Graphics Tutorial: How to Create Branded Social Media Images | Ready to create image templates that make your brand stand out and get noticed? In this Photoshop tutorial I show bloggers and entrepreneurs how to create image templates that will save you time and help you brand your biz. Click through to see all the steps!

Graphics Tutorial: How to Create Branded Social Media Images | Ready to create image templates that make your brand stand out and get noticed? In this tutorial I show bloggers and entrepreneurs how to create image templates that will save you time and brand your biz. Click through to see all the steps!I spend so much time creating images for social media and my blog. It’s a big deal to me that my images reflect my brand and are uniquely ME, and at the same time appealing in a way that makes people want to click.

I admit, sometimes I’m better at this than others! When it’s crunch time and I really need to hit that publish button, there are times when my images fall flat. I know it, and boy does it hurt…

I also know that half of your image has ev’rything to do with the blog title (more on titles here). We can create the most beautiful images the sun has ever seen, and if our titles miss the mark our post is going dark on us. That’s the way it goes, right? Sometimes we hit and sometimes we miss…

But I digress, because today it’s graphics tutorial time! I thought it might be fun to get a behind-the-scenes look at how I use Photoshop to create my blog and social media image templates. Woop woop!

Having social media image templates is one of those things that makes your day-to-day so much more productive. No more worrying about what to share on Instagram at the last minute, k?

Here’s what I’m covering in this graphics tutorial:

  • Template sizes and editing tools
  • Design tips to help your images stand out
  • The Photoshop workspace, tools, and palettes
  • Using Photoshop to create an image template

Now, you’re probably wondering about images sizes and editing tools, so let’s kick it off right there.

1) IMAGE SIZES AND EDITING TOOLS

What size templates do you need?

Great question! This one really got me too at first. Here’s what I’ve come up with that works well for me, and it may work for you too:

  • Twitter + Facebook: 1000 x 500 (I use this image as the Featured Image on my blog post)
  • Instagram: 1080 square
  • Pinterest: 800 x 1200 (this is the first image on my blog) and a second, longer pin

Here’s an example of the image size templates I use:

Graphics tutorial: sizes for blog and social media image templatesI know you’re probably thinking Do I really need 3 or 4 different image templates? I don’t even have time to create one!

Really, you don’t need all of these, but there are a few reasons these work for me. First off, these are the social media platforms I’ve decided to build a following on.  Second, I like changing up my Twitter and Facebook images 🙂 And last, I’ve made it a habit to create 2 pins for every post, so that’s why that extra pin is in there. If you’re curious about that, this post explains why.

So that’s what works for me. What you create is really a matter of preference. You may decide to create templates only for Instagram and Pinterest, then use the same square image for Facebook and Twitter (keep in mind that part of your image will be cut off in the feeds if you do this).

Or, maybe you’ll want to be laser-focused on Pinterest at first. That’s perfectly okay. Actually, better than okay… Pinterest is the bomb for traffic so starting here makes sense, you savvy blogger, you!

Related: Social Media Image Sizes [Profile Pics, Cover Photos & Shared Images]

Do you have to use Photoshop?

Absolutely not! Photoshop is just my preference. I’ve read that you can do amazing things with Canva, especially the paid version. I think Canva will even resize the templates for you. Done, done and done!

The reason I prefer Photoshop is that I’m a graphic designer and have used it for 20 years.  Let’s just say Photoshop and me are BFFs 🙂

If you’re unsure whether to use Canva or Photoshop, I recommend looking into Canva first. Even their free version is jam-packed with design features and starter templates that will make you look like a design pro even if you don’t feel like one yet!

If you’re still curious about Photoshop, here are a few reasons why I love it:

  • Working in layers makes it very easy to tweak any element of your image
  • Endless creativity with images, textures, overlays, and fonts
  • Advanced controls over font spacing and image alignment
  • There are times (like most!) when my image is almost perfect but not quite. I can easily retouch the photo to make it work better
  • Designing is fun, easy, and rewarding!
  • I could go on and on…

Ok, speaking of design, this is just one of those things that we can’t overlook, because it will have a huge impact on your traffic and subscribers. The more successful your content is visually = the more your business will grow. Make sense?

I’ve picked up quite a few design tips through years of trial and error, and I’m going to save you all of that time right now!

2) A FEW QUICK DESIGN TIPS

Color

Bright colors like oranges and reds get more shares, saves and repins. Think light, bright, poppy and you’ll be good. What this means is that any background images you use are open and airy. Whatever you do, don’t go dark! That’s where I started and darker images just don’t grab people’s attention the way that the brighter colors do.

Here’s an example of a dark image:

Graphics tutorial: example of a cluttered and dark pin image

Now I was right on track with the orange color in there, but the dark background pushes it back and makes it hard to notice in feeds. We want the exact opposite effect, so stick with lighter/brighter backgrounds and orange/red accents if you can.

A big bonus here is that people click on red the most, so your images will get more saves, repins and click-throughs.

Related: How to Choose Colors That Will Make Your Brand Stand Out

Balance + Hierarchy

The other thing to pay attention to is the overall balance between elements. This is especially true with background images. Make sure things aren’t bumping into each other and distracting people.

Your overall goal is to make people focus on something and that, friends, is your blog title – not some fancy pants image in the background. Think of it like your text is the star of the show and graphics/images are just supporting actors and actresses.

Now, I get that design can be a delicate balancing act. It seems so much easier than it is, right? For instance, in the pin example above, my text gobbles up the entire pin! Talk about stars and their egos!

What happens when you make your fonts too big like that is that the image gets crowded and noisy. People won’t know what to focus on. Instead, leave some “white space”. What you’re really looking for is that fine line where your text stands out enough to grab people’s attention, but not so much that it ruins the show and clutters up your pin. Make sense?

Aahhh, this is so much better:

Graphics tutorial: Understanding balance and design

You see how this is more open and airy? Now we’re talkin’!

Fonts

It’s just too tempting to see beautiful fonts like these and want to use every single one of them in your image. Let’s resist, friend! This is definitely one of those things where less is more. Of course, you’re going to want to play with fonts, and you should. At some point, though, make sure you narrow down your choices to just 2 or 3.

Everything we’ve just covered here is part of creating a kickin’ brand. You want that when people see your images on different platforms, they instantly recognize them (and you!) because your brand is harmonious and cohesive everywhere.

Related: How to Create a Branding System for Your Blog and Business

Still with me? Great, let’s do this!

3) Photoshop Tools and Palettes

Before you create an image template, you need to understand the Photoshop workspace a bit, specifically the tools palette and layers palette.

First up, the tools palette

These are some of the tools you’ll use most frequently:

Graphics Tutorial: The Photoshop Tools paletteNow, you’re probably wondering what each of these tools does, so let’s get that out of the way right now:

The Move Tool – Pretty obvious, right? This is the tool you can use to move things around on your canvas. So if you’re on a layer and you want to move it but can’t, that’s why!

Marquee – When you want to tweak something on one of your layers, use this tool…

…or, use this one:

Lasso – Works the same as the marquee tool, but you can actually draw your selection area with the lasso. This is great when you want to get very specific and just change a piece of an image, for instance.

Eyedropper – Such an awesome tool! See a color in an image or graphic you want to use? You’re gonna love this. Just drop the eyedropper tool on it and that color will become active.

Eraser – To erase things!

Text – Add text to your canvas. Tip: before you start typing, drag the text tool to create a text box first. This will make resizing text so much easier. Pinky swear.

Shape – Create rectangles, rounded corners, circles and more with this tool. To see the other shapes, just hover over that little triangle in the bottom right corner.

Now that we have our tools covered, let’s start creating!

Over to the layers palette…

The layers palette looks a bit like the image below. I’m using a verrrry old version of Photoshop, so your workspace probably looks different than mine, but everything’s still in the same place, so we’re all good.

Graphics tutorial: Accessing the Photoshop layers paletteTo build your template, you’re going to have 3 different groups of layers. Say whaaa? Stay with me here, I’ll going to clear it all up for you right now. Time to build a template!

4) Finally! Let’s create an image template

For this tutorial, we’re creating a Pinterest template that is 800 x 1200px. The reason I’m focusing on Pinterest is that this is where the bulk of your traffic will come from, so it makes sense to nail that platform first.

Before we dive in, be sure to download this template so you can tweak it with your own amazing design: Photoshop Pin Template.

First, create a new document

Our first step is to create a new document. Make sure you’re working in pixels, at 72 pixel/inch, and the color mode is RGB color. I like to append my file names with the word “template”, like this:

Graphics tutorial: creating a new document in Photoshop for a pin image template.

Now I know that a blank canvas can look intimidating, so let’s fill this bad boy up with some creative genius, k? You’re probably thinking where do I even start? How do I start filling up this *$#@! screen with pieces I can use over and over?

This is where the layers palette comes in. That’s where all the components of your image will live, and each one is “layered” on top of the others. So any element layer #1, for instance, will appear behind layer #2, layer #3, and so on. Think of it like building blocks!

Graphics Tutorial: The Photoshop Layers PaletteFor our template, we need 3 groups of layers. We’re going to have a background (layer group #1), some text (layer group #2), and our logo/branding elements (layer group #3).

Uh, why am I calling them layer groups? Great question! Each element is going to have its own layer, and then those layers will be grouped according to function. You will probably be working with more than one text box, more than one image, and more than one graphic. Groups are a simple way to organize our layers into something that makes sense:

  • Logo/branding
  • Text
  • Background

Before we even create a layer group, though, we need to create our first layer. Let’s start by creating a background.

Next, create a background layer + group

To fill your entire background with a color, select the shape tool, fill it with a color and drag across the canvas. This will automatically create a new layer (if you want to change the color, just double click on the layer, like this:

Graphics tutorial: Adding a background and changing color in PhotoshopNext, select the shape layer from the layers palette. From the top right corner of the layer’s palette, you’ll see a tiny triangle shape. Select that, and then select “New Group from Layers”, like this:

Graphics tutorial: Working with layers and layer groups in PhotoshopWoop woop! See how we’re starting to create our layer groups? I recommend naming the new layer group “bg” or “background”. Now anything we want to add to the background, say an image for example, would go on its own layer inside the background group. This layer group will always be at the bottom of the layers palette. Text, branding and other graphic elements will go on top.

Next up, add text

You can use any text you like, but for the purpose of this post and because we’re talking about blogging here, let’s assume that the text will be your blog title image, cool?

Select the text tool, and drag it across the center of the canvas to create a text box, then start typing. Whatever you do, don’t leave the text tool without adding text to it! You will have a crazy hard time finding that text box if you do 🙂

Graphics tutorial: The Photoshop workspace and text toolNow the fun starts! It’s so much fun to play with different fonts and get creative. You may want to break your text apart into separate text boxes so that you can have more control over spacing, sizing, fonts, etc. That’s totally fine! I do it all the time.

Just remember to create a separate group layer for all text layers, like we did with the background group layer.

I’m going to say this again because it’s a biggie. You really want to find a style where you use 2-3 fonts (I use Gotham, Thirsty Script, and Angelface) and no more than 2 graphic elements. Then you want to use those same fonts and elements on every image you create! I know it’s so tempting to change fonts on every image, but the problem here is that your brand is going to start to look a bit all over the place, and you want to look consistent and cohesive. If you need some font inspiration, this post is a good read.

Related: How to Create a Style Guide for Your Blog

I think I want to add another shape behind the text so that it really pops. Something like this…

Graphics tutorial: Putting a background behind text in Photoshop.See how our blank canvas is starting to turn into a masterpiece! So exciting!! But it’s still missing that wow factor, no? Let’s see how we can perk it up.

I’m going to add a background image and make the peach box behind the text slightly transparent, which will completely transform the image.

Graphics Tutorial: adding an image and changing opacity of a box in Photoshop.Phew! We’re almost there. Once you have your template styled the way you want, the only thing left to do is to add your logo and branding.

Add your logo and branding

This is so that people start to recognize your images and brand.

If your logo was created in Illustrator, this part is super easy! Keep both Photoshop and Illustrator open, select your logo and drag it over to Photoshop. It will automatically import as a vector smart object, which means that when you click on the logo layer in Photoshop, your logo will open up in Illustrator to edit it there.

I highly recommend adding your URL next to the logo, like this:

Graphics Tutorial: Adding your branding to the image template in PhotoshopThat’s all there is to it. I hope this graphics tutorial has made you fall in love with Photoshop! There is so much you can do once you become familiar with it. You know when you see something in your mind and just wish you could create it? You can with Photoshop! Anything you can imagine, you can find a way to do it. Now you might think the learning curve is too much, and I hear ya! It does take a little more time to master than Canva, but there’s also sooo much more you can do with it!

Have I convinced you yet? Grab the Photoshop template we created here and start tweaking it with your amazing design (free download, no email required!): Photoshop Pin Template

Let’s recap!

  • Create image templates for Pinterest and Instagram first. If you like you can add a third size for Facebook and Twitter, or use the square Instagram image.
  • Canva and PicMonkey are 2 other photo editors you can use as alternatives to Photoshop. I know Canva comes with preset templates to get you started, but as you’ve seen in this tutorial, turning a blank canvas into a template isn’t as daunting as it seems at first!
  • As you create the image templates, remember that you’re building your brand at the same time. Be intentional with your use of color, fonts, and other design elements. And of course, the star of the show is your blog title or text…
  • The tools and layers palettes are where the magic happens in Photoshop. Layers can be a bit confusing at first. If you hang in there with it, you’ll be on your way to creating masterpieces in no time. Promise. Just think of layers like a stack of bricks, where one is on top of the other. The bricks that are on the top will cover up the other bricks, so you can’t see them as well as the one on top. The same is true with layers. The top-most layer is going to cover that portion of the image beneath it.
  • Work in layer groups with your background as the bottom layer group, text in the middle, and branding on the top. This way your background will always be at the bottom and not covering up another part of the image (if it does, you know that your layers got rearranged somehow!)
  • Always add your logo and any branding elements or submarks to your images so that people will recognize your brand.

As you create your image templates, you may find these posts helpful:

I’m so excited for you guys! I love Photoshop and know you will too. Here’s the link to the template again so you can get started: Photoshop Pin Template.

Are you having fun with it? Let me know if/where you get stumped and I’ll try my best to help!

by
How to Be Successful Blogging When Feel Like You’re Failing | Are you spending a lot of time on your blog, but not as far along as you want? Or, maybe you’ve tried blogging before without much success and are afraid to jump back in. If so, I hear ya! This post includes 6 tip to help you turn all that around and build the blog biz of your dreams!

How to Be Successful Blogging When You Feel Like You’re Failing | Are you spending a lot of time on your blog, but not as far along as you want? Or, maybe you’ve tried blogging before without much success and are afraid to jump back in. If so, I hear ya! This post includes 6 tip to help you turn all that around and build the blog biz of your dreams!Hey there! Let me preface this post by saying that this is going to be a little different.

I usually try to give you guys actionable tips…things you can apply in a reasonable time frame that will accelerate your growth and help you be successful blogging and in your business.

Buut, this whole being-an-entrepreneur thing has been on my mind lately, and today I’m sharing a bit of my story, mostly so you’ll understand why it’s been on my mind. My hope is that it will inspire you to never quit, to always keep going, to believe in yourself, and to hold on to that special thing you’ve been put on this earth to do.

Ok, first, a little bit about me…

As a young girl, I saw my dad work his tail off to grow the family business. It was an Air Wick franchise that he ran from our home, which meant our whole family worked hard too. My sister and I learned to do payroll, balance checkbooks, and some other light accounting stuff.

By the time we moved the office to a physical location, I was doing just about everything for the biz…filing, answering phones, handling shipments, inventory, cleaning, delivering, attending trade shows, installing stick-ups, even cleaning up sewage spills (ick!).

It wasn’t easy or glamorous work, but it was a crazy thrill to be a part of it…the brainstorming, the hustling, the troubleshooting, the scrambling, the shifting gears…anything to make it all work.

I’m sure that it’s this experience, at such a young age, that made me fall in love with being an entrepreneur. And it most definitely shaped my worldview, which is:

I believe that we were put on this earth to create, to share, and to realize our true potential. And to never let anyone else tell us how much we should make, what title we should have, or what ceiling is too high.

Now, I did hold a job for a short time after college, but that was really it. When my boss offered me a raise and a promotion, I politely declined because I had seen what my dad had built, and I wanted that too. I wanted a business and lifestyle that I loved, and I was willing to work hard to get it. I’ve been self-employed ever since then.

Throughout my business journey, I have learned a whole lot about what it takes to create a sustainable, scalable business. I’ve learned how to fail at to too (failures are successes in disguise, though, so I say that with a grain of salt).

I’ve had 9 businesses in these industries:

  • Manufacturing
  • Designing
  • Marketing + branding
  • Music
  • Fashion
  • Accessories
  • Fitness
  • Nutrition
  • Now blogging 🙂

Ok, so what’s been on my mind with all of this?

I’m so glad you asked! Something struck me the other day that may strike a chord with you too:

It’s one thing to be successful blogging when you’re fresh at it, with no frame of reference or expectations. It’s quite another to be successful blogging when you haven’t seen the growth you want, even after you’ve been at it for years.

Something similar happened to me, not with blogging but with my first business. I started a temporary tattoo business right after I left that one job I had. It turned out to be a total cash machine, almost like printing money. And after that win, I thought everything I touched was golden.

You know what? It took me 7 years to achieve anything even close to that kind of success again. Those were 7 hard years, I tell ya! I was working my butt off, trying to make something click, but nothing really did.

What made it harder was that I had been on top, and then suddenly here I was at the bottom. I felt shame and disappointment in myself. My confidence chipped away with every failure, and I wondered if I even had any good ideas left at all. I started questioning my self-worth as a human being.

When that kind of self-doubt happens, it’s hard to picture yourself succeeding. Failing, or even feeling like you’re failing, makes success look foggy and far away like.

But if you can get push aside the voices in your head (you know, the ones that tell you you can’t do it!), you’ll be able to see things clearly.

You’ll see that what we call failure is actually a straight ticket to success.

Or, as Brian Tracy says:

Failure is an absolute prerequisite for success. You learn to succeed by failing. All successful people know that it doesn’t come easy and they are bound to fail more than they will succeed at anything. While many people give up after failing at something, a successful person will persevere.

So, we’re going to keep on going, k?

You should aim to get as many failures under your belt as you can because the next one could very well be your success. And waaay too many entrepreneurs and bloggers stop right before they achieve success.

Now, maybe you’ve already had a blog or biz that didn’t knock it out of the park the way you thought. Or, maybe you haven’t even started your blog yet because you’re afraid you might fail.

I get that, I really do. Fear can be such a powerful force. But ya know what’s on the other side of fear?

Love. Beauty. Creativity. Abundance.

You just have to forge ahead, friend.

I’ll leave you with a few things I’ve learned along the way. I hope they help you overcome your fears, look failure straight in the eye, and punch the daylights out of it!

1) Create your success mantra

Live it, breathe it, say it, chant it. Every day. You are what you say and think, and mantras are amazingly powerful at resetting your mind. My mantra is “Don’t Quit”, and my favorite time to chant it is when I go for a run. It gets me all fired up and pumped to take on the world!

2) Envision your future self

A former business coach had me record a day in the life of my future self. He told me to play the recording when I first woke up in the morning, and again right before I went to sleep.

The idea is that when you go to sleep dreaming about your future self and reinforce it again as soon as you wake up, you’ll start moving throughout the day “as if” and step into your future self quickly.

This really does work, especially when you combine it with the mantra from Step #1. Little by little, your doubting voices quiet down and your conquer-the-world voice overpowers it.

The trick here is to force yourself to actually listen to it! If you can stick to it for at least a month, you’ll start to feel like you can achieve anything, which of course, you can!

3) Be kind to yourself

This is another one of those things that can be tricky to do, but hugely powerful. It’s so much easier to beat ourselves up than it is to nurture ourselves, no? Let’s ease up already! We did the best we could then, and today’s a new day!

Plus, I’m betting that you know more today than you did yesterday, so you won’t make the same mistake twice, right?

Which leads me to…

4) Evaluate your mistakes

Maybe you picked the wrong blog focus to begin with, or maybe you were never really sure what your blog was about in the first place.

Sometimes you can even quit too soon, right before you’re about to blow up.

Take a look at why you chose your niche and focus, what went wonky, and what you will change next time.

5) Analyze your resources

My biggest flops were a result of jumping in too soon, before I put everything down on paper and really evaluated if I had the resources and expertise to execute on it.

This is why having a business plan is so important!

To make it extra easy for you, I’ve created a Blog Business Plan Workbook you can customize for your biz! Just click the button below to grab it.

Get the Blog Business Plan Workbook and start turning your dream into a profitable online business!For instance, for my clothing line, I was the pattern maker, seamstress, designer, and sales person. And I didn’t even know how to make a dress pattern! I had zero expertise in this area, PLUS those are all entirely different (and huge) jobs.

It’s a formula for failure, but I couldn’t see it at the time. I’m such a hopeless DIY’er that I just kept muddling through!

You have to think long-term and make sure that you have the resources (aka marketing budget, overhead, stamina, etc) to sustain your blog biz until it takes off.

6) Pick the right focus!

Tada! We have a winner. This is the jackpot (and another reason why you need a business plan, in my book!).

If you’ve got a shaky blog topic, you’re going to have a hard time getting it off the ground. You want to build an audience for your blog and to do that, you have to be very clear about who you’re writing for.

Your goal should be to solve one specific problem for one specific person. When you combine that with your knowledge and skills, you have a perfect intersection that’s ripe for success.

Related: How to Attract Your Ideal Customer, Even if You’re Just Starting Out

Buut, when you’re fuzzy about who you’re speaking to or even what your blog is about, it’s hard to know how to steer it in the direction you want, hard to come up with the right products and services, and hard for people to define your brand (aka, they won’t know what box to put you in).

If you want, you can download this workbook to help you get clear on your blog’s niche and focus:

Click here to download my Find your Blog Niche Workbook!

 

There you go! I say keep goin’, change what you need to change, and let’s knock it out of the park!

by

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.

by

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.

by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Follow

by