a brand or business name haphazardly. You never know how you’ll grow, adapt, and change in your freelance writing business. You’ll want to choose carefully in order to set yourself up for long-term success.

      Freelance writer at laptop.

      2. Choose a Content Management System

      Now that you’ve got your brand’s fancy new name tag, you need a content management system (CMS) to facilitate the creation and publication of your content on the web. The best part? You don’t have to know how to program a single line of code to use one! Take WordPress, one of the web’s most popular content management systems out there (it powers 30% of the internet!)

      With the WordPress platform, you can create and manage your web content without the pressure of a deep learning curve — you can get a website set up with little-to-no technical know-how.

      3. Register a Domain and Set up Hosting 

      OK, you’ve decided you want to use WordPress, and you’re full of great content ideas. Good to go, right? Well, first, you need to find your site a home on the web so that visitors can actually view and engage with your content. All those great ideas won’t amount to anything if your website isn’t available online. That means you need two very critical components: a domain and a hosting provider.

      A domain is the unique web address where your website can be found. This is what visitors will type into their browser to navigate to your site (for example, www.dreamhost.com). Your domain is unique to your website and should match your brand or business name. You should also consider your choice of top-level domain —  meaning .com or .blog or dot-whatever —  in order to position yourself as an authority in search engine rankings. Whatever domain name you choose, you purchase it through a registrar.

      Next, you need a hosting provider. Hosting companies sell unique-to-you plans that include space on a server so that your website has a place to live online. Without a server, your website won’t be available to visit. For the best chance at scoring quality gigs, you need a quality hosting provider.

      There are a lot of providers out there, but only DreamHost can offer you the best of the best: one-of-a-kind features, high-performance tech, and responsive support. Plus, we make things easy: domain registration and hosting services under one roof and one-click WordPress installs. With Shared Hosting, just check the “Pre-Install WordPress” box during sign-up and boom! We install it for you.

      Shared Hosting provides ambitious WordPress beginners everything they need to create a killer freelance writing website that gets them hired. Even better? Our Shared Hosting plans start at just $2.59 per month.

      DreamHost’s Shared Hosting

      4. Choose a WordPress Theme

      Time to outfit your website with a WordPress theme. The theme you select doesn’t just dictate the overall appearance of your site (though it does do that), but it also determines what sort of functionality your site will have. The right theme will allow you to control and customize your website to your exact specifications and niche. Browse the WordPress Theme Directory or search WordPress theme developers to find and install your perfect theme.

      WordPress Theme Directory

      5. Decide What Content Your Site Needs

      So what does your freelance writer website need? What are the must-have content and features relevant to your niche? Time to make a plan. While you have the freedom to customize your website according to your brand and personality, there are a few essential pages that your site should have to set you up for the best possible business success:

      • Homepage: An easy-to-navigate and attractive landing page that can direct visitors and potential clients to important parts of your website.
      • Online Portfolio: Your website should be a solid, structured way to demonstrate your skills as a professional writer. A vital feature — nay, asset —  of your website is an easy-to-find, specially-dedicated portfolio section where you can showcase relevant published work and prove your capabilities as a writer.
      • Services: Nearly 50% of website visitors check out a company’s product or services page before any other sections of the site. That’s big. What do you offer? Give potential clients a clear and detailed description of the specific writing services you offer.
      • About: Don’t be a robot behind the computer screen. Demonstrate your writing chops, let potential clients and visitors get to know you, and help them get acquainted with your unique voice with an engaging and humanizing Get-to-Know-Me section. Showcase your accomplishments and passion for what you do but also share what makes you unique.
      • Contact: How can potential clients get in touch with you? Make your contact information easy to find and use.

      Now that you’ve got your essential pages set up, you can go above and beyond to bring your freelance writer website to the next level. While you should avoid non-essentials, you can consider adding the following optional (but helpful) pages:

      • Clients: Name-dropping your current clients on your website is a great way to demonstrate social proof and establish your authority in the field. Think of it as a virtual word-of-mouth recommendation.
      Speaker, writer, and consultant Hillary Weiss proudly displays the well-known brands that believe in her work.
      • Testimonials: The power of a good review cannot be overstated, especially in an online environment. Confidently showcasing positive feedback you’ve received from clients in your field about your writing services can be great fodder for snagging new clients and more writing jobs. It’s OK to toot your own horn.
      Writer and speaker Colleen M. Story inspires confidence with a visible display of reader testimonials.
      • Blog: In addition to your portfolio, you can showcase your writing chops and your unique voice with a content-rich blog. The extra effort and value you’re providing your visitors with relevant blog content can be an investment with rich returns.
      • Resume: Allow visitors and potential clients to check out a bulleted list of your skills and achievements with an easy-to-view CV.
      • FAQs: If you want to answer potentially common questions about your work or services or provide more specific details to potential clients about what you offer, consider adding a FAQ section.
      • Downloads/Freebies: Making free, downloadable goodies available to your visitors on your site shows that you’re going above and beyond to offer value, demonstrating the high-quality nature of your freelance business.

      Lastly, consider pricing: if you want to be explicit on your site about the cost of your services, be transparent, upfront, and confident in the value of your work. Or if you have adjust-to-fit service options, you can keep costs mum and invite interested visitors to contact you for a quote.

      6. Create the Content

      Time to get creating! You know the adage: content is king. Live by it. You need to fill your website with rich content to attract traffic and prove your worthiness as a business. Fill the content on your must-have pages first, then continue to provide valuable content regularly.

      Of just as much importance as creating content is creating it smartly — meaning, using it to get found by potential clients. How to do that? Using keywords. Consider: what are relevant topics and search terms related to your field? Being smart about how you use phrasing and common search terms in your content will allow you to position yourself for good rankings and stronger search engine optimization. So do your research and incorporate common search terms into your content. Use tools like Google’s comprehensive (and free!) Keyword Planner to create high-traffic website content with smart keyword research and build a strong content marketing strategy.

      Also, consider the tone of your content. Does it appropriately and uniquely represent your brand? Does it showcase your expertise and/or personality? One of the most marketable tools in your writer repertoire is your voice — use it smartly.

      7. Launch

      Celebrate! Toast to yourself, do a little dance, pat yourself on the back. You did it! Your website is up and running! You should be proud. We know that having something living, breathing out there on the web can be nerve-wracking. Don’t worry about your website not being perfect. The important thing is that it’s out there.

      Remember, you can always perfect and tweak over time. Most importantly, people can start finding you — and you have something you can improve on.

      7 Mistakes to Avoid When Setting Up Your Writer Website

      When you’re starting out with your website, it’s inevitable to face a learning curve. Some things just take time to learn. You will improve over time. But guess what? We want you to succeed —  as soon as possible. So we’re giving you some inside knowledge: a list of thou-shalt-nots when setting up your freelance writer website. Avoid these major whoopsies, and you’ll be one step ahead in attracting quality writing jobs.

      1. Bad Visuals

      Let’s talk a little science. Did you know 90% of the information processed by the brain is visual? What’s more, 80% of people remember what they see (compared to 10% of what they hear and 20% of what they read.) Lastly, know that visuals help grow traffic — content creators who feature visual content grow traffic 12 times faster than those who don’t.

      Not having visuals as a part of your freelance writer website is a BIG no-no. But even more, having bad visuals can torpedo your chance at building a successful freelance writing business. Judgments on a company’s credibility are 75% based on the company’s website design, so take seriously the first impression you’re making with your visuals. Your visuals should be reflective of the quality work you offer, proving you trustworthy to potential clients and their money.

      To benefit from the traffic-building and engaging powers of excellent visuals, select quality images, a robust visual structure, and remember: white space is good space.

      2. CTA Issues

      When visitors come to your website, you want them to do something. But if you don’t ask them to do anything, they will click away and you won’t get any business. Not ideal. Even if you have kick-butt writing skills and excellent website design, having confusing, conflicting, or nonexistent CTAs (70% of small biz websites lack a CTA) will damage your chances of growing your business.

      So think: what do you need visitors to do to get writing gigs for your business? Whether it’s subscribing to an email list, filling out a contact form, or viewing your portfolio of work, make sure that your CTA is visible, clear, and focused.

      Elna of Innovative Ink has a clear CTA front and center — visitors know just what to do.

      3. Sloppy Formatting

      You’re not just a freelancer — you are a brand. As such, your potential clients expect a level of professionalism from you, so they need to see that the minute they click onto your site. Along with clear navigation, focused visual structure, and a frictionless contact funnel, your website needs to be fine-tuned, sleek, and polished.

      Even as a freelancer, an entrepreneurial free spirit, you need to channel those suit-and-tie vibes on your website to gain the trust of potential clients. No sloppy formatting, no error-filled copy, or overly-casual design. Concern yourself with the details. If you want people to trust you with their dollars, you need to be professional. Not only does meticulous formatting help your site design make a killer first impression (remember the eye-opening stats about visuals?), but it helps people view you as a trustworthy business.

      4. TMI (Too Much Information)

      Don’t get us wrong; it’s great to be personable and relatable. A critical part of your brand’s success is your likability. You want to be a person to visitors and potential clients, not just a robot writer behind a screen.

      But your website is not your online diary.

      Refrain from sharing too much personal info or content irrelevant to your field. Focus your content and be strategic about what you choose to share, making it all in the aim of building your business and earning clients.

      5. No Target Audience

      You have a brand-spankin’-new freelance writer website and are ready to bring in traffic, and ideally, new business. But who are you trying to reach through your website? What kinds of people are you looking to attract? In simple terms: who is your target audience?

      Your success is hugely determined by how you focus your efforts on building a business. If you cast too wide a net, you won’t be able to effectively target the high-quality clients that you want. So before you start seeking to build traffic, identify your target.

      6. Weak Copy

      You’re a writer. Skilled wordsmithing is your talent, your money-making tool, and your passion. That being said, every aspect of your website should reflect your abilities as a writer. Weak, lackluster copy will not earn you clients, build trust, or engage visitors. In fact, it will send potential clients to your competitors.

      Take special, even meticulous care in making sure that your copy is strong, engaging, and polished. Whether you’re writing blog posts, articles, or landing page copy, don’t just wing it — write and rewrite, seek a second pair of eyes for outside observation, and edit, edit, edit. The strength of your copy will make or break your business.

      7. Infrequent Updates

      Reality check: creating a money-making freelance writer website isn’t a one-and-done affair. Just like software needs regular updates, so does your website. Not only do periodic refreshes help you out SEO-wise, but they keep things relevant and professional. Update blog content, test plugins, solicit feedback, and use site analytics frequently to adjust how it operates for maximum UX. Know that you won’t always get things right the first time — continually be looking to improve all aspects of your website.

      Handy Resources for Starting a Writer Website

      Don’t worry — we’re not going to just throw you out to the web’s wolves without a few more top-tier tools for your burgeoning freelance writer website. Here, we offer you a well-curated roundup, a well-stocked toolbox of handy virtual resources destined to help you reach your goals.

      Web Hosting

      We know we’ve mentioned this before, but a good web hosting provider can make all the difference for the success of your freelance writing business. It’s true. Not only can a reliable hosting provider help make creating content easy, but it can make the management of your website a snap, leaving you to focus on the most crucial aspects of running your writing business.

      With DreamHost Shared Hosting plans, we offer you those benefits and more — including 24/7 support, high-performance tech, and budget-friendly options. Choosing a hosting provider is one of the first choices you’ll make on your journey — make it a smart choice with DreamHost.

      DreamHost’s Shared Hosting

      Logo

      Like we’ve said, your freelance writing business is just that: a business. And most companies out there are easily identified by a unique marker — their logo. Think about any famous company: Nike, Apple, McDonald’s — you can quickly think of their logo just by seeing the name, right? Or you’d be able to pick it out easily if you just saw the logo’s telltale visual?

      Having your own logo is an integral part of establishing and building your brand. It’s essential for consistency, visibility, and growth. But don’t worry; making one that your visitors will love isn’t hard to do.

      Brand Colors

      In addition to your logo, you should establish a color palette that is unique to your brand. This will help your website and materials feel cohesive and professional and can even help you grow your business by highlighting relevant sections or CTAs with specific colors. Picking your brand colors is as easy as 1-2-3, but remember to be intentional about your personal branding choices.

      Stock Images

      We’ve already emphasized how significant visuals are for helping bring in traffic and engage visitors. So where do you get professional-looking images and other visuals? Try Pexels or Unsplash for high-res, royalty-free photos, or find a photographer to take some for you. If you’re ambitious, follow a DIY at-home photography guide to snap your own for cheap. And remember, copyright rules rule, so keep things legal. Give credit where necessary and don’t steal.

      Photo Editing

      You don’t have to be a Photoshop master to give your images that extra oomph. Crop, adjust, and enhance your photos to improve composition and make your website visuals a powerful tool in earning your business. Try a few simple photo editing tricks on the software of choice.

      Icons

      As another type of visual, icons or symbols on your website can make it easy for visitors to find exactly what they’re looking for — whether it be your social media pages, your portfolio, or contact form — without even having to navigate menus or copy. They’re a universal language! Get great-looking icons on sites like The Noun Project, Creative Market, or for free on Flat Icon.

      Design

      Your freelance writer website should have its own unique feel. After all, you are your unique brand. Your design incorporates not only your layout, but the style of your copy, visuals, and navigation. A well-designed website is carefully thought-out for ultimate functionality and aesthetic, and we’ve got the guide to help you make it look snazzy.

      If you don’t have an eye for design, DreamHost can help. We’ve partnered with the experts at RipeConcepts, a leading web design firm, to offer professional web design services to our users.

      Professional Website Design Made Easy

      Make your site stand out with a professional design from our partners at RipeConcepts. Packages start at $299.

      The Final Word

      Now, we’ll reveal the results of our crystal ball reading: we see a bright (and prolific) freelance writing career in your future! Getting quality writing gigs may take some website-building legwork, but with a well-built site, you’re well on your way to new clients and a growing portfolio.

      Because your success is our success, DreamHost offers you the perfect beginning-of-the-journey hosting packages to get you on your feet. Check out our comprehensive Shared Hosting plans to start taking your career to the next level with a freelance writing website.



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      12 Reasons Why Your Website Is Slow (And How to Fix Them)


      Site speed plays a crucial role in the success of your website. It affects a variety of key metrics, for example, including your site’s visibility and conversion rate. Optimizing your website’s speed is clearly a necessity, but figuring out how to do it can be tricky.

      Fortunately, there are several easily-accessible speed tests you can use to determine how your site’s performance measures up. Although there are several reasons your site may be slow, you can resolve many of them with free WordPress plugins and quality web hosting.

      In this post, we’ll explain why site speed is so vital to your website. Then we’ll share solutions to 12 common issues that can lead to poor website performance. Let’s dive right in!

      Shared Hosting That Powers Your Purpose

      We make sure your website is fast, secure, and always up so your visitors trust you. Plans start at $2.59/mo.

      Why Your Website’s Loading Speed Matters

      These days, users expect websites to be fast. When pages take longer than expected to load, it negatively impacts your site’s User Experience (UX). This matters because any time your UX takes a hit, so does your conversion rate.

      You’ll likely see higher page abandonment and bounce rates as well. To be more specific, studies show that an additional two seconds of loading time can increase your site’s bounce rate by 103 percent. Plus, just 100 milliseconds of extra loading time can cause a 7 percent drop in conversion rates.

      Even fractions of a second count, so optimizing your site’s performance as fully as you can is crucial. What’s more, website speed not only influences whether users stay on your site and convert; it also affects whether or not they can find it in the first place.

      Site speed is now a Google ranking factor for both desktop and mobile sites. If you don’t maintain decent website performance, your site’s visibility on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) may decrease, leading to lower traffic levels.

      With your website’s success on the line, speed can’t be ignored. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, a smart place to start is by testing to determine where your site stands now. You can run load time tests to see how long your users are waiting and then get to work on decreasing those numbers.

      12 Reasons Your Website Is Slow (And How to Fix Them)

      Once you know the current state of your site’s performance, you can start optimizing key factors that influence site speed. Let’s look at 12 of the most common problems that contribute to slow websites and discuss how to resolve them.

      1. Render-Blocking JavaScript Is Delaying Page Loads

      JavaScript is the code that makes your website functional and interactive for users. Without it, your site would be pretty dull. However, if left unoptimized, JavaScript can delay your pages when they try to load in users’ browsers.

      When a browser tries to display a webpage, it has to stop and fully load any JavaScript files it encounters first. This results in what’s called ‘render-blocking JavaScript’ or JavaScript that prevents the page from loading quickly.

      There are three solutions for dealing with render-blocking JavaScript:

      • Remove external JavaScript files, and use inline JavaScript instead.
      • Use asynchronous loading so JavaScript can load separately from the rest of the page.
      • Defer JavaScript loading until the rest of the page is visible to the user.

      Each method has its pros and cons. Generally speaking, inline JavaScript will only improve page speed when used sparingly. Asynchronous loading can cause issues as files are not loaded in any particular order. Therefore, deferring JavaScript is usually the recommended method.

      2. You’re Not Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

      A Content Delivery Network (CDN) consists of several servers that are placed in strategic geographic locations. You can store copies of your website on them so its pages can be quickly loaded by users who are located far away from your main server.

      There are several CDN options for your WordPress site. Cloudflare is one of the most popular solutions, as is the Jetpack CDN for images and videos. For customers on our DreamPress Plus and Pro plans, you’ll get unlimited CDN usage powered by Jetpack.

      Additionally, if your website uses jQuery, you can load it from a CDN instead of your web server. Since jQuery uses far fewer lines of code than JavaScript to accomplish the same outcomes, it can be especially useful for boosting your site’s speed. Google and Microsoft are the two most popular jQuery CDN options.

      3. There’s Excessive Overhead in Your Database

      ‘Overhead’ refers to extraneous items in your site’s database — things like logs, transients, and other entries from plugins or themes can build up over time. Too much of this ‘overhead’ can cause database queries to take longer than necessary. In some cases, it can even cause your web server to time out while waiting for a response from your database.

      Optimizing your database by removing overhead will help prevent this. Most web hosts allow you to access the database management platform phpMyAdmin via your hosting account. If you aren’t able to optimize your tables in phpMyAdmin, you can use the WordPress Command Line interface (WP-CLI).

      4. Your Site’s CSS Isn’t Optimized

      Like JavaScript, your site’s CSS — the code responsible for styling its pages — can delay loading if left unoptimized. There are a few solutions you can implement to get your CSS into shape:

      • If you have several external CSS files, combine them into one or a few files.
      • Remove external CSS and use inline CSS instead.
      • Use ‘media types’ to specify when certain CSS files should be loaded.

      Like inline JavaScript, inline CSS is only useful for small portions of code. If you have several large CSS files, you shouldn’t try to add all of them to your HTML file. Specifying media types and combining your external CSS files (if you have more than one) should make a more significant impact.

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      5. OPcache Isn’t Enabled

      OPcache is a built-in caching engine for the coding language PHP. If you use PHP on your site, having OPcache enabled can speed up its loading and the loading of your pages as a result.

      If you host your website with one of our Shared WordPress or DreamPress plans, OPcache is enabled by default. If your site is hosted using one of our other plans or with another web host, you’ll likely need to enable it manually.

      6. Caching Issues Are Preventing Optimized Page Loading

      Caching is when browsers store static copies of your website’s files. Then when users access your site, their browsers can display the cached data instead of having to reload it.

      There are several caching solutions available for WordPress users, including using a caching plugin such as WP Super Cache.

      The WP Super Cache plugin.

      Our DreamPress customers have the advantage of built-in caching, which is included with your hosting account.

      DreamPress managed WordPress hosting plans

      This makes third-party caching plugins unnecessary. However, we do recommend using the Proxy Cache Purge plugin to manage your DreamPress cache.

      The Proxy Cache Purge plugin.

      The plugin automatically sends requests to delete cached data for a page or post after you’ve modified it. This can help prevent some caching issues that may result in slower site speeds.

      7. Large Media Files Are Increasing Loading Times

      Media files, such as images and videos, tend to be quite large. Optimizing them through compression can help to decrease their size and, therefore, improve your loading times.

      TinyJPG is a free online tool that compresses images. There are also several plugins you can use to compress media files within WordPress, including Smush Image Compression and Optimization.

      The Smush Image Optimization plugin.

      Compressing videos is a little trickier, so it’s usually better to host them externally on YouTube or another platform instead. You can then easily embed your videos on pages or posts.

      8. Poorly-Written Scripts Are Conflicting With Other Site Elements

      Poorly-written JavaScript can sometimes cause compatibility issues with other parts of your website, resulting in longer loading times. Running a speed test using tools such as Pingdom, Web Page Test, and GTmetrix can often point out scripts that are taking a long time to load.

      You can then investigate these files more closely to determine how you can improve them. It may also be useful to turn potentially problematic scripts off temporarily, to see how your performance scores change without them enabled.

      9. Your Site’s Code Is Too Bulky

      The more code your user’s web browser has to load, the longer it will take for your website to become visible. If your code is too ‘bulky’ or contains unnecessary characters and line breaks, your site may be slower. In response, you can ‘minify’ that code by removing the elements that aren’t needed.

      There are two popular plugins for carrying out this task. Autoptimize minifies code, in addition to inlining CSS and optimizing JavaScript files. It also integrates well with WP Super Cache.

      The Autoptimize plugin for WordPress.

      Fast Velocity Minify merges CSS and JavaScript files to reduce the number of requests needed for browsers to load your pages. It also minifies your code.

      The Fast Velocity Minify plugin for WordPress.

      Both plugins are solid choices. You might consider trying out each one and seeing which increases your performance test scores more.

      10. Missing Files Are Causing Errors

      In some instances, your WordPress installation may be missing files. If this happens, users will experience longer loading times as additional requests are made in an attempt to find the files. This process will eventually result in a 404 error if the files can’t be found.

      The causes behind this issue are numerous and varied. Instead of trying to track down the source of the problem, the fastest solution is to restore your site from your most recent backup. This should replace the missing files with the versions saved in your backup.

      11. Plugins Are Weighing Your Site Down

      Having too many plugins — or even a few very bulky ones — can weigh your website down and cause poor performance. It’s wise to always completely remove any plugins you’re not using to minimize the chance that this will happen.

      Additionally, some plugins can interfere with the caching of your site’s pages. If you’re using the Proxy Cache Purge plugin we mentioned earlier in this article, you can pinpoint which plugins are causing the problem by navigating to Proxy Cache > Check Caching.

      12. Internet Issues Are Hurting Specific Users’ Performance

      Finally, poor website performance can be due to an issue with a user’s Internet Service Provider (ISP), rather than with your site itself. Slow site speeds can result from network congestion, bandwidth throttling and restrictions, data discrimination and filtering, or content filtering.

      If you notice slow speeds when visiting your site, you can run a traceroute between your computer and your website to test the connection. This should give you an idea of whether or not the problem is related to your ISP or is a more significant site-wide concern.

      Lighten Your Website Load

      Your website’s performance and response time are closely tied to its success, so taking every available opportunity to improve it is worth the effort. Figuring out why your website has lagging load times can help boost both its Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and UX, resulting in better visibility and a higher conversion rate.

      We’ve covered twelve common causes of slow site speeds throughout this post. While ideally, you’ll want to optimize your site in all the ways we’ve mentioned, pinpointing specific areas for improvement — such as enabling caching or compressing your media files — can help you tackle the biggest issues first.

      Looking for a hosting service that can keep up with your site’s performance needs? Our Shared Hosting plans are a convenient, low-cost solution that’s optimized for WordPress and ideal for new users. Check them out today!



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      Building Your Own Business Website? Don’t Make These 10 Mistakes


      It can be daunting to get a business website up and running.

      Let’s be real here: if you weren’t a little bit jittery about it, we’d be worried. Not because you can’t do this. You totally can. It’s easy to build a great-looking business website if you use the right tools — and you don’t even have to know how to code!

      No, it’s daunting because your website matters so much to the health of your business. It’ll help you generate leads, drive conversions, and build your brand. But like a first date, there are a lot of ways to screw this thing up.

      “So, you’re paying, right?”

      “I’m a huge Nickleback fan.”

      “Do you mind if my mom joins us?”

      Luckily, avoiding “website don’ts” is much easier than finding love in a hopeless place. In this post, I’ll outline the 10 biggest mistakes you could make when setting up a website for your small business. Avoid these pitfalls and you’ll be on your way to turning visitors into devoted customers. Ah, l’amour.

      1. Failing To Make A Responsive Website

      This is the ultimate beginner’s mistake. So what is a responsive website anyway?

      Simply put, it’s a website that responds to its environment to give the user the best possible viewing experience. In other words, if a user comes searching for your website on a mobile phone, then the site’s layout will display in a different, more accessible way than if they were visiting the site on a desktop.

      We’ve gone in-depth on why mobile-friendly website design matters here on the blog before. But here are the simple facts: 61 percent of users who have trouble accessing a mobile site are unlikely to return. Of those, 40 percent will seek out a competitor’s site instead. And if you don’t create a mobile-friendly website, Google’s going to ding you too.

      The takeaway?

      When choosing a website builder or platform to create your website, make sure you pick one that offers responsive designs. You don’t want to mess around with a stagnant design that will drive away mobile visitors.

      2. Not Customizing Your Theme

      One of the best things about using a content management system is the free themes available at your fingertips. In fact, as soon as you settle on your web hosting company and purchase a domain, you can select the perfect theme to match your brand in mere minutes.

      However, it’s important to remember whatever platform you use, you’re going to have to customize it to match your brand’s style. Otherwise, you’ll be left with a website that looks exactly like thousands of other business sites on the web — a big mistake.

      Happily, with Remixer, our in-house website builder, it’s easy to personalize your site. You can upload and insert your own images (or use our royalty-free gallery, your call), flesh out your unique content, and place menu items where you need them to build your dream website.

      3. Using Jargon

      We get it. You have been working in your field for years and years, and you’re literally a master of your industry. You know what “IPC,” “VC Money,” and “apportunity” stand for, but I’ve got news for you — your website visitors don’t.

      If a visitor lands on your website and the copywriting is full of technical jargon they can’t understand, they’re not going to stick around to parse through your metaphors.

      Remember: the average human has a shorter attention span than a goldfish. That’s a piddly eight seconds. This means when customers find your site, they need to encounter copy that is straightforward and encourages them to take action fast — whether that’s watching a video, entering your sign-up flow, or subscribing to an email newsletter.

      If you need a good example, Dropbox Business slays when it comes to website design and simple copywriting. Let’s take a look at their homepage.

      dropbox business home page

      What is Dropbox Business doing right?

      • The headline is straightforward with no jargon.
      • The subheading tells you what they do in one easy-to-follow sentence. In fact, it’s immediately clear what the company offers.
      • The call-to-action is easy to see (and click)!

      When approaching copywriting and design, be like Dropbox.

      4. Not Thinking About Readability

      Not only does your copywriting need to be sweet and simple, but the design also has to be easy on the eyes.

      And I don’t just mean nice to look at; it also has to be easy to read.

      When you use a website builder, you have free reign to customize your website as you wish, but this doesn’t mean you should part with best practices. To make sure your users don’t get turned off by your design, stick to these rules:

      • Keep Your Font Sizes Consistent — Larger font sizes are a good way to say, “This is important, so pay attention.” Smaller font sizes should be used for more in-depth information. When building your website, don’t go hog wild and use a bunch of different sizes. Stick to three or four sizes.
      • Consider Your Fonts — Papyrus may look cute on your kid’s 5th birthday party invite, but it doesn’t look great on your website. Luckily, most website builders themes will only use fonts that designers have already vetted for readability and looks. One important tip: Sans-serif fonts — the ones without the extra little flourishes — are generally easier to read on the web.
      • Choose Contrasting Colors — When selecting a color palette for your website, make sure the background images don’t drown out your font. Readability has to be the first priority. If you’re design challenged (no shame in admitting that, by the way), Remixer comes with preset color mixes so you don’t have to worry about the subtle differences between Seafoam and Aqua.

      freshbooks cloud accounting home page

      So who is doing readability right? FreshBooks is nailing it.

      • The copy is free of jargon, simple, and straight to the point.
      • Even though their content is more robust than the Dropbox example above, it’s still easy to understand.
      • The colors work nicely with each other, and none of the images detract from the text.
      • The most important messages are in larger font while the supplemental information is in a smaller font.

      Overall, the readability of this website is on the money — which is good because, well, their business is all about the dollars.

      5. Falling For Search Engine Optimization Myths

      Every new business owner hopes to create a website that will sit on the top of the search results on Google, Bing, Yahoo, and every other search engine. And they hope to rank for more than just one keyword.

      However, the truth of the matter is that a good SEO strategy takes time, smarts, and money. Plus, it’s impossible to successfully optimize your homepage for hundreds of keywords. That’s just not how the internet works, and if you try to cut corners, Google knows where you live.

      Seriously, it knows.

      A better strategy is to think about the top keyword for your website and optimize your content to rank for that keyword. Here are a few suggestions:

      • Write Long-Form Content — Once upon a time, stuffing your content with your top keyword would help you rank in the search results. Gone are those days, and just like on that first date we talked about earlier, you’ll actually be penalized for trying too hard. These days, it’s better to simply write your content for the user. Be as comprehensive and helpful as possible and Google will reward you.
      • Structure Your Content with Heading Tags — Heading tags — the top-down <h1> to <h6>s — are often seen as a “meh, not that important” sort of thing, but they really do matter. Headings give structure to your pages, making it easier for both readers and Google bots to consume your content. To get the most SEO bang for your buck with headings, follow this guide from Yoast.
      • Add a Call-to-Action — Your homepage should have a clear call-to-action (CTA). Not only will it help direct your readers to do the thing you want them to do — buy your product, sign up for your service, or subscribe to your newsletter — but it will help Google focus on what is important to you.

      The Moz blog is a solid example of on-point optimization. Here’s what they’re doing right:

      • Clear, strong heading tags in every post.
      • Structured content that is easy to follow, read, and scan.
      • The posts aren’t laden with annoying keywords. Instead, it supports the H1 tag and is helpful to readers.

      6. Going Pop-Up Crazy

      Here’s how I like to think about pop-ups. When someone puts a sign in front of your face, it’s difficult not to pay attention to it. But when someone puts a whole bunch of signs in your face, it’s impossible to pay attention to any of them.

      Helpful pop-ups that serve your readers are a great way to build your business. For example, you can include ONE pop-up asking someone to do ONE of the following: join your mailing list, share a post, follow you on social media, or sign up for an upcoming event.

      But the second you start throwing pop-ups on your website to join your mailing list and share a post and follow you on social media and sign up for your webinar, and . . . you are not serving your visitors — or your business.

      When it comes to pop-ups, be wise. Determine what the most pressing action you want your users to take is and then build a pop-up around that action. Leave the rest out. Simple as that.

      example of pop-up 'super early bird 65% off'

      Digital Marketer, one of the marketing world’s top thought leaders, serves as a great example of using pop-ups wisely.

      • Digital Marketer is an online publication with thousands of daily followers. They use this pop-up to let subscribers know about an upcoming event.
      • Once a subscriber either enters their information or opts out, the pop-up disappears.
      • The pop-up isn’t asking for multiple actions from the subscriber.

      Feel free to use a pop-up on your website. Just don’t go crazy or your website visitors will feel like they’ve shown up at a protest with mixed messages.

      Be Awesome on the Internet

      Join our monthly newsletter for tips and tricks to build your dream website!

      7. Slow Server Times

      Did you know customers will only wait 4 seconds for a site to load before clicking out of the website, according to a study by Akamai Technologies? That means if you want to keep your customers interested, you need to make sure your site loads whip fast.

      The good news is when you build your site with Remixer, you are working with a product that is configured to make load times faster. Remixer’s static pages load whip-fast compared to dynamic ones.

      8. Poor Navigation

      The internet yields nearly 7 billion global searches a day, and websites with intuitive navigation are rewarded with more visitors (and visitors who stick around for longer). If you can’t help your users get what they want immediately, chances are they will move on to a competitor’s site.

      Even if you’re not a professional, there are a few simple things you can do to make sure your design is intuitive for visitors:

      • Use a Theme — The easiest way to create a winning website is to use a website builder. With Remixer, the important structural elements you’ll need for a basic website are incorporated into each of our expert-built themes. That means, all you have to do is choose a design that works with your brand, add your content, and boom, you’ve got a well-designed website — no coding required.
      • Stick to the Standard — Humans are creatures of habit. And most of us are trained to expect vertical navigation on the left side of the page and horizontal navigation across the top of the page. To avoid confusion, keep your navigation standard.
      • Don’t Overwhelm Users — You may be tempted to include several links in your navigation bar. But remember: less is more. Stick to the basics — About, Products, Services, Contact, etc. — in your navigation menu.

      You know what’s coming next, don’t you? A good example! 4 Rivers Smokehouse has a really sleek design.

      • The navigation bar is up top, simple, and easy to read.
      • You know exactly how to take action as soon as you view the home page. “Show me the menu!”
      • The design is simple — and makes you want to dive into a plate of slow-roasted brisket.

      9. Outdated Information and/or Design

      I know we just talked about brisket, but building a website is not like making slow-cooked pork. You can’t set it and forget it! Your website requires regular updates and maintenance for a variety of reasons.

      • Updated Information Helps Customers — If you let your website information get outdated, it will be difficult for customers to find you, order from you, and remain a loyal customer. Don’t leave them hanging!
      • It Keeps Google Happy — Google ranks websites based on a huge algorithm. One major driver of rankings: how fresh and robust is your site’s content? This means you need to frequently add new content to your site (blog posts, anyone?) and routinely spruce up your older pages and posts.
      • Updated Design Keeps Your Brand Relevant — The tech world is constantly innovating, and you need to stay in the game when it comes to design trends and best practices. For example, here’s how Google and Facebook, two of the world’s most popular websites, looked when they first launched. Imagine how successful they would have been if they never updated their look and feel. Yeah, it’s not a pretty picture.
      Google home page in 1996
      Google in 1996
      Facebook in 2004
      Facebook in 2004

      As you continue to build (and grow!) your business, make sure your website keeps up.

      10. Don’t Go It Alone

      Building a website from scratch is a lofty goal, but unless you’re really looking forward to investing in the process, it can be a big drain on your resources. And remember, your time counts as a resource when you’re bootstrapping a small business. If you need a responsive, professional-looking website — and you need it fast — Remixer is the tool for you.

      Need a Beautiful Website?

      Design it yourself with Remixer, our easy-to-use website builder. No coding required.

      You can start with a free responsive theme that’s been put together by our web experts to help you sidestep all the mistakes we’ve outlined above. Our themes are designed to load quickly, look great, and help you easily plug in SEO-friendly content.

      All you have to do is import your content, customize your theme, and then hit ‘publish.’ And if you get stuck somewhere along the way, the DreamHost team is just a chat away. Today is the day to start building your own Remixer site for free.



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