business

Marketing Monday: Online Photos 101

Online photos are all the rage. Whether it’s the new ginormous format of Facebook cover photos or the continually rising popularity of Pinterest, having photos associated with your web presence is becoming essential.

When you have photos on your website, they can be pinned on Pinterest.

When you have photos on your website, they can be pinned on Pinterest.



Here are some popular questions we get about online photos:

What are some ways I can use photos on my website and beyond?
Here are a few ways you may have thought about using photos with some real life examples:

  • Show textures/closeups– I have a friend who takes closeups of scarf patterns, etc. that she has in stock to show customers what is available. Check out the example from Atlantic Art Glass showing bead textures.
Want people to buy something high end online? Give them an idea of what it looks like up close, like Atlantic Arts Glass does with their jewelry beads.

Want people to buy something high end online? Give them an idea of what it looks like up close, like Atlantic Arts Glass does with their jewelry beads.



  • Show how-to photos– A series of photos can show how to do something in a way that’s less invasive than a video camera but more descriptive than text. A series of photos can show someone how to install your solar panels on their roof and help people see that it might be easier than they think.
  • Show products– Show the view from all angles (like that dress from the back!), or products in terms of stock photography and in the ‘real world’.
  • Give a tour- Show visitors around a location or property to get them familiar with it. I might not have noticed in your website text that each room at your hotel has a mini fridge but I could see it in the photo and be pleasantly surprised.
  • Show your staff– If customers deal with your staff, show them in action so when the customer comes into your business, they can say hi. Never underestimate making someone feel comfortable before they even meet you in real life.
  • Break up text- People may not read everything you write but they’ll skim for bold writing, bullets, and photos. Use photos to spice up a boring page!
  • Create an infographic– If you or someone on your staff is into design and some data, you can make an infographic. Check out the example below breaking down where the price of a public transit bus ticket goes, here is the original article or Google ‘infographics’ to get some other ideas.

    You don't need to create the most amazing thing on earth, so long as it's pleasing to the eye and shows interesting information, an infographic can be an interesting addition to your website.
    You don’t need to create the most amazing thing on earth, so long as it’s pleasing to the eye and shows interesting information, an infographic can be an interesting addition to your website.
  • Think beyond the photo– Anything visual like a map, video, chart, or graph can also be great website content. Compare your service levels with a chart or show where your jewelry is wholesaled with a Google Map.Remember any page on your website that has a picture on it can be pinned on Pinterest so the more great photos you have, the better your chance of getting noticed.

I don’t have a ton of good photos. Where can I get ‘stock’ photos?
You can get paid permission to use stock photos from websites like iStockphoto.com. Higher end photographs can be purchased on other sites like Getty Images for hundreds of dollars each. That said, you might want something less generic or less expensive for your uses.

  • Look up photos at creativecommons.org for photos you can use or modify with proper attribution.
  • If you see a specific photographer whose photos you like on Flickr or another website that does not have an explicit sharing policy, write to them to ask about permissions and compensation. Be as specific as possible about what you want to use the photo for. Some photographers will let you use their work in a limited application for a small fee.

How can I protect my photos from unauthorized use?
There are a few ways you can protect your photos:

  • Put your logo in the bottom corner of your photo. Then if anyone uses it, they’ll have to crop the photo. Most people will just leave it there.
  • Use a watermark. Some photo software comes with an easy way for you to add this.
  • Apply for and publish a copyright or Creative Commons licence, an alternative to copyright that appeared as an option in 2001. http://creativecommons.org/choose/
If you have further concerns, this looks like a pretty good article that addresses them: http://www.steves-digicams.com/knowledge-center/how-tos/online-sharing-social-networking/protecting-your-work-on-flickr.html

What about taking photos with my smartphone? Any tips on making those come out better?

The good news is lots of people have this topic very well covered. Here are two good general articles:

Nine Tips for Taking Better Photos With A Smartphone (CNet)

How To Take Better Pictures With Your Smartphone’s Camera (Lifehacker)

You can also look in forums specific to your device to get tips from other people who have the same device you do.

Should I put photos on my website or somewhere else like Flickr?
I will say right now I am ridiculously biased here.  I feel like this question is kind of asking me “Do I want to do more work so less people can see it?” Putting them onto a site like Flickr saves you from having to resize them and exposes them to people who are not necessarily coming to your website (which you clearly link to in your profile and photo captions).

Photos on your website
Steps Involved: Take photos, resize them, upload it via FTP or via your website software into a gallery, make the gallery display on the page you want.
Pros:
People have to go to your website to see them (also a con)
You can control exactly how they display (Ex: you want a neon pink border around all of them? You’ve got it.)
Good if you: Don’t have many photos, are kind of a control freak

Photos on Flickr
Steps Involved: Take photos, upload them to Flickr, use code to display them on your site
Pros:
Wider exposure than your website (2 million+ monthly users)
You can use programs or code to display them on your website
Automatic resizing when you upload them
Good if you: Have lots of photos, see the potential of other people contributing photos, want the most exposure to your work possible

Clearly, when it comes to albums, I am Flickr biased.

Clearly, when it comes to albums, I am Flickr biased.

So snap some photos people and get them online. It’s the cool thing to do!

Fun Friday: How’s Business?

Sometimes on Fridays, I write about what I feel like. Because I can. :^)

“Hey, how’s business?” people ask me.

How I feel about this question is probably what every high school senior feels when they’re asked “So what are you doing next year?”

I get that the question is coming from a good place and that people are just curious and wanting me to succeed but when you hear something that often (and maybe secretly wonder what the ‘right’ answer is), you kind of dread it.

Here’s the truth, and I think it’s probably the truth for most small business owners.

Business is fine. Even if it wasn’t, I couldn’t tell you for one or all of the following reasons:

1) It’s depressing if things aren’t going well. (And I will tell you every business does have its bad months, no matter what we all say publicly.)
2) No one wants to hire a ‘failure’. Kind of like how desperate people can’t get a date, I’m not ever wanting to come off as desperate for work.
3) As the business owner, more than anything, I need to believe things are going to be fine if I am going to get up every morning and do this. I’m saying things are fine to myself as much as I am to you.

But regardless of the answer to the question ‘How’s business?’ you have to keep getting out there and being visible. Doing it when things are going awesome as well as when things are not is really important because people need to remember you exist. Whether it’s online marketing or old school in person networking events, you have to keep being in the ‘community’ of your potential clients. (You know those Business After Hours that Chamber of Commerce’s have where you get to schmooze and have wine and cheese? I LOVE those.  In case you don’t love them, here’s how to schmooze.)

And if getting online is your networking tool, be out there. Try taking part in a Twitter chat once a week or answer 5 questions a week posted in your LinkedIn group. The key is to be able to quantify the interactions, otherwise you won’t be able to keep yourself honest.

And finally, other than having to say things are fine and having to network to remind people you exist, it’s important to know that it’s ok to have a quick cry at your desk. I certainly do and don’t feel at all emotionally unstable for it. If I didn’t feel anything, it would mean I didn’t care about my work and it’s a good release. Any small business owner that says otherwise is either lying or may have some alternate release like going to the shooting range or screaming in their soundproof room.

So when you ask me ‘How’s business?’ I’m going to say ‘Fine.’ Because one way or the other, it will be.

How To Schmooze

I once got in trouble for using the word ‘schmooze’ in a work email. The person who saw it thought I meant it as derogatory. To the contrary, socializing with a purpose is something I actually like to do. I once talked to a French woman in a restaurant en français for two hours about the health care system in the US versus Europe. I have talked about Precambrian sand dunes in the American west at a bar at 1 am, I made a friend on a plane who I haven’t seen since but I am friends with to this day. I will talk to anyone for any period of time about anything.

My friends think I am a little crazy.

But even sometimes a chatterbox like me isn’t ‘feeling it’ so I’ve developed some schmoozing tricks to get through those events you just have to go to. Here’s what I do to make those Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours or fundraising gala events go well:

1) I check my watch when I go in. I make myself stay at least an hour no matter what. I have no doubt put on makeup and a cute outfit so the least I can do is let people see me for a bit.
2) I turn it the event into a mini scavenger hunt. Example: Talk to five people but… they all have to be wearing different shirt colors. Make the hors d’oeuvre server laugh. Work the word ‘discombobulated’ into conversation five times. This makes my interactions random and keeps me from being sucked into one conversation. Also this is great for goal oriented types, which I like to consider myself being.
3) Warm up your schmoozing skills with the people by the food. They are usually the most shy and uncomfortable at these events so if you seem just a little more comfortable then they are, they’ll talk to you, and gladly.  And you have a natural icebreaker: a comment on the food or drink. “Wow, I love this pate kind of stuff! Do you think it’s salmon?” or “I’m considering my options here, which wine are you drinking?”
4) Pull in someone you know into your conversation for an introduction. This makes you learn the person’s name you just met and makes you seem cool and connected.
5) Don’t sell. Be interested in what other people are doing and what their businesses are. Pretend you are Terry Gross and ask them interesting open-ended questions in a personal tone. “How did you get from business development to farming?” or “I hear you are good friends with so-and-so. Are you planning on working on any projects together coming up?”  Unless they are completely self absorbed jerkfaces, the conversation will eventually come around to you. Plus the person will appreciate your interest and you’ll likely learn something.
6) The more you do this, the easier it is. There is no way around practice. Make yourself go to one event a month. Like exercise or going to see that high maintenance relative, this is good for you even if slightly painful at times.

Remember other people are there for the same reasons you are: meet new people, learn what’s going on, and otherwise show their faces. You aren’t being filmed or scored by judges so relax and just do it. Eventually you too will get in a fun, in-depth conversation about economic development with a stranger over a margarita without even realizing it. Ready, set, schmooze!

Early to rise makes you technically wise

7:30 am, Wednesday April 25. You were probably still in your PJs enjoying your morning coffee while 30 MDI business owners were filling their bellies with eggs and their heads with knowledge at the mini-tech boot camp sponsored by the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce. David Charron of Comp-u-sult and Nicole Ouellette of Breaking Even Communications were on hand to give a lively and informative discussion on what you need to know to keep your business current with computer applications and online marketing presence.
David started with key points on how to manage your data and your computer. Wondering what the Cloud is? David explained that the Cloud is just the internet – and it is actually safer and more economical to have your data backed up online with a third party company such as Mozy or Carbonite. The sites are encrypted for protection, and your data is safely stored offsite.

Also discussed was the importance of strong passwords. “Everyone knows about using 3s instead of Es, you need to be more stealthy now.” David recommend using pneumonic that only you will know. “my dog barnaby jones like ice cream cones”  would translate to MDBJLICC.

David talked briefly about how all those pesky software update reminders you get, are actually software companies trying to protect you from malware. Software manufacturers and hackers are constantly leap frogging each other with updates, and if you have the latest software, you computer is the most secure. As well as updating your software, David talked about the importance of maintaining a clean computer – defragging, emptying the garbage, and scanning for viruses will make your computer happier and faster.

Both Nicole and David then discussed ways to manage your files and information in a way that you and your co-workers have easy access to information. Google Apps is an easy, free, software bundle – available on any web browser, that you can share and co-author documents, spreadsheets, calendars, and more. Google Drive is now combining the features of Google Apps and File Share servers like dropbox: for more details, this is an excellent article: http://www.mercurynews.com/larry-magid/ci_20488331/magid-taking-google-drive-spin

After this discussion of computer and data sources, Nicole stepped up to talk about how to reach customers who are savvy to the internet, and interest them in your business. Traditionally business spend big dollars advertising on television and print media, but with the internet you can reach more of your target audience, and for less money.

Nicole talked about the importance of having a mobile section of your website. People over 50 are the highest growing market for smartphones, and 50% of American adults have already have one. In an area like Mount Desert Island – which largely depends on tourist dollars – making your website accessible to potential customers who are traveling and depending on their smartphones, is certainly going to help your business.

Facebook as a marketing tool was discussed at length. As Nicole pointed out – your website is a static location that depends on people taking the initiative to visit it. A Facebook page allows your business to interact with people on a daily or weekly basis, depending on how often you post updates. Nicole recommends no more than 3 posts a week for business since more information could overwhelm fans.

She also explained the difference between a personal Facebook profile and a business page. Facebook business pages offer a great opportunity for you to access data about your customers  such as age, location, and common interests. A Facebook page also offers your business another opportunity to show up in a google search. Win win win.

Nicole then talked about the new Facebook Timeline, and gave a quick tour of what it has to offer including designing the cover image (the large scale photo on the top); customizing the display of applications installed on the Facebook page; creating milestones that illustrate the history of your company, and being able to ‘pin’ important news to the top of your page and have it remain for up to a week.

She then spoke about some new social media kids on the block, Fiverr, Pinterest, Kickstarter, and Google+. She pointed out that right now Google and Facebook are the A game, but things change very quickly and it’s important to keep up with the ever-changing world of online networking.

To close the meeting, a brand new Kindle Fire was raffled off, and awarded to Sheila Ward from the Inn at Bay Ledge.

By 9 am everyone was happily sipping coffee and congratulating themselves on how smart they were for learning how to use technology more effectively in their business and personal lives.

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Friends And FreelanceSwitch: Why I Am So Lucky

For 24 hours (yesterday) the story of my business was on the front page of a major website. I’ve gotten so many calls, emails, and social media messages congratulating me (that I’m still following up on) but I think it’s only right to explain the reason for this ridiculously good luck.

A brief moment on the 'home page' on FreelanceSwitch. I'll take it!

A brief moment on the 'home page' on FreelanceSwitch. I'll take it!

Melanie Brooks, the author of the article, has been a colleague, mentor, and friend since I’ve met her and I’d like to write a short ‘love’ letter about her.

What drew me to Melanie at the small business conference we met over four years ago at was her enthusiasm. Nothing fake about it, she was genuinely into what she was doing. She was also smart, funny, and warm. It was one of those ‘instafriends’ situations but as we talked, we learned we actually had a lot in common. We both worked in newspapers, had ridiculous online dating stories, and were known as the ‘tell it like it is’ person in our respective social circles. Mel is a true kindred spirit and I am lucky to have gotten to know her as well as I have (and to continue getting to know her).

But what I am most thankful for about Melanie, even more than her writing this article, is that from the moment she met me, she believed in my business and in me. Some days even more than I did. She is one of the few people in my life who never thought I was crazy and went so far as to actively support me in my venture mainly in the way of dealing with a teary or exhausted version of myself. (When you can call someone crying, you know they are worth keeping around!)

While it’s nice that people are congratulating me, telling me they ‘always knew’ I could do it, I will always remember the few people who said it first. Melanie Brooks was one of those people. And as one of the smartest people I know, I believed her.

Ok so my point is while I’m flattered that  I even got on this really cool, well-read website, the friendship that got me there means the most. And that makes me tear up a little. Maybe I should call Mel crying. :^)

You can read the full article here on FreelanceSwitch.

Some Thoughts From Social Media FTW 2011

It’s been a couple weeks since Social Media FTW, an annual social media conference in Maine. This year was the third year and I took some notes that you might find fun from a couple presentations I went to:

Session 1: Elijah Young, http://blog.fandura.com

A bit about blogs:

  • There are 133 million blogs on the internet
  • 94.5% of these blogs are abandoned after one year (The 7.5 million blogs that remain are ‘maintained’, meaning updated at least once a month. (which really isn’t much.)
A lot of people stop blogging because it seems like no one is listening. Bummer. But it’s important to know:
  • 90% of people will lurk
  • 9% will interact occasionally
  • 1% will respond regularly
Some tips to help you be more successful at blogging:
  • Comment on the smaller blogs, they’ll appreciate the comment more than the big guys. Build a reciprocal relationship with them.
  • Respect every interaction (‘Thanks’ is not an conversation.) Having a meaningful exchange makes you memorable, builds relationships, and is more likely to generate leads for you.
  • Interview experts in your field and competitors to build authority. This makes you seem connected and not so selfish.
  • If you are stuck on a topic, use Q and A websites, competitor websites’ FAQs, and blogs you are already reading to help you come up with ideas.
  • Keep it in perspective. You aren’t blogging to become the next famous person, you are doing it to generate more business.

How to get your blog readers to talk to more people for you.

Session 3: Rich Brooks, http://www.flyte.biz

A bit about video:

  • If you are targeting a key phrase, you can rank higher by creating videos with that keyphrase.
  • For blog posts, a thumbnail and play button for a video next to the blog post link (for example on Facebook) is more engaging than just a plain text link.
  • For Flyte, conversion rate on pages with video was much higher than average site visitor (Contact form over 700% more likely to be filled out, 700% higher than the typical visitor).

Video types:

  • How-to
  • Testimonials
  • Tours
  • Tips/Secrets
  • Series
  • Response
Some tips for Youtube and videos:
  • Wondering what keywords you should include in your video file name, video title, video description, etc.? Try the Google Keyword Tool: bit.ly/betterkeywords
  • Videos should ideally be under 2 minutes.
  • Why companies use Youtube: >55% of market share of online videos on Youtube
  • The average Youtube visitor spends >15 minutes/day
  • Youtube is the second largest search engine and the third most visited site online.
  • You can customize a Youtube background; just create an image that is 960 pixels wide center justified.
  • When writing the video description, start with the URL to your website. This will help make sure people see it, and drive traffic to your site.
  • You can add a link to another Youtube video in the annotations section. You can link to a website off Youtube as well but that’s a bit more complicated. ;^) But possible! (It involves making it a promoted video and set CPV to one penny and then editing the video so the call to action overlay appears.)
  • If you are going to embed the video on your blog or website, it’s best to write a blog post to go with it to make it most findable.
  • Tubemogul is a free service that allows you to publish videos to multiple places at one time.
Anyway it was a great conference and I certainly didn’t take enough notes!
Sorry to have missed it? Click here for the slides. 
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