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  • When’s The Best Time To Get a Small Business Loan?

    Friday, September 16, 2016 by

    Best Time To Get Small Business Loan

    Online lending is a great way for small business owners to get the capital they need to help their businesses grow.

    But they’re not for just anything. Before taking the plunge on a five- or six-figure loan, you need to ask yourself a couple of things: How will you pay it back and — even more importantly — how will it pay you back?

    Online lending makes getting access to necessary capital exceptionally easy — often just a few clicks on a website or mobile app. Projects perfect for an online loan are ones that have measurable ends and an obvious ROI (return on investment).

    Here are examples of how an online loan can make a BIG difference in the life of your company.

     

    1. To temporarily cover payroll as you take on new clients

    Your business is on the upswing, but you’ve got so much demand for your services that you can’t keep up. You need to hire more people to take on all this potential new work. Until you get paid by all these new clients you want to take on, you can’t pay for the new employee(s)!

    A small business loan could cover a new employee’s payroll for a month or two while you wait for those shiny new clients to pay their bills. Once you’ve been able to expand, thanks to that trusty new employee, the increased revenue should help you pay for their wages and repay the loan on time. Your new clients will tell their friends and colleagues about your good work, and your business will continue to grow.

     

    2. To weather lulls in cash flow (and even take advantage of them)

    Many Kabbage users are e-commerce sellers. How can a small business loan help your e-comm business? Well, you could use a Kabbage loan to stock up on inventory in the summer, when prices are low and sales are sluggish, and then hold onto that merchandise until the fall and winter, when demand picks up and prices increase. Without Kabbage, you wouldn’t have the money to make those purchases, since your own sales wouldn’t provide the necessary revenue during those slow summer months. By doing this, you’ll be prepared to cash in on the best pricing and the busiest shopping season while turbocharging your business’s growth.

    Even with the fees tacked onto your loan, you’ll still come out ahead. An online loan or line of credit can give you the capital you need to exploit the sales cycle.

     

    3. Upgrade your systems

    Let’s say you’re a used and rare book shop owner, and you’ve been doing business on the Internet. Online sales are starting to pick up, and you’re building a reputation outside the small Midwestern city where you’re based. But your payment systems are slow and out of date. Potential customers are irritated, and you can tell from your analytics that many of them get frustrated and give up rather than deal with your creaky old checkout process. You know that upgrading to a sleeker new interface will solve all your problems, as well as improve your shop’s image to out-of-state customers.

    But website redesigns and new e-commerce systems cost money, and it’d take a lot of signed first editions of A Tale of Two Cities to pay for it. A loan can help you upgrade ASAP and then use your increased sales and web presence to pay back the money over time.

     

    HostGator’s Recommendation

    There are lots of ways a small business loan can help you expand, but be sure you have a measurable goal in mind before you take the plunge. Once you do, check out our friends at Kabbage for fast, straightforward financing.

    Bonus: For a limited time, HostGator is offering Kabbage qualifiers a $100 Amazon* gift card.

     

    *Customer will receive a $100 Amazon gift card upon submitting a qualified application to Kabbage by 11:59pm EST October 11, 2016 through the link provided in this post. The gift card promotion is being run by Endurance International Group. Gift cards will be delivered to qualified customers electronically November 11, 2016. Amazon is a trademark of Amazon Technologies, Inc. Amazon is in no way affiliated with or a sponsor of this promotion.

  • What To Do If Your Dream Domain Name Is Already Taken

    Thursday, September 15, 2016 by

    What To Do If Domain Name Is Already Taken

    It can be frustrating when you’ve finally came up with the perfect domain name, only to find out that someone else already owns it. Coming up with the right domain name can be hard enough, and this hurdle can be enough to really take the wind out of your sails.

    Sometimes people will even squat on certain domain names, all for the purpose of trying to make some quick cash. You won’t be able to force another person to hand over a domain, but there are a few things you can do.

    Below we dive into what these things are. Keep frustration at bay by following some of the tips we outline below.

     

    1. Will a Different Domain Work?

    I know you probably have your heart set on a specific domain; otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. But, is it possible that you could modify the domain slightly?

    Sometimes adding a word after, or before, your ideal domain will change it enough, so that it becomes available. However, don’t overcomplicate things too much by adding hyphens, or hard-to-spell words.

    You still need to make sure that your domain remains memorable in the eyes of your visitors.

    Domain Name

     

    2. Can You Use a Different Extension?

    A lot of people tend to focus on the .com domain extension. However, there are literally dozens of different extensions you can use for your domain. Some have more authority than others, but keep in mind that you don’t just have to use a .com.

    Domain extensions like, .net, .co, and .me, are still very commonly used. See if your dream domain name is available with a different extension. You can always end up buying your dream extension later (if it becomes available), which we’ll dive into next.

     

    3. Find Out Who The Owner Is

    If you’re 100% set on using your dream domain and domain name extension, then be prepared to make an offer on the domain. To get started you can use a Whois Lookup.

    Just search for the domain name and you’ll receive all of the publicly available contact information about the domain owner. Often, this will give you their email address, so you can get in touch with them to see if they’re willing to part with the domain.

     

    4. Make an Offer on the Domain

    Before you actually reach out to the domain owner there’s a few things you should know.

    • Their asking price might be a little higher than you expected.

    • Don’t make an offer in your first email. Often, it can be cheaper to ask the owner about their domain and if they’d be willing to sell.

    • Feel free to make a counter offer, if their initial offer is incredibly high. It’s not uncommon for people to overestimate the value of the domain names they hold.

    If you don’t want to deal with the negotiations yourself you can also hire a domain name broker like Sedo, which will help to simplify the process on your end.

    Lastly, if you can’t find the contact information of the person who owns the domain, then your best bet is to just wait for the domain to expire. More on this below.

     

    5. Watch the Domain (Just in Case)

    If you’ve been unable to negotiate a fair price for the domain, then you can always just wait for the domain to expire and try to buy it before the owner has a chance to renew. But, this isn’t 100% guaranteed to work, so don’t bank on it.

    The renewal process will depend upon the registrar they purchased the domain through. You can see where they purchased the domain name in the Whois information you found earlier. To keep tabs on a domain you can use a service like Dynadot to see if and when the domain becomes unregistered.

    Just because someone else already owns your dream domain name, it doesn’t mean you have to give up. Hopefully, the steps above will give you a little light to make it through this dark time.

    Has your dream domain name ever been stolen from right under your feet? What did you do? Please share your experience in the comments below.

  • IT Professionals Day: Honor The Techs You Work With!

    Wednesday, September 14, 2016 by

    IT Professionals Day

    National IT Professionals Day, falling on September 20th this year, is the third Tuesday in September. As its name suggests, it is a day to celebrate information technology professionals and all they do for us. According to ITProDay.org, 70 percent of people polled said work productivity would be lost without IT and that technology is the most important thing at work. Meanwhile, 88 percent of people polled do ask for technical help or support from IT professionals. These staggering numbers indicate the important role that IT professionals play in our lives today. Here we will examine the history of IT Pros Day, as well as look at the important things IT Pros do for us, and we will explore some suggestions for what to do to celebrate national IT Pros Day.

    History of IT Professionals Day

    National IT Pros Day is a very new holiday. In March of 2015, fellow Texas-based tech company named Solarwinds submitted the holiday to the registrar of the National Day Calendar, and it was approved. The rest, as they say, is history! Now, we will celebrate IT Pros Day on September 20th of this year, and September 19th of next year.

    What IT Professionals Do for Us

    According to Webopedia.com, "IT (information technology) is the broad subject concerned with all aspects of managing and processing information, especially within a large organization or company." As you can see, this is a wide definition, and IT clearly relates to a breadth of topics. Further, NationalDayCalendar.com tells us that "the IT (information technology) professional is the unsung hero of modern business, but often under appreciated by it. Whether it be desktops, laptops, mobile devices, applications, servers, networks, databases or cyber security, IT professionals keep business humming." Let's take a closer look at each of these specialties.

    Desktops. IT professionals specialize in keeping our desktop hardware and memory devices intact and operating properly. This includes computer repair and cleaning of malware from the desktop. IT professionals are also available as consultants regarding what hardware and software should be used on our desktops.

    Laptops. For laptops, IT professionals do everything they do for desktops, and then some. Because they are portable, laptops often end up with a lot of extraneous files and information, added at various times on the move. IT professionals can clean laptops of those unwanted elements.

    Mobile Devices. IT professionals also keep our mobile devices clean and free of unwanted elements. They help to keep our mobile devices communicating among one another. In addition, since mobile devices often get handled roughly, IT professionals are on hand to fix mobile devices when they break.

    Applications. IT professionals can be application developers for desktops, laptops, and mobile devices alike. These IT professionals function as software engineers who understand basic coding languages and are available to repair malfunctioning apps as well. IT professionals can also work as vendor managers for companies to keep track of how many applications are sold from each specific line of applications.

    Servers. IT professionals can be web developers, working with and keeping track of servers for their clients. These professionals are often fluent in HTML and JavaScript and they often write web- and server-based applications. They keep servers up and running and manage servers to prevent them from becoming overloaded.

    Networks. Those IT professionals fluent in web language and the language of servers are also often fluent in the language of networks. These professionals keep networks up and running, whether they are satellite networks, LTE networks, or wireless networks. As with servers, IT professionals make certain that networks don't become overloaded.

    Databases. IT professionals also keep databases up and running, making sure they, too, do not become overloaded. These professionals also deal with search terms and making databases easily searchable by title, name, location, number etc... In addition, they organize databases and make pie charts, bar charts, and/or graphs with the available data.

    Cyber Security. Those IT professionals who are web developers are often experts in cyber security. They are familiar with coding and with keeping information on the web secure by building cyber walls and by constantly outsmarting hackers. They pay as much attention to keeping important information in as they do to keeping hackers out.

    How to Celebrate IT Professionals Day

    NationalDayCalendar.com suggests several ideas for celebrating National IT Professionals Day. Following are these ideas plus a couple of others.

    • Thank an IT professional. If you work with them, which many people do, tell them how much they are valued and thank them for their efforts and for all they do.
    • Share #ITProDay on social media. This will raise awareness and inform and remind others to thank IT professionals with whom they come into contact every day.
    • If you are a business owner, honor your IT professionals with a celebration. Have a cake or some doughnuts on hand.
    • Invent a drink called the ITPro.
    • Program all computers in the office to say, "Happy IT Professionals Day!"

    As you can see, IT Professionals Day possesses a well-earned place in our national list of holidays. It is a great day to honor our IT professionals and to thank them for all they do for our desktops, laptops, mobile devices, and more. So keep IT Professionals Day on your calendar, and plan your celebration accordingly. You will be glad you did!

    How do you plan on celebrating #ITProDay this year? Let us know on social media or in the comments below!

  • Why Do People Pay For Subscription News?

    Wednesday, September 14, 2016 by
    Subscription News

    Many of us regularly dismiss plenty of subscription pop-up boxes on web sites. Why tie yourself to a digital subscription if you’re just visiting to read one article or a handful of items each month? The most frugal among us—including many small business owners and bloggers who operate on a shoestring—may wonder why anyone pays to read New York Times or Wall Street Journal stories online when they can find free news elsewhere. The reason people pay for news site subscriptions shines some light on how small businesses can build their own subscriber/customer bases and grow beyond “shoestring budget” mode.

    One standout example of digital subscription success is the New York Times, which suffered along with the rest of the newspaper industry through the digital transformation in the late 90s and early aughts. Now, though, the paper of record has 2.5 million digital and print subscriptions – a giant leap from the 1.5 million print-only subscribers the paper had in 1995. Even though less than 2% of the Times’ monthly visitors are paid subscribers, total digital revenue for 2015 was $400 million, with more of that coming from subscriptions than from advertising, according to a recent conference speech by NYT Global editorial director Lydia Polgreen.

    The first lesson for business owners considering a subscription model for content or services is this:

    Not every site visitor must become a subscriber for your business to succeed.

    NiemanLab reported last August that of the 60 million unique visitors to the Times’ site each month, only a million are paid subscribers. However, paying readers spend more time on the site and view more pages than free visitors view so they’re more valuable in terms of ad revenue. In other words, per industry analyst Ken Doctor, “loyal core readers build the foundation of the news business.”

    The challenge for every business is building the loyalty that leads to subscription or customer base growth.

    [bctt tweet="Not every site visitor must become a subscriber for your business to succeed. #blogging" username="hostgator"]

     

    Customers become loyal after businesses prove their value

    To win subscribers, the Times went beyond the basic free coverage that readers could get from other outlets. Polgreen mentioned unique stories the Times did, such as a long-form profile of a woman living with Alzheimer’s and investigative pieces on nail salon worker exploitation and state prison corruption. With these types of stories, the Times created a clear value proposition: exclusive, interesting reporting by experienced journalists.

    Small businesses don’t have the resources, budget, or pedigree of an organization like the Times, but they can provide value customers will pay for -- if they’re willing to spend time getting to know their target market.

     

    Listen to your target audience

    This is what the Times does when it spends weeks or months tracking a story they know readers will care about, and it’s what top bloggers like Jon Morrow recommend for new bloggers and business owners who want to build an audience. By listening to your current or future audience, you can learn what they want and what they value enough to pay for.

     

    Who’s your audience?

    Before you can listen and learn, you need to know exactly who to listen to. Invest some time in developing your customer personas—such as age and income brackets, lifestyle, location, and more—so you can make the best use of your listening efforts.

     

    Where’s your audience?

    If you already have a customer base, email list, or a social media following for your business, you know where to find your current audience. To reach similar prospects—or to build a brand-new audience—follow blogs, news stories, and social media accounts that reach the people you want as customers.

     

    What does your audience want?

    Morrow and other experts recommend approaching this step as relationship-building in its own right, rather than comment-thread pitches to people you don’t yet know. Start by simply listening for what your target audience wants and what they don’t want. Most importantly, listen for things they’re not getting anywhere else that you can provide. Then, if you have questions to ask or insights to contribute, do so.

    As you develop your understanding of what your audience wants, you can start providing valuable content, products, or services they’ll be willing to pay for. Not all your content should be behind a paywall, of course. Free content can build familiarity and show your audience the value of expanded access to your offerings – just as the Times does with its combination of limited free and unlimited paid readership.

    [bctt tweet="Tip for successful subscription news sites: Offer a combo of limited free and unlimited paid content." username="hostgator"]

     

    Businesses grow by answering this question

    Polgreen’s speech included advice for other news organizations. “We need to answer this question: Why should a news consumer lean forward to consume, and pay for, your journalism when so much is available for less money, or worse, for free?

    Business owners and aspiring professional bloggers should ask a similar question of themselves. Why should customers consume and pay for what you offer at the price you charge? When you listen to your audience, you’ll know the answer.

    Start building your content with a professional blog today. Install WordPress in a single click with HostGator, and you'll have the world's most popular blogging platform at your fingertips.

    Get Started With HostGator!

  • Want More Photography Clients? It’s All In Your Website

    Tuesday, September 13, 2016 by
    Jireh Photography The wedding photography business can be inspiring, because you get to capture people’s images when they’re in love and celebrating. It’s also challenging, because you’re competing not only against other professional wedding photographers but also against amateurs who are willing to work for below-market rates. To set yourself apart and prove your value to clients, an online portfolio is an indispensable marketing tool. Detroit wedding photographer DeAndre Glover, owner of Jireh Photography, recently shared some of his website-based marketing experiences and insights for other photographers. DeAndre GloverGlover, a Detroit-area native and father of four, turned to photography as a profession in his late 30s and continuously pursues artistic learning and professional growth. “Wedding photography is rough if you’re doing it right,” Glover says on his website, “but to me there’s nothing more rewarding than creating art for my clients.” To showcase his art, Glover launched a website for Jireh Photography within a few months of starting the business. “Having a website has allowed me to streamline my business in terms of marketing, advertising, and client communications,” he said. Setting up the site was a small expense that has paid big dividends for his business. He chose HostGator for web hosting services “because they had the best pricing. Later on, I found out they also provide stellar service and support.”  

    Images Make The Sale

    Thanks to the nature of their craft, photographers have ready access to some of the most effective marketing components--in particular, visual content. Researchers say web pages and blog posts with photos or other visuals are much more likely to be seen, read, and shared by visitors than content without visuals. Pictures also make it much more likely that visitors will remember what they see on a site. Glover’s online portfolio includes hundreds of his shots for visitors to browse. Candid group images; bridal portraits; still-life photos of rings, churches and reception halls; and even an action shot of a couple riding a bicycle built for two show how he works with different couples and settings to create work his clients will appreciate over the years. Essentially, his work sells itself, Glover said. “Potential clients have already made a decision, based on my website and portfolio, as the whether or not they will call me or submit the lead form. The majority of the time, clients tell me, ‘I've been on your website and love your work. I want to hire you.’” Jireh Photography Clients These days, it’s also critical that images load quickly and display properly on a smartphone or tablet, because most Google searches now happen on mobile devices. A site host that offers fast load times and a responsive website template or a custom design that’s mobile-optimized give you a stronger advantage in the competition to be found by customers. HostGator's WordPress Cloud Hosting fits the bill - check it out here!  

    Keep It Simple, Keep Learning

    Even though his site is heavy on image content, the overall design and navigation are simple. Visitors can quickly find Jireh’s package pricing, contact information, testimonials, and information about Glover. He recommends a simple approach to web design for new photographers, too: “A strong portfolio, straight to the point information about your services, and a few ways to contact you.” Once that’s in place, “study your craft endlessly and let your work speak for itself.”  

    Your photography deserves an equally artistic website. Design an online portfolio for your photography business with HostGator's WordPress Cloud Hosting.

    Get Started With HostGator!