Improve the Visual Content Strategy for Your Site

Images for website

You already know that images will dramatically enhance your website. Having visual content is a powerful tool to develop loyalty in your readers.

That’s right. Your visitors don’t want to read lines and lines of text. Getting the meaning of an idea is easier when images demonstrate the theme of your writing. And in this technological age, people are getting more visual than ever.

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Have you started using images? Or are you having trouble knowing how to leverage the power of visual content? Don’t worry. Here are some tips to help you enhance your website with visually stunning images.

Publish Relevant, High-Quality Images

The first question is always where to find photos that aren’t outrageously expensive. Here are a few places with beautiful free images – Morguefile, Pixabay, and StockSnap.

With some of the images, you’ll need to give credit to the photographer. Giving credit is easy. Just put ‘photo credit – name of photographer’ below the photo. Be sure to read the requirements on each site.
Make sure that the images are relevant to what you’re writing about. If you’re writing about dog training, what kind of images should you use?

It’s not good enough to use pictures of cute puppies – unless you also display an image of a vicious dog in order to make the point that cute puppies can turn into fierce adult dogs without correct training.

Also use images of dogs that are in the process of being trained either at obedience school or by an individual in the back yard.

Make sure that the photos are in sharp focus – not blurry or pixelated.

Consider Using Quote Posters

What are quote posters? They’re sometimes called memes. Basically, you can make one by putting the text of a quote on top of a picture that is relevant both to the quote and to the content of your article.

The text can be –
  • funny
  • inspirational
  • unexpected
  • thought-provoking
  • motivational
Quote posters or memes can add a light-hearted tone to your article. They have become a very popular way to impart information and entertain at the same time.

Infographics

Make Statistics Easy to Understand

Making sense of numbers and percentages can be very difficult. But when you put those statistics into visual format, the meaning is much easier for your readers to grasp.

You can make regular bar charts or pie charts, but today’s popular way to present data is to put the information into an infographic that makes the data easy to understand and visually appealing.

Don’t let the idea of making an infographic scare you. There are free programs online to make it easy for you. Here are just a few.
These programs are free to use although some of them have paid premium features. In each case, the free service is enough to get started and present complicated concepts in a format that’s easy to understand. Be sure to use a variety of colors to make the data easy to assimilate.

Wrapping it Up

Visual content will make your website more attractive and boost engagement on your site. Do your best to take advantage of the various ways that visual content will work to keep your viewers coming back for more.

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Author: Kate Benzin

How to Create a Simple Video Using PowerPoint

Create Video with PowerPoint

Do you like videos? Do you like to learn new processes through video rather than text explanations?

Your answer is probably yes. Most people learn better from visual explanations. With video, you can see each and every step you need to take, and that makes it so much easier than trying to imagine what the writer is describing. And if you don’t have video on your website yet, you’re behind the times.

No matter what your website or blog focuses on, you need to stay up to date or your visitors will spend more time at the sites of your competitors.

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You’re probably saying that creating a video is too expensive and difficult. You may even feel  overwhelmed if you think about the process of making a video.

Not any longer. Using PowerPoint to make a video is easier than you ever thought possible.

Step 1:

Create your PowerPoint presentation and save it. You can use animations on the slides or not – it’s up to you.

But you should take advantage of the transitions available in PowerPoint. They smooth movement from one slide to the next.

PowerPoint Transitions

Step 2a:

Most videos have either narration or music – sometimes both. Let’s take a look at adding narration first.

You can record the narration right inside PowerPoint. Print your script or have it ready on your tablet.
  1. Open PowerPoint and the slide presentation you want to narrate.
  2. Choose the Slide Show tab on top, and click the small black arrow in the Record Slide Show
  3. Click Start Recording from Beginning.
  4. Make sure that the small boxes to the right are checked so that the resulting video will play with correct timing.
  5. Click the button Start Recording.
  6. Narrate the presentation for the slide that is showing.
  7. Click the arrow to the right of the slide to advance to the next slide.
  8. Repeat steps 5 and 6 until you come to the end.
  9. Click on the last slide to end recording.

PowerPoint Slide Show

Step 2b:

Here’s the process if you use music.
  1. Open PowerPoint and the slide presentation you want to narrate.
  2. Choose the Insert tab on top, and click the small black arrow in the Audio
  3. Click Audio on my PC/from File.
  4. A new window will appear so you can choose the audio you want to use.

PowerPoint Audio

Then:

  1. Drag the sound icon off to the right side.
  2. Choose the Animations tab on top and click Animation Pane.
  3. Drag the sound file to the top, click the small arrow to the right of the sound file, and choose Start with Previous.

PowerPoint Animation

Step 3:

To finalize –
  1. Click File in the upper left corner.
  2. Choose Export then Create a Video
  3. If you can't find it, click Save As then Windows Media Video.
  4. Wait until it’s finished and check that it plays smoothly.

PowerPoint Export and Save As

Now you can publish the video on your website.

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Author: Kate Benzin

Why Don't You Have a Newsletter?

Newsletter

Don’t answer that question. You’d probably say –
  • you don’t have time to put together so much content
  • you wouldn’t know what to say on a regular basis
  • you don’t think your customers would regularly read a newsletter from you

Is It a Newsletter or Something Else?

Those reasons are understandable. So why not change what you call it. In other words, don’t call it a newsletter. Perhaps then you won’t be so intimidated about writing it. In addition, your readers won’t attach any negative feelings they might already have about boring newsletters.

Instead, call it a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly email. Doesn’t that sound much easier to put together? This email will be in addition to ones about new products, and its function will be to produce ‘know, like, and trust’ from your readers.

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Treat Readers and Customers Like Friends … to a Point

This email/newsletter should be newsy and personal. Share who you are with your customers, and they will look forward to receiving and reading your emails. Start emails by sharing stories about –
  • your daily activities
  • your goals for the week
  • awards or honors your children won
  • the damage your new puppy did to your expensive new shoes
In short, tell them the kinds of things you’d share with friends. Your readers will know and like you better and better with each email.

Obviously, there’s a line that divides personal from intimate. Don’t cross into intimate details.

Checking email

Educate Your Readers and Customers

This section should be the focus of your email/newsletter, but once again, it should be written in a friendly tone. This is the section that will promote trust in your readers.

Whatever your product is, do a search online for tips on using it. Find as many as you can and save them in a folder on your hard drive. In your daily online activities, you’ll come across other tips. Save them in the same folder. These tips provide you with the material you can use to educate your customers.

Do it in a newsy, friendly way. For example, you can say something like this:

‘I ran across a great tip when I was online the other day that you might like. The writer suggested that product A can be made more effective by doing process X. I tried that out and it really worked. In fact, I took it a step further and added Y and Z.’

When they receive your regular emails with valuable information and nothing for sale, they’ll trust you when you send an email that does sell something. And more importantly, they’ll be more likely to buy from you because you’ve already demonstrated your trustworthiness.

End with a Question

The end of your email/newsletter should invite further engagement. Ending by writing ‘Let me know if I can help’ or ‘Let me know if you have any questions’ is not going to get your readers to respond.

Instead, end your email with a question.
  • Does this application work for you?
  • Does this tip make sense to you?
  • Will you apply this tip in your situation? If not, why not?
To sum up, make sure your newsletters disguised as emails showcase your personality, are easy and fun to read, and are full of valuable information.

Are you going to commit to sending out regular emails/newsletters like this? When will you start?

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Author: Kate Benzin

Looking for Design Inspiration?

Designer

How many times have you heard your friends say something like “I’m not creative. I just don’t have any imagination.” Maybe you’ve even said that yourself – or at least thought it.

In today’s online world, you don’t need a lot of imagination to make graphics for your website. You just need to recognize graphics that would appeal to your audience. That sounds a lot easier, doesn’t it?

Oh, there’s one additional part. You have to figure out how to imitate the graphics you see that would attract your readers, but that comes later. First, you need to find and save images that you think will work on your website.

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Even if you’re someone who can call up your imagination at a moment’s notice, you may find that daily tasks don’t allow much time for you to let your creativity soar. So let’s explore how you can find inspiration for your graphics projects.

Check Out Social Media

Yes, everyone is always telling you not to spend so much time on social media. Well, next time someone says that, just tell them that your time on social media is for work.

Two social media, in particular, are great sources for stunning graphics that will inspire you – Pinterest and Tumblr. Both of these sites are full of graphics that can be searched by keyword. Be sure to open your own accounts and start saving the graphics that inspire you. Learn more about using Pinterest here.

Look Through Print or Online Magazines

The online world is full of magazines for you to scour. Here are just a few magazines that contain graphics inspiration –
Folders for designs

Start a Swipe Folder

Rather than always going to Pinterest or Tumblr to look over the graphics you’ve saved, the easier way is to set up a folder on your hard drive or in the cloud to save graphics that you might want to imitate in the future. Remember, imitation is the best form of flattery. You won’t copy the graphics exactly. You’ll use them for inspiration.

Since this involves swiping images from online sources, the folder is referred to as a swipe folder. Make and name sub-folders so that you can immediately save swiped images in a folder that identifies the kind of images inside.

Use the snipping tool on a pc or the grab tool on a Mac to quickly capture the image and save it in the correct folder.

Talk with Friends – Both Online and Off

Talking about projects can help you decide what direction to take. Your friends in the offline world might not understand exactly what you’re trying to accomplish, but as you explain to them, the answers you’re looking for might appear.

And once you start working with graphics, you’re likely to make some online friends with the same interest. These online graphics friends are likely to be a huge resource with all kinds of information.

Start chatting with them via your favorite chat tool about the image you want to create and the problems you’re having. You’ll probably get more strategies than you imagined.

For some other tips, read How to Give Your Blog a Facelift.

Doesn’t this sound like fun? You can put up graphics on your website that make you look like a creative genius!

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Author: Kate Benzin

What Do Your Website Visitors Need from You?

Successful Website

Did you know that the way to make your website successful is not by posting whatever YOU want to publish? Sharing all the wonderful and useful information that’s swirling around inside your brain is not the path to success.

Instead, you will only gain success by providing your visitors the information THEY need and want. How do you figure out what that is? You might assume that you already know what they want.

But – are you sure? Operating on that assumption could end up leaving you with very little traffic to your site. Instead, think about what the visitors of your online store need to know.

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How About a Tutorial?

Users can benefit from instructions and tips about how to get the most from any product you sell or promote on your website.

Because of that, a tutorial can be the natural way to engage with your readers about the products you sell or your affiliate products. This can be a real win-win because –
  • Your reader benefits by learning the best ways to use the product.
  • You benefit when your reader is more likely to use your link to purchase (instead of your competitor’s) because you made the effort to educate him.
Tutorials tend to perform well in search engines, so your website is likely to rank higher resulting in more traffic for your site.

Create Tutorial

Create a Great Tutorial

You might be thinking that you could never create a good tutorial. Don’t be negative. It’s not as difficult as you might think at first. If writing doesn’t come easily to you, just follow the steps below.
  • Give an overview of the product. Pretend you’re telling your friend about this great item that you just got and how it helps you.
  • Write down all the steps needed to use the product. You can probably do this fairly easily, but when you’ve finished, take yourself through all the steps so that you can determine if you’ve forgotten to include something. Don’t assume anything. If even the tiniest bit of information is missing, readers are likely to become confused.
  • Use your smartphone to take images that show each step of your tutorial. It’s probably true that a picture is worth a thousand words. It’s much easier for your reader to understand what you’re doing if he sees photos of the process.
  • Include links for readers to purchase. Whether this is your own product or you’re promoting someone else’s product, be sure to include a minimum of three links – one at the beginning of your article, one in the middle, and one at the end. Make it easy for your readers to buy the product at the very time that they understand the benefits it brings them.
  • Make a resources list with links. If you use other items connected to the main one in the tutorial, mention them at the end and include an affiliate link for each item. Your readers will thank you because they’ll be able to improve their use of the main product without having to search for related items. It's a great way to increase your income, too.
A tutorial can be a great earner for you because your readers will appreciate your trustworthiness and willingness to share your expertise and then be likely to buy from your link. And they’ll return to your site over and over.

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Author: Kate Benzin