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  • 3 Signs You’re an Entrepreneur

    Friday, May 27, 2016 by
    3 Signs You're an Entrepreneur

    Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs…

    These names are synonymous with the word entrepreneur.

    But who (or what) is an entrepreneur really? And how can you tell if you are one, or if you have what it takes to become one?

    For starters, a moment of truth: If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re probably not reading a blog post wondering if you are because you’re too damn busy running your own business. On the up side, if you are reading this, you’re likely on your way to greater entrepreneurial glory because you’re eager to soak up every nugget of actionable info available to you.

    Pro tip: having a profound interest in learning and growing is one surefire trait of an entrepreneur. In his autobiography Like a Virgin, Richard Branson writes “Entrepreneurs are innately curious people.” So, congrats, you’re well on your way!

    [bctt tweet="'Entrepreneurs are innately curious people.' - Richard Branson #quoteoftheday" username="hostgator"]

    Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?

    Like many of life’s challenging topics (trust, love, success…) entrepreneurship is a subjective concept.

    The word entrepreneur is vaguely defined by Merriam-Webster as a person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money. So, is an entrepreneur someone who opens a taco stand and then cliff dives to earn a few bucks? Clearly not.

    Entrepreneurship shouldn’t be shrouded in mystery. In fact, entrepreneurs are positioned to be the real truth-seekers; the rule-breakers who defy the odds of the status quo to advance their mission, service, and product to deliver solutions. Think you fit this bill? If you match these traits, you’re moving in the right direction.

    1. You’re a master of balance.

    In a recent small business poll, an overwhelming percentage of business owners believe that the strongest entrepreneur is a well-rounded jack-of-all-trades.

    Entrepreneurs wear countless hats -- they’re marketers, accountants, customer service reps, and sales teams all wrapped up into a single person who achieve balance in moments of uncertainty and straight up chaos.

    2. You know how to work hard to create opportunity.

    Some of the most successful entrepreneurs (Andrew Carnegie, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey) built their empires on little more than the grit and know-how to create opportunities where most overlooked. Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuck, more recently known for his motivational rants and Snapchats promises that there are no business short cuts. “If you want results,” he says, “put in the work.”

    3. You’re passionate about what you’re doing.

    You must care deeply about what you’re doing because you’re going to be living and breathing it. All. The. Time.

    Being an entrepreneur is no 9 to 5 gig; it’s a full-time lifestyle where you are your own brand. While risky, the good news is that according to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, “If you just work on stuff that you like and you’re passionate about, you don’t have to have a master plan with how things will play out.” So far, so good for him.

    In the 2015 film Steve Jobs, Jobs is portrayed as an isolationist who’s quoted as saying “I’m indifferent to whether or not people like me” while Richard Branson speaks at length about solid communication and the power of teamwork.

    At the end of the (work) day -- likely more than 14 hours long for the entrepreneurial-minded -- there’s no right or wrong way to be an entrepreneur. While certain personality traits may be more common in entrepreneurs than others, there’s no guidebook on how to be an entrepreneur, and we wouldn’t want it any other way.

    [bctt tweet="A typical entrepreneur's work day may be as long as 14 hours. #startups #whatittakes" username="hostgator"]

    What do you think it means to be an entrepreneur? Have any favorite entrepreneurial role models? Leave a comment! We’re always listening.

  • 6 Ways Businesses Are Celebrating Red Nose Day This Year

    Thursday, May 26, 2016 by
    [caption id="attachment_10966" align="alignright" width="293"]Red Nose Day HostGator's very own Snappy celebrates Red Nose Day in style![/caption] Did you know that today, May 26th, 2016, is Red Nose Day? Participating in charity events is a fantastic opportunity for businesses to build brand awareness, engage with customers, and boost staff morale, all while doing something really great for your community. So, what is your business doing to celebrate? If you don't know about Red Nose Day, here's some background. It was created in 1988 and has raised over $1 billion globally ever since for children living in poverty. While it's long been a cultural phenomenon in the UK, the holiday is still relatively new to the US, having just started last year. Red Nose Day honors the idea that comedy and famous funny people have the power to bring joy, raise money, and, ultimately, reduce child poverty. This year's funds will be donated to support children living in the poorest communities in the U.S and across the globe. You can purchase official Red Noses at Walgreens and Duane Reade stores throughout the U.S. You can also host FUN-raisers or donate online here. Interested in celebrating Red Nose Day with your business, but need some ideas? We polled small business owners and marketers to share their plans, and now we'll share 6 of our favorites with you!

    1. Hold a fundraiser.

    "We are having a fundraiser at our building's lobby. If a company employee contributes, we have guaranteed we will at least match their contribution. The way it works is, we will let the employee pull a random number out of a hat. This number will be a fraction between 0 and 1. We will match their contribution, plus we multiply their contribution by that fraction and add that to the donations. So for example, let's say an employee donates $10 and pulls a 50% from the hat. We donate $10 plus 50% of $10, so total of $15. All donations will be sent to a charity helping kids in poverty." -- Andrew Reeves, owner of Luxe Translation Services [bctt tweet="#SmallBusiness Tip: Host a #RedNoseDay FUN-raiser and match employee contributions!" username="hostgator"]

    2. Take a guerrilla marketing approach.

    "Simply go out with a simple t-shirt with your company's website name and a red nose on your face. If you can, make a day of it with your staff and have them wear the red noses as well. People will notice and ask you about it, sparking conversations and bringing in more traffic to your website." -- Ike Paz, owner of Internet Marketing Gym [bctt tweet="#SmallBiz Tip: Wear a red nose and t-shirt with your website on it, and walk around town #RedNoseDay" username="hostgator"]

    3. Raise awareness with colleagues.

    "As someone who works for a company dedicated to helping people find comfortable and safe furnished homes, I am deeply concerned with poverty affecting the lives of kids. Having lived in the UK, where Comic Relief was born, I am aware of the importance of the charity's mission and its Red Nose Day fundraiser. The charity is still fairly new in the US, however, and many of my colleagues and customers are still unaware of Red Nose Day. That's why I'm planning to spread awareness about Red Nose Day and Comic Relief to my colleagues. Then, on May 26, a few of my colleagues (including myself) will wear red noses to work. We will share photos of us working with red noses on social media, with each relevant post containing a link to Comic Relief's donation page. We're also planning to bring in specially-themed red cupcakes that would spread awareness for the charity." -- Noel McCann, Marketing Analyst at HomeSuite

    4. Take selfies for social media.

    "One way small businesses can celebrate Red Nose Day is to have employees take silly selfies with red noses and send them out on social media. You can then compile the pictures into a single blog post on your company blog. Then send out the blog on your company's social media accounts. Not only does this raise awareness for a good cause, but it also shows your followers that you care about important issues." -- Eric Brantner, founder of Scribblrs.com [bctt tweet="#SmallBusiness Tip: Take silly #RedNoseDay selfies with employees and share via social media" username="hostgator"]

    5. Give out free red noses to customers.

    "As a small business owner I like to participate in any charity event that has the possibility to transform the lives of millions of kids. I plan to run a campaign this year and donate all of the profits made on Red Nose Day. I will also be sending out free Red Noses and a small pamphlet detailing the importance of Red Nose Day. Giving out free red noses is a very powerful way to help educate my customers in a comical way; I'm letting my customers know their purchase contributed to doing something incredible for millions of kids in the US. Specializing in a business geared toward kids, Red Nose Day is the best charity holiday to celebrate with my customers." -- Lisa Chu, owner of Black N Bianco Kids Apparel [bctt tweet="#SmallBusiness Tip: Celebrate #RedNoseDay by giving out free red noses to customers!" username="hostgator"]

    6. Treat your employees to a day off (and a free lunch)!

    "My company is celebrating Red Nose Day by cancelling work that day. Rather than have my employees work, I organize a group meeting to a local food bank in order to help the organization help the children and adults who deal with poverty every day. I also recommend my employees wear a red nose that is a symbol for Red Nose Day, and those who do, I will pay for their lunch!" -- AJ Saleem, owner of startup Suprex Private Tutoring What is your business doing to celebrate Red Nose Day? Let us know in the comments!
  • Social Media How-To Guide for Realtors

    Wednesday, May 25, 2016 by
    Social Media for Realtors

    Real estate entrepreneurs are in the unique business of selling an experience and a dream.

    Finding a dream home, achieving lifetime milestones, and making potentially powerful investments tell the story of what realtors help accomplish on any given day. They work as legal advisors, accountants (and therapists), to guide buyers, sellers, and renters to make the best possible housing decisions.

    Sound overwhelming? It is.

    This is why the incredible accessibility and reach of social media is a must have for any successful realtor’s tool kit. Check out how social media can grow your real estate customer base and help provide a richer experience for current clients.

    How can I make social media work for me?

    Here’s how you can use social media marketing to your advantage and continue to sell an incredible real estate experience, but with an additional edge over your competition.

    1. Promote video.

    Show, don’t tell. Use video to walk through properties and show them off. Use video to show that your office is warm and your staff is approachable. Use video to film happy customer testimonials. Don’t believe that this will work? Check the stats, and get yourself a YouTube channel:

    • By 2018, the number of US digital video viewers will rise to 244.5 million.
    • Shoppers who view video are 2X more likely to purchase than non-viewers.
    • 52% of worldwide marketing pros deem video as the content type with the highest ROI.

    2. Educate.

    We know you get countless questions about getting pre-approved, neighborhood school systems, crime stats, staging tips, closing costs. Create a list of your most commonly asked real estate questions and begin to answer them through social media. Encourage your customers to engage with you online to build lasting relationships.

    3. Invite.

    Create a Facebook Event and directly invite your followers to open houses. The beauty of social media is that they can in turn invite others, and soon you have a full house of potential buyers. Use hashtags to expand your reach.

    4. Use Images.

    Like video, images sell. Best for Instagram and Pinterest (although images perform well on all social channels), pics are a great way to invite customers to be a part of the real estate experience. You’re not limited only to homes. Post images of gardens, beaches, restaurants, and local artwork. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. 

    5. Get creative.

    Stuck and need even more social media marketing ideas? Try these:
    • Curate and share content from your favorite real estate resources. Share your opinion to show you’re a thoughtful and experienced industry leader.
    • Share local happenings in the area in which you sell. Present the awesomeness of the neighborhoods and cities you’re promoting!
    • Share exclusive listings, or the house/condo/property of the week.
    • Post pics of new happy homeowners you helped and the spaces they now call home.

    How to get started right now?

    First, add your social icons to your website. If you don't have a website yet, you can get a great deal here.

    Next, set up a Facebook page. Use a free site like Canva to help out with Cover Photo sizing. Transfer basic info about your company from your website and you’re good to go! We also recommend Instagram and Pinterest to promote more images and vids, plus LinkedIn for professional connections and Twitter for real-time communication, but Facebook is a good place to begin.

    Consider getting started with a set and forget social media automation marketing tool like MySocialSuite which will save you oodles of time by pre-scheduling posts to multiple social accounts.

    Bottom line: If you’re in the real estate biz, you need to be using social media to best portray and sell that dream.

    Realtors! Tell us your thoughts. How are you using social media to help grow your business and educate your customers?

  • 5 Reasons You Should Start Blogging Today

    Tuesday, May 24, 2016 by
    5 Reasons You Should Start Blogging Today

    Listen up: here’s the deal with blogging. If you have no interest in growing your business, getting new leads, or making more sales, then move along; there’s nothing to see here.

    If you want all of those things (and who wouldn’t?) you absolutely need to start blogging today. Not only is blogging good for business, but its success rates are entirely measurable, so you can tweak and target accordingly.

    First, let’s debunk the folklore:

    #1. You don’t need to be a coffee shop dwelling hipster to write a good blog post.

    [bctt tweet="Blogging Myth #1: You don’t need to be a coffee shop dwelling hipster to write a good blog post." username="hostgator"]

    #2: Not all blog posts need to be about cats.

    [bctt tweet="Blogging Myth #2: Not all blog posts need to be about cats." username="hostgator"]

    A common misconception is that blog posts are a qualitative marketing extra written and soon forgotten about. But when done right, they can be a tremendous asset to your business. Seriously, these things drive legit results. Here’s how...

    Why does blogging matter?

    1. Improve SEO

    Search engine optimization is essential for your website so that customers can find you and buy your stuff. Google prioritizes sites that are constantly producing new and fresh content, so it’s in your best interest to steadily publish posts that are relevant and useful to your business. You can also load up your blog posts with keywords that people are using to find your business.

    2. Build brand loyalty

    Blog posts as an opportunity to share your views, ideas, and creative musings on your industry. You can also create FAQs and Q&As. Think of the top questions you’re asked by customers and write up a post on each one. This creates a stickiness that invites viewers to keep coming back. And besides, didn’t you always want to add “thought-leader” to your resume?

    3. Target a relevant audience

    Blog posts work great for business owners aiming to reach customers who work in specific industry verticals or who live in certain geographical locations. This is how your customers are searching: “real estate in Brooklyn New York.” So, structure your posts around how they’re trying to find you.

    4. Measure & adjust

    With help from Google Analytics (it’s free!) you can calculate how many people are reading your posts, where they’re located, what time of day they’re reading, and in what topics they’re most interested.

    5. Drive traffic & engage!

    Use blog comment threads to respond to your readers and find out what they want to learn more about. Founder of inbound marketing powerhouse Moz.com Rand Fishkin says, “Great bloggers make publishing neither the beginning nor the end of their process. They put it smack dab in the middle.” Promote your site’s blog posts through your social channels to boost customer engagement and drive more traffic back to your point of sale.

    What are some tools I can use to get started today?

    Do you recommend any other useful blogging tricks and tools? Hit the comments and let us know from where you draw your biggest blogging inspirations.

  • 5 Ways to Organically Improve Your Social Share Count

    Thursday, May 19, 2016 by
    Organically Improve Your Social Share Count There are very few communities on the web that can sustain themselves without the help of social media. Starting as a blogger in the year 2015 and beyond means that you will have to learn social media inside out, and there is no way around it. One social share on a platform like Twitter and Facebook could lead towards attracting hundreds of new visitors, and not ensuring that your visitors can share your content on social media is nothing but ignorance. Most bloggers today rely on the content management platform WordPress, and while WordPress does not offer native support (not yet at least) for social sharing, it does offer more than a hundred unique and free social sharing plugins, not to mention at least 50+ that come from premium sources. The variety of ways to share your content on social media is huge, all you need to do is the find the right solution for you. In order to help you improve your social media share count, here is a list of ways to give you a heads up on what works for others the most these days.

    1. Publish, then share

    The problem that others will run into when it comes to sharing the content on your blog is that they first have to actually find your content. Whilst many external resources provide features for content discovery, the best way to get discovered by new and interested readers is to get the name out all by yourself. It's a lot of work, yeah, but success isn't easy, and neither should you assume that after hitting the Publish button that everything will magically arrange itself for you to receive new visitors. Share your content on content syndication sites, social media, and manual link submission sites to get the maximum exposure.

    2. Establish your presence

    We are moving away from the kind of web that doesn't share intimate relationships between the blogger and the reader. Why should anyone share your content if they don't know who you are, what you stand for, and what your true intentions are. Make it easy for readers to recognize your name and your experience, which in turn will give you more credibility and ensure trust in those who will then want to share your content on social media.

    3. Expressive content titles

    The more specific we are with the kind of content titles we are using, the easier it will be for your readers to understand what the content is going to be about, and essentially that will lead towards a much easier decision as to whether the reader wants to share this content or not. The science behind the matter is that the more creative and insightful our content is, the more appealing it will be to our readers and the friends of our readers. Everyone likes to share breaking news stories, or new findings in science... use that insight to craft the kind of content titles that will lure people in organically, rather than on the basis of unseen content value. [bctt tweet="The more creative and insightful our content is, the more appealing it will be to our readers." username="hostgator"]

    4. Visualize your content

    Bland content without any visuals is starting to become less and less appealing, and more content creators are starting to incorporate and maximize the use of visual imagery within the actual content, whether to explain ideas or to convey concepts -- good quality visual images can be an incredible boost your social shares counts, not only because it's easier and quicker to learn from visual content, but also because it looks good and is truly convenient for anyone to consume.

    5. Remember the share buttons

    Today we have a ton of ways to display social share buttons. Floating share widgets, simple sticky widgets, standalone buttons that we can display using shortcodes, underpopups and popups that present visitors with a multitude of ways to share your content. And what a shame at those bloggers who totally forget to implement a social sharing solution at all. If you want your share count to go up, make it easy and accessible for anyone to share your content, whether they are browsing from the web or a mobile device.
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