Snappy, The HostGator Mascot

Gator Crossing

The Official HostGator Company Blog!

Dragonfly
AirPlane

Boost Sales With Effective Product Photography

Written by Jeremy Jensen

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

Product Photography

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.

shoe ad
 

Background, Lighting and Environment

angels

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

Email: Unlimited vs. Infinite

Written by Ryan Evans

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

full mail inbox

Email is one of those little things that you can easily forget about. You read it, maybe even type out a response and click send… but then you go on about your day, likely paying no mind at all to the fact that the little email actually does take up physical space on a hard drive within a server. This can lead to some major issues in the long run, however. Like personal fitness, it is something that you need to keep tabs on and do daily. Left unchecked, an inbox full of old email and spam can ultimately lead to detrimental issues.

 

What Unlimited Really Means

It’s easy to think that unlimited does actually mean infinite, but the reality is that physical limitations do exist; there will always be a finite amount of space, be it in your office or on a server. Every single file takes up space, even if just a miniscule amount, but those teeny-tiny amounts do add up when left unchecked!

This is most definitely applicable with email. If you don’t go through and remove old emails and spam from time to time it can really add up, just like cholesterol in your veins. Overtime, the blockage can grow to become a serious issue.

Despite its name, an inode isn’t some new flashy Apple product, it’s a data structure used to keep information about a file on your hosting account. Things on your hosting account like emails, files, folders, or literally anything else stored on your server consumes a relative amount of inodes. There is a set limit of how many inodes you can utilize at any given time, which is the literal physical limitation that people may start to bump up against. A HostGator shared server imposes a limit of 250,000 inodes, and while that sounds like a lot it can easily be consumed by an unkempt inbox.

 

Easy Solutions

Although it’s easy to lose track of the situation and let it get out of hand, it’s actually quite as easy to nip it in the bud. Put aside some time every day to go through your inbox and trim the fat, deleting old emails or even just attachments that are no longer relevant. Every little bit helps. Don’t forget to empty your trash and spam folders too!

Another solution might be to use an offsite mail fetch service such as Google. This will help reduce the use of Disk space and inodes, leaving you more leg room to work with.

This hygienic practice should also extend to any 3rd party email services as well like Gmail and Yahoo. Remember, it’s important to keep your inbox clutter free, not only for the health of your server but for the health of your business too!

 

Image source:http://www.beautyprpro.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/full-mailbox.jpg

Looking Into The Past To Predict The Future: The History Of The Internet

Written by Jeremy Jensen

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Looking Into The Past, To Predict The Future

In a digital era where connectivity and technology are terms as ubiquitous as food and water, it’s easy to take the Internet for granted and not pay it any more mind beyond your latest tweet. In fact, relatively few people really understand what the Internet is, no less the origins of the world wide web or how it has grown over time to reach its current capabilities.

Although this information might strike you as irrelevant, it might be wise to take minute and learn the basics just as you should understand the fundamentals of a car, considering that the Internet will undoubtedly be the tool that defines the 21st century.

 

Birth of “The Net”

Conceptualization – The Internet was conceived in 1962 by J.C.R. Licklider of MIT as a “Galactic Network” that would connect a group of computers so they may access data and programs regardless of where a single computer was located.

Experimentation – After MIT researchers Leonard Kleinrock and Lawrence G. Roberts expanded upon Licklider’s idea and theorized the feasibility of such an invention, they managed to successfully link two computers from Massachusetts to California via a low speed dial-up telephone line in 1965.

Development – By 1968 the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, guided the technology and its development under the project name ARPANET and honed the boarder aspects of the project, such as its structural and technical parameters, architectural designs, and key components like the Interface Message Processors (IMP).

Inception – After the very first host computer was connected to the first node at UCLA in 1969, the Stanford Research Institute connected and host-to-host messaging was born. Following this with the addition of two nodes that dealt with application visualization projects, four host computers were connected to ARPANET.

Sophistication – As more and more computers were added to the network, function and utilization was the focus for improvements. Software was subsequently devised and the Network Control Protocol (NCP) was implemented, thus leading to the need for more applications. In 1972, the budding network saw its culmination in the construction of the ultimate coordination tool– electronic mail.

Integration – Soon the ultimate goal of ARPANET turned to incorporating other separate networks through the foundational idea of Internetworking Architecture where they may be independently designed for a unique interface. This would be referred to as “internetting” and throughout the late ‘70s and early 80’s there would be extensive development of LANS, PC’s and workstations that would not just lead to more networks, but to more modifications of the initial model.

Evolution – As the Internet grew, so did the progressive management issues; in particular were the router insufficiencies, the transition to the Transmission Control Protocol/ Internet Protocol, and problems regarding a single table for every host after they all were assigned names for easier public use. This latter was accommodated by the creation of the Domain Name System (DNS) that would mitigate the task by properly distributing hierarchical host names into Internet addresses.

Mainstream – By the mid 90’s, the Internet was a respected and well-supported technology that was embraced not only by those in the research communities, but the mainstream masses for personal communicative uses too.

 

What Brought About the World Wide Web

Documentation – One of the key factors in the successful building of the Internet into what it is now was the free promotion and sharing of research and data. The new, dynamic, and real-time exchange of knowledge was critical to the concept of an online, interconnected community.

Community – Though the Internet was established by those in academia, it was the efficient transmittance of ideas that allowed the common man to become engaged and help build it with his public presence. By creating a widespread community, they also created a widespread dialogue and their peer-to-peer relationships helped drive the technology forward.

Commercialization – As vendors began to supply the network products, and the service providers the internet connections, we have seen a shift in the popular demand that now treats the technology much like a physical commodity due to the systemic use of browsers and search engines and the World Wide Web for commercial purposes.

 

Tool of The 21st Century

What once began as a data communications network and evolved into a global information infrastructure is now a technology that manifests itself in every person’s life. It dictates how we communicate as a society, how we learn, and how we will continue to evolve. You should take credence in the fact that knowing this brief history will help you understand the trajectory we are all on as a globalized, interconnected people.

Raising The Bar: Fundraising And The Future

Written by Cy Khormaee

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Editors Note – Cy is a friend of HostGator, currently pursuing entrepreneurial dreams in Silicon Valley. We have asked him to share his adventures. If you missed it see Part 1 The Spark: A Startup Is Born and Part 2 Perilous Pivots: When a Dream Meets Reality.

 

Traction is great, but it doesn’t keep a company alive. After five months of growth Contastic was picking up steam. We had hundreds of users on board and real revenue starting to trickle in. However, it was not enough to sustain our costs as a business. We had only three months of cash in our personal bank accounts left to survive. With that dwindling lifeline in mind I jumped into the process of fundraising.

It started with a bang; I made a long list of all the investors I knew from our time at Lightspeed. Everyone took a meeting – leading to at least a hundred coffees and calls. With each meeting we heard a new opinion that led us to create countless iterations of our pitch deck – presenting our company in a new light each time. Little did I know this would all be for naught.

 
Send_In_Seconds

 

I’d fallen into the classic trap of sales – failing to qualify. We were taking advice from many investors who chose not invest – no matter how we pitched ourselves. By taking their advice we scattered the messaging and wandered away from what really mattered – Contastic.

After setting into a feeling of hopelessness from all of the conflicted advice, I just gave up and pitched the next investor we met like a customer. The product we spent months refining had come to a sharp focus that could be conveyed in about a minute:

 

Simply put – Contastic tells sales teams who to contact, when to reach out, and what to say to close a deal. This saves time and increases prospect conversion rates. Focusing on this pithy value proposition led to instant and binary results.

Investors began to either instantly love our product (we closed one spectacular investment with a 30 minute phone call), or they would simply opt out. This eliminated the slow no – investors who would waste my time with endless questions and requests for information, but never invest. Investing in the early stage is purely emotional. Either it’s love at first sight, otherwise no amount of rationalization will get you there.

Armed with this knowledge, we ended up closing our lead investor on week two – with the rest of our round closing with a snap in the two weeks following the lead. We ended up raising almost double what we had originally intended. At the outset of the process our very survival was uncertain, but by its end we have the support of the very best in the world:

investors

 

Although raising money concludes our series here, it’s only the beginning for Contastic as a company. This round of funding arms us with the means to compete in the big leagues. It’s up to us to sprint to build a real business. Closing our round is not the end – it is the beginning – the punctuation of a starting pistol. Now, it’s time for us to run.

contastic

 

About Cy

I’m an engineer who loves to sell. My career started out in big data engineering for Microsoft evolved into a sales role that landed me as the founder of Contastic (getContastic.com). I bring the hard data-driven approach of an engineer to the softer science of sales. It’s always a pleasure for me to meet new people and help them evolve their sales practices. I blog at blog.cykho.com and tweet @cykho.

qwaszxerdfcv3.14 | 1776zxasqw!!