List building should be a priority in your business. It’s one of the most efficient ways to grow your community, build up that know, like, trust factor with your audience and will help you to make sales, which as an online business, I know is a huge motivator for you!
We are bringing back friend to the show, Haley Burkhead from Market Beautifully on this episode of the Brand It Girl Podcast to dive into a hot topic: monetizing your list. The term ‘monetizing your list’ is a bit trendy these days. We hear it a lot, but what does it actually mean and how do you do it? We will be answering all those questions in this episode!
In this episode of the Brand It Girl podcast, we are sinking our teeth into the 5 brand elements that you need for your blog! Blogs can be incredibly helpful for your business - it can establish you as an expert, it can help you to grow a community or tribe, it drives new traffic to your website and can improve your SEO. But what branded elements do you need for your blog?
I know that it can feel painful to invest in training programs and ecourses, especially when you are just starting out and cash flow might be low or you might not know who to trust with your hard earned dollars and your precious time. It can be scary and sometime you really don't know what you need to learn first or what strategy will actually help you to achieve your goals. And in many cases there's a multitude of people telling you to do this or that and it's just overwhelming right?
You start to think that just grabbing free courses would be a good idea, or perhaps don't even worry about that and spend your time surfing the web in search for blogs that answer your questions and give you clues as to what to do next.
This could be costing you more than you think.
As girlpreneurs in the digital age, we are constantly faced with the understanding that creating content and providing value is only half the journey to achieving girl boss superstardom. It’s a ton of work to create a new piece of content. There’s the research, writing, editing, optimizing, publishing, and promoting. Not to mention the moments when you really need to get a blog post out and you get haunted by the plague of the blinking cursor instead. You know exactly what I’m talking about. Sometimes the mere thought of planning your content calendar for the month can feel like you’re David facing Goliath. We stop, look towards heaven, and hope there’s an easier, less tedious way to figure all this out! I know exactly what you mean, girlfriend. Nowadays, we have to get as many eyes on our brand as we can, and valuable content is our means of doing so. It’s so important for people to find our beautifully written posts, value rich courses, and amazingly useful opt-ins. But it’s not a walk in the park to create all that magical content from scratch. While the thought of it seems like an impossible feat, there is an easier way to do this. No, like seriously. There is, and I’m going to tell you how.
So what’s the big secret, Krystal? Drum roll please... The answer is content repurposing! The the hottest thing since sliced bread and honey let me tell you, it makes this whole “getting more eyes on your content” thing so much easier to do. Creating content in multiple forms has never been as important to the content sharing culture than it is now. There are a ton of bonuses to creating your content in multiple forms.
It's an exciting time here at Brand It Girl HQ. We have just launched our brand new membership site, The Brand It Boutique and it's doing so well, we have members starting to come in already!
I created The Boutique because I know that there are three main reasons that women either don't starting their own online businesses and blogs or that they fail to growing those businesses and blogs sustainably:
- THEY DON'T KNOW HOW TO IT.
They either don't have the skills or knowledge that they need to get it started or to grow and develop using specific growth strategies like email list building, funnels, social media and systems. OR they know that they need these skills but they don't have the time to trawl through the internet, trying to find the answers and the be honest, they don't have the money to take a course on every topic!
- THEY DON'T THINK THEY CAN DO IT.
Another huge issue is mindset. They don't believe that they can or they don't think that they are worthy of success in this way. A big part of this is the dreaded Imposter Syndrome that traps us into believing that we don't really have the knowledge and skill that logically, we know that we do! Their mindset and physical health is often the reason women don't propel forward into their purpose!
- THEY DON'T HAVE THE SUPPORT NETWORK.
And lastly, being an online business owner, solopreneur &/or blogger can be terribly lonely. We often work from home on our own and it can be isolating! Friends and family don't necessarily understand what you are trying to build and why and this can mean that women taking this path are left feeling unsupported and like they are tackling this alone!
With these three big issues in mind, The Boutique was created based on these three pillars: education, wellbeing and support.
Do you ever feel like the black sheep amongst your friends? Like they don't understand what it is you do when you talk about your online business, or how you work from home, or your life as a blogger.
I'm making it sound overdramatic, but the reality is that ladyboss entrepreneurs and bloggers can feel super lonely. We work alone, we strategies alone and work out all the nitty gritty details of our business - ALONE.
And I am honestly over it.
So I have created a FREE Facebook group to kind of pull me out of isolation and hopefully pull you out too!
Let me introduce to you Brand It Society!
So here's the aim:
- To create a community of women who are putting their heart and soul into creating brands, business and blogs that they love.
- To create a community of people that understand each other's struggles and support each other through the ocean of uncertainty when it comes to online business.
- A platform to share what you are working on, what you have created and what you are super proud of!
- A place to ask questions, get advice and run ideas by people who can actually give you the feedback you are looking for!
So what do you say?
We will be doing a bunch of fun stuff in the group and each day there's a different prompt!
SOCIAL SHARE FRIDAYS
So there is always something you can get involved in OR you are welcome to post questions and thoughts at any time!
I hope to see you there!
Getting started on any new platform is confusing. The way it looks, where all the options and settings are located and how to edit it - it's all big questions. But one of the biggest questions I see time and time again is how to make the most of a platform when you first join it.
Now, the tips and tricks I will be sharing today are not just for people starting out, but also for Pinterest users that want to level up and really start using Pinterest to make an impact on their business! But, if you are just starting out, this guide will help you Pinterest FAST and you will get the most out of it really quickly! So here are a few tips on how to get started and how to make the most of Pinterest right away:
JOIN AS OR CONVERT TO A BUSINESS ACCOUNT
The first thing you should do is join Pinterest as a business using this link. This will allow you to either join as a business (using the red button) or convert your current account (using the 'convert now' link located under the red button). Creating a business account or converting your account will instantly give your blog authority but more importantly, you will also be able to access the Analytics that Pinterest provides its business account holders. It doesn't cost you anything, and makes a huge difference when you are able to see what is being pinned. I check these analytics once a month when I am planning my blog content for the month ahead, and it can provide some insights into what my readers want to see!
VERIFY YOUR WEBSITE
Confirming that you own your website adds your profile picture to any Pin that came from your site. It also has an impact on your analytics as you will be able to see what people are Pinning from your website.
How to confirm your Squarespace site:
Squarepace and Pinterest recently partnered to make connecting your accounts easy peasy.
The first thing you'll need to do on your Squarespace site is approve the connection. Do this by navigating to Settings > Connected Accounts > Pinterest Account > Connect. This will then ask you to authorize the connection between Pinterest and Squarespace. Click Allow.
How to confirm using a meta tag (using Wordpress):
If you are not using Squarespace you can opt to add a meta tag to complete the connection. So this is perfect if you are using Wordpress. To do this you need to navigate to your name at the top of Pinterest and then click on the gear menu > Account Settings. In the Website field, click Confirm Website and it will generate a meta tag for you. Copy this snippet of code.
Navigate to your website and add this snippet of code to the <head> section of your index.html file. This section is located before the <body> section. In Wordpress, to do this navigate to Theme Settings > Header Scripts and paste the snippet there.
For full confirmation instructions, Pinterest have created this great guide for you to access here.
After you have authorized the connection in your Squarespace or added the meta tag to your header, you can navigate back to Pinterest, click on your name > the gear menu > Account Settings and click Finish on the website confirm field. Pinterest will automatically check the meta tag is working and confirm your site. If it doesn't work, try refreshing your browser and confirming again. If it is all authorized and installed properly, it will confirm your site!
STEAMLINE YOUR BOARDS
The way your boards look are actually really important - so important infact, I have written a whole tutorial on branding and styling your Pinterest where I show you a bunch of examples of well branded Pinterest boards.
It is so very important to maintain your branding across your social media platforms and your Pinterest boards are no exception. Here are a few quick tips for streamlining your boards:
1. Only display boards that are relevant to your business and blog niche.
This means that if you are a knitting blogger, ensure all your boards are related to knitting, yarn, crafting etc and that you don't start pinning about gardening and cooking for instance. Keep your visible boards relevant to your target market and this will build you up to be an authority in the field, somewhere people can come if they want to know about your specific niche.
Don't be afraid to delete boards that don't fit with your focus. You can also make boards that are off topic secret meaning that they are visible only to you. Use the table in the workbook to outline which boards you will have!
2. Pay attention to what you re-pin.
I also encourage you to re-pin images that fit with your overall brand aesthetic. Keeping everything on a similar colour palette or mood creates brand consistency and keeps people's attention. They don't have to work overtime trying to figure you out - it's simple and easy to consume.
3. Brand your Pinterest board cover images.
This is my favourite part! Making sure all of your board cover images are branded is such a neat trick and something most people forget about! It doesn't take long and creating custom board covers is actually really fun. I have created a full tutorial in that brand and style your Pinterest post, and PLUS you can download the Pinterest board cover template for free!
4. Delete under-performing pins.
This is something I hesitated with when I first started getting serious about Pinterest. I was afraid to delete anything and now I am not sure why I ever had that fear! Deleting pins with low or no re-pins might feel weird, especially if you like the pin, but it tells Pinterest that you are serious about maintaining quality boards.
MAKE IT EASY FOR YOUR READERS TO PIN FROM YOUR SITE!
There are a few ways that you can make it easy for your readers to pin right from your site.
1. Install Pin-it Buttons
Firstly, displaying Pin It Buttons is a great way of encouraging your readers to pin your images to their Pinterest boards. Sometime people just need a little reminder that they have this option, so install pin-it buttons or turning on social sharing if you are using Squarespace is a great way to nudge them to do so!
Using Squarespace: To add your pin-it buttons navigate to Settings > Marketing > Pin It Buttons and select Enable for Blogs.
After selecting an option, additional style options will appear. You can customize these options using the drop-down menus and select the size, shape and colour of the pin-it button.
Using Wordpress: If you are a WP user, I have written a full guide on how to install custom pin-it buttons here. PLUS, there are a bunch of free pin-it buttons you can download and use on your own Wordpress site.
2. Create Pin Worthy Images
Here are a few things to remember when creating your blog images with the hope and intention that your readers will pin them to their Pinterest boards. Firstly, vertical images have a much higher chance of getting re-pinned than landscape images. The reason being is that they sit nicer on the Pinterest feed and the way that Pinterest boards look are actually really important to users.
Using high quality, well designed images are also important. Colourful photos are often more successful than darker images and images without faces are preferred. Weird right? But statistics also show that images with backgrounds rather than white space are more likely to get re-pinned.
One of my biggest tips is to make all your blog images follow a consistent theme. This tip wont only help your Pinterest, but it will also help your blog as a whole. For instance, all of my blog images follow a set theme:
ByRegina.com also does a great job with this. Her images are all unique in their own, yet they follow a clear and cohesive theme:
NAME YOUR PHOTOS TO BE INTEREST FRIENDLY
Here is a fun fact, when you name your images, this is the copy that will appear as your pin description when someone pins an image to their Pinterest from your website or blog. So this means that what you name your images actually really matters! Most people wont edit that text, they are all about doing things quickly, so make sure your image names are full of keywords, describe the pin and the topic or article it leads to and make it easy for your pins to be successful without relying on your readers to come up with pin descriptions.
The keywords are really important here because this will be one of the main factors that will impact on if your pin will turn up in a search that a Pinterest user does. So be specific in your image names and make sure they are interest friendly!
MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR PROFILE INFORMATION
Remember that Pinterest is actually a search engine more than it is a social media platform. But on this search engine, your profile matters! Add information that are full of your target market keywords and see the difference it makes to your stats!
Access the Edit Profile button located next to the gear icon inside your Pinterest page. What you put here is so very important!
Business Name: You will be able to input a business name rather than just your name because you have a business account (remember this was the first part of this tutorial!)
Picture: 165 x 165 px is the best dimensions for your profile picture. I encourage to use a branded image of yourself looking smart and approachable!
Username: Make this relevant to your brand - using your brand name is recommended.
About You: Use this area to load it up with keywords that will attract your niche. I also like to pop a link in there to my latest opt-in offer and freebie. So as you can see here, I link to my free 5-day brand clarity course right there in the 'about you' field.
Location: This is a great thing to enter too as it will come up on your pins.
Website: This is where you can confirm your site (step 2 of this tutorial). You should have your website URL entered and the Site Confirmed should have a tick next to it.
AUTOMATE YOUR PINTEREST EXPERIENCE
Lastly, I also want to share with you my Pinterest secret weapon (that's not so secret anymore, because it's so damn useful, we are all shouting it from the roof tops!)
It's called BoardBooster and it is a miracle!
You can read my whole blog post on it here, but essentially, BoardBooster gives you the ability to loop pins, schedule pins and clean your boards to ensure maximum success. I have to tell you, since using BoardBooster my engagement has just been going up and up! Look at this graph, showing my engagement over the last 30 days alone!
Want to use this amazing tool to
grow your own Pinterest account?
And make sure you check out my post all about this for more details on how to use BoardBooster and all the great functions it offers!
So now I have given you all the tips and tricks to start out and level up with Pinterest, I would also like to give you a super handy Pinterest checklist and guide! It's short and sweet, only 3 pages, so it wont take up too much of your time but walks you through getting your Pinterest on track for success!
GET ACCESS TO THE VAULT AND YOU WILL FIND THE GET STARTED ON PINTEREST CHECKLIST + WORKBOOK THERE! PLUS LOTS MORE GOODIES TO MAKE OVER YOUR PINTEREST!
I was recently swanning around on Facebook and someone asked the question if you need a blog for your business. Now, I know that this is a subject that has been widely debated in the blogosphere and I wanted to weigh in with my opinion on the matter.
My initial answer is no, you don't need a blog for your business and in some cases it will not help your business one little bit (but more on that in a moment). However, I do believe that if done properly, a blog can be a powerful tool for growing your business! There are a variety of reasons why a blog is a great idea:
ESTABLISH YOURSELF AS AN EXPERT IN YOUR FIELD
A blog will help to establish you as an expert in your field. As you share knowledge of your craft and industry, people will learn to trust you and look to you for answers to their questions. This is invaluable for your growth as a business and as an industry leader. Trust should be your paramount aim and blogs are brilliant at building that trust! When you generously give knowledge and information in an authentic way, people are drawn to you and it can really break through the noise of a busy market place.
BUILD A COMMUNITY/TRIBE
Blogs assist you to develop your own community around your product, service and brand. This is often referred to as 'building your tribe' and essentially means bringing people with a similar interest, lifestyle or industry together in a dialogue that is meaningful and enriching in some way. This could translate into growing and nurturing an email list, a community on social media such Brand IT Girls Connected or starting a conversation on your blog through comments. Blogs give your community a chance to get to know you and what you are all about without having to heavily invest in you first, ensuring that you are attracting the right people who truly understand what your business is all about!
DRIVES NEW TRAFFIC TO YOUR WEBSITE
Another key reason to start a blog for your business is that it will drive traffic to your website. Keeping your blog on your business website is recommended as it will help to streamline this process of driving traffic and you can seamlessly to link your products and services in your blog. A blog will give potential customers more reasons to visit your website beyond just to seek out information on your products and services. It's a rich touchpoint for customers to engage with you before they even start to consider making a purchase, and blog posts give you valuable things that you can post to your social media.
IMPROVES YOUR SEO
Improving your search engine optimisation means that people are more likely to find you, as it helps you to rank higher on search engine results. Each blog post can be search engine optimised, with information that boost your rankings found through the blog post and in the images you post.
At the beginning of this post, remember I warned that if it's not done properly, blogs could have a negative impact on your business? Well let me tell you what not to do if you are considering adding a blog to your business website.
- Don't just do what everyone else is doing. A good blog will have something unique to offer readers. Be sure to differentiate yourself and your business by looking beyond current trends and thinking outside of the blog. What blog post series can you do that are unique to your business and your ideal customer? How will you present your blog posts in such a way that your customers are excited to engage with you?
- Don't blog about EVERYTHING. It is important to narrow your focus down to be specifically relatable to your business offering. So for instance if you are a nail artist, do not blog about cooking and recipes too. Keep your topics clear and focused to resonate with the right people. Quality of quantity remember - you are better to have a small engaged audience rather than a large audience that is only interested in some of the things you write about!
- Don't blog for everyone. You can't please everyone. In fact, I am a firm believer that if you are trying to be something to everyone, you are nothing to anyone. My recommendation is to blog for your ideal audience - the people that you really want to engage in conversation. The people that will help your brand to grow, who will buy from you and who will be a cheerleader down the road for your products and services. You can only do this if you are specific about who those people are!
- Don't keep changing your style. This is one of my pet hates. If you start a blog, be very clear about your style and stay consistent! Yes, style does evolve over time, but if it does, take the time to update old posts to reflect this. I am talking about the way you speak in your blog posts, the images you use and the graphics, fonts, colours and conventions. This doesn't just make your blog look pretty, it also (and more importantly) ensures that your readers know what to expect and can consume the content easily without having to adjust to new visual environments.
So there you have it, I absolutely believe in the power of a blog for your online business. But on one condition - do it right! I encourage businesses to hire a designer and have a blog style guide created based on your existing brand and consider your blog post content strategically.
Are you thinking of starting a blog for your business?
What are you struggling with? What questions do you have?
I am super excited today to introduce to the newest addition to Brand IT Girl: The Brand IT Girl Resource Vault.
I want to offer all of my readers exclusive, FREE access to this library that includes all of my blog post giveaways. So will find everything I have ever offered as a blog freebie plus anything I will offer in the future and you'll be able to access it all in one convenient place using a password.
I know you are wondering how to get hold of the password for vault page but first I want to give you a little sneak-peak at what you can expect to find in there!
If that isn't enough to get you as excited as I am, you will find new additions to this library on a regular basis. The best thing is, you only need to get the password once! Worried about forgetting it? Don't be! I will include it at the bottom of all my eNewsletters so you will easily find it again when you spot a new freebie that you want!
HOW DO YOU GET ACCESS?
IS THERE SOMETHING YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE VAULT?
I would love to hear from you! Let me know what you would like me to create for the Brand IT Girl resource Vault!
As you know I have been working to improve my presence on Pinterest (See: How To Brand + Style Your Pinterest Boards & Adding Custom Pin It Buttons to Your Blog) and I have just made a huge discovery and I am so excited to share it with all of you. It's called Board Booster and my dear friend, you need to get onto this. If you are serious about using Pinterest to grow your business and blog, then this is the tool for you.
Let's talk about what Board Booster is. Well it is a super useful, completely powerful Pinterest scheduling tool that really does do so much more than just schedules your pins. There are three main ways that you can use this tool and each have specific benefits so let's just go through them:
You can use Board Booster to post images to your various board during pre-determined time frames and days. This is perfect for all those re-pins of other people pins. Remember the 80/20 rule (share 80% of other people's pins and 20% your own). When you add one of your Pinterest boards, Board Booster automatically sets up a secret board on your account with the same name. Set aside an hour two a month to go through and pin a whole heaps of images to that secret board and the scheduler will publish the images throughout the month. I like to restock my board monthly so I have fresh pin in there!
This is one of my favourite parts of Board Booster. You can select one of your Pinterest boards and Board Booster will re-pin the pins that are already on that board - it will generally start at the end of the board and re-pin to the top. The really great part of this feature is that after a week or the length of time you specify, Board Booster will delete the version of that pin with the least amount of re-pins. This means that you won't have endless duplicated pins and it keeps your boards looking fresh and sparkly clean!
This is another neat, and super handy feature. If you belong to group boards, you can set up a campaign that will allow you to pin to one or multiple group boards. You can choose to post a specific group of pins by manually entering in the URLs or you can set one of your boards as the source board to draw from. It makes it really easy to stay active on group boards without needing to engage a huge amount of time!
There are other features of Board Booster that are fantastic too - particularly the maintenance tools and reporting features. I think you can already tell I absolutely love this tool, but I also want to share a few other reasons why I love it so much:
1. IT SAVES HUGE AMOUNTS OF TIME
Board Booster is a massive time saver! I have highlighted this in the three functions above but I really want to hit home how much this tool really does free up your time for what's really important for your business - content creation! Think about it, you can sit down for a few hours once a month and set all this up to be automated.
2. YOUR BOARDS ARE CLEAN AND CONSISTENT
The other great thing about Board Booster is that it makes your boards look squeaky clean and your posting is consistent - this means your pins are showing up in your followers feeds and on group boards consistently and it makes you look like you are active on Pinterest and this ultimately attracts more people to follow you and to visit your blog.
3. YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE THERE!
Perhaps my favourite thing is that you don't physically have to be there! You can set all this up and go on holidays if you wanted to and it still looks like you are active on the Pinterest platform. It also makes it possible to hand over this part of your business to VA's and I am all for saving you time!
So what do you think? I think you would be crazy not to try Board Booster today! AND you get 100 pins per month for free! Even if you do opt for the paid plans, they start as low as $5 a month, so it is really worth your while giving it a go!
(* This is a referral link, but I whole heartedly and super excitedly believe in this tool! Photography Credit: Alex Lv - see credit page here.)
Coming up with fresh, new blog post ideas isn't always as easy as it sounds. In fact, for some bloggers it can be paralysing. Just because you can't come up with a gazillion blog posts idea this very second, doesn't make you a bad blogger! It just means that you are pretty busy, pretty drained and feeling a little blog-brain dead and that's absolutely normal.
So what do we do on the days when we can't think of a blog topic to save our life, but because we are pro bloggers, we have a carefully thought out blogging commitment and you, my lady friend, have a blog post due... tomorrow! Here are some of my favourite, never-fail methods for generating endless blog post ideas - and I mean endless. You can come up with so much stuff, it blows my mind.
One of my favourite methods for generating new content that is highly valuable to my readers is to jump onto Facebook and browse the walls of my favourite industry boards. You will find a wealth of content right there, with people sharing their challenges and asking questions. All you have to do is read their struggles and use this to generate blog topics that not only answer questions and ease those struggles, but also engage with the wider issues facing the community. So ridiculously useful for everyone involved!
Likewise, Twitter is super useful for this too. Just have scroll through your feed and look at the kinds of questions being asked and the issues being raised. This is a great source of leads because it's always fresh and highly relevant in the now. You can also search hashtags which will open you up to a larger audience and a larger pool of themes that can inspire your content. The best part is, once you have written your blog post, you can go back to the source and answer their question with your blog link!
I often get a good giggle from online topic generators but sometimes they actually give you some real gems! I would recommend trying the following free topic generators, I am sure there are plenty of others, but these are my favourite three:
HUBSPOT - This is a great way for generating leads - you enter three words and the tool generates five potential leads. I generally find one or two great titles in these results but you can use the others as a starting point to come up with other ideas as well.
PORTENT - This generator comes up with some pretty weird and hilarious things and to be honest, they aren't always particularly useful. However they do come up with some gems and it's often a bit unusual so it makes the topic angle even more interesting!
CONTENT FOREST - This is a great tool that generates a huge amount of results! Some of it is quite generic so you may need to get creative and re-frame the titles a little, but it is a fantastic place to start when you are really stuck for topics!
KEEP A LOG OF YOUR OWN QUESTIONS
Another really valuable source of blog topics is to think back to a time before you knew what you know now. It is actually really difficult to un-know what you now know (woah, mouthful, read that again slowly!!). But take a moment to think back to a time when you didn't know how to do the things you do, when you had questions and issues that needed solutions and write the blog posts that would have helped you. Because I guarantee if you struggled with something at one point, there are absolutely people out there struggling with the same questions right now! Moving forward, keep a log of your questions and what issues and problems you seek answers to. Once you have found those answers and solutions, turn them into blog posts and share what you have learnt with your readers!
LOOK FOR TOPICS WITHIN YOUR OWN BLOG POSTS
This can sometimes also be referred to as 're-purposing' blog posts, but essentially instead of looking for blog posts externally, look internally at what you already have and identify blog posts that can be re-written in a different way to include new information or perspectives, topics that you could expand on within blog posts, or perhaps you mention something in a blog post that could trigger a whole new blog post that you then link to in the original post.
GET YOUR GENERATE ENDLESS BLOG POST IDEAS WORKBOOK NOW!
I have created a FREE 10 page workbook that will have you generating blog posts like crazy in no time! It has been added to my brand new Brand IT Girl resource vault! Click here to request your password and you will be given instant exclusive access to the vault where you will find not only your GENERATE ENDLESS BLOG POSTS IDEAS WORKBOOK, but also every other free resource that Brand IT Girl has to offer! All in one place! OR simply enter your details above and the workbook will be sent to your inbox!
I am a huge fan of styled stock photos. In fact, I get pretty excited about Instagram feeds filled with pretty styled desk shots! Who doesn't love pretty things!
I am helping my friend Alyssa Joy launch her new range of Styled Stock Images today and thought that this would be the perfect time to take a closer look at Styled Stock Photos and how to use them!
Styled stock photographs are images that run with a particular theme or color scheme, created for bloggers and business to use to help draw in potential customers and readers. These images are offered either for free or for sale by photographers and generally display 'desk'-like surfaces with pretty flowers, computers, keyboards, magazine and stationary items and beauty products that catch the eye of your visitors. While there are masculine styled stock images, at Brand IT Girl, we love the feminine ones more!
These images can be used for a variety of ways and depending on how you crop your images, you can often use the same one several different ways.
BLOG AND WEBSITE IMAGES
BLOG AND WEBSITE BUTTONS
SOCIAL MEDIA COVER PHOTOS
Want to know where these cute stock images are from? Get them free here!
CHOOSING TO BUY
When choosing to buy your styled stock images, there are a few things you should be looking for:
- Check the quality of the image you are purchasing. Make sure that it is a high resolution and that the image dimensions are big enough for your purpose.
- Have a look at the color palette used in the image and ensure that it matches (or at least compliments) your brand colors.
- Look at the elements within the image and ensure they are compatible with your brand message. There are some images I can't use for my brand because the elements within the flat lay are contrary to my brand personality. Just take a moment to really assess if all the items in the image are on brand and avoid confusing your visitors!
- Can you edit the image with text over the top and different crops? Have a look at the policy of the store you are purchasing from and make sure the image is appropriate for the way you want to use it. Some stores will have editing restraints and you just need to be aware of it!
PLACES TO FIND STYLED STOCK IMAGES
After scene stock photography?
Check out my blog post about the best places to find those too!
With so many ways to use them, and such great places to find them, why not add some beautiful styled stock photos to your website and blog!
1. SELF HOSTED EMAIL ADDRESS
One of the quickest and most widely effective ways to take your blog to the next level is to set up a custom domain email address. Subconsciously, when your readers see 'firstname.lastname@example.org' they automatically question your legitimacy and authority on the topics that you speak about. Self hosted email addresses are a small investment and render a large return!
Related: Setting up your custom domain email.
2. NETWORK AND CONNECT WITH OTHERS
Nathalie Lussier has this great catch phrase: "A rising tide lifts all boats". I love that one because it really highlights the way in which connecting with others and working together can produce amazing results and in the long run it helps everyone! Some of the best networking I have done comes from connecting with others on Facebook groups. Some of my favourites include:
Savvy Business Owners - This is a private group for women who are or want to be Savvy Business Owners, hosted by Heather Crabtree. For Love + Money - Hosted by Cailtin Bacher, this is a great, supportive community. Brand IT Girls Connected - Brand IT Girl Connected is hosted by yours truly and it is a place to share and connect with other lady bloggers and business owners!
3. GIVE YOUR ABOUT PAGE A MAKE OVER
Your about page is one of the most frequently visited places your readers browse, so make sure it's up to scratch!
There is nothing worse that finding an awesome blog and then when you delve deeper into the person behind it, you get hit with a half-hearted about page, a coming soon notice or worse, a broken link! This is your chance to really introduce yourself, tell your readers who you are and why they should listen to you! It's prime real estate and with some easy little tweaks, you can get you about page looking great and have it go to work for you!
Related: Check out this guide to creating a stellar about page that engages your readers!
4. DESIGN A KILLER OPT-IN OFFER
One of the best ways to level up your blog game is to provide your readers with a way to stay connected with what you are doing without putting in too much effort. Mailing lists are great for this, because you can reach the readers that really care about what you are saying by speaking to them in their inbox. But getting people to sign up in the first place can be a challenge.
People love getting something for nothing (or almost nothing). So creating a killer opt-in offer is a great way to entice people into leaving their email addresses.
Some great opt-in ideas include:
- Creating a workbook or e-guide to something you know a lot about.
- Worksheets can be really helpful in giving your readers clarity on a specific topic.
- Give away a list of your favourite resources.
- Give away a few of you guarded secrets that have helped you to be the fabulous self that you are!
The main thing to consider when you are designing an opt-in offer is what will truly help your readers. Start by thinking about who you want to sign up to your opt in and then consider what problems, questions or needs that they have. Your opt-in offer needs to create the value for them, otherwise they won't bother sharing their email address with you.
A great way of identifying what sort of opt in your readers want is to ask them! Perhaps on the blog itself, or maybe on your social media channels.
5. CLEAN UP YOUR SIDEBAR
The sidebar makes it or breaks it for me. It you have an overly monetized sidebar or perhaps an overly messy and cluttered sidebar, I will very quickly leave your site. I find these kinds of sidebars to be super distracting!
There are a huge array of sidebar widgets that you can use on your Wordpress site to help create a beautiful sidebar, so there is no excuse for presenting your readers with a mess!
Down times are a great opportunity to take your blog to the next level and with just a little effort and a few changes, you can reinvigorate your blog easily!
I see lots of passionate bloggers making some pretty big mistakes, and it's heartbreaking, really! I want you to succeed so I want to share 5 things that could be damaging your blog in hope that we can iron out some of those kinks and together create a blogosphere that we are all happy to be involved in!
They are simple mistakes and sometimes it's the simple mistakes that we over look! They are also easy things to fix and you can start fixing these problems today!
1. YOU DON'T HAVE IMAGES AND THEY'RE NOT EDITED
One of the reasons people love to browse blog is to look at the images that accompany posts. You may choose to find stock photos (and in case you missed it, here are my top 5 places to find stock images) for your blog posts or you might want to select an image from your own branded image library. Displaying images in your blog posts do two things: They help to break up the text, making it easier on the eye and they also keep your readers interested and illustrate points that you are making.
Another mistake that we see on blogs is that the images that are selected are either not edited or they are edited poorly. It's not enough to just display images, you need to make them work within the confines of your branding - apply branded text over the top, use brand colours and apply your logo or url somewhere on the image so when people share your images on Social Media, your mark will be clearly visible. Images should also span the width of your content area, like this:
2. YOUR SIDEBAR IS A MESS
Keeping a clean and tidy sidebar is vital. It can be so overwhelming when the sidebar is riddled with ads and banners and to be honest, a disorganised sidebar will send me running every time. Some key things you should have on your sidebar include:
- Your image and a brief introduction, welcoming your readers to the blog.
- Your social media links.
- A search bar.
- Your blog categories or topics, neatly displayed.
- Popular or featured posts.
- Social Media widgets to make it easy for readers to connect.
- Any sponsors or a select few advertisements.
If you need more ideas, have a look at this list of 21 Wordpress widgets that you can use to dress up your sidebar!
3. YOU DON'T PROOF READ YOUR POSTS
Not editing your posts is probably the main reason people are leaving your blog. There is nothing worse than blog posts that have spelling mistakes and grammar inconsistencies throughout, it makes it incredibly hard for your readers to stay engaged with your blog post under these conditions. And think about it this way: the more effort people are putting into trying to understand what you are saying, the less time they are actually connecting with what you are saying and absorbing the message you have for them.
It doesn't take long to proof read your post. Read it out loud, ask a friend or partner to have a look over the post too. It will make a huge difference to the people you are hoping to connect with and will ultimately keep them coming back!
4. YOU ARE GIVING US UNCLEAR, INCONSISTENT CONTENT
I know it is super tempting to cover a range of topics and appeal to lots of different people, but I promise, this only works for a select few bloggers and it's usually when they have a team of bloggers that specialise in different things. A Beautiful Mess is one of those multi-topic blogs but they also have a huge team of professionals working on producing quality content. There's nothing wrong with setting out with the ultimate goal of building a multi-topic blog, but for the solo blogger, focusing down is key.
Blog readers seek consistency - and this doesn't mean writing the same content over and over again, it just means that they are looking for an expert and when you write on everything from branding to interior design to the trials of raising a family, you are not being an expert and you are certainly not being consistent.
Focusing down (or niching) is great strategy to build authority within your field and also really helps you to produce quality content.
At Brand IT Girl, I cover two main areas: business and design. Within these two areas there are sub-topics: Within the parent of Business, I cover blogging and productivity and within Design, I cover branding and web design. This gives me a range of topics to talk about on my blog, providing readers with just enough variety without overwhelming them with inconsistent content spanning a range of interests.
5. YOUR BLOG POSTS ARE HARD ON THE EYE.
I absolutely love sub-headings, it's a little taste of what is to come and really helps to engage me. If I see a big slab of text without any breaks, I am automatically repelled. Instead try using different sized fonts and different colours to create break out points and interest within your blog posts. I use sub-headings to punctuate each point I am making and it gives my readers trigger points when they first skim the article to know if they want to read further.
One of my favourite places to browse on blogs is the sidebar - it's prime real estate and there are literally thousands of widgets out there that you could use to dress it up and maximise it's potential!
So if you have a self-hosted Wordpress theme, here are a selection of my favourite sidebar widgets!
SOCIAL MEDIA ICONS
1. Simple Social Icons is by far my favourite social media icons widget. It's easy to use and looks great.
2. Web Font Social Icons Widget & Shortcode is another good one, but it is also a paid option - at $8.00 though, you can't go wrong!
3. Enjoy Instagram is a neat and tidy Instagram solution.
4. SnapWidget is my personal favourite - you generate a code and use a text widget box to display it.
5. Instagram Feed is another really great plugin that you can use on your sidebar.
6. Pinterest Pinboard Widget is my favourite Pinterest widget if you choose not to use the widget builder on the Pinterest website.
7. Pinterest Master is a neat tool that you can use to display your favourite Pinterest board.
8. Pretty Pinterest Pins lets you pick which boards and pins to display.
9. Easy Twitter Feed Widget will add your Twitter Feed to your sidebar.
10. AccessPress Twitter Feed allows you to display a real time Twitter Feed on your website, could be really useful if you are hosting a Twitter Chat!
11. Twitter Timeline Widget by Jetpack is another great way to display your latests Tweets on your sidebar.
DISPLAY SPECIAL TEXT WIDGETS
12. WP Easy News Scroller is a paid app that allows you to display announcements and news on your blog sidebar. It's a one of $16 fee.
13. Quotes Collection is a great way to display testimonials on your sidebar.
14. Black Studio TinyMCE Widget adds a little visual editor to your text widget, meaning you really don't need to know any HTML or CSS!
MAILING LIST WIDGETS
15. MailChimp for Wordpress is a godsend if you use MailChimp (which I recommend) for your email subscriptions!
16. Genesis eNews Extended is perfect for sign up forms on your sidebar if you are using one of the Brand IT Girl premade Genesis themes.
POST, PAGE AND TAG WIDGETS
17. Advanced Tag List Widget displays your tags in a neat list rather than the default Wordpress cloud that can often be too messy!
18. jQuery Archive List makes it easy to display archived posts, breaking them down into year and month.
19. Remove Widget Titles does just that, making it easier for you!
20. Simple Image Widget makes it easier to display images on your sidebar, giving you options like opening in a new tab!
21. Display Widgets allows you to choose what widgets you want displayed on what page, making your sidebar a really flexible space.
That's just a few of the amazing range of widgets out there that you can use to dress up your sidebar. Which are your favourites?
(Photo Credit: Alex Lv)
We are basically all stalkers to one degree or another. We love to see behind the scenes, know some inside goss and maybe even try the same perfume that you wear on the daily. That's not creepy right? It's engagement!
Statistically speaking, your about me page is one of the most important pages on your website. The about me page is one of the first places I go when I visit a new website - I want to know about you. Who are you, where do you live, what's your background. That need for a personal connection is more than just mere curiosity. It's about me identifying you and becoming comfortable with where your messages, services and blog posts come from - on a human level.
I must admit, I get more than just a little frustrated when I visit a new site and it's looking smashing, so I seek out that connection and bam - no content on the about page. Just the fact that your reader searched further to find out more about you makes them deserving of a bit more effort on your part! Just think of how many other places your readers could be hanging out on the web and they choose to be hanging out on your about page to get to know you!
So here are a few ideas on how you can create a stellar 'about' page on your website!
Believe it or not, people want to see your face. Ever heard the saying "I want to put a face to the name" - well that's what is happening here. Help your readers to put a real live human face to your name and brand. When we look into the eye of our fellow humans, chemicals are released in our brain and that connection between you and your reader can start taking hold!
You can choose to put up one larger image of yourself or perhaps a series of smaller ones that feature not only yourself but your loved ones and the things that interest you.
2. LET ME GET TO KNOW YOU
I want to know about who you are, your background, your education and how you got to where you are today. I also like to know other things like your hobbies, interests and what makes you unique. Here is a great resource with questions for you to answer that will help you to write your about page!
3. SHOWCASE KEY BLOG POSTS TO DIRECT YOUR READER
It's a good idea to give your readers a reason to stay. I love seeing some carefully selected blog posts one about pages that direct readers to the items that you think they should see! It can be presented as a text list or as a series of buttons.
4. STAND OUT AND DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT!
I love to see people pushing the boundaries with their about pages by doing something different. Some ideas include:
Create an infographic including a timeline of your life.Danielle LaPorte does this well. Illustrate yourself or show yourself in different ways. I love how Krystle from Paper Fort does this. Share pictures of your workspace, home or family members. Lauren over at Elle & Company does a beautiful job of this. Make a short video to verbally introduce yourself. The video on Lara Casey's site is a perfect example!
5. A CALL TO ACTION
Your about page is a great place to ask your readers to take action. This might be joining a mailing list, connect with you via social media or follow on to your product &/or service page.
SOME GREAT ABOUT PAGES THAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT!
I love the simplicity of this about page - the images showcasing Ashley's favourite things and activities is such a great glimpse into who she is!
Jess's about page gives a look at her philosophy behind her business, her outlook on life and a little look at her family and where she lives.
This is a really lovely example of welcoming readers into your life with approachable images and breakout text.
A really simple example of a how a beautiful image and text can be combined.
This is a very 'word' based about page, but I love the use of break out text and flow.
Angela gives us a look at some of her favourite things, really giving the reader a feel for who she is!
(Photo Credit - HAIR/MUA: Rene Spears)
So here's the thing. I WANT to give you this free 10 step guide to growing your business! It's a 36 page workbook, filled with actionable steps to help you grow your business.
BUT HOW CAN THIS 10 STEP GUIDE HELP YOU?
This workbook is perfect for all kinds of businesses, new and established! Including bloggers!
Each step is outlined in easy to understand, relevant language, prompting you to think about your business in a new way. All 10 steps are accompanied by a series of questions, activities and thought-provoking tasks that will help you to not only focus your business operations, but also to help grow your business through better communication with your ideal client!
It doesn't get much better than that really.
SO WHAT'S IN IT?
Over the course of 36 pages, you will be taken through 10 steps that range from target market analysis to visual communication. And the best part is, it's actually fun to learn about your business in this way!
Example of pages:
Download to access all 10 steps!
AND HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
All you need to do, is enter your email address below, and you will receive this 36 page workbook, delivered straight to your inbox for free!
You can print it out or use it as a guide on your device! Your email will be added to my mailing list (which you can opt out of at any time!) and you will receive special offers and news every now and then!
ENTER YOUR EMAIL TO RECEIVE YOUR FREE WORKBOOK!
As a blogger, where do we find our stock photos for our blog posts, social media activations and our other communication touch points? There are plenty of free stock photo websites out there, providing hi-resolution photos for you to use on your blog! Here are my top 5 favourite places to find stock photos that are absolutely free!
This is one of my favourite. Unsplash offer free high-resolution photos and they upload 10 new photos every 10 days. I love the feeling of the photos you find on Unsplash. They are quite raw and natural and they are often perfect for the more thoughtful, soul-searching blogger, but there is always something unique to be found! The only problem with this website is that there is no categorising feature, so it's time consuming to scroll through all the photos to find what you need. However, the photos are stunning, so perhaps it's ok to spend the time having a browse!
Pixels offers some great image options for bloggers and has a library of business related images that are really useful. They also have some really fun people and travel images. They upload 5 new images a day and there is a search function which makes it really easy to use. Just like Unsplash, you don't have to attribute images and they are free for both personal and commercial use.
I love the feeling of the images on this site. They are absolutely perfect for a huge range of bloggers, particularly lifestyle and wellness bloggers. They are sorted in categories and you can sign up to have 10 new images sent to your inbox every 2 weeks. They are hi-res images for personal and commercial use and are free from all copyright protection.
These photos are of stunning quality. Again, they are completely free and quick to download. Their categories are broken down a little differently from the others, and they are less useful to things like images of computers etc. Their nature and landscape images are to die for and are certainly an asset for bloggers to know about. They also have a collection of HDR photos that boast incredible colour intensity. Definitely worth a look!
And finally I always stop by ISO when I am looking for blogging images. They are completely free to use for all creative purposes including commercial endeavours. They have a great collection of urban and architectural images. I also love these cute strawberries!!
And if you don't find what you are looking for at any of those, here are a bunch more sites to try! All in one place!
(Photo Credit: Alex Lv)
We are all looking for ways to free up more time for what's really important!! So here are a few great tools for scheduling your blog and social media posts that will help you save time, be more organised and provide your clarity of content!
Latergramme | http://www.latergram.me
Platform? Instagram What is it? This tool lets you easily schedule Instagram posts and upload photos from both web and phone. You can manage this tool from both your computer and your phone making it a really flexible tool. You will need to download an app from the App Store if using this on iOS. Cost? Free
CoSchedule | http://coschedule.com
Platform? Wordpress, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +, Tumbler What is it? This is a super dynamic Wordpress Plugin which allows you to schedule not only your blog posts but also your social media posts. It is streamline and simple to use with the drag and drop function. This does cost money, but for serious bloggers and small businesses, this could be a real time saver and worth the money. Cost? $10/Month or $100/Year
Viraltag | http://viraltag.com
Platform? Pinterest What is it? This is a Pinterest management tool which allows you to schedule your pins! You are able to pick up your website content or this tool also allows you to upload original content. It also includes publishing tools which allow you to crop, add effects and text cues and overlay quotes before you upload. The other neat thing about this tool is it gives you insights into the performance of your pins. Cost? Free to connect up to 3 social networks. The pro plan is $29/Month and allows up to 10.
HootSuite | https://hootsuite.com
Platform? Social Media What is it? This is a real-time management app that allows you to read and interact with the people you are following while also allowing you to schedule posts across a range of platforms including but not limited to Twitter, Facebook, Google +, LinkedIn etc. It's a bit of an ugly tool but very effective, easy to use and fool proof. Cost? Free
Tweetdeck | https://tweetdeck.twitter.com
Platform? Twitter What is it? This is another Twitter tool which is great for real-time tracking, organising and engagement. You can schedule posts and interact with your followers easily. Very similar to HootSuite, but perhaps more attractive. You can also mute certain users or terms which is great for eliminating unwanted noise. Cost? Free
Iconosquare | http://iconosquare.com
Platform? Instagram What is it? Iconosquare (formally Statigram) is not a scheduling tool, but I thought I would include it anyway. It's a stat provider for Instagram. You can have access to a huge amount of information from which posts get the most engagement, to what your most used tag and filters are. You can also use this tool as a web viewer for your Instagram feed, allowing you to like and comment on people's posts. This tool has a bunch of other features too, so it is definitely worth exploring. Cost? Free