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 Slideshare.net

Photo Sources:  http://www.slideshare.net/SusanJoy/favorite-photo-sources-of-7-content-experts

Graphics Tools:  http://www.slideshare.net/SusanJoy/favorite-graphics-tools-of-7-content-experts

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!


Summertime and the Content Is Easy

visual content marketingAre your summers filled with fun activities that you only get to do for a few months out of every year?

If you live, as I do, in a place where the weather is drastically different between summer and winter, then you probably have plenty of fun memories you could capture in photos each summer.

And now that is so easy to do with our smart phones!  We don’t even need to think about taking a camera along when we go to the beach, meet friends for golf or softball or a hike in the woods, play in the backyard with our kids, and invite friends and family over for a cookout.

I know some of you are thinking, ‘My photos aren’t that good.’  And what about those of you who don’t feel safe posting your children’s pictures on the internet?  What about photos that include other people who haven’t given permission to share their picture online?

Hopefully you are managing who sees the pictures shared on your personal profiles for any social media platform.  But for your business accounts — or for personal accounts you use to share business information, you want friends and followers to be able to share your posts with others who don’t know you.

Here are seven tips for shooting photos that can safely be shared in your business marketing on social media.

1.  Obscure individual identities by taking pictures from behind or from the neck down.  Try a broad shot that takes in a large scene and blurs individual faces.  Hats and sunglasses can also help hide faces closer up.

2.  Take photos of the space where an event or activity is happening.  Shoot visually interesting promotional signs, decorations, statues and other landmarks.

3.  Get images of food and beverages.  Most people love to see images of great looking food!  And your verbal post can enhance the images further with mouth-watering descriptions.

4.  Shoot photos of entertainers or speakers at public events.  Usually people in those roles are happy to get every little bit of publicity.  But if you’re not sure, ask them if it’s all right to post your photo of their band or their commencement address or whatever.  They may ask you to send it to them as well and you’ll get a new social media contact.

5.  Look for visual symbols that can serve as metaphors or as illustrations of something related to your niche.   Snap a zebra at the zoo and write about how to stand out from your competitors.  Frame (or edit later) a super close-up of someone biting into a huge burger or a tongue connecting with an ice cream cone.  Use the image to launch into a discussion about finding a hungry audience who really wants what you offer online.

6.  Animals and plants rarely care about their privacy rights so click away!  As with the previous item, there are many different ways to use these photos to spark a blog post or social media post about topics related to your niche.

7.  Take selfies (or ask someone else to take your picture with your phone).  Your fans will enjoy seeing what you’re up to and you can keep the shot simple so you don’t reveal too much about your personal life.  Just pose in front of a sign or in front of natural scenery or something to symbolize where you’ve been and what you were doing.

Watch for unique visual surprises — something that will catch your eye due to bright color, contrasting colors, a striking arrangement of shapes, vivid patterns, unusual “white space” or “negative space”.  The possibilities are endless when you keep your eyes and your brain on alert.  I recommend just grabbing the images while you can and figuring out later what to do with them!

And sometimes you might just be in the right place at the right time to capture a masterpiece!

If you’re like me, you probably want to block out time to upload those photos to your computer (or wherever you store them long-term) as soon as you can so you don’t forget about them!

Are you using your own photos in your content marketing?  If so, let me know what you’ve done with them.  If not, let me know how you plan to get started.

Want more?  You can get more ideas for holiday visual content by downloading my free report, Content Marketing Strategy:  Using Holiday Marketing.