6 Blog Image Resources We Couldn't Live Without

6 Blog Image Resources We Couldn’t Live Without

Images are an essential part of blogging – here are 6 blog image resources we just couldn’t live without!

1. Librestock

6 Blog Image Resources We Couldn't Live Without - Librestock Bacon

Everyone loves bacon.

Librestock is THE ultimate source for stock images.

Librestock collects results from all the major free stock image providers, meaning that you don’t need to go searching through a whole load of different sites to find the image you want.

The search feature is pretty intelligent, and you’re likely to find an image to suit most needs.

As the content is collected from across a number of different sources, it’s a good idea to double check the usage rights on each individual image to make sure your use is covered.

2. Coolors.co

6 Blog Image Resources We Couldn't Live Without - Coolors

If you want to create a colour scheme to use on a project, then this site is for you.

Open up the Generator, add your main brand colour to one of the columns (using its Hex code), and hit the padlock icon.

Then hit the spacebar until you find a scheme you like.

You can also hit the padlock icon on any column at any time, to lock those colours in place – and there’s your brand colour scheme.

Create an account, and you can save your colours for later use.

3. Canva

6 Blog Image Resources We Couldn't Live Without - Canva

It’s no secret that we LOVE Canva.

It’s managed to strike a balance between powerful editing and ease of use.

For throwing together blog images, email graphics, and ad creatives, it’s brilliant.

Just load in your images from Librestock, use some colours from Coolors.co, and you’re good to go.

The export options include hi-res, print-ready PDFs too, so your print jobs are covered too.

(N.B. At this stage, the PDF export doesn’t support embedded fonts, so make sure whoever is doing the print job has the appropriate fonts installed.)

4. Gimp

6 Blog Image Resources We Couldn't Live Without - GIMP

Photoshop is ace, and with the Creative Cloud, it’s now more affordable than ever.

But if you don’t want to shell out your cash, there’s a brilliant open source alternative.

GIMP is bloody powerful, and can do 98%* of the things you’d want to do in Photoshop.

Give it a download, and spend some time getting used to it – it’s a worthwhile investment, especially if you’re bootstrapping.

(*I just made this figure up. It does LOADS. That’s my point.)

5. Bulk Resize Photos

6 Blog Image Resources We Couldn't Live Without - Bulk Resize Photos

Got loads of photos to upload to Facebook, but they’re all MASSIVE (in dimensions as well as filesize)?

We get this a lot – often, photographers will send across a suite of ultra-hi-res images for clients. Often, they’re upwards of 15MB each. And we’re asked to get them up on social media.

You don’t need to post a 15MB image on social media.

You don’t even need to post a 0.5MB image on social media.

So, use this free Bulk Resize Photos tool to reduce your files to a much more manageable size – for easy uploading and sharing.

The best feature is that it doesn’t run in the cloud, so you don’t have to upload massive files in order to resize. Brilliant.

6. TinyPNG and TinyJPG

6 Blog Image Resources We Couldn't Live Without - TinyPNG and TinyJPG

On a similar note, there are many occasions where you’ll want to get the smallest filesize possible for your images.

Adding images to your site, or your blog post for example.

After scripting, image filesize is one of the biggest causes of slow page loading times – and if your site is slow, you lose visitors while it loads.

As a rule of thumb, we aim to get our site images as close to 40KB as we can.

It’s not always possible – but it’s our target.

TinyPNG and TinyJPG are the simplest way to get a decent reduction on your image filesizes.

Plus, they’re free. Awesome.

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Create a Snapchat Community Geofilter in 9 Easy Steps

How to Create a Snapchat Community Geofilter

Geofilters are ace.

Everyone loves ’em.

Especially the community ones – you know, the ones that aren’t promoting a business, but instead say something about where you are.

But did you ever wonder where they come from?

(And we’re not talking about the ones that are *obviously* from a business.)

Well, it just so happens that *anyone* can design and submit a design for Snapchat to use.

And – even better – it’s a free way to get some practise in creating Geofilters before you shell out some hard cash on promoting your business.

Here’s a worked example using one of our favourite towns, Knutsford.

(Honestly, it’s awesome. You should visit. And go to The White Bear while you’re there. Tell ’em I sent you.)

OK. Here’s what to do:

1. Create a Custom Size image in Canva

Open up Canva (the free version will do), and create a new image using the dimensions 1080 x 1920px.

How to create a Snapchat Community Geofilter - Dimensions

This is your canvas for the overlay.

2. Get designing

So, here are some rules you need to stick to (when creating a Community Geofilter, that is – if you’re going straight for the paid stuff, you’re allowed to use your logo.)

  • All graphics used must be 100% original.
  • No logos or trademarks. The only exception is that we will accept college and university logos submitted by authorized officials from those schools.
  • No photographs.
  • No hashtags.
  • Be creative and make it visually compelling.
  • Don’t cover up too much of the screen.
  • Make sure it’s relevant to the location and something that people will want to use.

We’ve gone for a simple leaf design for good old Knutsford.

How to Create Snapchat Geofilters - Knutsford Example

That’s because it’s all leafy and awesome at the moment.

We’ve also done one for another of our favourite towns, Altrincham.

Because we’re hilarious, we’ve included everyone’s favourite new landmark, the “Altrincham Totem“.

How to Create Snapchat Geofilters - Altrincham Example

Amazing.

3. Check the template with images

OK, so it’s probably a good idea to check the design looks ok over the top of an actual image, so experiment by adding some images in the background.

How to Create Snapchat Geofilters - Knutsford Test

That. Looks. Awesome.

AND SO DOES THE DESIGN.

4. Download the image as a transparent PNG

Make sure you select “Download with a transparent background”, and select “Image: High Quality (PNG)”.

How to Create Snapchat Geofilters - Download Settings for Canva

5. Check the filesize

Chances are, Canva has thrown a MASSIVE file at you.

THANKS CANVA.

To meet the Snapchat submission guidelines, it needs to be under 300KB.

If it’s smaller than this, great – go to step 7.

If not…

6. Use Photoshop or TinyPNG to shrink the file

In Photoshop, use the Save For Web option to play about with the settings to get the filesize down (here, we’ve gone for a PNG-8 file, with 128 colours, dithering, and transparency – resulting in a filesize of just 79KB. Lovely.)

How to Create Snapchat Geofilters - Reduce Filesize

Or, if you don’t have Photoshop, use the web service TinyPNG.

7. Create the Geofence

Now, go here on a desktop browser, and draw a fence around the area you want your filter to cover.

How to Create Snapchat Geofilters - Create a Geofence

I like to call this the “Shit PacMan”.

Don’t get too greedy and cover an entire country, they’ll just reject your submission.

8. Upload your artwork

Add your template, as well as your details, to the form on the right-hand side of the page.

9. Submit and wait for confirmation

Now we wait.

How to Create Snapchat Geofilters - Submit Geofilter

If it’s approved, you’ll get an email notification telling you it’s gone live.

So head out to your Geofence area, and check it out.

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4 Ways to Turn Customer Complaints Into Customer Wins

4 Ways to Turn Customer Complaints Into Customer Wins!

Nobody likes getting complaints from customers.

Especially when they’re aired on a public forum, like your social media accounts.

And if there’s one thing that you can expect to receive on your business social media accounts, it’s complaints.

Not all of them will be genuine, or even true, but when they happen you need to take action.

Luckily, there are ways to make customer complaints work for you, rather than against you.

It’s all too easy – especially when it’s your own business – to take the complaints personally.

And, if you take them personally, then three things will happen:

  1. You’ll become defensive
  2. You won’t respond in the best way
  3. You’ll miss an opportunity to develop your business.

It’s the third point that I want to focus on, because this is the part most often missed.

Here’s how you can use customer complaints to develop your business.

1. Understand they’re more valuable than positive feedback

As great as it is to get brilliant reviews and great feedback, they don’t help you identify areas of your business that could be improved.

And this sort of opportunity is incredibly valuable.

Of course, not all complaints are valid, justified, or even true.

But those that are represent absolute gold for your business development.

Look for common patterns across complaints – if several customers are experiencing the same issues, then it’s probably an area of your business that needs attention.

Even in isolated cases, there are lessons to be learnt.

Try and approach each complaint with this in mind – and remember, complaints are more valuable than compliments.

Complaints are more valuable than compliments. Click To Tweet

2. Be dispassionate and look for learning opportunities

This can be particularly difficult.

But it’s absolutely vital.

When I say “dispassionate”, I don’t mean that you should act as if the complaint isn’t a big deal.

Rather, I mean that you should distance your personal feelings from the issue.

It’s not a personal attack. It’s a customer who hasn’t had their expectations met.

It's not a personal attack. It's a customer who hasn't had their expectations met. Click To Tweet

So – look at each situation from the customer’s perspective AND your own.

What could you have done differently to avoid this outcome?

What should have happened, but didn’t?

And how can you put this right – not just in this case, but to avoid this happening again?

3. Engage with the customer early, openly, and regularly

It’s important, in customer service, to maintain an open and honest dialogue with the customer.

It needs to be easy for them to get in touch with you.

And the quicker you can respond to them, the better.

Being in regular contact with the complainant not only helps defuse the situation, but also presents an opportunity for you to pick up on those points for improvement for your business.

Be open with them, and ask questions to show that (a) you are taking their situation seriously, but also (b) that you are picking up on all the learning opportunities from the situation.

4. Feedback to the customer after changes have been made

This is often forgotten, but can be the most powerful way to convert a complaint into a loyal customer.

Once you’ve solved the customer’s issue, identified learning opportunities, and acted upon them to improve your business – then, go back to the customer and tell them how you’ve improved, and thank them for bringing the issues to your attention.

This can mend a previously broken relationship.

It can re-emphasise that you took the customer’s complaint seriously.

And it shows the customer that they’re valued.

And THAT builds loyalty more than anything else.

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How to avoid Facebook's Clickbait Filter

How to avoid Facebook’s Clickbait Filter

Let’s start with a harsh truth.

If your headline makes promises that your content doesn’t deliver, it’s clickbait.

If your headline makes promises that your content doesn't deliver, it's clickbait. Click To Tweet

If you’re chasing clicks through to your site at any cost, then you’ll have felt tempted to copy some of the most successful traffic driving headlines.

But this comes at a price – and Facebook are clamping down on “clickbait-style” headlines; meaning even fewer people will be shown your posts.

Click To Tweet

In short, they’re tightening up their Newsfeed values.

What are Facebook’s Values?

These are the 5 core values that Facebook hold to when developing their platform.

Two of them are particularly important to understand when marketing your business on Facebook:

  • Friends and Family come first
  • Authentic Communication

Friends and Family; we know that Facebook are prioritising updates from your friends and family above other posts (such as from businesses, or Pages you have liked). So, not great news for your business posts’ organic reach.

Authentic Communication; that means that Facebook are actively trying to weed out “inauthentic” posts. And that includes (amongst blatant spam, and other troublesome posts), poorly written headlines.

So, how do I avoid being caught by the “Clickbait Filter”?

OK, if you’re serious about providing content for Facebook, and you want to get the maximum reach possible, then listen up.

Here’s what you need to do:

1. Avoid “Upworthy” clichés

These are titles that promise some sort of revelation in the article, but rarely deliver.

“This Old Man Ate a Cake. What Happened Next Will BLOW YOUR MIND!!”

It’s all about creating curiosity in the headline, and promising resolution once the reader has clicked through.

It’s commonplace, because it works. It makes people click.

But the problem is that the hype often outweighs the reality of the article.

And Facebook are monitoring the sort of language used in these headlines, so they can throttle the reach of those posts.

So here’s the lesson – even if you have an actual mind-blowing story about an old man with cake – don’t dress your articles up in this style of headline.

No matter how tempting it is.

“9 Out Of 10 Goats Are Completely Wrong About This Jaw-Dropping Fact”

“This Girl Was Asked About Her Favourite Foods. The Third Answer Will Shatter Your Bowels!”

“You’ll NEVER believe this ONE TRUE FACT about lasagne!”

How to avoid Facebook's Clickbait Filter - Lasagne

This is lasagne. Try as you might, it’s not really THAT interesting.

2. Don’t be sensationalist

OK, I get it. It’s tempting to throw power words into your headline. A few here and there are a good thing.

But use too many, and you’ll end up sounding like Dan Brown.

“The One Absolutely Life-Changing Fact That You Never Knew About Facebook Ads. You Will Never Be The Same Again!”

(Hint: it’s not that interesting, and you will be.)

3. Don’t like-gate

“Like our page to find out more!”

Nah, mate. Do one.

(Hint: don’t do this. Not only will it get throttled, it’s just a bit crap.)

4. Match your headline to your content

Once you’ve written your content, take some time to figure out how you can summarise it in one sentence.

The key idea here is to make sure that anything you promise in the headline is being delivered in the article.

Make sure that anything you promise in the headline is being delivered in your article. Click To Tweet

So – figure out what you’re delivering, and then summarise that.

5. Match your content to your headline

Sometimes, you start out with a headline, and write the article from there.

So, here’s the golden rule: if you make a promise in the headline, make sure you deliver on it in the article.

Picked a headline that feels a little ambitious? Change it.

6. Go ALL OUT

Having said that, there’s real value in writing articles that are comprehensive, thoroughly researched, and well-written.

So, if you’re going to write an article, make a decision to go all out.

Be ambitious – and deliver.

More often than not, you’ll find that these are the articles that bring in the most meaningful traffic.

7. Be authentic

This is the overall lesson – Facebook want to deliver quality content to their users.

They’ve designed the newsfeed algorithm to detect what sort of articles people consider to be “[…] misleading, sensational and spammy.

So – decide to put authenticity at the heart of your content marketing strategy.

Don’t spend your time chasing vanity clicks – that is, chasing ANY clicks for the sake of increasing numbers – instead, chase the sort of clicks that actually mean something to your business.

It’s more valuable to achieve 10 site visits from qualified leads, than 1000 visits from people who will never buy from you.

So, figure out what your customers want to know about – and write about that.

Figure out what your customers want to know about - and write about that. Click To Tweet

Give value.

Be authentic.

And don’t overpromise and underdeliver.

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Why You Need Facebook Instant Articles In Your Business

Why You NEED Facebook Instant Articles in your Business!

When Facebook introduced their new Instant Articles feature, it was sold as a response to poor mobile loading times.

And yes, slow page load is a problem – for content producers as well as Facebook.

We know, for example, that for every extra second a page takes to load, you lose half of your viewers.

And for Facebook, this means a poor User Experience – damaging to their platform.

But that’s not the end of the story.

Put simply, Facebook don’t want you to leave their platform to view content on a different site.

Facebook don't want you to leave their platform to view content on a different site. Click To Tweet

They want as much content consumed natively as possible.

This happened with photos. Then it happened with videos. And 360 content.

And now they’re coming for your blog.

So what are Instant Articles?

In short, they’re massively stripped back versions of your web pages, viewed within Facebook – rather than viewed directly on your site.

Think: header image, author, title, date, and text – with a few images and video scattered throughout.

No fancy sharing buttons.

No pop-ups.

No parallax effect background images.

Just pure content.

Here’s what a page looks like.

Why You Need Facebook Instant Articles In Your Business - Screenshot

Pretty sexy, yeah?

And do you know what? They do load bloody fast.

Are they for mobile viewers only?

At the moment, yes.

Facebook Instant Articles - Mobile Version

How an Instant Article appears on a mobile device – with the signature lightning bolt logo added

 

If you’re using a desktop browser, then you still get the plain old links out to other sites – though it’s not difficult to imagine that they’ll be opened up to desktop users at some point too.

Facebook Instant Articles - Desktop Version

How the same post appears on a Desktop browser – with no Instant Article lightning bolt

However, the majority of users now access Facebook from a mobile device (as of August 2016, out of Facebook’s 1 BILLION monthly active users, 58% access from a mobile device) – so it makes sense to start here.

Facebook Instant Articles - Mobile Users

How do I get them?

There are a few ways, depending on how your website and content is built – Facebook’s own guide is pretty comprehensive.

Be warned though, you will need to get your hands dirty with some HTML5 – so if the thought of tinkering around with some coding brings you out in a cold sweat, you might want to get someone to give you a hand.

After you’ve set up your site to deliver content to the IA platform, (and you’ve played around with the code to make sure it conforms to Facebook’s guidelines), then you submit your articles for review.

This normally takes a couple of days – but once it’s done, you can start publishing your content as Instant Articles.

To share an Instant Article, just post the link to your content as you would normally. If there’s an IA version in your library, and if the user is viewing it from a mobile device, then the Instant Article version will be delivered to them automatically.

What are the benefits of using Instant Articles?

OK, there are a few:

1. Faster load times

They’re quick. I mean, REALLY quick. And everyone loves it when pages and posts open quickly. Ain’t nobody got time for crap page speeds.

2. Fewer bounced viewers

Faster loading means fewer back-outs.

That means more viewers for your content.

Which is always lovely.

3. Priority in the Facebook algorithm

This is the biggie for us – Facebook are always pushing their latest features harder in their algorithm.

It’s why Facebook Live videos are all over your newsfeed at the moment – it’s a relatively new feature, so it’s being pushed hard.

And if you’re sharing content on Facebook, you want them to help out by pushing it hard.

So, get your content produced in Instant Article format, and enjoy all that lovely enhanced reach.

Mmmmm. Lovely reach.

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5 Absolute Blog Essentials (that your blog MUST have)

5 Absolute Blog Essentials (That Your Blog MUST Have)

Write blogs?

Then make sure you’re including all five of these essential items in every post!

(Found it useful? Let us know!)

1. Advice your customers can use

There’s a golden rule in blogging: if it doesn’t give anything of value to the reader, don’t bother posting it.

The whole premise of inbound marketing is that customers find you, not the other way around.

And they’ll find you if you’re providing the answer to a question they’re typing into Google.

So – answer a problem. Explain a solution. Write a step-by-step guide.

Give your readers something they can actually *use*.

Opinion pieces are great – but they shouldn’t form the heart of your inbound marketing strategy.

Like this article. This is just bursting with awesome advice about blogging.

BURSTING.

2. Lots of pictures

Here’s the biggest (and greatest!) secret about being a fully grown adult:

We’re basically massive children.

We might like to think that we’re all mature and grown up.

We might even sit in Shoreditch speakeasies, drink craft beer, and read Walt Whitman.

But at heart, we’re just big kids.

And what do kids love?

Pictures.

Long-form text is just so dull.

So appeal to your customer’s inner kid, and pepper your blog with pictures.

Bonus points if they’re (a) relevant to the article, and (b) actually help explain one of your points.

Unlike this. This is just a picture of Danny De Vito in It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. You should check it out. I think it’s still on Netflix.

via GIPHY

3. Free giveaways

You know what else EVERYONE loves?

Free stuff.

YEAH, free stuff.

Proper nerdy inbound marketers call these “content upgrades“.

But let’s just stick with “free stuff” for now.

While you’re writing your blog post, think – what could I give away that would be useful to the reader, and relevant to this topic?

We do it all the time. Look – here’s a big old button offering you a FREE download of this blog post as a PDF.

Go on, have a click. You know you want to:

See? Now you’ve got your very own copy of this post. It’s yours. You can keep it. Forever.

Even if I have a big old hissy fit one day and delete this post – it won’t matter to you, will it?

No. Because you’ve been all clever, and downloaded your very own copy. And no one can take that away from you.

We like you. You’re awesome.

4. Big fonts

Is your blog written in Arial 11pt?

Or (god help us), Times New Roman 10pt?

Change it. Change it to at least 16pt.

We’re massive kids, remember? And kids’ books are all written in massive font.

5 Absolute Blog Essentials (that your blog MUST have) - Kids Book

Trust us – this makes a HUGE difference.

(Seriously – it makes your blog feel more “readable”, and encourages people to read for longer. Fewer people leave your page halfway through. And that means more engaged fans. YAY!)

5. Sharing buttons

There’s a bit of a myth about sharing blog posts.

Some would have you believe that if you write a decent post, it’ll get shared all around the world.

Truth is, it probably won’t.

Most blog posts never reach more than a few people.

But – sometimes they DO get shared.

And when that reader decides they want to share it, you’d best have some sharing buttons ready to go.

We’ve got loads, look. We’ve got some at the bottom of the post; some are over there on the left. Loads.

Go on, give one of them a click, see what happens.

(Spoiler: your friends will ALL think you’re awesome. That’s what’ll happen.)

Check out SumoMe’s “Share” for some easy to install, neat sharing buttons.

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