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  • Mark “Real Estate” Jones Shares Online Marketing Strategy for Realtors

    Thursday, September 22, 2016 by

    Real Estate Website

    Mark “Real Estate” Jones knows the value of visibility and strong communication in a crowded market. Mark, a Realtor with Scottsdale-based HomeSmart, is a Phoenix native and ASU graduate who specializes in Maricopa County home sales and real estate investment. With Phoenix among the hottest residential real estate markets in the country right now, Arizona is also home to an increasing number of real estate agents, all looking for clients.

     

    A Great Website = A Lead Generation Hub

    Mark Real Estate JonesMark, whose background is communication and project management, has a web site (azreexpert.com) that features personality, straight-to-the-point information, and tips on valuing and listing a home quickly with digital tools. The site helps him differentiate his services and experience in a market with “so much competition” and to grow his business by reaching new prospects – and it was simple to set up. Mark chose HostGator shared web hosting, based on “solid service at a great price,” and chose a pre-designed template to give the site a professional look without the cost of hiring a web designer.

    “My website is the hub of all lead generation activities,” Mark said. Most of his leads arrive through social media, followed by referrals from AdWords, Google’s pay-per-click search result advertising program. The real turning point in his website’s lead-generation role came “when I realized that adding value by providing great content will generate leads.”

    The content in Mark’s blog, which he started in May, features some attention-grabbing titles. “5 Reasons the First-Time Buyer Might Slap Her Realtor” walks prospective homebuyers through some common oversights. Investors, meanwhile, can learn “How Not to Lose Your A—in Real Estate.”

    Real Estate Blog

    Mark also uses his site to highlight his affiliation with HomeSmart, a fast-growing locally based real-estate franchise that is the regional sales leader and sells a home about every 1.7 minutes.  HomeSmart supports Mark and its other agents with completely paperless transaction management tools, which allows Mark to offer “interaction-less transactions” for sellers who prefer to do business via text message and email rather than on the phone and in person.

    Careful planning and ongoing relationship building are at the heart of Mark’s marketing model, and they’re what he recommends for new business owners and agents, too. “Lay out your strategy and then execute. Create a relationship with every potential client.” Mark accomplishes this on his site by offering useful content in a distinctive voice.

    Put Mark's strategy to work with your own real estate agent website.

    Get Started With HostGator!

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  • Comedy Writer Finds His Way With Taoism Podcast

    Thursday, September 22, 2016 by
    [caption id="attachment_12418" align="aligncenter" width="1018"]What's This Tao All About The successful podcast's website is hosted on HostGator.[/caption]

    39-year-old Tod Perry is a busy man. The Long Beach-based freelance advertising copywriter and former CBS Radio host is a regular contributor to the popular news sites GOOD and Buzzworthy, and is a new father. He also co-hosts and produces What’s This Tao All About?, a popular podcast in which he and Taoist Institute founder Dr. Carl Totton discuss the philosophy of Taoism, a traditional Chinese spiritual practice that goes back more than two thousand years.

     

    About The Podcast

    Tod PerryDescribed as “a lighthearted podcast hosted by a Tao master and a curious writer,” What’s This Tao All About? works its way through the chapters of the Tao Te Ching (The Way and Its Power) and relates them to the challenges of modern life. The results are often enlightening and surprisingly funny. That’s not a small challenge--one of the central tenets of the philosophy is that Tao cannot be described in words. Perry and Totton released the first episode of the podcast series in August 2015, and what they originally planned to be a weekly 12-episode series is now entering its second year, with 24 episodes and counting.

     

    Getting The Podcast Started

    Perry describes What’s This Tao All About as a “labor of love that accidentally became successful,” based on his long-time interest in Taoism and the popular book, The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff. He took the time recently to answer questions about how he set up the podcast and to offer some concise advice for would-be website owners and podcasters. The first order of podcasting business was setting up a website for the podcast, because he needed a way to host the audio files, give listeners information about the show, and reach people searching online for information on Taoism. He chose HostGator's shared web hosting plan for his website, he said, because it offered a “good deal and great reputation.”

    [bctt tweet="#PodcastAdvice from @WhatsThisTao: Over prepare & allow plenty of room for happy accidents." username="hostgator"]

     

    Advice For Future Podcasters

    Perry said the biggest challenge presented by podcast itself is coming up with compelling and relatable topics. That’s not surprising, given Taoism’s long history, many facets, and nuanced philosophy, but Perry is apparently meeting the challenge just fine. What’s This Tao All About? listeners have left consistently great reviews for the podcast on iTunes. One described Perry as a “podcast genius.” Perhaps because he’s a genius, or a busy new dad, or a true student of Taoism’s focus on simplicity and clarity, he offered up a single piece of advice for podcasters-to-be: “Over prepare for your conversation topics and allow plenty of room for happy accidents.”

    Inspired by Tod? Create your own podcast website with HostGator. 

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  • 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!

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  • WordPress Powers Successful Rebrand for Hiatus Spa + Retreat

    Tuesday, September 13, 2016 by
    [caption id="attachment_12078" align="aligncenter" width="750"]Hiatus Spa After The new Hiatus Spa website features beautiful, high-quality images that load quickly thanks to HostGator WordPress hosting.[/caption]  

    The Client: Hiatus Spa + Retreat

    Hiatus Spa + Retreat was founded in 2007 in Dallas, TX., by Sheila Garrison and Kristin Peabody—two friends who aimed to revolutionize the spa industry by making it affordable for people to de-stress on a regular basis. “We recognized there was a hole in the market in the spa industry. There were beautiful destination and hotel spas that came with a high-end price tag, and then there were massage clinics that were more about therapy than enjoying a day of wellness. We wanted to build a spa that would have the first membership in the country, which we call ‘the H circle,’” said Peabody.

    Customers loved it. Hiatus Spa + Retreat has won Best Spa in Dallas almost every year since their opening, and they’ve been steadily growing with additional locations in Austin, Plano, and soon San Antonio. “When we first got started, we borrowed against our 401Ks and applied for an SBA loan; we were on a shoestring budget. We were ready to open our doors with a starter website and logo, but they weren't optimized to be highly transactional.”

     

    The Challenge: An Outdated Website

    Now that they’re planning the opening of their fourth location, success has given Hiatus Spa + Retreat the opportunity to be more relevant with their website and drive more sales and engagement from their customers. “Our website was nice but it didn’t have great functionality. It took too many clicks to get where you needed to be,” said Peabody. “It wasn’t highly transactional so there were a lot of abandoned pages on the site, and we knew we needed to improve the overall user experience.”

    There was also an issue of branding. “Our spa has a very warm and welcome, kind of upbeat and irreverent feel that’s lighter than most spas,” Peabody said. Their darker, outmoded website didn’t reflect what they had evolved into as a brand.

    [caption id="attachment_12076" align="aligncenter" width="749"]Hiatus Spa Before Hiatus Spa's previous website didn't reflect the warm, upbeat feel of their brand.[/caption]  

    The founders sought out Mary Kathryn Paynter, an Austin-based brand consultant, to help them revamp the Hiatus Spa + Retreat brand and website.

    “I ran a flower business myself, so I understand how hard it is as a small business owner. You get disconnected from how your brand appears to the outside world, because you’re so focused on the day-to-day getting things done,” Paynter said. “I feel for entrepreneurs because what they’re doing is hard, and they don’t have time necessarily to keep up with what works online.”

    With today’s increasingly mobile world, the new website needed to be responsive first and foremost. The old version wasn’t mobile-friendly, so it was difficult for customers to click to contact, find the spa’s location, or make an appointment. This resulted in high exit rates from mobile customers.

    Additionally, the new design was image-intensive to align with the rebrand and attract new customers. “Images are a big draw for millennials, and they didn’t have that on the old site. We wanted to give people an idea of what it feels like to be in the spa itself,” said Paynter.

     

    The Solution: HostGator Managed WordPress Hosting

    Using high-quality images and optimizing for mobile were not negotiable, so Hiatus Spa + Retreat needed a web hosting solution that could load high-resolution images quickly on a mobile device.

    “We’ve been HostGator customers since we started in 2007, and we’ve always had great service,” said Peabody, so they chose to upgrade from their shared hosting plan to HostGator’s managed WordPress plan.

    Using HostGator’s managed WordPress hosting meant they could enjoy a seamless upgrade, a much-needed speed boost to help with their mobile traffic, and beautiful high-quality image display.  “If we hadn’t chosen HostGator’s WordPress plan, I would be very anxious about posting the site live. I’d worry about all our work going to waste because people would go to the site and the image wouldn’t load,” Paynter shared.

    And it was easy. “It took us longer to track down our login info than to actually upgrade!” Paynter said. “It literally took five minutes.”

    [caption id="attachment_12148" align="aligncenter" width="749"]WordPress Cloud Hosting Website HiatusSpa.com mobile site before and after[/caption]  

    The Results: A Beautiful, Mobile-Friendly Website

    Their new website and rebrand not only evokes the feeling of being in one of their spas, it makes it easy to schedule an appointment, too. “We have a direct booking link on the site now,” shared Peabody. “Sheila and I are big environmentalists, so we’ve always tried to be as organic and green as possible from beginning to end in our operation. Our internal forms are all digital, and now that we’re taking guest profiles and paperwork online with the new website, we can go entirely paperless. Plus, once people walk in the doors, they don’t want to fill out paperwork; they want to start relaxing.”

    “We loved the wide variety of themes that are available with WordPress, especially because many don’t even require much coding. Our theme came with a drag-and-drop builder so it was super simple to use in designing. We also loved that the parallax functionality lent the site that immersive spa feel we were going for,” Paynter raved. “Plus, the great thing about WordPress is the management system. You can easily swap things out moving forward, so updates aren’t a big deal.”

    “With our business growing throughout Texas, you have to plan for the future, and technology is a big part of that,” said Peabody. “Our new website takes our brand to the next level.”

    There’s a reason why nearly 80 million websites use WordPress. It’s a robust content management platform that allows endless customization, all while staying accessible to those of us who aren’t web developers.

    Create Your WordPress Site!

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  • Starting a Website: Linda’s Story

    Monday, June 6, 2016 by
    Starting a Website When we think of the World Wide Web, we often think of buying and selling online. Consider retail and wholesale sites, as well as sales and marketing sites for services. However, not all websites need to have ecommerce as their primary function. In fact, websites can fulfill a number of other functions.  At HostGator, we think everyone has something worth sharing on the world wide web. But starting a website can be intimidating. Maybe you’re not sure what topic you should focus on. Maybe you’re not sure it will be successful. Or maybe you’re not sure you would attract an audience. Our recent Facebook contest winner, Linda, has proven that taking a risk can have a large reward. Recommended WordPress Hosting

    Linda's Story

    Linda won our Facebook contest where we asked, “How did your HostGator website change your life?” We received over 100 entries from people all over the world in industries ranging from hospitality to seasoned entrepreneurs to novice business owners. Although all of the entries offered insights to how having an online presence has changed their business, Linda’s story offered a unique perspective. [caption id="attachment_11116" align="alignleft" width="300"]Linda with her son, Colin Linda with her son, Colin[/caption] Two years ago, Linda’s son died from cancer. While this is hard in itself, Linda and her family found it difficult to live with the knowledge that what he wanted most to accomplish in his short life was within reach but denied by poor communication between her son and the medical professionals taking care of him. This was her inspiration for starting her website. Examining the Examiner is committed to improving communication and promoting meaningful dialogue between patients and their health care providers by providing an interactive forum that can be accessed by patients and physicians. Examining the Examiner was created as a forum for patients to share how medical professionals can best meet their needs in communication. Patients and caregivers are welcome to respond to questions and interact within the forum. Linda’s website has not only helped her find closure, but it has impacted the lives of hundreds of other patients. Linda demonstrates that not all websites need to be used for running a business. Websites can be used for blogging, promoting, generating leads or showing off your portfolio. Her advice to us? To take the plunge. She says, “This is one of the best endeavors that I have ever tried to bring to fruition, and one that I was least sure about being successful.” Her site certainly has been successful allowing Linda to help a countless number of people, inspiring all of us to bring our websites to realization. Inspired by Linda? Get your own website today! Not quite sure yet what your website should be about? Check out this list of website types that aren't ecommerce.

    Event Promotion

    You might have a website whose primary purpose is to promote an event. For example, you may promote and offer details pertaining to a public event, such as a fair, a flea market, or a political rally. Or, through a limited access site, your aim might be to promote and offer details regarding a private event, such as a birthday party, an anniversary, a wedding, or a graduation. Your target audience here would be the people attending your specific event, so you may want to put relevant info behind a password wall.

    Blog

    You may simply want your voice to be heard, and one of the most efficient ways to allow this is to blog, which is a great use for a website. You may, of course, blog on any topic, but some of the more popular ones cover such topics as movie and live performance criticism, political opinions, and personal stories. Or you may have a blog associated with a class you teach or a group to which you belong. In the former case, your target audience could be anyone around the world, while in the latter case, your target audience would be more specific, likely members of the group being featured.

    Create Your Blog

    Fundraising

    Fundraising is another great function for a website. Often, non-profit organizations establish fundraising sites. Or, you might set up your own personal fundraising page to seek money for a medical procedure, alimony, child support, student loans, car payments, or other bills. You can target various people with a fundraising site. For example, you might target a social media group, such as all your Facebook friends or all your Twitter followers. Or, you might target everyone who has volunteered for your non-profit organization.

    Portfolio or Resume Showcase

    Another great use for a website is to showcase your portfolio or resume in a place where potential employers and supervisors can have easy access to it by simply going online. Your portfolio might include photos or videos of work you have completed, as well as descriptive or promotional writing regarding your work. You may also include others' positive reviews of your work. Besides potential employers and supervisors, you might target other working professionals who could learn from your work.

    Online Community or Forum

    You might establish a website for social purposes, such as bringing people together. Such a website would offer connection for people with a common ground such as alumnae of a specific college or university or members of a club. This type of site might list member names and contact information and share any announcements that are pertinent to group members behind a password wall.

    Online Magazine

    Sometimes, a website is established to feature magazine articles. Access can be public or private, depending on who the target audience is. This type of website might include information on Hollywood stars, book reviews, or other articles of interest to readers. Targeted readers could be local, or if you are ambitious about distributing your articles, you might target national or even international readers.

    Online Tutorial

    If you have a talent for a specific activity, you may want to establish an instruction, or "how to" website. Maybe you know how to make repairs around the house, launch a boat, build a model, or cook a meal. You can share all of your "how to" knowledge via the World Wide Web, making your website a popular forum for you and other contributors to share and exchange opinions on the best approaches to getting things done.

    News Site

    You might use a website to report news items. This could be an up-to-the-minute report site on world news developments, local news items, weather, traffic, and other relevant information. Your target audience might range from people all over the world to people living on a single block, depending on the type of news delivered.

    Media Gallery

    You might use a website to share your photos and videos. These photos and videos can be family oriented, work related, or home related. You might even share media of your pet. Your target audience might be friends, family, peers, potential employers, or co-workers, viewing media of a family picnic, company meeting, or other events in your life.

    Research Findings

    Perhaps you are a scientist looking to share your findings. A website can be the perfect forum in which to do so. Everyday, medical general practitioners and specialists turn to the web to share their findings and related information. Physicists, chemists, and other scientists can also share their research on the web, with target audiences being their peers and sometimes, the public.

    These are just a handful of the common types of websites out there. As you can see, there are numerous types of websites that are not eCommerce based. Websites are a key method of communication in today's society, and are useful for communicating many important activities and messages beyond simply commerce.

    Get your own domain name and build your website today with HostGator - click here for a great deal!