How Do You Tie Your Content Back to Your Vision?


I’ve just sat through two-days of speakers at Content Marketing World in Sydney. On the whole, it was a good conference – interesting. I love listening to smart people. Almost as interesting as the content the speakers delivered however, was the attendees’ reaction to them as individuals. People like Joe PulizziRobert Rose, and Mark Schaefer have celeb status when it comes to the world of Marketing. And not without reason. They have personal brands as big as some companies. Why? Their content ties back to their visions. You’ll know from my two previous Linkedin Influencer Posts, here and here, I believe this is a critical part of getting content right.

Deloitte CMO David Redhill illustrated this perfectly when he talked about ‘content’ as ‘courtship.’ It’s such a powerful concept because it highlights the significance of ‘relationship.’ This understanding is critical for three main reasons:

1. Vision has to be based on values.

Values are a way to show how much you care. They have to align with your vision, or else it means nothing. Redhill said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Values, as communicated through content, make the difference between it being a memory quickly forgotten, and it changing an understanding or behaviour. Consequently, all content should have a simple values test before you publish it.

2. Content must stand for something.

It’s not the number of words on a screen, the time a video will play for, or even how many people looked at it. If that’s true and content has greater meaning than these measures, does it make sense to own or lease the platform for its housing and dissemination? I don’t buy into the hype around ‘brand journalism’, but brand publishing is here, and it’s only going to get bigger. As such, social platforms should support your content, but its spine needs to be on a platform you own. You need to invest in the tools and people to get this right. After all, it’s your vision – not someone else’s. Don’t leave yourself in a position where someone else could pull the rug out from underneath you at a moment’s notice.

3. Like a courtship, you have to be passionate about your content!

This can seem like a challenge. After all, not all businesses create inspiring or exciting products or services. The gurus at the conference are in an enviable situation (at least from where I sit as someone who shares their passion for good content). But… that’s why vision is so important in your content and storytelling. It’s not about your products and services as such, it’s about where you are going and why. It’s about your people and the way you are positively impacting your environment. And that’s a vision worthy of good content!


Written by Aaron Crowther. Aaron is the founder of ASCommunications and Group Business Director for MaxAustralia. You can follow Aaron on Twitter  @ASCommsTweeter or via his blog Commspro.me. Visit businessesgrow where this excerpt is originally appeared.

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The evolving distribution and role of press releases

As best as I can piece the data together, the three largest news release distribution services (PR Newswire, BusinessWire and Marketwire) sent out roughly 642,000 news releases in 2013.

If you’re keeping score, that’s about 1,759 news releases per day.

Too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing. You can quote me on that. Put a half gallon of rocky road ice cream in front of Fat Albert, and even he’ll turn away before he hits bottom.

Exacerbating this dynamic, the ranks of journalists continue to decline. The number of reporters toiling in newsrooms is actually less today than in 1978 according to the Pew Research Center.

Pew Newsroom Workforce 2013 stats

The upshot – more news releases raining down on fewer journalists.

But explaining the commoditization of the news release as a form of supply-demand economics misses the root cause.

When distribution of the news release reached only the domain of the media, journalists enjoyed a free lunch. With little effort, they could write stories based on a news release, and those stories appeared fresh to their readers because they couldn’t find them elsewhere. This advantage disappeared around 1996 when news release distribution services started flinging out news releases to the masses via the Internet.

Stepping back in time for a moment, the timeline below offers the 10,000-foot view of how news release distribution has evolved.

Hoffman Infographic- Short history of distributing news releases

Journalists had a 90-year run of leveraging the news release as non-public information. When the gravy train ended in 1996, it changed everything, though it took some time to erode the status quo. Muscle memory doesn’t change so easily in the world of journalism.

Now, roughly 18 years since earmarking news releases for the public domain, it seems fair to say the commoditization of the news release is complete.

Given that journalists rarely write from news releases these days, why does the massive effort behind news releases – figure around 10 man hours per news release at $175 per hour translating into $3,078,082 of cost last year – continue?

That’s a good question.

Disclosure requirements explain only a small percent of the total pool. Plus, I’m sure this $3,078,082 number doubles or even triples taking into the account the news releases not earmarked for paid distribution.

Perhaps the PR industry has its own challenge with muscle memory.

Update: I rejoiced when I completed geometry in high school and my math education came to an end. So I wasn’t completely surprised when Chris Hogg pointed out that my math went astray in calculating how much money goes into the production of a news release. The correct number is $3,078,082 per day, not year.


Written by Lou Hoffman. He is CEO of the Hoffman Agency a global communications consultancy. He blogs on storytelling in business at Ishmael’s Corner, where a version of this article originally appeared.

How to Get Ordinary People to Be Extraordinary

The biggest misconception you can make in business – or life – is that the people around you are somehow limited in ways that make it impossible for them to rise past a certain level. If you perceive this to be true, the limitation lies in you, not them. While there is no magic formula for helping people move past their limitations, I’d like to suggest a strategy that has worked in the past:

Add meaning in addition to money

We all need money, and some people are endlessly motivated by getting more money. But for most people, the promise of money is not enough to bring out their very best. People won’t work twice as hard to increase their salary by 3.7%. People won’t soar past their “limitations” to earn $1,957 instead of $1,899.

But if you give someone the chance to both support their family and change the world for the better, amazing things happen. Suddenly, working late feels good. You are part of something bigger than yourself. Instead of simply selling another widget, you are doing what you were born to do.

There are many ways to add meaning…

Make a meaningful connection to a social good

On an ongoing basis, you could give one or two percent of your company’s revenues to build schools in Africa or to support underprivileged students in towns close to each of your offices. If you do this, don’t treat the money as abstract numbers. Encourage employees to visit these schools and bring back photos and anecdotes about the differences your support is making in the lives of others.

Give one day each quarter as an awesome volunteer force

Giving away money can make a big difference, but it sometimes fails to give the donor much satisfaction. Send $75 to Megacharity and you may never understand what difference your donation made versus their $325 million budget. But if four times a year everyone in your office spends a day building a house for Habitat for Humanity or volunteering at the local food bank, you will be able to look into the eyes of the people you are helping.

Reinvent your industry

Not all meaning comes from social good. Being a pioneer can feel just as good. Our world is rife with opportunities to replace outdated business models with much more responsive and flexible approaches. I imagine that all the people involved in these projects long felt grateful that they helped to: put the first man on the moon, invent the first personal computer, create the first profitable e-commerce site in their industry, or even bring a fresh new retail store to their town’s Main Street.

Instead of waiting for some dynamic startup to disrupt your industry, why not band your colleagues together and disrupt your own industry?

  • Completely eliminate the practices that drive your customers crazy.
  • Dramatically reduce the complexity customers face.
  • Cut prices by 90 percent (or more). Yes, it’s sometimes possible.
  • Make stupid objects smart.
  • Be utterly transparent, showing both customers and employees how you make money and how your entire firm is performing.
  • Make loyalty dramatically easier than disloyalty.

Radical goals are what inspire people to rise past their limitations. They add meaning to an endeavor.

Best of all, reinvent your industry to include social good

If you go to the trouble of radically re-thinking how your company and industry works, why not also consider ways that you can both make money and help others? Build altruism into the very fabric of your culture. Embrace the opposite of self-promotion; if you help other people reach their goals, your reputation will grow based on your deeds rather than your words. Replace greed with generosity; the more you help others, the more people will embrace your services and you will do well by doing good.

Many of us know in our bones that our way of life is not sustainable. I mean this on many levels… “I can’t keep driving 45 minutes each day in bumper-to-bumper traffic for 30 more years”… “I can’t keep marketing sugar water as though it is the key to happiness”… “I can’t keep pretending that money is enough to make me happy”… “I can’t accept that my entire career will never be more than sucking up to managers so I can get a 2.3% raise.”

We all have different conceptions of what is meaningful. Figure out what is meaningful to the people around you, and you will discover the path to making extraordinary things happen. Check on Slideshare fore 20 more ideas to get your imagination flowing.


Written by Bruce Kasanoff. Bruce helps companies harness the potential of altruism to power business growth and career success. Learn more at Kasanoff.com. He is the author of How to Self-Promote without Being a Jerk, a simple little book about doing well by doing good. To always see Bruce’s articles on LinkedIn, please click the FOLLOW button above or below. Twitter = @BruceKasanoff. This story originally appeared on LinkedIn.

6 Things Entrepreneurs Wish Family, Friends and Employees Understood

Entrepreneurs often feel misunderstood and with good reason. If people around them acknowledge the following six points, everyone can benefit.

I started my first company when I was 25.  I was a reluctant entrepreneur. My sales abilities outgrew three companies, and I couldn’t seem to manage the politics necessary to get where I wanted to go at the speed I wanted to get there. So I took a deep breath, opened a company in 1989, and never looked back.

But in my journey of building four businesses and making the Inc. 500 list, I often found I saw the world differently then many in my circle. I would struggle with communication and empathy, as would the people around me. My family and my friends would never quite understand why I took action with such passion and drive. Though they would be continuously fascinated how I could make things happen from what seemed like unrelated connections and events.

Employees appreciated my drive, but still considered me a puzzlement. They couldn’t imagine taking the risks and responsibility of building a company, and I couldn’t imagine not having control of my own destiny.  I have spent decades in the close company of more than 1000 entrepreneurs in public session like Inc. conferences and in private forums like the Entrepreneur’s Organization (EO). I have come to learn that we have similar ways of viewing the world and creating lifestyles. It’s not for everyone, but it works for us.

If you are an entrepreneur, you need to articulate the six concepts below so the people in close proximity can comprehend your behavior. And for those of you engaged with an entrepreneur, I hope the tips below shed some light and give you some guidance to enjoy the ride.

1. Entrepreneurs are benevolent narcissists. There is no question that many entrepreneurs act as though they are the center of the universe. Once I get a vision in my head, it stays at the forefront of my mind until I either eliminate it or execute on it. Over time, I have learned that in order to make visions come true, I must constantly sell and recruit people to my mission. That means talking about my ideas and actions… a lot. So yes, my world revolves around my vision and ambition. That is the narcissistic part.

But unlike most self-centered people, most successful entrepreneurs aren’t in it just for themselves. They love to bring other people along for the ride. Making others happy, wealthy and successful drives entrepreneurs. They create companies to benefit society with their products and services. They may interpret that benefit differently than most people, but few are motivated by pure exploitation.

Tip: The next time you feel ignored by an entrepreneur, ask them how you can get involved and benefit from their activities. You may be surprised at the opportunity that opens up.

2. Entrepreneurs evaluate risk differently. The term risk-taker is often associated with entrepreneurs. Most entrepreneurs don’t believe they are taking risks by opening businesses and growing companies. Gone are the days of institutions that provide steady employment and guaranteed retirement. I personally lost everything in the 2008 collapse of the banking industry. But I have many friends who spent 30 years as employees in that field and also went through great hardship. I was able to rebuild by taking advantage of opportunity and being agile while many of them are still trying to reconstruct their lives.

Entrepreneurs know the only safety net they can bank on is their own ability to leverage knowledge, resources and relationships to build something from nothing. They believe there is greater risk in being boxed in to a structure than to venture out to new horizons. That all being said, many of us have learned to overcome our material desires and put a little away for those rainy days.

Tip: Don’t assume that actions taken by entrepreneurs are careless or not well considered. If you have concern, ask about the process or diligence. You might be surprised what you learn.

3.  Once entrepreneurs decide to take action, they commit. There is an incorrect assumption about most entrepreneurs that they are impulsive. The image of people ideating all over the place and randomly straying from project to project is one that is constantly portrayed in media and is most often a mischaracterization. Most of my successful entrepreneurial friends are actually quite disciplined and focused. They have learned tocreate structure where there is none. They have a set process for evaluating opportunities and are wary about taking on a new project without vetting it carefully.

But once the due diligence is done and action is required seasoned entrepreneurs will commit all necessary time and resources to making the dream a reality. They have no tolerance for doing things halfway. The project may fail, but the entrepreneur will only be satisfied if it does on its own merits. Then it’s time to learn and move on to the next entrepreneurial venture.

Tip: Entrepreneurs in motion are a force of nature. Either get out of the way or support the activity whole-heartedly. Dipping your toe into their projects will only create static and dissatisfaction for everyone involved.

4. Entrepreneurs feel angst about time. There are very few new ideas out there. Hardly anything comes up today that hasn’t shown up in a science fiction novel or movie from decades ago. The innovation comes from ways to execute those ideas in a manner that can support the market and a profitable business model. For every entrepreneur attempting to find that perfect path to success, there are many competitors nipping at their heels. Some have smarter people, more money or better partners. Some have all of the above. But that’s the game. And to the victor goes the spoils.

Once I complete a vision in my head, it’s a race against time to see if that dream becomes a reality. The more complexity involved with the vision, the more challenging time becomes as a factor for success. This is where I use my creativity every day, to figure out how to get from point A to Point B the fastest way possible without sacrificing stability or harming anyone along the way. Executing on my need for speed sometimes results in my being less polite, considerate or reverent than people expect. It’s not that I don’t care. It’s that sometimes I am moving so fast I forget to show it.

Tip: Give entrepreneurs the benefit of the doubt when expecting niceties. You don’t need to put up with rudeness, but you can gently remind them that not everyone moves at their pace and others need consideration to feel respected.

5. Every day with positive cash flow is a good day. I remember a few years back being at EO event in Hong Kong at the end of the month. My wife at the time and I were laughing because all around the hotel you could hear the same stressed mobile phone conversations going on about whether or not the attendees had made their payroll obligations for the month. Growing a company requires resources, especially cash, and most entrepreneurs will stretch those limits to make progress quickly in the marketplace.

The lack of resources to battle the competition is usually the number 1 stress point for an entrepreneur. The most painful days in my life have been when I could not meet my financial obligations. Those are the days I feel guilty and inadequate. Those are the days I feel the pain of those who depend upon me. As an entrepreneur I understand that family, partners and employees put their trust in me to help them achieve financial stability. I understand that they do not choose my life because they don’t want to risk instability. As long as there is money in the bank to continue the path forward, every other challenge is minor.

Tip: Don’t assume entrepreneurs are primarily motivated by greed. Certainly they enjoy the rewards that come with success, but they are driven to achieve the security that comes with strong liquidity and cash flow.

6. For entrepreneurs, working means fun and relaxation. Contrary to popular belief, most entrepreneurs are not workaholics. I describe work as the things we have to do in order to do the things we want to do. Some people like to play sports or dance or do woodcraft as a hobby. Entrepreneurs love to build businesses. We get excited about opportunity,  networking and product development. When I sit at a Yankees game, I amuse myself by calculating the per-attendee revenue and cost of services to figure out how much money is being made. When I run a 5K or kayak, my brain lets loose with creative ideas that can either improve my business or create something new from the resources I have.

I feel blessed that the things I love to do are also the things that make money and give me a sense of accomplishment. When I need to rest my brain and body, I do so. But very soon, I go back to doing what I love because I enjoy it and it makes me happy.

Tip: No need to ever tell an entrepreneur to slow down or take time off. It’s like trying to teach a pig to sing. It just wastes your time and annoys the pig.


About the author: Kevin Daum concedes that he has a face better suited for radio than television. That’s why he is the Executive Producer of Amilya! on 77WABC New York. If you haven’t already read his Amazon #1 best-sellers, Video Marketing for Dummies (Wiley) and ROAR! Get Heard in the Sales and Marketing Jungle(Wiley) you’ll likely catch him sharing his thoughts (and limericks) on stage, or on the web. Humor, he says, is the key ingredient for great communication. An Inc. 500 entrepreneur with a more than $1 billion sales and marketing track record, Kevin helps companies communicate in strategic and compelling ways. Visit him at KevinDaum.com or e-mail kevin@roaringvideo.com@awesomeroar Visit Inc.com where this excerpt originally appeared.

What to Do When Social Media Is Not Working For Your Business

Is social media not working for you?

Are you struggling to form a social media connection with your audience?

Have you found that the recommended “getting started” tips and tricks for social campaigns just haven’t resonated with your followers?

The truth is, while there are plenty of audiences that respond well to social media marketing attempts, there are others that don’t for a number of different reasons.

In this article you’ll find out how to recognize the variables that could result in an audience-marketer mismatch and how to work around them.

Why Your Social Media is Not Working?

If you feel like you’ve tried everything to connect with your audience, but it’s just not working, you’re probably looking to social media experts for advice. Maybe you’ve followed that advice, but your audience still isn’t responding. What’s going on?

istock social media image

Not all social networks match your audience. Image source: iStockPhoto

Well, it may not be the advice or implementation that’s your problem. The problem may be your choice of social platform, your industry’s expectations or even your audience’s comfort level with social media.

To find out, I suggest looking closely at age and demographic matches, the size of your audience, industry standards and your audience’s interest in engaging online. In this article I’ll discuss each of these and how they can affect your social engagement, then offer advice on how you can work on those issues.

Know Whom You’re Talking To

A recent Pew Internet study revealed that 73% of online adults use a social networking site of some kind, but only 42% use multiple social media sites.

The following chart demonstrates how these percentages break down.

pew internet study results on adults social website use

A Pew Internet study reveals the percentage of online adults using different social websites.

Considering the data from the study, let’s talk about how it can apply to you.

Imagine your audience is primarily made up of middle-aged women who, according to the study, are four times as likely as men to be Pinterest users.

If you’re focusing your social marketing efforts on Facebook because of its high adoption rate but not seeing engagement, it could be because your primary audience is spending its time on Pinterest.

It may be time to reevaluate who your target customer is. When you know your audience and their social platform of choice, it’s much easier to engage them.

Understand That Size May Be a Factor

Another reason you may not be making a strong connection with your customers could be related to the size of your audience on a given social channel.

This infographic from Mediabistro shows interests across Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.

mediabistro social media infographic

Not all interests are represented equally on all social networks.

If you’re selling a high-dollar product, you’re more likely to have a very small and specific audience. As a result, sending out broad messages via social media may not be the best way to connect with them.

Consider Your Industry’s Culture

In some cases, a company may not see high engagement simply because of industry culture. Perhaps the overall industry is behind the times technologically. That could be because either their customers or the industry as a whole aren’t familiar with social media or comfortable using it.

If you’re in a very personalized industry (e.g., the funeral profession), getting your clients to engage on social sites may be a challenge simply because they don’t think to look for you online unless it’s to look up your phone number. In those cases, it’s unlikely they’ll reach out via social media.

Not all businesses exist in industries that naturally lend themselves to online engagement.

jones-wynn funeral home facebook update

Some industries have a harder time engaging with their Facebook fans.

As an example, take the partnership my company recently had with Self Storage Finders. They’re a service that helps consumers identify and evaluate different storage providers in their area.

While this type of service is valuable to the customers who use it, those clients don’t necessarily think about discussing their storage experiences on social sites.

While these variables and their impact on engagement are frustrating, it’s not impossible to market to difficult audiences.

The following three tips should help you adapt social media marketing recommendations and best practices to suit the needs of your specific (if challenging) audience.

Keep in mind, though, that your social media marketing strategy may necessarily follow a different path than it would if your audience were more amenable to social conversations.

Know Where To Be

Conventional social wisdom says that all businesses need to maintain a Facebook and Twitter profile. I have a different point of view. I believe that creating social identities and then essentially abandoning them because of lack of engagement does more harm than good to a business.

What did you discover when you reevaluated your audience? You may have discovered that the most active community engagement portals in your industry aren’t social sites at all—they’re forums and “old-school” message boards.

If that’s the case, you have to set conventional wisdom aside and focus your efforts on the arenas where they’ll be noticed in the first place!

See What Sticks

You’ve looked at your audience, you know where they are and you’ve set up shop there. Now let’s suppose you’re getting ready to start a social promotion for an audience you’re pretty sure is going to be difficult to engage.

There are plenty of different templates out there for possible social posts. I recommend trying as many as you can. I call this the spaghetti-flinging approachbecause it’s as if you’re throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks.

paid facebook ads

Paid ads can grab the attention of your target market.

If you’ve chosen to focus your efforts on Facebook, try posting text-based status updates, images, links, polls, paid ads and morePost at different times of day and on different days of the week.

While it’s nice to see engagement at this stage, the true goal of early social posting to difficult audiences should be to gather data.

Remember, you can’t trust the industry pundits to tell you what will work best for every audience, so use your own metrics and gather your own data.

Look For Your Loudest Fans

As you post more updates, you’ll likely find the members of your community who are more highly engaged than othersMake sure these people aren’t your employees, close friends or relatives!

When you’ve found your most active fans, pay attention to the exact types of content they’re engaging with. Use this data to refine your posting techniques to include content that’s likely to appeal to these users.

Take a look at the following screenshot from the Self Storage Finders Facebook page before we started working with them. This particular update didn’t resonate with audience members, so it had no engagement whatsoever.

self storage finders facebook text update

An early Self Storage Finders Facebook update falls flat with followers.

When we started working with them, we began experimenting with different types of posts and content and we noticed that fans reacted well to cartoon images.

Below you can see how catering to fans’ favorite type of post results in more likes, all because we were willing to experiment and base future posts on actual audience data.

self storage finders facebook text update with image

Extensive testing revealed that Self Storage Finders’ Facebook fans respond well to cartoons.

Know When to Cut Your Losses

Unfortunately, there are audiences out there that simply don’t respond to social media marketing. But that doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel.

Take another look at the data you gathered from your audience analysis and post experimentsCompare it to your established metrics and install analytics tools that will provide additional data to help you figure out whether your social marketing is working.

Let’s say you determine that including man-hours, image subscriptions and other investments, you put roughly $500 per month into your social campaigns. What does your data tell you? Are your social channels sending you visitors that result in more than $500 per month in sales?

That example is a simplification of social marketing’s value, of course. It’s true that social media can lead to extensive brand awareness that may indirectly lead to sales. But if you consistently see that your profits are falling short of your investments, it may be time to either refocus your strategy or pull the plug on your social efforts entirely.

The Bottom Line

If you’re not getting traction with your social media marketing, take a break from researching broad advice that promises a quick fix. Reevaluate your efforts:meet your customers where they are, consider the size of your audience and set your expectations accordingly.

Not every business will have success with social media marketing no matter how hard they try, but it’s worth the time to experiment with different tactics and gather data before calling it quits.

What do you think? Have you ever found yourself marketing to a difficult audience? If so, what social media marketing tips do you have to add for those in this situation? Leave your experience and advice in the comments.


 Written by Eric SiuEric is the CEO of digital marketing agency Single Grain. He also interviews entrepreneurs on business and personal growth tips on his blog, Growth Everywhere. This post is originally appeared on SocialMediaExaminer.com

Images from iStockPhoto.

15 Places to Find Free Images for Your Blog

The ancient saying that a picture is worth 1000 words comes as no surprise to content marketers. Images arouse emotions, set the tone for your writing, help you tell a better story, and aid your readers in “seeing” what you’re trying to convey in words.

It’s certainly possible to buy images. In fact, it’s easy. However, it can get expensive pretty quickly, especially if you’re committed to delivering quality visual content. If your budget is tight, you’ll be thrilled to learn that there are places to find images on the web for free.

Are you wondering where and how to find free images for your blog? Just use the websites below to begin discovering and downloading cost-free content in seconds!

Let’s get started:

1. Google Advanced Search

15 Places to Find Free Images for Your Blog image google advanced

Even some of the sharpest content marketers have no idea that Google Advanced Search exists! You’ll be asked to specify “usage rights.” Here’s a quick guide to what you need to know on this front:

  • free to use or share

These images are for using and sharing on non-commercial websites, like personal blogs.

  • free to use or share, even commercially

These images can be used or shared on all websites – including commercial ones.

  • free to use, share or modify

These images can be freely used, shared or modified for non-commercial websites, in ways specified in the license.

  • free to use, share or modify, even commercially

These images are free for use, share or modification – even commercially, in ways specified in the license.

2. Creative Commons Search

15 Places to Find Free Images for Your Blog image creative commons search

The official Creative Commons website lets users search websites for free-to-use images from a variety of sources, including Google Images, Flickr and the Wikimedia Commons. Obviously, it’s become one of the top places to search for free images as a result.

Aside from just image search, you can use it to access Creative Commons music, media and video files.

3. Yahoo Image Search

15 Places to Find Free Images for Your Blog image yahoo image

Yahoo Image Search recently introduced a functionality similar to Google, which makes it easy to find Creative Commons content. To find CC images, just perform a search on Yahoo Image Search, and then pull up the menu on the left side of the screen.

If it’s collapsed, just hit the arrow button to expand the menu. Once you’re there, click ‘Show Filters’ and select ‘Labeled for Reuse.’

4. Stock.Xchng

15 Places to Find Free Images for Your Blog image Stock Xcnhg

Stock.Xchng is powered by some of the world’s most talented photographers. Its library is currently over 400,000 images strong and growing daily! Users upload their photos, with the ability to specify how they intend for the content to be used.

As a result, it’s crucial to check the “usage options” carefully, to ensure you’re able to place the content on a commercial website.

5. Wikimedia Commons

15 Places to Find Free Images for Your Blog image wikimedia commons

While you can also find Wikimedia Commons’ images through Google or Creative Commons search, it’s an outstanding resource for a number of reasons. Since it pulls directly from images and maps on Wikipedia, it’s a powerful way to find photos when your specifications are highly specific.

In addition to images of landmarks and places, there are plenty of public domain images, videos, and audio files.

6. CompFight

15 Places to Find Free Images for Your Blog image comp fight

CompFight is a super-fast, easy-to-use alternative to Flickr Search. Be sure to narrow your search results by either Creative Commons or Commercial-Use search results, since the default settings may return options that aren’t free for business use.

7. Flickr

15 Places to Find Free Images for Your Blog image flickr

Is it any surprise that Flickr is a top resource for image-sourcing? It’s beloved as a go-to by many top bloggers.

While it’s one of the world’s largest image repositories, it’s crucial to know and understand that the site allows the photographer to specify how they want the image to be used.

When you search for options, be sure to specify creative commons before you download the content.

8. The Open Clip Art Library

15 Places to Find Free Images for Your Blog image clip art

The Open Clip Art library is the largest web resource for free, small cartoonish images, religious icons, and calligraphy letters. It’s the perfect place to find website icons, or small images to add a minimalistic bent to your blog posts.

Virtually all search results will be licensed for free use (and if they aren’t, it’s going to be clearly specified). Keep in mind; it might not be the best option if you’re in a pinch, since its built-in search engine doesn’t always return the right results for highly-specific queries.

9. Creativity 103

15 Places to Find Free Images for Your Blog image creativity 103

This isn’t the largest library of free images online, but it’s certainly one of the prettiest. Its collection is solely focused on fine art photography, which most often includes abstract or otherwise artistic images of nature and buildings.

With around 2,500 options, you might not find exactly what you’re looking for, but you’ll certainly find something to pique your interest. Since few of the pictures include humans, it’s a perfect resource if you’re planning to modify the pictures with special effects or text overlay.

For resources to enhance your free digital photos, check out 14 Tools to Create Images for Your Blog Posts in 10 Minutes or Less.

10. Animal Photos

15 Places to Find Free Images for Your Blog image animal photos

Animal lovers unite! This website may not offer pictures of humans, landscapes, or technology, but it does one thing extraordinarily well – outstanding pictures of creatures of all kinds.

In addition to dogs and cats, you’ll find more obscure marine and land animals. The site’s library is broken down into categories, making your searching much easier.

11. Morgue File

15 Places to Find Free Images for Your Blog image morgue files

Most of the options on Morgue File are free to be “remixed,” meaning once you download it, your usage decisions are entirely yours.

You can add text, sparkly effects, Photoshop in headshots of your team, or any other idea you might come up with. Unless you intend to sell the finished product, the sky is the limit when it comes to Morgue File’s photos.

12. Every Stock Photo

15 Places to Find Free Images for Your Blog image every stock

Do you hate searching through awkward or low-quality stock images before finding just the right photo to use on your website? Every Stock Photo is more than just a search engine for free photos; it’s got a focus on quality.

Users are able to both rate and tag the comment, allowing you to retrieve only the best and most-relevant options when you search. Keep in mind though, due to the fact that it pulls from multiple websites, citation requirements can vary. Be sure to read the specifications on each photo carefully!

13. FreeDigitalPhotos.net

15 Places to Find Free Images for Your Blog image free digital

This is an extensive library of royalty-free images for commercial or personal use. Small versions of quality stock photos are free, with high-resolution versions available for purchase at affordable rates.

The library contains thousands of options, many of which are every bit as useful as images you’d purchase through Getty or other paid sources.

14. Photo Pin

15 Places to Find Free Images for Your Blog image photopin

Another search engine that integrates directly with Flickr, Photo Pin is incredibly fast and easy-to-use. It can even handle long or specific queries extraordinarily well.

Best of all, it provides you with simple HTML code for image attributions that can be pasted directly into WordPress or another CMS.

15. Stock Photos for Free

15 Places to Find Free Images for Your Blog image stockphotofor free

This is another free stock photo website, with over 100,000 options. It’s amazingly easy-to-use, and the photos are effectively tagged to make your searching efforts simpler.

While it’s easy to start downloading high-quality shots for your blog, keep in mind that you’re required to create an account before saving any of their content.

Now, here is how to give credit properly:

How to Attribute the Right Way

When attributing the image, you want to cite the author with the link going back to the work. The very basic way is to just write: image source and link it directly to the image. If you want more details on best practices for citing images images, here is a good post that gives examples of the best ways to do it.

Keep in mind; many sources for royalty-free images have their own specifications on how to properly cite images. It’s crucial to completely read and understand a site’s policies before taking their photos for commercial use.

What’s your experience with finding free images for your blog? Share with us in the comments below!


Written by Helen NesterenkoApart from being a pro in business processes, Helen is a CEO and Founder of Writtent.com, a marketplace that provides content writing services to small and medium businesses. She helps small businesses grow, and she totally loves it. Visit business2community where this excerpt is originally appeared. @B2Community

5 Steps to Jumpstart Your Social Media Strategy

source: http://bit.ly/1gFUqaR

We’ve all seen lists for things you need to be doing on social media – engage, listen, communicate, etc., right? Well I don’t know about you, but we are usually fed up by the vague information in such posts. How can you take action to begin “engaging?” What do you do before you engage?

At Social Fulcrum, we have a process for coming up with the social media campaigns that drive our clients wild. Instead of telling you to communicate or to listen, we want to give you some actionable tips you can use to jumpstart your social media strategy – TODAY.

1. Do Your Research
Look for communities, influencers, and discussions that relate to your brand, products, competitors, and industry. Look into how you could potentially target key audiences through different media. Don’t just limit yourself to Facebook pages/groups and Twitter users. Look into bloggers in your industry (or outside your industry) that have an audience you want to reach. Look at relevant Meetup groups locally and nationally. Find discussions in online forums. If you are a small company, find discussions about your industry. If you are a larger brand, we recommend using a social media measurement tool to assess the online landscape of your brand mentions to help formulate your strategy. These are all potential areas to generate content, seed content, find ambassadors, and get online placements. But you can only reap these benefits if you know where and if these communities exist!

2. Build Relationships First
When I was creating the strategy for a national food association’s social media marketing campaign, we knew we would want to promote their Facebook page, Twitter account, and video contest through influential bloggers in the cooking, foodie, and mom verticals. Instead of simply reaching out to those bloggers and asking them to promote our properties, we made sure to first build our relationship with these influencers. Our first communication to these bloggers was to offer promoting THEIR content to OUR audiences. We wanted to show that we were keeping in mind their goals (increasing readership), and not simply self-interested. We nurtured these relationships for months before letting them know that we had a contest that we were promoting. At that point, they had received so much benefit from the relationship that every single blogger was happy to promote our contest. And the association still has those relationships to this day!

3. Leverage Twitter Targeting Options
Too often businesses will create a Twitter account and then not know what to do with it. Once your profile is set up, you can use the following strategies to find your opportunities on Twitter:

  1. Search for accounts that have followers who are in your target audience. For example, if you are a local pizza chain, all you need to do is find another local business with a decent amount of followers, and follow all the followers of that account (gradually, not all at once). You can safely assume that a vast majority of the people following a local business in your area are located in that local area. Not a local business? Try trade publications, competitors, or thought leaders.
  2. Search for people tweeting about a need that your product/service alleviates. For example, in our campaign for the national food association we mentioned above, we found that people on Twitter were commonly complaining about a lack of ideas for what to eat. Armed with an online database of 700+ recipes, we reached out to these people and found out what type of food they liked, and sent them an appropriate recipe. This gained awareness for our client’s website, Twitter account, and recipe database, and also built goodwill with our audience (which we later leveraged to promote a video contest).
  3. Use the advanced search on Twitter to search bio information. This is especially useful for B2B companies looking to increase their social impact. People will typically list their job title in their bio (e.g. CMO, COO, CEO, Executive Director, Partner), allowing you to target the specific decision makers with whom you are trying to communicate.

4. Explore & Leverage Facebook Advertising
There are few businesses that can’t benefit from the precise, unique targeting available through Facebook’s advertising platform. Even B2B companies can find value in Facebook ads if you can get creative with the parameters. For example, Social Fulcrum used Facebook ads to grow our own Facebook page by targeting users who are over 40 years old and who “like” the Harvard Business Review, because this audience includes senior-level decision makers at mid to large size corporations. Facebook Advertising can be an effective method for driving traffic to a website, as well as for increasing the size of your Facebook fan base, for just a few dollars per day. The key is finding the right targeting parameters, which might include users who “like” a competitor, users who “like” something your target audience probably likes, or even users who have a birthday within the next week.

5. Create a Content Calendar
There’s nothing worse than a Facebook page or Twitter account that’s filled entirely with self-promoting updates. It’s not always easy to come up with awesome, engaging content every day, but tweeting another link to your website is not the answer. That’s why it helps to create a weekly or monthly content calendar in advance to help you think strategically about what to post and when, being sure to schedule promotional updates at a maximum of one time per week. Your social media channels are not a constantly updating advertisement for your business. If you aren’t sharing interesting content, asking questions, and making your fans and followers feel valued, they’ll soon wonder why they’re connected to your account in the first place.

These specific tips can help any business better utilize social media to achieve organizational objectives. Though only the beginning steps to a stellar social media campaign, these tips allow for architecting a social media strategy that leverages brand assets and social media tools to get your brand in front of the right people and ultimately, grow your business.


Andrew Krebs-Smith, Founder of Social Fulcrum, has managed social media campaigns for accounts including Pfizer, Ocean City MD, The National Aquarium, and Strayer University. Andrew regularly speaks at the university level regarding social media marketing, and has held the position of Social Media Co-Chair at the American Advertising Federation, Baltimore Chapter. Connect with Andrew on Twitter and LinkedIn. The first version of this story appeared on http://bit.ly/1kl93so Visit PR.com