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Of Good Hosts And Bad Hosts, Beware The Bad Hosts

Over a year ago I wrote a post about how I moved this blog from one host to another. That post was called WassupBlog Alive And Kicking After Transferring to BlueHost. If you’re looking for a good host you can’t go past BlueHost and their CPU Throttling would have to be one of their best features.

Over a year later it’s happened to that host again. The first time it happened I thought it wasn’t really the host’s fault, it was just that Wassup had outgrown it, especially as I had three other blogs hosted under the one domain. Let that be a warning to people, although many hosting packages give you unlimited domains you have to remember the more domains you have on the same host the more strain you’re putting on your CPU and the more likely you’ll get your account suspended. Once I moved WassupBlog I left behind three other blogs, my Scenic Adelaide, Photos2Blog and my Load Of Bullshit blog.

Web Hosting Servers
Image by ivanpw via Flickr

I left those blogs there because it was an Aussie host and I wanted to support an Australian company. It turns out that was a big mistake. I woke up one morning to find that my account was suspended yet again. The turkeys at HostSmart, yeah I’m naming them as others should know what to expect from this host, didn’t take the time to find out which blog was causing the problem and suspending that blog, nope, they suspended the whole account. I couldn’t even access my CPanel or use my FTP program to access my blogs to check things out. Shit, I couldn’t even receive emails linked to those accounts.

No damn support. No phone numbers listed on the site. I finally found a phone number but do you think anyone would answer it? I left a support ticket and when I got a reply some 24 hours later it was to say that my account was suspended due to it was overloading the server and it wouldn’t be restored until I confirmed I would do something about it.

There was so many things that could have been done that they failed to do and in the end they’ve lost me as a customer. Not only that but I will no longer be sending people to them, an average of some 200 – 300 per month! What a waste that proved to be, they couldn’t even convert one of them. Perhaps those people were just smarter than I was.

Once I got access I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. While I was waiting to get access I searched the web for another host as I didn’t want to put all my eggs in one basket by using the same host. I settled on HostGator as they seemed to have a great reputation. Once access was restored I started moving everything over and it all went through without a hitch. As it turns out HostGator has a 24hr Live Chat which I used a few times, both before and during the transfer, so that I could clear up a few things. Every time I used it they were quick to respond and they were able to answer all my queries. Now that is what I call service, something my previous host knew nothing about.

Here are some tips for those looking for good Web Host.

  • Ask other bloggers who they use and what they think of them.
  • Check the forums, most good hosts have them, to see what the reaction from members are. Do they resolve problems quickly?
  • Check to see that they a phone number so that you can contact them quickly in an emergency. Leaving a support ticket is OK but can be time consuming.
  • Do they have Live Chat available? I’ve found this to be an indispensable feature and both BlueHost and HostGator have it.

If there are any other important features that you require or recommend when choosing a host I’m sure others would like to read about it in the comment section.

Mitch, if you’re reading this post, yes you did warn me about staying with them, and yes as it turns out I should have listened to you. Again. Let that be a lesson to me huh?

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Let’s face it, the majority of bloggers out there all hope to make a little money from their online journey. Even those who claim to blog for the love of it usually place an ad or two on their blog in the hope that someone will click on them. There’s nothing wrong with that, I mean as long as they’re online why shouldn’t they make a little something for their efforts?  The problem most people have is the majority of surfers suffer from banner or ad blindness. What this basically means is that after awhile people just tune out and fail to see these ads, and they can’t click on something their subconscious fails to see.

I discovered this ages ago and I knew the solution would be to constantly change the ads on my blog. If you think about it the greatest mistake a blogger can make is to place and ad in the sidebar or post and then forget about it. There is two major flaws with this, the first being if someone sees the same ad in the same place each time they come to your blog they  develop ad blindness. The second is having only one ad results in minimum market exposure.

Broadway show billboards at the corner of 7th ...
Image via Wikipedia

Unfortunately constantly changing the ads resulted in too much effort and I gave it up pretty quick smart. I knew they’re had to be a solution and so I started digging around and I came up with my post on CJU’s Rotating Banner Function! The results spoke for themselves as my click through rate rose dramatically. The problem was that not everyone offered this feature and then the other day I stumbled upon Max Banner Ads.

Max Banner Ads is a WordPress plugin made by those guys at MaxBlogPress, who are famous for producing high quality WordPress plugins. Other popular free plugins they’ve produced include MaxBlogPress Optin Form Adder, MaxBlogPress Ping Optimizer, MaxBlogPress Stripe Ads and so many more.

Not familiar with those free plugins? Then perhaps some of their professional paid plugins will ring a bell. The more popular ones that spring to mind are Ninja Affiliate and Subscribers Magnet but they do have several others.

Enough about that, let’s get back to their Max Banner Ads plugin. This plugin is the ultimate one that I’ve come across so far. I did trial one or two others, sorry but I don’t recall which ones they were, suffice it to say I couldn’t have been too impressed otherwise I’d still be using them today.

Max Banner ads has several features that appeal to me;

  • It allows you to input simple ads, the ones that just need an image and url for them to work.
  • You can use more complex ads that include tracking information. CJU ads come to mind. I used to use just the link and the image url until I discovered it needed all the other stuff that came with it for it to accurately track clicks, sales and such.
  • It allows you to include those scripts we’ve all grown to hate, the ones that can cause havoc with the way your blog behaves. These could include Amazon widgets and even your ClickBank hoplinks.
  • You can select where they appear on your blog and you can even choose to have the text wrap around the ad itself.
  • Installation is so simple and you don’t have to play around with your  WordPress theme for it to work.
  • It tracks the ad’s impression and clicks and even calculates their CTR, Click Through Rate!
  • Being able to have rotating ads means you can now display more ads on your blog without making it look cluttered. By this I mean instead of displaying 10 ads you can now have one rotating ad which will display a new ad every time the page refreshes.

There’s so much more but I don’t want to bore you with all that it can do. I’ve configured it to show the ads at the end of the post, even if someone lands on my Home Page. Unlike CJU’s rotating ad feature which showed the same ad on every post, one of the reasons why I stopped using it in posts, Max Banner Ads shows a different ad in each post.

The one flaw is that the free version shows the ‘Powered by Max Banner Ads’ link at the bottom of the ad. You can have this removed by buying the pro version of the plugin or you can do as I did and use your ClickBank affiliate ID from within the plugin. That way you get the commission if anyone clicks on that link and buys one of their products.

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Why I Chose MailChimp Over Aweber

Now you’ve all heard about Aweber and how it’s supposed to be the bees knees of auto-responders? Well I decided against it because I just couldn’t see the value in it. These guys are so up themselves they won’t even offer a free trial! Instead you have to pay $1 to sign up for the first month and after that the cheapest rate is $19/month and if you have more than 500 subscribers you can expect to pay a lot more, up to $149/month. No wonder people using them have to keep shoving stuff down your throat, if they don’t they’d be losing money.

I sampled several auto-responders, more about them in a future post, and once I was through trialing them I decided that my list would be powered by MailChimp. As long as you don’t have more than 1000 subscribers and you don’t send more than 6000 emails a month your account is absolutely free. That knocks Aweber completely out of the ball park as far as trials goes.

Image via CrunchBase

What I love most about MailChimp is that you still get so much even though it’s a free account. I’ve actually had list members compliment me on the quality of my ‘newsletters’ and it’s all so easy to do because they have a large collections of templates that you can use to design absolutely stunning campaigns. You can even design your own templates.

There are so many features available to you with a free account, some of which include;

  • Multiple Lists: If you want to run more than one campaign targeting different lists then you’ll be happy to know you can do this with MailChimp
  • Good Reporting Features: There are so many reports you can keep track of. You can see who opened the mail, who clicked on what links. Whether or not any got bounced. Who’s unsubscribed. You can even connect it to Google Analytic and check whether a particular campaign has increased your traffic.
  • Connect With Twitter: Not only can you send your campaign to your lists, you can also send it out as a Tweet or via other social networks including FaceBook, Digg, Delicious, Buzz and MySpace. This is a Tweet of my last campaign.
  • Video Tutorials: I love the fact that they have video tutorials that help you to get the most from their site.

As far as I’m concerned these guys offer me all that I need to run a campaign and it’s all for free! If I ever grow my list to the extent that I need to pay for their service then I’m more than happy to do that.

Email Marketing Best PracticesThere was one point that was brought up by Ben Wan who mentioned that their TOS didn’t allow the use of affiliate links in the campaigns. This didn’t bother me all that much as my list was more for informing my subscribers of new posts than it was for promoting affiliates. Still, I could see how this would be important   for others so I decided to email support.

I spoke to a bloke called Edwin and I asked straight out about affiliate links and their TOS. This was his reply.

Hello Peter,

It’s nice to virtually meet you.

In the general sense we can only support affiliate content that is being sent to a list that is current and has been collected through a double optin process.  Also affiliate content can compliment newsletter content but can not be the entire focus of a message itself.

We would have to see an example of your newsletter to be able to say for sure if we could support it or not.

Feel free to email us back if you have specific questions or comments beyond this that we can assist you with.

Regards,
Edwin
MailChimp.com / Client Services

Well, I thought that was entirely reasonable. It’s obvious these guys are as much anti spam as I am, and let’s face it most of those guys that have lists send out so much crap it may as well be spam. These guys want to make sure people don’t give their product a bad name and I can understand that. Anyway, I purposefully put in an affiliate link into the next campaign and emailed him a copy.

He got back to me the next day saying that the example was fine but warning that the word “affiliate” in the content could have some spam filtering issues.  No worries then, that means I had absolutely no reason for not using MailChimp, I could even use affiliates in my campaign as long as I wasn’t a complete ass about it.

So, have you joined my list yet? If not you really should. As a member you will be listed on the My List page. You will never miss out on a post again. I will always try to include a link or two to other members blogs so that they also benefit from my campaigns. As a subscriber you may even learn a thing or two about what makes Sire tick, something that others will not be privy to. :wink_ee:

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About Peter Pelliccia"