A successful entrepreneur shares her thoughts on business success and failure.

erica.biz Turns 2!

erica.biz turns 2!
It’s my blogiversary! I launched erica.biz on December 4, 2007.

In December 2008, I re-launched with a new blog theme–the same one you see now. In both these cases, I spent many hours testing and tweaking themes.

Thank God those days are over! I’ve recently hired two different consultants–Courtney at CrushLabs and Cody McKibben–to work on all my WordPress-related goodies.

Cody updated and made some minor tweaks to erica.biz last week, and I’m quite happy with the results! The main difference you will see is that nested comments are now enabled. That means you can hit “Reply” beneath a comment and your comment will show up under the comment you replied to. Very useful!

Next on my to-do list: A new blog header. Watch for that in early 2010!

Switching Hosting Companies

Many of you have asked what hosting company erica.biz runs on. When I sold my hosting company in 2007, I included in the sale contract 3 years of free colocation hosting.

In case you’re not familiar with colocation, it’s where you have your own hardware and place it in a datacenter. The hosting company only provides power and bandwidth–you’re on your own for everything else, including software updates.

When I first sold my business, I enjoyed building out all of my own servers and having total control, so colocation was a logical option. However, as the years went by, it became less optimal.

When I moved to San Diego, my server stayed in San Jose. If the server hardware ever failed, it was my responsibility–which basically meant a plane ticket back to San Jose and hours of downtime for my sites. That was a nightmare scenario I didn’t want to deal with. So, a few months ago, I researched several other hosting companies.

I finally picked ServInt, which has been in business since 1995. I chose their $49/month “Essential VPS” option. I have full access to my virtual server, and can create as many hosting accounts as I want. ServInt offers a generous bandwidth allowance.

Why Not Cheap Shared Hosting?

The most common question I get when I talk about ServInt or VPS hosting is “Why not just choose a company like HostGator and get ‘unlimited everything’ for under 10 bucks a month?”

While HostGator is great, and I recommend them for small, simple sites, the truth is that shared hosting doesn’t really scale as you get larger. While “unlimited bandwidth” may sound great, the server has practical limits. If you get a huge influx of traffic–thousands of visitors at once–HostGator and other shared hosting companies reserve the right to suspend your site. That spells disaster, especially if you are running a business and that traffic means customers won’t be able to order from your site.

With ServInt’s VPS option, they don’t shut you down if you get tons of traffic–they simply upgrade you to their next level of service. Their levels of service go all the way up to many thousands of dollars a month. They host some major blogs (getting millions of visitors a month), so I feel comfortable recommending them. And they offer free site migration if you’re ready to step up from a shared hosting company.

I migrated erica.biz to ServInt about a week ago, and so far, things have been flawless. The server is fast, and I’ve had no complaints from site visitors about erica.biz being slow. In fact, a couple people have said it’s even faster!

A few days after the dust settled with the migration, and everything was working well, I installed WP Super Cache as well, so now pages (especially my home page) should load just about instantly. This is another safeguard in case my blog gets a lot of traffic.

If your blog or website is getting more than 1000 visitors a day, I’d say it’s time to consider upgrading to a managed hosting solution like ServInt…especially if you could be prone to an avalanche of traffic due to publicity. Don’t risk your business on saving a few dollars a month…it’s not worth it.

Sign up with ServInt and get a free migration of your current site (assuming you’re on another provider that uses cPanel; call ServInt with questions.)

If you’re just starting out and on a limited budget, you really can’t go wrong with HostGator, and you can always move to ServInt later as your blog or website grows.

Try out HostGator and get started cheaply.

Rockstar Guide to WordPress

Are you interested in setting up your own blog? My friend MJ Schrader recently released a comprehensive guide to setting up and tweaking a WordPress blog called Rockstar Guide to WordPress. I’ve read it and it’s fantastic. She walks you through how to get WordPress up and running, what themes and plugins are (and which ones you need, and how to install them!), how to add an email list to your blog, and even several options for monetizing your blog.

If you are interested in setting up your own blog, or you already have a blog, but it’s gathering dust because you’ve been frustrated by all the options, MJ’s step-by-step guide is worth every penny.

I convinced MJ to give you a super deal because I want you to go ahead and get your blog set up now. Not only will you get $5 off the regular price for her guide, but you’re going to get her next guide, WordPress Plugin Guide, absolutely free!

Finally, you will receive a $70 discount off her upcoming Instant Start Guide, which will be her new guide to creating and selling your own information product. Just make sure to sign up for her newsletter after you purchase her Rockstar Guide to WordPress.

Tired of putting off setting up your own blog or letting it gather dust? Order Rockstar Guide to WordPress today and be on the way to setting up your own blog! (Note: This special deal won’t be available for long, so definitely take action instead of putting this off. Once you purchase, the guide is yours for life, so there’s no reason to wait.)

Finally! Get your blog up and running today with MJ’s step-by-step guide.

Entertainment Book Special Through December 20: Time-Sensitive

I just paid $35 for my local Entertainment book, and the next day I get an email saying they’re down to $19.95. These books are definitely worth it even at $35, and at $19.95, it’s a no-brainer. What do you get when you purchase one? Here are some of the discounts I’ve used in the past:

  • $7 movie tickets at your local movie theater (vs. $10.50 or more if you pay regular price!)
  • $5 off $50 purchase at Safeway and other grocery stores; can be used quarterly (always handy!)
  • 5% off any American Airlines domestic flight booked through aa.com (we used this to travel to Miami cheaply.)
  • Perhaps the cheapest rental car rates you’ve ever seen. (I used an Entertainment coupon code to book online at enterprise.com, and got a rental car for $9.90/day. The guy behind the counter said he’d never seen a rate that low.)
  • Hundreds of restaurants, both local and national chains, offering 2-for-1 discounts. We’ve used this to get gourmet 4-star meals at local restaurants for the price of a mediocre meal at Applebee’s or Chili’s…well worth it!

When you add all that up, plus the fun of eating out at a great, fancy restaurant for half price, the Entertainment book is totally worth it.

The Entertainment book continues to be one of the most popular promotions I run on erica.biz, showing that my community understands its value. Also, last time I showcased one of these special promotions, people wrote me after the deadline and said, “Hey, I can’t find the special!” Yes, these great prices do expire. The $19.95 deal expires December 20, so don’t wait.

Start getting great deals with your Entertainment book today!

More Site Updates

I’ve set up a Products I Love page, which showcases many brands and products I believe in. Like all of the products I’ve linked to in this blog post, I only choose to highlight products I’ve personally purchased and/or reviewed and loved. For instance, the “20 Ways to Make $100 A Day” book, which continues to be one of the most popular sellers on erica.biz — I paid $27 for that book, too, and found it to be well-worth the money.

Check out other Products I Love (including web hosting, financial companies, merchant accounts, and business phone services.)

Facebook Fan Page

erica.biz now has a Facebook fan page! (Thanks to Lisa Morosky for setting this up.) I’m going to be posting links and articles there that don’t quite fit into a whole blog post. If you’re on Facebook, please become a fan.

Enjoy your holiday season, stay safe…and thank you for reading and participating these past two years! I expect the next two years will be even better — for all of us!

Welcome to erica.biz!

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I'm Erica Douglass.
After selling my online business at age 26 for over $1 million, I created this blog to help you grow your own business quickly.

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