Here are 6 places to find FREE images for your blog and business to help entrepreneurs and bloggers stand out from the crowd.Finding good sources for photos to include with your blog posts and social media can be challenging. As personalization becomes more and more important to connecting with audiences, using the same old stock images of suits shaking hands or smiling faces isn’t going to help your blog stand out from the crowd. On top of that, if you’ve managed to stick to a regular blogging schedule of 2 or 3 times per week, paying for photos starts to dig in to your overall marketing budget.

Luckily, there’s a growing number of free stock photo websites available. Most of these are curated by photographers and designers who want to share their work and feel the same way we do about stock houses like iStockphoto and Shutterstock. We want something different and original!

Generally speaking, the free photography on these sites skews toward lifestyle and travel. They’re great resources if your company targets industries such as general business, tech, health, nature, architecture, or travel. For other fields like dentistry, they may not work but are certainly worth a look.

In this post, I’ve curated a list of websites that have free images for blogs  and social media updates. Most of these images listed here are public domain and are free for personal or commercial use, with the exception of model releases needed for images of recognizable people. Be sure to double-check the license agreement that comes with the image.

You’ll need to ensure that your images of recognizable people or locations have model and/or property release.



Picjumbo Free Stock Photo

Picjumbo is free to use in commercial and public works. The only restriction is that you can’t sell the images or publish them in another stock photo collection. The search function is easy to use, and you can also browse by category. This site is financed by advertisers, so you’ll have to have some patience while browsing.

Picjumbo offers a monthly premium membership for $6, for which you’ll receive image packs delivered to you monthly. They also accept donations if you’d like to support their website.



Pixabay Free Stock House

Pixabay is a really great site, with over 400,000 photos and vector art to choose from. On Pixabay you may find and share images free of copyright restrictions. All pictures are published under the creative commons public domain. Attribution is appreciated but not required. You’re free to use them personally or commercially, even in social media blogs.

Pixabay finances their site with sponsored images. Stay away from images on the top row of a search. They’ll take you to another paid stock house, so be cautious. Be careful when selecting images from the top row.

In terms of usability, Pixabay is the closest to paid stock houses with its huge selection. It also boasts some pretty sophisticated search options, with filters for editors’ picks, most popular and most recent. When you select a photo, you’ll see a list of similar images beneath it, similar to searches on Getty Images. This is useful feature when the image you’ve chosen is close to what you’re looking for but you want something even better.



StockSnap Free Stock House

All StockSnap photos are released under Creative Commons and can be copied, modified and distributed for commercial or personal purposes, without asking permission. You don’t have to provide attribution.

What I really like about this site is how easy it is to navigate. They don’t have categories you can choose from, but it’s easy enough to type in a search term.
Their sorting tabs let you see the image date, what’s trending, and number of views and downloads.

You can also get new stock photos sent to your inbox, in exchange for your email.



Unsplash Free Stock House

What makes Unsplash great, on top of the beautiful imagery, is that you can get 10 photos delivered to your inbox every 10 hours. Unsplash’s collection of high-resolution photos is arguably one of the best sources for stock images. There’s a decent chance you’ll find an image that works, even with fewer image options than some of the others listed here.

It can be hard to find the search box when you first visit the site. The navigation isn’t immediately obvious and the search box is down in the middle of the screen. If you want to see image categories, you’ll need to start a search. Another thing that makes comparing images difficult is the single column layout for search results. You have to scroll down to see each image and lose a bit of the context that four or five columns gives you to help decide which image you prefer.



Splitshire Free Stock House

Splitshire contains personal photos of Daniel Nanascu, a photographer and graphic designer. You’re free to use these photos for commercial and personal use. What you can’t do is sell the photo or publish it in a third-party website.

Splitshire is also financed by advertisers. Searching can be bumpy due to pop-up banner ads that appear as you scroll. The website is organized like Picjumbo, with categories on the left as well as a search field. It has some gorgeous fashion and street photos, as well as interesting blurred backgrounds that work as a backdrop for overlaying text.



Gratisography Free Stock House

Gratisography features images by photographer Ryan McGuire, who is a graphic and web designer with a flair for whimsy and fun. His photos are humorous and staged with an advertorial slant. If you strike out with the other free stock houses, you may just find what you’re looking for here.

What makes Gratisography stand out, apart from the photography, is the one-click download feature. It’s by far the easiest site to download images. One click and it’s on your computer.

Gratisography is financed, at least in part, by a partnership with Shutterstock. If you don’t find what you need on their site, they claim to provide a discount code for purchases, although I couldn’t find a promo field on Shutterstock’s site to input the code.

Gratisography also accepts donations if you appreciate their humor and would like to support the site.

Do you have a favorite source for free stock photos?

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If you’re ready to get serious about your blog, but aren’t sure about the best ways take to market it, this post is for you! It includes 14 tips for bloggers and entrepreneurs to help your posts get found and shared by more people everywhere – through social media, emails, search engines…everywhere. Click through to check out all the tips.
If you’re ready to get serious about your blog, but aren’t sure about the best ways take to market it, this post is for you! It includes 14 tips for bloggers and entrepreneurs to help your posts get found and shared by more people – through social media, emails, search engines…everywhere. Click through to check out all the tips.

Blog Post Checklist: 14 to Do Before You Hit Pubilsh | If you’re ready to get serious about your blog, but aren’t sure about the best ways take to market it, this post is for you! It includes 14 tips for bloggers and entrepreneurs to help your posts get found and shared by more people everywhere.. Click through to check out all the tips!So you’ve got your blog up and running and you’re posting on the regular. High five!! Today I have a blog post checklist to help you step up your game even more to get traffic to it (and leads from it!)

In this blog post, I share 14 things you should do before you publish each post.

Well, maybe not before every post. If you’ve got a flow going with your writing, you can always go back through the list after you publish and update it. I like to work in batches of five, where I publish five posts and then tweak them using the checklist.

It may seem like a lot to do, but once you get into a workflow it gets a lot easier and quicker. And when you put so much heart and soul into writing your post, it makes sense to give it the best shot you can to rank higher on Google, get more shares, and build your list.

Step#1: Write a catchy title

You’ve probably heard this a hundred times, and it’s true. A catchy title is key to getting people to read your post. It’s your ticket to more traffic and more subscribers.

A persuasive and descriptive title will grab people’s attention better than one that’s “fuzzy”. People are busy and will only commit to a click if they know what’s in it for them. The descriptive keywords are also great for search engines. You’ll get a boost in rankings just by including keywords in your title and in other places throughout your post, which I’ll get into later.

I know the posts I’ve written with “meh” titles don’t get nearly as many opens as catchier ones.

Here’s an example of a so-so title: “How to Double Your Blog Conversion Rates”

This title is just hard to digest. First, you have to think about what “conversion rate” means. Then you have to figure out what it has to do with blogging. All of that thinking just hurts.

Here’s a better title: “How Songwriting Helped Me Grow My Blog (Plus 10 Tips for New Bloggers)”

The second is better because:

  • It’s highly targeted and direct. The title speaks directly to my audience.
  • It creates a curiosity gap. I want to know what songwriting has to do with blogging. It just sounds interesting.
  • It’s keyword-rich. It includes important terms that people might type into Google to find your post (grow your blog, new bloggers).

Step #2: Make sure it’s easy to read

Every time I read a post that’s like a chapter in a book, I think “time suck”.

Here’s the thing:

People on the web are looking for something and they’re going to scan your post to see if you’ve got it. Then they’re going to read the text. So you have to break your text up into sections that are easy to read.

Here’s how you can do that:

Use bullet points and subheads: If you use WordPress, style your subheads with an H2 tag so that the heading jumps off the page.

Use short sentences and words: Short sentences, short paragraphs, short words, that’s what you want to go for. People are much more likely to keep reading when there’s some white space on the page. Plus, short words are easier to digest than longer words. For instance, use “hard” instead of “difficult” or “challenging”.

Write a great intro: The first few sentences of your post really have to hook people in. Your intro should be long enough to tell a story and create interest and at the same time lead up to the main points of your post. Bonus if you can squeeze in your keyword in the first paragraph, but I wouldn’t go crazy here. If it works, great. If not add it wherever it fits naturally in your post.

Try to limit your intro to 3 or 4 short paragraphs. I’ve written intros that were so long I’m sure they put people to sleep by the time they got to the main points. Once I read them again it was obvious that I was rambling, kind of hunting for what I was trying to say.

Here’s an example of an intro that’s interesting but quickly gets to the point (funny that it talks about rambling – I must have that on my brain!)

Stick to the structure.

That’s what my instructors would hammer into my head over and over again when I was learning how to write songs. And every time I went off-script and let my creative juices just flow, my lyrics would ramble on and on. They had no real beginning, no section breaks, and no end.

This got me thinking about the challenges copywriters face with blogging. Is there a way we can limit our rambling so that we don’t lose readers? Can we apply a song-structure approach to blogging to help us create great experiences that are inviting and easy for people to digest?

If it seems like people aren’t paying attention to your posts, try these ways to keep them engaged and reading…

Here’s why this intro works:

It starts with a relateable story and then leads people quickly to the main point of the post. The third paragraph ties things together and the fourth paragraph leads right into bullet points. Quick and to the point without being boring – that’s what you should aim for with your intro.

(Download the printable PDF so you have it on hand for your next blog post.)

14 Things You Should Do to Every Blog Post Before You Hit Publish | If you’re ready to grow your blog audience, but aren’t sure about the best ways take to market it, this post is for you! It includes 14 tips for bloggers and entrepreneurs to help your posts get found and shared by more people everywhere – through social media, emails, search engines…everywhere.

Step #3: SEO your post

What would a blog post checklist be without mentioning SEO?

When you blog, you’ve got to think about two things: blogging for real people and blogging for SEO. So even though keywords can be a real pain, you still have to think about them. This is definitely one of the very last things I address because it messes me up to think about it when I’m writing. It’s kind of like switching off one brain and turning the other on.

Basically, you want to include the keyword in six places on your post:

  • the title
  • the URL (for WordPress, this is your permalink)
  • the meta description or post snippet
  • your subheadings (H2 tags)
  • throughout your content
  • in your image names (change the default name to one with a keyword)

I suggest installing the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress. It’s super easy to add your focus keyword in your title and meta description, like this:

Blogger checklist tip: SEO your blog post

Plus, you’ll see everything you need to optimize, like adding the keyword to your content, H2 tags, and so on.

Step #4: Proofread it

I have to admit, this is one of my downfalls. I tend to be sloppy on the keyboard and keep my fingers crossed that Word will auto-correct anything I miss.

And of course, you know you have to proofread. That’s a no-brainer, right? Still, I find that I can proofread my posts a million times and still find typos that are off the charts a week later. Not cool!!

Here’s the deal, though.

As bloggers and business owners, we’re really publishers. We can’t afford to show up sloppy or poorly dressed if we want people to take us seriously.

So what can you do?

Have someone else proof it for you, or save it as a draft and come back to it a few days later with fresh eyes. Both Word and the WordPress edit window will flag most of the obvious typos and grammar issues.

You still need to manually comb through your post for things that Word may have missed. For instance, I’ve written “and or” when what I meant to write was “and”. Errors like these are harder for programs to spot and need human eyes. One thing I’ve found that works well is to read it backwards, kind of like “a slug” in traditional proofreading terms.

Step #5: Add SEO-ready images

Add blog post images where you can…they add a level of detail to your post and help break up the text for easy reading. When people can visually see what you’re saying, it’s easier to understand. If your post explains how to do something, grab some screenshots with call-outs and comments that help clarify and explain it.

Make sure the images you create are on-brand and fit with your colors, fonts, and tone.  I suggest creating templates for your blog post images. A little prep work upfront will save you boat loads of time with your post, plus you’ll have a consistent look for each post.

SEO-ready just means changing the name to something like “blog-post-checklist.jpg” with your keyword.

Step #6: Minify your images

Page speed is important, both for SEO and for people. If your post loads too slowly, people are going to get squirmish. Some may become impatient and hit the back button if they have to wait more than two or three seconds. I recommend doing everything you can to make sure your post loads as quickly as possible.

One of the things that can really bog down page speed is large images. The good news is that there are plugins like TinyPNG you can install that will automatically compress or “optimize” your images.

You can also upload your images directly to their website before you add them to your post. One reason you may want to do it yourself is if your web host doesn’t support these types of plugins (I know some don’t, such as Flywheel).

Step #7: Add alt text to your images

You want to add alt text with keywords and a call to action to your images. This is good for search engines, plus the alt text will automatically be added to the “description” when someone pins an image from your site.

Include your title in the alt text plus one or two descriptive sentences and end with a call to action like, “Click through to check out the tips.”

If you’re wondering where to enter the alt text in WordPress, it’s here:

New website launch checklist tip: Add your keyword to your image alt text


Step #8: End with a question and call to action

A simple and effective way to encourage your readers to interact and engage with your post is to ask a question at the end of it. It can be as simple as “What tips do you find helpful?”

The point is to encourage people to become part of the conversation. Then when people comment, you can deepen and extend the comments or pose another question. This makes for loyal readers because people will know you’re paying attention and that their opinion is important to you.

You can even install a poll plugin and add a poll at the end of your post, then highlight that conversation on social media and re-share the post. This type of extended sharing amplifies the community and interaction and shows that you value conversation.

Or why not add an activity at the end of the posts that people can do? This gives you another legitimate way to share your blog post again and get even more engagement.

(Download the printable PDF so you have it on hand for your next blog post.)

14 Things You Should Do to Every Blog Post Before You Hit Publish | If you’re ready to grow your blog audience, but aren’t sure about the best ways take to market it, this post is for you! It includes 14 tips for bloggers and entrepreneurs to help your posts get found and shared by more people everywhere – through social media, emails, search engines…everywhere.

Step #9: Add links to other posts

This is called internal linking, where you link your post to other posts or pages on your site that are relevant to your post. Internal links are a form of “link building”, which is a large part of what Google uses to find the best pages about a topic and rank it high in search results.

Link building is a big deal because it’s a way for people to vote on your content. Search engines use that data as an indication of your site’s popularity.

So with internal link building (versus external link building, where someone else votes for your post by linking to it), you basically vote for yourself and show Google the importance of your post. The more links you have, the better your chances of search engines finding you and in turn, getting more traffic to your site.

There are two ways to add links:

You can either weave links into your text naturally, or you can add related topics to the end of your post like this:

This second method is great if you’re blogging around themes, which I highly recommend you do. Taking people on a journey with your posts where you elaborate on each one is a great way to build momentum and continuity, almost like offering a mini course. It’s also a smart way to “brand” your blog, so to speak.

Step #10: Use a Featured Image

Featured images are important for a couple of reasons:

First, there’s a good chance your featured image will be shared on social media. For this reason, you want to add the title of your post directly onto your image for sites like Pinterest and Instagram that are largely visual. This way when people scroll it will quickly stand out and people will know what your post is about right away.

If you’re wondering what a featured image is, in WordPress it’s right here:

Quick tip for how to optimize blog posts: Include a featured image


Canva is great for creating featured images. They’ve got horizontal and vertical templates (their Blog Title and Blog Graphic templates) where you can choose your dimensions, colors, fonts, and background. They’ve got an extensive library of images and some pretty cool effects you can play with. And though many of the images are available with a premium account, I’ve been able to find plenty of free images that work.

I like to use a horizontal image as my featured image and share that on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Inside the post I add a second version of the featured image, which is vertical. That’s the one I pin on Pinterest because vertical images tend to get more attention on sites like on Pinterest and Bloglovin’ (if you use that). You’ll get a boost in traffic because your posts will be more visible when people are scrolling.

One last thing on featured images:

Having your brand colors, fonts, and overall design inside a template will help you create a workflow f0r posts and save a ton of time. I recommend that you brand the template with your logo and website so people visually recognize your posts.

Step #11: Make it downloadable

One of the fastest ways I’ve seen to build your mailing list is to offer a “content upgrade”, where you turn your post into a checklist, workbook, or template that people can download. It’s basically a printable version of your post.

This works on so many levels:

First, it’s a really valuable resource for your readers, especially if you’ve got great tips in your post (which I’m sure you do!). Most likely people won’t be able to act on everything you mention right away and the PDF gives them something to reference later.  I don’t know how many times I’ve bookmarked or saved a post to Evernote and then can’t find it when I need it. Having a PDF on hand is much more convenient.

Second, it’s a powerful asset for your business. Just add a pop-up where people enter their contact info and poof! – just like that you’ve got new subscribers. Plus, you know what interests them so you can send them related tips in your emails.

Here are some ways to do a content upgrade:

  • Copy your post verbatim and save it as a PDF
  • Expand on your post a bit with a worksheet, blueprint, or action plan.

It really depends on how much time you have to create your freebie.

Step #12: Make it Shareaholic

I recommend installing the Shareaholic or SumoMe (for WordPress) plugin to your site. Both of these will let you easily add social share buttons to your post and encourage people to share it with their followers and fans. They also show “social proof” – the more shares people see on your post, the more they’ll want to share it too.

Here are two great ways to use them:

  • Add share buttons to the beginning, end, or left side of your post.
  • Add them directly to your blog post images so people can share those too. Tip: change the settings so the buttons only appear on blog post images, not your other pages. See how when you hover over the image, the social buttons appear? Pretty cool!!

Daily blogging checklist | Step #12: Make your images shareable

Step #13: Credit your sources

If your post is a round-up, or if you’ve mentioned a quote or reference from another blogger, make sure you give them credit with a link back to their site.

This is a powerful way to add credibility to your post and build relationships with influencers around your niche. Once you publish your post you can reach out to them and let them know you mentioned them in your post, just in case they want to share it too. This should give you a boost in traffic.

Step #14: Publish it!

Hah! Sounds crazy, I know. You’d be surprised how many times I thought my post was live and found out days later that I forgot to actually publish it. Give it one last preview before you do. Test the internal links to make sure they work, make sure your content upgrade link is working, check for typos one last time, and make sure your featured image and blog post images are on-brand and reflect your aesthetic.


Hit Publish, grab a glass of wine, and pat yourself on the back. You’re done – woo!

Next up –> Blog Checklist: 7 Things to Do After Your Post Goes Live


14 Things You Should Do to Every Blog Post Before You Hit Publish | If you’re ready to grow your blog audience, but aren’t sure about the best ways take to market it, this post includes 14 tips for bloggers and entrepreneurs to help your content get found and shared by more people everywhere.

11 SEO Myths That Will Kill Your Blog Traffic | If you want to grow your blog, but don’t know what to do about SEO or are a little confused by everything you read, help is here! This post drills down on 11 SEO myths that may be sabotaging your blog traffic, and what entrepreneurs and bloggers should do instead to get seen by as many people as possible. Click through for all the tips!There’s been a lot of confusion around SEO as Google continues to change the rules in a push to deliver the best possible experience to users.

If you’re confused about all of it or have heard rumors about SEO being dead, these algorithm updates are good and bad news.

The good news is that the lazy, quick win tactics that worked just a few years ago won’t work today.  The bad news is that swarms of myths have circulated about SEO, with Google’s Matt Cutts discussing the biggest SEO myths here.

If you’re confused by all these rumors, this post will clear up some of the confusion by highlighting 11 common SEO myths I encounter, and what you can do to get more traffic to your site.

SEO Myth #1: SEO is a scam

If you’ve been approached by less-than-ethical marketing agencies who promise immediate rankings and deliver nothing, you may think SEO is a scam. In fact, it was the services they promised that were the scam, not SEO.

SEO is real. It takes time, and it works.

There’s nothing inherently dishonest about SEO unless black hat tactics are applied such as keyword stuffing, spinning content, hidden links, duplicate websites, social spamming, and so on.

SEO Myth #2: Go for a quick win

Just because you have a friend whose site ranks #1 with little effort, don’t expect quick and easy rankings. If your friend is in a narrow niche market, has little competition or has easily correctable technical issues, he may get those wins. For everyone else, real effort and commitment are required to get an increase in traffic. A perk is that you can also expect additional rewards from your efforts beyond a traffic spike.

SEO Myth #3: My blog doesn’t need it

You may think your blog won’t benefit from SEO or that it only makes sense for certain types of companies. If you look beyond raising brand awareness and increasing traffic alone, every business can stand to benefit from SEO.

Think of your brand as a publisher and source of high-quality information. When you produce helpful, informative content like blog posts, how-to articles, and research, you’ll get in front of searchers and earn their trust. Over time, you’ll see more leads and sales from your efforts.

Applying SEO strategies will force you to update your site so that it loads fast, is easy and intuitive, and provides an amazing user experience. When readers have a rewarding experience on your website, they’re more likely to check back in and share their experience with friends and colleagues, so you can expect even more traffic and sales over time.

SEO Myth #4: Do it once and be done

SEO is best thought of as a long-term play. Search engine algorithms are constantly changing and your competitors will adjust their SEO strategies accordingly. Not only that, consumer buying habits and preferences are in a constant state of flux. Customers who have been loyal in the past can disappear in a heartbeat.

So even if your inbox is filled with orders and requests, you still need focus monthly attention on search engine optimization in order to keep traffic coming and ensure that your rankings don’t take a nose dive.

The best approach is to track, measure and adjust. Stay on top of search algorithm updates, review your traffic data and adjust your SEO tactics accordingly.

SEO Myth #5: SEO alone is enough

While SEO is extremely important, it doesn’t mean you can forget about marketing your blog outside of search engines. It’s your job to make sure that people find your site, and you can’t rely on search engines alone to get the word out there. This means social, PPC, ads, and so on.

If you’re a local business or storefront, incorporate offline channels to get more exposure by participating in local events, trade shows and sponsored community activities.

SEO Myth #6: Keywords are all you need

Long-tail keywords and phrases will help you reel in targeted prospects, but you can’t stop there. High-ranking keywords won’t mean a thing if your blog or website isn’t set up to convert traffic and deliver sales.

Think of search engine optimization as your business development rep, and your blog as the closer who can make or break your search engine optimization.

Make sure your website is engaging and has the right pathways to lead people in the direction you want them to go, whether it’s filling out a form, picking up the phone, or making a purchase. This is where your landing pages, offers and CTAs will help nurture people throughout the awareness and evaluation stages.

SEO Myth #7: A title tag is enough

If all it took to get rankings was to place the right keyword in the title tag, SEO would be a one-trick pony.

When you’re talking about on-page SEO, keywords need to be placed not only in the title, but in your headings and sub head, body text, URL, meta descriptions and images.

SEO Myth #8: You only need to blog

Even though your target audience may prefer to blog and social media posts, there are benefits that come from incorporating other types of content.

For instance, an infograph is a highly sharable form of content that may be outside of what your audience. So why not create one? By offering influencers and other bloggers the opportunity to embed your infograph, you can build high quality links back to your site which will improve your overall rankings.

You’ll get a boost in traffic. Plus, repurposing your blog posts will help you reach more people.

SEO Myth #9: Social media is a waste of time

The total number of followers and connections you have has a significant influence on your rankings, so although social media by itself won’t get you the results you need, combining it with high quality content and a strong brand presence will boost your rankings. Google will reward you for being social, so engage your followers by tweeting, commenting, and sharing.

If that’s not enough to convince you, social media encourages external sites to link to your content. As more followers share your content, you’ll gain more authority in Google’s eyes. Try to bring your content into existing threads and discussions to maximize your potential external link sources.

Highly shared updates also get a leg up in search results, so making sure your posts are optimized is another way to improve rankings.

SEO Myth #10: #1 ranking is the only goal

Everyone wants those top three coveted spots in search results, but they aren’t the only measure of success. There are billions of search results worldwide and at any given point in time, your goal is to rank as high above the others as you can. Your site can still benefit from increased exposure and traffic if it ranks #7 or #8, and even if it appears on the second page.

SEO Myth #11: Buying Ads Helps Your Rankings

While many love the idea of throwing money at search engines to rank number one, it isn’t going to happen. Keep your SEM and PPC strategies separate from organic and invest in ads for the sole purpose of converting those ads. Investing a large ad spend because you think it will payoff with organic search is the wrong way to go.

Key Takeaway

Anything that’s worth achieving takes time. The real secret to success with SEO is taking a long-term approach, keeping your head down and laying a strong content strategy for your blog. If you want to  “have your cake and eat it too”, you need the right ingredients. Think of content as your baste, SEO as the icing, and social media as the cherry. When you mix them up just right and bake them long enough, you’ll get the rankings and traffic to grow your blog and your business.


Ever wonder what your sales would look like if your next blog post struck a chord so deep your readers just had to work with you? It’s easy to convert people into customers when you can articulate the way they feel, better than they can. This post includes 6 tips for freelancers and creative entrepreneurs, which will help you get more clients and referrals with your blog. Click through to see all the tips!Let’s face it, we’re human. We’re emotional. Even when we fool ourselves into thinking that we’re rational and logical.

Think about the last time you shopped for a pair of boots, which ones did you buy? I bet it was the pair that put a big smile on your face and slipped on your feet like butter.

The rational you knew may have needed the boots, but the emotional you bought the pair that made you happy.

Ever wonder what your sales would look like if you put a big smile on people’s faces? Or struck a chord so deep they just had to find out more?

Getting business and referrals really comes down to how well you can appeal to people on some emotional level. Here are some of the best ways to use content to get more clients.

1) Move people from point A to point Z

People start out at point A, with some problem they need to solve. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to leave them hanging there with nowhere to go. Remember, this is their first step. They don’t care too much about the services you provide just yet. They just want to get to point Z.

What you want to do is connect the dots for them and help them get where they want to go (without giving away the farm). The closer you get people there, the more likely they are to get excited about your brand and what you do. They’ll start associating you with rewarding experiences, and from there it’s an logical next step to buy.

What can you do?

The key here is to get clear on who your customer is and what motivates them to buy. You want to look at everything, not only demographics but any obstacles that may prevent them from working with you. Then create content that teaches people how to move as close as possible to point Z before you ask for their money. For more info on identifying your ideal customers, check out this post.

2) Rebrand or repackage

When I first started my temporary tattoo company, business was great and we had decent sales.

After the first couple of years, we realized that the key to selling more tattoos was to keep feeding the machine and  churn out new designs.

The problem was that after 300 or so designs, we were running out of ideas. And most of our new designs weren’t bringing in more money because they weren’t selling. We were pretty much shooting in the dark with new designs and not knowing what people wanted.

Then it dawned on us.

People said they wanted new designs and they really thought they wanted new designs. But what they really wanted was their favorite styles reinvented.

Once we figured that out, all we had to do was take our bestsellers, change them up a bit and package them differently.

So what can you do?

The idea of something new is powerful. It makes people feel young, excited, and invigorated. Without them even knowing it, their brains light up.

The reality of new is that it doesn’t have to be brand new, and you don’t have to reinvent the wheel in order to hit a home run. You can take one of your existing products, make a few tweaks and rebrand it.

The key to rebranding old products or services is keeping them relevant.

You don’t want to randomly rebrand old products without careful analysis of why you’re doing it, what you want to achieve ,and who it’s for.

Reevaluate what your target audience wants by reaching out to your customers to find out what common themes or questions they have. This way you’ll know how much tweaking and updating you need to do.

Then alter the new offering to create a more compelling reason why people should buy it.

3) Tell people why

When someone asks to get in front of you at the supermarket, aren’t you more likely to let them in if they give you a reason? And it doesn’t even have to be a good reason. Something simple like “I only have one thing to buy” or “I need to” will do. As long as you know why, you’d probably step aside and let them in.

Now if that same person tried to get in front of you and didn’t say anything at all to you, do you think you’d still let them cut in front of you? I know I wouldn’t.

The thing is this: Our brains are always searching for meaning, even when there may be no real meaning. We want the reasoning and we want to know why. We seek out explanations to understand everything we experience in life.

If you apply this to your marketing, your customers need a reason. You have to help them connect the dots between what they need and what you can do for them.

So what can you do?

Include reasons in your content to justify people’s decisions. Your landing pages, website content, sales pages, ads and emails need to clearly explain why people should buy from you and what they will get out of it.

Review your ideal customer to determine what drives their decisions and make sure your “why” speaks to those motivating factors. Are they looking to save time? Money? Convince their boss to purchase some software? Tell them how your offer will help them do that. Use bullet points to list all the benefits people will receive.

Explaining why you are offering something will make people be far more likely to commit.

4) Tell a Story

There’s something about a good song that transports people to another place. Our favorite songs make us feel like they happened to us or like we could have written them.

Stories leave an imprint. Our brains are wired to plant ourselves into experiences we read about as if they are real. They activate the language parts of our brain as well as the parts of the brain we would use if we were actually experiencing it first hand.

This means that telling a story one of the strongest and smartest ways connect with people. They’ll remember your stories more than they will facts and data about our products.

You can keep your message subtle while still leading people in the direction you want them to go.

So what can you do?

Turn your backstory into your brand story. Why you do what you do is filled with stories about why you do what you do, how you get here and what drives you. The way you have arrived at solutions and your value proposition are all about stories. Don’t be bashful – include them in your content and give people a chance to get to know you and visualize your process as if it happened to them.

You want to create a story for your brand that people can relate to. Show your audience what you stand for and why it should matter to them.

Once you decide what message you want to convey, use more stories to deliver your message. Think about the types of stories that may appeal to your target audience and how they relate to the stories your customers have.

Think about case studies. Stories of other people’s journey working with you and the things you helped them achieve are powerful ways to connect to potential customers.  Hearing other people’s success helps them envision this same success.

Stories like these are a powerful form of emotional marketing and should be all over your web content, ebooks, blog posts and landing pages. Walk people through painful problems you and others have had and how you achieved a result.

5) Make it easy

Would you rather walk up a long hill or hop in a car and drive it? What about spending 3 months creating a product or just 3 weeks?

If you give people a hard option and an easy one, most of the time they’re going to choose the easiest one. The mere thought of effort has a price, and the desire to achieve a goal is always balanced out by the weighing the benefits and costs.

For instance, I can always justify buying a new handbag, not only because I desperately need one but I just want one. If I can find one on sale that would make me really happy. AND that bag just happens to go with everything I wear and I can use it every day, my decision to buy just got a lot easier.

So when you give people a choice between a course of action that’s hard and one that’s easy, they’re going to choose the easy one.

So what can you do?

If we apply this to marketing, using shorter, simpler words that are easy to process will connect with people more than their longer synonyms. For example, instead of saying “difficult”, use “tough” or “hard”.

Words that have few syllables are easier to digest. Simple words also make your products and services seem to be an easy solution.

Before you publish new content, go back and replace longer words with shorter ones. And while you’re at it, take a look at your sentences and try shortening ones that seem long. Shorter sentences are easier to digest and easier to read.

Use words like “easy”, “step-by-step”, “fast”, and “system”, when you write so people know right away that your solution is the simplest one available.

And there’s nothing that puts people more at ease than using the word free. “Free” is about as low-risk as you can get and more powerful than any discount or offer in convincing people to take action.

6) Make people curious

We’re all curious by nature and want to fill in gaps between what we know and what we want to know.

Creating curiosity naturally inspires people to take action. Curiosity also triggers activity in our brains associated with pleasure. There’s something exciting about pulling back the curtain to see what’s behind it.

The idea is to keep that curiosity gap open long enough to keep people engaged so they take the next step, without making them squirmy. You want to give them just enough information to make them curious, but not enough to satisfy their curiosity right away. Your goal is to lead people to your next step, not give everything away right up front.

What can you do?

Use subtle teasers to give people a taste of how they can achieve their desired result or leave behind their existing pain through your products or services.

Asking your readers a question is another way to engage them with the curiosity gap. Questions feel incomplete and leave readers hanging.

Using a question will inspire people to open your email or click through your content in search of an answer. The question mark will itself will stand out from other punctuation on the page.

Be careful not to mislead readers with this teaser-like approach technique. Your content should always set the right expectations for readers. Nothing will ruin trust in your brand more than not delivering on your promise.

For instance, the headline “Grow your email list 99% faster: how one site did it” really grabs your attention. I want to know how they did it. Just make sure your content post backs it up. The last thing you want to do is invite people in your door and not deliver. That’s one of the fastest ways to lose their trust in you.