The stock photography industry started in the 1920s, by H. Armstrong Roberts . At that time, it was primarily a way for professional photographers to market the duds from commercial photography shoots. But since then, it has taken off and many people (including me) frequently use these high quality photos for professional use on print collateral, blogs and websites. Images most requested are common landmarks; conceptual and major events that can be used and reused for commercial design purposes.
There are several sites that provide these photographs in a multitude of categories. Each site has a repository for these various categories that allows for creative design assignments. The compilation of this repository reflects just how important imagery is to every medium. Here are just a few of the top, highly-used sites that will surely fulfill all your stock photography needs.
Thanks to Top Ten Reviews from TechMedia Network, showcases the 2013 Stock Photography Service Comparisons and what they offer its consumers.
Although this listing is quite helpful, these are my top picks due to availability, quality and pricing.
A leader in digital multimedia resource that includes:
Image pricing depends on what type of licensing you want and prices for royalty-free images, footage clips, etc. are based on file size. They have a broad range of editorial images as well.
Shutterstock is one of the leading global image marketplace headquartered in New York City. They have an extensive library of royalty-free stock photos, vectors, and illustrations available by subscription and a la carte. You can browse the library for free. This great news as Shutterstock adds over 100+ images to its library each day.
Known for the Internet’s “original member-generated image and design community,” reputation iStockphoto offers millions of royalty-free photographs, vector illustrations, video footage, audio tracks and Flash files from over 70,000 worldwide artists. Talk about impressive. And the smaller photos you need for blogs or as thumbnails on a document, can be as low as $1.oo!
Yes, we all know that 123rf boasts about their 19,484,862 Royalty Stock photos! But what most people don’t know is that there’s a fairly large, evolving database that houses several images FOR FREE! They have a wide variety of commercial and editorial images, video footage, audio clips, logo designs and illustrations that are easy on the eyes and your wallet.
When trying to market their products and/or services, most small businesses aren’t thinking about public relations. But they should. Regardless of size, profit margin, or number of employees, you must realize the image you portray is everything and is certainly what motivates consumers to select your business over your competition. Now that that is clear you might be asking…
What exactly is PR?
Why is it necessary for my business?
How do I start & maintain a good PR campaign cost effectively? Check out these free tips for a true, do-it-yourself road map to a successful PR campaign.
Let’s start by defining PR. Per Wikipedia PR is “managing the flow of information between an individual or an organization and the public…[and] the aim of public relations by a company often is to persuade the public, investors, partners, employees, & other stakeholders to maintain a certain point of view about it, its leadership, products…”
Now consider what the best platforms are for your target audience. You can accomplish this by finding out how your customers or clients consume your content. Is it in readable form (website, blogs or in print); audibly as an iTunes podcasts; or watching videos via a business YouTube channel? Take a little time to figure that out and then get ready to leverage it (or all of them) like a PR/marketing maven!
The Bang for Your Buck by Blog
A blog is a great tool for sharing information and expertise. Having a consistent voice is important to teach consumers about your company’s perspective and interests. According to the the Social Skinny,
Having your business name out in the media, whether print or social, is a critical element to your image and of public relations strategy. Some cost-effective options include distributing electronic newsletters via free or low-cost email service providers. Try partnering with other local businesses for limelight events and advertisements to boost your brand recognition. Thanks to Forbes, here are some tips for starting & maintaining your media presence.
Participating in networking groups in a big part of getting your business local recognition. Most SBA’s (Small Business Associations) don’t require much money to join and host networking functions regularly. You can also network electronically by joining groups with similar interests through select social media channels liked LinkedIn. This is a great way to increase visibility while sitting right at your desk. For those of you not shy with a microphone in your hand, consider being a key-note speaker for a business workshop.
Most people are on the go constantly and mobile devices have almost become an appendage. So consider getting your audience’s attention on the go with the communication tool of podcasts. Leveraging podcast technology allows you to get your business name and brand message out to potential customers. Make sure your Podcast is short – usually no more than 15 minutes and contains the most value-added content to keep your consumer engaged. To get you started, check out these tips to successfully create your own business podcast.
Viral Video Marketing
Video marketing gone viral is the latest low/no-cost strategy for business to let the internet work for them. So if you or someone at your business is good at presenting, consider creating a YouTube brand channel. This allows the ever-growing audience of YouTube and potential consumers to get to know you & your business on a more personal level. Check out these tips on how to get started, get subscribers and run a successful video marketing campaign.
The Resource Table
Take time at least 2-3 times per month to peruse these great resources to stay abreast of PR tips and tricks.
One of the major ideas that we push to our clients is to continue to create new content for their website. However this is sometimes tougher than it may seem on the surface. When we think of your website, we’re looking at slight changes either in strategic keywords, new pages, new products, and new posts. One of the easier things to publish would be blog posts. Though there has to be a level of consistency, it certainly does help your search rank when you publish great relevant content.
Lets first look at what would be considered relevant:
Consider how your post will be relevant to your target audience. It isn’t enough anymore just to put out content all on the wall and hope something sticks. Or hope that one of out every 10 will be seen by someone who will find it relevant while the rest are just “there”.
Post Linking. While you may have many posts on your website and blog, linking some of your keywords to other relevant posts or product pages on your main site is actually a great way to drive more traffic to other great and relevant content.
Keep an eye on your analytics. Imagine getting behind the wheel of your car, and driving blind folded. It’s just as much of a bad idea as creating new content for your website, yet not paying attention to what keywords, links, and other data is bringing people to your website. Also seeing what your bounce rate is for your pages and dissecting them to find ways of either matching the expected content or installing new widgets like videos to keep visitors on your pages for a longer time.
Blog posts should be consistent. When considering a blog for your website, understand first that it is not an easy job. You’ll need to create great content on a regular basis. So your first few posts will be a breeze because they’ll most likely be things you talk about in your sales pitches, but in the long run it will be challenging. So you may want to start with 1 or 2 posts a week and on strategic days of the week and at strategic times. For example Mondays and Tuesdays around 9-11AM are great times for business and marketing articles, while weekend late mornings are great for other posts.
Trending topics within your industry. You should already have your finger to the pulse of your industry. New developments on the horizon, software updates pending for release; these are all great topics that many professionals in your audience will be talking about. So give them something to talk about, but from your own company perspective. Everyone may be looking forward to Windows 8 mobile coming out, but what if you have some constructive points about it that no one has yet discovered.
So we’ve covered a good few things today. Do you have some additions to what we’ve discussed? Please feel free and add your comments below.
Most of the web design industry may be on WordPress overload but majority of us still can’t get enough. The WordPress, “I’m Lovin’ It” faithful-following understand that it has quickly become one of the fastest growing, most popular content management systems (CMS) for blogging, if not the most popular CMS overall. It’s extremely quick to install as well as easy to navigate and master. And they are consistently evolving across all platforms with simplistic, internal update features and plugins that are only a few clicks away in the backend. Often, there are no external file downloads even necessary! One of the best parts is that it allows both web design companies and individuals alike to produce dynamic websites without extensive knowledge of web development or code writing. Unlike traditional HTML sites, WordPress is extremely cost-effective and easy to change over when you tire of the layout look. If you want a fast turnaround with minimal time invested, look to web design firms such as Design Theory to supply you with a customized, stunning website with lightning fast turnaround at a start-up budget price.
If there’s a WordPress for Dummies TM (yeah, there really is) you have to know there’s some industry staying power and it is more than just a flash in the pan or temporarily trending on Twitter. They’ve definitely invested in their place at the table of content management systems. Some skeptics may wonder, well is it really that easy? As a non-code writing web content designer, I can say yes it is. And as I’ve quickly learned, if there’s something you don’t understand, there is a TREMENDOUS amount of help and documentation online you can find on nearly every aspect of customizing your WordPress website. If you can dream it, chances are it’s already been done with WordPress and documented somewhere tangible and therefore learnable.
WordPress also has one of the widest varieties of plugins and themes to choose from giving a seemingly endless realm of design possibilities. Let’s look at some of the recently added & most popular layouts. Looking for a simple way to showcase your photos? Check out this Free Photo WordPress Theme. Have a blossoming political career or want to blog about and propel your choice candidates’ ratings? Political Blogging WordPress Website gives you sound bites right on the homepage and yes that is our current Prez Obama on the 4th slide. If those don’t titillate your visual & artistic senses, feel free to peruse these Top 100 Most Beautiful WordPress Themes highlighted by TopDesignMag.com.
While these great themes are indicative of the WP developer bug bite, WP and its growing community of contributing developers do their best not to skimp on flash or fun. How creatively, fun are widgets! A Widget? For those who don’t know, it’s an on-screen device/application that can be installed and executed within a web page by an end user such as a clock, calendar, image, daily weather, etc. This allows putting your own style & spin to most WordPress themes/layouts. And speaking of spin…agreat example of having more WordPress amusement can be the Flash Image Carousel plugin, which circulates a variety of images/photos in a cool, circular motion versus the typical, right to left slide show. WordPress Plugins are great tools that extend the functionality of your WordPress website and currently there are 21,820 plugins available directly on WordPress’s website (as of today that is).
Another feature that we all love is the ease of Drag and Drop content editing which makes content placement a cinch with 2 clicks. Oh and the list goes on and on…With WordPress it seems that if you can conceive it someone creates it and that’s the best part of being WordPress user and fan. So if you’re already an enthusiast or are curious about becoming one, check out some of the latest WordPress innovations via WordPress TV. What, their own online TV station – what’ll they think of next? Apparel? Say it isn’t so…sorry we can’t because you can wear it loud and proud via WP Apparel. Needless to say they’ve proven that the sky’s the limit and I’ll be tuning in to find out what’s hot from these tried, true and trendy website theme makers.
Lastly, to the Big W…if you couldn’t already tell –
Aw shucks, we love you guys!
~ Content Writing Inspiration ~
“A hunch is creativity trying to tell you something.” Frank Capra
Jean Perpillant, owner, head honcho and web designer extraordinaire of Design Theory and I recently had a conversation about the importance of Social Media and in particular, blogging. Oftentimes one of the hardest parts of our (and in particular my) job is getting clients to believe that professional blogging is a worthwhile cause and can be a great contributor to your business’s success. See a previous blog I wrote on that subject at http://bit.ly/WaawSu. So as we were talking about our own numbers and the ROI therefrom, I suggested lifting the hood on our analytic statistics to prove just how vital this is to the exposure and growth of your business and that business’s profitability. He loved the idea of using our own transparency to prove the validity of our belief to outside clients that there is a tangible benefit To Blog or Not to Blog. No dirty overalls or Goop needed, here we go…
The early part of September hits on our weekly blogs – 572 Page Views
As you can see, we have 3 main contribution sources for our readership this particular week-those who come through our blog being indexed on Google, visits to our blog through visiting www.jpdesigntheory.com directly and others through various alternative search engines. As you can see, the top referring websites that contribute to our audience statistics are Google & LinkedIn with majority this weeks of readership coming from our blogs being indexed on Google. Ah yes, the power of Google.
At Design Theory, we know that our readership is vital to getting our name out there not only in the World Wide Blogosphere but also to the masses as a whole. We’re not a huge corporation with various satellite offices (YET!) but we know that having a world wide presence is the key to meeting our company goals as well as attaining clientele outside our hubs geographic region in Orlando, Florida. What you can also see from the Audience Stats, is that Tuesday happens to be our highest number of reads for this particular week. Knowing that information is important because it tells us at DT, that the early part of the week is the best time to post and also can help clue us in as to who is posting on that day & the impact that person has our readership. Monday is right behind Tuesday for readership and I happen to know that those 2 days blogs are written by Daphne Lenti, our lead Graphic Designer on Monday and me, your happy Wordsmith & Content Marketeer (love the title right!) on Tuesday. What it additionally shows Daphne & I is how important our blogging is to the exposure of our company AND that people are interested in what we have to say & that we have a well-respected level of knowledge on what we write about. It also shows that our connections on LinkedIn are working as an additional exposure source through our professional networks and the groups we are affiliated with on there.
The 3rd week of this month – 994 Page Views
What you see right off the bat is that our Page Views have dramatically increased by 442! Additionally, the 3 main contribution sources to these statistics remain the same but take note of the jump from 24 visits via LinkedIn to a whopping 148 visits in just 2 weeks! Once again Daphne & I are neck in neck until we get to a spike in readership on Thursday. Also note that the top viewing location has changed from Tijuana to Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia. I have no clue why but talk about a world wide presence!
So the crux of our To Blog or Not to Blog and reason for our behind the scenes look at our blogs, is to put our own “argument” to the test and to show you that we practice what we preach to our clients. Oh, and it works!
~ Content Writing Inspiration ~
This morning I took out a comma and this afternoon I put it back again. ~Oscar Wilde