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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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Custom Pin It Buttons

Custom Pin It Buttons | www.trinidadpena.com

Last week, I showed you how to install a “pin it” button plug-in on your wordpress website. This week, I’m giving away free pin it buttons, that you can customize!

{In my best Oprah Voice} Custom pin it buttons for everyone! Look under your chair! You get a custom pin it button! And you get a custom pin it button! And you get a custom pin it button!

Let’s Customize them!

You can download them here, and just use them as-is. But these buttons are customizable using Photoshop. I lost ya, didn’t I? But I don’t know how to use Photoshop AND it’s expensive. If you have a blog or a website that you are using images on regularly, photoshop is for you. It’s going to take the look of your site to the next level. You can get photoshop elements for about $70 on amazon*. It’s pretty much photoshop lite. It’s cheaper and will fulfill most people’s needs unless you are a photographer, or want use it for video editing. You can also download the trial version for free to use for this tutorial.

If you are baller, alternatively you can get the full $600 version* or download the full trial.

But, I don’t know how to use Photoshop!

You my friend are suffering from Photoshop-phobia. But I got you. You don’t have to fear the Photoshop. I’m going to take you step by step and show you how to change the font and colors of these buttons. I’ll also be making more Photoshop tutorials so you’ll be a wiz in no time. Let’s get started.

Changing Fonts

Changing Fonts in Photoshop | www.trinidadpena.com

Pretty painless, right? Next, we are going to change the colors of our custom pin it buttons.

Changing Colors

Changing colors in Photoshop | www.trinidadpena.com

Did this help calm your Photoshop-Phobia? Are you going to try to customize your buttons? Do you have a specific Photoshop problem that you’d like me to tackle? Let me know in the comments.

Terms of use: The images or documents you download in this post are free for personal and commercial use. You can use them on both personal or business sites. Just don’t sell them or post them on your blog for download as your own. That’s a pretty crummy thing to do. Also try not use them for anything salacious. See mom, I put that in there just for you.

Where appropriate please, link back to this post.

*These are my amazon affiliate links. Unless you want to spring for the adobe cloud subscription service, amazon usually sells the software for a bit cheaper than the adobe website.

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