Month: June 2018

“Meh” Visuals? 11 Tips to Make Your Company’s Visual Content More Appealing

Your company’s image library says a lot about its marketing plan. The images its marketing team chooses to share, even more so. — Yes, even if the “marketing team” is still you, the founder.

Follow these straightforward tips to render your company’s pics, charts, memes, videos, and anything else you can plausibly construe as “visual” more appealing to those you expect to consume it.

1. Trust Your (Untrained) Eye

Here’s a simple rule of thumb: if you truly, honestly think it looks good enough to publish, it probably is.

Yes, this is a potential minefield. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and there’s simply no guarantee that your taste is representative of your audience’s. If your standards are unusually low, shouldn’t you get a second opinion?

Perhaps. But you don’t need a marketing professional to sign off on every single piece of visual content you produce. If you have a graphic designer on your team (or on call — see below), then you’re in better shape than 80 percent of early-stage businesses. If you don’t have a visual arts expert on staff, surely you have someone you trust to a) critically evaluate visual content, and b) provide unvarnished feedback on same.

2. Live-Link Your Pins

Not yet sold on Pinterest? Cast off those lingering doubts, set up a page, and begin adding high-quality photos for followers to peruse.

Pinterest is at its best when brands use it as a gateway for awareness- or consideration-stage prospects — consumers researching or weighing their options, but not quite ready to pull the trigger on a purchase. To attract these early-to-mid-stage prospects, you’ll want to live-link every single pin to a corresponding product page, with or without a checkout feature. The Pinterest page for Bixler University is a case in point: a no-frills funnel for students, alums, and parents searching for distinctive class jewelry.

3. Use Solid-Color, Decluttered Backgrounds for Product Thumbnails

From a distance, your product thumbnails should appear cut from the same cloth, even if they’re produced in different locations, at different types, with different equipment. Key to this effect is the background — namely, a decluttered, solid-color, low-contrast background that’s the farthest thing from the focus of the composition.

4. Invest in a Legit Camera (Not a Cameraphone) for High-Touch Photos

A low-key background only gets you so far. So does your off-the-shelf cameraphone, powerful though it may be. If you’re serious about producing and editing your own product photos, bite the bullet and invest in a legitimate digital camera. When those first stunning thumbnails hit your Shopify portal, you’ll thank yourself for loosening your normally tight fist.

5. Find a Freelance Graphic Designer You Trust

Don’t have a graphic designer on staff yet? Not sure you can afford a full-timer anyway?

No sweat. If you’re not running a full-service marketing shop out of your office, there’s no need to invest in an above-replacement designer. Look to reputable freelance platforms like UpWork to find reasonably priced designers capable of performing high-quality work on tight timeframes. Once you find someone you like working with, ask whether they’re amenable to an increased workload; if they are, you may have unwittingly found your first all-visual employee (and perhaps your future CMO).

6. Bone Up on Memetics

One type of visual content for which you probably don’t need a professional graphic designer is the trusty meme. Meme-making crash courses abound; this one is better than average, and beginner-friendly to boot. If you’re humor-challenged, or worried about toeing the appropriate/off-brand line too closely, make it a collaborative effort or farm out the work to a (paid) friend whose judgment you trust.

7. Develop a “House Style” for Promotional Photography

You can recognize your own handwriting at a glance, right? Your photography should be no different. For product photos and candid around-the-office or in-the-field images, work on developing a recognizable “house style” with similar palettes, saturations, and subject placements. This is an impossible-to-overestimate aspect of consistent, professional branding. You might not hit the mark every time, but you’d be remiss not to try.

8. Remember the “One-Thirds” Rule

File this under basic, oft-forgotten principles of photography. Also known as the “rule of thirds,” it asks photographers to divide their fields into horizontal and vertical thirds to create nine spatial blocks. The lines separating those blocks become photographic axes — the spines along which photographers should situate subjects or elements. For whatever reason(s), the human eye responds well to rule-of-thirds compositions, so keep it in mind as you create original works.

9. Vary Your Subjects

This could also read: “don’t be afraid of stock photography.” If you only have a handful of human subjects at your disposal, and you’re not ready to run a casting operation out of your cramped coworking space, turn to reputable platforms like Shutterstock and Pexels (which has an extensive free library) for reinforcements. Most savvy audience members can tell the difference between original and stock photography, but if that’s preferable to running through the same three personnel configurations in a dozens-deep photo library, so be it.

10. Use Popular SEO Tags for Images You Want to Make Discoverable

Don’t sleep on image SEO. Use tags that accurately describe the content of your photos — say, “lake cabin” or “sand dunes”. You won’t rank on the first page for all (or even most) photos you tag, but the extra effort could get you across the line in less competitive cases.

11. Move Beyond #NoFilter

The Instagram hashtag #NoFilter was popular for a minute back there. It retains adherents today, but the moment has definitely passed. And for good reason — tasteful filters absolutely have their place, particularly in marketing materials that call for arresting or surreal visual elements.

Set the Right Tone

Above all else, make sure your visual media portfolio sets the right tone for your organization and brand. It’s better never to post a questionable photo or dash off an original image without proper editing than to realize what you’ve done and rush to take it down before it attracts too much scorn. Your audience is paying attention. Don’t let them down.

Original post: “Meh” Visuals? 11 Tips to Make Your Company’s Visual Content More Appealing

SEO Booster Plugin for WordPress

SEO is one of those things that most business owners loathe. Trying to rank on Google is stressful, ranking factors can be confusing, and without in-depth SEO knowledge, it can often seem impossible. And if you don’t have the advertising budget of a large company, you have to find creative ways to get more value out of your SEO.

The SEO Booster plugin is a reliable option if you need help with your SEO.

Finding Your Audience
Finding the right keywords to reach your target audience takes some effort. But SEO booster makes that process a little easier by helping you determine which keywords are worthwhile.
The plugin has all the tools you’ll need to start ranking on Google. The basic version is free, while a premium version is offered if you want more features.

If you are just starting out with your SEO, this plugin is one you’ll want to check out.

Easy to Use
The installation is extremely easy. All you have to do is install the plugin like any other WordPress plugin.

The plugin is compatible with multiple sites, so if you manage multiple websites, you can use it across all of them.

It integrates well with other similar plugins such as Yoast SEO and SEOPress.

The developer support is reliable. If you ever have any questions, the support team is readily available to help you.

Convenience
The interface is clean and well-organized. This makes it easy for you to track your SEO efforts, make changes, and improve them.

The plugin automatically turns keywords into links. While this isn’t a massive feature, it does save you time.

Tags and categories are added automatically. Categories and tags are an important way to improve your website’s navigation. Because SEO Booster does them automatically, it helps you stay on top of it.

Comprehensive
The plugin monitors all the incoming traffic to your site. Now you don’t have to rely on Google Analytics as much.

It tracks backlinks, so you can see if you are receiving useful backlinks that will boost your SEO efforts.

Receive weekly reports recommending changes and other information. While these reports can often seen generic, they do spot small errors that are easy to fix. Definitely a plus.

One Flaw
However, like most plugins, SEO Booster does lock some of its better features behind a paid Pro version. These features include:

-Additional details regarding backlinks.
-Tracking crawler visits (i.e. telling me which pages were being indexed by the search engines).
-Exporting the search optimization data to a file.

That being said, $47 a year is a fair price to pay for such a service.

Overall

The SEO Booster plugin does its job fairly well. It provides you with access to many features for free, and offers a few premium features that are locked behind a paywall.
If you are a small business owner struggling with SEO.

Original post: SEO Booster Plugin for WordPress

Are You Getting the Most Out of Your Stock Images?

When it comes to stock imagery, designers will often see it as an essential practice. Getting the best from your images is often something which can go by the wayside, particularly in the fast moving world of business.

While these same designers may – in an idealistic sense – want to impose their own particular brand of style on a project, sometimes costs and time work against them. Quite often, having a library of unique and engaging images such as those from sites like focusedcollection.com can be nothing less than a life saver.

What can we do to make sure that we are getting the most out of the stock imagery we use to bring our websites and demos to life? Here are some essential tips:

Choose the Right Images
While this may seem pretty obvious, it is clearly not to everyone. If you have landed on a corporate webpage to find contextually incompatible stock photos with the design and content of a site, you will understand how puzzling this can be.

The right images should bring your mission, brand identity, environment and solution to life. Simply ignoring the compatibility between text and imagery is a mistake which is made far too often by lazy and uninspired designers, and this can hinder a company’s potential for a profound impact among its audience.

Utilize Search Options & Categories
Rather than trawling through image after image, waiting for something to click, ensure you completely understand the idea you are trying to promote. Work out the best way to convey the idea and then choose photos which you feel are pertinent in delivering this concept to your audience.

You can speed up the process of finding the best photos by utilizing the search functions and filtering photos by category. It is so simple but really does help in the long run, making for less puzzling accompanying images to incompatible content.

A/B Testing
An extremely useful tip to those in the know is to run an A/B test – also known as a split test – in order to determine which of two designs has the greater impact among your audience. In order to do this, you will have two unique versions of the same webpage, with different stock images.

By running an A/B test, you can figure out what images hit home with clients, customers, and subscribers. There is no perfect formula in web-design, and the parameters for success are often undefined, so this will require insights and reviews which will take things such as social media clicks and engagement into consideration.

Marry Photos & Text
Your text and images should always be in harmony, as anything considered visually incongruous by your audience may push them away. While even the most junior web designer worth their salt will understand that Hawaiian fonts and images of sandy beaches and palm trees should never accompany a funeral parlor in Detroit, many seasoned designers still manage to get things wrong (albeit more subtly).

Your stock image and typography should therefore be married in order to compliment both, and help contain consistency in design.

Dare to be Bold
We have all seen the generic stock images of three suited and booted office workers looking mildly lobotomized while a superior stands in front of a projector. Avoid these images at all costs as they can be a horrendous thing to be associated with.
Instead, capture the brilliant timbre of the idea with which you want to bring to your audience. Dare to be bold; try to be wonderful, but above all, don’t be generic.

Original post: Are You Getting the Most Out of Your Stock Images?