Monetize Your Blog: Make Money Doing What You Love

August 11th, 2017 by Bev Feldman

As a blogger, you’ve probably put a lot of time and effort — and maybe even the occasional tear or two — into your craft. And if you’ve been blogging for a while, you might have thought to yourself, “Hey, it would be nice to get paid for all of my hard work!”

Well, did you know that it’s possible to monetize your blog if you have a WordPress.com Premium or Business plan? While you may not earn enough to quit your day job (unless you attract significant traffic), at the very least you could potentially bring in enough to fuel your half-caff mocha latte addiction.

There are several ways to earn money through your WordPress.com blog, including paid advertising through WordAds, sponsored blog posts, and affiliate links. So let’s dive deeper into these three options, and also take a look at the best practices for monetizing your blog.

Advertising without effort

WordAds, the official advertising program for WordPress.com, creates advertisements for national campaigns that display on your site. It’s automatically available to both Premium and Business plan sites, but free or Personal plan users must apply to use the program. In those cases, the websites must meet the program’s traffic and content requirements.

The ads will automatically appear — meaning no extra work for you — once you use WordAds to set up advertising on your site. How much you earn depends on several factors, including how much traffic comes to your blog, where your blog readers are located, and whether they use ad blockers.

You have some control over the content of the advertising on your site with WordAds, but you cannot choose a specific advertiser — and this might not work for everyone. For instance, if you’re a blogger writing about sustainability and running an eco-friendly household, you may not want an advertisement for disposable diapers showing up on your blog. However, WordPress.com works to maintain the highest standards for the ads it displays.

Promote what you love

A sponsored blog post is when a company pays you to write a post that promotes its product or service. Ideally, this product or service should be something that fits in with the overall theme of your blog — and it should naturally weave into your post in a way that feels authentic. It can also be a fun way to use your creative muscles as you monetize your blog.

There are many ways that you can create a sponsored blog post, including sharing a recipe, crafting a do-it-yourself project, writing a review, or telling a story featuring the product or service. Let’s say you blog about photography, and you are writing a sponsored blog post about a new photo-editing app for your phone. You might write a blog post with tips on how to take photos of children, including a special focus on how to edit those photos using the new app.

So how do you find sponsored opportunities? There are networks that connect bloggers and companies for the purpose of writing sponsored blog posts. You must apply to be included in these networks — and once you are in, you often need to apply for acceptance to specific sponsored blog campaigns.

Another option is to reach out directly to companies that you love and want to promote. Start by connecting with the companies on social media — engage with their posts on Facebook and Twitter through liking, commenting, and retweeting. Once you build a rapport, find out who is in charge of marketing and send them an email. Be sure to pitch them a few post ideas that will really wow them.

Monetize your clicks

An affiliate link is a special URL that earns you money when someone clicks on it and purchases a product or service. In some cases, you can even earn money when a visitor creates a new account using this URL. Many big companies like Amazon, Target, and Hobby Lobby offer affiliate programs that are either maintained independently or are managed through an affiliate network. In most cases, you have to apply for acceptance to these programs. Once you’re accepted, each program has specific directions for how to create the affiliate links.

Let’s say you write book reviews on your blog. For each book that you review, you could include an Amazon affiliate link to the book. If someone clicks on that link and purchases the book — or something else from Amazon’s website — you will earn a small commission. An affiliate link would be a natural fit, since you would have probably included the link to the book anyway.

Optimize your strategy

To effectively advertise on your blog — without turning off your readers — promote things that fit within the overall theme of your website, and avoid products and services you would never actually use. If you are a wedding planner, for example, it would probably feel inauthentic (and more than a little strange) if you wrote about bowling shoes just so you can earn a few bucks.

It’s important to note that in the US, the Federal Trade Commission requires disclosure of paid advertising, promotion, or affiliate links. So remember to add a sentence to the top of your post that explains your relationship to the product or service, such as “The following article contains affiliate links,” or “This post was sponsored by Company X. All opinions are my own.” If you link to the company’s website, make it a “nofollow” link, which signals to Google that you were paid — and prevents your link from influencing search results. No matter what method you choose to monetize your blog, always make sure that you align with WordPress.com’s Terms of Service.

It might be easy to get wrapped up in the idea that you need to monetize your blog, but don’t lose sight of why you started in the first place. Put your best writing forward, and create content that connects with your audience. Then, earning a little cash will be a great reward for all of your hard work.

Your Online Presence Starts With These 3 Free Tools

June 21st, 2017 by Bev Feldman

With the abundance of free tools available to boost your business’s online presence, it can be downright overwhelming to know where to begin. How do you decide which ones are the best use of your limited time?

Well, there are three basic tools every new website owner should consider. You might choose to focus on them differently depending on the type of business you have and your long-term goals, but each matters in its own way.

Let’s say you have a physical storefront and your goal is to get more shoppers into your store, you’ll want to start with the Google My Business tool. Then, build your online audience — and forge relationships with potential supporters — by turning to one of the most versatile tools: social sharing. And finally, when you’re ready to focus on search results, Google’s Search Console will be your go-to online tool.

Here we’ve laid out an action plan using these three tools that can help you effectively build your online presence.

It’s like Yellow Pages 2.0

What’s the first thing most people do when they’re trying to find a local business? They Google it. So if you have a brick-and-mortar store, you’ll want to start by ensuring anyone doing a Google search is able to find it. For instance, if you have a hardware store, it should show up in Google searches for “hardware stores near me.” People expect to access information without doing a ton of research, so it’s important that all your key information, such as your location and store hours, appears in search.

Google My Business is a website that allows you to enter basic information about your business, such as the address, phone number, type of business, and your business’s website. Once you’ve visited the site and entered that information, potential fans can find your business when they perform Google searches or turn to Google Maps.

You can even include photos of your store and products and allow visitors to write rave reviews about your fantastic customer service — say, the time you helped someone find the exact right nails for their home project. If you’re keeping your store open longer through November and December in order to prepare for the holiday rush, Google My Business will let you make adjustments to reflect the seasonal changes in your hours.

By using Google My Business for your store’s online presence management, you have the potential to increase the number of shoppers who walk through your door and make purchases.

Embrace your social side

Posting your business info to Google is extremely useful, but you’ll also want build a broader online audience. For this, social sharing channels such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are going to be your best friends. Start by considering which site to focus on. If you create visual products — say, handcrafted wooden wedding signs — your best bet is a more visual platform such as Facebook or Instagram, where you can show photos of your completed products, like one of your signs in use at a wedding, or even photos of those signs being made.

Twitter, on the other hand, can be a great tool for engaging with your potential audience, starting conversations, and making connections. If you’re a restaurant in search of publicity via food bloggers, Twitter allows you to engage with bloggers and critics and build an organic audience from those interactions. As an Entrepreneur article explains, “Read your target audience’s online content and join discussions to learn what’s important to them.”

You can search for hashtags your audience would be likely to use, such as #foodbloggers and #recipe, and then start interacting. Retweet others’ posts with your own commentary, ask them questions, and engage so that they know who you are. That way, they’ll be more likely to think of you the next time they’re looking for a restaurant to highlight.

And remember: staying consistent is ultimately more important than which platform you decide to use. Just work on growing a strong online presence on one or two social media platforms rather than trying to win them all. And since your ultimate goal is to draw visitors to your own website, make sure the URL is clearly listed in your bio and directs people to your homepage or contact form.

Driving the search

You gave Google your business information, and then you began building your audience. Now it’s time to focus on search results, which is where Google Search Console comes in. Previously known as “Google Webmaster Tools,” Google Search Console helps website owners “monitor and maintain [their] site’s presence in Google Search results.”

Basically, it ensures Google has access to your website and can better position it in Google searches. It also lets you see what terms users type into Google search to land on your website, learn which other websites link to your site, monitor your website for malware or spam issues, and alert Google if you have new content you want to show up in searches.

Say you make small-batch organic coffees and want your products to show up in Google searches for “organic coffee” and “small-batch coffee.” Google Search Console offers a tool called Fetch as Google. You type in your business’s website, which tells Google to check out (or “crawl”) the website and include it when people search for small-batch coffees. There’s also a handy tool called Search Analytics, which shows you which other websites link to your online store — hopefully, ones related to coffee. If you’re interested in learning more about Google Search Console but aren’t sure where to begin, you can find some great tutorials online. For example, WordPress.com offers a step-by-step tutorial for adding your website to Google Search Console.

The most important thing to remember when using these tools is that your website should remain the center of all the action. Although powerful, they’re intended primarily to complement your website, drive traffic to it, and, eventually, give your business that many more reasons to thrive.

Terms of Service

September 19th, 2014 by Automattic

The gist:

We (the folks at Automattic) run a blog and website hosting platform called WordPress.com and would love for you to use it. WordPress.com’s basic service is free, and we offer paid upgrades for advanced features such as domain hosting and extra storage. Our service is designed to give you as much control and ownership over what goes on your website as possible and encourage you to express yourself freely. However, be responsible in what you publish. In particular, make sure that none of the prohibited items (like spam, viruses, or serious threats of violence) appear on your website.

If you find a WordPress.com website that you believe violates these Terms of Service, please visit our dispute resolution & reporting page.

We also have additional services and products designed to make the web a better place like WordPress.com VIP, WooCommerce, Longreads, VaultPress, Akismet, and Jetpack.

(We’ve made the below Terms of Service available under a Creative Commons Sharealike license, which means you’re more than welcome to repurpose it for your own use. Just make sure to replace references to us with ones to you, and if you don’t mind we’d appreciate a link to WordPress.com somewhere on your website. We spent a lot of money and time on the below, and other people shouldn’t need to do the same.)

Terms of Service:

The following terms and conditions (“Terms”) govern all use of the WordPress.com website and all content, services, and products available at or through the website, including, but not limited to, Jetpack (“Jetpack”), VaultPress (“VaultPress”), and WordPress.com VIP (“VIP Service”), (taken together, our “Services”). Our Services are offered subject to your acceptance without modification of all of the terms and conditions contained herein and all other operating rules, policies (including, without limitation, Automattic’s Privacy Policy) and procedures that may be published from time to time by Automattic (collectively, the “Agreement”). You agree that we may automatically upgrade our Services, and these Terms will apply to any upgrades. If you reside in the United States or Brazil, your agreement is with Automattic Inc. (US), and if you reside outside of the United States or Brazil, your agreement is with Aut O’Mattic Ltd. (Ireland) (each, “Automattic” or “we”).

Please read this Agreement carefully before accessing or using our Services. By accessing or using any part of our Services, you agree to become bound by the Terms of this Agreement. If you do not agree to all the Terms of this Agreement, then you may not access or use any of our Services. If these Terms are considered an offer by Automattic, acceptance is expressly limited to these Terms.

Our Services are not directed to children younger than 13, and access and use of our Services is only offered to users 13 years of age or older. If you are under 13 years old, please do not register to use our Services. Any person who registers as a user or provides their personal information to our Services represents that they are 13 years of age or older.

Use of our Services requires a WordPress.com account. You agree to provide us with complete and accurate information when you register for an account. You will be solely responsible and liable for any activity that occurs under your username. You are responsible for keeping your password secure.

1. WordPress.com.

  • Your WordPress.com Account and Website. If you create a blog or website on WordPress.com, you are responsible for maintaining the security of your account and blog, and you are fully responsible for all activities that occur under the account and any other actions taken in connection with the blog. You must immediately notify Automattic of any unauthorized uses of your blog, your account, or any other breaches of security. Automattic will not be liable for any acts or omissions by you, including any damages of any kind incurred as a result of such acts or omissions.
  • Responsibility of Contributors. If you operate a blog, comment on a blog, post material to WordPress.com, post links on WordPress.com, or otherwise make (or allow any third party to make) material available (any such material, “Content”), you are entirely responsible for the content of, and any harm resulting from, that Content or your conduct. That is the case regardless of what form the Content takes, which includes, but is not limited to text, photo, video, audio, or code. By using WordPress.com, you represent and warrant that your Content and conduct do not violate these Terms or the User Guidelines. By submitting Content to Automattic for inclusion on your website, you grant Automattic a world-wide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, modify, adapt and publish the Content solely for the purpose of displaying, distributing, and promoting your blog. This license allows Automattic to make publicly-posted content available to third parties selected by Automattic (through the Automattic Firehose, for example) so that these third parties can analyze and distribute (but not publicly display) your content through their services. You also give other WordPress.com users permission to share your Content on other WordPress.com websites and add their own Content to it (aka to reblog your Content), so long as they use only a portion of your post and they give you credit as the original author by linking back to your website (the reblogging function on WordPress.com does this automatically!). If you delete Content, Automattic will use reasonable efforts to remove it from WordPress.com, but you acknowledge that caching or references to the Content may not be made immediately unavailable. Without limiting any of those representations or warranties, Automattic has the right (though not the obligation) to, in Automattic’s sole discretion, (i) reclaim your username or website’s URL due to prolonged inactivity, (ii) refuse or remove any content that, in Automattic’s reasonable opinion, violates any Automattic policy or is in any way harmful or objectionable, or (iii) terminate or deny access to and use of WordPress.com to any individual or entity for any reason. Automattic will have no obligation to provide a refund of any amounts previously paid.
  • Web Traffic. We use a third party, comScore, Inc. (“comScore”), to measure WordPress.com’s audience and usage. By hosting your site on WordPress.com, you agree to assign the traffic relating to your website to Automattic and authorize us to sign a Traffic Assignment Letter on your behalf for comScore audience measurement reports. Your website’s traffic will be included under Automattic. You understand that your website will not receive credit for traffic in these reports, and you must not assign your website’s traffic to any other party. If we or comScore require additional documentation to verify ownership of your website or domain name, you agree to make reasonable efforts to accommodate such requests.
  • Store. The store feature (“Store”) enables you to create a store to sell items (goods, content, services, etc.) on your website. Store is powered by WooCommerce and Jetpack, so if you use Store, these additional terms apply. You are solely responsible for your store, your items, its operation, all applicable taxes and fees, and compliance with any applicable laws. Among other things, this means that:
    • You should use your best judgment when setting up your store, operating your store, and selling items. For example, you may not want to accept check payments if you are not comfortable sharing your mailing address with a customer, or you may want to publish payment and return policies.
    • We are not involved in your relationships or transactions with any customer or potential customer.
    • You are responsible for all of the items in your store and for resolving all support questions, comments, and complaints, including refunds, chargebacks, or pricing questions. You should provide contact information so that customers may contact you with questions or complaints.
    • You are responsible for delivering items sold through your store to your customers, and for fulfilling all promises, representations, or warranties you make to them in connection with a sale.
    • You may choose to set up and/or use third party services, such as PayPal or Stripe to collect payment, or TaxJar for tax calculations. If you do so, be aware that some of your — and your customers’ — data may be passed to the respective third party, and the respective third party’s terms of service, privacy policy, and other policies may apply. We are not involved in these relationships. Please note that some of these third party services (like TaxJar) may be enabled by default, but you may disable them before your store is set up. If you do not want to use these third party services, please disable them in Store settings.
    • While Store enables you to include sales tax in transactions, you should not rely solely on this feature. You are responsible for all taxes and fees associated with the operation of your store. You must collect, report, and/or pay the correct amounts to the appropriate authorities, if applicable, and if needed, inform your customers about any taxes they may be required to pay and issue appropriate invoices.
    • Your store must not violate our User Guidelines or Store Guidelines.
  • HTTPS. We offer free HTTPS on all WordPress.com sites by default, including those using custom domains, via Let’s Encrypt. By signing up and using a custom domain on WordPress.com, you authorize us to act on the domain name registrant’s behalf (by requesting the necessary certificates, for example) for the sole purpose of providing HTTPS on your site.
  • Advertisements. Automattic reserves the right to display advertisements on your blog unless you have purchased an Ad-free Upgrade or a VIP Service account.
  • Attribution. Automattic reserves the right to display attribution text or links in your site footer or toolbar, attributing WordPress.com or the theme author, for example. The toolbar may not be altered or removed. Attribution text or links may only be hidden if you are subscribed to WordPress.com Business or VIP.
  • Friends of WP.com Themes. By activating a partner theme from the Friends of WP.com section of our themes directory, you agree to that partner’s terms of service. You can opt out of their terms of service at any time by de-activating a partner theme.
  • Payment and Renewal.
    • General Terms. Optional paid services such as extra storage or domain purchases are available (any such services, an “Upgrade”). By selecting an Upgrade you agree to pay Automattic the monthly or annual subscription fees indicated for that service. Payments will be charged on a pre-pay basis on the day you sign up for an Upgrade and will cover the use of that service for a monthly or annual subscription period as indicated. You can read about our refund policy here.
    • Automatic Renewal. Unless you notify Automattic before the end of the applicable subscription period that you want to cancel an Upgrade, your Upgrade subscription will automatically renew and you authorize us to collect the then-applicable annual or monthly subscription fee for such Upgrade (as well as any taxes) using any credit card or other payment mechanism we have on record for you. Upgrades can be canceled at any time in the Upgrades section of your website’s dashboard.
    • VIP Service. VIP Hosting/Support and VIP Support services are provided by Automattic under the terms and conditions for each such service, which are located at vip.wordpress.com/hosting-tos and vip.wordpress.com/support-tos, respectively. By signing up for a VIP Hosting/Support or VIP Support services account, you agree to abide by such terms and conditions.

2. Jetpack.

  • Description. Jetpack is a plugin that connects your self-hosted WordPress website to WordPress.com’s infrastructure to give you the most powerful WordPress.com features.
  • Jetpack Content. You’re fully responsible for the content of any website you own that runs Jetpack (“Jetpack Content”).
  • License. You agree that we may scan your website, and compile aggregated/anonymized statistics for our internal use to optimize Jetpack’s performance.
  • Features. Jetpack includes various features, and you can visit Jetpack.com to learn more about them. Some features, like Enhanced Distribution, when activated, will include your Jetpack Content in the WordPress.com Firehose. By activating these features, you grant us permission to display your Jetpack Content on WordPress.com for the purpose of distributing and promoting your website. Some features are on by default and others you need to enable manually. You can see which features are active, and activate and deactivate features, on your dashboard.
  • Storage of Information. Certain Jetpack features rely on WordPress.com servers to function, such as those that allow you to send email, publish links, relate posts to each other, or resize images. To take advantage of the performance boosting features of Jetpack, certain information about the content, settings, and setup of your site are synced with our servers. Please see this support page for full details regarding what we sync.

3. VaultPress.

  • Description. VaultPress is a subscription-based security and backup service for self-hosted WordPress websites.
  • VaultPress Content. VaultPress will backup your WordPress content (e.g., your WordPress database, plugins, themes, and uploads, as well as some additional files, as described here) (“VaultPress Content”). You can view the Content that VaultPress backs up via your dashboard. You’re fully responsible for your VaultPress Content. It’s your responsibility to ensure that your website’s Content abides by applicable laws and by these Terms. We don’t actively review the VaultPress Content.
  • Access. If you lose access to your WordPress.com account, you may not be able to access your backed up VaultPress Content.
  • License. By using VaultPress, you grant us access to your website’s servers for the purpose of backing up and securing your VaultPress Content, and restoring files and database information (which may include access details for multiple servers or accounts for each website that we backup). In order to address security vulnerabilities, we may push an upgrade to your site, or we may access your site to remove malicious code. We may also scan VaultPress Content, and compile aggregated/anonymized statistics for our internal use to optimize the performance of the VaultPress service. You also grant us a worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to copy and store your VaultPress Content, to the extent necessary to operate the VaultPress service. These Terms don’t give us any rights in your VaultPress Content, beyond those we need to operate VaultPress. You own your VaultPress Content.
  • Prohibited Uses. When using VaultPress, you agree not to:
    • Publish material or engage in activity that is illegal under applicable law.
    • Use VaultPress to overburden Automattic’s systems, as determined by us in our sole discretion.
    • Disclose the sensitive personal information of others.
    • Send spam or bulk unsolicited messages.
    • Interfere with, disrupt, or attack any service or network.
    • Distribute material that is or enables malware, spyware, adware, or other malicious code.
  • Payment, Renewal and Refunds. VaultPress offers different levels of service. By signing up for a particular level of service, you agree to pay VaultPress the applicable subscription fees. Unless you notify us before the end of your subscription period that you no longer wish to run VaultPress, your subscription will renew automatically. If we change pricing for a service to which you’re subscribed, we will notify you before your subscription is set to renew. You authorize us to charge any then-applicable fees to your credit card or other payment method we have on file for you. We offer refunds up to thirty (30) days after payment. Payment failures will result in the cancellation of your VaultPress plan. Each WordPress website requires a separate subscription to run VaultPress.
  • Cancellation. If you cancel your subscription to VaultPress, we will queue your backed-up VaultPress Content for deletion.

4. Firehose.

  • Fees; Payment. By signing up for the WordPress.com Firehose you agree to pay Automattic the specified monthly fees in exchange for access to the feeds. Applicable fees will be invoiced starting from the day your access is established and in advance of using such services. Automattic reserves the right to change the payment terms and fees upon thirty (30) days prior written notice to you. Firehose access can be canceled by you at anytime on 30 days written notice to Automattic.
  • Permitted Use. You may use the WordPress.com Firehose to develop a product or service that searches, displays, analyzes, retrieves, and views information available on WordPress.com. You may also use the WordPress.com name or logos and other brand elements that Automattic makes available in order to identify the source of the information, provided the use doesn’t suggest any endorsement by Automattic.
  • Restricted Use. You may not use the WordPress.com Firehose to substantially replicate products or services offered by Automattic, including the republication of WordPress.com content or the creation of a separate publishing platform. You may not display, distribute, or otherwise make available content or data to governmental entities for intelligence gathering or surveillance purposes. If Automattic believes, in its sole discretion, that you have violated or attempted to violate these conditions or the spirit of these Terms, your ability to use and access the WordPress.com Firehose may be temporarily or permanently revoked, with or without notice.

5. Responsibility of Visitors.

Automattic has not reviewed, and cannot review, all of the material, including computer software, posted to our Services, and cannot therefore be responsible for that material’s content, use or effects. By operating our Services, Automattic does not represent or imply that it endorses the material there posted, or that it believes such material to be accurate, useful, or non-harmful. You are responsible for taking precautions as necessary to protect yourself and your computer systems from viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and other harmful or destructive content. Our Services may contain content that is offensive, indecent, or otherwise objectionable, as well as content containing technical inaccuracies, typographical mistakes, and other errors. Our Services may also contain material that violates the privacy or publicity rights, or infringes the intellectual property and other proprietary rights, of third parties, or the downloading, copying or use of which is subject to additional terms and conditions, stated or unstated. Automattic disclaims any responsibility for any harm resulting from the use by visitors of our Services, or from any downloading by those visitors of content there posted.

6. Content Posted on Other Websites.

We have not reviewed, and cannot review, all of the material, including computer software, made available through the websites and webpages to which WordPress.com links, and that link to WordPress.com. Automattic does not have any control over those non-WordPress.com websites, and is not responsible for their contents or their use. By linking to a non-WordPress.com website, Automattic does not represent or imply that it endorses such website. You are responsible for taking precautions as necessary to protect yourself and your computer systems from viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and other harmful or destructive content. Automattic disclaims any responsibility for any harm resulting from your use of non-WordPress.com websites and webpages.

7. Third Party Services.

You may enable services, products, software (like themes or plugins), or applications developed by a third party or yourself (“Third Party Services”) on your site.

If you use any Third Party Services, you understand that:

  • Third Party Services are not vetted, endorsed, or controlled by Automattic.
  • Any use of a Third Party Service is at your own risk, and we shall not be responsible or liable to anyone for Third Party Services.
  • Your use is solely between you and the respective third party (“Third Party”) and will be governed by the Third Party’s terms and policies. It is your responsibility to review the Third Party’s terms and policies before using a Third Party Service.
  • Some Third Party Services may request or require access to your (yours, your visitors’, or customers’) data. If you grant access, your data will handled in accordance with the Third Party’s privacy policy and practices. We do not have control over how a Third Party Service may use your data. You should carefully review Third Party Services’ data collection, retention, and use policies and practices before enabling Third Party Services.
  • Third Party Services may not work appropriately with your website, and we may not be able to provide support for issues caused by any Third Party Services.
  • If you have questions or concerns about how a Third Party Service operates, or need support, please contact the Third Party directly.

In rare cases, we may at our discretion, suspend, disable, or remove Third Party Services from your account or website.

8. Copyright Infringement and DMCA Policy.

As Automattic asks others to respect its intellectual property rights, it respects the intellectual property rights of others. If you believe that material located on or linked to by WordPress.com violates your copyright, you are encouraged to notify Automattic in accordance with Automattic’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) Policy. Automattic will respond to all such notices, including as required or appropriate by removing the infringing material or disabling all links to the infringing material. Automattic will terminate a visitor’s access to and use of the website if, under appropriate circumstances, the visitor is determined to be a repeat infringer of the copyrights or other intellectual property rights of Automattic or others. In the case of such termination, Automattic will have no obligation to provide a refund of any amounts previously paid to Automattic.

9. Intellectual Property.

This Agreement does not transfer from Automattic to you any Automattic or third party intellectual property, and all right, title, and interest in and to such property will remain (as between the parties) solely with Automattic. Automattic, WordPress, WordPress.com, the WordPress.com logo, and all other trademarks, service marks, graphics and logos used in connection with WordPress.com or our Services, are trademarks or registered trademarks of Automattic or Automattic’s licensors. Other trademarks, service marks, graphics and logos used in connection with our Services may be the trademarks of other third parties. Your use of our Services grants you no right or license to reproduce or otherwise use any Automattic or third-party trademarks.

10. Domain Names.

We act as a registrar and also work with third party registrars in order to provide our users with domain name services. When you register a domain name on WordPress.com, or when you renew or transfer an existing domain name on WordPress.com, you become bound by the relevant registrar’s terms and conditions, either the Automattic Domain Name Registration Agreement, Tucows Domain Inc. Registration Agreement, or this Domain Name Registration Agreement, in addition to these Terms. Which registrar terms apply depends on the TLD you choose, and in some cases, the date you register your domain, so please see this page to determine which agreement(s) apply to you. These registrar terms are incorporated by reference into these Terms.

Further, your use of the domain name is also subject to the policies of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”). A summary of your rights and responsibilities as a domain name registrant under ICANN’s 2009 Registrar Accreditation Agreement can be found here. You can learn more about domain name registration generally here.

11. G Suite.

If you purchase a G Suite subscription, this section applies. G Suite is provided by Google, and your use of G Suite is subject to Google’s Terms of Use for the services, which you’ll accept prior to using G Suite for the first time. Automattic is an authorized reseller of G Suite, but makes no warranties about the services provided by Google, and disclaims Google’s liability for any damages arising from our distribution and resale of their services. Google will provide technical support for its services, per its Technical Support Services Guidelines. If you’re a business and purchase G Suite for your WordPress.com website, you represent that you have 749 or fewer staff members.

12. Changes.

We are constantly updating our Services, and that means sometimes we have to change the legal terms under which our Services are offered. If we make changes that are material, we will let you know by posting on one of our blogs, or by sending you an email or other communication before the changes take effect. The notice will designate a reasonable period of time after which the new terms will take effect. If you disagree with our changes, then you should stop using our Services within the designated notice period. Your continued use of our Services will be subject to the new terms. However, any dispute that arose before the changes shall be governed by the Terms (including the binding individual arbitration clause) that were in place when the dispute arose.

13. Termination.

Automattic may terminate your access to all or any part of our Services at any time, with or without cause, with or without notice, effective immediately. If you wish to terminate this Agreement or your WordPress.com account (if you have one), you may simply discontinue using our Services. All provisions of this Agreement which by their nature should survive termination shall survive termination, including, without limitation, ownership provisions, warranty disclaimers, indemnity and limitations of liability.

14. Disclaimer of Warranties.

Our Services are provided “as is.” Automattic and its suppliers and licensors hereby disclaim all warranties of any kind, express or implied, including, without limitation, the warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and non-infringement. Neither Automattic nor its suppliers and licensors, makes any warranty that our Services will be error free or that access thereto will be continuous or uninterrupted. If you’re actually reading this, here’s a treat. You understand that you download from, or otherwise obtain content or services through, our Services at your own discretion and risk.

15. Jurisdiction and Applicable Law.

Except to the extent applicable law, if any, provides otherwise, this Agreement, any access to or use of our Services will be governed by the laws of the state of California, U.S.A., excluding its conflict of law provisions, and the proper venue for any disputes arising out of or relating to any of the same will be the state and federal courts located in San Francisco County, California.

16. Arbitration Agreement.

Except for claims for injunctive or equitable relief or claims regarding intellectual property rights (which may be brought in any competent court without the posting of a bond), any dispute arising under this Agreement shall be finally settled in accordance with the Comprehensive Arbitration Rules of the Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Service, Inc. (“JAMS”) by three arbitrators appointed in accordance with such Rules. The arbitration shall take place in San Francisco, California, in the English language and the arbitral decision may be enforced in any court. The prevailing party in any action or proceeding to enforce this Agreement shall be entitled to costs and attorneys’ fees.

17. Limitation of Liability.

In no event will Automattic, or its suppliers or licensors, be liable with respect to any subject matter of this Agreement under any contract, negligence, strict liability or other legal or equitable theory for: (i) any special, incidental or consequential damages; (ii) the cost of procurement for substitute products or services; (iii) for interruption of use or loss or corruption of data; or (iv) for any amounts that exceed the fees paid by you to Automattic under this Agreement during the twelve (12) month period prior to the cause of action. Automattic shall have no liability for any failure or delay due to matters beyond their reasonable control. The foregoing shall not apply to the extent prohibited by applicable law.

18. General Representation and Warranty.

You represent and warrant that (i) your use of our Services will be in strict accordance with the Automattic Privacy Policy, with this Agreement, and with all applicable laws and regulations (including without limitation any local laws or regulations in your country, state, city, or other governmental area, regarding online conduct and acceptable content, and including all applicable laws regarding the transmission of technical data exported from the United States or the country in which you reside) and (ii) your use of our Services will not infringe or misappropriate the intellectual property rights of any third party.

19. US Economic Sanctions.

You expressly represent and warrant that your use of our Services and or associated services and products is not contrary to applicable U.S. Sanctions. Such use is prohibited, and Automattic reserve the right to terminate accounts or access of those in the event of a breach of this condition.

20. Indemnification.

You agree to indemnify and hold harmless Automattic, its contractors, and its licensors, and their respective directors, officers, employees, and agents from and against any and all claims and expenses, including attorneys’ fees, arising out of your use of our Services, including but not limited to your violation of this Agreement.

21. Translation.

These Terms of Service were originally written in English (US). We may translate these terms into other languages. In the event of a conflict between a translated version of these Terms of Service and the English version, the English version will control.

22. Miscellaneous.

This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between Automattic and you concerning the subject matter hereof, and they may only be modified by a written amendment signed by an authorized executive of Automattic, or by the posting by Automattic of a revised version.

If any part of this Agreement is held invalid or unenforceable, that part will be construed to reflect the parties’ original intent, and the remaining portions will remain in full force and effect. A waiver by either party of any term or condition of this Agreement or any breach thereof, in any one instance, will not waive such term or condition or any subsequent breach thereof.

You may assign your rights under this Agreement to any party that consents to, and agrees to be bound by, its terms and conditions; Automattic may assign its rights under this Agreement without condition. This Agreement will be binding upon and will inure to the benefit of the parties, their successors and permitted assigns.

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Web Analytics Basics: What Do You Need to Know?

June 7th, 2017 by Satta Sarmah Hightower

A website can make for an effective business marketing tool. But really understanding web analytics basics — who visits your site, and what they click on — is critical for small businesses looking to convert website visitors into loyal supporters. This is where web analytics — data that measures different activity on your site, including which pages people visit, the time of day they visit them, and the number of views — comes in.

Launching a site is one thing, but mastering the basics of web analytics is what makes your site truly effective, both in how it speaks to your audience and how it can help drive your business.

Discover the basics

Thanks to platforms like WordPress.com, starting up a fully functional website no longer requires a web development background. But there’s more

View of the Insights section of the Stats page.

to a site than simply getting it onto the web, as any successful site involves ongoing effort. After you’ve launched your website, you’ll want to check out the Stats feature. The Insights page includes various measurements and statistics you can use to improve your site. Learning more about how people interact with your site allows you to tighten your focus on what works, and adjust your strategy as you go. Here are some of the stats worth becoming familiar with, starting with the stats that show up immediately on the Insights screen (a version of which is shown on the left).

  • All-time posts, views, and visitors: how many posts, views, and visitors your site has accrued since launch, as well as what day you had the all-time most views.
  • Latest post summary: information on the number of comments, likes, and views for your most recent post.
  • Posting activity: a chart that shows when and how often you post.
  • Most popular day and hour: the time of day and day of the week your site gets the highest views.

The following stats, while important, don’t immediately show up in Insights — you have to select Days/Weeks/Months/Years in order to view them.

  • Referrers: information on which blogs, websites, and search engines drive visitors to your site.
  • Today’s stats: the number of comments, likes, views, and visitors your sites gets on a given day.
  • Tags and categories: information on the number of views your most popular tags and categories (i.e., keywords denoting the content of the post) received the previous week.
  • Search engine terms: the terms, words, and phrases people use on Google, Yahoo, or Bing to find your site.
  • Views by country: the number of views your site gets per country by day, week, month, and year.

Numbers that matter

Ideally, knowing whether your site attracts visitors allows you to tweak that site in order to attract more people to your business. Anyone in business will argue you need to know your audience to be successful. Learning web analytics basics helps you achieve this by answering key questions: What pages do people view on my site? What content is the most popular? How often do site visitors come back?

For example, if the happy hour and weekend specials page on your restaurant’s website is the most popular, it might spur you to introduce new specials throughout the week to drive more foot traffic during slower periods, or it may encourage you to get more creative in order to set yourself apart from other restaurants (Mojito Mondays or Wing Wednesdays, anyone?).

The same thing goes for an interior design firm that notices before-and-after home renovation photos receive the most views on its site. The firm might consider doing more of this content as a way to creatively showcase its portfolio and pull in more business for similar projects.

Additionally, understanding where your traffic is coming from is a great way to find out if your social media strategy is working. You can check to see if your Facebook post has sent people your way, and might learn that Twitter is a more impactful platform for your business.

Want more?

If you’ve already mastered web analytics basics or want deeper-level data, consider using Google Analytics. The application has advanced features that complement the site stats already built into WordPress.com. If you have a wedding boutique website, for example, the Google Analytics reports would detail how visitors navigate from the homepage to the wedding dresses page to the reservation page, where they can book an appointment to try on a dress. Google Analytics will also tell you how often visitors view one page and then leave. You can even use it to set goals for your site (such as the number of views per post) and track how close you are to hitting these goals. All this data can help you fine-tune the content and messaging on your site.

Google Analytics is available with a WordPress.com Business plan, which comes with a custom domain name (cortadocoffeesf.com, for example), unlimited Premium themes, advanced SEO tools, and the ability to monetize your site, among other features. All you need to get started is to set up a Google Analytics account and follow the instructions to add a tracking ID to your site that connects it to Google Analytics.

Web analytics are a powerful tool, but even an understanding of the basics can go a long way. Companies large and small use analytics every day to drive sales and deepen engagement with their supporters — one university increased its website visits by 89 percent when it focused on analytics, consulting company LunaMetrics showed, and a large footwear company noticed the number of active users on its site increased by more than 200 percent when it made a similar effort, according to Biznology.

Any small businesses with a website can do the same. Use analytics to understand who your fans are and what they like. It’ll make your website a bigger draw — and your business too.

Crushing the Small Business Marketing Game: Five Tips

May 1st, 2017 by Willow Older

When it comes to shopping, people today tend to follow one important principle: before you shop in person, search online. What does that mean for your small-business marketing plan? Well, if your plan includes building an engaging, well-organized, up-to-date website with loads of relevant content, it means you’re on track for helping your brick-and-mortar business thrive.

There’s plenty of proof that a website is a valuable small-business marketing tool, even when your business is offline. Econocom reports a whopping 90 percent of shoppers use the web to gather information like location, hours, and whether or not something’s available before heading to a nearby store. Think with Google found that half of all shoppers who first do a mobile search end up visiting the brick-and-mortar business they found online within 24 hours.

Making it work

Here, we’ve outlined five tips for embracing a digital small-business marketing strategy that truly supports your physical store.

1. Cover your basics.

Whether you own a pizzeria or a nail parlor, you’ll want important information — like a physical address (with directions), hours, and contact information — to be readily available for Google and other search engines to find. Keep in mind that while one-click commerce may be convenient, many people still value shopping locally and in person. Increasingly, people will enter words like “near me” and “nearby” when they search online, so it’s more important than ever to let folks know your small business is actually in the neighborhood.

2. Keep it in real time.

Millennials will spend more than $200 billion annually starting in 2017, according to Advertising Age. These 17-to-34-year-old digital natives (not to mention other shoppers) streamline their spending by using mobile or digital devices to compare prices, check product availability, and find out about in-store return policies and delivery options. If your website accurately reflects your real-time inventory and offerings, you won’t disappoint shoppers who do their due diligence online and then swing by in person to make a purchase that’s … not available (whoops).

3. Inspire in-store visits with online specials.

Here’s a great way to turn online browsers into in-person visitors: use your website to promote “screen-to-store” specials. For example, you might offer a discount coupon for an in-store-only product. Or you might invite supporters to an on-site product or service launch. You can also invest in social ads and promotions, which appear on social media platforms and other “sharing” sites and are targeted to a specific audience. Using your digital presence to incentivize in-store shopping is a tried-and-true strategy for boosting sales, customer loyalty, and brand awareness.

4. Let your supporters spread the word.

Positive online reviews help any small business stand out. Shoppers today turn to social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp for honest feedback about merchandise and services — even for offline businesses. If your site is built on a web-publishing platform like WordPress.com, you can easily integrate content and reviews from social media platforms or let customers comment directly on your site about your great customer service and hassle-free return policy. WordPress.com even offers a Testimonials feature to help accomplish this.

5. Consider your content.

You can help customers find your website — and then, say, call you up for a quote — with regularly refreshed content written by people, not bots. Search engines rank findings based on keywords and tags, so it really pays to be thoughtful (and strategic) when writing blog posts and other content. Another reason to carefully consider your content? According to a study by Cohn & Wolfe, people value communications from companies that are authentic, honest, and helpful.

Maybe it’s best to think of your website as the online spokesperson for your brick-and-mortar business. In an increasingly digital world, it’s more important than ever that your small-business marketing strategy includes building a site that’s engaging, helpful, up-to-date, and easy to understand. When that happens, customers will be more than happy to pay you a visit — again and again.