The Best Web Hosting for Small Business

Quick Sprout recommendations for web hosting services are based on months of research and testing. We’ll never point you to a product or service that we don’t believe in or have first-hand experience with. Our content is reader-supported, which means if you click on one of our links to a recommended web hosting service, we may earn a commission.

As a small business owner, you should look for three things in your web host:

  1. Customer support
  2. You probably don’t have an IT department yet. Your web host’s customer support and knowledge center should be good enough to act as a stand-in. In this category, I considered the free trial period, reputation, the robustness of the knowledge center, and customer support hours (24/7 by chat, email, and phone is best).

  3. Great specs
  4. You’ll need enough storage and bandwidth. Plus, your plan should allow all the sites you have in mind and support the technology you’re going to use.

  5. Room to grow
  6. Most small business should start with a shared hosting plan — it’s the cheapest option and likely all you’ll need if you’re just starting out. I made sure that every host I recommend makes it easy to upgrade when your business grows.

My 2 Picks for Small Business Web Hosts

1. InMotion

InMotion is the all-arounder of web hosts. It’s the Subaru, if you will. It has plenty of plans, two US-based servers, and prioritizes fast loading times with SSD storage, PHP 7, custom server caching, and rigorous security protocols. What I love most about InMotion for a small business is its customer support. The help center has thousands of articles, FAQs, and forums, so you’ll never feel alone. Support staff and super users regularly answer one-off questions. If that doesn’t solve your query, there’s 24/7 US-based support by phone and chat and email — all backed up by a 90-day money-back guarantee, one of the longest in the industry.

The basic plan is called Launch. Intro pricing starts at $4–5 per month, then will jump to $8–9 per month. You can have up to two sites with unlimited storage and bandwidth.

2. SiteGround

If InMotion is the Subaru of web hosts, SiteGround is Tesla. Widely considered the technology leader among shared hosting services, it’s widely loved by users. If you’re looking for early access to developing tech, this is your host. Every plan currently has: SSD drives, custom caching, CDN technology, NGINX, PHP 7, CHROOT account isolation, custom AI to counter brute-force attacks, and proactive patches coded by an in-house DevOps team. I love InMotion’s customer support, but SiteGround is competitive: 24/7 support by phone and chat and email, plus a well-organized knowledge base.

It’s a bit more expensive than InMotion, but like all web hosting, it’s still pretty cheap. The lowest tier plan is called StartUp and is $4 per month initially, before it jumps to $12 per month. You can have one site with about 10,000 visitors per month and 10GB storage.

I think you’ll be happy with either of these picks. They are excellent options.

The 4 other hosts I review

I also review four other hosts below, if you’re interested in comparing them. My quick take: DreamHost, Bluehost, and HostGator are very popular and generally well regarded—there. I’m sure you’ll see their names pop up in your research. They’re not my overwhelming favorites simply because there are just enough little issues to keep them below InMotion and SiteGround. I recommend avoiding hosting your small business’s websites with GoDaddy. You can absolutely do better.  [click to continue…]

How to Grow Your YouTube Channel with These 12 Tools

When people talk about social media, the first networks that come to mind are usually Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

While YouTube may not be your first thought, it needs to become a priority for you moving forward.

Whether you’re a business, Internet personality, or social influencer, your YouTube channel will help you increase sales with video content.

Behind only Google, YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. More than one billion people visit the platform every month.

The amount of content on YouTube is astonishing.

Today, 100 hours of video get uploaded to YouTube every minute.

More content has been uploaded to this platform in 60 days than the three major US networks created in 60 years.

If you want to learn how to run a successful video blog, you need to be active on YouTube.

But your YouTube channel is only as good as the number of subscribers, traffic, and views you get on your videos. You could be producing the best video content in the world, but it’s useless if nobody watches it.

I love YouTube because it’s a great way to repurpose content.

After I upload content to my YouTube channel, I share it on my website, blog posts, and social media platforms.

If you’re struggling to grow your YouTube channel, it’s probably because you’re not using anything to help you create better content. While the YouTube platform in itself is useful, there are other tools you can use that will enhance your content and make it easier for you to manage your page.

That was my inspiration for this post. I’ll show you the top 12 tools you need to grow your YouTube channel. Let’s dive in.  [click to continue…]

The Best E-Commerce Platforms

Quick Sprout recommendations for e-commerce platforms are based on months of research and testing. We’ll never point you to a product or service that we don’t believe in or have first-hand experience with. Our content is reader-supported, which means if you click on one of our links to a recommended e-commerce platform, we may earn a commission.

So, you’re ready to build an online store and sell, ship, and manage your business. We’re here to help. We took a look at six of the biggest names in e-commerce software to find out which store is easiest to set up, customizable to your liking, and economical. There’s no stress needed here: all of our options offer at least 14-day free trial periods for you to set up your store and see if you like it and it has all the features you need.

Our 3 Favorite E-Commerce Platforms

Which one’s right for your e-commerce site?

There are two worlds in e-commerce software: hosted and self-hosted. With hosted platforms, like Shopify and BigCommerce, you’ll get ready-to-go drag-and-drop templates, but you’ll give up some customization ability and pay a subscription fee. Between the two, we like Shopify.

For more customization power, or to skip that monthly subscription fee, you want self-hosted software like WooCommerce or Magento. This is the route we recommend for most people. You’ll be nearly limitless in what you can do, and there are plenty of pre-made plugins you can pay for and install to avoid coding every little thing (think abandoned cart e-mails or related products carousels).

Between the two platforms, we like WooCommerce. It’s built on WordPress so it has a more robust content CMS and it’s a cheaper, lighter weight software to use and maintain than Magento. For most digital businesses, Magento is more than you need in both features and price. If you go the self-hosted route, you’ll need to buy your domain name and sign up for a web host.

It’s also possible to build a store with a Wix or Squarespace site, to monetize your existing site, or even build a non-store site and then convert it to a credit-card accepting store later on. This is a good option if you’re already using Wix or Squarespace or if you’re just in the ideation phase. Wix is our pick between the two: you can build your whole site for free and it has a mind-reader-y AI setup process. You’ll only need to upgrade to its e-commerce subscription when you’re ready to take that first credit card transaction. Playing around with Wix is a cool way to get your creative juices flowing.

No matter which platform you pick, our best practices for running a successful e-commerce site apply.

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How to Repurpose Your Content Across Multiple Marketing Platforms

Quality content takes time and effort to produce. I am sure you know this if you regularly publish content on all your distribution channels.

But many brands lose quality in pursuit of higher quantities of content.

While I agree that quantity is important as well, your quality can’t suffer as a result of this strategy. You need to learn how to avoid stale content.

I work with many businesses that run into this problem. They want to publish at least one piece of content a day on all their distribution channels.

Among their websites, blogs, and social media pages, it’s a lot of content. Before you know it, that’s upward of 30 posts per week across these platforms.

However, that doesn’t mean you need to come up with 30 unique pieces of content. This approach will take too long and ultimately hurt your quality.

That’s why you need to learn how to effectively repurpose your content across multiple marketing platforms.

First, you need to learn the top ways to come up with new content ideas.

Once you have an idea, you can turn it into multiple posts on each channel. In fact, sometimes you won’t even need to come up with a new idea. You can use old content to your advantage here as well.

Worker smarter, not harder.

As we continue through this guide, I’ll explain how you can repurpose your content across all your distribution channels and give you some ideas to try.  [click to continue…]

What do these elite brands know about driving visitors and traffic to your site that you don’t?

How to Use the 2018 Holiday Season to Drive Sales

With the holiday season quickly approaching, your business needs to take steps to prepare for a potential surge in sales.

But you can’t assume people will buy from your brand during the holidays if you sit back and do nothing. The brands able to recognize the latest marketing trends will have success in the coming months.

Consumers are willing and able to spend money during the holidays. It’s a fact.

How you prepare and position yourself will determine how much of the market share your company will control.

Even though the ecommerce industry is a competitive space, there is plenty of money to go around.

In fact, experts predict ecommerce sales to increase by 17-22% during the 2018 holiday season. November 1st to January 31st is considered the holiday season.

I know what some of you are thinking. There are holidays throughout the entire year. What makes the ones during those dates so special?

Research shows consumers say they will spend nearly $800 during the winter holidays:

winter

On average, they spend more money during the winter holidays than during all the other top-spending holidays combined.

It’s the season of giving, and it’s usually a happy time of year. People are feeling generous when buying gifts for their friends and family.

However, the holiday season can be stressful. The weather starts to get colder. Stores get busier. Consumers feel overwhelmed with the length of their to-do lists.

As a marketer, you need to make the buying process as easy as possible for the customer.

With your ecommerce platform, there is no reason for people to fight the crowds at their local shopping malls. They can buy holiday gifts from the comfort of their homes.

I’ll explain how you can use this situation to your advantage and benefit from a major boost in ecommerce sales during the 2018 holiday season.  [click to continue…]