Industry Buzz

The 7 Best Instagram Photo Apps for Editing Pics (My Favorites!!!)

Post Planner -

I confess… I’m addicted to Instagram. I check it every hour or so!! And I’m constantly liking so many great photos that sometimes I feel like I’m losing control. I usually edit my Instagram photos with other apps — to make sure they meet my high quality standards. And they look SOOO much better after I edit them. Since you might be wondering about the best tools to edit your Instagram photos, I compiled this list of the 7 best Instagram photo apps. These are apps I use to edit Instagram images on my iPhone. So check em out! These tools will definitely make your Instagram images pop! The 7 Best Instagram Photo Apps for Editing Pics (My Favorites!!!) 1. Snapseed Snapseed is my editing tool of choice. I use this app to edit 90% of my photos. I use Snapseed to adjust the colors & contrast. >> Click to Tweet << The app lets me make minor tweaks so the photo still looks natural. Compare these two photos… the one on the right was edited with Snapseed: 2. VSCO Cam There are 2 things I love about VSCO Cam: Flexibility Filters >> Click to Tweet << The camera is so flexible you can customize the exposure by double-tapping the screen. For example, if the photo is too dark, VSCO lets you lighten images without reducing focus. Check out how dark this photo was: I used VSCO to adjust the exposure: I also love the filters on this camera. They’re the best Instagram filters I have found. I bought all the filters that are available on the app. 3. Camera+ Camera+ also lets you tweak the exposure of your photos by double-tapping your iPhone screen. >> Click to Tweet << With this app, your photos should never be under- or over-exposed. And Camera+ has other great photo-editing features. 4. Overgram This app lets you add beautiful text to your photos. >> Click to Tweet << You have a range of font selections to create an image that will truly stand out on Instagram. Use this app to add your favorite quote to a photo. 5. Pic Stitch Pic Stitch lets you quickly combine multiple photos onto one beautifully framed image. >> Click to Tweet << This is a great way to group photos so you don’t have to share a bunch of updates all at once. 6. Squaready OK, so you just found out the photo you want to share isn’t square. And you might lose some detail if you crop the pic. Don’t worry! You can use this app to format the photo for Instagram. >> Click to Tweet << Check out what happened when I tried to post this photo on Instagram: Josh’s & Slav’s faces got cut off. Squaready lets you use landscapes & portraits without having to crop them for Instagram. Like this: Josh & Slav look much better. Cheers, fellas! 7. Hipstamatic If you’re into classic photography, this is the app for you. Hipstamatic lets you transform images into retro photos that look like they were shot with a vintage camera. >> Click to Tweet << Your Favorite Instagram App So there you have it! But we’re not done yet. I’m always looking for the best Instagram photo apps to spruce up my images. So what tools are missing from this short list? Do you have a go-to editing tool for Instagram that I didn’t point out here? Please post your favorite app in the comments below & don’t forget to follow Post Planner on Instagram! The post The 7 Best Instagram Photo Apps for Editing Pics (My Favorites!!!) appeared first on Post Planner.

Blogging 101 and Writing 101 Are Back!

WordPress.com News -

You’ve just started your shiny new blog and you’d like some help as you get up to speed on WordPress.com. Or, maybe you’d like some inspiration to write every day. On September 15th, we kick off two free Blogging U. courses: Blogging 101 and Writing 101. They might be just what you need to whip your blog into shape and/or establish your writing habit. Blogging 101 Each day for 30 days, Blogging 101 offers a bite-sized blogging “assignment*,” geared to helping you customize the look of your blog, start a blogging habit, and find some new blogging friends. Here’s how it works: Assignments fall into three broad categories — publishing posts, customizing your blog, and engaging with the community. Assignments are designed to build on one another. We’ll post a new assignment at The Daily Post each weekday at 12AM GMT (8PM EDT). (Time zone math: 12AM GMT, Monday September 15th = 8PM EDT, Sunday, September 14th.) Each assignment contains all the inspiration and instructions you need to complete it. Weekends are free time you can use to catch up on assignments, if you like. Participants get access to a private community site, the Commons, where they can chat, connect, and seek feedback and support. Daily Post staff and Happiness Engineers will be on hand to answer your questions and offer guidance and resources. Cost? Free! Writing 101 Each day for 30 days, we’ll post an “assignment*” geared to helping you create a writing habit, inspire you to try new forms, get some feedback from fellow participants, and make some writing friends online. Here’s how it works: Each assignment has two parts: a prompt and a twist. Prompts are the topic for the day; twists are exercises that stretch your writing chops. Use them however you’d like: respond to the prompt, and ignore the twist. Try the twist, but write on your own topic. Use both. We’ll post a new writing assignment at the The Daily Post each weekday at 12AM GMT (8PM EDT). (Time zone math: 12AM GMT, Monday September 15th = 8PM EDT, Sunday, September 14th.). There are no weekend assignments — you’re free to expand on a weekday post, write something unrelated, or (gasp!) spend some time away from your blog. Participants get access to a private community site, the Commons, where they can chat, connect, and seek feedback and support. Daily Post staff and Happiness Engineers will be on hand in the comments to answer questions and offer guidance and resources. Cost? Zilch, zero, nada. *All assignments are optional. Blogging 101 and Writing 101 are designed to inspire and educate you to start and maintain a blogging habit. While we encourage you to be active in the Commons and participate in discussions with fellow participants, you never have to show your work if you’d prefer not to. Intrigued? Register for Blogging 101, Writing 101 or both by filling out this form: Take Our SurveyFiled under: Better Blogging

Typepad 101: Managing Blog Designs

Everything Typepad -

Over time, while working on your blog, you've probably noticed that at the bottom of the Design tab, there's a list of designs.  It will look something like this: This list is all of the designs that you've created for all of the blogs within your account.  But what does all of this mean? You'll see a thumbnail for each design, giving you a quick idea of what the design looks like.  Next is the design's name.  If you created it using a different blog other than the one you're working on, you'll see "for" and then the name of the blog you created it for.  If there's an asterisk at the end of the name, that means it's applied to a blog within your account.  Finally, the orange CURRENT next to a blog means that this is the design that is currently being used on this blog. Using the buttons next to each design, you can perform actions like customizing the design, applying it to a different blog, or even deleting it from your account completely.  You can read about all of these options in our Knowledge Base. One of the things we get asked about a lot in support is why a design change applied on one blog also appears on another blog in the same account?  This is because blogs are shared across the entire account, allowing you to apply a design to more than one blog.  That means that if a design is applied to Blog A and Blog B, any changes you make will be applied to both blogs. If you'd like to have similar, but not exactly the same designs for a blog (maybe you want different sidebar content, for instance), we would recommend that you instead duplicate the design and apply the duplicate to one blog.  Setting up a testing blog is a great way to test the duplicated design out before it's ready for prime time. As always, we're here to help, so just let us know if you have any other questions!

Five insights from the #HitYourGoals webinar

The Twitter Small Business Blog -

We recently hosted a webinar with the @HubSpot team on how to #HitYourGoals with objective-based campaigns on Twitter. Below, we share the five most frequently asked questions during the webinar, as well as responses from the @TwitterSmallBiz and @HubSpot teams. Can I use Twitter to achieve multiple goals, or should I focus on just one KPI? @HubSpot: Twitter’s objective-based campaigns enable you to tackle five different goals with your Twitter Ads campaigns: followers, website clicks and conversions, leads on Twitter, Tweet engagement and app installs. You can run multiple campaigns simultaneously, just make sure you designate one goal for each individual campaign you run. This enables you to optimize toward a specific objective and understand exactly which metrics will help you measure success. What tools can I use to help me understand the best time to Tweet and which types of content I should share? @TwitterSmallBiz: We recently launched the Tweet Activity Dashboard, which gives you insight into all of your Tweet activity, both paid and organic (non-paid). Anyone who has a Twitter account can log in and get access to this information. The Tweet Activity Dashboard allows you to: see how your Tweets perform in real time compare impressions (number of times your Tweet is viewed by anyone on Twitter web and Android or iOS apps, including logged-out users), total engagements and Retweets month over month view the number of Retweets, replies, favorites, follows, link clicks and embedded media clicks each Tweet receives export your Tweet performance metrics into a CSV file All of this information helps you understand which Tweets resonate most with your audience so you can create more Tweets that are similar, or promote them in your existing Twitter Ads campaigns. Additionally, the information in this dashboard can you asses the lift in activity and incremental reach that you receive from your Promoted Tweets. How can I measure my results from Twitter in terms of both conversion and branding? @HubSpot: It’s important that you set goals and define your metrics for success before you run your Twitter campaigns. This will enable you to focus your efforts toward a specific objective and then track your progress against it. If your goal is conversion, the conversion rate and window you can expect to see on Twitter will vary greatly depending on your industry and the content you are promoting. For this reason, it can be helpful to set your own initial benchmarks by running a few tests. Then you can aim to improve on those benchmarks by optimizing your campaigns over time. If your goal is brand awareness, you can measure success in a variety of ways. At HubSpot, we drive brand awareness with Tweet engagement campaigns. And for each campaign, we use a different tracking token which allows us to track the exact number of visitors, leads and customers contributed. This data syncs directly into our marketing software and gives us a full view of the activities taken by people who come to our site via Twitter. We arrived at the numbers we see at HubSpot from lots of testing, learning and optimization. You run your own tests and make informed adjustments over time to determine what works best for your business. How can I use Twitter to promote my mobile app and what can I expect in terms of results? @TwitterSmallBiz: We recently launched a Mobile App Card which allows you to drive users to your app directly within a Tweet, and track installs within your Twitter Ads interface. Our dashboard also allows you to see a breakdown of costs for installs and app re-engagements. The Mobile App Card works in conjunction with geo, device and audience targeting to ensure that you’re reaching the right audience. What is the best way to nurture the leads I collect from Twitter? @HubSpot: Once you’ve gained these leads, it’s important that you don’t let them fall by the wayside. To ensure that doesn’t happen, you need to have a systematic follow-up process in place that enables you to continue communicating with your new leads, and ultimately, convert them into customers. At HubSpot, our process involves emailing our leads with additional content that is tailored to the likes and needs of each individual person who arrives at our site from Twitter. For example, when someone downloads our content, we send them an email to thank them for their download, and then and offer them a next step to take that is related to the content they received. We’ll also enter them into regular email series, so they continue to get recommendations from us about useful resources before we guide them over to a sales rep. When we receive a lead from Twitter, that contact record is tagged within our system. Regardless of any additional activity from that lead, the contact record remains tagged as coming from Twitter originally. This tagging system allows us to determine exactly how many leads we can attribute to Twitter, as well as how many of those leads were qualified for our sales team, and how many eventually converted into customers. This information helps us learn which campaigns worked and which didn’t for our company, allowing us to optimize future campaigns on Twitter. #HitYourGoals with Twitter If you want to learn more about how to #HitYourGoals with Twitter, Tweet your questions to @TwitterSmallBiz or join us for our next webinar/office hours on Wednesday, September 24. Register here.

4 Reference Architectures To Optimize Your Ecommerce

The Rackspace Blog & Newsroom -

“46 percent of ecommerce retailers report difficulty managing their platform, keeping up with market demands and running their underlying infrastructure”* Retailers know that the online store is a window to the world. And when it comes to ecommerce, the specialists at Rackspace have pretty much seen it all. As the No. 1 hosting provider for the Retailer™ Top 1,000*, we can help ensure that your online stores are always available, and running at peak performance. That’s why our Rackspace Digital application specialists put together four reference architectures that optimize the right mix of price, performance and control for most businesses to help you make the most out of your ecommerce platform. Cost Effective A cost effective configuration is ideal for small to medium business ecommerce platforms needing over 99 percent uptime while keeping costs at a minimum. It offers business-class features like monitoring, managed databases with backup and content delivery networks (CDN). It also includes future-proof features like cloud load balancing, so you can be prepared for unexpected events. It relies on a two-tier cloud based architecture, in which the catalog display logic and the shopping cart logic are kept together in the same server. It’s also configured so that customer credit card information is stored in a third-party payment gateway rather than in a Rackspace data center, which is often less expensive when transaction volumes are relatively low. Intermediate This reference architecture was designed for small to medium businesses and mid-market customers who need scaling ability and have higher security. It’s ideal for organizations that need enterprise features like VLANs and API access, but also need the flexibility that the cloud provides. With the Intermediate setup, you get 99.99 percent uptime that relies on a utility-based model. It’s a three-tier cloud-based architecture, meaning that the catalog display logic and shopping cart logic are kept in different servers. Credit card information is stored in third-party payment gateway, reducing costs. Advanced This configuration is ideal for mid-market and enterprise customers that want to leverage cloud scaling but have specific compliance needs, legacy software or need the performance of a dedicated environment. A good example of this is a company that needs to run a high-performance database, but would like to connect it to a farm of elastic application servers that run in the cloud. The Advanced setup offers 99.99 percent uptime, and is built as a three-tier hybrid system that includes both cloud and dedicated servers. The application tier for this architecture is built on cloud servers and it stores both the shopping cart and the checkout logic. And while customer credit card data is stored in third-party applications, transactional data is stored in dedicated servers. Premier This system is a step beyond the Advanced architecture, and is designed for organizations that need 99.999 percent uptime or better. In addition to a hybrid configuration with dedicated and cloud servers, this offers a high-redundancy solution that is run by Rackspace Critical Application Engineers. Because of high uptime and security needs, this configuration stores customer credit card information and transaction data in dedicated servers, along with the application tier. The web tier that contains the product catalog logic is also built on dedicated servers, but can still scale by bursting into cloud servers when demand is high. Ecommerce hosting backed by Fanatical Support®. Rackspace Digital provides specialized hosting for ecommerce and offers expertise to help you find the solution that best fits your needs. We’re dedicated to helping you succeed, so please feel free to reach out to our digital specialists if you have any questions. * Source: Understanding TCO When Evaluating Ecommerce Platforms, 2012, Forrester Research. * Source: Internet Retailer’s newsletter “Introducing the Top Vendors to the Top 1,000.”

How smartphone users engage on Twitter: three key findings

The Twitter Advertising Blog -

Selecting a smartphone is no easy decision. The devices are a significant investment, and the prospect of committing up to two years to any of the myriad service plans can give pause to even the hardiest buyer. To make an informed choice, savvy consumers are turning to Twitter. A recent study conducted by Millward Brown in partnership with Twitter showed that Twitter is used more than any other social network throughout the decision-making process when buying a smartphone. How can phone and service providers use Twitter to engage and influence customers and enhance brand sentiment throughout the purchase process? We dug into the data to find out. Here are the results and our recommendations. The study During June and July of 2014, Millward Brown surveyed 1,238 U.S. online consumers age 18-54 via a 10-minute questionnaire. All participants either owned a smartphone or intended to purchase one in the next year. The firm then compared Twitter users to the average user of six top social media networks (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Vine and Tumblr). A user of any social network was defined as someone who logged in at least once a month. The results I. Twitter mobilizes smartphone shoppers Brand content on Twitter spurs action. Four in 10 users said they had taken action after seeing information from a smartphone or wireless service brand on Twitter, whether they followed the brand, visited its site or searched for it online. As to the kinds of content Twitter users like to see, most popular were deals and promotions (43%), information about service coverage and outage issues (33%), funny or lighthearted content (31%), tips (31%) and new device launches (27%). Tip: Reflect these interests in your Tweets, and Tweet regularly about them. For example, @TMobile Tweeted to let users know they could pre-register for new @SamsungMobileUS devices. https://twitter.com/TMobile/status/507168041382461440 II. Twitter users are eager to engage with smartphone brands Twitter users crave the latest information. They’re 38% more likely than the average social network user to learn about a new phone provider or wireless service carrier, and once they’re aware of a brand, they’re 86% more likely to stay up to date with the brand’s news and promotions. Interaction is also important to Twitter users: 17% have conversed with a smartphone or wireless provider brand via Twitter, compared to only 7% on the average social network. Most users (63%) who received a response from a telecom brand said it made them feel more positive towards the brand. Tip: Find positive ways to engage and reward users regularly. In this Tweet, @HTC accomplishes both. https://twitter.com/htc/status/502168736304861185 @NokiaUS also succeeds by creating an incentive — offering concert tickets to trivia contest winners — to engage users. https://twitter.com/NokiaUS/status/479300561699762176 III. Twitter influences smartphone shoppers throughout the purchase process From awareness to advocacy, Twitter plays an important role at every step in the purchase process. If spreading the word about your brand is a goal, Twitter is a good place to start. Twitter users are almost 75% more likely to become aware of a new phone provider or wireless service carrier than the average social network user. Next, brands can leverage Twitter to forge deeper connections with customers. Twitter users are 83% more likely to interact with a smartphone or wireless provider brand than the average social network user. When it’s time to consider a purchase, it’s clear that customers rely more on Twitter than other social networks. Compared to the average social network user, Twitter users are 43% more likely to use content on Twitter to influence their decision. Finally, satisfied Twitter customers like to champion their favorite brands on Twitter, which can quickly extend your efforts. Compared to users of the average social network, 16% more Twitter users act as brand advocates. Tip: Craft Tweets that appeal to users at every stage of the purchase cycle, and don’t underestimate the power of a Retweet or recommendation. For example, this customer’s enthusiastic endorsement of @VerizonWireless reached more than 2,000 followers. https://twitter.com/DanGalante/status/503863919040282624

New TLDs are Worldwide with the Launch of .LONDON and .GLOBAL!

1&1 Online Success Center -

Among the six new top-level domains that were launched this week, the city of London became the next city to have its own unique TLD! Geographically-relevant TLDs are a great way for businesses and consumers to establish a following in a specific city. Additionally, more industry-specific TLDs have launched as well, providing a wide array of new domain extension options. The six new TLDs available this week are: .GLOBAL – Businesses and organizations that span continents and have a global reach can showcase that with a new .GLOBAL domain name. This TLD is just $49.99 for the first year. .LONDON – As mentioned above, geo-TLDs offer great opportunities for localized branding efforts for businesses in the UK and those that serve the UK. This TLD is also $39.99 for the first year. .ACCOUNTANTS – A new industry-specific TLD, this is useful for professional accountants and accounting firms to showcase their business directly from the URL. This new option is $69.99 for the first year. .DIGITAL – While this can pertain to several businesses, one company that could benefit from this new TLD is a digital media agency. Users can register .DIGITAL for $19.99 for the first year. .FINANCE –Financial institutions, businesses, and individual advisors can position themselves above the competition by securing a new .FINANCE domain extension for $39.99 for the first year. .INSURE –Useful for insurance companies, this domain name is a unique way to stand apart from competitors in the industry. Businesses can register .INSURE for $39.99 for the first year. For these, and nearly 200 additional new TLD options, visit the 1&1 Domain Showroom to learn valuable information on current and upcoming domain names.

Net Neutrality and the American Dream for Small Business

Blake's Blog (CEO, GoDaddy) -

Blake Irving CEO, GoDaddy 14455 N Hayden Rd Scottsdale, AZ 85260   September 10, 2014   The Honorable Thomas E. Wheeler Chairman, Federal Communications Commission Federal Communications Commission 445 12th Street S.W. Washington, DC 20554 Re: Net Neutrality and the American Dream for Small Business   Dear Chairman Wheeler: GoDaddy is a technology platform company with a vision to help people to easily start, confidently grow and successfully run their own ventures by providing Internet-based business tools and services. With nearly 60 million domain names under management and serving billions of unique DNS queries every day, GoDaddy’s infrastructure represents a substantial portion of what Americans think of as the Internet today. Our 12 million customers (9 million in the U.S.) represent the face of small business in our connected age.  They are developers, dentists, lawyers, restaurateurs, retailers, charities, architects, inventors, accountants and artists.  Overwhelmingly they are sole-proprietors or micro-employers with less than 5 employees—which is true of 85% of all business in the US.  Most have been in business for more than 3 years and more often than not, they are women-led.  Our customers are the backbone of the U.S. economy and proof that with the help of a little technology, the American Dream is still alive and kicking. Our customers are diverse, but there is one characteristic that they all share—each of them depends on the open nature of the Internet to compete against the vast resources of enterprise competition.  The conversation on Net Neutrality has focused thus far on the Internet’s power to promote innovation, enhance market liquidity, fuel the spread of new ideas (regardless of their source) and connect people across borders, classes or economies.  But to millions of Americans, the Internet’s open nature is at the core of their very livelihood.  They depend on the equalizing force of the Internet to level the playing field; giving them access to equal opportunities to succeed, regardless of size or access to capital. It is incumbent on the FCC to protect an open Internet and establish rules that allow business of any size to succeed or fail based on their own merits, not the size of their checkbook.  Disappointingly, the current proposal under review would still undermine the open Internet by letting broadband providers negotiate priority agreements with wealthy companies while creating disincentives for them to support companies with humbler means. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small business is the driving force behind the U.S. economy—providing jobs for 55% of the nation’s private workforce and 66% of all net new jobs since the 1970s.  Small Businesses in America occupy nearly half of all commercial space, an estimated 30 billion square feet, and represent 54% of all U.S. sales. Since Time magazine named “The Computer” the “man of the year” in 1982, the number of small businesses in the United States has increased by 49%.  Thanks in large part to the Internet, the number and profitability of small businesses in America has grown rapidly.  As American enterprises continue to reduce their workforces on average, the rate of establishment for new small businesses has grown, and the rate of failures for those businesses has declined. Make no mistake, the equalizing power of the open Internet is the differentiating factor in the success of millions of small ventures in our hyper-connected economy. Under the current proposal, most small businesses websites in America would be relegated to the slow lane—thus transformed into “second-class” economic players almost overnight. Mr. Chairman, establishing any rule for individualized bargaining of internet speeds will hurt American small businesses and cause immutable damage to the U.S. economy.  Concessions, like the proposed standard for what is “commercially reasonable” or definitions for “minimum access levels,” ring hollow in light of the risks to our economy.  Such vague legal standards would offer no relief (or affordable recourse when abuse occurs) to small businesses and could push our economy backwards. Of the 1.1 million comments you’ve received, just over 800,000 have been made available to the public for review and analysis.   GoDaddy has looked at the raw data, leveraging the same Hadoop infrastructure and deep learning algorithms we use to customize products for our customers.  What we’ve found, though not surprising, is that small businesses from around the country have responded with a unanimous voice.  Their sentiment cannot be parsed by red state or blue state, by urban or rural, nor by technical or non-technical.  The percent of Small Businesses who commented in favor of the current proposal, to borrow a phrase, is: zero point zero. “My small business depends entirely on Internet affordability,” wrote one entrepreneur from Santa Barbara.  “The Internet is seemingly the only place left in the world where people other than the already rich can participate in a meaningful way.  Please don’t allow a situation that will make it possible for mega-companies to have dominion over everyone else.  The Internet is all about equality and fairness. Let’s keep it that way.” Main street business owners have no doubts about consequences of the proposed rules. “I own a small business that will essentially be wiped away by this concession to bigger, richer parties,” wrote a businessman from Noblesville, Indiana.  “My business relies on net neutrality to survive, as a creator and hoster of web content.  But with this rule, I will have no chance against big money.  My efforts will be made useless, and thus, you are killing my business with this “small” concession in the fight that you have, until recently, championed.  I suspect there are thousands more small businesses that will likewise be shuttered because they too do not possess the cash to buy influence, either of the government or of the ISPs to prioritize their content.  I hope that you all reconsider this course of action.” Whether you work within the proposed framework or reclassify under Title II of the Communications Act, the result needs to be clear, enforceable rules against access discrimination that protect the level playing field for all businesses.  I encourage you to consider all available tools at the FCC’s disposal to ensure that the Internet remains free and open. Should you opt for reclassification under Title II, giving the FCC the clear authority needed to protect the open Internet, I ask that you also adopt broad forbearance as suggested by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)—ensuring that the FCC does what is necessary to protect the open Internet, and no more.  In the EFF’s own words, “we call on the FCC to do the right and sensible thing and reclassify, we must simultaneously demand that the FCC explicitly reject any telecommunications regulations beyond specific and narrow prohibitions and requirements designed to create a fair and level playing field for innovation and user choice. Without broad forbearance, reclassification can become a nightmare for users, innovators and service providers alike.” The single most important thing the FCC can do in its regulatory capacity is to ensure that the Internet remains an open platform for ideas, innovation and free commerce.  The stakes are high for small businesses, and that means they are equally high for the entire U.S. economy.   The small businesses of America have spoken.  Now it’s time to show all of them, Mr. Chairman, that you are listening.   Sincerely,   Blake Irving CEO, GoDaddy     Photo: Filmmaker

Boost Sales With Effective Product Photography

HostGator Blog -

The post Boost Sales With Effective Product Photography appeared first on HostGator Blog | Gator Crossing. The United States has seen a rising trend in digital buyers from 136.9million in 2010, to what should be nearly 170 million next year in 2015. That’s over half the country now shopping in eCommerce stores. As consumers, we can’t get enough of the attractive images drawing our eyes towards a potential purchase because online a sale often comes down to how well we can perceive the product. Ideally, you’d want to hire a professional photographer to undertake such an important task, but these days with all of the additional costs small businesses are facing some budgets just won’t allow for it. That’s why we have created a guide for the most important characteristics pertaining to an effective product photo. Follow the tips below in order to capture images your customers will respond to.   Get set up with consumer-grade equipment There’s a big difference in consumer and professional equipment, and usually it comes down to the cost. Camera manufacturers are putting out new consumer models every 6-8 months, all of which are capable of delivering fantastic imagery for a fraction of the cost of what a professional-grade camera would run you. I recommend looking into a DSLR and lens that costs no more than $1,000 if you’re going to be running an eCommerce site with frequent updates and product variations. Mirrorless cameras are also quite the bang for your buck, coming in compact sizes and with built in lenses that capture wonderful macro and detailed product shots.   Taking one photo is not enough The biggest difference in eCommerce shopping is that your customer won’t have the opportunity to handle and evaluate the physical attributes of your product. As you’re probably familiar with this process, you can understand no matter how good the deal is being offered, you probably won’t commit to a purchase until you feel you’ve grasped it visually. The trick: put yourself into the mind of your shoppers. Taking multiple product photos will often eliminate any doubts associated with loss in sales. Try and make these details very clear: The size and scale relative to the products functionality Are there additional items that will come packed inside? Does it require assembly? How it looks at all angles The last bullet point is probably the most important. Larger companies have product windows with 360 degree viewing software, so in order to replicate that assurance make sure there is not an angle missing that may be deterring sales.   Background, Lighting and Environment Just like we need to see the product at all angles, the look should feel like it would in real life. Often photographers will construct what’s called an ‘infinity curve’ to give the background a look as though the product were floating in infinite white space. This can be as simple as using a roll of paper on the ground as pictured above. The reason behind this is it leaves very little room for aesthetic distractions while customers are browsing your items and won’t confuse anyone as to what is being sold. It’s always best to try and find natural lighting if you aren’t experienced in lighting a studio. While the illumination of soft boxes can be very enticing, mixing different light temperatures and angles can often make a photo more unattractive. Here’s a great resource for setting up a studio from home. Last, try and include objects that will help it relate to real life. For example, jewelry makers have been shown to have much better success by photographing items being worn, while also having some shots of the item by itself. This is a great trick for translating what the item will look like on your customers.   The power is in the details Like any attractive advertisement you want customers to see the fine features that define your products’ quality. Often times this means using a shallow depth of field, or one of the macro features built into your camera to truly focus in on the textures, materials and details that make the item worth purchasing. *Try selecting the flower setting or aperture priority to really sharpen the image.   Edit and Post Rarely do professional photographers just take an image off the camera and upload it. After you’ve gone through the capturing process it’s important you’ll also be able to adjust the lighting, color and clarity to truly portray your items attractively. If you’re not looking to get a subscription to Photoshop, here are some free software options for PC and Mac. Photography can be a lifelong pursuit to reach perfection, but if you follow these steps you’ll be much more likely to convert sales knowing how to properly showcase your products.   Image Sources: https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0004/7131/dune_quick_view-blog-full.png http://cjchampion.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/product21.jpg https://arqspin.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/dslr-360-product-photography.jpg web hosting

Does A Hosted Virtualized Environment Require New Tools?

The Rackspace Blog & Newsroom -

Many enterprises have invested millions of dollars over the years in IT management, monitoring and automation solutions for their data centers. So a natural question that arises when considering migration of workloads to hosted environments is around management tools. What new capabilities will be required? What new skills will our organization need? Is our existing toolset extensible at all? The reality is that with the right environment and service provider, workloads and virtual machines in hosted environments can be managed with the same tools being used in the on-premise customer data center. This is particularly true for enterprises that are running virtualized workloads in a VMware environment. In fact, with the right service provider, no new applications or automation tools are required to manage hosted workloads. Enterprises running VMware workloads that want to leverage their existing toolsets need to look for a service provider that offers the following capabilities: Hosted VMware environments – first, the service provider must offer customers the ability to run VMware virtualized workloads in their hosted environments. VMware vCenter Services – next, the service provider must offer the ability to manage hosted virtualized workloads using the VMware vCenter Server Management Console. Access to VMware vSphere APIs – finally the service provider must also expose the native VMware vSphere APIs to the customer to allow the connection of any compatible VMware or third party tools. By leveraging the VMware vCenter Server management console across on-premise and hosted VMware environments, enterprises are able to enjoy benefits in the following areas: Resource Management and Performance Monitoring – by leveraging hosted vCenter services enterprises can manage and schedule resources as if the hosted environment were an extension of the customer data center. Host profiles and configurations and settings can be used across on-premise and hosted environments. In addition, resource allocation rules for CPU, memory, disk and network can be applied across both environments, and common alerts and notifications can be configured. Process and Workflow Automation – by leveraging hosted VMware vSphere APIs, organizations that currently use VMware vCenter Orchestrator can extend their existing workflows and scripts to workloads running in a hosted VMware environment. This applies not just to out-of-the-box VMware workflows, but also custom scripts and workflows developed by IT administrators. Extensibility of Existing Applications – with access to hosted vCenter APIs, existing third party and custom applications and scripts can be used with workloads in the hosted VMware environment. Many enterprises rely on third party applications in the VMware partner ecosystem that integrate with vCenter for capacity management, business continuity, performance monitoring and other capabilities. By exposing the same APIs used to manage on-premise virtualized workloads, these same applications can be used for hosted workloads as well. For example, businesses are able to connect third party tools like VMware vCenter Operations Manager (vCOps) to increase visibility into the environment through analytics, as well as assist in capacity and configurations management. Because no new tools or capabilities are required to manage the hosted VMware environment, enterprises will also find that they can continue to leverage existing IT operations and management skills. By using the right service provider and hosted vCenter services, enterprises can seamlessly manage their on-premise and hosted VMware environments through their existing tools, solutions, processes and people. This is the third in a series of posts exploring the IT governance and management implications of migration to hosted VMware environments. Stay tuned for our next post featuring a case study on one enterprise that decided to migrate to a hosted virtualized environment.

What is Domain Name Collision?

1&1 Online Success Center -

An important issue to understand with regards to top-level domain registration is the topic of Name Collision. According to the Internet Cooperation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a name collision occurs “when an attempt to resolve a domain name in a private name space results in a query to the public Domain Name System (DNS). When the administrative boundaries of both the private and public namespaces overlap, name resolution may yield unintended results.” To better explain the definition above, consider the following example: Your company could have an internal server for employees in New York City, with an internal host name called 123.storage.nyc. Employees can access this network internally, but when the official .NYC top-level domain (TLD) becomes available and someone else registers the name storage.nyc, the employees’ Web browser does not know where to send the request– to the internal server, or the external domain name. To resolve this potential problem, ICANN planned ahead for each TLD. The association produced a list of blocked domain names where it was determined to be a high risk of name collision. This means that certain domain names would be unable to be registered, to prevent the issue of name collision from occurring. In our example case, nobody would have been allowed to register storage.nyc. How did that affect 1&1 customers? To comply with ICANN’s preventative measures, 1&1 has therefore blocked these names from being registered. While this is something that must occur across the industry, it may affect customers that have pre-reserved a domain under a new TLD, as the official purchase could not be allowed once the TLD launched. For the future, ICANN has released a new strategy for dealing with these collisions. It involves “wildcarding” the names when there is a DNS request, essentially sending the visitor to an informative page that explains the collision risk with the domain name, rather than to the page they were intending to reach. 1&1 is following these developments closely, as well as working with the registries, to see how this will work in practice, and when we may be able to release these blocked names. Photo Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/greyfebruary

Battle for the Net: The Fight for Net Neutrality

Bluehost Blog -

Bluehost believes in a free and neutral Internet for everyone. That’s why we’re joining the Battle for the Net in support of Internet freedom and against Internet slow down. Recent court rulings and a proposal from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have called into question the future of net neutrality—something that could have seismic repercussions for small business owners and their websites. Giving service providers the ability to control the speed at which specific content and content providers can be sent to you over your connection allows them to control the flow of data and information from both ends.  This lowers your overall performance and can create monopolies, forcing you to purchase from specific providers in order to have high quality services.  The end result will be a reduction in competition and innovation as these firms create an unfair advantage in the marketplace, forcing out smaller providers that cannot afford the pay-to-play system. The Battle for the Net is calling for those in support of net neutrality to take action by telling lawmakers: “Protect Internet Freedom. Defend Net Neutrality.” You can join the battle by signing the letter on battleforthenet.com and spreading the word on your own website and social media channels. What is net neutrality? The idea behind net neutrality is fairly simple. Most of us buy broadband service from a small number of large providers, such as Comcast, AT&T or Charter. For years, the expectation has been that these providers will allow Web traffic to flow unimpeded. In other words, the providers won’t manipulate the data as it flows across the network. This means content is treated equally—download speeds don’t vary depending on the source. This is important because some content providers—Netflix, for example—consume massive chunks of bandwidth due to their popularity. Without net neutrality, Internet access providers would face no restrictions on charging major content providers more money to route their traffic. Thanks to FCC rules, net neutrality has been the standard to which we’ve become accustomed. That could soon change. A January ruling by a U.S. Appeals Court effectively dismantled the FCC’s existing net neutrality regulations. The ruling opened the door for broadband providers to start charging content providers more money for faster service. This could have adverse effects for consumers, as some movies, videos or websites may load slower if the owners elect not to pay for faster service. In response to the court ruling, the FCC announced it would consider a plan to allow large firms like Comcast and AT&T to build so-called “fast lanes” that allow for faster connection speeds for high-bandwidth companies like Google or Netflix. The rules would also restrict the ability of Internet access providers to throttle data for customers who don’t pay for faster speeds. How could a change in net neutrality affect small business websites? The absence of net neutrality could have significant and wide-ranging consequences for small business owners. Internet service providers may charge businesses more money for “optimized” speeds. If a business declines to pay, website performance may suffer relative to websites with optimized speeds. This means businesses that don’t pay will be at a competitive disadvantage against businesses with faster speeds and performance. This kind of two-tiered setup could be a major problem for businesses competing against better funded competitors who can more easily assume additional costs. Businesses that pay for high-end speed will be able to do things like process orders and send e-mails faster and more efficiently—a devastating scenario for smaller businesses. Customer acquisition could be affected as well. Slower websites could mean fewer visitors spending less time on the site—subsequently generating far less online revenue. Because of its low barrier to entry and massive reach, the Internet has long offered start-ups and small businesses a chance to compete against bigger firms—without net neutrality, that opportunity may be dramatically diminished. The end of net neutrality could also allow Internet service providers to enter into partnerships and contracts with preferred entities. In essence, they could pick and choose who they do business with and which content is privileged. For businesses on the outside looking in, this arrangement could be extremely problematic. Finally, the loss of net neutrality could have a crippling effect on innovation. Without access to a free and open Internet, the environment for start-ups and smaller businesses will become much less hospitable. It’s hard to imagine small and modestly funded businesses competing against industry giants while using second-tier Internet access—regardless of how disruptive or innovative they may be. What can we do? We at Bluehost have always been a proponent of using open source technologies and feel that net neutrality is vital to the health of the Internet as a whole.  Please join us in this fight by contacting your local legislative leaders and let them know that you support net neutrality and are against the two-tier slow lane system. You can also digitally sign the Battle for the Net letter that will be sent to Congress, the FCC and the White House on behalf of Internet users joining in the battle. You can learn more about the Battle for the Net and sign the letter at battleforthenet.com. This website also a lot of ideas for how you can spread the word on your own website and social media channels including images, banners, gifs and more. Take advantage of this opportunity to let everyone know that we won’t accept Internet slow down.     The post Battle for the Net: The Fight for Net Neutrality appeared first on Official Bluehost Blog.

5 Tips for Running Successful Social Media Campaigns

Social Media Examiner -

Do you use social media campaigns to engage with your customers? Do you need tips on how to create more effective campaigns? Whether you want to build better campaigns or are ready to try your first one, there are certain pitfalls you should avoid. In this article I’ll share five tips for building and running [...]This post 5 Tips for Running Successful Social Media Campaigns first appeared on Social Media Examiner. Social Media Examiner - Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

How to Import your Blogger Data into WordPress

BigRock Blog -

We are pretty sure that there are many out there who have started their blogging venture with the very popular CMS – Blogger (BlogSpot). As years passed, WordPress took that throne away from Blogger and is enjoying the title of ‘the most popular Content Management System’ today. If you’re still using Blogger, you might be tempted to move too but the question is “How will I transfer all my data from Blogger to WordPress?”. Well the answer’s pretty simple; in fact we’re going to show you how you can transfer your data from Blogger to WordPress without breaking a sweat. Importing Blogger Data into WordPress 1] First up, you need to get hosting in order to set up your WordPress website. 2] Once your website is ready, login into your Admin dashboard of your WordPress website. 3] Hover the mouse over Tools on the left hand menu and click on Import. 4] From the list of options select Blogger. 5] You will need to install the Blogger Importer plugin as suggested by WordPress. 6] Once the plugin is installed and activated, you will then need to Authorize the plugin to pull data from your blogger account. 7] You will then be directed to a page where you need to Allow Access to WordPress to connect with your blogger (Google) account. 8] Once this is done, it will list all the available blogs in your blogger account within your WordPress dashboard. When you’re ready to import the data simply click on the Import button.   Congratulations, you have successfully transferred all your data from your Blogger blog to your new WordPress website. Feel free to drop a comment below if you ever stumble upon any difficulties while completing this process.

Part 6: How to Get All This Done!

Pickaweb Blog -

  Ok, so welcome back to the final part of your training & you are going to discover how easy & straightforward it is to implement your plan. But before we get started, let’s first look at the opportunity for you when you implement all of this. The Opportunity So, if you follow through with […] The post Part 6: How to Get All This Done! appeared first on Web Hosting Blog | Pickaweb.co.uk.

Spotlight On: Back to School

Everything Typepad -

Each month, we scout for great blogs in the Typepad Showcase that fit a particular theme and are guaranteed to inspire. This month we've hand-picked five great Typepad blog post that offer up thinky thoughts and fun, DIY back to school projects. These bloggers are guaranteed to captivate, inspire, and get your creative juices flowing. Click through the photos below to visit each blog, and see why we think they're fantastic. Let's get started! One Shabby Chick Crate Paper Blog Buzzmills Prima {Capture the Moment} We hope you enjoyed our roundup of fantastic Typepad blogs! Check out more great craft blogs right here. We'd love to see your blog in the Typepad Showcase, so go ahead and submit it today - you might just see yourself in the spotlight!

Rackspace::Solve New York: How CloudMine Solves For High Mobile Performance In Regulated Environments

The Rackspace Blog & Newsroom -

Mobility adds an interesting new wrinkle to the management of sensitive data, especially in highly regulated industries like healthcare. Mobility makes data portable and enables that data to travel anywhere at any time, which means ensuring the security of data accessed from mobile devices is paramount to all mobile initiatives. At CloudMine, we provide an enterprise-grade mobile gateway that ensures the app you build will keep sensitive data behind the firewall when it needs to be kept there, and is available for consumption from mobile devices in a secure and mobile-optimized manner. Our software sits between large enterprise systems like Oracle DB and SAP and bridges that data securely to mobile devices over the public Internet. That’s increasingly important in the mobile health arena, where wireless devices are used to manage health conditions, collect health data, monitor vital signs, provide clinical decision support and access personal health information. Mobile health data is all around us. It’s on consumer medical devices, FDA approved medial devices, apps on our smartphones and in electronic health records. Think about it: FitBit, Healthbook, MyChart, VitalScore, iHealth BP and VSee all touch mobile health information. With all these mobile initiatives comes the challenge of data security and compliance, including regulations like HIPAA and HITECH. The CloudMine platform enables our customers in healthcare and related fields to easily develop apps that comply with strict regulations regarding personally identifiable information (PII) and electronic protected health information (ePHI). Our customers can use our suite of web services, mobile and web SDKs, and dataset integration technology to quickly and cost-efficiently build, deploy, maintain and secure applications. We rely on the Rackspace Managed Cloud to help us design the optimal architecture for our software – it’s like having our own at scale DevOps and engineering team to do the hard work for us. The cloud alone isn’t secure enough for what we do, so we rely on a hybrid cloud deployment – a mix of bare metal dedicated servers and the cloud. Together with Rackspace, we solve the challenges of mobility and secure data exchange for our customers. Want to hear more about how CloudMine solves for high mobile performance in regulated environments? Marc Weil, CTO of CloudMine will present at Rackspace::Solve New York, a one-day summit where you’ll hear directly from companies like CloudMine about how they’re solving tough challenges in their businesses. Rackspace::Solve New York is Thursday, September 18 at Cipriani Wall Street. Register now for Rackspace::Solve New York. And stay tuned for details of the next Rackspace::Solve event in Chicago.

Ants Are Amazing

Matt Mullenweg Blog (Founder of WordPress) -

[A]ll of California’s Argentine ants belong to only four colonies. The largest, euphemistically named the Very Large Colony, contains hundreds of billions, if not trillions, of ants, and extends from the Mexican border to San Francisco. In the largest battles ever recorded, millions of ants die each month along this colony’s border with its rivals in San Diego County. That’s from this article by Mark W Moffett that describes his book Adventures Among Ants. In 2010 Wired took a cool look at Looting, Cannibalism and Death Blows: The ‘Shock and Awe’ of Ant Warfare. Finally as a 2013 update, there’s a new boss in town, the Asian needle ant which is literally eating Argentine ants for lunch: All ants essentially hibernate when wintertime hits, but the Asian needle ants “wake up before other ant species wake up,” Spicer-Rice explained. This head start allows them to build nests, find sources of food, and start reproducing before the other ants get going. Amazing ant photo by János Csongor Kerekes and CC-licensed.

Join Us in the Fight For Net Neutrality

WordPress.com News -

“Net Neutrality” is the simple but powerful principle that cable and broadband providers must treat all internet traffic equally. Whether you’re loading a blog post on WordPress.com, streaming House of Cards on Netflix, or browsing handcrafted tea cozies on Etsy, your internet provider can’t degrade your connection speed, block sites, or charge a toll based on the content that you’re viewing. Net neutrality has defined the internet since its inception, and it’s hard to argue with the results: the internet is the most powerful engine of economic growth and free expression in history. Most importantly, the open internet is characterized by companies, products, and ideas that survive or fail depending on their own merit — not on whether they have preferred deals in place with a broadband service provider. Unfortunately, the principle of net neutrality, and the open internet that we know and love, is under attack. Net Neutrality under attack The Federal Communications Commission has proposed rules that would, for the first time, expressly allow internet providers — like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T — to charge internet companies like Automattic, Netflix or Etsy for access to their subscribers. This means there could be “fast lanes” for companies who are able to pay providers for preferred internet access, while everyone else gets stuck in the “slow lane”…which means applications won’t perform as quickly, webpages will load slowly, and of course, buffering. A slow “still loading” spinner will be an unfortunate, but common sight on the new, closed internet that the big providers want. Unsurprisingly, the large telecom companies who stand to benefit from the FCC’s proposed rules fully support their passage. They have nearly unlimited funds and hundreds of lobbyists in Washington to promote these harmful new rules. But what they don’t have is you. What can we do to fight back? Automattic strongly supports a free and open internet. After all, WordPress.com, and the WordPress open source project are living examples of what is possible on an unthrottled internet, open for creation, collaboration, and expression. Over the last few months, we’ve joined 150 major tech companies in sending a letter to Washington in support of net neutrality, and met with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to urge him to preserve the internet we’ve always known. Now it’s your turn. Automattic, along with many other companies and digital rights organizations, is proud to participate in the Internet Slowdown on September 10. For this day of action, we’ve built a “Fight for Net Neutrality” plugin that you can enable now on your WordPress.com blog to show support for this important cause. You can turn the plugin on by going to your Dashboard, Settings → Fight for Net Neutrality. When you enable the plugin, we’ll replace a few of the posts on your site with a “Still Loading” spinner…to show what life will be like on an internet that features dreaded slow lanes. The plugin will also display a banner that shows your support for Net Neutrality, and links to battleforthenet.com, where visitors to your site can sign a letter to the FCC about this important issue. Please take a few minutes to enable the Fight for Net Neutrality on your site today, and visit battleforthenet.com to send a message to Washington that net neutrality must be preserved. Together we can make a difference, and we hope you’ll join us in this important battle for the open internet!Filed under: Community, WordPress.com

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