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Every business wants to feel like its customers and employees are happy. After all, it’s human nature to want to be loved, right?
However, “making people happy” isn’t just a nice-to-have. Doing so has real-world business benefits.
For instance, did you know customers will pay up to a 16-percent price premium and display greater loyalty if a company delivers an excellent experience? Or 63 percent of companies say retaining talent is harder than hiring?
What’s the common denominator between those statistics? They both demonstrate the value of feedback surveys.
By surveying your workforce or customer base, you can identify the things that are making them unhappy and take action to set them right. This means no more losing customers or talent to your biggest rivals.
I’ve already touched on a couple reasons why you should be using online survey creators to assess customer and employee sentiment, but there are lots more.
Here are online survey creator tool options, including how they work and their main features.
Increase your chances of asking the right question in the right way and at the right time by choosing up to eight question types and including 15 questions per survey. All surveys can be sent out via multiple channels, including email.
Qualtrics’s ExpertReview feature helps you hone in on the right question types and survey formats by giving you real-time recommendations and letting you choose from a wide selection of expert-built survey templates.
SoGoSurvey offers different options depending on the goal of your survey. For instance, customer experience surveys use APIs to automate feedback collection by hooking into your CRM, while responses are analyzed using natural language processing.
Choose the plan that fits your needs. If you just need to send basic surveys, you don’t need to pay for functionality like auto-translation and advanced skip logic.
SurveyMonkey is arguably the best-known online survey creator, and certainly one of the simplest to use. Set up an account for free and you can start building your first survey straight away.
Know how to use Google Drive? Then you know how to use Google Forms. Just log into Drive, click to create a new form, then choose from a prebuilt template or start from scratch.
In keeping with Google’s mobile-first ethos, Google Forms is responsive, making it easy to create surveys that look good and function smoothly on mobile devices.
Smartsheet is much more than a surveying tool. Rather, it’s a collaboration and work management platform that can be used to assign tasks, manage calendars, track progress, share documents, and much more. Surveys are just one part of the feature set.
Forms can be created to gather survey responses, then shared via email or hyperlink, or embedded in dashboards or webpages.
As the name suggests, Client Heartbeat is 100 percent geared toward measuring client satisfaction and improving retention. It’s a simple feedback tool that assesses happiness levels to identify unhappy customers.
Choose from a list of prebuilt questions already being used by brands in your industry, allowing you to compare your scores against those of your biggest competitors.
Zoho Survey is a highly customizable online survey creator, with extensive options for tailoring surveys to fit your brand and house style, plus the ability to choose from more than 25 question types.
Zoho offers multiple ways to send surveys, from the basics (like web links and email campaigns), to more advanced options like QR codes and private group access.
Qualaroo uses “Nudges” (a type of pop-up) to online survey creator customers when they’re on your website, rather than contact them down the line via email or some other channel.
Unique calls to action can be created based on the language used by surveyed customers thanks to sentiment analysis powered by IBM Watson. For instance, angry responses might automatically generate a task for the customer success team to get in touch.
SurveyPlanet is a simple, affordable online survey creator with an extremely robust free tier offering all the functionality you need to build unlimited basic surveys.
Unless you need advanced features like question branching (whereby users are asked different questions based on their previous responses), you’ll be just fine with the free version of SurveyPlanet.
Typeforms are customizable online survey creator forms that can be embedded on your website, launched in an email, or shared via hyperlink. Responses can be synced to Google Sheets, and notifications can be sent to other tools like Slack, so it’s easy to see when a response has been received.
Unlike a lot of the other tools in this list, Typeform is all about building stylish surveys. You can even add visual elements like images, videos, and GIFs to your forms.
Clearly, there are a lot of choices in the online survey creator market. Employee and customer satisfaction surveys are valuable, so if you’re not doing them now, pick a tool with a robust free tier and get going.
Once you’ve found an approach that works, feel free to switch things up by testing more advanced features, formats, and layouts.
What’s your favorite online survey creator? Think I’ve missed something? Let me know in the comments.
Increasing sales isn’t necessarily the best way to improve your bottom line. A better solution may be to reduce your Cost of Goods Sold.
Paying less to acquire the products you sell can result in higher gross revenue figures and bigger profits, even when the amount of product you sell stays the same.
If you’re ready to make more money without selling more products, here’s a recap of COGS and specific strategies to lower expenses.
The Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) is all the costs of producing and acquiring the products you sell. You can separate COGS into two parts: direct costs and indirect costs.
Direct costs are the expenses incurred when producing the products you sell. They include:
Indirect costs are all the other expenses incurred when you manufacture products that aren’t tied directly to the process. They include:
It’s also worth clarifying what COGS is not.
Your COGS is not the same as your operating expenses, for example. Both are expenditures, but operating expenses (also known as OPEX) are not tied to your products’ production. Instead, they include costs like rent, utilities, marketing, and legal.
They also aren’t the cost of sales either, as this infographic from EDUCBA shows.
Businesses can calculate COGS using a standard formula that considers inventory levels and all of the direct and indirect costs listed above.
COGS = Opening Inventory + Purchases During a Period – Closing Inventory
Here’s an example:
Let’s say we want to calculate an e-commerce brand’s COGS during the 2019 financial year. The opening inventory would be the inventory recorded at the end of the 2018 fiscal year. Let’s say it’s $2 million.
The closing inventory would be the inventory recorded on the company’s balance sheet at the end of the 2019 fiscal year. Let’s say that is $3 million. Finally, the company purchased $5 million worth of inventory during the 2019 fiscal year.
The COGS for the 2019 financial year is:
2 + 5 – 3 = $4 million
The COGS is $4 million.
If you want to see what calculating COGS looks like in the real world, Investopedia provides an example using J.C. Penney’s 2016 financial report.
The calculation can also change depending on how you define closing inventory. There are three options:
COGS is a crucial line on your balance sheet. By paying attention to it, you can:
Now that you’re up to speed, it’s time to get to the heart of the matter and look at how you can reduce your company’s COGS.
I’ve outlined seven strategies below that almost any business can leverage.
Do you have a large amount of deadstock sitting in your warehouse? These are products that haven’t been sold and are unlikely to sell in the future. If so, they could be killing your margins and contributing massively to your COGS. Remember, the COGS calculation takes into account the inventory you have at the start and end of your accounting period. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been sitting there: it’s going to be in the calculation.
Deadstock isn’t great, but there’s an easy way to make sure it doesn’t increase your COGS going forward: Stop making products that don’t sell.
Of course, no business owner starts out intending to make a product consumers hate, but it happens. Even the biggest businesses have flops now and again. New Coke, anyone? I didn’t think so.
Don’t worry about creating the wrong products, only worry about identifying ones that aren’t selling well. Use inventory management software to identify products languishing at the back of your warehouse.
Encourage customers to review your products to drive real-time feedback from the people that matter most. Then act quickly. As soon as you identify an under-performing product, take steps to decrease production or cease selling it altogether.
Material costs are probably one of the largest components of your COGS. Typically, there’s no shortage of material suppliers, which means you may be able to find cheaper products somewhere else.
Shopping around for materials from different suppliers is one solution, but you could also consider whether a part of your finished product could be replaced with a cheaper alternative. You may think that your customers love the sturdy metal used in your product, for example, but they could be just as happy with a plastic substitute.
It may also be worth revisiting technology used in production to identify whether new processes mean cheaper materials can be used.
Whichever strategy you use, be careful of using cheaper materials at the expense of your end product. Providing a consistent experience is one of the best ways to build trust in your brand, and customers expect to receive the same product every time.
Even loyal customers can quickly switch to competitors if your products are not up to their expectations. A drop in sales can be far more significant than any savings you’ve gained by switching materials.
That’s not the only downside you need to consider, however. Inferior materials can also reduce the durability of your product. Changing materials may necessitate a change in the manufacturing process. This could increase production overheads or labor costs to such an extent that they nullify any costs saved.
There’s bound to be waste somewhere in your supply chain. Your manufacturing process may be inefficient, for example, and waste a lot of raw materials. You may even need to pay to dispose of them. Shrinkage may also be significant. This is when products are damaged, stolen, or go missing.
Waste doesn’t have to be physical. There could be plenty of time wasted in the manufacturing or shipping process that could be reduced to improve your COGS. Downtime can be expensive, whether that’s on the factory floor or when products are at sea.
Investigate all instances of waste in your supply chain, physical or otherwise, and take actions to reduce or eliminate the most expensive culprits.
One strategy could be to redesign the manufacturing process if material waste is significant. Another could be to alter transport arrangements if shrinkage is high and many products are arriving damaged.
Labor can be a significant part of your COGS. Luckily, you may be able to automate some of those expenses away. Every part of the manufacturing or shipping process that you can replace with a machine can save huge costs. Machines are typically cheaper to operate in the long run, there is less risk of error and have practically no downtime.
Once you’ve done your part, ask the same of your suppliers. Request they invest in automation to reduce costs if they haven’t already. You may even be able to use this as part of a negotiation strategy as discussed below. If they’re not willing to play ball, consider switching to another supplier investing in automation. If they aren’t cheaper right now, they could well be in the future.
Manufacturing in the U.S. (or your country of origin) can often be a huge selling point. It can also be incredibly expensive. That’s why so many of the world’s biggest brands outsource manufacturing operations to countries like China, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
Both raw materials, labor, and utility costs are often much cheaper in these countries than they are at home, meaning your business stands to save in multiple ways. Even when you factor in increased shipping costs, your COGS could still plummet when you outsource manufacturing.
Only large enterprises should consider this strategy, however. The upfront costs can be substantial, and there are a lot of risks involved.
Quality problems may arise, for instance, and you may have to deal with PR issues as a result of labor conditions in these countries. Currency fluctuations and customs duties can complicate matters further.
For some businesses, however, the opportunity to drastically reduce their COGS will be well worth it.
One of the biggest contributing factors to COGS is inventory purchases made throughout the year. The more products you buy, the more costs rise.
Rather than stock products that may not sell, brands could reduce their COGS by using a manufactured on-demand strategy. In essence, you only make or order products when a customer has already paid.
Print-on-demand sites like Printful and dropshipping are two of the most-common ways to leverage this strategy.
With Printful, products are printed in real-time as soon as an order is made. There’s not even a minimum order limit.
It’s the same with dropshipping. Businesses only pay for products when the customer pays for them. In both cases, items can be shipped directly to customers, meaning stores don’t need to hold any inventory.
You can and should be regularly negotiating prices with every company in your supply chain. The prices you pay suppliers are a core part of your COGS. Reduce them, and your COGS will decrease, too.
When I say every company, I really do mean all of them. Manufacturers, raw material providers, logistics companies, storage facilities, and wholesalers are all able to give you a lower price if you ask.
Here are some deals you could ask for:
Remember, negotiation is a two-way street. While some companies will be willing to lower prices just to keep your business, others will require something in return to sweeten the deal. Improving their payment terms, for instance, is always a useful bargaining chip.
It’s also important to remember your negotiations may have unintended consequences. Asking for bulk discounts will require you to store more products, for example, and come with a cost increase that may eclipse any savings you made. Asking for lower prices in return for faster payments may require you to improve your cash flow.
Think carefully about what you are asking for and make sure you can handle the consequences of your negotiations. The last thing you want to do is renege on a deal because you negotiated poorly.
Boosting your sales is essential, but so is reducing your company’s COGS. Whether it’s negotiating hard with suppliers, reducing waste, or automating your processes, look to reduce costs in every way possible.
I’ve given you seven strategies to get started with, but there are always more ways to reduce costs.
What innovative ways to reduce costs have you found?
Considering building an app? You’re in good company.
The mobile app industry is expected to be worth more than $407 billion (yes, with a B) by 2026.
Meanwhile, the average person has more than 80 apps on their phone. That represents a ton of opportunities for app builders.
However, if you think creating an app is an easy way to get rich, you are setting yourself up for failure. Building an app requires research, hard work, and a willingness to dive in and learn.
Luckily, there are tons of resources to get you started—including this guide. Below, I’ll walk you through how to build out your app idea and then share five resources to help you launch your app.
Like any business, creating an app requires laying the groundwork before launch. Here’s a five-step guide for getting ready to launch your app, including how to do your research, ways to monetize your app, and what to include in your business plan.
Before you dive into creating your app, you first need to get a lay of the land. Who is your target audience? What other apps offer similar features or functionality? How does your app stand apart?
Start by creating a buyer persona map, which will help you understand who your audience is and what they want. Use this information to create a detailed sales plan, decide what features to include, and choose where to market your app.
Then, perform a competitive analysis to understand your competitors. The information you gain from this will be critical as you build and grow your app. Focus on what current apps do well and what they don’t. The areas where they fail can present opportunities for you to improve and take over part of their market.
For example, if your goal is to build an app that offers workout and diet recommendations, take the time to download similar apps and read their reviews. What features do people ask for, and what features do they dislike? Who is using these apps? How are they monetized?
Be thorough—you’ll use this information in the next few steps.
There are several ways to make money from an app. The right choice for your app likely depends on your industry, target audience, and the type of app you create. For example, games are often monetized by ads and in-app purchases, while dating apps generally charge a monthly subscription fee.
Consider each of the following monetization methods to decide which is right for your app:
Many apps use multiple monetization methods. For example, you might offer a limited free plan and then charge a monthly subscription fee to access all features. You might even use ads to monetize the free plan and offer a paid plan that is ad-free.
There are pros and cons to each monetization method. Some users might be annoyed by too many ads or hate paying for subscription services. See what other apps in your industry do, but don’t be afraid to break the mold by trying out a different method.
Most people assume building an app is all about coding, but the real work actually starts long before you create your first line of code (or before you begin building it if you use an app builder).
After you get to know your audience and decide how to monetize your app, take the time to create a business plan. This plan should guide your first few years in business and keep you committed to your app’s core purpose.
According to the Small Business Administration, your business plan should include:
Now that you’ve laid the groundwork, it’s time to actually create your app. This might feel a little overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. You have three main options for building your app. Let’s explore the pros and cons of each one.
If you are technologically savvy, you may be able to code the app yourself. Make sure you have a deep understanding of coding or the patience to learn.
Hiring an app builder might be costly, but it could help you get the app to market faster than coding it yourself.
Remember when building a website required expensive programs and in-depth coding skills? Now you can build a website with just a few clicks. App building tools offer the same functionality for apps.
Once your app is built, you’ll need to test it before launch. Ask a few friends to download the app and tell you what you think. Consider using a mobile UX testing tool to see how users navigate your app and make adjustments before you launch.
Then, you’ll need to submit your app to app stores, which is where users will download it. The most popular app stores are Apple’s App Store and Google Play. Follow this guide to submit your app to the App Store and this one to submit to Google Play.
Don’t forget to optimize for app SEO! This will help you rank higher so people actually find your app.
Creating an app is easier than ever, thanks in part to the variety of app tools that help you build and launch a mobile app. However, with so many options, it can be challenging to figure out which one to use.
Let’s review a few of the top app tools so you can find the right one for you.
iBuildApp is a full-featured app builder that provides all the tools you need to build an app using its drag-and-drop functionality. Start with any one of their 1000+ templates, then drag and drop features to add video, images, text, and more.
This tool is ideal for building apps for e-commerce stores, education, healthcare, business, media, retail, and financial services. Brands such as the U.S. Navy, Whole Foods, SEGA, and Emory University have used this tool.
Price: Starts at $59.40 per month for one app.
Want to build an app but don’t have any coding experience? Appy Pie helps you build an app in just three steps. Choose from over 100 features, including GPS, in-app shopping, offline capabilities, and push notifications. They also offer analytics so you can measure app performance.
You can use it to create apps for dating sites, customer reward programs, chatbots, retail, restaurants, and more. They’ll even help you submit the app to app stores.
Appy Pie is used by brands like The Home Depot, Southwest, and Nike.
Price: Options start at $18 per month for an ad-free experience, and they also offer a free trial.
BuildFire is a full-featured app development tool that allows you to build an app with no coding. Use their templates and then customize your app with hundreds of features like push notifications, clocks, private portals, loyalty programs, checklists, forms, or media.
They also offer a white-label feature, which allows you to build and sell apps to clients.
Though pricier than other options, this app build tool offers a lot more tools and features, so it’s an ideal choice for building more detailed apps.
Price: Plans start at $159 per month, billed annually.
Creating an app is just the first step—you also need to test the user experience. Usability Geek provides tools, resources, and UX testing guides to help your app succeed. Explore their UX courses and blog posts about usability to learn the skills you need to help your app succeed.
Offered courses cover a range of topics, including the Psychology of E-Commerce, How to Create a UX Portfolio, and Quantitative Research for UX. Some courses even offer certification.
Price: Usability Geek offers free blogs about usability testing as well as paid training courses that start at $16 per month.
GoodBarber is an easy-to-use app build tool designed for both e-commerce and standard app building. Like many other app tools, it doesn’t require any coding knowledge.
This tool is ideal for building apps for local delivery, retail, grocery, e-commerce, news, business, and community. Features include adding payment options, push notifications, user authentication, geofencing marketing, videos, maps, calendars, and forms.
Price: Pricing starts at $25 per month for one app and includes SEO optimization, domain name, SSL security, 200 GB of storage, and unlimited pages.
They also offer reseller plans, which start at $200 per month.
With the help of app build tools, launching an app is easier than ever. With little to no coding knowledge, you can create, launch, and optimize your new app in just a few days.
However, building a successful app is about more than just dragging and dropping features. To be successful, take the time to create a business and marketing plan, research your target audience, and make a plan for funding your venture.
Have you built an app before? What app build tools were most helpful to you?
Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.
For reliable hosting that focuses on speed, A2 Hosting provides plenty of options to get your site up and running.
If you’re familiar with SEO and the ranking factors Google uses to decide where your site shows up in search results, you know speed is one major factor in securing higher rankings and increasing traffic and revenue.
This is one big way A2 differentiates itself from other standard web hosting options–it puts speed at the forefront of all its services.
A 99.98% uptime guarantee, free automated backups, and free site migration are only some of the features that set A2 apart as far as reliable web hosting goes. As one of the oldest providers on the market, it’s a solid option for both new and veteran websites. WordPress users will especially love A2, as it has pricing packages specifically tailored for WordPress sites.
Before you make any solid decisions for a hosting provider, it’s always a good idea to know what your options are. I spent hours making sure the top list page contained only the best web hosting services according to a wide variety of needs and features. To see the full rundown, check out that post to see all the top picks.
It’s simple. Any website that is designed to drive sales and conversions can benefit from a hosting service like A2. I’ve mentioned it before, but I don’t get tired of saying speed is the name of the game if you want to capture new leads, retain existing customers, keep your Google rankings, and maintain a great brand reputation.
Now, there isn’t a web host on the planet that doesn’t come with a set of pros and cons. But one thing’s for sure: No website visitor wants to land on a website that takes forever to load. They’ll bounce right off your site faster than you can say web hosting.
While you can try to install cache plugins that slow down your site and claim to improve your website speed, a host like A2 that’s built with a focus on speed can be a better place to start.
Exclusive web servers: Global web servers that are exclusive to A2 give you a leg up in the speed game with speeds that can be up to 20 times faster than the competition.
24/7 live chat and support: A 24/7 live support feature is valuable if your site runs into any kind of technical issues or downtime. A2 has specialists standing by ready to walk you through any troubleshooting issues.
Free site migration: If you need to migrate your site to A2 from a previous web host they help you get the job done for free. Unlike other providers, there are no extra fees necessary.
Compatible with a variety of platforms: A2 Hosting works great with a number of CMS solutions like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Magento, and OpenCart. You can one-click install them once you sign up.
Free SSL certification: SSL certification is essential for site security and to ensure your visitors trust your site enough to keep coming back. Thankfully A2 offers this feature for free.
24/7 malware scanning and monitoring: You can sleep soundly at night knowing A2 is ready to alert you on any attempts at your site with their 24/7 monitoring feature, which other hosting services might not provide.
Free Cloudflare CDN: To keep adding to their speed features, A2 provides you with a free Cloudflare CDN for any hosting package you choose for added speed and loading times.
Carbon-neutral hosting: As the world evolves, A2 evolves with it through its carbon-neutral hosting option. A2 supports carbon-neutral hosting, meaning all of their servers are deemed ‘carbon-neutral’ by purchasing carbon offsets. With A2, you can be sure you’re hosting your site without adding to your carbon footprint.
Can handle websites of all sizes: If you’re planning on growing your website traffic, it doesn’t matter if you’re starting out with a website from scratch or you’re a big business reeling in plenty of traffic and sales, A2 can handle your site’s growth with a wide variety of hosting packages that are all geared for speed.
Doesn’t provide a free domain: While this isn’t a requirement for any hosting service to work properly, it’s nice to have the option to register a free domain like other hosting services do, especially if you’re working with a shoestring budget.
Increased renewal fees: For the most part, increased renewal rates can be expected from just about any hosting provider, but it’s still worth mentioning if you’re thinking and planning long term. Upon renewal, A2’s hosting packages do increase in price.
A2 doesn’t only differentiate itself as a speedy host. They also have a ton—and I mean a ton—of web hosting options from which you can take your pick.
To start, their general hosting services fall into eight distinct categories and subcategories:
You can definitely start with one of their base options for each category according to your site needs. Especially if you’re a startup on a budget.
But if you want to take it a step further or want additional features, you can choose a more specific plan within the category of your choice.
Here’s how their most affordable plans stack up:
Shared hosting works best for small websites that are just getting their start and beginning to see traffic. As you can see, their cheapest plan adds up to only $107 plus some change for a reliable three-year hosting plan.
Beginner deals like this compete with offers from the likes of Bluehost who offer similar prices but without the speed guarantee, which is a big plus on a shared hosting plan.
As you go up the price ladder, you can host an unlimited number of sites, get unlimited storage, and within the last two tiers, you’ll get a 20X turbo boost for faster site speeds.
Note that these pricing tiers are the exact same for a Shared WordPress Hosting plan.
Managed WordPress hosting is a step up from shared hosting with enhanced WordPress features that ensure security and speed. The biggest difference between the three different options you get within this category is the number of sites you need to manage and the amount of storage you need. It’s as simple as choosing the tier that fits your hosting needs. Thankfully, they all come with the 20X faster turbo speed feature.
When you start getting into managed VPS hosting territory, you start looking at increased RAM capabilities and storage capacity. It’s a great option right before you’re ready to step into a dedicated server plan. I recommend you see their pricing page for a full look at what each plan offers.
An unmanaged VPS plan ensures your site runs at fast speeds with additional RAM, storage, and root access. Needless to say, this VPS plan is definitely developer-friendly.
With reseller hosting you get additional SSD storage, WebHost manager, cPanel, Free Blesta billing system, free SSL certificate, around the block guru support, and free website migration too. The more storage and transfer GB you need the more you’ll have to pay monthly.
As you can see, the more storage, RAM, or transfer TB you need the more you’ll have to pay monthly. Dedicated hosting with unmanaged servers is a great option for developers wanting more control. As with any other plan A2 Hosting offers, each tier also includes super fast site loading speeds.
Much like the previous tier category above, the more RAM, storage, and Transfer TB you need, the more you’ll need to pay monthly. With a dedicated hosting plan with core servers and root access, you also get all the HostGuard management features. This means:
Finally, if you’re running a site that simply can’t afford any downtime and that needs the best A2 Hosting offers, you’ll want to look at their managed dedicated server solutions. But you’ll have to be willing to pay the price tag to get access to perks like lightning-fast speeds, and a dedicated crew you’ll jump at the sight of any hosting issues no matter the time of day.
Their most affordable managed dedicated server solutions start at $141.09 a month. You can always try them for 30 days to experience their features first hand. If you’re not happy with A2 Hosting’s performance, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee for all their hosting plans.
At this point, you’ve learned about A2 Hosting’s dedication to speed, uptime, customer support, and a variety of hosting options you can choose from.
However, they do offer additional tools and solutions. You can shop for your preferred domain directly through them and you can also explore their highly specific additional hosting solutions. Here’s what I mean:
With A2 Hosting you’re definitely going to get the speed and the uptime but you can’t forget about your domain. You can either register a new domain or transfer an existing one to get your site up and running.
Their most popular extensions breakdown as follows:
While you might not get the cheapest deals on domains directly through A2 Hosting, it’s definitely an option that’s there for you if you don’t feel like going through the hassle of transferring one.
Yes, you’ve read that right. While we went over plenty of hosting plans and packages earlier, A2 Hosting lets you dig deeper into a seemingly endless rabbit hole of software and hosting solution combinations according to even more specific website needs.
Once you pick the appropriate solution for you, A2 Hosting lines up a combination of the best hosting options and software available to meet your specific needs.
For instance, if I’m going to be running a classified ad site through them, once I click on that option I’m greeted with a list of popular classified ad software that’s highly compatible with A2 hosting services. I’m also given a comprehensive list of the best web hosting plans perfect for classified ad sites.
This is an extremely useful feature if you’re running a site with more detailed needs and want to tackle them head-on. Features like these are yet another reason why A2 stands out as a powerful hosting solution for a wide variety of sites in a wide variety of niches.
Don’t forget to read through our in-depth review of the best shared hosting companies. See all of our top picks to make sure you’re making the best choice possible.
Without question, A2 Hosting is one of the fastest providers I have experience with. It provides around-the-clock support, exclusive global servers, and works great with a number of CMS solutions. What’s more, A2 Hosting even goes out of its way to lessen its carbon footprint. As a hosting provider that’s been around for as long as WordPress has, it stands solidly in our list of top picks as one of the best web host solutions out there.
Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.
GoDaddy hosts millions of websites all over the world as a giant in the hosting and domain name selling game. Its long list of products offers just about anything you might need to get a website up and running on a shoestring budget, at least for the first year.
After lots of research, comparison, and consideration, it’s safe to say GoDaddy satisfies most of your website needs, especially if it’s your first time building a site and you want affordable VPS hosting.
Beyond that, and as with any other web hosting and domain name provider, there are solid pros and cons to its plans and packages.
I curated a top list of affordable web hosting providers, so you know your options if you need to start a website on a budget. GoDaddy is one of the best choices if you want hosting that’s a step above shared hosting with its affordable VPS hosting plan. For the price that some hosting providers would charge for shared hosting, you can get VPS hosting through GoDaddy.
But, if you’re trying to find a more robust web hosting solution for your web project, GoDaddy does start to get expensive quickly. That’s why I deem it a great option for starter sites that can do with either shared or dedicated hosting and that don’t need tons of server power to run well.
GoDaddy is great for beginner website owners that want an affordable and convenient start for their websites with generous storage. GoDaddy also does well with around-the-clock site security monitoring, but perks like SSL certificates are add-ons you’ll have to purchase as extras.
This is why it’s a great hosting option for smaller and beginner websites working with a budget and don’t need too many robust website solutions.
There’s no question GoDaddy is one of the biggest names out there as far as how recognizable it is. It also houses the most domains globally, with over 17 million domain names on its roster.
Still, there are pros and cons to choosing GoDaddy as your web hosting provider. Here are the more prominent ones to take into account.
24/7 support: GoDaddy ensures it’s always within reach if you ever need a hand or run into trouble with your site. You can either reach them by phone or use its handy chat support option.
Lots of storage: When you look through and compare GoDaddy’s hosting plans, it’s generous with its unmetered bandwidth feature for all tiers.
Affordable .com domain: GoDaddy offers you the chance to snag a domain for only 99 cents for the first year, which can save you money as you begin.
Unlimited site hosting: Most GoDaddy plans let you host an unlimited number of websites except for its cheapest Economy plan.
Convenience: Since you can manage your domain and website in one place, GoDaddy offers convenience in managing both from one dashboard.
Constant upsells: GoDaddy is notorious when it comes to its upsells through every step of the checkout process. While it does honor the prices for each tier if that’s all you’re going for, it’s quick to suggest add-ons and extra features you might not need.
Expensive renewal rate: This is one of the reasons why I think GoDaddy is great for beginner sites that just want to get their foot in the door with hosting. Once that initial year is up, GoDaddy’s renewal rates can start to get costly for what you get.
Charges for add-ons: Other hosting providers throw in free first-year domain registration, for example, or include free SSL certification as part of its plans. GoDaddy does not always include these features depending on the plan you choose and can charge extra for them.
Inconsistent customer support: Support for GoDaddy isn’t always top-notch as convenience and reliability are concerned. There is always the possibility of long wait times to be connected to the right person.
GoDaddy’s prices can be broken down into two main categories: Domain name purchases and hosting plans.
One of GoDaddy’s strengths is its huge list of domain name extensions. Its cheapest .com option, which is also one of the most popular extensions, is affordable for only 99 cents for the first year.
If you happen to choose a hosting plan that doesn’t include a free domain name, a 99-cent .com extension isn’t a terrible price to pay.
GoDaddy makes it easy to create, search for, or check on your domain name’s availability. GoDaddy offers some of the most affordable domain name plans out there as far as introductory pricing goes.
Here’s a closer look at each of GoDaddy’s hosting plans:
WordPress Ecommerce Hosting – Starting at $15.99 a month
Windows Hosting – Starting at $5.99 a month
Reseller Hosting – Starting at $39.99 a month
It’s safe to say GoDaddy offers a ton of hosting plans that cover anything you might need. A giant list of 27 different hosting plans leaves little to be desired.
I highly recommend you spend the time carefully walking through each hosting option and its corresponding tier according to your site’s needs.
If you know you’re going to be using WordPress as your CMS, then you’ll want to pay special attention to its WordPress solutions. They’re geared for SEO compatibility, speed, and ease of use once you sign up for a hosting account.
I’d like to highlight GoDaddy’s VPS hosting plan, as it’s one of the most affordable on the market. Other big-name hosting providers don’t even come close to how affordable GoDaddy’s VPS hosting plans are. You can’t beat a $4.99 price point for a self-managed virtual private server plan.
GoDaddy hasn’t gotten as big as it has without offering an extensive list of website building and hosting options. Once you land on the homepage, it can be overwhelming and hard to know where to start.
To simplify its long list of plans and tools, there are three main categories its product offerings fall under. Let’s take a closer look at each one and how they stack up.
GoDaddy Name & Protect offers some useful domain tools:
If you’re starting a website, you know you’ll need a domain name, and this is where GoDaddy shines. It’s the biggest repository of domain names, and it’s sure to have the domain name you’re looking for.
If you happen to want a domain name that’s taken, you can try out its domain brokerage services or try the domain name generator to come up with a new site name.
Like any other reputable hosting provider, GoDaddy also offers SSL certification, website backup tools, and your standard protection against malicious cyber attacks.
Because GoDaddy offers plenty of usable domain tools, it’s frequently rated as one of the most popular hosting providers out there.
But the fun doesn’t stop there. GoDaddy also offers plenty of website building and growth tools.
GoDaddy’s Build & Grow product offerings include:
If I were to list every single tool GoDaddy offered its customers, we’d be here forever. As a web host and domain name registrar, GoDaddy seems to have taken the route of going wide instead of going deep with its key features and offerings.
This can either appeal to you as a customer or turn you off and onto other hosting providers. It all comes down to what you value in a web host and what you’re willing to invest or need to manage your site successfully.
The most important feature in GoDaddy’s Build & Grow product offering is its buffet of web hosting options. Here’s a more in-depth look at each.
Web Hosting: GoDaddy’s most basic hosting plan starts at $5.99 a month. Not quite as cheap as other beginner-friendly hosts, but still considerably affordable and great for starter sites that want to build their online presence.
WordPress Hosting: WordPress hosting is specifically optimized for WordPress users in terms of speed and accessibility. WordPress plans start at $6.99 for basic hosting perks, including 30 GB of storage along with a free domain, free business email, and free SSL certificate. This plan works for you if your site hoovers around the 25,000 visitor mark. With three additional WordPress tiers, the deal only gets sweeter the more you pay per month.
WordPress Ecommerce Hosting: GoDaddy has solutions for ecommerce hosting as well, with plans starting at $15.99 a month along with free WooCommerce extensions. Once you sign up to one of its WooCommerce tiers, you’ll easily be able to download and install WordPress and WooCommerce together to get up and running in no time.
Business Hosting: A business hosting plan comes with more dedicated resources, but with a simplified control panel, so you don’t need a full IT team to manage your site. Plans start at $5.99 a month for shared hosting, which you can eventually upgrade as your site grows.
VPS Hosting: GoDaddy’s self-managed virtual private hosting plan is definitely one of its redeeming offers because of how affordable it is for developers and system administrators that want a more hands-on approach to their websites with plenty of customizable options. Plans start at just $4.99 a month, and it comes with one CPU Core, one GB RAM, and 100 GB SSD Storage. This is a steal when compared to what other websites charge for similar VPS hosting packages.
Windows Hosting: Yet another solid GoDaddy option for Windows fans that starts at just $5.99 a month and comes with a free domain, 100 GB of storage, and a free Office365 email for your first year. If you’re already using Windows products, this can be a great plan to integrate into what’s already working.
Reseller Hosting: Are you a reseller looking for reliable hosting resale options? GoDaddy lets you use its servers to build your own hosting business, starting at just $39.99 a month. If you’re in a unique position where you need more hosting options, you’ll have to give them a call to strike a deal with its sales team.
Dedicated Server: GoDaddy has over eight powerful dedicated server plans you can choose from, each with its own set of isolated resources at your disposal. This is perfect for system developers and agencies looking for fast and reliable server capabilities.
Plans can start as low as $129.99 a month. If you’re a beginner building a website for the first time, plans like these aren’t necessary to successfully build and grow your site. But it’s still good to know you have the option of powerful dedicated servers if you were to need it in the future.
GoDaddy doesn’t hold back in giving you plenty of customized web hosting options. But it’s up to you to decide which tiers are right for you according to your website goals.
This is what makes GoDaddy so beginner-friendly. It caters to basic hosting needs as well as more advanced options with specific server needs.
The GoDaddy Pro dashboard is where developers and resellers can manage client projects. A hub where you can manage all your tools, content, support, and discounts, as well as get in touch with GoDaddy support.
Since I’m recommending GoDaddy as a great host provider for beginners, the GoDaddy Pro dashboard might not be a necessary tool for you if you aren’t a webmaster or reseller. But it’s a free option if you’re interested in signing up for it. And it’s another way to get in touch with support.
My team and I have created an in-depth review for the best cheap web hosting providers on the market you’ll want to read before making any real hosting decisions that you can see here. Here’s a quick recap:
Overall, GoDaddy is a great cheap hosting provider for beginner websites who’d like affordable VPS hosting, especially in their first year. It’s a more budget-conscious option than others out there, and it offers plenty of add-ons you can choose to include in your plan, so you’re never left without the hosting tools you need to succeed.
Once you’ve made up your mind on a hosting plan, you can get started with GoDaddy here.
Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.
That’s all your visitors give you when they come to your website. If your website takes any longer to upload, 40% of people will abandon it.
What’s worse, a one-second delay in page response can cause a 7% reduction in conversions. You’ll end up losing 40% of your website traffic, out of which 80% of these people won’t return—ever.
I could continue talking about these scary loading time statistics, but the bottom line is your website needs to be fast if you want to boost your traffic and conversions. If you don’t work on improving loading times, you’ll end up losing hundreds of thousands of dollars every single year.
Luckily, there is a solution: Installing a WordPress cache plugin.
These plugins are designed to improve your website’s speed by instructing the server to store some files to disk or RAM, depending on the configuration. After that, the plugin remembers and duplicates the content it’s served in the past.
The result? Faster web page loading.
WP Rocket is a premium WordPress caching plugin that many agree is the best in the market.
It’s simple and beginner-friendly, which helps users who aren’t familiar with the typical jargon associated with different caching options. It has been specially designed to boost your website’s speed and performance.
Instead of waiting for someone to request a page to save it to cache, WP Rocket builds the website cache automatically. It also turns on recommended WordPress caching settings like cache pre-loading, page cache, and gzip compression by itself.
Precisely why you see an instant boost in your website’s performance after installing this plugin.
You can also activate other features offered by WP Rocket, such as DNS prefetching, lazy loading images, minification, and CDN support. They can help improve your web page’s loading time while simultaneously reducing bounce rates.
WP Rocket offers three subscription plans:
Swift Performance is a WordPress caching plugin with excellent performance-optimizing capabilities that transforms caching as you know it. Although it’s a relatively new WordPress plugin, it has gained tremendous popularity among users in a short span of time.
It has all the necessary features to take your website performance and speed to the next level without breaking a sweat. The plugin has a unique database optimizer that cleans duplicated metadata, expired transients, and spam comments.
I also like its Async Execute feature that allows users to run scripts individually as they upload. It’s super helpful to improve speed sites, deliver a better user experience, and boost SEO scores.
Swift Performance’s schedule database optimization is another time-saving feature—provided you use the pro version. Lastly, you can also enable/disable plugins on certain pages thanks to its plugin organizer.
Swift Performance offers three subscription plans:
W3 Total Cache is hands down one of the best open-source WordPress caching plugins that offers an out-of-the-box and advanced caching mechanism. While it’s packed with features, it’s also slightly complicated, especially for users who lack technical skills.
The plugin is compatible with most hosting plans, including shared, dedicated, and VPS server hosting. Since it’s free, you can use all of its features after installing the plugin—no upsells for you to worry about.
It can improve your server performance by caching every aspect of your site and integrating with several content delivery networks.
What’s more, this cache plugin works for both mobile and desktop versions of your website. I‘d recommend W3 Total Cache for WordPress ecommerce sites as it has tons of features that make it useful for sites with SSL certificates—something that most ecommerce sites have.
W3 Total Cache is an open-source plugin, and it’s available free of charge.
When a plugin has more than two million active installations, you know the developers are doing something right.
Developed by Automattic, the same people who gave you Jetpack, Akismet, and WordPress.com, WP Super Cache is as popular as a plugin can get, and not without reason.
The plugin generates static HTML files from your dynamic WordPress content. Plus, it saves you a ton of bandwidth and decreases page load times since it makes the web server serve the lighter HTML files instead of the heavy PHP scripts.
You also get three caching modes with WP Super Cache: Simple, Expert, and WP-cache caching.
Out of the three, the Expert mode is the fastest, but you have to modify the .htaccess file, which requires coding and web development experience. But if you do have the technical know-how, you can customize the plugin settings to make it more functional.
You can use the WP-cache caching mode to cache content for known website visitors. Due to this, the caching mode is ideal for websites whose users are typically logged in, can leave comments, or see customized content.
Don’t have web development experience? No worries, you can use the Simple mode, where all you need is a custom permalink. As the setting is easier to configure, you won’t have to change your .htaccess file.
WP Super Cache is available free of cost.
According to the official WordPress directory, WP Fastest Cache is the highest-rated cache plugin. It has limited configuration settings, which makes it user-friendly and appropriate for beginners.
This plugin can create static HTML files from your dynamic WordPress site and also minify HTML and CSS files, which, in turn, reduces file sizes. What’s more, it combines these files to make your code cleaner and web pages leaner.
You can schedule to delete the CSS and JS files at a specific time later.
WP Fastest Cache implements WordPress broader caching effectively to reduce page load time for repeat visitors. It also combines several CSS files into one in a bid to reduce the number of HTTP round-trips. If needed, you can also disable emojis on your website.
The premium version of this WordPress cache plugin offers tons of unique features that boost your page speed by optimizing images, cleaning up databases, caching mobile devices, among several other features. You can purchase the premium version directly from your WordPress dashboard after installing the free plugin.
While there is a freemium version available, you can upgrade to the premium packages too. There are four subscription options:
I’m not going to sugarcoat it: Choosing the best WordPress caching plugin won’t be the most straightforward task on your list.
In addition to similar-sounding names, you’ll find most of them offer similar features in different ways, which is why they may end up conflicting if you use two or more at once. The fact that caching is technical also means you practically need to be an expert to make the right choice.
I’ve already listed my top five picks for the best WordPress caching plugins, but I want you to know how I reached this decision.
Let’s take a look at the factors worth considering when researching caching plugins for WordPress.
CDN stands for content delivery network, a network of data servers that renders cache data to web users from a server nearest to them.
Whenever there is an increase in traffic on your website, there is also a simultaneous increase in your web hosting server’s processing activity. This causes a decrease in your website’s page loading speed.
This is the exact point where CDN comes into the picture.
Hold on. Things are about to get a bit technical here.
If you’re using a CDN, then static data from your website will get cached on every server in the CDN. As a result, whenever a user requests a page on your website, they’ll receive a cached copy from a server nearest to the user, preventing any delay.
This is why you should ensure your prospective caching plugin supports the CDN you use. If not, you might end up losing visitors.
Browser caching means saving your CSS, logo, and other resources that would typically download whenever a visitor opens your webpage. This feature lets you decide how much of your webpage would be cached on the user‘s device, which, in turn, makes you independent of the user’s browser cache settings.
Look for options that allow you to set the time period for which you want the downloaded content to be saved on the user‘s system.
That said, I wouldn’t recommend setting the time for the content to be cached for more than six months as it may result in the user getting web pages that aren’t updated.
While many WordPress websites are purely static content, some also include dynamic content. This can include a membership website, an ecommerce site with WooCommerce, a website selling courses, and so on.
The catch is that dynamic content doesn’t play well with browser caching and page caching. Therefore, it’s wiser to look for a caching plugin that enables you to exclude specific pages and assets from being cached to prevent glitches.
If you’re new to the world of caching, chances are you might be hearing most of the terms we explained above for the first time.
That’s why you should make sure the plugin developers offer efficient customer support that can help you whenever you get stuck with the daunting caching setup. If you find that a premium caching plugin offers better support, I‘d recommend choosing that over a free option.
After all, your peace of mind should always have top priority.
Site speed is incredibly important for your website’s success. So if you aren’t using a caching plugin now, you’re already a step behind your competitors.
Go over customer reviews and do thorough research before choosing a plugin for your website. I’ve done my best to include options that come packed with features and ensure optimal results, but you can always opt for other caching plugins that you think will deliver better results.
In the end, the aim is to get those loading times short and your website super fast.
You’re starting a new site, you Google the domain name to see if it’s free, and you realize it’s already been taken by someone else. Bummer.
This happens more often than not. Domain name registrations increase by more than 14 million year over year. So, the chances that any given domain name may be taken are only going up.
What are you to do if you really want a domain name that has already been claimed? What’s your best course of action if you’re sitting on a valuable domain you’re looking to sell? You find the best domain broker to work on a negotiation plan and broker a fair deal on your behalf. Here, I dive into the best domain brokers currently on the market that’ll help you do all the heavy lifting to acquire—or sell—a domain.
Even if you’ve never bought a domain name before, chances are you’ve already heard of GoDaddy. It’s everywhere. Hence the name recognition.
With GoDaddy Domain Broker, you can increase your chances of catching a potential domain seller’s attention when one of its agents reaches out for you while you stay anonymous.
Once paired with an agent, they’ll spend 30 days mediating on your behalf to get the best possible deal within the budget you decide on. If the deal is successful, GoDaddy’s agent ensures an easy and safe payment process for you and facilitates the domain’s migration to your account. In other words, you get peace of mind. As far as selling and buying digital real estate goes, ensuring you’re engaging on reliable deals by partnering with a dependable domain broker can make a world of difference.
GoDaddy boasts over 20 million global customers with 20 years of domain experience under its belt. This makes them a domain broker that inspires name recognition and trust. The experts know a thing or two about getting results when it comes to domain brokerage.
GoDaddy charges an initial advisor fee that starts at $119.99. Depending on whether they are successful in purchasing your domain, they then get 20 percent of the sale.
To get started with GoDaddy Domain Brokerage, enter your domain name here to get in touch with one of their agents.
If you’re after a domain deal that’s well into the six figures or higher, then partnering with a tried and true domain broker like VPN.com can pay off. It boasts over $65 million in domain transactions and was responsible for the seventh-largest domain deal in 2019.
What sets VPN.com apart is its well-rounded approach to domain brokerage. The service uses Escrow.com for payment processing protection and ensures you stay completely anonymous throughout the process. VPN.com is a solid brokerage option if you want to acquire or sell a highly valued domain.
VPN.com doesn’t charge any upfront fees. As far as commission goes, they never charge over 15 percent.
You can get a free domain appraisal to get started. Otherwise, fill out a short questionnaire to get an initial call from a broker.
Domain Booth has more than two decades of experience in the domain name space. What’s more, they’ve also sold over $30 million in domain names. Domain Booth is a go-to broker for premium domain names that are in the top one percent.
One of it’s best features is it only makes money if it successfully acquires or sells your domain. So, you can be sure you won’t be investing money in a deal that might not happen.
This makes it easier to acquire a domain name that you’re genuinely interested in without any downside. On the other hand, this also makes them more selective with the domains they decide to sell or acquire. The lost commission fees and zero upfront costs you’ll experience with Domain Booth, along with their years of experience in the space that can prove valuable, make it one of the top domain brokers worth looking into.
I recommend looking at their previous sales and service options to see if they’d be a good fit for your domain needs. As a reputable and professional site, you can easily access all this information on their site.
Once they’ve reached a successful deal, Domain Booth’s commission is only 12.5 percent. And again, they require no upfront investment.
Get started with Domain Booth here.
Ever wonder who was responsible for the acquisition of the domain ICE.com for more than $3 million? Look no further than Grit Brokerage. They’re also responsible for the sale of domains like Panda.com, Doors.com, and Partners.com.
One-word domain sales like these set Grit Brokerage apart as a domain broker with highly notable sales. What does this mean for you? A proven track record of sales brokers that know their stuff and get results.
You can already guess that brokering deals on their roster takes plenty of grit, persistence, and a whole lot of skill to boot. With Grit Brokerage, you can be sure you’re getting both, whether you’re looking to buy or sell a domain.
To learn more about their prices, contact them through their site since they aren’t publicly listed.
Get in touch with Grit Brokerage here to learn more.
If you’re specifically looking to sell a domain, you have a powerful domain broker like MediaOptions at your disposal. They deal with top companies that want to acquire highly valuable domain names. And yours might just be one of them.
MediaOptions has brokered domain deals in the millions for startups and large corporations alike. They’re responsible for a number of notable domain transactions through Escrow.com. So, you can be sure they’re constantly active and well connected in the sale of valuable domain names.
Unlike other domain brokers, MediaOptions doesn’t send impersonal mass emails to their prospective buyers. They pick up the phone and contact key prospects they think will be interested in your domain. In other words, they do all the selling for you. This is probably why they can boast an 80 percent sale rate on the domain names they decide to take on, as they are selective with who they work with.
The combination of track record, strategy, and how affordable it is as an effective domain seller makes MediaOptions one of the best in the field for outbound domain brokerage.
MediaOptions doesn’t charge any service fees upfront. It only charges you if they successfully sell your domain. And its sales commission is an affordable 15 percent once the deal closes, with a minimum of $1,000.
You can easily get started with MediaOptions here if you’re looking to sell a precious domain name for the best possible price.
There are a number of benefits to using a domain broker to acquire (or sell) a domain instead of attempting to do it all yourself. They’ll take care of the bulk of the negotiations and paperwork and provide additional domain connections you just don’t have. Not to mention, a lot of the skills of a domain broker are acquired over time and are highly valuable because they can save you two things: time and money.
Here’s a quick list of what reliable and effective domain brokers can generally take off your plate:
Unsurprisingly, a domain brokerage service providing all of the above is your best bet in terms of getting a hold of—or selling—your dream domain. While some brokers can work with a wide variety of domains, others specialize in specific types of domains, extensions, or deals that might not be what you’re looking for.
You’ll want to decide if you wish to work with a niche domain broker as opposed to a more general service provider going forward. To take it a step further, here are a few more things to consider when you’re searching for an effective domain broker.
As a potential domain buyer, you might not want to have your identity revealed when inquiring about the potential sale of a registered domain for a number of reasons. A good domain broker gives you the ability to remain anonymous throughout the process and even if the sale doesn’t go through.
As a domain buyer with a business, this can be a deciding factor when you’re brokering a registered domain. Your sensitive information doesn’t have to be made public if you don’t want it to. But you need to ensure your broker guarantees this as part of their brokerage service.
Different domain brokers charge different fees. When you’re employing a domain broker to work on your behalf, it’s a good idea to compare what percentage of the sale they’re charging you and the value they offer for what they charge against other service providers.
Many domain brokerage services, like GoDaddy, leverage name recognition to make acquiring a domain easier. With name recognition, you’re ensuring the best chance at a response from the domain owner, which can ultimately lead to a sale.
Some domain brokerage services are more recognizable than others, so it can be a factor in determining who you want to represent and reach out on your behalf. Depending on your unique situation, name recognition can be an added benefit. And closely related to name recognition are any valuable connections the brokers may have.
When you’re looking to buy or sell a domain worth thousands or potentially millions of dollars, be sure to look at their negotiation process, history, and domain brokerage expertise with a magnifying glass.
The same broker that could get you pinkandbluerocks.com might not be the best one to help you acquire sought-after one-word domains like coffee.com or cars.com. Questions like what successful domain deals they’ve brokered in the past and if they have any sort of repeatable track record can help you find the right broker.
An effective domain broker makes the process of acquiring or selling a domain a breeze. Let’s face it, selling or buying a domain successfully can take a lot of upfront work. Once you’ve researched which domain name you want and made sure it’s already registered, the next step is to look into which domain broker fits your needs.
As they say, domain brokers aren’t all created equal. Here’s a quick rundown of the domain brokers I recommend and reviewed here:
Now I’d like to hear from you. Are there any domain brokers you’ve had a great experience with worth mentioning? Let me know in the comments. I’m all ears!
The self-hosted WordPress.org wins for giving users a free tool for creating and growing a website just the way they want. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but you can’t put a price on its flexibility that allows you to design, optimize, and monetize your site to your liking. With WordPress.com, you sacrifice the same flexibility in exchange for a free website that takes care of itself. While it takes the guesswork out of website building, WordPress.com has limitations that appeal more to beginners with limited technical knowledge.
WordPress.com is a free platform perfect for beginners who want to play around with a basic website. Its simplicity is second to none, so you can focus more on creating great content without worrying about technical stuff. Create an account today and have your free website ready in minutes.
WordPress.org is best for bloggers and businesses who want to take full control of their websites. You’re free to integrate it with custom themes, plug-ins, and tools, so your website looks, functions, and makes money exactly the way you want it. Download WordPress now and build a website on your terms.
If you’re looking for a website builder, this in-depth review of my picks should point you in the right direction.
A website builder should help you create a website in minutes without touching any codes. I’ve built countless websites over the years, so I know firsthand what essential features to look for.
Spoiler alert: WordPress is one of the best, but you may find other alternatives that might better meet your requirements.
Easy to use: WordPress.com is a free managed hosting platform, so starting your website is as easy as creating an account. The team behind WordPress.com takes care of everything so that you won’t have to download any software, pay for a hosting plan, or manage a server. This hands-off style of website creation is ideal for those who want to focus more on their content and launch as many free websites as they want.
100% free for basic users: It’s free to start a website with WordPress.com. Paid plans are also available if you want to remove ads, have a custom domain (such as neilpatel.com) instead of the default subdomain (neilpatel.wordpress.com), and get a larger storage space. The cost of upgrading to paid plans can range from $48 per year for Personal to $540 per year for an Ecommerce plan.
Hands-off maintenance: Having a WordPress.com website is like renting an apartment minus the rental fee. You get to enjoy the room while the landlord takes care of the maintenance. You don’t o need to worry about backups, updates, and other daunting technical stuff—all of that is handled by WordPress.com’s developers and support engineers.
Multiple customer support channels: Support forums are available to answer any technical questions, whether you’re using a free plan or a premium one. Depending on the paid plan you’re subscribed to, you can also access more personalized, round-the-clock support via live chat or email.
Basic customization options: Even if it’s free, WordPress.com still gives you enough elbow room to personalize your website to your liking. There are hundreds of free themes to choose from, so you can pick something that reflects your style and personality. Free WordPress.com websites also come with built-in features like social sharing buttons, polls, comments, image galleries, SEO, and contact forms, so you don’t need to install any third-party plugins.
Built-in security features: WordPress.com is a closed ecosystem that is already secured by default. You won’t have to install security features or monitor your website 24/7 for possible malware attacks. Everything is taken care of so you can focus your attention where it’s needed more–creating content.
Painless migration option: Should you decide it’s time to let your website grow into a self-hosted platform, WordPress.com won’t stop you from doing so. Free WordPress.com has a built-in export tool that will pack your entire website into a single downloadable file. You can choose to do the transfer yourself for free or let WordPress.com hold your hand for a small fee. Completing the transfer is as easy as clicking the import tool button in your new self-hosted WordPress dashboard to have your files moved into their new home.
Unreliable traffic monitoring tool: All users can view a Stats page to see how much traffic their websites get at any given time and where their visitors come from. However, it comes with many limitations, like new visitors not reflecting on the total view count until two hours later. If the visitor views the homepage while reading a post, the view will be counted towards the total views but not towards the individual post. Google Analytics presents more precise data, but you can’t integrate it with WordPress.com unless you’re on Premium or higher plans.
Limited ability to monetize: The free WordPress.com is not designed nor allowed to make you money. You can try your luck with WordAds, WordPress.com’s own advertising network, but you need a custom domain and thousands of traffic per month to be qualified. And even if you get accepted, you’ll only be sharing your revenue with WordPress.com. Google Adsense and ecommerce functionality are only available if you upgrade to Business or higher plans.
Not good for branding: WordPress.com handles everything for free at the expense of flexibility. Although the free themes and built-in features are enough if you only blog for fun, they leave a lot to be desired for most users. Furthermore, the WordPress.com default subdomain and ads won’t help you establish a solid brand in the long term. You have the option to customize your website with third-party themes and plug-ins, but this is a luxury only Business plan users can enjoy.
Restricted ownership: Creating a free website with WordPress.com means you don’t have a say in the majority of things concerning your website. Their platform, their rules. First, your website address will use a generic subdomain (i.e., yoursite.wordpress.com) instead of a custom domain name that looks more professional. You also don’t have control over the number and types of ads your readers will see unless you decide to upgrade your plan. Since your ownership is restricted, WordPress.com can delete your website if they discover it violates their terms and conditions.
Lackluster SEO: WordPress.com has built-in SEO features, but they’re barely enough to ensure a good user experience and maximum search visibility. Free accounts only have access to a limited number of free themes, so there’s no way to upload a custom theme that offers better site navigation. You also can’t install popular SEO plug-ins like Yoast SEO or All-in-One SEO, so it’s impossible to add unique titles and meta descriptions to your articles unless you upgrade to a premium plan. Lastly, free plan users can’t use a redirection plug-in, so pages that should have been redirected to another page will just stay and clutter the website.
A wealth of DIY troubleshooting resources: WordPress.org is open-source software, so there’s an abundance of volunteers and experts who are willing to extend a helping hand. Should you need to fix a technical issue affecting WordPress, assistance is a few searches away through the WordPress.org support forums.
Freel traffic reporting and tracking: Get real-time traffic reports through Google Analytics, a free tool you can install in WordPress by pasting a few codes into your website back end or activating a plug-in that can do the same without all the hassle. Regardless of your hosting plan, you can use Google Analytics to get valuable, granular insights about your visitors and then use the data to guide you in making important business decisions.
Unlimited money-making potential: If you have a self-hosted website with WordPress.org software, the sky’s the limit when it comes to earning money. You can run ads on your own without sharing the revenue with anyone. You’re also free to explore other monetization methods like affiliate marketing, publishing sponsored content, or building membership sites that sell premium content or courses. What’s more, if you want to build an online store, a WordPress.org website has the most robust ecommerce functionality.
Impressive flexibility: Thanks to WordPress.org, you can have a self-hosted website and the freedom to do anything you want with it. Do you want to change your theme? You can install one of many custom themes online or build one from scratch with PHP and CSS. There’s also an endless list of third-party plug-ins you can install to improve your website’s look and functionality. From SEO tools to ecommerce extensions, there’s no restriction on how potent you want your website to become.
Uncomplicated security setup: Keeping your site secure is as easy as installing a few plug-ins and letting your hosting provider do the rest. It’s not totally hands-off, but ensuring your website is secure doesn’t require a steep learning curve either. After all, you can easily reach out to your web host or one of WordPress.org support forums if you’re struggling to implement security measures on your own.
Full ownership and control: Building a website with WordPress.org means you have full ownership of your web property. There is no higher power breathing down your neck that can banish your website the first chance it gets. As long as you’re not doing any shenanigans, you can rest well at night thinking you have full control of your website’s destiny.
Freedom to leverage SEO: With full control also comes the power to directly influence how your content ranks on search engines. A self-hosted website gives you all the freedom to tinker with different SEO tools that can optimize your images, titles, meta description, site maps, and internal links. Google Analytics is also easy to install to quantify how effective your SEO strategies are and identify areas of improvement. If the user experience is a priority, you can also install and tweak your preferred custom theme to help improve how your readers navigate your website.
Lacks simplicity for non-tech savvy users: WordPress.org is an open-source content management system, not a full-blown website. To launch your website, you first need to purchase a domain name and pay for a hosting plan. After downloading the WordPress.org software, have it installed in your web host. Some hosting providers have also made this step easier by offering “one-click” WordPress installation. Although you don’t need to touch any codes, beginners may initially find the whole process intimidating.
Building and keeping a website are not totally free: WordPress.org itself is free. However, it can’t stand on its own unless you have a domain name and a web host. A domain name is your website address (e.g., neilpatel.com) and will cost a minimum of $10 per year for a standard “.com” domain. On the other hand, a web host is where you’ll store your website files—including WordPress.org—and should cost you a minimum of $3 to $10 per month. And don’t forget the cost of premium themes and plug-ins that will further hurt your pocket unless you already have a site that pays for itself.
Routine maintenance: Managing a self-hosted site is like having your own house. You’re free to do anything with it, but you have to fix it yourself should things break. As a website owner, you’re responsible for updating the WordPress software and all the plug-ins you have installed. Even if web hosts offer backups, these are rarely comprehensive and guaranteed, so you also need to back up the files yourself.
Whether you’re a clueless beginner or a tech-savvy webpreneur, my in-depth review of the best website builders will help you choose the platform that will best meet your goals.
Wix is the “jack of all trades” where you can build any website that doesn’t need bells and whistles. If you’re looking for fewer features and a more beginner-friendly platform, Weebly will not disappoint with its drag-and-drop interface. Are you building an online store? Look no further than Shopify that is made specifically for this purpose.
However, if you want to put your content front and center, nothing compares to the functionality of WordPress. As a content management system, it powers 39% of the Internet’s top 10 million websites. And for a compelling reason: It has everything you need to scale, optimize, and get the most out of your content.
A powerful membership plugin will help you control your WordPress website’s content with maximum flexibility and ease.
Although many businesses utilize membership plugins for restricted content placed behind a paywall, these plugins can do a whole lot more if you find the right one.
Membership plugins will assist you with restricted content and membership payments, but it will also come in handy for automated tasks, course or lecture builders, manage discount codes, and much more.
I’m sure that you have come across a myriad of membership plugins specifically for WordPress, right? Well, I’m here to make it easy for you by narrowing down the top five best options to help you choose the right one for your company’s needs.
All the tools in this list offer unique features suitable for a range of the most common company needs.
MemberPress is the best all-in-one membership plugin because of its powerful and easy-to-use features. Not only does the plugin do what it says it will by creating membership portals for content, but it also offers helpful tools for all experience levels.
Firstly, MemberPress works seamlessly with any WordPress theme, including custom themes you’ve built. Easy-to-use is not an understatement, as the plugin only takes three easy steps to install and get everything set up, which is incredibly inclusive for beginners.
Regarding membership tools, MemberPress has you covered. With this plugin, you receive 100% control over all of your content and who can view it based on what membership level they’ve purchased. You can restrict access to pages, posts, tags, files, and everything else you can think of that’s on your WordPress website.
With MemberPress, the growth of your company is endless when you utilize tools, such as:
As the most powerful plugin on the internet, MemberPress has three pricing plans that cater to different preferences, including:
Unfortunately, MemberPress doesn’t offer free trials, but there is a 14-day money-back guarantee on all plans for a full refund. Try it today.
If your primary business focus is selling courses, LearnDash is an excellent option to build and sell them with no hassle. With its extensive features like ‘focus mode,’ the plugin allows you to create comprehensive online courses with no restrictions.
Focus Mode is a customizable learning portal that LearnDash allows you to implement into your courses to create a distraction-free environment for learners after purchasing.
Course creation has never been so easy with its drag-and-drop feature that saves you time while creating an organized layout for your customers. Your content and layout won’t just be organized, it will also be impressively dynamic with drip-feed lessons, adjustable video options, and linear or open progression activities.
Not only can you create high-quality courses for your customer base, but you can also freely manage them alongside your learners. LearnDash offers a group management function that lets you place users into online groups, then allow said users to manage their own group.
With LearnDash, you can benefit from key features, including:
With a focus on course building, LearnDash is quite affordable for an annual price—and I think the benefits outweigh the overall cost. LearnDash offers three pricing plans, which include:
All the above pricing plans include a bonus demo site template and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
If you own a larger company that creates more content for a bigger audience, it may be difficult to manage and monitor these memberships. This is where Restrict Content Pro comes into play and is a great option for managing all of your memberships in one place.
Restrict Content Pro lets you keep track of your memberships with an intuitive interface, including active, expired, canceled, pending, and recurring membership levels. Each membership can be added manually and modified in bulk, and you can even request team members to join the board to increase moderation.
Does a customer decide to cancel their membership? No problem! Restrict Content Pro allows you to manually change each membership status to keep things professional and confusion-free.
Along with membership management, this plugin has a great range of additional features, like:
Restricted Content Pro has four pricing plans that are of great value for the money. These include:
All pricing plans include core features and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Looking for a membership plugin but don’t know where to start or how much you want to invest? S2Member is an excellent option. With its extensive free version, this plugin is great for protecting and managing your content for paying members.
WordPress shortcodes almost entirely power S2Member, so once complicated integrations are now easy to install and use. Even if the installation process gets confusing, the plugin offers you an open community forum, comprehensive documentation, and video tutorials for you to read and follow during setup.
Not only does S2Member allow you to offer users premium content, but it also includes a secure checkout solution that flows seamlessly with WordPress capabilities. Even though the free version doesn’t provide one-step registration and checkout for ease, it’s still a great tool that just has extra steps for verification purposes.
Although the plugin is free, S2Member still offers an abundance of basic features that can help improve your business, including:
There are more than 20 unique features that come with the free version of S2Member. This makes it easier for you to learn the ropes of plugins while improving your business at no cost to you.
Speaking of cost, S2Member offers two pro pricing plans at an incredibly affordable price. These include:
Both pricing plans include lifetime access to newer versions of the S2Member plugin and a 14-day money-back guarantee.
Paid Memberships Pro is an excellent option for anyone looking at finding a plugin that offers more flexibility and customization. This plugin prides itself on being able to give its users an extensive range of tools and features that can help you grow your membership WordPress site while maintaining it, too.
Customization options begin with restricted default content pages. Paid Memberships Pro allows you to create a custom message for non-members for when they attempt to access restricted content on your website.
Another great customizable feature is the personalized content add-on. This tool lets you offer each paying member a unique page for direct communication with you, which is a great way to create more intimate content for your users. Personalized content also includes a custom homepage for different member levels and adjustable menus to highlight important links.
On top of all this, Paid Memberships Pro gives you the option to customize your email account with a wide range of email templates to alter the appearance and content of your system-generated emails to members.
If that wasn’t enough, Paid Memberships Pro has quite a comprehensive list of features that will benefit your every need, including:
Paid Memberships Pro is the most expensive plugin on this list—however, they offer a free version if you want to try it out and aren’t ready to commit to the full price.
There are three pricing plans for businesses of all types:
Both the plus and unlimited pricing plan include a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Now that I’ve narrowed down the top five picks, several key elements contribute to finding the right membership plugin for your WordPress website. These elements are crucial to finding the right membership plugin, and you need to weigh up the below criteria against your personal needs to make the right decision for your business.
Your overall business goals matter when trying to find the right membership plugin for you. Simply put, each membership plugin caters to different goals, so it’s important to know what yours are.
If you want to transform your business by creating and selling courses to your customer base, then a plugin like LearnDash would be an excellent option. This is because it’s the best online course builder, and it offers a range of comprehensive tools to utilize.
Whereas if your ultimate focus is to create restricted content for members, it would be best to install Restrict Content Pro—where you will have access to suitable tools and features to make this goal a reality.
Figuring out what your business goals are will help determine what membership plugin would be best for you.
A key feature to look for in a membership plugin is a flexible payment integration option, which allows your customers to have a range of options for payment. Not everyone enjoys putting their credit card information into a website without added security.
For example, the S2Member plugin has a standard Paypal button that’s integrated into your download. This means that your customers can pay for your content through PayPal. Proper payment security is paramount to make sure you maintain a recurring customer base.
Some other common payment integrations include Stripe and Authorize.net. Having multiple payment options will give customers another reason to continue their membership.
This is an especially important feature for larger businesses that have a lot of memberships to maintain. Having a specific membership management system integrated into your plugin will save you a vast amount of time on manual managing.
MemberPress and Restrict Content Pro are great plugin options if you need a little extra help to manage your memberships. Without a dedicated management system, it will become increasingly challenging to manage your memberships while maintaining a certain level of professionalism in your business.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help every so often. Running a membership site can be difficult, but the right plugin will make it easier and more straightforward.
Finding the best membership plugin for your WordPress website depends on several key elements like business goals, payment integration, and membership management. What makes the top five options great is that they either hit all the criteria or have a mix that can fully support your business.
I recommend MemberPress and LearnDash for almost anyone if you want to transform your business with a membership site. MemberPress is an all-in-one plugin, which may seem broad. However, it offers every tool a business owner would need all under one platform. LearnDash is also great for anyone building and selling courses—which seems to be a common goal among membership sites. Both are affordable options for a business that knows its goals and needs a plugin to make those goals a reality.
With that being said, the other three plugins are also excellent options for everyday tasks.
I am part of that nearly 40%. WordPress is my go-to for managing my NeilPatel.com blog as well as my other websites.
However, several other options are growing in popularity that prove to be worthy opponents for WordPress. One such competitor is Squarespace. This beginner-friendly content management system is a favorite amongst many, but how does it hold up against the trusted WordPress?
I’ve been building websites for years, so I have gathered knowledge and experience in both WordPress and Squarespace.
If you’re looking to build a new website and are not sure which platform is best, check out my comparison of WordPress vs. Squarespace.
WordPress is best for customization. With this platform, the options seem unlimited. WordPress offers thousands of templates that serve as a starting point for your website. These templates can be greatly modified to best fit your needs. WordPress also offers tens of thousands of plugins to add to your site to further improve its design and function.
Squarespace is best for beginners. The steps to creating a website on this platform are simple and easy for people just starting out. Squarespace does not require signing up for hosting or purchasing a domain separately, and the templates give you options for customization that don’t feel overwhelming.
We reviewed dozens of website builders and narrowed them down to the four best options. Check out our top picks and get the information you need to pick the best builder for you.
With my years of experience building websites, I have done extensive research on which ones work best in specific situations and specific people. My list of top picks reflects this work and the ones that shine the brightest for those looking to build a website.
Though Squarespace did not make the Best Website Builders list, it is still very popular and, as you’ll see in this review, has some great qualities. WordPress made our top list for several different reasons that we cover in the article, including its thousands of template options, the plethora of extensions/plugins, the amount of control you have over your website, and more.
With the right website builder, it won’t take a great deal of technical experience to get a website up and running that looks professional and has excellent functionality.
WordPress is the chosen winner. This website builder offers several different benefits that other platforms do not.
Control: WordPress allows for a great deal of control over how your website looks and works. With thousands of different templates to choose from, you have more options than necessary to get your website’s basic outline up and running. Add to that the tens of thousands of plugins available, and you can personalize your WordPress website in nearly every way imaginable.
Templates: While Squarespace offers templates, WordPress offers many more. On top of that, WordPress templates are easier for the average person to personalize even more. Many websites use WordPress templates without anyone ever knowing.
Added Functionality. WordPress is known for its plugins. Need something on your website? It’s almost a guarantee that there is a plugin for that. WordPress currently offers nearly 60,000 different plugins, some of which are free. Plugins have the power to do a variety of things, including help you with your website’s SEO, set up a contact form, track your site’s analytics, and much more.
Built-In Blog. WordPress was created as software for content management, so all of its sites have a built-in blog feature that makes adding a blog to your website easy. There is no need to create a separate blog for your WordPress site. Simply add blog content to your existing website to share information and updates with your readers.
Community Support. WordPress is open-source and free, so people who contribute to the platform have built a great community to support each other. Though WordPress itself doesn’t offer a great deal of online or phone support, the forums created by the community of users has answers to all kinds of WordPress questions.
There are also events called WordCamps that exist all over the world put on by WordPress to help people learn how to better use and develop the platform. Ticket prices are affordable and open to all WordPress users, developers, designers, and fans.
Cost. Because WordPress is open-source, it is free to download. Templates and plugins are not always free, but the ability to download and use the platform is. Hosting as well is something that does not come free, but that is typically done through an external site such as Bluehost.
Easy to Manage. While many companies offer expensive packages to manage WordPress sites, it can be done easily on your own. Updating plugins is a regular occurrence but requires minimal effort. And you get reminders when updates are available. Management also includes ensuring backups are in place (which happens through plugins or your hosting plan).
SEO Help. Since SEO is a must for your website, it’s great to have tools to help you get there. WordPress has SEO built into it via its automatic generation of both meta descriptions and title tags. The popular Yoast SEO plugin on WordPress is free and a must-have tool for your website.
Every page and blog post you create can utilize SEO to boost it and let search engines know what you’re doing. Yoast SEO has you do things such as:
● Create a focus keyphrase
● Write a more detailed meta description
● Create an SEO title
● Create a slug
Yoast also features a readability analysis area where it determines how easily people will be able to read your content and provide suggestions on making it better.
Steep Learning Curve. WordPress is not an intuitive platform. There is information to help you learn it, but you have to be willing to put in the time to do so. The layout of the dashboard is something that takes getting used to and learning how to navigate the editing. Since templates on WordPress are created by users, they work differently, and that means adjusting each time you use a new template.
Lack of Hosting. To run your WordPress site, you need to purchase hosting through a third-party such as Bluehost. This adds an extra step to the building of your website and is a step that can be confusing to people new to website building.
Speed Issues. Some of the WordPress themes are built with a lot of code, which can cause the load time of the site to slow down. If you are new to WordPress, you likely won’t know that some of the code is unnecessary and can be erased. Ridding of the excess code helps speed the site up but shouldn’t be done unless you know what you’re doing.
Hidden Costs. Though the platform itself is free, a WordPress website’s functionality and success depend on customizable themes and plugins. And most of these come at a price. Though it may not seem like much at first, each new paid plugin adds to the site’s overall cost.
Site Vulnerability. Because WordPress is open-source, it is at higher risk for hackers. It is also the most widely-used content management system, so the volume of hackers increases with the platform’s increased use. WordPress plugins are also developed by different people not affiliated with the WordPress company itself, so it is possible that bad code could get into your site.
Though not as strong of a contender as WordPress, Squarespace does still offer some great things.
Ease of Use. It doesn’t get more straightforward than drag-and-drop, and Squarespace allows you to do just that. Squarespace templates are ready for you to use with little to no previous experience and almost no learning curve.
Simple Editing. Changing your Squarespace website is a zero-stress task thanks to its user-friendly backend. It does not require knowledge of web design or development.
Marketing Tools Included. While you have to pay for and individually download and install every plugin with WordPress, the marketing tools you need are included with Squarespace. This means things such as analytics, contact forms, SEO, and more.
All-in-One. Squarespace is everything. It is your website builder, your design hub, and your host. You don’t have to hop to other sites to get what you need and then figure out how to connect it to your Squarespace site. It’s a one-stop-shop for all you need to get your website up and running.
Very Responsive. All templates on Squarespace are responsive and built to work on all computers, phones, and tablets. You can even see while building your website how it looks on each of the different devices, as they can vary greatly.
Excellent Support. The customer care team at Squarespace is available 24/7 to troubleshoot any issues you may be having. The platform also has community forums that connect you with other Squarespace users to answer questions and get information.
Social Integration. Squarespace offers customized widgets that allow you to integrate your social media handles easily. And they can look like they were part of the original design.
Automatic Updates. Any new features rolled out by Squarespace automatically show up on your page or allow you to simply opt-in on them.
Lack of Customization Options. While I love how user-friendly Squarespace is, there is not nearly the level of customization as WordPress offers. And changes to the coding of your Squarespace website is not as easy as WordPress.
Fewer Templates. The number of templates available on Squarespace is merely a fraction of what’s available on WordPress. If you’re looking to build an ecommerce site, Squarespace only has 14 to choose from.
Basic SEO. Squarespace offers some basic SEO tools such as HTML markup and automatic sitemaps but does not allow for the level of SEO optimization that WordPress does.
Lack of Ownership. When you purchase a domain through Squarespace, you don’t legally own it. When you get a free domain through Squarespace, it applies WHOIS privacy, which means it is owned by Tucows Inc. Tucows is the primary contact of the registered domain, and since WHOIS privacy is applied to all Squarespace domains, you technically don’t own it.
Limited Number of Sites. With one Squarespace subscription plan, you are only able to have one website. Adding another one necessitates an additional subscription.
Limited Number of Contributors. Squarespace limits you to two contributors with its personal plan. To add more, you must upgrade. WordPress allows for an unlimited number of contributors.
Finding the best website builder is a challenge. There are great options out there for platforms to build your website, and it is not a decision to be taken lightly. Whether it is for your small business, a personal blog, or a life-changing non-profit, your website plays a major role in your business’s success.
That’s why you need to take the time and read up on the top website builders. Here are my top picks from my research and experience:
After reviewing the numerous website builders out there, I have found different options work best for different people.