Why Your Blog Posts Need Photos

Why Your Blog Posts Need Photos @ SarahWritesStoriesWe talked last month about how to get photos for your blog, but maybe you’re not yet convinced that’s even something you need.  So let’s back up a bit.

You know the feeling when you arrive at a web page and see a wall of text, right? Your reaction is probably the psychological equivalent of backing away slowly before turning & running, but with much less energy expenditure — you simply click away.

Three Reasons Your Blog Posts Need Photos

We live in a visual age, so including images in your blog posts is important.  Here are three reasons why.

Photos Catch Your Audience’s Attention

You can help avoid “tl;dr” syndrome by breaking up your post with an eye-catching image.  Our eyes are drawn to images, and when you’re fighting for attention on the internet (which you are), a striking image can be the difference between a click in or a click away.

Photos Give You Another SEO Tool

Another benefit of including images in your blog posts is that they give search engines another opportunity to find you — if you’re incorporating SEO.  And you can optimize your images in two easy steps:

  1. Use a meaningful file name.
  2. Include alt-text.

Photos Make Your Posts More Appealing to Share

If you’ve ever shared an article on facebook, you’ve probably noticed that you have the option to select an image from the page to appear with your link.  And thinking about your own habits on facebook, aren’t you more likely to a) actually see the link with a photo and b) click it?

Giving your readers an image to share gets your small business on Pinterest and facebook — and that sort of word of mouth is some of the best, most targeted advertising you can get — and it’s free.

Need More Proof?

The proof is in the pudding, so to speak, and MDG Advertising has done a wonderful, statistic-pudding-filled infographic.

It’s All About the Images [infographic by MDG Advertising]

Infographic by MDG Advertising

Talk about a picture being worth a thousand words, right?

Blog Writing and Pinterest-Ready Graphics at Sarah Writes Stories

If you’re ready to take your blog to the next level but need help doing so, let’s chat!  I’d love to work with you to create a blog that engages your readers and brings in the new customers you’re looking for.

Link Round-Up: I Think My Baby is a Werewolf Edition

You may have noticed the blog’s been dark for a couple of weeks.  I could hem & haw and give you excuses, but hey, isn’t a picture worth a thousand words?

Pip vs. Owl

Sure, he looks all sweet & innocent there, but once dark comes, he transforms into a squealing, non-sleeping, gum-gnashing little monster. I think we’ve actually turned the corner on the 4-month sleep regression, but during July’s full moon, when Pip was squealing at 2 or 3 a.m. (after having been up at midnight, 1 a.m. and again at 5 a.m.), I was pretty convinced he was actually a baby werewolf with alopecia.

So, if the blog is ever dark when it shouldn’t be, you can blame that guy up there most likely.  The thing is, my priorities go like this:

  1. Health, safety & well-being of Pip, T, myself, & our menagerie of animals.
  2. Freelance clients.
  3. Regular updates to this here blog.

That leaves out a LOT of other priorities, but you get the picture.  So, even though you should update your blog regularly and consistently, sometimes life is going to prevent that — and that’s OK.  And that goes for most facets of your business.  Sometimes an order gets messed up, or a customer service experience is less than stellar.  The important thing to do is to own up (or blame a baby who may or may not be a werewolf) and do what you can to make it right.  (Here are some tips on what to do when you mess up.)

So, in the spirit of honesty, please bear with me as I learn to work in proper updates here along with balancing my need for sleep with my werewolf-baby’s need to squeal and/or eat.

And now, on to the links!

Have a great week, everyone!

How NOT to Find Images For Your Blog

How NOT to Find Images For Your Blog @ SarahWritesStoriesAre you using photos on your blog? You should be!  But you can’t just pull photos from anywhere on the web.  We’ll talk more next week on what makes a good blog image, but let’s start with the basics — where to find photos.

Google Image Search is not a Photo Library

If you’re using Google Image to gather images for your blog, you’re probably infringing on someone else’s copyright.  And in short, that’s stealing.  Which is bad.  It’s unethical at best and illegal at worst.

I’ve seen online marketing companies tell clients to use Google Image Search, so don’t feel bad if you didn’t realize this was a problem.  But now that you do know, let’s take a look at the right way to find images.

When to Pay for Stock Photos

If you’re looking for photos or artwork for company materials — like a static website, brochures, etc. — paying for stock photographs is probably the best way to go.  Places like istockphoto or shutterstock offer decent prices for high quality images.

When to Use Free Stock Photos

It’s understandable that you wouldn’t want to shell out a ton of money for images for your blog posts, but they’re an important part of Search Engine Optimization and — just as important — making your posts visually appealing for the humans who visit your blog.  (They’re also a great starting point for getting traffic from Pinterest.)

Luckily, there are great sources for free photo art on the web, and one of the best places to start is the Creative Commons section of Flickr.  Just make sure you’re grabbing photos with a license appropriate for your business and that you’re giving the artist proper attribution in the photo caption and the photo’s description.

The Right Creative Commons Licenses for Blog Photos

The best license for blog photos is the Attribution License, which allows you to use the photo and modify it as long as you attribute the original art to the artist.  Simple enough.  This is great for posting original photography as creating Pinterest-ready images for your blog.

The No Derivatives License means you can’t alter the image.  So, while this works just fine for a blog image, you can’t tag it with your logo, web address or post title.

Which license can’t you use?  The NonCommercial License.  If you’re selling anything — products or services — then steer clear of photos or artwork with this type of license.

Blog Writing at Sarah Writes Stories

If you need help writing compelling, informative and entertaining blog posts that engage your readers with text and images, I can help.  Let’s chat about how we can work together to create a blog that fits your company’s brand, voice and vision.

Why Your Business Needs a Newsletter

Why Your Business Needs a Newsletter @ SarahWritesStoriesThese days, blogging, twitter and facebook are all the rage when it comes to helping people find and interact with your business.  But there’s one more tool in your social marketing toolbox you might be forgetting — the newsletter.

Three Reasons Your Business Needs a Newsletter

While email can seem a little old school in these days of instant interaction on the likes of twitter and facebook, it still serves a great purpose for you and your customers.

Newsletters Create Added Value for Valued Customers

A newsletter positions you as an expert in your industry in a similar way to your blog.  The difference is a newsletter can offer exclusive content to folks who want it — and it’s a great way to give a little something extra to your valued customers.  A newsletter is the truest form of permission-based marketing — if you offer something that people actually request to read, you’re on the right track.

Newsletters Let Customers Share How Great You Are

Newsletters are unique when it comes to sharing.  A retweet or a share on facebook goes out to a person’s entire network of friends, but a newsletter is more easily forwarded specifically to friends and family who might benefit from what your company has to offer.  This is targeted marketing done for you!  And the bonus is it comes from a vetted, impartial source of information.

Newsletters Trigger Repeat Business

While a solid blog, website and other social media are fantastic for helping people find your business, a newsletter does a wonderful job of creating repeat business.  Social media helps people find you, but a newsletter reminds your customers to come back.  Newsletters are especially great for service-based businesses because they act as periodic reminders for folks to take advantage of your services.

Newsletters at Sarah Writes Stories

If you’re ready to start taking advantage of the benefits of a newsletter, I can helpI’d love to work with you to create an informative newsletter that creates loyal, repeat customers and helps them share how great your business is with their friends and family.

Back in Action + Link Round-up: Drink Up Edition

Parenthood is a very strange thing. It feels like it’s only been a week since our special delivery arrived, and yet it feels like our little Pipsqueak has been around for ages. Life is kind of like that anyway, but having a kiddo around really drives the point home.

Poolside Nap, by Elizabeth Ditty

In any case, it’s been three months, and that means it’s time to get the show back on the road in this space.  I won’t be posting as frequently as I was before — three times a week is a bit too much for me to handle on top of my freelance load and our ever-evolving mini-caveman — but I’m planning to bring you fresh content every Tuesday.

For now, let me leave you with some fresh links!

Link Round-up: Drink Up Edition

The Naked Grape, by Elizabeth DittyHaving given them up for 9+ months, I have a newfound appreciation for coffee and wine. Luckily, both come with health bonuses as well as simple enjoyment!

Speaking of coffee, Starbucks is raising their prices today.  Here are a bunch of different ways to make coffee at home.

Joss Whedon offers some great advice on how to be prolific.

How to daydream.

Have a great week!

Friday Link Round-Up: Weakness Edition

Collapsed Pup by Elizabeth Ditty

Whether you’ve faced the question in an interview or have been provoked to do some soul-searching on your own, there’s something to be said for knowing your weaknesses and how to deal with them.  Reviewing Steve Jobs’ biography earlier this week got me thinking about strengths & weaknesses and how we manage them.

Thought-Provoker of the Week

The first step to dealing with your weaknesses is learning what they are and how to talk about them.  Penelope Trunk talks about how to do both.

Lesson of the Week

Once we’ve identified and come to terms with our weaknesses, we can then focus on turning the into strengths.  ZenHabits talks about how to do just that.

Recipe of the Week

This Men’s Health article suggests that the problem with most of our restaurant comfort foods is cheap, poor-quality, artificial ingredients.  By using high-quality, real foods, we can take our favorite comfort foods into something that, if not exactly healthy, at least isn’t detrimental to our health.

Product of the Week

Coffee is definitely one of my weaknesses, and while I adore my Starbucks baristas, I’m trying to be more responsible with how much money I spend there.

To help in this endeavor, in addition to my pour-over coffee, we recently spent a grand total of less than $40 on a Bialetti espresso maker and a milk frother to use at home.  So far, we’re very impressed with the simplicity and quality of both, and it’s nice being able to have what feels like a little bit of luxury at home.

Laugh of the Week

Sometimes the best way to face a weakness is simply to embrace it, just like Loca, the dog who can’t run.