Yesterday was another day the unavailability of Skype brought great disservice. Although this fail was not global, it did affect many users including those who run business over Internet or use the Web as a powerful secondary channel with Skype serving for business communication. Support calls and chat sessions, on-line meetings – all types of conversations, run over Skype dropped dead having if not paralyzed then significantly disrupted the activity of hosting providers, e-shops, on-line consulting agencies and many more businesses. It’s not know for sure why this outage took place, but that is not something we are going to discuss today.
Today we will tell you how to take serious preventive measures to avoid such issues in future. In fact it is not recommended to use Skype or similar services as a primary channel for business communication, no matter if this communication is within the organization or between the company personnel and their customers, but if you do, you should definitely back them up.
Backing up Communication Channel Within the Organization
To sound the most helpful and to cover as many aspects as possible we decided to split our tips into ones for issues with communication within the company and into those that affect communication between staff and customers. Let us start from company internal issues since those are kind of easier to be resolved, at least in terms of organization of the backup channel, since the ways to do that may be quite difficult.
Facebook chat and Google Talk have pushed traditional instant messengers out, but the protocols are still working and worth being used. Yes sir, dig out your good old AIM or ICQ accounts’ credentials, fire up your clients and bring the conversation there. An interesting thing about those is that you can easily move all your business contacts to a separate list that is going to make the communication easier. Moreover, some of the latest ICQ clients support audio and video conversations, too.
Local Chat Platform
If you limit communication within your company to instant messaging on the one hand and want to make it secure on the other hand, there’s nothing better than setup a Jabber (XMPP protocol based) server and get some Jabber-complient client to keep all your internal business discussions within it. A well-organized server will let you communicate with your partners and gather them in conference rooms world wide, regardless of their location. And if some serious security is required, you may limit your Jabber server accessibility so that your partners could connect to it over VPN.
Local VoIP Platform
If live audio conversations are vital, you can either setup a server that would support voice over IP technology or signup for some VoIP service. Both variants imply the possibility to make calls over Internet using special software installed on local machines that are connected with the VoIP server. Organizing such a channel for communication within the organization is going to be rather cheap since you and your partners will only use extensions, which does not expect any cell or land phone calls being made. Other solutions will require more expenses which nevertheless stay worthwhile.
Backing up Communication Channel Between Personnel and Customers
Those can be used as a backup solution for communications between staff and your customers, too. There are, however, aspects that should be kept in mind while moving your support chat to AIM or any other service. First things first, using public messengers for communication with your customers does not look quite professional – so while switching to those channels, even temporarily you need to create a special user login, which name would somehow be connected with your company and your business. Another thing to check is your customers’ tastes – some may use MSN, some prefer AOL, some chat via ICQ. Finally, you will need to be able to update your clients on that rather quickly – using your corporate blog, forum, Twitter account or Facebook or even main website page will be fine to provide those backup account names.
On-site chat system
This is something that should actually be a primary channel and of course you will be hardly able to install it as a backup channel once your experience a crash, but if you have a chat system but prefer using Skype instead, it is high time to refer your clients there. It may also be worthwhile to reconsider the system in use so that it wouldn’t make you to switch to Skype at least for instant messaging – currently many chat systems have convenient interface and support numerous features – chat-to-email delivery, operator or service rating and many more.
Unlike Jabber that is mostly used only locally, VoIP platform can be used as a communication channel for both staff and customers. This channel however, will require more expenses than an “internal” one since you will need to have a land line phone number bound to your VoIP server. Thus, accepting call withing roaming and from cell-phones may affect your balance. On the other hand, if it is a backup solution and the issue is not to last long – you can sacrifice your funds for maximum uptime of your service.
As far as you can see, there are many other ways to build a reliable on-line communication channel for your business. Some of them may not be free but the money you will spend on those will provide your with great reliability and good quality of connectivity. You can use one of very cheap VPS plans we offer to set up a communication platform for your business. In this article we do not deface Skype, of course – we just issue a friendly reminder for everyone, who use public communication services for business activity since those may fail and damage your business easily.
If you want to run your own online shop you should not expect your expenses to be limited to renewal of your hosting account and domain. You will need to spend some more money to organize your business, so those expenses or let us call them investments, need to be as efficient as possible – you need to spend your money wisely. While some expenses cannot be avoided, some may be easily pruned – today we are going to let your know which exactly steps you can cut cost on and how.
That’s where it all begins – the first mistake many e-commerce owners make is they get expensive hosting on a powerful server while having just a small website. What happens is they waste their money on hosting, which power they don’t exactly use full-throttle. This is something incorrect that needs to be looked after – if you are only launching your project, it is worthwhile to take a simple budget plan that will be enough for your needs while your business is being developed. Hosting providers are loyal about upgrades, so you are not going to have any troubles when you need to change your environment to something bigger and more powerful – you may even get a discount, so you can expect much money to be saved while acting that far-sighted.
Domain cost cutting usually comes down to getting a free domain along with your hosting account. That looks and sounds nice, but they usually offer only one domain – what if you need more? Well, you may need more since you may want to run your corporate blog or newsfeed or whatsoever under a separate domain, not a subdomain. You may also need to have some similar names “reserved”, so anytime a websurfer makes a typo, he or she gets to your and your website only. Finally, you may simply have several projects to run, so regardless of the purpose of multiple domains registration, you need to get them with as much profit as possible – therefore you need to find a registrar that offers discounts even on small batches of domains. Checking the latest deals, that registrars constantly offer may help you a lot with that, especially if you not only check their main website but media resources – blogs, Twitter and Facebook profiles, etc. – as well.
Advertising and promotion
That’s the very point you have a great deal of options at. To put it simple – the more manual work you do in advertising, the more money you save on it. What you can choose among is: guest blogging, link exchange, review posting, social media activity, affiliation and PPC. Of course, we can hardly tell you about each of those activities in many details, but a short review we are going to give you should help you with making your choice.
Guest blogging. This type of self-promotion will be useful if you offer some services. You will need to find a relevant guest blog, usually in business or in certain niche you particularly deal with and place an interesting eye-catching article that is going to represent you as a pro and show that your project is the one to trust. Since the idea of guest blogging is noncommercial self-promotion, your article should not look spamvertized, additionally, they may limit you in backlinking (usually 2 links are allowed), so you need to think carefully what those are going to be. If you have a blog, it’s advisable to put the first link there but not to your website directly.
Link exchange. This is another free way of advertising. Although it has lost its popularity lately, you can still gain something on it, but what you need to make sure about, is that the resource you are going to exchange links with is as relevant is possible, otherwise you may have issues with SEO that is going to harm your search engine visibility.
Review posting. This activity is kind of close to posting at guest blogs, but it allows your message to look more advertising. Review placement makes sense for many online businesses – what you need to do is find the directory that would match the niche of your business and leave a review about your company or about some of its services or products specifically. You can also search for websites that create listing of companies of a certain category. Reviews on such sites are usually left by prospect or existing customers, so adding your company information there will do you good, too. There is, however, something to look after –review posting and company listing can be both free and paid, so it’s always advisable to learn the website policy first.
Social media activity. This way of self-promotion can also be free or paid – depending on your goals. Usually you start with creation of a business profile on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and probably some other resources which is free. And then everything depends on your strategy – you may either pick your target audience manually by communicating with people and sharing interesting useful things, or simply grab and take them to your page using targeted ads.
Affiliation. This advertising activity is definitely costly, but what is good about it is that you define the cost on your own. If your business is about selling goods or bringing customers to use some of your services, you may look for some helpers among your most active clients. Of course, helpers need to be rewarded for what they do, so you need to work out an affiliate program that is going to deliver affiliate commissions for sales your partners make. If based on a percentage rate, your affiliate program is not going to take that much.
PPC. Finally we have come to the most popular and effective advertising activity – PPC marketing. This means involvement of such search engines as Google and Yahoo!. Talking about Google and namely its AdWords – one of the most powerful advertising tools so far we can’t hide the fact that it can’t be cheap. But if you setup your campaign effectively, your Return On Investment (ROI) is going to make you happy. Additionally, getting back to the topic of hosting we can give you a tip, that some hosting providers offer Adwords credits along with their hosting accounts. Apart from that, Google issues Adwords coupons so you may have some free credits on those, too.
If you look into starting your own e-commerce project, you need to work out a business plan that is going to show you all the expenses you expect to have. If you are lucky and conscious enough, believe us those are going to be covered soon and effectively. If you don’t know where to start at – have a look at the E-commerce hosting plan we offer and Sitevalley.com. Give it a try with 30-days money back period and make sure you are on your way to success.
We all know many bloggers are open minded people who do blogging for fun. They run their web logs for their friends, relatives and like-minded people who they hang around the Web with, so they don’t usually look into making money on their websites. Well, if you are a pro blogger or your blog is simply that popular that you can’t lose your chance to earn something on it, you need to think of how to monetize its traffic.
If your blog is not a community supporting news feed or an add-on page for some website, but a sole project, there are not that many ways to earn on it, but choosing one of those, that we are going to introduce is definitely worth trying.
1. Become an affiliate
One of the easiest ways to start earning money on your web log is enroll into affiliate partnership with some company. The more relevant you partner is to the topics you cover, the more sales you are expected to get. For instance, if you are a photographer and deal with e-shops where you get your equipment, you can place their banner on your blog so any sale made by your visitors from your website will be rewarded with a commission.
The most interesting thing about affiliate partnership is that in fact you don’t need to be bound with one company specifically – you can cooperate with as many of them as you like. And of course, the topics you write about play a very important role. The more niches your blog covers the more different companies you can advertise, and the hosting provider, too, by the way, since you host your blog somewhere, don’t you? Who says your readers don’t want to run their own sites as smoothly as yours. And if you do not want to deal with specific companies and participate in various affiliate programs making new deals anytime you or they need to change something – you can join an affiliate network, like the one held by Commission Junction. Cooperating with them will let you find best affiliate offers and help you with marketplace picking.
2. Offer advertising positions
If your affiliate earnings are going to depend on the visitors’ interest and your partner’s reputation, selling advertising positions will guarantee you constant stable profit. The profit, however, may be questionable and so may be the interest in occupying those positions. Your blog has got to be very popular and have a great number of daily hits to be worth placing one’s advertisement at.
To look and sound more serious and attractive it is advisable to have your blog prepared for expected adverts – work out the positions you are going to leave for them, create kind of a media plan to estimate pricing for those positions depending on the size and period of an ad, gather some traffic information about your resource – number of daily/monthly hits, incoming traffic sources, conversion rates (if any are available by that time). Finally you may look for companies that don’t run affiliate programs but nevertheless may be interested in partnership – even if that doesn’t multiply your funds, you may still expect some bonuses. To find potential advertisers, you may check the relevant keywords on Google – find the keywords that make your blog get displayed on top of search results and check the resources that prompt in Google Adwords – this is going to be a perfect match for your blog. Then you may study the resources you like best and contact their holders personally.
3. Place sponsored reviews
Sponsored reviews is something that is not usually considered as fair advertising. Those e-commerce owners who are not much concerned about acting fair prefer this way of advertising. On the other hand, those bloggers who honor fair-play never accept sponsored reviews placement proposals, although these are well-paid. Well, if you want to earn on this and keep your honor, you may offer placement of such reviews on your own, picking those service or goods providers, you would recommend your readers in fact. If you don’t know how they do it, you can take a look at some of those resources that deal with sponsored reviews placement – http://linkfromblog.com/, http://bloganything.net, http://www.solidblogger.com.
As far as you can see, even doing blogging just for fun may bring some profit. The tips above will hardly make you rich overnight, but will for sure help you cover the cost of your hosting and some other minor spendings. In order to start earning by any of those means you need to make sure your blog is interesting and the contacts you are trying to partner with are relevant. Of course, this will also require good communication skills, but this is something, bloggers don’t usually miss, so good luck 🙂 By the way, if you are looking for an affiliate partner, already – spend another minute to check out our Affiliate Program at SiteValley.com.
After we have delivered you numerous articles on different aspects of VPS hosting, we’ve noticed that we need to get back to this topic again. Once again we are going to talk about the problem of choice of a VPS server. This time we are going to take a look at this question under a different angle – let us share some interesting tips on how to tell if what you see when checking out the feature/pricing page of your potential VPS host is what you are going to get. While introducing you choice-making tips in our previous articles we usually referred to the technical aspect of VPS hosting, today we are going to analyze the VPS hosting from the point of view of a customer.
How much RAM do you get in fact?
When you see a 1 GB VPS plan at a very low cost, don’t be too fast in making optimistic conclusions. Check if this entire amount is guaranteed RAM. The best option is to contact sales support – then you are going to have a proof – a copy of your chat or email. But if you don’t have time for those checks, there is a quick way to find it out on your own – check the virtualization type used by this host. If it is XEN – be sure the entire 1 GB of RAM is guaranteed. If they use OpenVZ (the hosts that use it often say their VPSes are powered by Virtuozzo), there’s a risk, that their pricing provides the combined amount of RAM – guaranteed + burstable (RAM, that may be allocated only for a short period of time and thus – not constantly available). Since RAM is the main feature of any VPS server, this should one of the first points you verify before moving any further.
Checking out pricing of some VPS hosts, one can find such feature as CPU units. This parameter shows the CPU frequency, available for the given VPS. Although it looks rather informative and lets the potential client compare the offered plans in more details, it’s not quite a correct way to represent VPS CPU specifications. To find out how powerful the CPU of the given VPS is, you need to know, what number of cores the entire VPS-carrier has, what their frequency is and how much of this power is delegated to the specific virtual machine – the latter factor depends on performance priority.
If you don’t know, how to interpret this information, you can simply ignore it. If you do need the details, you can have a brief consultation with the sales department of your potential host. This will let you find out the specifications of the carrier. The more powerful it is and the bigger the plan you are looking into, the more powerful your VPS is going to be.
Since VPS servers are usually offered as a fast solution that is cheaper than a dedicated server, those are not designed for large data processing. The minimal plan at some VPS hosts may offer as little as 10 GB of disk space. If you are going to host a few web pages, it’s alright, but if you work with email and databases, you need to consider disk space allocation rather carefully. Now let us count what you have in the end – after your server is setup, the system may take up to 2 GB of disk space. Any backup you make is going to create a file of the size approximately equal to the size of your /home directory. Not that much space left, isn’t it? That is why another Gigabyte of your virtual HDD may become vital. Well, it can also be taken by swap. According to the architecture of OS Linux, swap is a fixed disk partition, not a file, unlike on Windows – therefore, before you order a XEN-based VPS, you need to consult sales department first, to find out whether /swap is counted with the disk space offered or not.
If you want to be completely sure about your future VPS host, you need to find out as many details as you can before you actually sign-up for their services. Your potential host may not list everything on their web-page, it’s alright, but their sales and technical team should always be able to explain these or those aspects of hosting with their company. If it happens that some of your questions remains unanswered, you have serious reasons to not consider this host. If you are looking for an affordable and reliable VPS host right now, please spend another minute checking out our plans here at SiteValley.com.
Yesterday we at SiteValley.com started a promo – from now on you can get a virtual private server from us with a doubled amount of RAM paying the same price. This is a limited time offer, although the final date of the promo is not yet defined we started receiving many sign-up requests. Since the promo is also valid for our current customers, incoming upgrade requests arrive as well.
One may wonder why we increased exactly RAM. We might lower the prices, increase disk space or bandwidth quotas or include some special service to the plan cost. However we did not, since the main idea of that promo is to fulfill the need of our current and prospect clients – the need of performance.
We released a plenty of articles regarding VPS hosting peculiarities lately and despite that almost all factors become the key ones when you search for a virtual private server, there’s one parameter you look at firstly – amount of RAM. RAM really is important for the VPS user, since if the client needs more disk space or less traffic limits, he or she gets a physical server, but if they are here for a VPS, they check the RAM quota in the first place. Right now, when software requirements increase and the amount of day-to-day tasks grows – it’s rather hard to manage all that having a server with amount or RAM that used to be popular among home PC users over ten years ago. Right now the minimal RAM quota at SiteValley.com is 512MB and we believe many of our customers are going to like it.
What Does it Mean for Me?
If you are still in doubts, let us show you some examples of how useful those changes are and how exactly they are going to do you good.
First thing first – the control panel – that’s something many people have problems with. Experiencing lack of RAM they either have to get an inconvenient panel of DirectAdmin type to have more free RAM left or get a full-functioning entirely automated solution, like cPanel that makes them forget about some manual works on the server… and that makes the server forget about being fast and responsive. Well, right now even our minor plans – oVPS1/xVPS1 – will let you have your VPS with cPanel setup on it.
Tasks processing and scheduling. If you wait for non-business time to backup your content or to execute some mass mail delivery so as not to experience slowdowns or glitches – your VPS lacks RAM. There’s not much to do about it since you can kill or suspend primary processes. Thus you have to figure out schedules and do some work within inconvenient narrow time frames wishing your VPS had more RAM. Now it has, so you may not be that strict about memory allocation and load distribution.
Overall performance. Whenever your VPS uses up all RAM, it never goes down at once. Our OpenVZ customers are happy with burstable RAM they can use to cover minor load spikes, while XEN users rely on swap that uses hard disk to temporarily store background processes, saving RAM and reallocating it for new processes. It’s fine and such overuse is bearable, but it causes slowdowns and if you work with databases or dynamic content – you may start receiving timeouts, so your site turns unreachable with your server being online. Well, for now your server will have some more RAM to use up till it starts using swap or eating some spare memory of the carrier.
We hope that our article helped you understand why we took care of RAM being increased specifically and what changes it is going to bring in. If you want to get a VPS from SiteValley.com but feel somehow unsure about the plan and virtualization type – feel free to contact our live chat support or submit a ticket to our sales department. And of course, you can browse our blog for more >VPS-specific articles.