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  • How to Run a Successful Twitter Campaign

    Wednesday, October 12, 2016 by

    Twitter Campaign

    In order to run a successful Twitter campaign, we need to initially review a few things. So, how’s about a recap of why we tweet and why Twitter even matters?


    Wait, what’s a hashtag again?

    A hashtag in case you’re not sure looks like a number sign (#) followed by some sort of text (no special characters). For example, right now while I’m writing this article, these are the worldwide trending hashtags and the number of people tweeting about each:

    Twitter Trending Topics

    As you can see there’s quite a range -- from #savejustinbieber to #IAmAFeminist -- you never know what you’re gonna get from Twitter’s 140-character count platform.

    Twitter is especially useful when being used to track live events. In the recent United States Presidential Nominations the hashtags #DEMSinPhilly and #RNCinCLE were respectively used to track live sentiment from the Democratic and Republican parties. In essence, Twitter is a scroll of colorful commentary (GIFs, vids, and images) that can sometimes accompany major live events, political or otherwise.


    Why would business owners use Twitter?

    As a business owner, you may want to search hashtags like #plumbing or #contentmarketing or #goodeats to find out what people are talking about in your industry. This way you can find potential customers, sales opportunities, and influencers who may help in spreading the word about your awesome product or service. Plus every time you post content with a hashtag others searching for that hashtag will more easily be able to find you and your product.


    What’s the point of having a Twitter campaign?

    Here’s the deal, the more people who engage with your brand’s Twitter account and hashtag(s), the more people know about your business, the more people who buy your stuff! With more than 305 million monthly active users, Twitter campaigns are a great way to boost visibility.

    Here’s what we suggest:

    1. Choose a (really good) hashtag.

    Once you think you have the perfect hashtag for your campaign, please, please, PLEASE test it out! Make sure no one else is using it, or things will get super confusing. Being unique is key.

    2. Create a schedule of tweets.

    Don’t wing it. The beauty of digital marketing is that it’s measurable. Tools like Buffer and MySocialSuite can help you determine what time of day and on which days your specific audience is most engaged.

    3. Discover what works.

    Twitter has their own analytics tab where you can monitor which of your recent posts received the most engagement. Learn from this and mimic your campaign around what your audience already digs.

    Here's a look at HostGator's own Twitter analytics dashboard. (You can follow us here.)

    Twitter Analytics

    4. Make (and proof) your content ahead of time.

    Yes, there’s a time and a place for real time tweeting, but when you’re organizing an event, it’s good to have a set schedule of everything you and your team will need to make this work. Set out your steps in advance and know exactly what days you’re posting what and how long your campaign will be.

    Pro tip: Canva is a free image-making resource that enables you to create marketing content that’s the right size for each social platform. For more tips, check out our article on 4 free tools for making infographics.

    5. Use the tools Twitter gives you!

    Twitter now has GIFs built directly into its platform. Use these to show (and not just tell) your audience what’s up with your campaign. Choose from a variety of inspirational and topical moods like YOLO (You Only Live Once) and SMH (Shaking My Head).

    Twitter GIFs

    You can also set up quick Twitter poll soliciting feedback from your audience. Then you can repurpose the results as additional engaging content.

    Twitter Poll

    Now that you have the tools in place for what you need, all that’s left is for you to determine the type of contest or campaign you’d like to run. We suggest having a clear goal in mind. Do you want more followers, more sales? Every action you take from hashtag choice to image colors should point backwards to this final objective.

    Finally, here’s the fine print on running promotions directly from Twitter.

    Have you ever run a Twitter campaign? Are you thinking about it? Tell us in the comments!

  • 5 Personal Branding Strategies Every Freelancer Needs to Know

    Monday, October 10, 2016 by

    Personal Branding

    As a freelancer, your success depends on your personal brand.

    You may very well have the skills to get the job done. But without effective branding, clients won’t trust you.

    Develop a personal brand that stands out. Become familiar with the client’s needs. And set yourself apart from the competition.

    “All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me, Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You,” says Tom Peters, a well-known author and speaker.

    [bctt tweet="'We are CEOs of our companies: Me, Inc.' - @Tom_Peters #PersonalBranding #QuoteOfTheDay" username="hostgator"]

    On the road to success, your personal brand drives and you ride shotgun. Here are five ways to get your personal brand heading in the right direction.


    1. Deliver on your promises

    Above all else, deliver on your promises.

    You can’t build brand credibility based on words—only actions. Clients have high expectations. And when you commit to certain standards, they will hold you accountable.

    Completing your commitments is a sign of professionalism. It shows people you can be trusted.

    Be mindful of quality when fulfilling your clients’ promises. Subpar work will only diminish your brand’s value. Create a quality control checklist to ensure you’re producing excellent work.

    Consistency is the ultimate brand-builder. Clients don’t want freelancers who deliver good work sometimes. They desire individuals who will provide quality every single time.

    To remain consistent, never stop improving. Invest time in learning new skills, as well as honing your old ones.

    Daniel Bliley, Marketing Director for Passport says, “Branding today is as much about consistently delivering on your promise as it is about differentiation. You have to position yourself in unique ways in order to stand out from others. You have to meet all of the subconscious expectations and go beyond the mundane to truly impress.”

    Differentiate yourself from the competition by understanding your clients’ goals. Learn the reasoning behind their projects. This will help you provide a better work product.

    Personal branding hinges on you delivering quality work in a consistent manner. Be prepared to make the commitment.

    Create Your Blog


    2. Build a website or portfolio

    Show clients who you are and what you do. Create a website or portfolio to promote your brand.

    A personal website is an effective tool to give clients an inside perspective. It provides a visual representation of your brand’s values and your work experience.

    Develop a website that will showcase your talents. Add case studies about previous clients. Mention notable awards and recognitions. And highlight how your work makes a difference.

    You may even want to include a blog or have prospects sign up for a newsletter. The key is to underline your strengths. Below is a website example from freelance writer Kaleigh Moore.

    Personal Branding Website

    Moreover, focus your website on how you can solve your client’s problems.

    “Don’t use your website to tell people what YOU do, use it to tell people what you can do for THEM,” writes Leah Kalamakis, founder of The Freelance To Freedom Project.

    Create a website that exudes professionalism and makes a good first impression. Based on eye-tracking research conducted at Missouri University of Science and Technology, “when viewing a website, it takes [visitors] less than two-tenths of a second to form a first impression.”

    So, avoid adding a multitude of colors, splashed with various stock photos. Clients will leave and go to your competitors.

    Develop a website worth visiting. Give prospective clients a reason to contact you.


    3. Maintain a social media presence

    We live in a tech-savvy society. And social media is helping individuals connect with people all over the world.

    Expand your reach. Use social media to gain more exposure for your freelance services.

    “[A] big part of being recognized as a distinctive, successful brand is the ability to reach consumers through multiple channels,” says Forbes contributor Jayson DeMers.

    Research where your clients hang out online. Is it Facebook? Twitter? Or, maybe Instagram?

    Then, start creating content on those social networks. Follow your clients’ profiles. Comment on their posts. And curate helpful information under your account.

    Here’s a tweet from freelance designer and developer Jonnie Hallman. He’s announcing an update about his latest project.

    A Texas Tech University report found that brands with active social media profiles have more loyal customers.  Anymore, brand loyalty is built on a strong social media presence.

    So, stay active. But don’t nag your potential clients. Focus on building a relationship, not earning another work project.

    Entrepreneur John Rampton says, "Use social media to converse with industry leaders, such as asking questions, adding your input, sharing their content or signing up for their newsfeeds. This type of networking will continue to improve your credibility and expertise."

    Your online presence matters. Start building connections on social media.


    4. Participate in multiple communities

    Networking is essential. As a freelancer, it’s the lifeblood of your operations.

    People do business with people, not businesses. So, aim to build relationships with others.

    “When you take the time to build a strong network, that investment will bring results. People start seeing you as an expert and will come to you for services, whether you’re a writer, designer or massage therapist,” writes Justine Smith, outreach manager at Freshbooks.

    Find networking opportunities in your local area with Join a Slack community dedicated to a specific industry-related niche. Or collaborate with fellow freelancers at the Freelancers Union.

    Freelancer Networking

    When joining communities, your goal is to add value. Become a resource to your network. Don’t spam people with ads about your services. Instead, discover new ways to build partnerships.

    For example, if you’re a copywriter, you can partner with a graphic designer. Together, you can offer high-quality brochures with impeccable copy and custom-made layouts.

    Your networking efforts should center around leveraging relationships. Personal branding isn’t selfish. You can build a better reputation by helping those around you.

    Participate in communities by sharing your knowledge. If you’re looking to be mentored, offer to mentor someone else. Reciprocity is a powerful professional trait.

    Build a mutually beneficial network. Help first, then ask for guidance.


    5. Give your brand personality

    Personal branding revolves around perception. Everything you do represents your brand.

    To separate yourself from others, give your brand a personality.

    Brand personality is defined as “a set of emotional and associative characteristics connected to a company or brand name.” It’s how people feel and interact with your freelancing business.

    Apple exudes innovation. Nike is connected with athleticism. Chick-fil-A is known for pleasurable fast-food experiences.

    Link your brand personality with an ideal that your clients can respect.

    [bctt tweet="Apple exudes innovation. Nike represents athleticism. What's your #personalbrand personality?" username="hostgator"]

    “People connect to the people and things they believe in,” says Detavio Samuels, president of GlobalHue-Detroit.

    “So, as a brand, you are either connecting based on showcasing a similar belief system or you are providing them with new beliefs based on a better future they choose to embrace.”

    After you select a personality, inject it into everything you do. It’s how you interact with people, choose a website design, and even deliver your work product.

    But don’t force artificial feelings. Your clients will know if you’re faking it. Be genuine with your approach.

    Liven up your brand. Give it your unique personal flair.


    Get Noticed

    Every freelancer needs a personal brand that works for them. It will attract clients to your business, in return increasing your revenue.

    Create quality work. Build an amazing website (HostGator can help with this part). Interact with clients on social media. Network with leaders in your industry. And develop a brand personality.

    Be seen. Be heard. Build your personal brand.

  • Join Our Twitter Chat: How To Get Started With SEO

    Friday, October 7, 2016 by
    emPowerChat SEO Twitter Chat Are you a blogger? Business owner? Freelancer? By now you know that SEO is important. Unfortunately, there is a lot of fear and mystery surrounding SEO (i.e. Search Engine Optimization) that prevents people from understanding the basics and applying them to their website to bring in new visitors. Well, we're about to change that. We're joining our friends at Endurance International Group and Constant Contact for a Twitter chat on How To Get Started With Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Whether you're brand new to running a website or you've had one for a while, you'll walk away with a SEO game plan and the answers to questions like:
    • How can I make sure my business is at the top of a Google search?
    • What are the SEO basics I should apply to my website?
    • How do I know what keywords to use or content I should create to get found?
    • What are the SEO tools others recommend?
    • How do I optimize my domain name for SEO?
    If you've ever found yourself asking any of the above questions, be sure to join us Wednesday, October 19th, at 1pm Eastern for a Twitter chat all about SEO! All you have to do to join in is to login to Twitter and follow the hashtag #emPowerChat to tweet, ask questions, and share your own tips. It should be a fruitful discussion with marketing experts, bloggers, and business owners. We can all learn from each other! After the discussion, we'll recap the highlights here on the HostGator blog. See you in the Twitterverse!
  • 5 Guest Blogging Best Practices for Small Businesses

    Thursday, October 6, 2016 by

    Guest Blogging Best Practices

    Your brand needs exposure.

    From social media advertising to influencer outreach, your team is trying everything to gain attention from new audiences. Plus, marketing campaigns can be very expensive.

    Guest blogging is one technique often underused by small businesses. Done correctly, it can drive traffic to your site, engage relevant consumers, and generate brand awareness.

    Meredith Stahler, inbound marketing specialist with Sensible Marketing, states, Guest blogging is a great way to enhance your business's reputation as a thought leader. Getting guest posts published on top sites in your niche can secure backlinks from influential and authoritative websites.”

    Let’s explore how your brand can engage consumers with guest blogging.


    What Is Guest Blogging?

    Blogging enables brands to talk directly to their customers. Guest blogging amplifies that communication by sharing your content with other audiences.

    Research shows that “94% of people who share posts do so because they think it might be helpful to others.”

    The golden rule of guest blogging is to add unmatched value to the readers. You want people interested in what you have to offer.

    [bctt tweet="The golden rule of guest #blogging is to add unmatched value to the readers." username="hostgator"]

    Here are a few benefits of guest blogging:

    • Building relationships with non-competing brands;
    • Expanding your reach to potential customers; and
    • Establishing your brand as a thought leader in a specific niche.

    “When you can establish yourself as an expert in any field, others will trust you more and be more willing to pay for products or services that you offer. If nothing else they will be more willing to link to other content that you have created,” says Adam White, founder of Guest Post Tracker,

    As the guest blogger, your team is responsible for going above and beyond the publisher’s expectations. Those high standards include following editorial guidelines and adhering to deadlines.

    Here’s an example of Hubspot’s guest post standards:

    Guest Post Guidelines

    Moreover, consider guest blogging as an ongoing partnership with editors. Aim to serve the blog’s needs first. You want to ensure that your blog post resonates with the readers.

    Guest blogging is a privilege, not right. So, create content worth consuming. And you’ll grab the attention of the publisher.


    Best Practices to Learn From

    Every small business is different. However, valuable lessons are learned no matter the industry or product.

    Gather your team to discuss what works well for your company. Here are five best practices to follow:


    1. Research

    One size doesn’t fit all in guest posting. Every blog is different.

    Some blogs cover niche topics. Other publishers only accept submissions from influencers. And editors may limit word count or the types of posts.

    When you’re asking to play on someone else’s field, you must follow their rules. And it all starts with doing your research.

    Most blogs post their guest blogging guidelines on their websites. On the other hand, you may need to contact the content marketing manager directly.

    But before you read their rules, actually read their blog. Observe what topics they discuss.

    See who contributes on a regular basis. And figure out what type of readers engage with the blog.

    Pro Tip: Read the comments on the blog.

    Also, use Google Alerts to find blogs matching your interests. You may discover some new publishers.

    Google Alerts

    Do your research before contacting anyone. It will help you focus on bringing the most value to the right audience.


    2. Pitch

    So, your team is ready to pitch editors. For some small business teams, this step is the most difficult.

    Why? Because we forget to offer value.

    Normally, we just send an email telling the publisher what we want. We ramble about why they need us and act as if the editors have no other options.

    Well, it’s time to do things differently. Show proof of how your content is valuable.

    [bctt tweet="Pitching a guest blog to editors? Show proof of how your content is valuable." username="hostgator"]

    There are several ways to establish credibility. Try the following:

    • Provide links to your existing content;
    • Note how people visited your posts;
    • Screenshot the total social media shares of an example post; or
    • Mention trustworthy publishers you’ve worked with in the past.

    The outreach email should be short and straightforward. State who you are and if anyone referred you.

    Display how you can bring immediate value. Then, ask how your team can serve the editor’s readers.

    Create Your Blog


    3. Write

    After the editor approves your topic idea, your job is to begin writing. Be mindful of the publisher’s standards.

    Writing is subjective when it comes to conveying particular viewpoints. But the objective principle is to avoid misspellings and grammar errors.

    Those mistakes diminish the value of your post. It also burdens the editor to make time-consuming corrections.

    Use tools like Grammarly and PaperRater to analyze word choice, detect plagiarism, and score readability. Hemingway also is a great tool to simplify your text.

    Hemingway App

    As for the substance of the post, make sure you stay on topic, organize your thoughts with subheadings, and add relevant images.

    “Write about what you already know, and if necessary, do additional research to gather more information, examples, and data to back up your points, providing proper attribution when incorporating external sources,” states Rachel Sprung, customer demand manager at HubSpot. 

    For inspiration, read the publisher’s previous posts to capture the writing style and tone.

    Pro Tip: Reference the publisher’s links in your guest post.


    4. Revise

    Every blog post you create won’t be perfect. And that’s okay.

    But the editor will expect you to make the necessary changes to meet their publishing rules. Don’t take it personally. They want to ensure the readers enjoy your work and that it’s well-received.

    This isn’t the time to debate with the editor. Remember, he is doing you a favor. You want to be published on his blog.

    Instead of dreading the revision process, expect it. Prepare your team for additional edits to the blog post.

    If you have questions or want clarification, ask the editor. You want to know exactly how to improve the content.

    When you make the editor’s job easier, she will be more inclined to work with your team in the future.


    5. Promotion

    Congrats! Your post has been approved.

    That’s it, right? Nope.

    Now, it’s time to promote the blog post. Talk with the editor to determine the publication date. Then, start planning a mini-promotion strategy for the content.

    Your team can send emails to everyone mentioned in the post. Share the content on all your social media networks. And submit the post to online community forums.

    Sujan Patel, co-founder of Web Profits, agrees:

    “If your audience is more business-minded in nature, you’ll want to make LinkedIn Groups a drop off point for your content pieces. The network hosts thousands of different groups, making it pretty much impossible that you won’t find one there that suits your interests or industry.”

    Add value to an ongoing group conversation. Consider answering questions on Quora with your content as a possible solution.

    Quora Facebook Ads

    If your small business knows industry influencers, ask specific leaders to share your content. They may even include it in an upcoming email newsletter.

    Promotion centers around getting people sharing and talking about your post. So, develop a plan before publication.


    Be A Guest

    Guest blogging is an effective way to expand your marketing efforts. It offers your brand the chance to reach more potential customers.

    Conduct extensive research before contacting brands. Pitch with an editor’s mindset. And remember to promote your guest post.

    Grow your audience. Start guest blogging.

  • Using Your Personal Website To Land A New Job

    Tuesday, October 4, 2016 by
    Personal Website for Job Search What’s the first thing you do when you start looking for a job? If your first response is to update your resume, work your professional contacts, or sign up for some job fairs, you’re on the right track, but arguably the most important task is starting or updating your personal website. Whether you’re looking for a full-time gig with an established employer or want to land new clients who hire you directly, a website offers some job-hunting advantages that other tools simply can’t. Here are seven ways a professionally focused personal website can jump-start your job search.  

    1. Give hiring managers and recruiters what they want

    The most important reason to have a website is that people who may hire you want to see one. Forbes reported in 2013 that for 56% of hiring managers surveyed, candidates’ personal websites were the thing that impressed them most, but just 7% of applicants had a site. Your website will give you an immediate edge over applicants without one. [bctt tweet="Over half of hiring managers say candidates' personal websites were the thing that impressed them most." username="hostgator"]  

    2. Make the most of employers’ online searches

    Searching candidates’ names online is part of hiring managers’ due diligence. When your website turns up in the results, the search is no longer a screening chore. Now it’s an opportunity for the hiring manager to see your skills and learn more about you. Your website is an always-on marketing tool to help prospective employers find you, too. Many open jobs never appear on job boards, in part to keep hiring managers from drowning in a sea of applications from people who don’t meet the requirements. The higher up the career ladder the job is, Forbes reports, the more likely it is to go unadvertised. Many times these unannounced jobs are filled through network referrals, but sometimes recruiters conduct their own searches to find likely candidates. To show up in these searches, make sure your site copy and tags include the key words people use when they search for your type of job, such as “retail site design” or “residential architecture.”  

    3. Show your work in its best light

    A site that shows your skill can put you on a prospect’s shortlist. For example, Portland makeup artist Ellie Vixie uses her portfolio as her site’s homepage, to capture the attention of brides-to-be who are searching online for service providers. You can share as much of your work as you like on your website, rather than just writing about it on your resume or submitting a couple of samples with an online application. Depending on the type of work you do, your portfolio can be as simple as a list of links to your articles or as cleverly crafted as this portfolio by designer and animator Robbie Leonardi. (We found it on in a list of cool personal sites on ReBrandly.) Put in the work to make your online portfolio shine, no matter what recruiters are using to view it. Navigate through your site using different browsers and devices to make sure it displays well on all of them. Overlapping text, disappearing sidebars, and wonky graphics can smudge your professional image.  

    4. Demonstrate your connections and social proof

    Testimonials show recruiters and hiring managers that people in your industry are happy to vouch for your work. Testimonials are especially effective when they include headshots, names, and company information. Ask the people who’ve given you references or glowing reviews for permission to use their images and names to enhance your testimonials page. Network for Good has detailed advice on collecting and using testimonials; it’s aimed at nonprofits but useful for job-seekers, too. Have you been featured in the press for something work-related or interviewed about your area of expertise? Link to or embed those media mentions on your site. Being a source for a news story or feature article goes a long way toward establishing you as an expert.  

    5. Establish expertise

    Don’t worry if you haven’t been quoted in the New York Times just yet. Your website can serve as the home for a blog, podcast, or video channel where you discuss your work and your industry. Author Laura Vanderkam, who writes extensively about time management, keeps a blog on her personal site that invites readers to participate in time-tracking challenges, chronicles her own efforts to balance work and family, and offers practical tips for dealing with daily time crunches. If you have a job now, a regularly updated, well-written blog shows you’re interested in your field beyond what happens in your own workspace. If you’re between jobs, your content shows prospective employers that you’re keeping up with industry developments. Create Your Blog  

    6. Make it easy to contact you

    You may want to include icons linking to each of your social media accounts, but the purpose of your site is to get hired. Recruiters and managers are busy people who need to reach you easily and get a timely response. To avoid missed connections and delayed responses, it’s a good idea to provide only the contact methods you check frequently, whether that’s email, phone, LinkedIn, or something else, and put them near the top of the page so they’re easy to find.  

    7. Your website shows initiative

    Besides everything listed above that a website can do for your job search, it also shows prospective employers something else. Initiative, moxie, gumption, a can-do attitude – however you want to describe it, your website shows you have it. Employers want people who can solve problems, get things done, and add value. Your website does all that and more, which makes it a job-search tool that’s hard to beat.