Tag Archives: social-media

How Hackers Can Use Your Expired Domains to Steal Data

The post How Hackers Can Use Your Expired Domains to Steal Data appeared first on HostGator Blog . When businesses and blogs rename or merge, old domains sometimes get left behind. Security researchers say expired domains can put data at risk. Scammers may set up fake shops on expired domains and use them to steal credit card data from unwary bargain hunters. Or they may target email accounts linked to the domain to scam clients, steal company secrets and break into employees’ shopping and travel accounts. Prevention is as easy as renewing and protecting all your domains—but that’s not always simple, especially if you own a lot of domains. Here’s what you need to know about your risks when a domain expires and how to keep yours current. What Happens When Domains Expire? The first thing you need to know is that when domains expire, they’re available to anyone who wants to pay to register them. They’re also easy to find online, through sites that offer expired domain name searches and lists of recently expired domains to bid on. Some buyers buy expired domains for legitimate projects. Others are not so ethical. Your expired domain could end up as a fake online store Criminal gangs snap up expired domains to turn them into phishing sites. That damages the brands that lose their domains, the brands impersonated by the scammers, and shoppers who fall for the scam.  Security blogger Brian Krebs profiled a photographer whose old portfolio domain was turned into a fake athletic shoe store after her registration lapsed . Thieves used it to steal credit card data for resale on the dark web. For the photographer, the damage went beyond the loss of her website. She had no way to access social media accounts that were linked to her domain email address, because the scammers changed her passwords. Now the domain that used to host her portfolio redirects to the official adidas website, after adidas and Reebok sued the scammers who exploited her expired domain along with hundreds of others.  Your expired domain could let data thieves into your business Last year, security researchers with Australian cybersecurity firm Iron Bastion proved that registering abandoned business and law firm domains could give criminals access to insider data. By setting up a catch-all email forwarding service for domains they re-register, criminals can access confidential client data and emails. They can run scams using this information or sell it on the dark web. They can also take over former employees’ social media, banking, and professional accounts by changing the passwords linked to the old domain’s email addresses.  What should you do with domains you don’t use anymore? Security experts say the best way to safeguard your old domains is to keep renewing them , even if you’re not currently using them. Then you should close the email accounts associated with those domains and unlink those email accounts from alerts sent by banks, airlines, and other services that handle sensitive (and valuable) information. If you must let your old domains go, you’ll need to be thorough about updating any online accounts you and your employees set up using old domain email addresses. Then you’ll need to close those email accounts. In either case, it’s wise to let your customers and vendors know about your change of email address. Give them some advance notice, ask them to whitelist your new email address, and then ask them to delete the old address when you’ve closed that account.  For any email account on any domain, it’s always a good idea to set up two-factor authentication (2FA). By requiring a code from an SMS message or an authenticator app, you reduce the risk of someone maliciously changing your password on your email account and other accounts you set up with your email address.  And speaking of passwords, don’t make it easy for hackers to guess or brute-force yours. Every email address on your domains should have a strong password that’s not used for any other accounts.  How can you keep all your domains current and safe? Follow these recommendations from domain security experts to keep your domains in your possession. Give your domain registrations fewer chances to lapse. Start by registering or renewing for the longest amount of time you can, like three years instead of one. Then set your registrations to auto-renew.  Keep your registration information up to date. Update your domain registration accounts when your email address, phone number, or other contact information changes. Changed credit cards or online payment services? Make sure you change your domain payment information, or your auto-renewals will fail. Keep your registration information private. Domain privacy protection costs a few dollars a year, and it’s worth it. If you add domain privacy when you register your domain , your registrar’s contact information is listed in the WHOIS public database. Without domain privacy, your name, email address, and other personal data are on display. That can put you at risk for spam, scams, and harassment.  Lock your domains. Domains must be unlocked when you’re transferring them to a new host. Otherwise, lock them to keep scammers from transferring them to a different web host without your consent.  In HostGator’s Customer Portal, you can lock your domains for free. Navigate to Domains in the left sidebar. Under Manage Domains , you have the option to lock all your domains at once. You can also click the More button for any of your domains to lock one at a time. Under Domain Overview , click the Change link next to Locking . That takes you to Domain Locking. Then you just move the switch to Locking ON and click Save Domain Locking . Now your domain is protected against theft by unauthorized transfer. And with auto-renew in place and good cybersecurity practices , your domains are safe from expiration and exploitation. Ready for a new domain? HostGator now offers new customers a year of free domain registration with selected hosting packages and top-level domains. Sign up for 12 or more months of hosting, register a .com, .net, or .org top-level domain, and get the first year’s domain registration for free. See complete offer details here .  Find the post on the HostGator Blog Continue reading

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Email: Still the Best Tool for Growing Your Business

The post Email: Still the Best Tool for Growing Your Business appeared first on HostGator Blog . It’s tempting to focus on social media instead of email for marketing when you’re starting a business. Social media is cool and fun, and email seems kind of stale by comparison. It’s also a lot easier to set up social media accounts than it is to build and manage an email list. But email still rules in terms of return on marketing investment, so if you want to grow your business, email needs to be part of your marketing mix. Why Does Email Marketing Still Work? One reason email rules is because it reaches virtually everyone. Sure, there are plenty of people on social media, but not everyone uses the same platforms, and some folks don’t use social media at all. But do you know anyone who doesn’t use email? Do you ever go more than 24 hours without checking your email? Probably not—and email is email, no matter which operating system or email service provider you use. What about Gen Z? Do teenagers even use email anymore? According to a study by OptinMonster , 75% of teenagers consider email part of their daily lives. The study also found that overall, 99% of people check their email every day. Fifty-eight percent check it first thing in the morning, a much higher number than the 14% who check social media first. And it’s not just that people check their email. People engage with marketing emails at a much higher rate than they do social media posts, according to the study. The average open rate for marketing emails is more than 22% and the click-through rate is 3.7%. The average engagement rate for posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is less than 0.6%. Why does email get so much more engagement? In part, recipients are more likely to see email than social posts. An email sits in the inbox until it’s opened or dismissed. But a post may not even show up in someone’s feed, and if it does, it competes with a steady stream of other posts, comments, and links to other media. Broad reach and high engagement contribute to email’s high ROI — $38 for each dollar spent on email marketing , according to the Direct Marketing Association. Over the past ten years, email has outperformed every other marketing channel, from search and social to affiliate programs and display ads. 7 Steps to Making Email Work for Your Business Okay, so you’re convinced that email is a worthwhile part of your small business marketing program. How do you begin? Here are the basic steps. 1. Choose your email marketing software Building and growing a list is not a DIY affair. You’ll want to choose a service like Constant Contact to manage list opt-ins, segment your list, create campaigns, and measure their effectiveness. You can sign up for a free trial to test the features before you choose a subscription plan. 2. Get people to join your list Make your list worth joining. Your opt-in forms should offer something your target audience wants, whether that’s a coupon code, a free gift, a free report to help them solve a problem, or something else appealing. It’s also a good idea to let people know how often you email. People sometimes avoid joining lists because they’re worried about getting emails every day. Your offer can overcome that objection. For example, “Get 10% off your first purchase. Sign up for our weekly email list.” 3. Take care of your list Not every customer who joins your list will be interested in the same offers, products, or services. That’s why it’s important to segment your list. Rather than send one-size-fits-all messages to every list member, you can create separate messages for each segment, to deliver what they’re looking for. Segmentation is important for personalizing offers, which we’ll get to in a bit. Constant Contact lets you refine your list segments by automatically grouping your list based on the links they click in your emails, so your information is always evolving and up to date. Make opting out easy. One-click opt out is the gold standard. It keeps your list members from getting frustrated and reporting your messages as spam, which can reduce your delivery rates. 4. Connect with customers in their inbox Your messages will get more opens, click-throughs, and conversions if they deliver what your list members want. You can personalize offers to segments and even individual customers based on their past purchases, seasonal needs, and the links they’ve clicked on in your previous emails. For example, send preview-sale emails in March to your customers who buy new swimsuits every spring. Or send your premium dog food customers monthly offers for the newest treats and toys. Customers who clicked on your bespoke bags in your last campaign can get a follow up offer on those items later in the week. You can add graphics and videos to your emails to keep readers’ eyes on the page and to showcase your products. Be sure to test your multimedia messages before you send them to make sure they’ll look good in your customers’ inboxes. 5. Test your campaigns Use your email marketing service’s A/B testing tools to see which subject lines, content, and offers get the best responses from your list members. Use that information to make your next campaigns more effective. 6. Monitor your metrics Watch your email service dashboard for each campaign to see how many opens, clicks, and unsubscribes it gets. You’ll also see the peak days and times for email opens so you can time your future campaigns more precisely. Link your email service to your Google Analytics dashboard so you can track visitors who arrive from your email links, what types of devices they use to visit, and where they go on your site, and whether they convert. 7. Refine and repeat Email marketing is a process that should get easier and more effective over time. Use your data from past campaigns, your dashboards, and feedback from your customers to continuously improve your messaging—and your ROI. Ready to grow your business? Get started with Constant Contact today. Find the post on the HostGator Blog Continue reading

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5 Best Practices for Business Blogs

The post 5 Best Practices for Business Blogs appeared first on HostGator Blog . Blogging can be good for your business, if you start with a plan. A blog can boost your website’s SEO, build relationships with prospective customers, and position your company as a trustworthy source of expertise. Sounds good, right? So, what are the best practices for starting your business blog ? Let’s dig in. 1. Blog for Your Customers, Not You What should you write about on your business blog? The big difference between business blogging and personal blogging is this: Business blogging is all about your audience, not all about you or your business. What that means is you’ll need to stick to topics of interest to your potential customers. Write for your customer personas , include keywords they search for, that you want to rank well for, and try to answer customer and reader questions with your posts. For example, does your business sell custom replacement windows? Use your posts to answer the questions customers ask you about energy efficiency, design, durability, energy rebates, and more. Remember that a blog is supposed to be a casual conversation. Readers come to you because they’re looking for information. You build trust and authority with them by giving them the information they want. That means don’t get too salesy on your blog. Yes, you can post about new products and sales, and share user-generated content like customer photos of their new windows. But don’t turn every post into a full-volume sales pitch. A call to action at the end of each post is enough. Vary the format from time to time. Maybe throw in an interview with a customer or supplier, use Canva to make some infographics with facts and stats your customers can use, shoot some tutorial videos, or make a slide deck with PowerPoint that your readers can download and share. 2. Include an Image with Every Blog Post Why? It’s simple. People love pictures. Pictures pull your visitors into your story before they read a single word. Look at the home page for Gardener’s Supply’s blog. For gardeners, these pictures are catnip, because they show what’s possible—and they show what the company’s customers want for themselves. Images also make social media posts more engaging. Tweets with images get 34% more RTs than tweets with only text, according to social media scheduling service Postcron. And Instagram posts without images? Just not happening. So take the time to create original photos or graphics for each posts. 3. Decide on Your Posting Schedule Hamster wheel or lazy river? How often should you post? Business blogs that turn out a post or more each day, like HostGator, have teams of writers and editors dedicated to creating that content. But as a small business owner, you wear many hats, and your most important one is running your business, not cranking out blog posts. If you must choose between fewer high-quality posts and more low-quality ones, go with less frequent, better-written posts. You can get good results from a slower posting schedule, if your content gives readers and prospective customers information they want. The key is to use the search terms your audience is looking for and the questions they are asking. To make an infrequent posting schedule go farther is to promote the heck out of each blog post on your business’s social media channels . If you’ve done your persona homework, you already know where your target audience hangs out online. Meet them there with your posts. 4. Keep Your Posts Fresh with Regular Blog Updates Every post you create is a resource you can edit and update as your business grows and your customer base evolves. When you update an old post, save that update in WordPress or update the publication data so that Google knows it’s been freshened up with new information. It’s a good idea to build regular updates into your content schedule. Changing out quarterly or yearly updates of statistics is an easy way to freshen up old content. Adding new feedback from customers to product-focused posts, or updates on new features, can also extend the life of your posts. For more tips, follow our step-by-step guide to running a content audit . 5. Get Organized with Blog Categories and Tags Keep your business blog categories simple and limited. Here’s how HostGator does it. Give your categories names that are search keywords, when possible. HostGator’s customers search for phrases like web hosting tips and marketing tips and tricks. Your business may have very different categories. Whatever they are, they should line up with what your market wants. For example, let’s say you’re in the dog training business. You might have categories on dog behavior, obedience training for dogs, socialization for dogs, and exercise with your dog. This keeps your blog focused on the stuff your customers are interested in. It also makes it easier for readers to home in on the information they need. You can tag your posts, too. This is different from assigning a post to a category. Maybe you write a series of posts on socializing and behavior training for rescue dogs, and another on senior dog behavior and exercise. The categories for these are clear—socializing and behavior. But you can tag them with “rescue dog” or “senior dog” so your readers can search your whole blog, not just individual categories, for content that matches their situation. Like with your category names, tag with phrases your readers search for. Here’s what the category and tag control panels look like in WordPress. Be sure to fill out the slug and description for each of your blog’s categories and tags. That information helps search engine crawlers understand what your post is about. Tags and categories can also help you when it’s time to update your content. Is there new research about senior dog health you want to add to your old posts? Call up the “senior dog” tag and you can rework all the relevant posts in a snap. Build Your Business Blog with HostGator Ready to get started? You can set up your business blog today with a WordPress hosting plan . Add on HostGator Domain Privacy to shield your personal domain registration information from public view to protect your business from spam. Not familiar with WordPress? You can still get started today, too. Gator Website Builder gives you drag-and-drop tools to help you snap together your business blog in minutes, with lots of mobile-friendly templates to make it look great. Find the post on the HostGator Blog Continue reading

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How to Make Money with Reseller Hosting

The post How to Make Money with Reseller Hosting appeared first on HostGator Blog . There are dozens of different online businesses you can start from the comfort of your own home. One online business that isn’t covered a lot is reseller hosting . With the right niche and dedication, you can turn reseller hosting services into a very profitable business. If you’ve been thinking about starting your own reseller hosting business, then this post is for you. Below we look at what reseller hosting is, what it takes to run a reseller business, as well as a step by step plan to get your reseller hosting business off the ground. What Is Reseller Hosting? First, we’ll start with what reseller hosting actually is . With reseller hosting services, you’re not running or managing any of the hosting server’s yourself. Instead, you’re renting out these servers, branding them with your own company, and then selling that server space to customers. Since everything is white label, it’s as if you’re running your own web hosting services company. Your customers will never know that it isn’t you. You’ll be able to create your own hosting plans, take payments, offer additional features like email and website backups, and more. Requirements for Running a Reseller Hosting Business Web hosting is a very competitive market. It’s dominated by larger hosts that generally compete on price. However, running your own hosting company can be profitable if it’s done the right way. At the core, you’ll be renting customers a certain amount of storage space for a certain amount of time. Your profit will come in the difference between the cost of renting servers and the price you’re charging your customers. If you’ve been thinking about starting your own hosting business, then there are a few things you’ll need to take into account. Namely, your motivations for starting a hosting business, your technical skills, and business and marketing know-how. Keep in mind that starting a hosting business is going to take a lot of work, so your motivations are going to need to be clear from the start. Since you’re essentially running a service business, it’s going to require a lot of work on your end, so you’ll need a clear goal that you’re working towards to sustain you during difficult times. Next, are your existing technical skills. If you’re starting a reseller hosting business completely solo, then you’re going to need some basic technical skills. You don’t need to be a programmer yourself, but it helps to have a deep understanding of how servers work , and basic web design and development skills. The reseller host you decide to work with might actually handle things like customer support, maintenance, and more. But, you’ll still need to have some marketing and business skills to handle things like online marketing, payment processing, and more. Understanding The Reseller Hosting Landscape As a reseller host, you won’t be competing with the top dogs of the hosting space. These companies are simply too large and they can offer price points and other competitive advantages that you won’t be able to offer. However, these are the companies that you’ll probably be getting your reseller hosting from. Instead, your goal should be to create a more niche hosting company. Think the small to medium-sized business space. Hosting companies in this space can still have hundreds of servers and thousands of customers, but you might actually be able to compete with them. The one thing that’ll help improve your chances of success is finding a niche or a small target market. This will help you stand out in a crowded field and give yourself a fighting chance of success to earn money. Your niche focus, or unique offering, along with extensive marketing will help build brand recognition and position yourself as the go-to host for a specific niche. The Niche Market Approach Being a leader in a niche market is going to be how you’ll find customers as a reseller. There are a variety of benefits to choosing a niche. Here are some of the most common: You make it easier to market and speak to the deep needs of your niche. You can keep costs low by not having to meet the needs of everyone. You’ll have a lower level of competition since you’re not directly competing with massive hosting companies. You can provide better customer service as you’ll understand the unique needs of your market. Even though success will be easier by focusing on a specific niche, there are still a few downsides that you’ll want to be aware of as well. For example, by only focusing on a specific niche you’re limiting how much your reseller hosting company can grow. However, this can be remedied by slowing expanding out to related niches once you’re effectively dominating the niche you’ve started in. Pros of Reseller Hosting As a business. reseller hosting has a lot of advantages. Here are some of the biggest benefits that reseller hosting offers you: It doesn’t take much effort. Signing up for a reseller account is easy, and comes equipped with bundled tools like automated billing and support. It doesn’t take a ton of technical knowledge. For a technology oriented business, the bar is actually pretty low. Support can be included. Some parent hosts will offer support, which can help to free up your time to focus on other areas of your business. Can be a simple add-on service. If you have an existing digital business or design agency, you can easily add hosting as an additional service, helping you add a recurring revenue stream to your business.   Cons of Reseller Hosting Still, reseller hosting isn’t perfect. Here are a few drawbacks to starting a reseller hosting business: Services are limited by parent host. Ultimately, all of your offerings and services will be limited by your parent host, so make sure you choose a hosting company with solid servers and a variety of add-on services. It’s difficult to compete on price. Since you’re going to be reselling hosting, you won’t be able to offer the incredibly cheap prices that most hosts are able to offer. So, you’ll need to figure out other differentiating factors. Perhaps you can include hosting setup for free or offer outstanding customer service. You don’t have full server control. Since you don’t own the servers you’re renting, you’ll never have full server control. So, make sure you choose a host that places value on their server hardware components. Features Included With Reseller Hosting The host you decide to partner with will influence the reseller hosting features you have access to and can pass on to your customers. Here are some of the most common features that the best reseller hosting providers will offer: White-label hosting. This lets you brand your own hosting company, while still using the hosting services of a parent company, like HostGator. Plan customization. This allows you to manage your own plans and even customize and bring together certain features for a unique hosting offering. Bundled features. This allows you to offer other features like email hosting, domain management , cPanel access, website builders, and more. High-quality servers. By choosing a high-quality host you can offer a variety of different hosting types, and a range of bandwidth and storage. How to Make Money With Reseller Hosting Now that you have a better understanding of how reseller hosting works as a business. It’s time to dive into how you can make money with reseller hosting. Here’s a basic process that you can follow to get started with your own reseller hosting business: 1. Do Your Research By now you should have a few ideas in mind for the hosting niche you’re going to focus on. For example, maybe you’re going to become the go-to host in your local area? Or, you’re going to focus on a specific niche like plumbers or lawyers? Or, maybe you’re just going to offer web hosting as an add-on service for your digital agency? Whatever your focus, make sure you have some sort of direction before you jump into the rest of the steps below. Then, you’re going to want to dive deeper into your niche to get an idea of the competitive landscape. Try to find at least five different competitors who will either be offering a similar service or are targeting the same niche as you. As you look through their website’s look for the following information: Their core offerings. For example, the type of hosting they offer, or additional services and features. Their price point. How much are they charging for hosting? What about other services? Can you compete on price, or do you need to take the premium angle? Their marketing methods . You can gauge this by seeing if they maintain a blog, social media accounts, or run paid advertising. Run their sites through a tool like SEMRush or Ahrefs to see if they’re picking up any organic traffic, or are bidding for any keywords. Doing this for a handful of competitors will give you a solid understanding of your niche and what you need to do to compete. 2. Determine Your Core Offerings Your research above will help you determine what style of hosting, and add-on features, you’ll need to offer your customers. With reseller hosting you’ll generally have a few different types of hosting you’ll be able to offer, as well as bundled features offered by your parent hosting company. For example, maybe you’ll want to offer shared hosting , VPS hosting , and dedicated server plans? Or, maybe you only want to offer WordPress hosting to a specific niche? Depending on the parent hosting company you’re using, you might be able to offer additional services like domain name management, email features, and more. In some cases, you might be able to stand out in your niche by being a one-stop-shop for all of your customer’s needs. 3. Get Your Business in Order To actually start your reseller hosting business there are a few things you’re going to need in place. Here are three things you’ll need to have in place before you launch your reseller hosting business: A Reseller That Matches Your Desired Offerings In your research above you determined the types of services and products you want to offer your customers. Now, it’s time to find a parent hosting company that matches up with these services. For example, are you just going to offer shared hosting, or will you include VPS, cloud, and dedicated hosting as well? Do you want to offer different packages of each hosting type? Do you want a reseller that provides support for hosting? Do you want to be able to offer domain name management as well? Once you’ve figured out your needs it’s time to find a reseller that aligns with these. A Reseller Hosting Package Once you’ve found the host you want to work with it’s time to sign up for reseller hosting. The process will differ depending on the host you’re working with. But, here’s how it works if you’re signing up for a reseller account here at HostGator. Navigate to the hosting reseller page. Sign up for a reseller account. Purchase hosting and service credits. Sign up customers to your server. A Company Website Now it’s time to create your website. As a hosting reseller, your website is incredibly important. It needs to speak directly to your target market, be easy to use, contain useful and helpful information related to your products and services, and have readily accessible support. Depending on your parent host you might be able to integrate payment processing and additional features into your site, like live chat, support materials, and more. 3. Offer Stellar Customer Support As a smaller host, the support you’re able to provide will make or break your company. Providing stellar customer support is a great way to make your company stand out. In fact, a large group of satisfied customers can end up being your best advertising. Customer support starts the very moment someone lands on your website. If they have any questions about your services they should be able to reach an agent via live chat right away. Your website should be very easy to use and seamlessly guide your visitors through the process of signing up for web hosting services. Once your customers have signed up for web hosting they should receive a welcome email and be able to easily set up their hosting account. If they have any questions they should be able to reach a representative through email, live chat, or phone, whenever the need arises. Some hosting parent companies will include support as part of their reseller packages. This means that they’ll handle any and all support requests. You can either let them handle all of the support requests, supplement their support with your own team, or let them handle technical support, while you handle all other requests. The approach you take doesn’t matter as much as providing outstanding support to your customers. 4. Set Up Marketing By focusing on a specific niche it’ll be much easier for you to focus your marketing efforts. Instead of marketing to anyone and everyone (which rarely works), you’ll be focused on reaching a small segment of a larger market. First, determine how you’re going to reach these customers. For example, will you create a blog to rank for organic search terms? Do you have a budget for search engine and social media advertising? Will you run an affiliate campaign with non-competitive sites in your niche send leads your way? Figure out the approach you’re going to take and create measurable campaigns. If your budget is lower, just starting out consider taking more organic approaches until you have the funds to invest in paid marketing and advertising campaigns. 5. Profit and Scale By now you should be ready to launch your reseller hosting program.You’ve found your niche, done market research, nailed your service offerings, found a rock-solid hosting reseller, built your website, and started marketing your services. Once you’ve acquired your first few customers you should start to break even. This all depends on the price you’re paying for reseller hosting, how much you’re selling your web hosting packages for and your initial startup costs. After you’ve recouped your initial expenses you can start to reinvest these back into your business to attract even more customers and start to turn a profit. One of the beautiful things about offering reseller hosting is that your target audience will have a high customer lifetime value. As long as you provide a stellar service they’ll stick with you for a very long time. This allows you to pay more up front for customer acquisition, as every new customer is worth a lot to your business. Hopefully, you have a better understanding of what reseller hosting is, and how you can start your very own reseller hosting business. By choosing a niche and placing a focus on delighting your customers you’ll make it that much easier to actually earn money with a reseller hosting program. Get started with HostGator reseller and web hosting services today. Find the post on the HostGator Blog Continue reading

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5 Photography Tips for Bloggers

The post 5 Photography Tips for Bloggers appeared first on HostGator Blog . Visual content opens the door to retaining your readers’ attention. Creative photography can have a positive impact on building strong audience connections. With only 81% of people skimming the content they read online, pictures give your visitors another reason to stay longer on your blog. It’s another way to communicate without adding an extra block of boring text. Be bold in your blog marketing by using photography to your advantage. Try these five tips below. 1. Set Up a Simple Studio As a blogger, you’re checking off your to-do list with the essential blogging tools you need to be successful. Those tools may include a quiet place to write, a website builder , and a social media account. But what about the photos for your blog? Right now, stock photos aren’t satisfying most readers. Your audience craves original images to capture their attention. For bloggers, your studio may be your smartphone and a blank wall in a room. When you feel more comfortable, you may want to purchase a backdrop, tripod, and starter lighting kit. “Setting up a home photography studio is a relatively simple process with minimum start up costs. You can choose to create your studio in its own specific room or block off areas of an existing space and dedicate it to your photography,” says Shannon Ciricillo , an American fashion, lifestyle, and travel photographer. To boost your blog’s presence, it may be time to invest in photography. That means setting up a simple studio in your home or office to take photos.   2. Use Natural Light Light is a primary element for any photographer. The right amount of light can drastically influence your images. When there is too much light, the subject in the image becomes distorted. When there is too little light, the subject becomes impossible to see. Natural light is the sunlight. It doesn’t come from your lighting equipment. Because the light source is coming from the sun, it’s important to learn how to use it properly. The light’s direction, the weather, and the time of day can impact your photos. Plus, the direction of the light determines how the shadows fall on your subject. Here’s a short video showing how to use natural light: If you decide to shoot outside on a sunny day, try taking the subject of your photo into the shade. You want the light to shine at your subject, not behind. If you want to stay indoors, move towards a window and test out different angles. Natural light is an effective resource for bloggers. Learn as you go, and in no time, you’ll be mastering this new skill.   3. Experiment with Different Angles Seeing things differently sparks your followers’ curiosity. Shooting a photo from multiple angles provides the reader with a diverse perspective. When you’re starting out, you will discover there are several types of angles. There’s the bird’s eye view, the low angle, the eye level, and the oblique angle. Don’t feel overwhelmed to learn every angle; your goal should be to try what works for your blog. For instance, decide the emotion you want to convey in the photo. Chamira Young , an art nerd and photographer, offers advice: “Positioning yourself above your subject often results in a flattering shot. When your subject is looking slightly up at you, it can add a sense of vulnerability, intimacy, and approachability.” In the  image below , the photographer takes a close up of a plant. To mimic this shot, you’ll want to get as close to the subject as possible. And if necessary, use your camera’s zoom feature to get even closer. Depending on your subject, every angle won’t be pleasing to the eye. If you want to take a photo of a burger, you would not use a bird’s eye view angle. So, always consider your blog visitors’ point of view and their expectations.   4. Add Creative Props A photo is more than just its main subject. If you’re looking to enhance your pictures, you’ll want to invest in props. The smallest addition to an image can make a huge difference. Relevant props spark originality. They also give the image more context and character as it relates to your text. When describing specific concepts, it’s better for your blog audience to see what you’re explaining. In the  photo below , the pastries are next to flowers and slices of fruit. Visitors can infer that these tasty treats are fresh with these natural props. While props can improve your photos, it’s also critical not to overuse them. Too many props can dominate your picture, taking away from the main purpose of the shot. Your props should complement your photo, too. Think about the colors, the sizes, and the placement of the props. Readers should know exactly what to focus on in the image.   The right prop provides personality to your already beautiful images. Use them strategically to get the most benefit.   5. Shoot Photos in Advance Preparation is key when developing unique photos for your blog. While some of your pictures may happen on a whim, your best work comes from advance planning. For starters, consider your editorial calendar to map out your photo shoots. If you’re publishing only carrot dishes for your food blog next week, you should plan to get several photos using the vegetable. “It pays off to have everything planned and prepared in advance. That way, you don’t need to think up new poses and compositions or look for clothing or other props at the last minute. This will not only save you time, but also make you trustworthy,” writes photographer Majo Elias . It’s also helpful to create a checklist of what you may need. From people to props, it’ll give you a sense of how to manage your time during a shoot. Planning your photos ahead of time also alleviates the stress of the entire process. When you know your specific goals, you can take action and move on to another blog task.   Picture Perfecta Visual content adds a vivid layer of sophistication to your blog. With photography, you can transform a 100-word description into a beautiful work of art. For more tips on getting more out of your blog, check out our articles on SEO best practices for blogs , networking tips for bloggers , and improving your blog load time . Find the post on the HostGator Blog Continue reading

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