heya,

More on the tech stack today–domains, hosting, and websites. You’ll find my recommendations differ from the past and i’ve got some unconventional ideas on how you can build better websites, very cheap, with an eye for scale.

Also, forgive me i’ll probably be absent from your inbox a few days, as i start my next round of chemotherapy tomorrow 🙁

Let’s dig right in:
 
 
 
DOMAIN NAMES

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I once recommended Godaddy for domain registration.

Not because of any particular advantage–I just started using them in the beginning and continued with them. I had no complaints and my website was also hosted with them so it made things easier to keep domain and site together.

I also enjoyed their email forwarding which was included with domains.

But a few weeks ago, and only by chance, i noticed i was being charged $20 for a domain renewal which i could swear i had originally bought for $8/year.

There were no extra bells or whistles and it was not a premium domain by any means.

So i did some digging and discovered that domain name providers are NOTORIOUS for getting you in on a low price and then making up the loss by quietly raising the price year on year. They’d been doing this to me for a long time, with several domains, and i was paying much more than i had ever originally agreed to, without realising.

I had no idea i was getting raped so hard for so long–which might explain why my prostate is now so fucked.

After some searching, i found two good options:

    1) Cloudflare domains
       – They offer cost pricing at $USD 8.03 / year dotCOM domains

   2) Google domains
    (not available in all countries)
    – They offer $USD 12 /year dotCOM domains, excluding tax and subject to change.
 
 
Both come with WHOIS privacy, which Godaddy and co charge extra for.

I suggest you transfer your domains over to one of the above, even if you’re getting discounted pricing through some domain club or whatever. Sneaky pricing should not be rewarded.

As for mail forwarding, i’ll show you how to do it in a future email.
 
 
 
WEB HOSTING
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I used to suggest beginners host their website with Hostgator or Godaddy. Both have a cheap monthly fee for small, low traffic sites.

However, today i recommend my clients go a completely different and unconventional direction.

Here’s why…

Ultimately, cheap hosting is made possible by selling you a “shared hosting” solution–this is a single computer serving hundreds of users’ websites. The minute you have traffic more than one or two stragglers at a time visiting, your site starts to crawl and you need an upgrade or risk losing traffic. Google penalises slow websites. Users hate slow sites.

Upgrading your hosting after the fact wastes time and take lots of work. You have to migrate all your resources, software, and settings to a new machine and it’s a serious pain.

On conventional hosts, the next level is to go with a Virtual Private Server or a Dedicated server which can range in cost from $80-$300 / month depending on how much power you need and if you require a support package.

A much better option i’m recommending today is NONE of these things.

Instead, use a CLOUD-based hosting solution!

Specifically, i’m recommending to my clients they use Google Cloud Platform (GCP). You get to configure a machine to the exact specifications you want and you have complete control over it. You only pay for the computing power you use for the amount of time you use it.

Here’s something you’ll love about GCP…

You receive a $300 credit to use for 12 months, lots of “forever free” computing power usage–AND you can do a one-click install of a fully configured WordPress website, complete with NGINX, PHP 7, microcaching, Phpmyadmin, MySQL, https certificate

….everything you need to run a website

…All on a simple machine, for just $13/month.

…and for at least a year you’re not actually paying a single red cent (it all comes out of the free $300 credit)!

Once you’ve created your free account on GCP, search for the “Bitnami WordPress with NGINX and SSL Stack for Google Cloud Platform” stack.

It’s free to use and comes with everything you need.

If you want to save even more, downgrade the machine type to the free usage tier by choosing the “f1-micro” machine  instead of the “g1-small” which Bitnami sets up by default.

Now, instead of $13/month your cost goes down to $0 forever. You don’t use any of your $300 free credit and you can save it for something else.

You can always easily upgrade later (one click) to a better machine, if your traffic justifies it. Or downgrade too should you ever need.

Aside from the cost, however, the best part is as your traffic grows, scaling and upgrading hardware is very easy. There’s mere seconds of downtime for your site. You simply choose the new machine configuration, it reboots, and voila you’re set. No copying resources or configurations from one machine to another.

More…

As your database needs grow you can decentralise. This is SO FRIGGING POWERFUL!

If you use WordPress to manage your site, all your posts, users, settings, and comments are stored in a MySQL database. When you decentralise the database, you get to leverage the autoscaling power of Google’s dedicated Cloud SQL Server which can handle millions of database hits in parallel very fast.

Another benefit of database decentralisation is you can run several dedicated WordPress computers to handle millions of visitors at a time, should you need it. Using an autoscaler, your WordPress will fire up as many machines as needed to handle load, and then power them down when load reduces. 

What this means is if you get a sudden spike in traffic because you got in the news or some influencer recommended your products, your site can handle it. When/if the traffic dies down, you won’t be paying for unused computing resources. Contrast with a dedicated / VPS server which you pay the same price for month after month and if you get a spike and your hardware can’t handle it….boom…the site goes down.

Granted the autoscaling upgrade will need some technical knowhow, but by the time you’re ready for it, you can afford to hire some help 🙂 Meanwhile, you can relax knowing that if you get a surge of traffic, it’s possible to scale to handle it.

Finally, here’s one thing you can do right away…If you use WordPress, install one of the following plugins:

   1) WP Stateless
   2) or, GCS

I’ve contributed to the code of both plugins, that’s how you know they’re awesome.

What these plugins do is they allow you to offload all your media files (images, audio, documents) to Google’s Cloud Storage which has a built in CDN that caches files close in physical server locations near the users, and serves them quickly to users around the world.

Cloud Storage is dirt cheap too so you can store as many gigs as you need, for a tiny, teeny monthly fee.
 
 
 
SSL SECURITY
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Previously, i gave little importance to serving your site over https, but Google now gives precedence to sites that have SSL certificates. Their browser even discourages users to access sites that serve over http instead of https.

So it has become much more important for traffic generation.

There are some expensive options for getting an SSL certificate. But for most cases, unless you’re processing payments yourself, i suggest using a Lets Encrypt self-signed certificate. It’s relatively easy to setup your certificate to work with NGINX or Apache. But if you use the GCP / Bitnami WordPress solution i suggested above, this is automatically configured for you.
 
 
 
WEBSITE CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
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I still recommend WordPress as the primary engine for delivering content to your users and i’m more in love with it than i ever was.

I think WordPress is a powerful, robust solution, with excellent support, and it constantly evolves to do more and do better. The plugin ecosystem gives you increased power to add all sorts of wonderful things i’ll talk about in later emails.

The only difference in my recommendations today is that you use the WordPress MULTISITE option when installing WordPress instead of the default single site install.

This allows you to create a network of WordPress sites, each with its own domain name, but managed from the same interface. You do not NEED to build more than one site to start with, but the multisite option gives you the ability to add as many sites as you need, when you need them.

Configuration is pretty straightforward and is available in WordPress documentation.
 

 
If there is any interest, i may do a 90-minute webinar like we used to do, on how to configure all this stuff i’ve talked about.

So write me back and let me know if you think you need it. If i end up doing it, i’ll include it free for all past and future customers of Super Traffic Machine.

I suggest you go explore these recommendations and set them up if you are able. In my next email, i’ll show you some amazing stuff you can do with WordPress.

Using modern WordPress tools, you can design and build your own custom theme from SCRATCH without doing a single bit of programming.

I’ll show you how to build beautiful landing and sales pages, without touching any code or installing weird themes or configurations.

And i’ll show you how to have a store for your info products, how to collect payments, manage customers, build a full featured upsell funnel, do transactional and marketing emails, send abandoned cart recovery campaigns, and much much more….ALL FOR FREE (or cheap) from inside WordPress.

You’ll save thousands in recurring monthly software fees.

For more in depth information on putting together your online marketing business, getting ideas on what to sell, what to write on the key pages of your site, and how to configure everything to work together…i’d like to invite you to check out Super Traffic Machine.

Go ahead and read more about it at the link below…

~jim