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How to take good photos for your website

Word on the street is that you want to know how I shoot photos for the The Budget Socialite. And by the street, I mean facebook — because who just hangs out in the street, listening? Not this gal. Moving on, let’s learn how to take good photos for our websites! Weeee…..

Full Disclosure: I am in no way a professional photographer, this is just what I do and what I’ve learned about how to take good photos. I mostly shoot food so this is geared towards food photography, but I have also shot a few products the same way. Feel free to leave more tips and tricks in the comments or tell me I have it all wrong. It happens.

How to take good photos for your website | www.trinidadpena.com

Step 1: Get Suited up

Here’s the equipment that I use. I know plenty of people that set up their iPhones on a tripod and get great results. There are no rules to this game.

Equipment:

  • Camera – Canon EOS Rebel T3
  • Lens – 18-55mm IS II (This came with the camera)
  • Lens – Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 (Only $100) – I use this 85% of the time
  • Tripod – Manfrotto 190XPROB w/ the Manfrotto 496RC2 Ball Head
  • MacBook Pro – I connect my camera to my laptop while I shoot.
  • A few painted wooden boards as shooting surfaces. I loosely followed this tutorial. I have boards in white, teal, a natural stain, a medium stain and a dark stain.
  • A Reflector – I use a piece of white foam core that I picked up at Michael’s
  • Fabric – I hit up the fabric store and bought a bunch of pieces on clearance.
  • Props – Since I mostly shoot food, I have plates, serving dishes, place mats etc… that I got from thrift stores and random places on my travels.

(Read More After the Jump →)

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4 Ways to Get People to Stay on Your Site Longer

How to lower your bounce rate | www.trinidadpena.com

Do you want people to stay on your site longer? Of course! We are talking about lower bounce rates.  In tech terms, your bounce rate is the % of visitors that leave only after a few seconds. You can find your bounce rate by installing something like google analytics on your website.

Your website is your digital home and in this house, we like visitors. We want people to get take off their shoes, get comfy and stay a while. We are NOT subscribing to the Martin Payne, “Get to steppin!” hosting method, funny as it may be.

So what should we do? Simplify! Anyone who has watched a promo for “Hoarders” knows that when clutter gets out of hand, it’s pretty freaking scary.

People over-stuff their websites, too. Why? They are afraid of missing out on an opportunity. So, they put everything they can possibly offer + the kitchen sink + a partridge and pear tree on their site. I get it. I don’t want to miss out either but when you jam-pack your website it leaves people overwhelmed and heading for the hills. But never fear, you can fix this…

1. Find your site’s purpose

Your website should have one main goal. Something like getting people to opt-in to your mailing list or getting them to read your blog posts.  Think about a site like google, they want you to search. No question. No confusion about where to look or what to do.

“A confused mind always says no.”  Marie Forelo  – Tweet It out, Yo!

When they land on your homepage, people want to know:

  • What you do
  • How it can help them
  • What to do next

If isn’t clear, then they will jump ship since the internet offers so many choices. Hook’em by giving them what they want.

Action Step: Figure out your goal and get rid of anything that doesn’t help that goal. Be ruthless. Don’t worry about missing out. If the majority of people leave your site because it’s overwhelming, you will miss out on way more than you did by removing that item. Make sure the things people want to know are front and center.

2.  Get above fold

What’s the fold? It’s the area people see on your website before they need to start scrolling. All the smarty pants say if you want to increase the effectiveness of your website, get your most important content (those goals, again) above the fold.  It’s where the magic happens. Boom chica boom boom!

Simple and the call to action is above the fold. Mailchimp knows what's up.

Mail Chimp knows their purpose – To get you to sign up!  The call-to-action is simple, easy to understand and above the fold. The colors are limited and the button stands out.

Action Step: Don’t bury important things in your footer. Get that content above the fold. Shorten the header height or rearrange some things on your site if you have to.

3.  Don’t go color crazy

It’s easy to get carried away with color, which can once again lead to overwhelm. What you want to do is stick to a color palette. It helps with branding and it’s easy on the eyes. Choose 2 main colors and then some subtle or neutral colors.  Use your bolder colors when you want your audience to do something like click a link or press a button and keep the rest simple.  Derek Halpern has a great video on using colors help conversion rates. Color can help people move throughout your site. Use it wisely.

Action step: Pare down your color palette to 2 main colors and 2 subtle/neutral colors. Need help picking colors? They should go with your brand personality, see how to brand yourself for a worksheet on how to find yours.

4.  Beware of the paradox of choice

It’s strange but true, the more choices you have; the harder it is to make decisions.  Barry Schwartz gives you the low down in his Ted Talk, The paradox of choice (Note: This is a long video. You might want to grab some popcorn). Too many choices can led to stress and indecision. What it means for your site is that people will just leave.  Instead of giving people so many choices to make up-front, give them a few options that lead to another set of choices. Make it easy for them to move through-out your site without too much soul-searching.

Chunking infomation is great way to lower bounce rates

Banana Republic chunks their information down, with simple buttons with images, instead of overloading you a lot of text. After you click on “new arrivals” you get many more options.

Action step: Give people limited options, especially above the fold. Consolidate pages, if possible. Can your testimonials go under your “about page”?  Find ways to chunk your information down, into smaller pieces that lead to more information. Creating a resource page or a “New to this site, start here” page is a good way to keep your audience from being overloaded.

(Psst, want to see more website tutorials?)

So, what do you think? Have  any other tips to lower bounce rates? Let me know in the comments.

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Blogging 101: How to Start a Blog

How to start a blog

So you want to start a blog? Good idea! It’s hard to know where to begin. If only someone would just put together a guide on how to start a blog, it would be so much easier, right? Ask and you shall receive. Here’s what you need to get started:

Choosing a Blogging Platform

I recommend using wordpress to self-host your blog. WordPress is awesome. You can set-up your whole site on it: blog, portfolio, e-store, message forum… Anything you can imagine, really. Plus it’s free! Who doesn’t love that?

Other options include: Blogger, Typepad and Tumblr.

Getting Set It Up

First things, first… Your baby needs a domain name. You can go with just your name or something more topical. Marie Forleo has a great video on picking a name for your business, check it out if you looking for some advice. After you choose a name, see if it’s available, and buy that sucka!

Secondly, you need to find hosting for your blog. I use tcbands. The customer service is excellent and they work with you if you exceed your limits.

Other great options are bluehost and inmotion.

**UPDATE: Go-Daddy used to be on this list but a lot of my readers mentioned disliking them because of poor customer service and distasteful ads. The people have spoken, they are no longer on the list.**

Make it Pretty

Since I’m a designer, I custom design all my blogs.  If you are just starting out, this may not be a fiscally feasible option. I recommend going with a simple theme like those here and changing the colors and fonts to go with your brand personality. Keeping it simple will make it easier when you are ready to upgrade to a custom design down the line.

(Read More After the Jump →)

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