How To Turn Your Forum Into A Profit Center

How To Turn Your Forum Into A Profit Center
We all want a profitable forum. Reeling in the dough is definitely a good thing, but a forum has to be a community. I don’t want to burst your bubble, but it’s not “all about the Benjamins”. If you think starting a forum will be the easy road to riches – think again. It takes a bit of elbow grease. By “a bit” I mean a lot and by “a lot” I mean it’s time to roll up those sleeves.

Monetizing a forum is no easy task, but if you have read our tips on starting a forum you should be well on your way to accomplishing your goals. Here’s a breakdown on turning that forum into a profit center:

#1 Kick It Off With Adsense

Honestly, Google Adsense will not make you much at first. It all depends on the amount of visitors that are hitting your site. If you have traffic, it can pay off. Look at Google Adsense as getting your feet wet in the marketing game and learning about ad networks and generating ad revenue from your forum. If you have less than a thousand visitors stopping by your site don’t get too caught up with ad placement. Instead, concentrate on adding valuable content and building a strong community. Focusing on ways to encourage and grow your userbase will be what pays off in the end.

#2 Banner Ads, Direct Advertisers, and CPM Advertising

If you’ve experimented with adding Adsense to your site, you now have an idea of ad placement for your forum. You now have some more options, too. Banner ads can be a great source of monthly revenue to your site. The key is attracting those advertisers. There are many ways to do it – you can display links on your forum advertising banner ad placement, you can approach other webmasters as well. You can also leverage social media to connect with influencers and drive traffic to your forum.

When it comes to CPM advertising as a revenue model for your forum, don’t waste your time if you are not receiving at least 75,000 – 100,000 visitors per month. Most CPM advertisers require you to meet certain criteria before you can even enter the program. If your traffic isn’t quite there, stop focusing on how to make the money and keep building a great forum. The money will come.

#3 Find A Sponsor For Your Forum

One way to make more money is to keep more of the money you already make. If your forum is popular and has a great community consider approaching other businesses to sponsor your forum. In turn, give them prominent ad placement. You can find key players in your industry, local businesses, or a web hosting company to foot the bill for your forum. Saving some out of pocket expenses can give you more money to promote your forum and attract new members. If your forum is popular you can approach a forum hosting company to sponsor you. In return, show them a return on their investment by becoming a good source of leads.

#4 Email Can Be Your Friend

See how everything centers around content? People go online for one of two things: they are looking for answers, or they want entertainment. Either way, it’s great content that drives business. If you own a mailing list you can use this to offer insider deals to your members and promote affiliate offers. There are two ways you can approach this:

  • Find a company that wants to sponsor an email campaign to your forum members.
  • Offer related affiliate products in your newsletter.

Either one of these will work. Remember that content is still king. A flimsy newsletter will not generate income. It will end up in the deleted folder, ignored, or spammed. You need to find a clever way to reach out to your forum members. The content part shouldn’t be too difficult – you have an entire forum full of content to draw on.

#5 Offer Premium Memberships

There are a number of forums that offer “premium” memberships. Upgraded forum memberships often get added benefits regular forum members don’t receive. You can give out extra PM allowances, access to special forum features, or allow them to create their own blog or special thread.

Some Other Ideas To Consider

There are always other ways to monetize a forum. Have you ever heard of Flippa? It’s an online marketplace that allows people to buy and sell websites. Selling your forum is always an option. In fact, if you are particularly well adapted at launching successful forums you can always follow the blueprint outlined above, with the aim of selling your forum for a sizeable return in the future. Whatever you decide, the goal is to build a strong community that will attract forum members and build forum loyalty.

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Securing Your WordPress Blog

Securing Your WordPress Blog
WordPress has taken the world by storm. Since its inception, WordPress has had a phenomenal growth rate, with over 65 million downloads. It even powers over 16% of Alexa’s “Top 1 Million” websites. If you are not familiar with WordPress, you should be. It’s an open-source blogging software that allows easy customization through its template and plugin system.

Small business owners and bloggers have almost a love affair with WordPress. Its easy-to-use CMS, or content management system, makes updating changes on the fly a cake walk. The simplicity of its functions allows even noobs a fair chance at launching a great looking site, with a lot of unique features.

Of course, securing your WordPress install has to be on your radar. In fact, anyone with a website has to have these concerns, but WordPress in particular has its own set of rules to follow. Most “hacked” blogs end up this way because the site owner got lazy. Updates happen for a reason and if you’re not keeping your site up-to-date you’re waving the “come get me” flag. Seriously. There are a whole host of tools that are developed exclusively for sniffing out site vulnerabilities online.

Follow these simple WordPress security tips and you should stay out of trouble:

Update! Update! Update! I just mentioned this, but it deserves to be first in line as it tends to be the main reason a WordPress blog gets compromised. In the dashboard of your WordPress install you will receive a notification when either the WordPress software, plugins, or your theme version needs updated. When you get these notifications you need to act on it. For the most part, it’s just a matter of pressing a button. However, you’ll want to backup your files before updating WordPress itself. You should also backup your theme before updating as well (if you’ve done customizations).

Change up your password. Are you really using your birthday? Or a zip code? A simple password is a risky situation. A strong password should be over 8 characters and use a combination of letters, numbers, special characters, and caps. Choose wisely: avoid a password that can be easily guessed. Keep it random and change it every few months.

Backup! Backup! Backup! It’s easy to put off backing up your WordPress install when you have other “more important” things to do. We tend to all have the “it won’t happen to me” mentality. Those are actions that hackers know and understand – and capitalize on. Establishing a backup routine, and sticking to it religiously, have to part of your tasks as a site owner. Think of the hard work and time that goes into crafting your content and creating that perfect post.

Tip – Keep multiple copies of your backup in case of file corruption or loss. Keep a copy on your server, on a physical hard drive (or your computer), and backup your files to Google Drive. Redundancy is a key component to keeping your data safe.

Get reliable WordPress hosting. This is one of the most important (and difficult) choices for a new site owner. WordPress requires PHP and MySQL, so most free web hosting solutions won’t cut it. Besides, if a problem arises you’ll want a human to talk to, and someone that can get it fixed quickly. Reliable WordPress hosting doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. You can view our web hosting solutions for WordPress and forums here.

Be careful with plugins. WordPress is so much cooler with plugins. You don’t have to be a code monkey to add a new feature to your website. That’s part of what makes WordPress rock! It’s also how nefarious evil-doers package their warez to infect your website. Be careful what WordPress plugins you install and stick to known developers. Check reviews and ratings and do a quick Google search before installing. The WordPress Directory (free)  and CodeCanyon (not free) has everything you can think of – and probably a few more.

Pay attention. If you run a WordPress blog or website you need to pay attention to industry news. This way you’ll know the latest threat before become a victim. Yahoo recently learned the hard way. If you want some more expert tips on how to protect your blog this will help you.

Do you have any tips? Have you ever been hacked? Let us know in the comments!

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Hosting a Forum is No Walk in the Park: The Sequel

Marketing a Forum The Sequel
Last week we talked about the steps needed to get your new forum up and running. There we spoke about the nitty gritty of what it takes to get your forum online: web hosting requirements, deciding on a forum software, creating rules, and establishing moderators. Assuming that you followed along and now have your shiny new forum online for the world to see, I’d say it’s time to start navigating some new waters – marketing your forum.

Internet marketing strategies on the internet are a dime a dozen. The ‘latest trends’ can change by the week and you will no doubt find an abundance of information with blatant contradictions. When learning anything I highly recommend doing your own fact-checking. If you stumble upon something that seems like it makes sense, follow up by searching around and seeing if you can find more people professing this same strategy. It’s always best to be objective. Just because it’s on the internet, doesn’t mean it’s true. I actually learned this during my time in France as a fashion model (pun intended).

Now that we have that out the way, I will give you some resources that you can explore yourself for information on search engine optimization and social media marketing. Each of these communities are notable and top ranked in their category:

I wanted to put that right out front, so you can discover the facts for yourself. Indeed, no one can give you the blueprint to success. You have to constantly search for it yourself.

Of course, I don’t mind giving ya some help. So, let’s get on with it.

Marketing Your New Forum

We’ve talked about ways you can advertise your forum in the past. Here’s the reality for 2013: no matter your industry, if you are marketing your business online, you need to be publishing content. Content is the driving force that brings visitors to your website. Whether it is in the form of discussion threads, blog posts, articles, web pages – your forum needs a healthy diet of fresh content to rise in the rankings and grow up to be a big, strong website. People are searching the internet for value. If they can’t find any on your forum you are #%&! out of luck.

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Populate your forum with interesting threads. No one will post in an empty forum. Kick off the conversation and ask a lot of questions. People are more likely to respond when they can give an answer or their own opinion.
  • Leverage your own contacts. If you know someone that would be interested in your forum, by all means – ask them to join!
  • Create a sense of activity. A silent forum will go nowhere. You have to get the conversation going. If you don’t have the money to shell out on advertising like banner ads and Adsense, you should consider hiring paid posters / forum members. You can use sites like Elance or oDesk to hire people willing to post in your forum. This might be the way you’ll initially have to go in order to get the activity going.
  • Approach people in other forums. Prior to launching your own forum, you should develop a presence on other sites that are in your niche or have a topical relationship. This way you can advertise your forum link in your signature and reach out to contacts already participating on these other forums. Of course, you don’t want to break the rules. Keep it classy. Karma can be unforgiving.
  • Create a contest or giveaway. Everybody is a fan of freebies. Consider giving away a prize, creating a sweepstakes, or some other type of contest. Then, build links through guest blogging and articles to advertise the giveaway.
  • Network with social media. It’s here to stay and is just as relevant as SEO in 2013. Build a presence on the popular sites and reach out and connect with people. Of course, optimize your profiles to include information about your forum.

The Big ‘C’

And here we are again. It’s something you’ll hear time and time again in the internet marketing world – content.

Creating a content calendar and planning your posts will actually help you out in more than just the SEO department. The more content you produce, the more content you can share across social media. Essentially, you’ll have an ongoing reason why people should visit your website.

I am reading your mind right now: “Greg, I don’t have the time to write blog posts all day.”

Never fret, young Padawan. (Forgive the Star Wars reference).

The truth of the matter is that most of us, in fact, don’t. But I must challenge you with the fact that most business owners always say that, yet when they are faced with something that has to get done they typically find a way. It becomes more a matter of perspective than anything else. If you do not take it as a priority, you won’t get it done. If you want a screaming forum, you simply have to produce content.

Creating a ton of content by yourself can result in writing fatigue and mental melt down. Well, I might be overstating it, but why not get a little help? Lighten the burden by finding other people interested in contributing to your forum. Give a little – get a lot. If you allow guest authors to post their own links or have an author bio box, chances are you’ll find some regular contributors – especially if your forum matches their niche. Don’t know where to start looking? MyBlogGuest is a free community that helps connect bloggers to other blogs. Take a look, experiment, and see what you come up with.

Lastly, don’t try to be everything to everyone. Keep your niche in mind (your target market), and craft everything with them in mind.

Don’t say I never helped ya.

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Learn How to Build A Great Forum

Hosting A Forum Is No Walk In The Park

Hosting a Forum is No Walk in the Park

Forum hosting requires more than a hosting plan and software. Any successful forum operates like a business. You’ll deal with: budgets, time constraints, management, scalability issues, advertising, networking… attracting new members… keeping old ones happy…

I’m sure my point has been duly noted. It’s not something you can simply set-up, put online, and bask in the limelight of success. It just doesn’t happen that way. Launching any website is a chore. There are countless details that are crucial to your success. You’ll have to develop an understanding of SEO. You’ll need to network and market your butt off. What makes growing a successful forum uniquely problematic is the fact that you need to have people on the discussion board. If you don’t, your forum is guaranteed to look like a ghost town.

Of course, I’m not trying to discourage you. I’m trying to make you aware of the job ahead. You want to be successful right? Well, you need to know this stuff. Now sit back and take some notes, while I tell this tale I tell so well:

What You Need to Know About Forum Hosting

The first step in your plan for world domination (or at least a good forum) is finding the right web hosting company. Quite simply, this is often the most overlooked component of launching any website, much less a forum. Every webmaster wants visitors. Every forum needs members. You won’t get neither without a reliable hosting plan that keeps your forum online. What’s more – you want a company that understands the specific requirements needed for hosting a forum, a company that understands the common problems and pitfalls that will inevitably occur when you’re trying to get your site off the ground.

Here are some web hosting fundamentals that you have to plan for from the very beginning:

  • Reliability. If your uptime is spotty, the reputation of your forum will be as well. You never want to cut costs and go for cheap hosting. You need reliable service and support.
  • Scalability. This is something you’ll want to keep in mind. Things usually start off slow, but you’ll want the ability to seamlessly upgrade your account to support an increase in traffic.
  • A Backup Plan. Active forums produce a ton of content and posts. Losing this data can be detrimental to your forum. Web hosting companies that specialize in forum hosting typically already have an hourly backup system in place. Bottom line: you’ll want to develop a backup routine – and stick to it relentlessly.
  • What Platform to Use?

    This is where personal preference comes into play. Ideally, you want to use a forum software that you are comfortable with. You want something you understand how to use, something you can customize, something you can tweak to your exact specifications. Here’s a tip: don’t just focus on what you think is cool. A forum owner is almost like a real estate developer – indirectly, of course. I say this because, like a real estate developer, you are building a community. You’ll want to take into consideration your target market – the type of people that will join your forum – and plan around their likes and dislikes.

    Here’s a look at some of the most popular forum options:

    You’ll want to explore all of the options and find what works best for you and your niche. There are open source and premium platforms available. You’ll likely want to consider mobile. A responsive forum can allow your members to easily interact on your site right from their phone.

    Laying Down the Law

    Creating Rules that Work
    So, at this point you should have a rock-solid hosting plan and a platform of choice. Hold your horses: you’re not quite ready to hit the launch button yet. In order to keep your forum on track and make sure your site doesn’t become as unruly as the Wild West, you need rules. You need to enforce them, too. Don’t do a ‘copy and paste’ job on this. Take a little time and put some thought into how to set up forum rules, terms and conditions, a privacy policy, and so forth.

    There are countless examples out there. If you are feeling a little lost in the dark on what you should include, hop over to other forums, or similar forums in your niche and take a look at how they’ve decided to set up their rules. Do some research, jot down a rough draft, and perfect it until you get it right. Forum rules are important. You need them in order to keep the conversation on track. Without rules (and moderation) you would be surprised how fast a forum can turn into chaos, which brings me to my next point: moderation.

    The Law Needs a Face
    You can have all the rules in the world, but they won’t do squat if you don’t have something in place to actually enforce them. When you first start out, chances are you’ll be able to monitor the threads and conversations going on yourself. Once things start cooking though, this can straight up turn into a full-time job. The good news is that if it gets to this point, chances are you’ve made your forum a pretty popular destination. You may even have some loyal members. You’ll want to reach out to die hard forum members and enlist them as moderators to help you maintain the integrity of the forum. Long story short – create some solid rules that will help keep your forum on topic. Then, enforce the rules and moderate where needed.

    And That’s Not All

    I could keep going. I really could. Building a forum is a never-ending job. The important thing is to separate the countless tasks into bite-size chunks. If you take it one step at a time you’ll be a step closer every day. We will continue this little discussion/lesson/rant/whatever-you-want-to-call-it next week. We’ll dig into some other things you’ll want to pay attention to. Until then – hasta la vista.

    Check out Part 2

    Got Tips? Share your knowledge in the comments!

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    6 Ways To Improve Your Website in 2013

    6 Ways To Improve Your Website in 2013
    As I’m sure you are noticing, we are in a competitive market right now. The stakes are high. With all of the great companies doing business these days, the way we present ourselves in the marketplace has become critical. Amidst the hordes of people doing business on the Internet, if we want to grow our businesses we’ve got to stand out. The way to win is simple—turn hits into conversions. Our websites need to exude quality. They need to tell people we are smart and we are serious. They should let people know we understand the challenges they are facing, and that we’re the ones who have got the solutions.

    Now is a great time to update. It makes sense—since most of us are putting together our 2013 New Year’s resolutions anyway. Why shouldn’t we include updating our websites in our action plans this year? Making them visually more appealing, more interesting, more value driven is a surefire way to keep people coming back, and statistics show that 80% of sales are made after the twelfth contact. So what can we do to make a visit to our website a pleasure?
    Here are some overall trends that the experts are predicting for 2013:

    1. Responsive Design

    Responsive design optimizes readability. It allows people using any format to have an equally good experience. A Smart phone, Tablet, Netbook, or Desktop each offers a different screen size. Responsive design configuration allows maximum usability in each. Ever try to jiggle around and grow a spot on a screen only to shoot off onto a different page because you accidently hit a hot spot. Ugh.

    WordPress offers a huge variety of Responsive Themes. In their own words, The Responsive Theme is a flexible foundation with a fluid grid system that adapts your website to mobile devices and the desktop or any other viewing environment. This solution is easy.

    2. Typography Design

    There are new levels of sophisticated design being achieving these days. Some of these pages are absolutely breathtaking in their detail. People are developing a taste for excellence. Nothing says smart like a simple, balanced webpage. I liken this to wearing a nice suit for a job interview. It says something about the owner that they care enough to put their best foot forward.

    I wouldn’t rush through this step. Do your homework. If you want to appear savvy, it is worth it to spend some time investigating. Upgrading the fonts on your site is simple enough. With the right fonts, you can transform humdrum site into something fabulous with little effort. Remember the first tip, though. Fonts that are too fancy might not be readable on a Smart phone.

    3. Big Button Design

    Simple, clear and easy to access—this is what makes the button multi-format friendly. On a Smart phone, small buttons can waste time. We want to make the customer experience memorable, but only in a good way.

    4. Scrolling Design

    Moving across the screen from top to bottom and from right to left is another way to simplify the user experience. If you have more than one hot area on your homepage, the Smart phone user can move around without having to jigger things into place.

    5. Pared Down Language

    In keeping with the multi-format idea, less text in a cleaner font will make navigation simpler. The visitor sees the feature they want to access in three words or less, and gets there in one click. Nice. Next level down, you may have more explanation but keep to the Cliff Notes version. Save the expanded narrative for your blog.

    6. Social Media Integration

    If you haven’t added these buttons to your blog or website yet, do. You’d be surprised the numbers of people, who like to forward information to a friend, or even to their own Facebook page. Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Google +1, and StumbleUpon, the list that consumers use on a daily basis is growing.

    Final Words
    There are certainly plenty more things you can do to will help you get your website producing leads and grabbing people’s attention, but these six: Responsive Design, Typography Design, Big Button Design, Scrolling Design, Pared Down Language, and Social Media Integration, can each make a noticeable difference in a relatively short span of time. Make your site a haven. Draw people back. This list is doable. Just break the tasks into bite-sized chunks. Ask a colleague for help. The important thing is to map out a plan. Once you have that, start.

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    5 Ways to Market Your Forum Online for Free

    5 Ways to Market Your Forum Online for Free
    In ancient Rome, the Forum was a plaza, a marketplace, surrounded by magnificent temples and government buildings. It sat in the heart of the city between two of its seven hills, Palatine and Capitoline. The Forum was the epicenter. Everything from the political to the gladiatorial, from commercial to religious found its way through this hub. Rome’s great innovations and ideas found their hearing among the great thinkers in the Forum. So, it is no stretch to understand why the word Forum still resonates that original innovation in 2013. It is in the forum where we get together, discuss and rethink how we will develop our newest technologies.

    Advertising Your New Forum – The Smart Way

    Forum marketing is a logical way for innovators to promote collaboration. We all want to find better solutions. It is a platform for educating and exciting consumer interest in the products we sell—and it’s fun.
    In this article, we will look at five tips on marketing a forum online:

    Blog to blog

    Everything you need is already there. Let the forum generate ideas for articles on your blog. Invite readers to the forum to get the context of where an idea came from. You can link to the blogs of key contributors in your forum. If your forum is brand new, invite experts to panel a discussion and announce it on your blog. Ask them to guest blog. When you introduce them in the byline, link back to their blog. Have them link to their guest blog from theirs. Their readers will become your readers over time. And readers of both will know about the forum.
    Appearing in the comment chain on another blogger’s article and pointing back to the forum is yet another quick hit generator. Getting fresh thoughts into the mix can renew your readers’ interest and foster relationships within your field.

    Keeping SEO Text Organic

    Capture valuable points in your forum and use them as titles or headers for your articles. Use these titles in your URLs. Make them tags and Meta text. Just keep your phraseology simple enough for search engine users to find:

    John’sCulinaryForum.com/SauceBernaiseDoneRight, versus John’sCulinaryForum.com/item12?=12345.

    Keep image descriptions people friendly—John’s Culinary Forum Food-fight.jpg, instead of Image15862.jpg.

    Social Media Marketing

    Make frequent announcements on Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter especially when someone on the forum publishes an article or speaks publically. News Items can point back to the forum. The subject of their article or speaking engagement doesn’t even have to be an exact match on the forum focus. Any credibility your contributor may have in their field will lend credibility to your forum discussion. Include a link to their article and the forum. The more points of contact you engage, the further your reach. While you are at it, be sure to include your forum address on your LinkedIn profile.

    Important Events Press Release

    This is a formal way to announce the opening of or reintroduction of a marketing forum. The nice thing about a press release it that it captures all of the salient points you want your readers to know in one place. It can eliminate questions and allow readers to pass accurate details along to their friends and colleagues. Send to the addresses on your blog mailing list and post your press release on social media.

    Special Events

    Last of all, one sure way to market your forum is to host a webinar with Q & A. Invite a frequent contributor on your forum site. Find someone who knows their stuff, is a great communicator, and loves talking about what they do. You can practice ahead of time. Announce your webinar well in advance. The topic should relate to some new or challenging aspect of your forum focus. When done right, you can draw enormous interest from your focus community and begin to establish credibility for yourself as an industry leader.

    Got some more ideas? Show us what you got in the comments below.

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    6 Must-Know WordPress Tips for Small Business Owners

    6 Must-Know WordPress Tips for Small Business Owners
    If you are a small business owner expenses and advertising costs are never far from your mind. Starting a business with a limited budget doesn’t mean you need to forgo a stand out web presence. WordPress is the answer small business owners have been looking for.

    WordPress Is Easy To Use

    One of the most challenging decisions to make when developing a website for your business is what platform to use. A custom design requires extensive programming knowledge, and for most small business owners, budget comes into play. Hiring a competent web developer can be costly. If you don’t shell out bucks for an easy to use content management system, otherwise referred to as a CMS, you’ll likely have to pay an ongoing monthly fee to a webmaster for site updates. This can be a costly process. Plus, you lose the ability to quickly update your site on your own. You’ll be stuck waiting for your webmaster to get around to it.

    WordPress is the most popular blogging software on the market. It’s widely used around the world and has been adopted as the go-to CMS for countless small business and corporate websites.

    Why Small Businesses Should Use WordPress

    You’re looking for more online exposure for your business. You want to save money. The budget isn’t right. The list goes on, but the running theme is you want to save money, while still having an incredible online presence. When you want to update your website in a fast, efficient, and cost-effective way, WordPress is the tool you need. WordPress is the most popular blogging tool used today, but it can also be a powerful content management system for your website. Entrepreneurs are discovering peace of mind, security, and support by putting WordPress in their business toolbox.

    Fast, Efficient, Cost Effective. Small business owners don’t have all the time in the world. In fact, they have considerably less. It’s true. If you’ve ever managed a business you know one thing for certain: there’s always a few more things that need done. WordPress gives you the ability to quickly upload images, post blogs, and add content to your website.

    Easy To Have A Great Design. You can save money and still have a great looking website. WordPress relies on themes to transform its look. A simple search on Google will uncover countless free themes you can use for your website. If you’re looking for a more robust option you can purchase a premium theme for your site for as little as $35 – $40. Want to know where to look? Themeforest has the most extensive collection of WordPress themes and authors around. Developers sell their templates on the site and users are able to leave feedback, so you can have an idea of what to expect before you buy. Plus, the majority of WordPress developers on the site offer support either through email or via a forum.

    Out-of-the-Box SEO. To drive traffic to your website, you need to attract potential clients. WordPress enables you to easily optimize your site for the search engines through the use of plugins. Most bloggers and webmasters recommend using WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast.

    A Plethora of Resources. There are countless WordPress developers, bloggers, and forums offering advice and tips on customizing and maintaining your site. If you run into trouble or are having trouble with configuring your website an answer is typically a Google search away.

    Easily Customize with Free Plugins. One unique feature of WordPress is it is an open-source platform with countless developers. There are many free WordPress plugins available that can add extra functionality to your site, like social plugins and banner ads.

    Manage Your Time. WordPress gives you the option to schedule your posts. This can be a great timesaver, which lets you write your posts when you have time and schedule them for times when they need to go out.

    Affordable Web Hosting Solutions. It doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to get your WordPress blog online. Affordable WordPress hosting isn’t hard to find. It’s important to choose a reliable web hosting company that has a proven track record and understands the specific requirements needed for WordPress web hosting.

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    5 Questions To Ask Your Managed Web Hosting Provider

    5 Questions To Ask Your Managed Web Hosting Provider
    Delegating responsibility for your business’ online presence is not a task to be taken lightly. Before placing this crucial task into the hands of a managed web hosting provider, due diligence is called for.

    Even the most tech-savvy business can benefit from outsourcing certain aspects of server administration. It’s just more cost-effective and time-saving to focus on what you do best, without having to factor the constant logistical demands of a dedicated server into your daily considerations.

    However, it is ultimately your duty to ensure that the managed web hosting provider you select is not only competent, but appropriate for your business needs.

    You can’t rely upon your dialogues with managed hosting providers when it comes to determining your specifications and their ability to fulfill them. Their job is to sell you what they have. Your job is to buy what you need. And Job One is ascertaining what, exactly, you need in terms of managed web hosting.

    Choosing a Managed Web Hosting Provider: 5 Questions You Need To Ask, and Why You Need The Answers

    1. Windows, or Linux? Your web designer can best apprise you as to which operating system the hosting servers should support. Depending on the nature of the website under development, you will find your online presence optimized by a platform which the prospective host may or may not be able to deliver. If they only offer one, make sure it’s the right one.

    2. Bigger, Better, Faster, Stronger? If you’re planning to utilize resource-intensive site features like high-resolution images and a large video database, you’ll definitely want to take storage and bandwidth into consideration. Don’t just settle for the bare minimum; remember, the goal is to expand, and it’s desirable to find a web host which can continue to meet your needs over time.

    3. How reliable is the server? Uptime percentages differ by fractions and may be calculated somewhat arbitrarily. Find out how the hosting provider defines “downtime”, and what it translates to in concrete terms of hours/minutes per year. It’s pretty much self-evident why you’d want to keep downtime to a minimum.

    4. What additional features am I looking for? Additional domains, email and FTP accounts, ecommerce capabilities, security features, money-back guarantees- do your homework, find out what your options are. A general grasp of what’s available will help immensely when it comes to deciding what you can and can’t live without.

    5. Define “Managed”? When you make the decision to utilize a managed web hosting provider, your primary requirement is support. Ongoing support. Whenever there’s a malfunction, a question, or a necessary directive, you should expect someone on the other end of the line who can assist you in a prompt and efficient manner. 24/7 access to competent professionals is the cornerstone of managed web hosting, and the quality thereof should be your paramount concern. Trial offers are a good way to size up the available support you can rely on from a given provider. If the emergency hotline goes to voicemail or online tech support is an automated troubleshooter, you may find it advisable to shop around.

    Your relationship with your managed web hosting provider is the factor that separates “passing the buck” from adding a new member to the team. Communication is essential. Without a functional collaboration, an off-site server will tend to be more of a burden than an asset, so make sure you are dealing with a web host who understands your needs and is able to provide the level of hands-on expertise your online presence demands. Remember, you’re counting on them!

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    Installing vBulletin 5 Connect on your shared hosting account.

    500 Internal Server Errors have been a big problem when installing vBulletin 5 in a sub-directory.

    Example; your installing vBulletin 5 to one of the following directories

    /root

    – /vbulletin

    – /forums (vB5 works well here)

    – /Sub Directory domain folder

    – /forums (installing vB5 here returns the Internal Server Error)

    With a bit of work on the .htaccess file, the problem can be fixed. What you’ll do is adding path information /YourFolderName/ to the your mod_rewrite rules.  Open the .htaccess file that came with your vBulletin package and you should see something like this:

    <IfModule mod_rewrite.c>

    RewriteEngine On

    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f

    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d

    RewriteRule ^(.*)$ index.php?routestring=$1 [L,QSA]

     

    #needed because admincp is an actual directory.

    RewriteRule ^(admincp/)$ index.php?routestring=$1 [L,QSA]

    </IfModule>

    First, add your sub-directory folder name to your mod_rewrite rules. I named my sub directory “forums”. That means you need to edit the 5th line from:

    RewriteRule ^(.*)$ index.php?routestring=$1 [L,QSA]

    To:

    RewriteRule ^(.*)$ /forums/index.php?routestring=$1 [L,QSA]

    Then the 7th line from:

    RewriteRule ^(admincp/)$ index.php?routestring=$1 [L,QSA]

    To:

    RewriteRule ^(admincp/)$ /forums/index.php?routestring=$1 [L,QSA]

     

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    Combine vBulletin and WordPress with Single Sign-On

    Single sign-on Word Press and vBulletin has to be one of forum publishers most requested combinations… Just mention vBulletin with WordPress on vBulletin.com and scads of people ask how they can combine the programs. Well here’s a modification that allows the two programs to work together.

    vBlog was a big step forward but for many forum publisher, it doesn’t offer the flexibility their looking for and have chosen to turn it off and run a WordPress Blog instead.  The problem with that strategy is that your vBulletin users can’t comment on your WordPress blog, unless they create a second account. That additional step will at best will prevent members from commenting…At worst, it will drive members away from your website.

    You can prevent some of this user defection by using single signup that that lets users post comments in both WordPress and vBulletin, while only signing in once. vBSSO, is the vBulletin plugin that will connect vBulletin to WordPress with a common login. If you have never heard of it, I would suggest you try it out, since it is an open-source project and supports a wide range of platforms.

    More details on this open source project are available from their website. Check it out and keep your users involved with a single sign-on vBulletin / WordPress combination.
    http://www.vbsso.com

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