Marketing Strategy

Easy Ways to Customize Stock Photos for Your Brand

How to customize styled stock photos for your brand - tips for customizing stock photos so they are more unique to your brand and stand out from the crowd. Try these 4 easy ways to customize your stock photos!

You probably already know that stock photos can make your life much easier by saving time and $$$, BUT it’s kind of annoying to know that you’re using the same photos as a bunch of other people, right? Luckily there are a few easy ways to “customize” your stock photos to make them look more unique to your brand!

OVERLAY TEXT

You’re probably using stock photos for your blog or social media and adding a text overlay is an easy way to make them look more intentional. You can overlay text for blog post titles, quotes, testimonials or any other promotional messaging for your brand.  Use your brand fonts and colors so that your images are easily recognizable – even if you are just using stock photos. For example, I use my own stock photos for most of the graphics you see on this blog, but since I’m using consistent fonts / styles for the text all of my blog post graphics have a similar look.

OVERLAY COLOR

Many styled stock photos have excess whitespace where text can easily be added, otherwise you can always add a colored overlay over all or part of the image so that your text stands out. Adding a colored overlay over a whole (or most of an) image is an easy way to make stock photos that aren’t entirely in your brand’s color palette work for you. Since the overlay “hides” most of the colors in the image, you can be a bit more flexible with the stock images you use in this way.

You can also add a colored overlay over only a small portion of an image where you want to add text or other branded elements. If you’re using neutral stock photos this is an easy way to infuse a bit of your brand’s personality into your graphics without distracting too much from the style of the images.

In the examples below you can see a few different ways I’ve customized styled stock photos for my brand – in the top left image I’ve added “hello” text on the gold clipboard using my brand font / color, in the top right I’ve overlaid a screenshot from my website on the laptop screen, in the bottom left image I’ve added a large color overlay at 50% opacity with text on top, and in the bottom right image I’ve added a smaller color overlay at 100% opacity with text on top. These are just a few ways you can add text or other brand elements to your stock photos to make them more unique to your business.

How to customize styled stock photos for your brand - easy tips for making the most out of your styled stock photos if you are a blogger or small business owner using stock photos for your website, blog or social media graphics!

OVERLAY YOUR PRODUCT IMAGES

If you sell physical or digital products, use your stock photos to showcase whatever you are selling. You can overlay product images on stock photos with excess white space or mockup style images with frames or tech elements where you can insert your work. I love the way The Spotted Olive used one of our stock photos to showcase these festive holiday gift tags on Instagram!

CROP / ROTATE / FLIP THEM

Last but not least, instead of sharing stock photos “as is” – most high quality images can be cropped, rotated, and/or flipped for a more unique effect. This is also an easy way to get more bang for your buck since you can crop stock photos in multiple ways and use them multiple times!

In the example below, you’ll see one of the images from the Styled Stock Society (center image) and how it could be cropped / rotated to create 4 completely different images. In addition to these examples, it’s also the image I used for the main title graphic for this blog post!

How to crop styled stock photos to maximize versatility - get more use out of styled stock photos by cropping them into multiple images!

TIPS FOR CUSTOMIZING STOCK PHOTOS FOR YOUR BRAND

If you’re customizing stock photos for your brand using any of these methods, it can be helpful to use certain tools to make the process as simple as possible! Personally I use Adobe Photoshop for most of my customizations but you can use free tools like Canva to add text or other branded elements as well.

  • Create templates – regardless of what tools you are using to customize your stock photos, setting up templates can save you a ton of time. Setting up templates makes it easy to just switch up your stock image and text instead of starting from scratch every time you want to customize something.
  • Be consistent – if you’re adding graphic elements, colored overlays, or filters to your stock photos, you should be consistent with the styles and colors. You want your images to be easily recognizable, so don’t change things up too often!

CUSTOM PHOTOS FOR YOUR BRAND

So those are a few ways to “customize” your stock photos so they are a better reflection of your brand. Stock photos are an affordable option for incorporating high quality visuals into your marketing (and I recommend them, especially if you have a limited marketing budget), but if you’re ready to elevate your brand with styled images that are completely unique to your business, I recommend investing in custom brand photography ;)

Prefer to DIY your own brand images?

Check out this post for the best resources for Instagram props and don’t miss the Shopbop Spring sale (ends April 14th at 11:59pm PT) to save up to 20% on orders under $500 or 25% on orders over $500 – just use code EVENT17 at checkout! (full details here)  I’ll be stocking up on home decor items and some pretty stationery!

How are you customizing stock photos for your brand?

GET FREE STOCK PHOTOS EVERY MONTH

6 Ways to Develop Share-Worthy Content Ideas For Your Blog

6 ways to develop share-worthy content ideas for your blog - know exactly what to write about so your audience loves your blog content and shares your blog posts to increase your exposure and grow your blog reach.

One question I see all the time is “how do I get more blog readers?” and while that could have MANY possible answers, one of them is simply: write better blog posts. When I say better, I mean blog posts that posts that are actually HELPUL to people – not just, here’s what I did this weekend or here are some things I like. Even if people are interested in YOU, your blog posts should really help you relate to THEM. The more you create helpful, relatable content >> the more likely people will share it >> the more likely your blog posts will be discovered by new people >> the more your readership can grow.

Six ways to develop share-worthy content ideas

So what makes blog posts “share-worthy” anyway? Obviously the content has to be relevant to your audience (because if you’re audience is interested in organic beauty and you blog about pizza, that’s just confusing) but more than that, you want people to be able to walk away having learned something from your post. So rather than sharing just for the sake of sharing, share something because you want to teach a lesson / inspire action / build a connection / or provide REAL value to your audience in some way.

Expand on popular post topics

The first place I start when it comes to content planning is my existing content. Know what topics and types of posts your audience is responding to – and do more of what works and less of what doesn’t – I’ve probably typed those exact words 100+ times on my blog, because it’s something I really believe in. When I do my quarterly content planning, I look back at my blog analytics (I use google analytics but I know WordPress / Squarespace also have built in analytics with stats on your top posts) to determine which topics have been most popular. From there, I think about how I can expand on those popular posts to give more audience even more information about the given topics.

For example, this post on 10 ways to grow your Instagram (how I grew from 0 – 15,000 followers without spending any money) was my most popular post in 2015, so I wrote a follow up post on how to double your Instagram following (how I grew from 15,000 to 30,000 followers in 2 months).

Take action: Think about how you can expand on a particular topic by giving an update, teaching the next step, or sharing even more knowledge about whatever it is your audience is interested in!

Create a tutorial

Some of the best blog posts are blog posts that actually teach you how to do something! Think about how many times you’ve googled “how to ______” when you didn’t know how to do something. I do it all the time. Everything from “how to customize ConvertKit emails” to “how to fishtail braid” to “how to teach your dog to rollover” – I’ve got the emails and braids figured out, but we’re still working on rollover…

The more specific and actionable your tutorial is – the more helpful it will be – so take things step by step and share images / screenshots / videos whenever they are helpful!

Take action: Think about all of the things you know how to do (in relation to your industry + target audience) – you may have learned things because of your education or your experience (or both!), but I guarantee there are things that you know how to do that other people want to learn! Even if there are other tutorials online, no one has your exact point of view – so don’t be afraid to share your knowledge!

I guarantee there are things you know how to do that other people want to learn!

Frequently Asked Questions

You probably get asked questions from your customers / clients / followers / subscribers / etc. – and how many times have you typed out the same responses? Blog posts can be an easy way to respond to frequently asked questions in a more in depth way. You might get questions in your comments, via emails, on social media, or in other forms of your community – this is an easy way to come up with content ideas that you KNOW your audience wants to know more about because they are already asking you for it!

For example, one of the questions I get most frequently regarding my stock photos is “how can I use these for my business / blog?” While I have a broad explanation on my FAQ page, I also link to a blog post on 10 ways to use styled stock photos that goes into more specific detail with a number of different examples.

Take action: If you’re not already keeping a running list of frequently asked questions, start now! And if no one is asking you any questions then either 1) you should probably be engaging more with your audience so they feel more comfortable interacting with you or 2) you need to increase your visibility + reach more people!

Survey your audience

Most people aren’t going to tell you what they want – until you ask them. That’s why periodically surveying your audience can be eye-opening in terms of learning more about what your audience actually wants learn more about. I recommend asking your audience a combination of multiple choice and open-ended questions – multiple choice makes it easy for them, and open-ended questions give them the opportunity to tell you in their own words exactly what they want / what they struggle with / what they have questions about / etc.

For example, last year I surveyed a particular segment of my email list who had indicated they were interested in learning more about Instagram but hadn’t enrolled in any of my Instagram courses. At the time, I thought most people were just interested in growing their following, but my survey results revealed that a large segment of that list was actually struggling with figuring out what to even post on Instagram! After learning this, I not only published a blog post on Instagram content planning, but also created a free 14 day Instagram content challenge! 

Most people aren’t going to tell you what they want until you ask them. So ask them.

Take action: You should be surveying your audience at least once a year to learn more about them + their needs. I use Typeform for my surveys but you could also use other free tools like Google forms or Survey Monkey.

Search Pinterest

Pinterest is my favorite search engine for developing new content ideas because you can not only find popular content and also easily see how often it’s being shared. On Pinterest you can search for key words related to your business and see what other people are searching for as well as pinning in relation to those key words. Not only can you find relevant pins, you’ll see how many times pins have been repinned as well as relevant board that may have other topics related to your key words.

For example, if you sell fashion jewelry, you might search “statement necklace” and you’ll see other people are searching for “statement necklace outfit” and “statement necklace how to wear” which tells you that people are looking for content to help them visualize how to wear statement necklaces. From there you might create a blog post on how to style statement necklaces for special occasions or how to wear statement necklaces at work (or wherever your target audience might wear statement necklaces).

Take action: Think about key words related to your business and search for a few different phrases on Pinterest to see what other people are searching for as well as what types of relevant content are being pinned. Take note of potential blog post ideas and when you write the posts, make sure you are sharing them on Pinterest!

Search Facebook groups

Another place to find blog post ideas is within relevant Facebook groups. This strategy can be extremely helpful if you run your own Facebook group, but even if you don’t have your own community, you can take advantage of other relevant groups to see what types of questions people are asking related to your business.

For example, if you are a graphic designer who specializes in the wedding industry you might search within Facebook groups for wedding industry professionals to see what types of questions people are having relating to design / branding / etc. Even if questions in the group aren’t directly related to certain “key words”, you may find that there are relevant questions or discussions that could be tied to your expertise. In this case, you may find wedding professionals asking for help in getting new clients so you might write a blog post on how intentional design can help wedding professionals attract new clients.

Take action: If you’re not already a member of relevant Facebook groups, find 2-3 groups filled with members who might be your ideal clients / customers and search for key words related to your business in the group discussions. If you’re not getting results that are helpful, try scrolling through the group for a bit to see the types of questions being asked and determine if they could relate to your business.

So those are six ways to develop share-worthy content ideas for your blog (or any other form of regular content you are creating). From my experience, even using 2-3 of these strategies can help me come up with enough content ideas for an entire quarter (or more!), so if you’re struggling to figure out what to share on your blog / vlog / or other content channels, give these a try and let me know what you think!

Need help planning your blog content? Download my free blog content planner below!

 

 

5 Reasons Your Marketing Isn’t Working

5 reasons your marketing isn't working (and how to fix them) - if you're feeling overwhelmed with marketing your business but aren't seeing results, here are 5 reasons your marketing might be failing you.

A lot of business of owners “hate” marketing, but if you want customers / clients who are not your mom – it’s pretty much required. While marketing isn’t exactly rocket science, it’s more than just pretty pictures and strategically placed fonts – it’s how you communicate your value and build relationships with potential buyers. There’s not a single “right” way to go about your marketing, but there are a few things you should definitely avoid!

5 REASONS YOUR MARKETING ISN’T WORKING

1) You don’t have a target audience

Marketing to “anyone with money” is not a thing. I’ve shared my thoughts on defining your target audience before, but I promise you – having a target audience will help you tremendously when it comes to your branding, your marketing strategy, your copy, and the products / services you offer. If you’re trying to appeal to everyone, you’re probably appealing to no one – so the more specific you can be in terms of who your product/service is for, the better!

Marketing without a target audience is really just putting stuff out into the world and hoping someone will buy it. I’m pretty sure that NO ONE would agree that’s the best marketing strategy – or is that even a strategy at all???

FIX THIS: Define your target audience. Figure out what makes them tick. Figure out where they hang out online – What social media platforms are they active on? What communities do they belong to? What blogs do they read? What problems do they have? If you’re just getting started, there’s a handy worksheet to help you define your target audience linked in this post!

MARKETING WITHOUT A TARGET AUDIENCE IS REALLY JUST PUTTING STUFF OUT INTO THE WORLD AND HOPING SOMEONE WILL BUY IT.

CLICK TO TWEET

2) You don’t have a strategic plan

You can spend hours and hours on “marketing” but if you don’t have a strategic plan, you could be wasting a ton of precious time! You can’t just post whatever you feel like on social media or spend hours taking pretty flatlays or writing blog posts or creating free downloads without a goal in mind. Your marketing actions should always have a purpose, and you should be leading your customers down an intentional path.

FIX THIS: Think about your client / customer journey – for example, most of my clients find me on social media. Either they come across my Instagram and click through to an opt-in form or they come across a pin that leads to one of my blog posts. From there, most people read a blog post or two and then may opt-in to my email list via a content upgrade or some other free offer. Once people are on my email list, they get a series of emails (depending on how they opted in) and eventually get pitched my paid products / services.

I find it easier to work backwards from your end goal (whatever you are selling) and reverse engineer your content paths. Mapping out a strategic plan will not only help you figure out what content you need to create and share, but it will also keep you on track to actually accomplish your goals.

3) You plan but don’t take action

What’s worse than not having a strategic plan? Actually taking time to make a plan and then not taking action. You can research and strategize and plan for months, but if you don’t take action – you fail before you even get started. It’s easy to get caught up in doing everything “just right” – trust me, as a recovering perfectionist (and former financial planner), I’ve spent wayyyyy too much time on “perfecting” plans – but in reality there’s no such thing as a perfect plan. 

FACT: Some things will not go as planned. FACT: You need to learn to adapt. FACT: It will all be ok.

FIX THIS: Set aside time each week specifically for marketing activities. Put it on your calendar. Find an accountability buddy. Do whatever you need to do to make sure you’re dedicating time to taking ACTION rather than just making to-do lists. If taking action is holding you back, I recommend setting specific goals to help move the needle forward – for example, instead of putting “do guest blog posts” on your to-do list, set a goal to pitch 5 different websites with specific guest blog post ideas. Instead of scrolling through Instagram and liking pretty photos, set a goal to connect with 10 potential clients and actively engage with their content leaving meaningful (not spammy!) comments.

MARKETING ISN’T SOMETHING YOU CAN DO FOR A HOT MINUTE UNTIL YOU GET BUSY + FORGET ABOUT IT.

CLICK TO TWEET

4) You aren’t consistent

For 99.9999% of people, success doesn’t happen overnight. If you’re not showing up consistently to connect with your audience, to build brand awareness, and to promote your products / services – then you’re doing yourself and your business a disservice. Consistency breeds credibility. Marketing isn’t something that you can do for a hot minute until you get busy and forget about it. Only a fraction of your audience is seeing your social media posts or reading your blog posts or opening your emails – so if you’re not being consistent, you’re not maximizing your reach.

FIX THIS: Scheduling + automation are your BFFs. When it comes to social media marketing, I definitely recommend scheduling your posts in advance. Create an editorial calendar for your blog/vlog/etc. and post as frequently as you can be consistent – quality above quantity, always. Here’s a helpful post to help you plan out your blog content! You should also have a regular schedule for email marketing and if possible, using automation can help save a ton of time and ensure that you’re communicating consistently (here are a few ways I use email automation)!

5) You aren’t paying attention to your analytics 

If you “know” me at all, you should have seen this one coming (I’m an analytics NERD) – the only way to really know if you marketing is “working” is to track your results. 

FIX THIS: Use the available tools to track your marketing activities each social media platform or scheduler has it’s own analytics, you should set up google analytics for your website / blog, and your email marketing service probably has it’s own built in analytics as well. And for your analytics to be relevant, you need to establish specific goals – so for example, if one of your goals is to use Pinterest to drive more traffic to your website, then you should be tracking your referral traffic from Pinterest and identifying which pins / boards / etc. are driving the most traffic to your website so you can do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. 

Plan your content in advance

Enter your email address and click the button below to get the free guide!
Enter your email address and click the button below to get the free checklist!
Enter your email address and click the button below to get the free worksheet!
Enter your email address and click the button below to get the blog content planner!
Enter your email address and click the button below to get 10 free stock photos!
Enter your email address and click the button below to join the free challenge!
Enter your email address and click the button below to join the free course!
Enter your email address and click the button below to get the calendar!
Enter your email address and click the button below to join the free course!
Enter your email address and click the button below to get the worksheets!