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Keep It Simple

Written by Brandi Bennett

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015


Recent studies have shown that the average reading level for the general population of the United States ranges somewhere between a fourth and a sixth grade reading level; studies from several years ago put most individuals graduating high school as reading at no better than a fifth grade reading level. Do you feel that the content being presented to you has been dumbed down in recent years? Are you surprised at the latest arguments regarding whether or not it is socially acceptable for adults to read young adult novels? There’s a reason.

The average reading level has decreased drastically throughout the years. When I was in intermediate school, (6th grade), I tested at reading at college level, the highest the test would go; most of my classmates capped out at the same rate, with only a few of them hitting eleventh or twelfth grade reading levels, nothing any lower. In today’s day and age, those who are graduating aren’t even close, nor do they really seem to care.


Why This Matters and How it Affects You

It matters for a lot of reasons, but this is neither the time nor the place for a soap box rant regarding the quality of education that students are receiving today. This matters because the majority of content presented on the Internet comes in one of three forms: lolcat, graphic representations, or text. That’s right; most of the information on the internet involves reading. How then can we expect the material that we find relevant, the topics that we find interesting, or the manner in which we convey information to be able to maintain interest, much less be comprehended by the new target markets and audiences that are coming into their best years of buying power? There’s only one thing to do….


How to Deal with It

You’ve got to Keep it simple. Don’t go for the thesaurus, don’t try to make your sentences sound more intelligent, and, much as I hate to say it – try to stay away from those compound sentences. Make your content as easy to understand as possible. Make it so that a sleep-deprived and un-caffeinated version of you would have no issue understanding what you are attempting to convey. It’s frustrating, it’s obnoxious, but unless you’re catering to a very specific crowd, like those who subscribe to Shakespeare Quarterly or only those who have received their Master’s degrees (and yes, this is an over exaggeration, but you get the idea), keep it basic. Remember, everything else aside, your goal is to market and sell your product; to do that effectively the average consumer must be able to understand what you are selling.


Image source:

Helpful Tips For Putting A Pricetag On Your Customized Work

Written by Jeremy Jensen

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

price tag
Being an entrepreneur requires a very diverse and calculated set of skills. First we conceptualize, then we create, followed by marketing, and if everything pans out we arrive at a sale, to put things simply of course. What very few people anticipate is how difficult it can be to put a price on an item once it’s ready to be sold.

What if I’m charging too much? What if I’m charging too little?

In either scenario, you probably aren’t making what you deserve. Only you, the creator, can know the amount of time, heart and resources that went into a project. Learning how to price your items fairly and effectively will serve to increase the frequency of your sales.

Here are some well tested ways in which you can develop a system for your price tags.


Calculate the cost of materials + 10%

This goes for work you already have in stock, and especially for that in which has yet to be created. When you’re approached by a potential client, the number one step is recovering the cost everything that went into the piece before you added time, skills and expertise. If we didn’t make back the cost of materials we’d be in a serious deficit.

Adding 10% is a good way to account for all the time that went into acquiring the materials in the first place. Things like transport, gas, etc.


Become a master at tracking your time

One of the most common mistakes private contractors will make when starting a new project is thinking that it will be easy to remember how much time was spent going into the finished product. Whether you’ll be spending hours, or months on a paid job it can be very easy to under or over-charge a client. Depending on your personality, you may feel an innate urge to under charge for fear of surprising your client with a large bill. I’ve certainly been there, but one day I truly started valuing my time and expertise and that fear went away.

Tracking your time accurately will start to mold how you go about projects, and ultimately how much you’ll end up earning in the long run. For if you’re diligent with your time card, and feel like you’re still spending too much time, you’ll naturally work faster to get to the optimal price for the labor you’re charging.

Some great applications for storing your hours include:

  • Freckle- Track your time, send invoices and view colorful graphs broken down into how much time went where on a project.

  • Paymo- Project management, time tracking and online invoicing.


Determine what your time is worth

In the world of business people are always going to try and find the best quality at the lowest price. Your number one consideration should be how much quality you bring to the table, and from there try and find a number that is competitive in your respective profession.

Part of what your time is worth is what kind of tools, supplies and skills you bring to the table. If you own the only lawn mower in your neighborhood and the competition is working with scissors, chances are you’re going to be able to charge more solely on the premise you’re cut out to do the better job.

Over time you’ll get comfortable charging a certain rate and the ones who approach you for your service will be able to see you’re value and won’t question the price.


Quote your price before starting the project

Part of advertising yourself as a professional means when someone approaches you inquiring about cost, you’ll be able to price a quote based upon the items made in the request. To many this is known as the bid.

This will give your client an opportunity to review and break down everything you’ll be charging them so there isn’t any questioning of your integrity once the work is done. This is also a good opportunity to draw up a contract between both parties as an extra measure of insurance that you’ll receive what you were hired to do.

More often than not you’ll need additional clauses that leave room for revisions and changes to the original bid. This will cost you more time and resources so the client will have to pay additionally for any alterations.


Last minute considerations in cost

We live in a very different time of exchanging goods and services, primarily due to the way in which eCommerce has opened the door to selling items around the globe. Don’t be afraid to mark up your products online a little more when the third party you’re hosting through has already added their own mark up. And make sure to consider things like shipping, money you spent on advertising, and the overall demand people have for your specific brand.

Now that you understand a little more as to what your work is worth, it should be easy to start pricing for the future.


Image Source: (Customized and cropped)

How To Build An Effective Hashtag Campaign

Written by Kevin Wood

Monday, January 12th, 2015

Hashtag Campaign

Hashtags have slowly become a part of the popular culture, especially the digital culture. Over time they’ve grown to become a central part of an effective social media campaign. However, if you’re just getting started with using hashtags they can be overwhelming, and frankly a bit confusing.

Once you get the hang of using hashtags it will get much easier, but it’s important to know the basics so you have a better chance at running an effective campaign from the start.


What Is A Hashtag?

In a way, hashtags can be seen as keywords. They allow for the aggregation of information that’s all based around a certain topic. Originally, hashtags were used by Twitter as a way to categorize their messages. Since their inception hashtags have grown across other platforms as well, including Instagram, Flickr, Vine, and more recently Facebook.

For instance, if you’re posting a picture of a tasty cup of coffee on Instagram, you may tag that picture with the hashtag #coffeelove. Or, if you’re posting a picture of a beautiful sunset, you could use the hashtag #sunset. Of course, hashtags apply to more than just pictures.

In order to utilize the power of hashtags for your business it’s crucial you create your own. You may be able to reach new followers by hopping on existing hashtags, but to truly create the buzz you’re looking for you’ll want to get creative.

A successful hashtag campaign will help to build awareness for your brand or business, or even promote certain contests or giveaways you might be running.


Rules For An Effective Hashtag Campaign

The most effective hashtags are short, sweet and inspire action. To get to that point it’s going to take a little work, but it’ll be well worth it.


1. Be Unique, But Not Too Unique

When you’re creating your own hashtag you’ll want to make sure it’s unique and memorable. If you already have a company hashtag you’ll want to improvise on this to show association, but still have enough difference so it stands out.

When it comes to length try not to overcomplicate things. Face it, no one will remember a hashtag that’s a sentence long, but it will also be hard to differentiate from other tags if it’s only a few letters long. Finding the right balance is crucial.

Your hashtag also needs to be relevant to the campaign you’re trying to run. For example, if you’re trying to create a hashtag around an event make sure the hashtag alludes to what the event is actually about.

Once you’ve come up with a unique, catchy, easy to remember, and slightly descriptive hashtag, then it’s time to move on.


2. Use It Across Multiple Channels

As was mentioned earlier, hashtags are useful across multiple social media platforms. When you’re executing your campaign you’ll want to have a presence on the social media platforms your audience hangs out at.

People use different social media platforms for different purposes, but your hashtag can help weave a thread back to your business throughout all these seemingly disparate networks.

This will help your hashtag get more exposure across more social channels, which will increase the likelihood of your campaign catching fire. Secondly, this will help people remember your hashtag, as they’ll be exposed to it in multiple settings.


3. Always Research First

You’d hate to tweet your super unique, extremely creative hashtag only to realize that another person has been using the hashtag for an entirely different purpose. This would not only be detrimental to the success of your campaign, but could also result in serious customer backlash.

It’s always worth it to spend time researching potential hashtags to see what comes up. Make sure you check across multiple platforms as well. By doing this beforehand you could avoid a seriously embarrassing incident for your company.
Overall, an effective hashtag campaign is all about using a memorable hashtag at the right time, all in service of your customers. The steps above will get you going in the right direction.


Photo Credit: quinn.anya via compfight

Why Entrepreneurship Is So Important

Written by Brandi Bennett

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015


Gallup has shown that the world’s countries will need to add 600 million new jobs within the next 15 years. These numbers may seem ridiculous, but the fact of the matter is that these 600 million jobs will only allow the world to maintain current employment rates. These numbers seem staggering and that’s the truth. How on earth are we to manage this?


Entrepreneurship is the Answer

According to this same Gallup report, 64% of new private sector reports are being created by small businesses. The individuals that open their own small businesses are deemed entrepreneurs. What does this mean for you? It means that now is the time to start that small business you have always dreamed of.

Now is the time for you to sit down and write that business plan in order to determine what you will need in order to get your small business off the ground. Studies have shown (for more information on this same Gallup study, please see the link at the bottom of the article) that there will be no shortage of workers, and the fact of the matter is that these workers will need your business in order to have a job. They will be relying on you, much as you are relying on the company you work for to provide you with an income (or as you are relying on yourself, if you have a start-up for which you are the current and sole employee).


Now is the Time

Now is the time to work to develop your small business idea or work to further your start up. Now is the time to determine what you need in order to make your business grow, and now is the time to get started on that idea.

In order to be successful, your business will need to grow. You are just one person, you can’t do it all yourself (much as you may want to). You need a support staff, working to assist you in bringing your vision to life. With the right foundation, the right setup, and the right product or service, you will be able to manifest your dream. Why? Because you are getting in at the beginning.

You have the foresight to know that now is when you will need to develop your business, so when the time does come, you will not only know what to capitalize on, you will be ready to capitalize on it. Your business will have been developed enough to need those additional employees, and your organization will be poised for growth. All you have to do is get started. Entrepreneurship is showing itself to be the wave of the future. Catch the wave before it crests.

For More Information:

Image Source: (2014). The Wave. Retrieved from