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Grammarly: A Overview and Review

Grammarly: A Overview and Review

Writing with proper grammar is essential in business. Bad grammar can not only change the meaning of a sentence and cause miscommunication, but it can also reduce credibility. Many text editors and browsers have tools to help, but there are a lot of things they don’t look for. It’s easy to make mistakes that word processors don’t catch. One of the best tools to check your grammar is Grammarly.

Grammarly is an app for writers that suggests edits in real-time for spelling, grammar, and writing style. It can even suggest edits based on types of writing, such as academic, business, technical, and creative writing. Grammarly is available for free in a limited edition or as a premium edition. I’m reviewing the free edition.

Four ways to Use Grammarly

There are four ways to use Grammarly:

  • Chrome Extension
  • Online Dashboard
  • Microsoft Office Extension
  • Windows App

Let’s look at each method.

Installing the Grammarly Chrome Extension

Google Chrome can also check your spelling and make suggestions. This same tool works with any text editor that appears in the browser such as Facebook and MailChimp. It’s still very basic. Grammarly replaces that with its own tools (unless you disable Grammarly for a particular website).

To add the Chrome extension, in the upper right corner click the three vertical dots to open Chrome’s settings. Hover over More Tools and select Extensions.

Click the Hamburger menu in the upper left corner. At the bottom of that menu click Open Chrome Web Store.

Search for Grammarly. Click the blue button labeled Add to Chrome.

Clicking the image or title opens a modal that provides an overview with a video, reviews, and related extensions.

Clicking Add Extension opens one final modal asking for permission. Click Add Extension.

It will take a few seconds and then open a tab with a message and links for downloads. Here you can download it for Windows, Microsoft Office, and check an online document.

You’ll see the Grammarly logo in the upper right corner of your Chrome browser. Clicking the logo opens settings where you can disable the extension for the current website, show definitions and synonyms by double-clicking, choose your dialect of English, see the premium edition, create a new document, and go to your Grammarly dashboard.

Clicking My Grammarly opens a tab with a dashboard where you can upload documents and upgrade to the premium edition.

Personalizing Grammarly

When you click on Grammarly the first time it lets you set up your personalized options. The algorithms will adapt to suit your needs based on your choices.

Select the type of writing between school, work, or other projects, choose the dialect of English (American, British, Australian, or Canadian), your primary language (choose between English and non-English), and your grammar skill level (beginner, intermediate, and advanced).

Personalizing Your Grammarly Dictionary

Personalize your dictionary from your profile page in the dashboard. Add as many words as you want and Grammarly will no longer flag those words. This is helpful for writers in specialized fields and fiction writers that create their own unusual names.

Using the Grammarly Chrome Extension

The Grammarly icon, a G in a green circle, automatically appears on anything that Grammarly can check.

It underlines the text that it doesn’t like and the icon changes to show that there are errors. This example shows two issues. The logo has changed to a red circle with a number to indicate the number of issues.

Hovering over the text opens a box with suggestions. If I want one of the choices I just need to click on it. It indicates the type of error it is, which can help me improve my writing.

The change is automatically made when you click on one of the choices and it now indicates that I now only have one error.

Hovering on the circle opens it to show a few options. Click the red circle with arrows to open the document editor. The yellow circle shows the number of advanced corrections are available in the premium edition. The power button turns Grammarly off for this website.

Grammarly Document Editor

The document editor opens in a modal over your content where you can focus on your writing and see a few tools and options. Using this is optional.

Each of the tools on the left of the modal open on hover, identifying what they do. Here you can make selections of what to check. When you’re finished, click the back icon in the upper left corner or click anywhere outside of the modal.

Grammarly Online Dashboard Editor

You can also use the online editor to write or check your documents. Once you login to the Grammarly website you’ll see the dashboard. To create or edit your document in the Grammarly dashboard, click New or Upload on the document icon.

This opens the editor where you can type, paste, or upload your text. Clicking the logo in the upper corner opens a few tools to check your work.

Problems will be underlined. Clicking on an underlined word displays options (just like it does in the browser). Click to see more information and it opens an analysis with word options, a rank based on the goals you’ve set, insights, goals, number of alerts, number of premium alerts, a plagiarism tool (premium edition), and a human proofreader (premium).

Insights show stats about your text. It also shows vocabulary (shows the number of unique and rare words) and readability (shows word length, sentence length, and readability score). These are helpful to improve your writing. I like the reading time and speaking time estimates.

Goals allow you to tell Grammarly about your intent, audience, style, emotion, and the domain (choose from general, academic, business, technical, creative, or casual).

Once you’re done making edits you can download, print, or copy your text to the clipboard to be used anywhere you want.

Your new document will now appear in the dashboard where you can edit, download, or delete it.

Installing the Grammarly Apps

In the Grammarly dashboard click Apps to download Grammarly for Office or Windows. Once they’re downloaded, run them the same as any app.

Grammarly for Microsoft Office

The Office app adds Grammarly to Word and/or Outlook. It adds new tools to the ribbon menu with contextual spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, style, and advanced features (which requires the premium edition).

When you click on the Grammarly icon the errors are highlighted in the text and issues are identified in detail on the right. I had no issues with general performance, but it can sometimes take a few seconds to check your document.

Grammarly for Windows

The Windows app looks and works the same as the online dashboard. It even connects to your account and brings in the documents from your dashboard. This is a great choice if you want to work offline.

Grammarly Pricing

Aside from the free plan, there are four premium plans:

  • Monthly – $29.95 per month
  • Quarterly – $19.98 per month
  • Annual – $11.66 per month
  • Grammarly Business – $10 per month per member

The free plan is great for basic checking such as email, social media, and even blogging. The premium editions are better suited to writing that requires the most professional level of quality possible. The free version does have some good tools, but if you need a premium plan then I recommend the Annual option. Even the Quarterly option is a big savings over the Monthly option.

For more information, visit Grammarly.com.

Ending Thoughts

I use several word processors including Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and WordPress’s built-in editor. Word and Google Docs have tools that underline misspelled and misused words. Google Chrome has those tools and applies them to most editors. Grammarly goes further than that.

Grammarly is an excellent tool for improving your writing quality. It’s easy to make writing mistakes that you don’t notice during the editing process and Grammarly highlights those, drawing attention to them.

Grammarly works great but it’s not perfect. It doesn’t always understand how words are used in web design and development, for instance. And I’m sure there are other industries that it doesn’t understand perfectly. This means there might be times when you disagree with its choices, but it’s still a valuable tool that’s worth using. It can be personalized, which helps a lot too.

I was pleased with the types of errors Grammarly highlighted. It shows misspelled words, repeated words, punctuation, missing words, case, tense, pronoun agreement, etc. Some of these issues require a premium edition to highlight and explain them though.

At the very least, I recommend using the free Chrome extension. It works in your browser, so it applies to anything typed within an editor such as WordPress, newsletters, social media, email, etc. It doesn’t work everywhere though. For example, it doesn’t support Google Drive. The best way to analyze the Google Docs text is to paste it into the Grammarly dashboard editor and then paste it back into Google Docs when you’re done.

Grammarly’s designed for anyone wanting to improve their writing, but shouldn’t be used in place of knowing good grammar. It can’t take the place of a professional editor but it does help by identifying a lot of problems that can easily be missed.

The Ultimate List of Free Stock Photo Resources

The Ultimate List of Free Stock Photo Resources

Photos are some of the most valuable resources for any business or creative ministry. While I’m a huge fan of using pictures that are actually taken in your business or church, I’ve learned that’s not always possible. That’s where stock photos come in. A great stock photo can provide professionalism, beauty, and quality that you may not have access.

A Google search for these valuable resources will generate an infinite number of websites with stock images ranging from a few bucks per photo to thousands of dollars per photo.

What if I told you that you could get absolutely beautiful stock photos for free? You’re not dreaming, my friend. Below are my favorite resources to download some of the best photos on the web for $0/photo. Check out these Free Stock Photo Resources.

1. Unsplash

 

2. Death To The Stock Photo

3. Lightstock’s Free Photo of the Week

4. StockSnap.io

 

5. Gratisography

6. Freely Photos

7. Life of Pix

8. No More Clip Art

9. Snapwire Snaps

10. Picjumbo

11. Jay Mantri

12. New Old Stock

 

Do you have any other resources for free stock photos?

Understanding Copyrights, Trademarks, & Patents And How They Affect Your WordPress Business

Understanding Copyrights, Trademarks, & Patents And How They Affect Your WordPress Business

Copyrights, trademarks, and patents are somewhat complex topics. However, they each can have an effect on the way you run your WordPress site, which makes understanding their basics important.The good news is you don’t need to hit the law books to figure out how each of these elements impacts you. In this article, we’re going to discuss the difference between copyrights, trademarks, and patents, and how WordPress is licensed. Then, we’ll talk about what elements of your site you need to protect and how to do it. Let’s get to work!

What’s the Difference Between Copyrights, Trademarks, and Patents?

Before we dive into how these elements affect your WordPress site, it’s important to know what their differences are. For now, let’s keep things simple and talk about them one by one:

  • Copyright. Think of this as proof of ownership over the content you create. For example, if you’re running a WordPress website you can copyright your graphics and content (and we’ll talk more about this later on). On top of proving you’re the owner of your content, copyrights also govern how others can reproduce, imitate, and distribute it.
  • Trademark. Unlike copyrights, trademarking isn’t about protecting your content, it’s all about your brand. Using this method enables you to claim your website’s name, domain, logo, and any other symbols representing your brand. That way, other people can’t use them to deceive your visitors and customers without breaking the law.
  • Patents. This type of protection is reserved for unique business processes and technologies. However, you can’t patent a website as a whole (in the vast majority of cases).

Before moving on, let’s talk a bit more about patents. There’s a common misconception that almost any idea can be patented, but it’s not quite true. In fact, it’s likely you won’t be able to obtain a patent for your product unless you can prove it’s unique (and non-obvious).

To put it simply, if you run a simple WordPress website, you probably don’t need to think about patents. That is unless you’re offering a service you can prove is unique and innovative. If you just want to protect your intellectual property, copyrights and patents are the way to go.

How is WordPress Licensed (And How Does It Affect You)?

Most of you probably know that WordPress is open-source software. What you might not know is that it’s available to the public under the GNU General Public License (GPL). Let’s break down what this means:

  • You’re free to run the platform for any purpose you want.
  • You can have access to the platform’s code and modify it to suit your own needs.
  • It can be freely redistributed. This means you can share the platform with other users if you want, instead of having them download it directly from the developers.
  • You can also redistribute the platform including any modifications you’ve made to it.

This last point is particularly important for you as a WordPress user because it also covers ‘derivative’ works. In WordPress’ case, both plugins and themes fall into this category. It means you can create either of those two options for any purpose, and distribute them without having to pay the original developers.

Plus, if you’re a developer, you can also charge any price you want for your plugins and themes. The only caveat is that they must be made available under the GPL license as well without any additional restrictions. This is where things get a bit confusing if you’re a WordPress user or developer, so let’s discuss what this means for you:

  • You only need to adopt the GPL license if you plan to distribute your plugins or themes. If they’re meant for private use or a particular client, that doesn’t apply to you.
  • If you want to, you’re free to charge extra for technical support and other similar tasks. That’s why you often see plugins and themes available for purchase under limited-time licenses. In that case, you’re not just selling your work, but also your expertise.
  • You can sell your work. However, according to the GPL, once someone purchases it they can also distribute and charge for it.

If you’re a developer, you might be worried about that last point we covered, so let’s elaborate using an example. If you create and distribute a WordPress theme under the GPL (which it must be), anyone who purchases it can legally access its ‘source code’, modify it, and redistribute it. In WordPress’ case, that refers to its core PHP files.

What they can’t do is copy any other part of your work, including bundled graphics, and CSS customizations. That means they can’t just take your theme and resell it under the same name to pocket the profits. In that case, they would be breaching its license and be open to legal action.

Do You Need to Copyright Your WordPress Website?

echnically, you don’t need to copyright your WordPress website – at least not under US law. That’s because websites are considered ‘original work’, and they’re copyrighted from the moment they go live. The same law applies to other types of creative work as long as you document them in a way you can prove, such as writing them down or recording them.

The question is, if you don’t need to copyright your site, why do so many pages on the web bother to include notices to that effect? A lot of them do so as a deterrent to would-be copycats, while others may include them because they actually went to the trouble of registering their copyright.

While a copyright isn’t strictly necessary for every site, it can come in handy. At least in the US, registering this proof of ownership makes it much easier to prosecute anyone copying it. For other countries, the situation could get muddier – so we recommend doing some research with an expert in your particular nation’s law.

What Elements of Your WordPress Website Should You Protect?

We’ve already talked about copyrighting your site, but that isn’t the only thing you can do to keep it safe from a legal standpoint. Let’s check out some of the other elements you can protect and how to do it.

Your Logo, Site Name, and Slogan

These three elements are a big part of what makes up your overall brand, which makes them perfect candidates for trademarking.

To register a trademark in the US, you’ll have to go through the United States Patent and Trademark Office(USPTO). To apply for one, you’ll need to submit a representation of your mark that includes its name and any designs associated with it (such as logos and other related icons).

However, keep in mind that the USPTO enables you to register each of these components separately if you want to do it. This means you can have a trademark for your logo, another for your site name (and URL), and one for your slogan. Doing this provides you with more protection if you decide to mix those site elements.

Keep in mind, registering a trademark with the USPTO isn’t free so you should only do it once your site gains a little traction and you’re sure the investment is worth it.

Getting ahead of the marketing curve: 5 digital trends you must capitalize on now

Getting ahead of the marketing curve: 5 digital trends you must capitalize on now

Many digital marketers believe that their brand provides a positive user experience. However, in many cases, the consumer feels differently. This disconnect can damage brand reputations and hinder the success of marketing efforts.

We now live in a customer-first world. Consumers today have their choice of countless companies within nearly every conceivable niche, and it’s up to the organizations to demonstrate why they should gain more business over their competitors. Staying ahead of digital marketing trends and adapting strategies accordingly are essential to success.

The brands that succeed are the ones that build an online experience tailored to the consumer, meeting their needs every step of the way. Sixty-one percent of customers report that they would not return to a brand’s mobile site after a negative experience, and 40 percent say they would go to a competitor’s site, according to Google.

The need to have an intimate familiarity with customers, what they like and the platforms they live on, is critical. As technology and customer expectations mature, brands need to be alert to the rising trends so that they can provide the optimal user experience for consumers. These top five trends below comprise a critical component of the modern digital marketing strategy. Here is what you should know to make it a part of your organization.

Trend 1: Data and personalization

In the increasingly competitive digital ecosystem, brands need to stand out for their customers. These consumers want to know that you care about their individual needs, and thus you need to create a highly personalized experience. Personalized calls to action, for example, convert 42 percent more than ordinary CTAs. Data and personalization will be the cornerstone of marketing moving forward.

Data can help you uncover topics that matter the most to your target audiences. It also allows you to better track how different personas interact with your content, move through your buyer’s journey, and learn what material will be most helpful for them next. Thus, data informs personalization efforts.

Tips for succeeding with data and personalization

  • Secure data on a broad scale by uncovering trends within your industry and important topics that matter the most to your customers. Rising topics can help you get material published before competitors, building a strong presence in those areas as well.
    Look at personal data to see how particular personas use your website.
  • Look at the content they enter your site on, how they move about the site after reading it, and how they go from visitor to lead to customer. This will help you create personalized experiences, because you will know which content to display next to visitors.
  • Gather statistics about how data and personalization impact the traffic and revenue of your site.
  • Examine your site statistics before beginning these campaigns, including bounce rates, traffic rates and revenue rates, and then compare them to the statistics once the efforts have been enacted. Successes will help you build a case to budget more for data and personalization, driving your site strategy forward.

Trend 2: AI and intelligent agents

The demands of technology and customers are quickly outpacing the capabilities of human marketers. Although the amount of data is expected to reach 40,000 exabytes by 2020 (up from just 130 in 2005), the human brain is only capable of holding about 1 million gigabytes, according to Northwestern University professor Paul Reber. The technology available today can collect information about user behavior and help marketers better understand personas, points in the buyer’s journey and what that particular customer likely wants to read next.

The key to using that information, however, will be artificial intelligence. AI could double the rate of economic growth by 2035, according the Accenture.

AI will never replace quality marketers, because it cannot replace human creativity. What it can do, however, is help optimize content throughout the creation process, make it easier for brands to select topics and assist with the creation of digital strategies. It will allow for the automation of all the steps that can be completed simply by analyzing data and spitting back answers, freeing marketers to focus on how to best utilize this information.

What’s interesting is how digital marketers view and implement AI. There is a clear disconnect between importance and adoption, and brands must come to grips with implementation of AI in 2018.

Tips for using AI for your brand

  • Find areas in your marketing strategy where AI can help, such as the optimization of content or triggering email campaigns. This means taking a closer look at steps that can be automated.
  • Avoid excessively using AI to the point where customers are turned off or feel uneasy interacting with the brand.
  • Incorporate AI into the broader strategy. The same way marketers in different departments, such as PPC and SEO, need to learn to work together, brands need to make sure their AI technology seamlessly integrates with the rest of the team.
  • Have a defined role in the workflow, such as uncovering popular topics and guiding them through the optimization process, to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

Trend 3: Mobile and connected devices — the Internet of Things

We already know that mobile has begun to dominate search: The number of searches performed on mobile devices in the US, and several other countries, outpaced desktop back in 2015. Google has also announced an imminent mobile-first algorithm that we should see by 2018. Optimizing content for users should be second nature for website owners now.

Moving forward, we also need to consider the rise of alternate mobile devices, such as fitness trackers and smart watches, as well as the growing importance of voice search, both with personal assistant devices and on these mobile devices.

Customers use this technology to gain rapid answers to their questions, often while on the go. Brands that want to thrive need to make sure that they have prepared their content and digital strategies for these trends as well.

Tips for succeeding with mobile and connected devices

  • Optimize for more verticals than before. Technologies such as personal assistant devices, often use alternate search verticals to find the information for their users. As an example, Kayak.com is used by some devices to pull flight and hotel information, or Yelp supplies information on local businesses.
  • Use schema and high-quality content to move into top spaces whenever possible. With the smaller screens on mobile devices, and even fewer search results given on many non-smartphone devices, brands need to prioritize gaining access to the top spots on the SERP and earning Quick Answers whenever possible.
  • Monitor how customers interact with your content. When you do earn top slots, see how it impacts your mobile traffic and conversion rates. This will offer key insights into how customers interact with your content and help you improve your strategy.

Trend 4: Content and SEO convergence

SEO and content cannot be regarded separately. All content developed needs to be optimized to boost its rankings on the SERP and to ensure its relevance, which means that content and SEO teams need to work together from the beginning.

Fortunately, most companies seem understand this need. A survey completed by my company, BrightEdge, found that that 97 percent of companies view these two functions as more integrated or converging into a single function. There are still ways that companies can improve their integration.

Tips for succeeding with SEO and content convergence

  • Remember that customers recall experiences more than text. Use SEO insights, such as trending topics and keywords, to find topics. Then create outstanding content for digital experiences that align well with customer needs.
  • Do customer analysis. Look at how customers interact with your material, including what devices they use to read your material, customer impressions of your brand and what customers want to see from you.
  • Set realistic goals for your content, and regularly measure how well your efforts align with these benchmarks. Goals might describe traffic rates, rankings, conversions or revenue.

Trend 5: Native advertising growth

Native advertising will increase exponentially over the next few years. An estimated $7.9 billion was spent on this style of advertising in 2015, but that number is projected to reach an incredible $21 billion by just 2018. Mobile native ads are also expected to reach 63 percent of the mobile display ad revenue by 2020.

Native advertising has taken off because of its ability to fit more smoothly into the user experience. Customers have turned away from disruptive advertising practices. They do not respond to pop-ups or other ads that hinder their user experience. They want to see promotions that relate to them and their needs and experiences.

Native ads, which focus on creating ad copy that is relevant and natural for customers reading a particular web page, create positive outcomes both for the host websites and the company formulating the promotion. This form of advertising focuses on creating ads that align with the content that already appears on the website, thus making it more appealing to customers who had arrived on the page organically.

Tips for succeeding with native advertising

Research the audience and the target site’s content. The more familiar you are with these criteria, the easier it will be to select advertising platforms that align best with your target audience while also making it easier to create content that fits well with those visiting the host website.

Create content that will add something for the reader. To attract readers and make a strong impression, you want to focus on creating content that creates a positive experience for them. Just like your search optimization strategy, your native ad strategy should include providing value for those interacting with the material.

Test what advertising content works best where. Unlike using PPC advertising on Google, for native advertising, you have a better ability to target particular audiences that fit particular personas. Track not only what customers respond best to your content, but also the platforms where you find them and how well the traffic on your advertising content ends up becoming leads and then customers on your main site.

Digital marketing continues to change rapidly as technology and customer expectations evolve and mature. Brands that want to not only keep up with the curve, but thrive in this environment, need to capitalize on these emerging trends. These five that I have identified I believe will be the most significant moving forward through the rest of 2017 and into 2018.

9 Best Screen Capture Software for Video Tutorials and Client Walkthroughs in 2017

9 Best Screen Capture Software for Video Tutorials and Client Walkthroughs in 2017

Have you ever needed to record your screen to show a demo of your software, give someone a walkthrough as a tutorial, or create a video of your screen for an online course? Screen capture software is perfect for this. Screen capture software includes tools to capture all or portions of your screen in high definition, and allows you to easily edit, add information such as text or audio, add interactive buttons, and lots more. Some even include features such as live-streaming.

 

9 Best Screen Capture Software for WordPress Video Tutorials and Client Walkthroughs

Most of the apps on this list were made specifically for creating training videos. Some are for Mac only, some are for Windows only, and others work on both systems as well as Linux. Prices range from free to several hundred dollars. I’m showing the prices for commercial use. The software might be cheaper than I’ve shown, but the cheaper prices will either show watermarks, limit the features such as time of recording or number of recordings, reduce the editing features, or specify they are for home use only. The apps are in no particular order.

1. QuickTime

QuickTime 7 Pro for Mac from Apple unlocks editing functionality within the QuickTime 7 Player. Editing features include creating slideshows with music, cropping, resizing, compression, and adding special effects. You can also convert images to different formats. The Pro features are purchased through the free app. QuickTime X (10) Ships with Mac OS X. It includes video editing, screen recording, capture of video and audio streams, visual chapters, file conversion, sharing to YouTube, live streaming, and GPU acceleration. Its screen capture features keep users from copying DVD’s. It removes support for a few of the popular formats, so some have preferred version 7.

Price: $29.99 | More Information

 

2. ScreenFlow

ScreenFlow from Telestream provides video editing, screen recording, and screen-casting for Mac. Anything or any part of the screen can be recorded with high quality. It evens records iOS, meaning you can record your iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV. It includes tools meant for software tutorials such as mouse click effects, pointer size, and displaying any keys that are pressed. Editing tools include callouts, highlights, annotations, transitions, text, audio and video filters, and even multi-channel audio. Animations include graphics, titles, and logos. It also includes closed-caption support. The intuitive interface is easy to learn for anyone without video editing experience. It has lots of publishing options.

Price: $99 | More Information

 

3. Screenium

Screenium from Synium Software provides screen recording for both Mac and iOS. It provides recording at 60 frames per second to create a smooth video recording. It will record full screen, windows, or a selected area. Editing features include cutting, text, audio, effects, transitions, and animation. You can embed picture-in-picture clips from a webcam so you can appear within the video or show additional slides or images. It has smart zooming to highlight areas on the screen. Videos export to multiple platforms including YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Flickr, and messages and mail apps.

Price: $49.99 | More Information

 

4. Screen Recorder

Screen Recorder from Icecream Apps works on Mac OS X and Windows 10 to capture any area of the screen as either a screenshot or a video in HD. You can draw, add text, and add arrows while you’re performing the screen capture. It even includes project history so you can see previous versions of the images and videos. Zoom while recording and select a mouse size and area so you can record a specific region around the mouse. Trim, convert, display hot-keys within the video, set screen captures on a timer, and perform audio adjustments.

Price: $29.95 | More Information

 

5. Camtasia

Camtasia from TechSmith uses an intuitive drag-and-drop WYSIWYG editor for both Mac and PC. You can record any portion of the screen all the way down to an individual pixel. Add callouts, shapes, and arrows. Insert video using your webcam. Build videos with multiple tracks for video, audio, images, and text. Import media with 4k resolution. Add transitions such as intro or outro to the beginning or end of a clip. Add voice narration, audio effects, video effects, and even green-screen. You can even add quizzes so you can know how much of the video was viewed and by whom. It includes animated backgrounds, graphics, icons, and royalty-free music tracks that are safe to play on YouTube and Vimeo.

Price: $199 | More Information

 

6. Snagit

Snagit, also from TechSmith, is a simple screen capture and recording app for Windows and Mac. Capture screenshots, record video, edit images, and share your files. It includes markup tools that make it easy to edit and customize every screenshot. Click and drag to capture any portion of the screen. Record, narrate, and trim video. A magnify tool lets you focus on one portion of the screen. It can be expanded to capture Android and iOS and send photos and videos to the Snagit editor from your mobile device. It will even capture multiple types of scrolls. Panoramic capture is used for wide horizontal scrolls and infinitely scrolling webpages. Scrolling capture helps to capture something that’s not showing on the screen vertically, horizontally, or a scrolling area. It will also create animated GIF’s.

Price: $49.95 | More Information

 

7. Snap 10

Ashampoo’s Snap 10 for Windows allows you to capture and edit anything on your screen including the entire screen, multiple windows at once, a web page, or individual sections, and turn them into images or videos. You can add arrows, graphics, automatic numbering, etc., to create self-explanatory steps. Live editing lets you add text, drawings, and voice narration rather than having to add them in post-production. Visually show mouse and button clicks within the video. Add watermarks, include information on the source page, and include other graphical metadata and links. Videos can also be converted to animated GIF’s.

Price: $49 | More Information

 

8. Open Broadcaster

Open Broadcast Software is a free open source software studio for Mac, Windows, and Linux that’s made specifically for video recording and live streaming. Designed with gamers in mind, it records directly from your graphics card in HD in full-screen at 60 frames per second. It includes real-time video and audio capturing and mixing to record unlimited scenes. You can switch between scenes using custom transitions. Video editing includes filters such as chroma, color correction, color keying, masking, etc. Audio filters include gain, noise gate, suppression, and VST plugin support adds even more features. It’s easy to configure and you can set up different configurations based on profiles. The studio mode lets you preview the video before publishing.

Price: $Free | More Information

 

9. Flashback

Flashback, from BlueBerry Software, is a screen recording app for Windows. It will record any part of your screen from multiple monitors to create a video file. It will also record from your webcam and will record audio. It includes pro editing tools so you can draw on the screen, add notes, callouts, text, images, cut, crop, add blur effects, synchronize audio with video, etc. The files will export to any major video format. Schedule your recordings and add watermarks, interactive buttons, create start and end titles, etc. Zoom in to any part of the recording and use auto-tracking for the mouse so the action stays in view.

Price: $99 | More Information

 

Final Thought

Screen capture software provides you with the tools to create videos of your screen, allowing you to easily create your own software tutorials and walkthroughs. There are a lot of screen recorders out there to choose from, but this quick look at 9 screen capture programs will help you narrow it down so you can select the best software for your needs and budget.

All You Need to Know About Pinterest Buyable Pins

All You Need to Know About Pinterest Buyable Pins

For some time now, Pinterest has allowed companies and bloggers to pay to promote their pins, after which the platform shows pins to Pinterest users who might have an interest in the product.

But now, some Pinterest users can purchase products without leaving the platform.

That’s possible because of the company’s newly released feature called “buyable pins”.

The feature was rolled out by Pinterest back in June. It stands for pins featuring a ‘buy’ button, and it enables users to buy what they see in those pins.

Pinterest says when users spot a pin with a blue price, they’ll know they can buy the featured item from within the application. Here’s how it looks:

Pinterest buyable pins

Pinterest appears to be the perfect platform for this type of impulse spending, as one-third of all Pinterest users didn’t contemplate making a purchase before seeing the item on Pinterest.

And aside from making shopping convenient, buyable pins allow consumers to confidently and safely make a purchase. Purchases are handled with a credit card through Apple Pay, although Pinterest is working with Braintree to devise a method of purchase for users outside iOS. This handling method means that credit card and personal information is secure for consumers.

The Specs

For the moment, buyable pins are only available on Apple mobile devices (iPad or iPhone), so pinners who surf on a desktop or Android device can’t make a purchase from Pinterest.

While a few major retailers (e.g., Macy’s, Nordstrom) have jumped on the buyable pin bandwagon, smaller retailers may find it difficult to enable the feature. Pinterest has partnered with Shopify, so sellers who use the Shopify platform will find buyable pin integration easy.

Shopify store owners can use buyable pins

Pinterest will not take any fees or surcharges from sales made through buyable pins, but they have been monetizing very successfully with promoted pins. It’s expected that buyable pins will lead to more companies promoting their pins and drive Pinterest revenue in that way.

Fees and surcharges from sales will be limited to what retailers will pay through Apple Pay (and later, through Braintree) or Shopify Payments with no additional cost from Pinterest. Pinterest also has a waiting list for businesses that don’t use Shopify to power their store.

The Advantages

The advantages of Pinterest buyable pins are clear. Retailers now have a way to encourage and facilitate impulse purchasing while marketing to their most lucrative demographics. Pinners can re-pin the things they like, allowing products to go viral and spread through peer groups.

Almost half of all online shoppers in the United States have purchased something as a direct result of a recommendation from Pinterest. More than 80% of all Pinterest pins are re-pins – that is, about four out of every five pins is something that has been passed along from another Pinterest user, so the potential virality on Pinterest is staggering.

For Shopify users, adding a buyable feature to their pins is an easy way to increase revenue. While the data on buyable pins isn’t available due to the novelty of the concept, we do know that before buyable pins existed, the average sale from a Pinterest referral was $58.95. Clearly, there is tremendous potential to use buyable pins to increase this revenue. By eliminating the need to visit the website, chances are that a greater portion of pin viewers will be converted to customers.

The Disadvantages

Unfortunately, buyable pins aren’t yet perfect. The greatest disadvantage in these early days is the limited reach of the pins to consumers and retailers. For many retailers and many Pinterest users, buyable pins simply aren’t available. Pinterest has always maintained a conservative stance toward new developments, so it’s likely that these early forays into buyable pins will be expanded as the new program takes off, but for the moment, a seller’s ability to use buyable pins (and a buyer’s ability to purchase with them) is still quite limited.

One other major disadvantage to buyable pins is that while it facilitates impulse purchasing, it doesn’t allow sellers to cross-promote other items or to establish a relationship with the buyer. Some brands use Pinterest quite effectively to communicate with and build brand loyalty with their consumers. Almost 3/10 of all Pinterest users follow a brand on Pinterest, and 83% would rather follow a brand than a celebrity. However, Pinterest buyable pins allow consumers to make a purchase without first getting acquainted with the company and the brand.

Buyable pins do not allow cross-promotion, which may be a problem for many retailers. Items are listed and purchased individually without encouraging consumers to check out other items from the same seller.

In a way, the buyable pins feature brings an eBay feel to Pinterest. eBay is filled with hundreds of sellers and many of them sell nearly identical products and the buyer chooses a product based on the individual product rather than the seller. For example, with two identical products in original packaging, an eBay user is more likely to buy from the seller who has 1,000 positive reviews and is selling the product at $25 than the seller with 10,000 positive reviews who’s selling for $30. There is fear that buyable pins on Pinterest will create the same price competition that currently exists on eBay.

Are Pinterest Buyable Pins the Next Big Thing?

Judging from the buzz around these buyable pins, some marketers are claiming that buyable pins are the next step in commercializing (and profiting from) social media. But only time will tell whether buyable pins are the wave of the future or a well-intentioned but ultimately unprofitable experiment.

For large retailers like Macy’s and Nordstrom, buyable pins are beneficial. But for small retailers, the picture is less rosy. Small retailers who lack the name recognition and reputation of more established brands require a strong brand reputation and a more personal relationship with their buyers. Buyers take a risk when purchasing from a less established company, so their initial purchases are often small and conservative. Once they see great customer service, fast delivery, and amazing quality, they often return to that same buyer for additional or future purchases. For smaller businesses, that repeat business is critically important.

Small businesses with less recognizable brands cannot generally negotiate the same wholesale pricing as larger companies, leaving them to pay higher prices for their inventory than the multi-national corporations. Because of this, they will often struggle to compete based on price, even when the products are identical. Smaller companies differentiate themselves from larger ones through customer service and building relationships with their customers. When small companies are competing with large companies on a marketplace which rewards low prices and makes it easy to comparison shop, small companies traditionally suffer.

Even when the small business has a unique product (one that they’re not competing with larger companies to sell), buyable pins reward appearance over function. Pins that share well have beautiful photography and are aesthetically pleasing. This means that companies that sell a mixture of beautiful and functional products are likely to see a marked imbalance in their sales figures as their buyable pin sales skew toward the beautiful rather than the more functional.

In most cases, this will be a simple matter of adjusting inventory according to the change in sales trends. But in some cases, this problem can be damaging to the business’s reputation. For example, a beautiful hat might require specialized hairpins to keep it in place, or a cute and colorful cloth diaper cover might require dull and boring liners to function correctly. Customers who purchase the beautiful part without choosing to purchase the functional are likely to be disappointed.

Disadvantages of buyable pins

Should You Use Pinterest Buyable Pins?

That depends on who you are. If you’re a large retailer with established name recognition and a strong reputation of trust, Pinterest buyable pins can be a source of additional revenue. If you’re a small retailer who only sells products that photograph well and look good on Pinterest, the buyable pins can help to drive sales, especially if your products themselves are well-branded.

But not everyone may benefit from buyable pins, and Pinterest already has a strong eCommerce advantage even without the impulse purchasing. Without buyable pins, Pinterest users can surf to your website and make a purchase, especially when compared to other social media channels.

Maximizing Your Pins

Whether you’re using buyable pins or simply looking to maximize your conversions from your traditional Pinterest pins, there are several ways to make sure that your pins are re-pinnable and attractive.

Visual Appeal

The most sharable Pinterest images include great photography and a light-colored (or white) background. Lighter images are almost 20 times more likely to be shared than darker ones. Bright or bold colors can make the image “pop” on the Pinterest platform, and Pinterest users prefer to share images without faces than those with faces. Using portrait (vertical) orientation on your images makes them look better when they’re displayed on the Pinterest dashboard.

How to increase the visual appeal of Pinterest pins

On Your Website

To encourage people to share your images from your website (and to re-pin those images), it’s important that your images have a descriptive name, because the image name will be the title of the Pinterest pin. For example, a picture of blueberries labelled “Blueberries from Hawthorn Berry Farm 2015” is more professional than “DSC0072(2)”.

There are plugins available that can help Pinterest pinners get a customized description when pinning from your pages. If you’re on WordPress, Share This and Social Media Feather will allow you to customize Pinterest descriptions. This enables you (for example) to use a pre-programmed description that will accompany your pins when a guest to your website shares them on his or her pinboard.

When You Pin

When you’re pinning, you’ll want to use a great description, because most re-pinners will retain your original description. Whether you’re writing for buyable pins or just for your ordinary Pinterest social media marketing, the descriptions will allow other pinners to understand why they should share your content.

For Buyable Pins

For the average Pinterest-using company, buyable pins will be available only if you have a store through Shopify. Once you’re logged in to Pinterest and Shopify, you can go to http://www.shopify.com/pinterest and click on the “Add the Pinterest sales channel” button in the center of the page. This will add Pinterest buyable pins to your Shopify store. It is important to note that you must have a paid Shopify account to use this feature. If you do have a paid Shopify store, adding Pinterest buyable pins is a matter of following a few simple instructions in Shopify.

When you use Shopify, your buyers will pay by credit card using Apple Pay and Shopify Payments. While Pinterest will not charge additional fees for buyable pins, Shopify Payments and Apple Pay will charge a transaction fee. Shopify Payments currently charges 2.9% $0.30 for Basic users, 2.6% $0.30 for Professional users, and 2.4% $0.30 for Unlimited users. Apple Pay does not currently charge a transaction fee, but users of the buyable pins feature may want to keep in mind that if Apple Pay chooses to change their policy, Pinterest buyable pin merchants may be affected.

Final thoughts

For those monitoring the eCommerce industry, the biggest winner in this buyable pin idea is Shopify. Pinterest has been tight-lipped about rolling out the buyable pin feature to other eCommerce platforms, so for the foreseeable future, Shopify store owners have a marked advantage over sellers using a different platform or an individual website.

If your company is flexible, and is interested in early adoption of this new program, a Shopify store is the only way to try it out for now. While the idea certainly sounds promising, it remains to be seen whether this is a major advance in social media marketing or another good idea that won’t quite work out.