The secret to high-quality business blog images (and it’s free!)

Finding royalty-free images for your business blog is always a challenge. If you’re able to get a subscription to a site like Big Stock Photo or iStockphoto, you’ve got accFree images for your business blogess to thousands of great images and vectors that you can use quite easily.

What if you don’t have a big image budget? Or no budget at all? Things get a little more complicated. However you’re not completely shut out from good quality images.

The newest free image tool for your business blog is here

And it’s not one you might’ve expected. It’s from Getty Images, the powerhouse photography company, and it’s available to use for everyone, but not everyone may know about it. Especially in the business blogging world.

It’s all about embedding the images

Getty Images launched their new embed tool about a year ago, however it hasn’t really taken off in the blogging world. I was recently reminded about it by Dave Stubbs, the Montreal Canadiens beat reporter who’s been embedding them in his tweets and articles for the Montreal Gazette.

Getty’s embed feature lets you use them on blogs, websites, and social media with the proper attribution. That’s the key here: the attribution. “Images are the communication medium of today and imagery has become the world’s most spoken language,” said Jonathan Klein, co-founder and CEO of Getty Images. The embedded images include photographer attribution and, when clicked, link back to www.gettyimages.com where the image can be licensed for commercial use.

How to embed a Getty image

The process is slightly different for websites, blogs, and social media.

Embed a Getty image on your website or blog

  1. Navigate to gettyimages.com and search for your image.
  2. Mouse over an image and click the </> icon.
  3. Copy and paste the code into your website or blog post.

Embed a Getty image on social media

  1. Navigate to gettyimages.com and search for your image.
  2. On the search results page, click an image.
  3. Mouse over the image and then click the appropriate social media network icon. A pop-up window for that network appears and you can share the image.

GettyImages

Save money and still give credit where it’s due

Getty Images embedding tool is a pretty handy tool, great for those of you with a limited images budget for your business blog, but also a good way to change things up if you do have a subscription somewhere. Have you been using it on your business blog? Link to some of your posts in the comments and I’ll check them out.

#MondayFun – French Open Tennis 2015

This Week’s Fun

It’s time for the 2015 of the French Open at Roland Garros, the second Grand Slam of the tennis calendar. And the only one on clay, aka the red terre-battue.

Why I Like It

  1. It’s a tennis grand slam, which is always fun. Plus, that means 2 whole weeks of tennis fun!
  2. It’s on clay, which means there’s the possibility of more upsets.
  3. It starts on a Sunday, so I get to watch one more day of tennis.
  4. It’s the smallest of the 4 Grand Slams in terms of footprint, which makes it interesting for fans as they don’t have to go far to see great matches.

Tennis is one of my passions, as I’ve been a lifelong fan and some time player. These days most of my tennis-related time is spent working as a tennis line umpire for Tennis Canada. Which is why I don’t write more about it as I used to on social media. Don’t want to cross any impartiality lines!

But I can still talk about my passion for the sport and encourage everyone to start watching and playing more tennis. So get out there and start swinging a racket! Or watch live tennis. There’s nothing like it.

Interview en coulisses pour des ramasseurs en quête de gloire… #InsideRG #RG15

A photo posted by Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) on

Interview en coulisses pour des ramasseurs en quête de gloire… #InsideRG #RG15

A photo posted by Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) on

Tennis Photogs

If you’d like to check out some great tennis sports photography, like the one I linked to above, check out these photogs:

Jimmy 48 PhotographyRob on Twitter

Ray Giubilo photography

Michael Cole photography

Michael Baz photography

Julian Finney photography – Julian on Twitter

More Images from Roland Garros here and here.

#MondayFun – DIY #StarWars Fun

This Week’s Fun

DIY Star Wars X-Wing made from office supplies.

Why I Like It

  1. It’s Star Wars.
  2. It’s fun.

And who hasn’t tried to build things with the office supplies while waiting for that conference call to start? I had almost all of these things readily available at my last full time job, and attended a ton of meetings and conference calls. My colleagues and I could’ve had mini spaceship battles as we waited. *sigh*

Why Aren’t You Using SlideShare?

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of research on different content types, and keep coming back to SlideShare. SlideShare is a great platform to share content, in particular business (or B2B) content, since that’s where a lot of business professionals hang out.

Just check out these stats on SlideShare:

  • 60 million unique visitors each month
  • 215 million page views
  • One of the 120 most-visited websites in the world

It’s one of the best places to generate website traffic for your business, and gets you credibility with search engines. Check out this edition of the Social Media Marketing podcast with Michael Stelzner, where he interviews Todd Wheatland, author of The Marketer’s Guide to SlideShare. Michael and Todd chat about how to use SlideShare to generate more exposure and leads for your business.

Ask These 10 Questions to Get More from Your Business Blog

Congrats! You’ve started (or re-started) your business blog. You’ve been writing with a clear purpose in mind, publishing content on a regular basis.

But nothing’s really happening. Upper management’s started asking about the “ROI on this blogging thing”, and you’re worried that they’re going to shut down the entire project.

Secretly you’re worried about the blog too, as it just doesn’t seem to be working out. You’ve gotten some new traffic to it, but not a lot. You’ve gotten a few leads, but not many, and they’re not converting well.

Worried about your business blog? spacebarpress.com/blog

If you’re having a hard time showing a measurable return from your business blogging efforts, it’s likely that your blogging strategy lacks direction. I’m here to help.

Here are 10 questions designed to help you assess your business blogging strategy and ensure you get the results you’re looking for.

Ask yourself these questions to improve your business blogging strategy

1 – Do I know my audience?

This is the main affliction of any business blog that’s not getting any traction. It’s easy to miss the mark on a blog audience, and a simple mistake to fix too.

Every post you create should target your buyer’s pain points and the obstacles they face. They have concerns and issues, and it’s your job to alleviate them.

You can only do this if you’ve got buyer personas all ready to go. (I’ve even given mine names, Mark and Jessica.) By clearly defining the audience you’re looking to reach, you’ll be able to create the right content for them. Use your buyer personas to guide your business blog’s topics and formats.

2 – How frequently am I posting?

How often you post has a big effect on your business blog’s traffic and lead generation abilities. For some it’s once a week, for others it’s once a day. HubSpot did a survey of their customers and found that ones that published 16+ blog posts per month got 3.5 times more traffic than those that published four or less per month. Three-and-a-half times MORE! Now who wouldn’t want that?

Keep it simple! spacebarpress.com

In case you were wondering about lead conversions, in that same HubSpot survey, they found that blogging 16+ times per month got 4.5 times more leads than those that published less than 4 per month. Again, four-and-a-half times MORE!

Take that information and build your editorial calendar accordingly (remember that quality still matters.)

3 – Is there enough variety on the blog?

Response to certain types of blog posts is always good, however it’s possible that in time, they may get tired of those posts and start to crave something else. When that happens, you can be sure they’ll turn somewhere else to get that information if you’re not providing it to them.

Experiment with different blog posts to keep your readers satisfied. It helps you cast a wider net for your audience, and attracts different types of readers and learners. Here’s a quick list of different business blog post types to get you started:

  • infographics
  • surveys
  • listicles
  • videos
  • interviews

4 –  What’s my keyword focus?

In order to find your blog, readers have to be able to find it. That means you’ve got to include keywords & phrases in your posts that they’re interested in and would search for.

Remember that search engines are looking for more natural language when it comes to providing search results. That means your business blog posts should be written in a conversational tone, and answer your audience questions.

5 – Is my information true & credible?

Publishing content online is easier than ever today. That’s why readers are often skeptical of what they read. Only 26% of respondents in an Insight Marketing survey found advertisers and marketers to be trustworthy. Ouch.

Readers today don’t hesitate from doing a little research of their own whenever they read content. Especially if it’s making grandiose claims. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fact-check everything though.

Fact-check my business blog - spacebarpress.com/blog

When citing information, always use reliable resources to back up your content. Calling on unreliable resources can diminish the perceived value of your business in a heartbeat.

What’s a marketer to do if you can’t find any data or information to back up your content?

  • Look into your own information! We track everything these days, so why not mine your own sources and use that instead?
  • Reach out to thought leaders in your industry/market. This’ll boost your credibility as readers will associate your business with them, but you can also use the opportunity to get some quotes to strengthen your argument.

6 – Would I click on my blog post title?

Titles are the hooks that grab readers’ attention and pulls them in to your content. If they’re not working well for you, then you’re only getting 20% of the clicks that you could be getting.

Heidi Cohen came up with 5 guidelines for killer blog post titles that I think bears repeating:

  1. Provides a benefit for your readers.
  2. Has a sense of urgency.
  3. Delivers the goods.
  4. Is short & to the point.
  5. Contains your keywords.

Andrew Warner over on Boost Blog Traffic (Jon Morrow’s blog on blogging) says that the key is to be outrageous. An outrageous blog post title “whisks you from indifferent to incredulous in a split second.” While this may be true I’d caution using this tactic on a business blog. Your target audience and market will dictate whether it’s an option for you.

Your own business blog analytics will help steer you on this one. Check out which posts are getting the most clicks and reads. Do a little split testing on social media: try two different messages and see which one gets more clicks (I do this one all the time for the Blog @ Spacebarpress. Though I admit I haven’t yet combed through all my results.)

7 – Am I using the right CTA?

(Reminder: CTAs are calls-to-action)

Every blog post should educate your readers and encourage them to do something, like download a resource, contact you, sign-up for a webinar, etc. They should be moving to the next stage of your buyer’s pipeline.

CTAs do that for you, but only if it aligns with the content on the page it lives on. That is, the CTA has got to be specific and appropriate for the blog post it’s included on. Relevant CTAs will drive conversions, ones that are off-target will not.

When you first start your business blog, you may not have the right offer to include on every post. And that’s okay. It’ll become easier for you as your blog matures and you create more resources for your readers.

8 – Is my point of view unique?

Doug Kessler of Velocity Partners calls this “narrowcast time“.  Simply put, we marketers (and content marketers in particular) are pumping out so much content, that’s it getting increasingly difficult to get heard by our readers. It’s hard to be heard over all the content marketing noise out there.

Get your business blog heard above the content noise - spacebarpress.com/blog

What that means to you is writing from a unique perspective from everyone else. Sure, you can tackle the same topics others are writing about, but put your unique spin on it. Write about it from your unique perspective.

Here are a few tools you can use to find out what’s popular, and then give it your own spin: Buzzsumo, Topsy, Alltop, Google Trends, Social Crawlytics, Strip the Blog, and Content Strategy Generator by SEO Gadget.

9 – Did I answer my readers’ questions?

Before you publish your post, take a moment to determine whether you’ve answered every single question your readers might have on the topic. Every. Single. One. If you don’t, then they’ll jump off to another web page. You can hope that it’s another page on YOUR site, but chances are, it’s on a competitor’s site.

Don’t give them that chance. Some questions that’ll help you keep them on your business blog are:

  • Are there any lingering questions about the topic?
  • What helpful tools or tips am I leaving out of the post?
  • Would an example help clarify any of my points?
  • Has someone else read the post before I publish it? Like a colleague, friend, boss, or mentor?

10 – Where else can I distribute this information?

Publishing to your business blog is just one of your options. Implement a distribution strategy that gets your content in front of your ideal audience and watch your content traffic increase. You do this by publishing your content in places where they already hang out. Might be a guest post on an influencer blog, an article in a trade publication, messages on social media, or presentations on SlideShare.

The point is, if you publish where your audience hangs out, you’re increasing your odds of them coming back to your business blog and your website. Look at your marketing metrics to find out which channels to focus on. Then create content that takes advantage of those channels.

Success won’t happen overnight

Business blogging success takes time. It’s not something that will explode overnight. Answering these 10 questions will help you leverage the success you do have, and evolve it into something more. You’ll make smarter decisions about your business blog content going forward, and help it grow in the long term.

Business Blogging Success with spacebarpress.com

#MondayFun – #TheXFiles Has a Premiere Date

Why I like it

I’m a HUGE XFiles fan, and so am looking forward to this 6 episode mini-series next season. There are all sorts of rumours about what the story lines will include, but the one that has me most excited is that they’re going to include William, Mulder & Scully’s love child at some point. IMO that should have been the focus of the 2nd movie, but that’s water under the bridge now. The XFiles is coming back! Wheeee!

The point is, we’re getting new episodes with my two favourite FBI agents! Yay.

Mulder & Scully on the Simpsons - #TheXFiles
Mulder & Scully – Eff Bee Eye (Credit: Simpsons Wiki)

5 Secrets to Why Longer Posts Work Better

You’ve heard it all before: write short but frequent posts; write more often; write less often; don’t write a blog at all. With so much conflicting advice out there, what’s a business blogger to do?

Just write, baby.

In all seriousness, as long as your content is good, and appropriate for your readers, you’ll do well. If you’re looking to take things up a notch with your business blog, keep reading.

Why longer posts on your business blog just work

1. You’re seen as an authority more quickly

A longer post has more potential to be an immersive and thorough explanation or description of a topic, which immediately lends authority to it (and by extension, your business blog.) Which helps with your readers.

Readers appreciate the time investment you’ve made into your longer post, and assume (rightly or wrongly) that you’ve got more weight and authority behind it. “Big content” takes longer to produce, therefore you “must” know what you’re talking about.

2. You’ll enjoy more organic SEO love

Google in particular, likes it when content answers questions, since it serves up results based on that. A longer post simply has a better chance of answering a question than a 500-word post. This was backed up by research done by SerpIQ. Content was ranked higher by searched engines if it was longer.

SEO love from longer business blog content

Google’s web crawler looks at everything on your site when it indexes it. Every single word, tag, image, heading, page title, headlines, metadata, alt tages on images and links, etc. The more you’ve got on the post, the more that gets indexed.

Readers love longer posts too

Another reason is that a longer post simply gives you more room to share examples and stories that readers like. You can use a lot more variety when you have a lot more content. The more variety you have, the better you’ll perform in search queries. Remember, Google isn’t just delivering results that have an exact match to the query. It delivers results that are semantically related to that content. What that means in English is that it delivers content that even slightly matches any search terms/questions. So having variations on your keywords and phrases in your longer post gives you more chances to match anything a user may type into a search box.

2a. Time spent on websites is another factor for search engines

Google also uses the time spent on a website in its search algorithm, so longer post = more time = more love from Google. Readers who spend a long time on a website have a higher chance at clicking on to other pages/content on your site, making it more likely they’ll turn into a lead, and eventually a customer.

Medium found that the ideal length of time is 7 minutes. However long your content is, you’re only going to keep their attention for, at best, 7 minutes. Any short or longer than that, and you run the risk of them navigating away to something else.

How long should my business blog post be?
Optimal post length is 7mins | Medium

3. Backlinks are easier with longer posts

On a related note, backlinks are easier to create with longer posts. Just like you’ve got a better chance at matching a search term, you’ve got more words you can use for backlinks with longer posts. This includes outbound links to external sites as well as internal links to other pages on your own website.

3a. People will want to link to your longer posts

Going back to the authority idea mentioned in #1, people will naturally want to link to it because your long content is seen as authoritative. It has weight. Thus creating organic backlinks that get you even more SEO love from the search engines. And gives your domain authority as well, further increasing your page rank.

Longer content = authority

4. You’ll build your thought leadership

Some topics lend themselves to longer posts; others do not. If you understand when to use a longer post, your readers will appreciate it. It shows you understand your audience.

  • You know what they like
  • What they’re interested in
  • What obstacles they face
  • When they want advice
  • When they want a short tweetable message
  • That they like conversational blog posts they can share with others

Longer posts shows confidence, which always breeds authority. Readers are more accepting of confidence, and so will share your content more. Buffer did a blog content audit recently, and found that their sweet spot is in the 2,500-word range. They got more shares the longer their posts were. Medium found that posts in the 1,600-word range got the most attention on their site. Continue writing longer and longer posts until you find your sweet spot.

5. You’re creating more sharable moments (and content)

Turn your longer posts into downloadable products like a guide or ebook, and you’re increase your sharable moments. Readers are already sharing your longer posts on social media. Give them another thing to share by offering it as a download. Add to your prospect list by offering it as a download.

Again, more social shares = higher search ranking position = more readers = more shares and so on

6. You’ll decrease your time to publication time

Because you can break out the longer blog post into smaller evergreen posts that you can then add backlinks to. Use the comments people make on the post to create new blog posts. Use the quotes they share on social media as ideas for new content.

6a. Do the opposite: Create longer posts from your short posts

George Costanza did it once on Seinfeld and got everything he ever wanted: a killer job with the New York Yankees, and an amazing new girlfriend. Why not do the opposite with your business blog and get everything you ever wanted too?

Okay, maybe not everything, but more of what you want: more readers, clicks, shares, downloads, etc. Take a series of your blog posts and create a longer form blog post. Add backlinks to the longer post into each of the individuals ones. Add backlinks to the individual posts in the longer post.

What say you? Are longer blog posts for you?

After taking more than 1,000 to talk about long content in this post (1,000+ if you include this conclusion), are you convinced that longer blog posts are for you? Is it worth the time and resource investment to create it on a regular basis? Let me know what you think in the comments. I’m curious to hear your thoughts.


For “ideal” content length suggestions, based on a little science, check out this infographic from SumAll + Buffer

The Optimal Length of Everything Online

 

#MondayFun – #Maythe4thBeWithYou – Happy #StarWarsDay!

#Maythe4thBeWithYou
Credit: StarWars.com

This Week’s Fun

It is May 4th everyone, AKA #StarWarsDay. Why? Because it’s “May the fourth” (you have to say it out loud). Which kind of sounds like “May the force (be with you.)

Why I Like It

It’s just such a geeky pun that I love it. Plus I like how we Geeks have taken back the malicious intent of the original comment and turned it around to be fun.

Check out some of the fun people are having with it online.

#Maythe4thBeWithYou on #StarWarsDay

Though I think this one may have to take the #GeekMarketing cake:


Have a safe & fun #StarWarsDay!

#MondayFun – I Am Geek, Hear Me Roar

Monday Fun! with Julia Borgini on spacebarpress.co
This week’s fun

It comes from Chuck & Beans on the Shoeboxblog.com.

Geek vs nerd - Shoeboxblog.com

Why I like it

I’ve always referred to myself as a Geek, and fly my flag quite proudly, as you may have noticed. I giggled when I read this as there’s always been a bit of a debate between which is the “preferred” term. Much like the debate between a “Trekkie” and “Trekker”. (I prefer Trekkie just because I think it sounds better. *smile*)

This comic captures the essence of the debate and how absurd it is, IMO.

For more insight into what it means to be a Geek or Nerd, check out Wil Wheaton’s answer to a fan’s question at Denver Comicon:

Or what xkcd had to say about the debate:

Nerds or Geeks, it's all cool

50 Qualities of Great Business Blogs (Plus 5 More, Just for Fun)

Creating a quality business blog is hard, but not if know what quality looks like

Why do you read the blogs that you read? Is it because you like the content or topics covered by the blog? Maybe they produce funny and informative infographics that you enjoy sharing. Perhaps it’s the particular writers that really interest you (and maybe make you laugh too.) Then why is your business blog filled with press releases and high-tech product explanations? To get readers to follow you and share your content, you have to use the same strategies as your favourite blogs.

B2B Blog Management services - Julia Borgini

I’m a sucker for all those “business blogs you should be reading” posts. I will click on every single link to check out the blogs and see if there’s something that I’m missing. Yes, it’s a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out), but as a copywriter and blog writer, I also like to think of it as competitive research (don’t judge me.) I’ll read through a few posts from the blogs mentioned, and then decide whether to subscribe to updates via email (my preferred method).

After one of those sessions, I then look at my email inbox and see if there are any blogs that I’ve stopped reading, and I’ll unsubscribe. Mainly I do that to keep my email inbox to a tidy, manageable level, but it’s also a way to see what kind of content is working with readers. Then I ask myself “why am I unsubscribing?” Is it because: I don’t have time to read the updates anymore; or am I’m no longer interested in the topics; or are the headlines boring and don’t entice me to click & read more?

These are important questions not just for my inbox, but also for anyone who writes a blog. Especially a business blog.

Getting readers to start reading your business blog is one thing – getting them to continue is another. Which is the whole point of having the business blog, right? To get readers to come back and read your next new post. And the next, and the next.

Why bother getting repeat visitors to your business blog?

When done right, a business blog can drive more than just clicks, impressions, and shares. A well-written business blog can:

  1. Create stronger relationships with your current customers.
  2. Introduce your business to new prospects and a new audience.
  3. Inform your readers about something they didn’t know about.
  4. Educate them on a new trend or idea in your market.
  5. Humanize your business by introducing your executive team in a more informal setting.

And that’s just for starters. Working hard on your business blog content will transform it from a dumping ground for your press releases into a destination spot for your readers. It’ll take some hard work, planning, and a lot of time, however you can do it. I know you can.

To get you started

For some inspiration on the qualities that make up a killer business blog, take a look at this list of qualities of the best business blogs in the world created by Marcus Sheridan. It’s a long read, but definitely worth it.

My favourite qualities from the list

1. They’re written by real people

Especially in the technology world, it’s sometimes hard to remember that it’s people creating your products and evolving your business. You’re so focused on the ‘shininess’ of your products and explaining it to your readers, that you forget about the people. The people who create your products and the people who buy your products.

2. There’s a variety of contributors to the blog

Sure, you need to have a core team of writers who are responsible for the overall strategy of your business blog, but that doesn’t mean others can’t write for you too. Leverage every kind of employee at your business and have them write for your business blog. The blog owners will handle the editing and actual publishing so the blog maintains a certain standard of quality, look and feel, but by showing off different voices, you create different perspectives. Different perspectives speak to different readers and increase your blog’s reach.

3. They make time to blog (even when it’s in short supply)

Sure, there are all sorts of tips and tricks you can use to create lots of content in a short amount of time (and I’ve even written about them on this blog), but in the end, it comes down to finding the strategy that works for you. I can give you all the stats about how blogging consistently gains you more business, leads, and customers, however you already know all that. You simply want to know how to find more time to write for your business blog. Michael Hyatt lays out seven strategies to maximize your time for blogging in this post.

4. They give away information for free

Many B2B businesses hide (or gate) their best content behind forms and multiple clicks. Which tires people out. Remove the barrier and just give away your content for free through the blog. Your readers will appreciate it and start coming back for more.

5. They combine their great content with solid SEO

Good business bloggers understand what makes SEO tick, and how to write high-quality, conversational content that gets picked up regularly by search engines.

Each business blog is different

Some blogs are popular with readers because they’re written in a particular style. Others because they give away great content all the time. Business blogs are no different. To create better posts and get readers coming back for more, you’ve got to understand the qualities of good business blogging. Find out what resonate best with you and your business or brand, and which align with your end goal for blogging, and then start writing.

Over to you

What qualities do you think make up a great business blog? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments.