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  • Pro Tips & Resources for Finding Free Images for Your Website

    Sunday, October 22, 2017 by

    find free images for websiteHow to Find and Create Free Images To Use on Your Website

    Every website needs images. While the text on your website definitely plays a role in how visitors experience it, your visuals are often what they notice most and play a role in how they interact with the text. Studies have found that people are 80% more likely to read content that includes an image and 64% more likely to remember it afterward. For the copy on your website to do its job, finding the right image is paramount. But you don’t have an endless budget to work with and creating or buying images for every single page and blog post on your website adds up fast. If you know you need images, but simply don’t have the money to spend on them, you still have options. Here are a number of ways to find free images to use on your website. HostGator Website Builder

    Where to Find Free Photos

    Every time you go looking for stock photos, you only seem to find ones that come at a fee. That’s because you just don’t know the right places to look (yet). There are a surprisingly large number of websites that provide free photos that you can use – often without attribution. Before you start browsing the sites on the list below, it’s important to understand how to recognize which images are entirely free to use, and which are free with a catch. You have to look for the license type, which will usually be listed somewhere below or to the side of the image. Here’s how to recognize what each license type means:
    • Public domain work – there are no known restrictions on use of the image, you’re free to do with it what you like.
    • CC0 – This means no rights are reserved, you can use the image without attribution, making changes as you see fit.
    • Attribution – You can use the image for free, as long as you include information on your site about where you got it and who created it.
    • NonCommercial – These are only available for free use for someone who won’t be using them for commercial purposes. If your website is used to sell products or services, you should steer clear of using these.
    • NoDerivatives – You can use the image for free, but you can’t make any changes to it unless you get permission from the creator.
    • All rights reserved – you cannot use the image legally unless you get permission directly from the creator (probably for a cost).
    Pay careful attention to the license of each photograph you consider using so you stay on the right side of the law. Once you understand what the different licenses mean, you can start browsing a long list of websites that include free photographs on them: How’s that for options? If you’re overwhelmed, pick a few to check out today and bookmark this post to check out more for later dates where you’re having trouble finding the image you need.  

    5 Tips for Taking Your Own Photos

    As great as all the free photo resources above are, there’s still nothing quite like creating your own original photography. You can match the photo to precisely what you need and know it’s not the same image people will see around the web on other sites. This does require either having or buying some supplies, but the photo quality you get just from using a phone these days means that high-quality images are within reach for most people even if you can’t afford a nice camera (although your pictures will be a step up if you can). Here are a few best practices to follow to create impressive photos for your website on your own.  

    1. Experiment with lighting.

    Hire professional photographer for company photosLighting plays a big role in how a picture will come out and you’ll benefit from trying out different things. See how it looks using your room’s main overhead light, then see how focused lighting from any lamps you have looks different. Look for spaces in your office that provide natural light and try those out too. Depending on the subject of your photograph, think about taking it outside at different times of day to test that out. And try out any different camera settings you can as well, including seeing how your photo looks different with the flash versus without. Experimenting when you start out can help give you an idea of the types of lighting that look best for different types of photographs so that, over time, you’ll have an easier time knowing how to approach the lighting for each picture you take without having to test things out as much.  

    2. Consider investing in a tripod.

    Tripods are a pretty affordable purchase that can make a big difference in the quality of photos you take. You can even find cheap tripods designed for use with smartphones rather than cameras. A tripod allows you take photos that are steady and makes it easier for you to frame the perfect shot. It costs a few bucks, but you’ll likely find it’s well worth it.  

    3. Create solid-colored backgrounds.

    Whether or not you should use a solid background depends on what you’re photographing, but in many cases it can improve your photographs. Creating one can be as simple as pinning a sheet in the color you want on the wall or buying solid-colored poster board (if you’re photographing something on the small side).  

    4. Take a lot of pictures so you can choose the best.

    The more photos you have to choose from, the more picky you can be. Take lots of pictures, trying out out different angles, staging, camera settings, and lighting as you go. Make use of the storage space you have on that camera or phone and don’t delete anything until you load it to your computer and see how it looks on the bigger screen.  

    5. Experiment with free photo editing software.

    Taking the photos is the most important step, but not far behind it in priority is editing them to look just right. Luckily, there are a lot of free websites and tools for photo editing. Play around with a few of your options and see which one works best for you to get those images website-ready.  

    Resources to Make Free Images

    Photos aren’t the only type of image you can use on your website. While hiring a graphic designer to make you original illustrations and images is costly, you can find free design software that makes doing it yourself relatively easy. Here are a few of the top resources for creating free images to check out:
    • CanvaCanva’s a popular tool that lets you use a an array of templates, fonts, and images for free to create unique images for your website.
    • Be FunkySimilar to Canva, Be Funky’s another tool that lets you easily create designs using a collection of free templates, fonts, shapes, and colors.
    • SnappaSnappa’s free version lets you pull from their collection of photos and templates to create original images as well.
    • InfogramInfogram makes it easy to make charts, interactive maps, and infographics using data points you have.
    • PiktochartPiktochart is for making infographics. Their free editor’s easy to use and you have access to free icons and images to use in your creations.
    • Easel.lyAnother site for making infographics, easel.ly lets you plug information into templates in order to create original images.
    • ReciteRecite lets you plug your own text into a number of templates to create free-to-use text-based images.
     

    Pro Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Images

    Now that you know how to find and make free images, make sure you do everything you can to optimize them for your website:
    1. Optimize for SEO. Put your target keyword for the page in the name of the image and make sure you make use of the alt text tag as well.
    2. Optimize for social. Make sure each image is the right size for the social media site you share it on, you don’t want it looking weirdly stretched out or awkwardly cropped.
    3. Turn free images into something original. With those free photos you find with a license that allows for modification, consider if there’s a way to make them unique before you use them. Maybe they can be a background to an original image you create in one of the free image software programs, or they can become part of a larger image that’s made up of a combination of smaller ones. Anytime you can make your images unique, do so.
    Using images effectively on your website is a skill set – and one not everyone has. If you feel out of your depth, but simply don’t have the funds to hire someone to help, make use of the many resources designed for people like you. You don’t have to give up on using images entirely (and you shouldn’t!), you just have to take some time to seek out or create the right ones and learn how to use them well.
  • WordPress Keyboard Shortcuts You Should Know

    Sunday, October 22, 2017 by

    Keyboard ShortcutsWordPress Keyboard Shortcuts

    Chances are you use numerous keyword shortcuts on a daily basis. You probably use them so regularly that they've become second nature to you. Well, WordPress has those same shortcuts, and mastering them can make your life as a webmaster or blogger much easier. WordPress offers a wide array of shortcuts that can help to greatly improve your productivity when using the platform. They have shortcuts that can greatly help you with the formatting of your posts and managing of your comments, two things that probably take up the most of your time. Below we profile the most useful WordPress keyword shortcuts you need to know. Recommended WordPress Hosting

    WordPress Post Editor Keyboard Shortcuts

    The first place you’ll be able to use keyboard shortcuts to dramatically improve your workflow is within the post editor. Formatting your posts takes time, but with the shortcuts below you’ll be able to format your content without ever taking your fingers off the keyboard. If you have a variety of other plugins installed on your site, then they might come equipped with keyboard shortcuts as well, but for the purpose of this post, we’re going to stick to those native to WordPress. Also, keep in mind that the Ctrl key is for PC’s, and can be substituted for the Command key on Mac.  

    Basic Shortcuts

    You probably already have a grasp of these basic shortcuts, but they’re worth highlighting just in case.
    •    Highlighting Text: Ctrl + forward arrow or back arrow
    •    Select All:  Ctrl+A
    •    Copy: Ctrl+C
    •    Paste: Ctrl+V
    •    Cut: Ctrl+X
    •    Undo: Ctrl+Z
    •    Redo: Ctrl+Y
    •    Bold: Ctrl+B
    •    Underline: Ctrl+U
    •    Italicize: Ctrl+I
    •    Strikethrough: Alt+Shift+D
      With the basics in hand, it’s time to cover how you can quickly format your text as you write. Below you’ll learn how to change your headings, edit your links, align your text, and much more.  

    Changing Your Heading

    The shortcuts below will help you change your headings and subheadings:
    •    Heading 1: Ctrl+1
    •    Heading 2: Ctrl+2
    •    Heading 3: Ctrl+3
    •    Heading 4: Ctrl+4
    •    Heading 5: Ctrl+5
    •    Heading 6: Ctrl+6
     

    Aligning Your Text

    Sometimes you’ll want to quickly adjust the alignment of your text. The following commands will help you do just that:
    •    Align left: Alt+Shift+L
    •    Align right: Alt+Shift+R
    •    Align center: Alt+Shift+C
    •    Justify your text: Alt+Shift+J
     

    Changing Your Links

    Now you can embed and change links as you write:
    •    Insert a link: Alt+Shift+A
    •    Delete a link: Alt+Shift+S
     

    Media and Element Modification

    WordPress has various other media features like blockquotes, images, page breaks and more, that you’ll be able to activate with the shortcuts below:
    •    Insert an image: Alt+Shift+M
    •    Insert blockquotes: Alt+Shift+Q
    •    Insert the more tag: Alt+Shift+T
    •    Insert a page break: Alt+Shift+P
    •    Spell check your text: Alt+Shift+N
    •    Save a draft: Ctrl+S
     

    Adjusting the Post Editor Window

    If you’re looking to minimize distractions and improve your focus as you write, then this shortcut will be incredibly effective. Below you’ll learn how to enable the built-in distraction free writing mode and how to adjust the post editor window.
    •    Turn on/off the distraction free mode: Alt+Shift+W
    •    Widen the editor: Ctrl + ‘+’
    •    Narrow the editor: Ctrl + ‘-‘
    •    Bring it back to regular width: Ctrl+0
     

    WordPress Comment Section Keyboard Shortcuts

    WordPress has a variety of shortcuts you can use to manage your comment section. If you have a very active comments section then these shortcodes will help you manage and reply to your comments much easier. To use these comment shortcodes first you’ll have to enable them from within WordPress. To do this, navigate to Users>Your Profile>Keyboard Shortcuts, then tick the box that allows for keyboard shortcuts. You must manually turn on this feature for any user who will be using keyboard shortcuts to manage comments. Once you’re on the comment screen you can navigate up by pressing the K key and navigate down by pressing the J key.  

    Comment Moderation Shortcuts

    The following shortcuts will help you better manage individual comments. All you have to do is press the associated key from within the comment screen:
    •    Approve comment: A
    •    Delete comment: D
    •    Mark comment as spam: S
    •    Restore a comment: Z
    •    Unapprove a comment: U
    •    Reply to comment: R
    •    Turn on quick edit on a comment: Q
     

    Bulk Comment Moderation Shortcuts

    If you regularly have a lot of comments you need to reply to, manage, or delete, then the following shortcuts will be a huge time saver. To select the comments you want to manage just use the J and K keys to find your comment if you want to select every single comment then use the Shift+X command. With your desired comments selected you can do the following:
    •    Approve comments: Shift+A
    •    Delete comments: Shift+D
    •    Mark as spam: Shift+S
    •    Unapprove comments: Shift+U
    •    Move comments to trash: Shift+T
    •    Bring comments back from trash: Shift+Z
    All of the shortcuts above might seem like a lot to master, but remember you don’t have to learn them all in one day. Just pick a few that you think will be the most valuable and integrate them into your existing workflow. Over time you can add more and soon you’ll be accomplishing your WordPress tasks in the shortest amount of time possible.   Are there any shortcuts you regularly use that we forget to highlight above? Please share your favorites in the comments below.
  • 5 Strategies To Grow Your Email List on Social Media

    Sunday, October 22, 2017 by

    Build Email List Using Social MediaHow to Build an Email List Using Social Media

    Email marketing is widely regarded as one of the most successful online marketing tactics for businesses of all types, offering a return on investment of $38 for every $1 and outperforming search and all of the social media channels when it comes to conversion rates. But no business can hope for positive results from an email marketing campaign unless they’ve first managed to build a decent-sized email list. If no one’s receiving your emails, how do you expect them to do anything for you? That’s why building your email list is so important. Only once you have a list can you consistently get in touch with your most valuable customers and promote content and deals directly to the people who most want to see them. In short, much depends on building that email list. You should employ every marketing tool at your disposal to help you in that purpose, and social media provides a number of options for aiding in your efforts.  

    1. Include email signup CTAs on your profiles.

    Surprisingly few brands take advantage of their main social media profile space to encourage people to sign up for their email list, but anyone likely to navigate to your main social media page is someone in the target audience for joining your email list. For Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, this is as simple as adding a link to an email signup form to the bio in your profile. Take a cue from Content Marketing Institute: Create the signup form in your email marketing software and drop the link into the space available. email signup list cta on twitter bio For Facebook, you can make it part of the menu that shows up on your page. Different email marketing software products provide options for this, each with unique instructions. Here’s where to find the instructions for several of the main email marketing providers: HostGator Facebook email newsletter signup formThis step is simple and can bring awareness of your email list to anyone who checks out your social media bios.  

    2. Offer deals.

    A little incentive never hurt anybody. Many businesses use promises of discounts or deals to encourage customers to sign up for the email list. In addition to promoting these on your website, share those offers on your social media platforms as well. You may capture some followers there who haven’t seen the offer on your website and are excited for the chance to take it. Special email discount

    3. Run a contest.

    Another fun way to incentivize your potential customers is by using contests. Many brands have used contests to gain social media followers, but you can also employ them to earn email subscribers. Use posts on social media to drive followers to a landing page where they provide their email address to enter to win. Social media ad for landing page

    4. Promote great content.

    Both social media and email lists are prime resources for promoting the high quality content you create (assuming you’re already doing content marketing, if not consider getting started sooner rather than later). That means there’s a high likelihood that your social media followers are the same people interested in getting updates about your content by email. To take advantage of that, use social media to promote content that includes CTAs to sign up for your email list. If you create gated content – high value content (usually longform) that you put behind an email signup form – create a social media strategy to help promote it and increase the sign-up rate.
    social media signup landing page landing page

    5. Use paid advertising.

    There’s a lot you can do with social media for free, but the best way to expand your reach is by using paid social. Without including social ads in your strategy, everything else you do on this list will only ever reach your current followers. For any chance of reaching the people in your audience that don’t already know about your brand or social accounts, you have to invest in social ad campaigns. The good news is that social media sites generally have really great targeting options, so you can use your ads to reach the exact people you know are most likely to be interested in signing up for your email list. You can combine paid advertising with many of the other options on the list. Create social ad campaigns to make your posts about contests and deals and gated content go further. And Twitter even allows you to create lead generation cards that embed an email signup option into the ad itself. Your email list enables you to accomplish so much more with your prospective customers. Use social media to push them toward the channel that will give you the chance to better interact with them and grow your relationship.
  • 6 Common Questions About VPS Hosting

    Sunday, October 22, 2017 by

    vps hosting faqTop VPS Hosting FAQ Answered

    With all of the different hosting types available it can be difficult to keep track. One of the more confusing types of hosting is VPS hosting. It’s a relatively new style of hosting, especially when compared to shared and dedicated hosting, so that confusion is natural. If you’ve been trying to learn more about VPS hosting, so you can decide if it’s the right choice for your business, then this post is for you. Below we answer the most common VPS hosting questions.  

    1. What is VPS hosting?

    VPS hosting utilizes something called a Virtual Private Server. Essentially, this style of hosting mimics a dedicated server, but it utilizes a shared server environment. Your physical servers will be housed in a data center. And a VPS is the portioned part of this physical server that has its own operating system, disc space, and bandwidth. Your VPS offers extensive server customization options, similar to a dedicated server, but at the fraction of the cost. VPS Hosting

    2. How does VPS hosting differ from shared and dedicated hosting?

    VPS hosting is technically a combination between both shared hosting and dedicated hosting. With dedicated servers, you rent out an entire server, which can get pretty expensive fast. With shared hosting, you end up renting a portion of a server that’s shared with other users. Shared hosting is a solid option for beginners, as it’s generally much cheaper and provides you with the necessary resources to get your site started. VPS uses a single server and that server is partitioned out into different virtualized server environments. This differs from shared hosting because with shared hosting you have limits on the amount of CPU and memory available, as well as other software restrictions. VPS usually offer baseline resources that you’re guaranteed, plus additional resources available at a moments notice should your site experience a traffic spike.  

    3. How does VPS hosting work?

    VPS hosting is similar to using virtualized OS software. For example, let’s say you have a MacBook Pro, but you really need to use the Window OS for a certain program to run. Instead of buying a separate Windows PC you could use software like VirtualBox or VMware. This software will allow you to run a virtualized version of the Windows OS on your Mac machine. The same can be said for VPS. On the same single physical server, you can run several different virtualized servers. Each of these virtual servers will act as if they’re separate dedicated servers.  

    4. What are the benefits to VPS hosting?

    If you require a unique hosting setup, or you have a very large and high-traffic site, then you’ve probably thought about getting your own dedicated server. But, there’s only one problem. Dedicated servers are expensive! This is where VPS comes to the rescue. VPS can be totally customized to your liking and give you much more control over your hosting environment when compared to a shared server. VPS hosting can also grow with your site as your traffic levels and resource needs increase. VPS hosting is also generally more secure than shared hosting environments, as you’ll be the only site using the set server resources.  

    5. What’s the difference between managed and unmanaged VPS hosting?

    With managed VPS hosting your hosting provider will be responsible for configuring your server, doing routine maintenance, keeping your environment secure, and more. The actual services included with managed VPS depend upon the hosting provider you choose. With unmanaged VPS you’ll have a lot less hand-holding and generally be responsible for general server admin tasks, maintenance, security, and more. With unmanaged VPS hosting, you’ll need to have some technical chops to be able to run your server efficiently.  

    6. What software can I install on VPS hosting?

    With VPS hosting you have much more control over the software that your server is running. Typically, the only limits placed upon the software you can run are the operating system the server runs on and your total memory allocation.   Hopefully, the answers above have helped to answer your most common VPS hosting questions. Learn more about HostGator's VPS hosting here!
  • How to Register or Move Your Domain Name with HostGator

    Sunday, October 22, 2017 by
    How To Register Your Domain With HostGator

    How to Register Your Domain with HostGator

    Every website needs a domain name. While your main address on the web is your IP address – a string of numbers separated by periods – you can’t expect anyone to remember that. For people to be able to find your website (and return to it if they like it), you have to figure out the right domain name and register it. For anyone registering a domain name with HostGator, you have three different possible routes to take:
    1. You can register a new domain name when you purchase a new HostGator web hosting plan.
    2. You can register a domain name with HostGator without purchasing web hosting.
    3. You can transfer a domain name you’ve purchased elsewhere over to HostGator.
    Whichever option describes your situation, it’s pretty easy to get your domain set up with HostGator. Here are step-by-step instructions on how to do so. Domain Name

    How to Register Your Domain Name with HostGator

    This is the easiest option of the three. When you purchase your web hosting package with HostGator, one of the first things you’ll see on the order form is a space to register your domain. Fill in the domain you want. register domain name with web hosting If it’s unavailable, you’ll see a message letting you know that, along with a list of other suggestions. search list of available domain names You can choose from these recommendations or try searching for another available domain until you find one you like that’s available. add domain name to shopping cart Then just finish filling out the order form and as soon as your hosting is set up, your domain will be ready for you.  

    How to Register a Domain Name for a New Website Without Hosting

    If you’ve already purchased a hosting package, are buying domains to sell, or if you’re not sure if you’re ready to get your web hosting set up yet, then you can still register your domain through HostGator. Simply go to https://www.hostgator.com/domains, then enter the domain name you hope to register into the search bar. search available domain names Here as well, you’ll get a message letting you know if the domain you selected isn’t available, along with suggestions for alternatives. check whether domain name is available You can search until you find one that is available and then select “Continue to Checkout” to complete your purchase. register new domain name with hostgator Privacy protection will be automatically added to your shopping cart, but you can choose to remove it before checking out by clicking the X next to it.  

    How to Register a Domain that Requires Support Assistance

    Occasionally, an available domain can’t be registered through the link above. In these cases, or if you’d prefer to use a different method of payment than those accepted by the website, you can go through HostGator’s support team to make your purchase. Contact HostGator’s support staff by either phone or live chat for help.  

    How to Move Your Existing Domain to Your HostGator Site

    Moving a domain name you already own over to your HostGator account is a little more complicated than the other options. Structures have been put in place to protect domain owners that make this process a little tedious in the moment, but ensure that only the true domain owner can move it to a new provider. If you just recently registered your domain name, you have to wait 60 days from the time of purchase before you’ll be able to transfer it, so mark the date on your calendar and come back and revisit this post at that time. And you can’t transfer an expired domain, so check to make sure your domain registration is up to date and that it isn’t set to expire within the next week (a domain transfer can take up to 7 days, and if it expires during the process, the transfer will fail). If you’ve checked on all that and know the timing’s right, then you have a few more steps to take before you start the transfer.
    1. Update your name servers. Make sure you do this before the transfer begins, if you try to do it after the process has started, the transfer could fail.
    2. Disable WHOIS privacy. Check to see if you have WHOIS privacy enabled and disable it if you do.
    3. Check the accuracy of your WHOIS information. Outdated information could make it look like you’re not the legitimate owner, or could mean you miss important communication during the transfer, so check the information you have in there now and make any needed updates.
    4. Unlock your domain. A locked domain can’t be transferred. Do this step right before you make the transfer.
    5. Get your EPP code. Your current provider should provide you with an EPP authorization code that allows you to make the transfer. Do this soon before you make the transfer so the code doesn’t expire before it’s complete.
    That was the hard part. Now just go to https://www.hostgator.com/transfer and enter your domain into the search bar. If you did everything right on the list above, you should be able to complete the transfer without a problem. If you have additional steps you need to take, the website will let you know what you still need to do. transfer domain to hostgator Once your domain is registered, you can rest assured your chosen online address is yours and will be there waiting for the moment your website is ready to go up. Again, HostGator's support team is available 24/7 via phone and Live Chat to answer any questions you might have.