In this episode of Australia’s most loving Internet marketing business podcast we discuss all things HOSTING. What is it? Is it all the same? What should you look for when choosing where to host your files? Which hosting service James prefers and why?
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Recommended Tools and Services in this Episode:
SEMRush – Keyword Research
BackupBuddy – Backup Plugin for WordPress Users
Hostgator – Web Hosting
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Tim: James Schramko, welcome back to the wonderfully warm and giving waters of the Freedom Ocean, my friend.
James: It’s my pleasure to be here, Tim.
Tim: I know that you’ve been itching to get back to these warm waters of internet marketing. Are you glad to be there?
James: Yeah! I’m always keen to talk about internet marketing. It’s an absolute passion of mine and I’ve been hanging out for this episode—
Tim: I know you have been! And in fact, welcome back, listeners, to the number one—what would we call it?—internet marketing podcast in Australia, as ranked by the Apple iTunes store. So welcome back. We know you’re loving it because we’re getting some fantastic feedback on the show notes and by iTunes and through our Facebook and through all sorts of wonderful online channels, James. And we record this episode on the eve of you heading off to the Philippines and me heading off to Port Douglas for a bit of—
James: Jet setting. We’re jet setting—
Tim: Where are you jet setting? Absolutely! What are you doing in the Philippines? Do you want to share that?
James: I’m going to hang out with my team for a week, which would be a lot of fun. They’re just amazing. We’ll be talking about internet marketing, we’ll be implementing new strategies in our business, sharing some ideas, and just enjoying discussion, I suppose. They’re just wonderful people and to have a team as terrific and these people, so talented. So I really enjoy my trips to the Philippines.
Tim: And powerful stuff when, you know, outsourcing is a powerful strategy anyway, for any internet marketer, but when you can actually get to the point of being on-the-go there and spend time with your team, you can only expect to see greater results. You were there about 6 months ago, weren’t you? Did you see big results, having spent time face to face with them?
James: Yeah! As soon as you go meet your team face to face, you have a much better connection. You really do relate to each other better. You can uncover all the hidden talents that they have. When you get into talking, you find out things that you wouldn’t necessarily have known before. You can get a much better appreciation for the culture and the lifestyle and the way they live. And also, I found, when I am able to explain things in more depths, you know, even if it’s like a workshop scenario. They really grasp the meaning of it. For example, one of my team members has been updating one of my websites every single day, and her sales copy and selling ability has just skyrocketed. And that’s because we were able to just sit down and just discuss it. Even just talking over dinner and in the classroom environment, being able to explain what sales copy is and why we do things. And that’s a big one, the why. It’s more important than anything else. Why we do things. And once I connect with that, that will leverage across your entire business.
Tim: There is a massive power in understanding the why. In fact, some of the stuff that you and I were doing just before we went on air, where you were helping me setting up some things in regards to hosting and video plays, et cetera. When you understand the why, the how becomes a hell of a lot easier. So we’re—in fact, we’ll be talking about that very shortly. James, I was just thinking while you’re in Manila, I’ll be in Port Douglas. And for our overseas listeners, that’s kind of like, what you would reckon I would say—I was going to say it’s like the Miami of Australia, but it’s not at all! It’s just a nice, hot tropical place, isn’t it? (laughs)
James: Yeah, it is! Not so much pastel running around and—
Tim: No, there’s not! But what I—
Tim: I drink beer. I think that a lot of people out there who may well live in the Freedom Ocean because there’s a lot of well-off people in Port Douglas and who have a lot of time. I always wonder, when I go to places like Port Douglas, what people do for a living out there, to be able to live a wonderful life in such a wonderful part of Australia. What I am going to do though, James, is see whether I can get a photo taken of myself sitting in a deck chair to replace the one on our homepage, on our website’s banner at the moment. Just might be able to up the quality a little bit, eh?
James: I kind of like that!
Tim: It’s a bit of fun, isn’t it? I do love the brand or with the visual brand that is Freedom Ocean. I go as far as actually to wearing it on a T-shirt. I’m that proud of it. My wonderful designer in Serbia is named Nicola, designed that for us and it’s fantastic. I’m liking it! I’m now getting a T-shirt made for your upcoming event, where I will be wandering onstage. We’ll talk about that later, mate. What we are going to talk about for episode 19 of Freedom Ocean is Hosting. That very technical world of hosting. And you’ve just helped me out with a whole lot of—I wouldn’t say hosting issues, but set me up with some hosting that is going to see me well into the future, and allow me to create some really fantastic products. So I thought in order to set the scene, just by way of a little background story. I am in the process, very, very close—in fact, as we record this—to launching my upcoming online marketing communications master class, which will be probably launched in the next two weeks. And anyone who is on our list will be able to access that, so if they just go to freedomocean.com they’ll be the first to know when that’s launched. But gee, it’s been an interesting journey, James. Whilst I have a huge knowledge as a small business marketing person, setting up the entire process of selling an online master class is been an interesting learning curve and you’ve helped me a lot along the way. Just so, this is now what I’m talking about. You know, you think, “Okay, well I’m going to sell an online master class. It’s going to be where people come in via webinar, hear from me and a whole lot of other marketing specialists in the areas of all sorts of things” And so that’s pretty easy to set up a webinar, but then you realize that you’ve got to set up a dedicated page on your website. You’ve got to record a video, which in my case involved PowerPoint slides and audio, and also a video of myself. I then go to setup a PayPal button. I’ve got to get that hosted somewhere, and the list of things go on and on and on.
James: Starts to add up, doesn’t it?
Tim: It really does! And I could absolutely understand why many people sort of start with the greatest of intentions, but along the way, fall down at one of a number of those hurdles that I just mentioned.
James: And I can also see why it’s even harder for people to try and get other people to do these bits for them because, even if you know what you want, it’s sort of hard to put together the pieces with external providers.
Tim: Totally! Totally! In fact, I don’t even like to touch on that. Gee, what are we talking about first? Talking about the—
James: Well, let’s just go into hosting first.
James: If that’s—
Tim: Well, I think that is the topic. The other question that came to mind was, you know, we’ll go in depths now about talking about hosting. But it’s like, what if you don’t have someone? I mean, you just walked me through a technical minefield an hour ago. And even though you’ve got to get this hosting and you need these couple of third-party add ons that will make it a hell of a lot easier. It’s like, what if you don’t have access to a James or someone else? So that’s interesting in itself and I know there’s some solutions we can offer our listeners on that. We’ll talk about that either later in this episode or at a coming episode. But hosting, mate. What is hosting, first of all? And is hosting, any old hosting, just worthwhile or is there particular hosting, characteristics of good hosting that you should look for?
James: There are and it’s something that I really struggled with in the beginning. The first time I tried to set up a website, I did what everyone else does. I go online, I look for hosting companies, ordered it, had no idea what I was doing; it was very confusing. And of course, you get the hang of it. Now I think the easiest solution for most people will be to look at the service like Host Gator. And they are resellers of one of the largest server farms in the world called The Planet. And Host Gator have quite friendly customer service and they’re accessible. And if there are problems they do leap to the support side of it—and what you’re doing in the shortest possible scenario is you are renting space on their server. And the reseller account, which is the sort of one or two websites-type account is the one that in my circles use, where they’re putting 4 or 5 or 6 or 7 or 10 websites onto this shared server. So they’re sharing this with other people. And it’s very, very cheap. It’s something like $9.00 a month or for $10.00 a month—
Tim: Up until these last couple of days, I’ve been using Host Gator for some other sites and it’s incredibly cheap.
James: Yeah. So that’s the sort of the easy place to get a server for your own website. And some of the discussion I have come up there are what about backup and stuff. Well, they will have a basic level of backup but I suggest you do your own. If you’re using WordPress sites, which we talk about a lot, you could use a plugin, any number of plugins to backup your entire website to either your local computer or to a separate server or hosting provider. And what we do is we actually back our websites up to Amazon S3 and S3 I think stands for Simple Storage Solution. So that is where we put up a backup of our websites to. And we’ll probably touch on Amazon S3 in a minute, because I’m going to talk to you about putting other types of media.
Tim: I’m just going to stop you there, too. For the technically challenged and that probably includes a lot of our listeners, so hopefully, probably does. We’re all at different levels. But what is hosting? Is it simply the concept of uploading files to the cloud, so that you can access them either later on, so it’s an archive system? As well as being able to have those files accessed by webpage? So what hosting is?
James: Hosting is just where your stuff lives online. And usually it’s going to be a little box—
Tim: It’s not just web pages?
James: It doesn’t have to be just web pages. I mean, the most common thing that we experience is a website and that will live on actual little server, sitting in a server farm under the ground in an air conditioned room, full of other servers. That’s called a server farm. That’s the most common scenario. Now we hear about the cloud, but the cloud’s been around for a long time; on the internet itself is like a cloud. But you can have your website shared in different locations so that it has a level of redundancy. Now this—you could even sort of have hybrids where you add a little bit of a cloud dimension onto an already existing website, you know, server, so that they can actually—I think it’s called cloud flare or something like that, where they’ll attach a little add on to your server so that it now gets replicated all around the web. And then there’s virtual private servers like VPS servers. Now, I’ve got to tell you straight up—
Tim: Now I thing you’re starting to geek out, James.
James: I’m not a technical person and we’re going to get so many comments about this episode and everyone’s got an opinion about this or that, okay? So I think we should keep it pretty simple. For most people listening to our episodes, they’re just going to be happy with a Host Gator, shared server. That’s most people. If you start to build up some serious assets, like a membership site or a really powerful blog, then you might want to look at a dedicated server. And that’s where you start paying—
Tim: We’re a podcast, James.
James: A podcast? Yes. Then you might get a dedicated server, which means it just you using that site. And that’s good from the point of view that you’re not going to get some filthy spam on the same address that gets you banned. Because if you do have a shared server and someone’s naughty, that can affect everyone on that server. Or if they’re using all the resource on that server, that can affect your website too. Now dedicated servers are going to cost you $200-$300 a month. But it will be just you using it and you’ve got more control over what the configuration is and the backups on that site.
Tim: So what’s an example of a dedicated server? You talked about Host Gator’s being a shared hosting option; you then go on forward and say that there’s this concept of a dedicated server.
James: You’re still with Host Gator here, or any number of—
Tim: Ah! Okay!
James: Rackspace or Liquid Web and all these other brands. But now what we’re saying, well, I want this box and it’s just for me to use. And that’s—so you’ve gone from a shared account to a dedicated account. And if you count in Host Gator, they’ll actually move all your sites up to the dedicated server, so you can scale this as you go.
Tim: Nice !
James: You will have to change your name server settings with your domain registrar. You literally have to tell your domain, “Okay, our website has moved from this place to this place.” But they tell you how to do that. The next stage, as you’re going to a VPS-type thing, and that’s where you start buying nodes and your website now lives in several locations. And it’s replicated, so if one goes down, it’s still in another place. So that gives you more up-time potentially. And the other type of hosting that we might consider is using something like Amazon S3, where we are putting our files into the cloud and they’re going to be accessible to users close to their locations so it can actually improve the transmission times and it’s very, very cheap. It’s a really cheap place to store stuff. So that’s where we put our media files because they’re resource hungry. Videos, images, audio, all of our podcast episodes go up to Amazon S3 into the cloud. All of my videos from my sales pages go up to Amazon S3. And that means when someone comes to my site, if it’s on a dedicated server and they’re watching videos, video is coming from Amazon S3 but the text on the page is just coming from my server. So my server is not getting loaded up. The strain is going out to the cloud and it will show from the nearest location because we ticked a little box that says cloud front distribution. And that just simply means let’s make that media available at the nearest location to that consumer.
Tim: So now that Amazon S3 is what you just signed me up for, so I could have good hosting for the upcoming webinar series and any other rich-media content that I will now much more comfortably create—what I really like, what inspired me to make this episode 19 was an email we received yesterday when we were going back and forth on, you know, getting the hosting right. And basically, you gave me some instructions and then you said the last line, which you really resonated with me, you said once you get comfy—the word comfy, comfortable for those who are not into shortening words—I feel that once you get comfy with this asset, you will create a lot of content and make it easy to sell. And I think you’re right. I mean, the nerve that that hit for me was that I kind of knew that Amazon S3 was a great hosting solution, but it was just about breaking through the technical aspect of it. And sometimes, these services aren’t the easiest; they don’t have the easiest interfaces. But once you get there, and we’ve been through this process, which we’re talking about now, it does become a hell of a lot easier and it does free you up to get on with the real thing of creating content.
James: Yeah. Well you had that magic word: blockage.
James: You’d come to the point and it sort of like you threw your hands in the air and you’re like, “What do I do now? I don’t have an Amazon account.” And I think I replied back and said, “Get one!” (laughs) It’s seems obvious!
Tim: Yeah! Yeah, yeah! And I have a Host Gator account and even with Host Gator, I kind of used it in a fairly simplified fashion. And now as I sort of start to breakthrough these blockages—and like I said earlier in this episode, I mean, there are just so many blockages. I got back to why I thought the Freedom Ocean podcast originally was a good idea, and I guess it was because there are just so many blockages, there are so many questions that us, internet marketers, have. Beginners and intermediate, especially, where there is a lot to know and it’s like anything; you get into the business of something because you want to create a product around a passion and sell it. You want to create a podcast series around a passion and share it, you know. You do all these things because it’s your passion. Your passion is not opening up a hosting account and setting it up, or hosting or setting up a webinar event. I mean, these are things that you’ve got to do and as internet marketers, unless we go and outsource everything, you’ve got to do it yourself and figure it out along the way. So it’s good stuff. And getting back to Amazon S3, James. Is it right—I’m sure I heard somewhere along the way that Amazon S3 came about because Amazon, as an online business, one of the world’s biggest online businesses, had excess storage? And they just thought, “Well, why don’t we make money out of it and sell it and create a business out of it?” Is that right?
James: I really don’t know the history behind it. I just know that it exists. I observed some of the big guys online, streaming their files from it, so I investigated it. And it turns out, it’s very well-priced and it’s got a very good up-time.
Tim: So am I right in saying then that Amazon S3, for you, is the best hosting solution going around?
James: For me it is, yes. So I still don’t put my websites there, and I think you can now, but I put a lot of my other things there. I put pictures there and I put videos there and audio there, so that takes the strain off my normal websites. And now I’m in the situation where I’m moving some of my servers across 2 VPS-type service. Virtual Private Service and these cloud scenarios—I have quite a few servers; I’ve got about 20 different server accounts. And I’ll talk about why I do that. There’s a few reasons. One is I don’t have all my eggs in one basket, because that’s crazy. And that means if your server goes down, and they do go down from time to time. If all your websites are down, you’re kind of stuck. And you know I have–my dedicated server had to go through a massive upgrade recently and it did impact a couple of my sites for a few days, just while we were getting the software to the correct version to work with the tools that we’d installed in our thing. So depending on what you’ve got on your website, you may need a different server configuration. If you’re using WordPress, for example, you have to have mySQL update from the old version to the new version, or your WordPress 3.2 won’t work. So imagine right now, there’s a bunch of people updating their WordPress sites and they won’t actually work. So you have to make sure that it’s reasonably up-to-date. And again, when you have a company like Host Gator, they’ll manage most of the techie stuff on the back end of that server for you. But if you go for the really cheap servers or the high-end commercial grade stuff, you will actually have to employ a technical company to come in and manage that server for you. And I would suggest most of us don’t want to do that. Not geared for it.
Tim: No, no. Not yet!
James: Not yet. So yes, I put my media up to Amazon S3 and it’s quite scalable. You’re really only paying for what you use. That’s the other good thing. Now, for most people, when they stick a few videos on there, their Amazon bill each month might be like $3.00-$4.00 or $5.00-$6.00. When I started getting a lot of media, my bill went up to a couple of hundred dollars a month. And when I released TrafficGrab, the bill for my server went up to about $900 for the first month. Because that many people watching the two hours of free videos on my site. Now I can tell you, if those videos were on the server that that site is on, it would’ve crashed the server. And it would’ve run out of bandwidth and it would actually go offline. So if you are planning on doing launches or having a huge spike in activity or you, you know, have something that’s going to be big or popular, you really want to start moving those files into the cloud and getting an unlimited resource.
Tim: Well then, I guess too, having the bill go up as more people use it. It’s a bit like paying tax, isn’t it? It’s a good problem to have because it just means more and more people are accessing your information. And if your information is any good, then they’re going to be buying from you.
James: Well, that’s the beauty of an information product. I mean, let’s just look at some rough numbers. Let’s say the product is bringing in $20,000 a month, less my thousand dollars for server fees, that’s $19,000, less my affiliate commission, say $6,000 or $7,000, still leaves me with $12,000. And for that month, I did nothing. Not a single thing, because I’ve already created the product and turned it on. So I’ve got other people selling it. People come along and buy it, and my job is to make sure it stays up online and I’ll take a 5-figure profit every single month for probably 6 or 7 months, until I come out with the next version.
Tim: That frees you—
James: I love information products.
Tim: Yeah! Well then it frees you up to spend some time in the ocean, doesn’t it? Information products are, for those who haven’t listened to—it was one of our earlier episodes where we actually went into quite some detail about how to create an information product. And I still look back on those early days, James, at the internet ocean, when I was a boy in floaties. But, you know, I came into it. I came into internet marketing thinking that that’s what it’s all about. It was creating information products and clearly it is a great business model, but there’s a lot about the business models beyond information—
James: But look at what’s happened now, Timbo. You’ve got, through our episodes, and we’re up to about 19 now, I think. If someone’s been listening to every episode, they would now have an idea about a business model. They’ll have ideas about how to create content. They will understand what type of website they need. They’ll know what kind of domain they should buy. They understand how to create a sales concept or sales video. They know what tools to use, and now they know how to host it. So really, our breaking down all those barriers, and we’ll keep doing that. So once you’ve become really confident in many of the areas, it was good to have today’s session because now you’ve just gone into the warp speed zone where not many people get to. And you’re in a situation now where tomorrow you could wake up from your hammock, you could have an idea for a business, you could now crack open PowerPoint, create a sales slides, you can screen flow them, you could render them with the custom settings that I gave you, and then you could upload that to your Amazon S3 account, and then you could go and create a player for that media in just a few minutes, and paste that piece of code on your WordPress website, and it’s live and you could start driving traffic to it using some of the traffic techniques. So you actually have the wherewithal to make it happen. Now it’s just a matter of choice what you actually want to work on and why do you want to work on it and what else you could do instead. So this is where it gets very exciting.
Tim: Massively exciting! This is where, what did I say, the rubber hits the road. And, you know what, I’m going to do right at this junction, James, at the 27-minute mark of Episode 19. I’m going to suggest that exactly what you brought up then, forms a basis of the next episode. But before we close Episode 19, we’re going to finish it with a list of question. What do you think about that? Is that a good place to stop and take off again in Episode 20, where we can actually talk about how you can make that happen using Amazon S3 and some of the third-party plugins?
James: It sounds great! Although it wouldn’t be Freedom Ocean unless I counter or contradict something. I guess I want to try and squeeze in an extra hosting question that I get asked a lot. That is, “Does it matter if the server’s not located in the same country as your domain or your business?” And the short answer is no, it doesn’t really. I found when I had Australian hosting solutions, they were both expensive and unreliable. And I’m sure there’s very reliable companies in Australia, but my SEO results and my tests have not shown me any loss of ranking or anything from having US-based servers. They’re much better priced, especially with the currency fluctuation. They are far more reliable than the solutions that I have been able to find in Australia. And there was recently an Australian server solution provider who lost all the websites for the customers. So you want to be making sure, no matter where you host, that you backup your websites. That’s really my main point. And I suggest that Amazon S3 might be a good place to backup your website to, as a storage place, so that at least you’ve got the ability to restart your business if your server does disappear for some reason.
Tim: So I understand that. So at the moment, we talked about Amazon S3 as a place to upload and host all of your media files, all the big files. You weren’t sure whether you could host your web pages from S3, and I’m sure someone will let us know—
James: I think you could actually can, Tim. I think they recently enabled a lot more functionality. But you can host software programs and stuff, and they’re going around now and they’re holding meetings in major cities to educate businesses. They can store their accounting system in the cloud and they can install their—you know, whereas offices used to have those big boxes in the corner or a rack in a little glass shelf in the office. That’s no longer required or practical. Now you should be hosting.
James: (laughs) Yeah! And so cheap! Now you can host it all in the cloud and services like Amazon are providing that. So you could probably can host most of your stuff there, but I would say 90 percent of the meat of my websites are hosted on Amazon and it’s really just the basic part of the website, you know, the WordPress part of the website, is currently hosted on a dedicated server for most of my websites.
Tim: Alright, okay. So I then, okay. So Amazon S3 does cover the ability to host websites and media. My question was going to be “How do you go about backing up? Is there literally a button that then backs it up to somewhere else or…?”
James: Yeah, what we do on our websites, we install a plugin called Backup Buddy. And it’s automatically set. So each week, it just grabs our WordPress site and it uploads a copy of it to Amazon S3 into a protective, private folder.
James: But if Host Gator disappeared tomorrow, and I really hope they don’t, but if they did, that means the planet’s gone. That means the largest website company in the world is gone under. If that would have happened, we would take our copy from Amazon S3 and upload it to our new hosting provider and then we point our domain to our new hosting provider and we’d be back in business the next day.
Tim: Nice! Nice! James that is a wonderful segue into Episode 20, where we’ll get serious about what I’m going to do when I’m on that hammock in Port Douglas. But can I share with you a question, which I’m pretty sure we’ve answered before. But when it came through on the email, I couldn’t think of the answer and what to respond to it. And for the listeners, when we send an email out, when you register at freedomocean.com and we’d send emails to let you know that new podcasts episodes are out. You can hit reply and we will see the questions or the comments that you leave for us. And either respond to them or answer them on an upcoming episode. So my point is, James—and I do see everything—James, Christian here from Adam Littlechild of customwebsiteshq.com, and he says, “Hi! I am up to speed with all your podcasts. Loving it!” And he uses an exclamation mark there, James, which I always take as being a good thing. Absolutely loving it. He says, “What tool can I use to find a sites ranking on Google for getting keywords?”
James: Okay. The one that I use is called SEMRush.com.
Tim: That’s it.
James: I really like that tool! And it has added in Australia as well. So a lot of my websites are dot com, and we just type the website address in and it will who us what keyword or phrases we’re ranking for, and what I do is I export that as a Excel file or a CSV file. I insert an auto-filter and I now start searching in ascending order for rank, so that we can see, you know, 1, 2,3,4,5, and I send off the list to the team and they start trying to get out where I’ve ranked third or fourth or fifth; we put a bit of an effort onto that, we’ll make a new post with that key-phrase and just push it up to number one. Because we know that at number one position in the search results, we’ll get a lot more traffic than number 4 or 5.
James: Probably get 5 or six times more traffic. And we also search filter by cost-per-click. I love that indicator tool, so. For some of our websites, we’ll run the thing, we’ll see that we’re ranking for 68 key phrases, we’ll pull the excel report, we’ll do a data sort, and we’ll rank cost-per-click in descending order. So the highest cost-per-click at the top might be $8.00 a click or $7.00 a click. And we’ll find out, you know. If we’re ranking on page 2 for a $7.00 or $8.00 per click phrase. Then we’ll go and push it up to number one to increase the value of our website, especially if we’re running AdSense on it.
Tim: Yeah, right! Okay! I like that! That’s an episode in itself, James!
Tim: SEMRush.com. And now, for our listeners, we would put all the links in the show notes. If we do mention it’s happening, we’ll include a link in the show notes. So you can watch, check it out and go back to any episode and find out what we’re talking about by visiting freedomocean.com. James, that’s it for another episode. Gold mate! Absolute gold! And I’m pretty excited about Episode 20, where we’ll actually go and talk about how you can go—as you said, whilst in the hammock, create some pretty serious product, now that you’ve got your hosting sorted out. So until then. See ya next time mate!
James: See yah.