Gratitude for My Teachers, Mentors, and Gurus

Gratitude for My Teachers, Mentors, and Gurus

ThanksgivingAs we approach the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S., I’ve been feeling very grateful for all the teachers, mentors, and supporters who have helped – and continue to help – me push my fledgling business slowly to the edge of the nest where it can take off and fly on its own.

My Gratitude List

First, I have to acknowledge Raymond Aaron for getting me to face the fact that I wasn’t getting anywhere “trying to start a business” on my own!  Raymond Aaron also convinced me that I should – and COULD – write a book to establish authority in my field.  (My book, “Get Your Message Into Their Brains,” will be published in early 2016.

Weekly webinars with Cliff Atkinson, consultant and author of “Beyond Bullet Points,” changed the way I presented training materials in my full-time job as a technical trainer.  Helping Cliff produce his 3-day live, public teaching event in 2012 led me to become a Certified Beyond Bullet Points Presenter, as well as nudging me into the marketing world.

My association with Cliff introduced me, several years ago, to Ellen Finkelstein and her annual online event, Outstanding Presentations.  Since then, I’ve had the good fortune of meeting Ellen in person, interviewing her for my upcoming book as well as for a recent marketing campaign, and getting to know her and call her a friend.  Her support helped me recently launch my first successful paid 4-part live training, “Free Pictures Formula.”

Master speaker trainer, Arvee Robinson’s weekly group coaching calls helped me begin to adapt my teaching skills and experience into persuasive speaking skills.

My TeachersSigning up for some one-on-one coaching with Jim Alvino (with Top One Coaching) helped me develop a lot more clarify about what services I was going to offer and who were going to be my target clients.  Though that changed a few times, I still look back to what I learned from those initial exercises.

As I was feeling my way into the world of online marketing, I was (and still am) grateful for Michelle Shaeffer’s “Launch Your Blog” course, her incredible level of personal support and encouragement, and her amazing willingness to answer questions and help her students.

Through ongoing group coaching with Steve Sipress, a business coach trained by Dan Kennedy, I began to see how much I needed to learn.  His live events in the Chicago area and his online self-study courses helped me finally understand the essentials of positioning, branding, and marketing.

Attending Steve’s monthly local networking events made me realize I didn’t know how to talk about my business, which led me to ongoing group and individual coaching with Eric Lofholm, sales coach, trainer, and author of 7 best-selling books!  Besides radically changing the way I think about sales, Eric also led me to Rick Cooper, social media trainer and coach, from whom I’ve learned a great deal and received a lot of support and encouragement over the past several years.

Tony Laidig’s weekly free webinars, “The Expert Media Show,” and many of his paid training series have inspired me with new ways to connect my visual creativity to the development of my business.  His teaching has helped me fill in digital design skills gaps and expand my vision of what I can do in the brave new world of visual content marketing – a long way from my college minor in art and major in music education!

As my full-time job brought me new opportunities to learn video editing software, Lon Naylor of ScreencastStudios and LearnCamtasia has helped me continue to build on those video marketing skills and has been extremely generous in his support and in answering questions about what he models in his own online business.

Attending several of James Malinchak’s live events, Big Money Speaker, has made a lasting impact on the way I think about speaking, writing, and marketing and on my long-range plans for my business.

More recently, Amethyst Mahoney has brought me new understanding about how to make better use of Facebook in its current environment, as well as modeling her way of integrating her personality, philosophy and spirituality into her own business.  (She is also a lot of fun to interview, in case you’re looking for guests for your radio, hangout, webinar, blab, periscope, or podcast show!)

Another new teacher in my life this past year was Donna Moritz.  Her webinar training series, “Visual Content Blueprint,” opened my eyes to a whole integration between social media visuals and basic small business marketing that I was missing!

The Grace of the Guru

There is an expression used in Eastern spiritual/philosophical traditions:  the grace of the guru.

fall harvestWhile the word “guru” gets tossed around a lot in the internet marketing community, often with implications of self-acclaimed celebrity status, the Sanskrit origins of the word reflect a more esoteric meaning.

Sanskrit words often have many layers of meaning and guru is no exception.  The most common meanings of the gu syllable include heavy or dark or difficult to understand.  The ru syllable is sometimes defined as light, but a more accepted meaning is breaking or shattering.

The breaking or shattering of heaviness or darkness – a true guru performs this task by simply being an “enlightened being” whose example shines forth to those all around.

Even when words are used to teach certain ideas or concepts, the true deeper message is often beneath the surface of our conscious awareness.

Think about this as you learn from your teachers and mentors.  What are they teaching by example – by role modeling?  Don’t just listen to the words they say, but feel deeper into how you can learn from what they do.

Now it’s your turn:  What teachers and mentors have shattered the difficulties in your life and lit up your understanding?

7 Content Experts Share Their Secrets

favorite picture sourcesWe all know that visual images are crucial for content these days.  But how do you find enough good images that you can afford without spending hours searching the internet and without risking a lawsuit for copyright violation?

Recently I interviewed 7 of my mentors, colleagues, and friends and asked them about how they use visual images, their favorite tools for working with graphics, and their favorite sources for downloading photos and illustrations.  I included some clips from those interviews in series of 3-videos.  But people found the information so beneficial that I decided to put it in infographic form so you don’t have to watch the whole video to learn what you need!

Click on the thumbnail image to the right or use the URLs below to view the full infographics on

Photo Sources:

Graphics Tools:

To learn about dozens of different free pictures download sites, check out the new course I’m offering:

free pictures formula courseFree Pictures Formula:  How to Find the Images You Want More Quickly and Avoid Getting Sued for Copyright Violations

This 4-part training series will consist of live Google Hangout sessions, in addition to access to the recordings.  Click the link above for more details or click on the picture at the left.

Whether or not you decide to join us for the live training, I hope you enjoy the information that the 7 experts offered – the information you can find on the 2 infographics or in the 3 videos.

Please leave a comment and let me know what you learned from these experts and which new tool or new photo site you plan to try out in the near future.  Thanks!  I always love to hear from my readers.


Free Pictures – The 3 Biggest Myths about Using Free Pictures in your Content Marketing

Do you know the 3 biggest myths about free pictures?

Free Pictures Myth #1If you want to feel confident about interpreting online image licenses without getting sued for copyright violation, then you need to read this immediately because the myths and the TRUTH about free pictures are inside this article.

Myth #1: If online pictures do not display the photographer’s name and are not marked as copyrighted, then they are copyright free images.

Many people believe that pictures are copyright free just because the website owner did not display the photographer’s name and did not mark the picture as copyrighted.

But this belief hurts you because you’re relying on the knowledge and good intentions of the owner of the website where you found the free pictures and you’re trusting them to provide accurate information.

The actual reality in this situation is that you are responsible for verifying the copyright status and the license requirements for any pictures that you use, regardless of what the website owner has done.

This is one of the reasons you should never download images from just any old blog or website.  Only get your free pictures from reputable image download sites that you trust to provide an accurate copyright status and full details of any license agreement for the pictures you want to use.

Myth #2: Giving credit or attribution for a free picture can be done any way that fits in your design.Free Pictures Myth #2

This is not completely true!

Believing that you can give credit or attribution for a free picture in any way you want can cause you problems because there are specific guidelines for how attribution should be displayed.

The reality is that many free digital photos do require attribution and those requirements can vary among different types of image licenses.  It is usually not enough just to list the name of the photographer.  Some licenses may also require listing the name or title of the art work, the source website where you got the photo, listing the type of license in use, and some may even request a hyperlink to the source site.

Myth #3: The best way to avoid the risk of copyright violations is to use paid subscription photos.

Paid subscriptions for royalty-free stock photos are certainly a good option for many businesses.  But start-ups, very small businesses like solo-preneurs, and not-for-profit organizations often cannot justify that expense in their budgets.

Believing that you need to use paid subscription photos may cause a financial hardship to you and your business.  What is the reality instead?

There are other ways to avoid the risk of copyright violations besides using paid subscription photos.  But you need to educate yourself.

License requirements must be followed for both paid and free pictures.  In order to follow those requirements, you need to understand how to interpret the image license.

Now that you know the myths, I’d like to invite you to further discover the truth about free pictures by grabbing your free instant access to our “Checklist for Downloading Free Pictures.”

This simple one-page checklist will tell you what to look for in the license for a single image or in the terms of use for a whole download site.  Enjoy the confidence of knowing how to select free pictures online and stop worrying about getting sued for copyright violations.

To get your checklist, just click right here.  And please leave any questions or comments below – thank you!

Visual Content with PowerPoint – Designing a Visual e-Book

visual content marketing

Create a Visual e-Book in PowerPoint

You’ve probably heard many times that visual content is critical to your content marketing strategy.  One easy way to add more visual images to your content marketing is by creating an e-book.

But don’t create a typical e-book that is mostly text with maybe a few small pictures added for decoration.  You can create a highly visual e-book using PowerPoint or a similar slide design software and you don’t need to be a graphic designer to make it look really great.

I’ll bet some of you are thinking, “PowerPoint?  Really?”

You might be used to seeing PowerPoint slides full of bullet point text with a boring speaking who goes on and on with way too much detail.  But PowerPoint is actually a powerful visual software — if you know how to use it correctly!

Why Use PowerPoint for e-Books?

PowerPoint offers several advantages over Word, including:

  • Ease of inserting and formatting pictures
  • Layering of background images with text overlays
  • Default landscape layout lets readers view a whole page without scrolling

What Are the Steps for Creating a Visual e-Book?

Whenever I decide to create a new e-book, I divide my work process into 3 basic steps:

First I choose my topic and organize my ideas into a structure. I prefer outlines, but you could certainly use a mind map instead. I generally aim for 3 basic sections of content and I decide on the sub-topics or the headings for those 3 sections.

Next I select my theme and the colors I want to use in the e-book.

Sometimes I will use one of the built-in PowerPoint themes or a purchased design template. If you do this, be sure to select one that has lots of open space for inserting the blocks of text for your content.

Other times I just create my own layout, using simple rectangular shapes for page headings and footers and for the text blocks that will hold my written content. Often I will select 2 or 3 colors to use for these shapes so I can switch colors between sections as a way to visually enhance the structure of the content.

Finally, once I finish my planning and preparation, it’s time to add my pictures and text. I usually take care of the images first, choosing one of the following two methods for adding images to each page:

  • Insert a picture next to the text or embedded in the middle with text above and below
  • Format the slide background to fill it with a picture that stretches out across the whole page and place a text box in front of the picture background

Once I’ve decided on the image approach I’ll use, then I decide where to add my text blocks.  PowerPoint provides two ways to add the text as well:

  • Insert a Text Box and stretch it out to the desired width
  • Insert a Shape and stretch it out to the desired width and height
  • Then click in the Text Box or Shape and begin typing your verbal content.  Or you can copy and paste text that you have already written somewhere else, such as a completed article or the script for a video.

I’ve created a short video above to show you the simple steps to create e-book content in PowerPoint.  Watch the video and then please leave a comment below if you have any questions or if there is any else you want to learn about designing visual e-books in PowerPoint or other slide design software.

How to Get Your Free Template

I want to give you a free sample PowerPoint file with an e-book layout that you can use as a template.  The file contains pages in different styles so you can easily choose which style to use (see comparison in the video).

To get my free template, there is no optin required.  All you have to do is leave a comment here on the blog post AND on the video page in YouTube.  You can even leave a question, if you want.  I will respond to both your comments and I’ll send the  template to the email address you enter with the comment.

(NOTE:  Your email address will not be visible.  I will be able to see it as the Admin for this blog.)

Thanks!  I look forward to seeing what you create!