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The Online World of Photography

art, photo

How to turn a hobby into a business venture?

Photography is not a small time business. In fact, it is fast becoming a lucrative business these days as there will always be people who wants to buy photos online. All you have to do is to take clear and interesting photos. And then, upload either on your site or upload in other websites.

First, ask the question, what photos do people buy? The large number of people who buys photos are those who has either their own websites or they are bloggers. The in-demand photos are:

  • Work situation like office
  • Cities
  • Close-up photos
  • People
  • Travel
  • Things like books, computers, tools, bag, dress, jewelries
  • Animals
  • Nature

It is a good idea to check which image is in-demand in different websites.

Let’s face it, to come up with good photos, you’ve got to use a good camera. A DSLR camera is a good choice. You will also need a tripod to make sure that the camera is steady. You can also check on photography kits in dependable websites. Lastly, do not skip on storing your photos online. If you are a member of Amazon Prime, you can use their free online storage. There is also Carbonite who can do that for you.

To make a larger surface for your photo, use backdrops. There are good vinyl backdrops that can do an amazing job. A reversible type is also available in the market. You can try using a light tent to soften the glare of the sun. You can likewise use your table top for small items.

When your photos get sold, you start earning money. Another way is not to sell your photos. Instead, give a license to buyers who would like to use your photos. This means that you have the copyright of your photos and letting the same photos be sold in as many times possible to different customers. The amount earned may not be as big, but if your photos are sold many times, it could be a handsome amount. This is the reason why stock photography can be lucrative.

You can opt selling your photos as prints too. Just upload your photos to different printing websites where buyers can order your printed photos. You can also choose to sign up at different websites like society6.com, Redbubble.com, Etsy.com, and more. The website then collects for you. It is not much, but it is a good start. The advantage here is that, you do not have to do the printing, the shipping, and the asking of your payment.

It is better if you create your own website and sell your photos. This means time and money spent, but the result is good.  If you want a quick budgeted way, buy a portfolio website that contains ready-to-use templates. The internet is a very good platform. It can open doors of opportunity. With the many websites available and blogs adding to the number, images will always be in-demand. There will always be a room for every photographer. Time to turn your hobby into a business!

Online Business Etiquette

business agreementDo your online “handshake” by answering your email well and carefully speaking on social media. Your manner can affect people’s perception of you. Learning the technical side of your business is not enough, but knowing how to deal with people can create a long term relationships with your clients.

To help you more on your online etiquette here are some rules to follow:

  • Be neutral. It is wise to be unbiased when communicating with another person. Do not be sarcastic, aggressive, make innuendos, and most of all, never try to be funny. These tactics could lead to escalation or even misinterpretation.
  • Pay attention to your grammar and punctuation when texting, posting, emailing, or blogging. Write complete sentences and use words that are real and credible. Do not use emoticons. That is good for social media but not in business virtual communication.
  • Do not use social media as a space to write an essay. Post brief messages. Do not use emoticons, shorthand, or other web-friendly irritants that will make you less professional. Also make sure you are familiar with the operational rules before using these tools. Practice self-control at all times. Incorporate important details in your business profile which includes contact information and company news.
  • In all your online dealings, consider the receiver. Know that another person is on the other side. Be civil; show your character but make sure that you are honest.
  • Think about your identifiers for yourself. Choose a professional user name. Never try to be cutesy. It is better if you use your business name as your user name. It is wise to have an email address that has your own domain name.
  • When a conversation needs clarification, it is time to use the phone. Too much text messages may create confusion. Should you need to email, be respectful by making it simple and easy to read. You can use the important information first and then use short paragraphs. The use of bullets can likewise make it look short but organize.
  • When you need to video call your client, do not allow yourself to be distracted. Turn off everything like your phone or your email. Pay attention to your client and look at the face not just the screen. Be interested in what your client is saying or what the client is asking. Be present at all times.
  • Email messages should not be lengthy. Be concise. Again, check your grammar and punctuation carefully. Your salutation should be polite using proper titles such as Mr. or General unless, of course, you are now in the first-name basis. Stay professional and never send chain letters, forwards, and jokes. If you need to send a large file, ask permission and cross-check the software compatibility.
  • Never use negative marketing to showcase your competitor’s shortcomings. Consumers know that you are using the tactics to bash your competitor. Besides, consumers can research online and know if it is true or not. Focus on how your product can meet the needs of the consumers.

Four Best Mobile Apps for Business

Smartphones with notifications

Mobile apps that will help you work.

Who said you can only work on a desktop computer? Work is now doable on mobile. You can collaborate with your colleagues while you are on the go. As long as you are connected to the internet, these applications will help you work using your very own mobile device. This list varies from security, communication, and social networking applications.

Flowdock

Available on GooglePlay and AppStore

Price: FREE!

Flow dock is a great team chat app. You can stay connected with all your colleagues at work. The wonderful thing about it is that you can create several chat groups. There is no need for the whole team to crowd in one single channel. You can divide the chats by department (or it is really depends on you.) The people under the marketing team will not be notified about updates on the HR department and you can tag the people involved in that specific task. It is near impossible to miss an urgent chat when you focus on your designated channel. You can also integrate Twitter to it. This is an excellent choice if your business is active on Twitter. You will get notified when your scheduled tweets go live. Flowdock is perfect if your focus is social media. Best feature of all? It is free!

Hootsuite

Available on GooglePlay and AppStore

Price: FREE!

There are so many social media platforms nowadays. When you are away from your desktop computer, it is hard to keep up on the latest news. You need to download various applications on your mobile phone and you have to constantly switch from one app to another. Thank God for Hootsuite because you can now integrate your social media accounts – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn – in one place. You can stay updated and post status updates in all your accounts simultaneously. The remarkable feature of HootSuite is that you can schedule posts for Twitter and Instagram. If you want to get more of your content out there, Hootsuite is a fantastic business social networking tool.

Hotspot Shield

Available on GooglePlay and AppStore

Price: FREE with in-app purchases.

When you are always on the go and working at different public WiFi spots, security is a main concern. Hotspot Shield will take care of the WiFi security for you. You can disguise your online identity with this encryption app. You do not need to worry for hackers snooping into your business. This is a free app, but there are other features available when you choose to purchase it. Aside from keeping your mobile activities safe, hidden, and anonymous, Hotspot Shield also allows you to access blocked sites like YouTube or Netflix since it utilizes most of the bandwidth allocation.

Blue Jeans

Available on GooglePlay and AppStore

Price: You can try it for FREE.

With Blue Jeans, you do not have to worry about video conferencing. This is a universal app allows you to conduct video calls with your colleagues even if  they are using a different system like Cisco, Microsoft Lync, Skype, etc. You can host a call or join an existing conference from practically anywhere. With the free service, one conference call can have 25 participants and you can have up to 100 people if it is premium service.

Five Ways to Make your Website more Functional

computer, searching, buying

online shopping

Websites have been a great tool for sales and marketing. Now, people prefer to shop online than go to an actual retail store. They search for directions and contact numbers online before they actually decide to drive for miles just for one product that they have been anticipating for a long time. If you are business owner, this list will give you an idea on how to make your website beneficial and useful to your target audience.

 

  1. Have clear Call-to-Action buttons.
    What are these CTA buttons? These are the “Shop Now”, “Buy Now” buttons customers can click to access your available products online or they can be “Contact Us Now!” sign wherein you added your business’ phone number or email address. Give those important details and make sure they are within reach. Do not make customers click several pages just to get answers.
    Having an FAQ page also helps. You can list all the frequently asked questions in one area and give it a concise answer. Adding fluff and flowery words will not help. These are your action items. You want these items to help your customers and hopefully, they will end up buying something from your store.

 

  1. Do Not Require to Sign Up.
    Websites these days have an option to “Shop as Guest”. Registering before you can buy online is not necessary. If you require customers to sign up, you just made a stumbling block for potential sales. Impulsive buyers will change their minds if the buying process is tedious. Let your customers shop with ease and with less textboxes to fill.

 

  1. Provide Guides.
    You have now a “Buy Now” and customers can shop as guest. The next tip is to educate your customers. Provide tutorials on how to shop smoothly. Help them on how to achieve the product’s fullest potential. For example, if you are selling beauty products, you can include make up tutorials perhaps. You can also provide style guides if you are selling dresses. Give out visual guides on outfits for various seasons. Whatever your business might be, set a page for customers to learn.

 

  1. Simplify your Site Design.
    I have always said this in my previous posts, too. You do not have to choose a colorful design. Embrace the white space so customers can see your products clearly. Allow them to click on images for better viewing experience. Keep the design simple. However, you can make your CTA buttons vibrant. You make these buttons stand out. Make customers want to click that “Shop Now” button. Do not focus on the design; focus on the buttons.

 

  1. Make sure your links work and make sure customers know that these are links.
    Check all your buttons. It would be a shame if someone decides to buy and then, your “Shop Now” button did not work. Verify that these important links get redirected to the correct path. You would not want to see an HTTP 404 or the page not found notification.
    If the customers are searching for a particular item, make sure that these links are visible and that they know it is a link. These links will help them get to a product that they want. If you want to find out if your website has 404 errors, check this out. (I hope I made that link identifiable or else, I failed at following my tip. In case you missed it, this website will help you catch 404s!)

Starting a small business online? Make these investments!

online business

planning an online business

If you are turning a business into something that is accessible to anyone around the world, there are certain things you need to deal with. Time to say goodbye to brick and mortar, and say hello to the world of online stores. What are things needed? The checklist includes: a website design, domain name, good host, and creative photos.

Let us start with the website design. The theme of your website should be simple yet professional looking. Like a house, you need to choose the color palette that suits your needs. The key here is not to get the colorful one, but to get the light and fast design. It has to be responsive in all platforms, whether it will be browsed on a desktop computer or a mobile phone. It is important to consider your mobile viewers. People are always on the go. Here at Phoenix Website Design, we cater to both large and small business. If you are working on a budget, we have various design packages that will be perfect for you.

Next is you have to have a domain name. The name should be, of course, relevant to the content of your website. It also has to be unique. Add your own flavor so your website will stand out from similar online stores. It is going to be your identity so you need to make sure people will recall it. Keep the name simple and short as possible. Remember, no one likes a very long and complicated address. People might not find your website.

A good host means reliable host. If the domain name is your address, the host is your house. If your house constantly has outages, a sparkling address is useless. Ask yourself these questions. Will my website be guaranteed to be running 24/7? If the host cannot provide you good uptime scores, consider other options. Cheap rates are not always tantamount to good hosting. Your business is online now. Your customers are from different parts of the world. You have to be always open for business. Will my website handle numerous orders simultaneously? Make sure your website never goes down despite heavy traffic. For now, you are still starting. Check if hosting is flexible for future plans of expansion. Will my website load quickly? The customers’ time is limited so speed is ultimately important. Go for a host that loads content fast wherever the customer might be.

Lastly, unleash your creativity! Go get your point-and-shoot camera. Upload images with your posts and social media updates. Learn to use photo editing softwares. An expensive program and a DSLR camera are not necessary. You just need a basic photo editor that allows you to add text, resize, and trim your photos. (I have discussed the importance of compressing images here.) If you feel like you do not have the photography skills, do not fret. You can always find stock photos online. You can purchase artistic images for your website. In case you are wondering where to get FREE photos, I have compiled a list here.