Visually Yours: Part 1

Visually Yours: Part 1

Technology has made it very easy for us to access tools of publishing. With the press of a button or a touch on the screen, our original creations, words, images, creative imaginings instantly appear on the world wide web. We can even control, to some extent, the afterlife of our creations. We can choose to edit, revise, extend, or change these creations long after they have been sent out into the world. Let’s face it, in one way or another, all of us are publishers now. This convenience comes with a huge responsibility. And this is why we have to be very careful about what goes out on the internet for all to see.

Last week, I wrote about the rules surrounding copyright and the use of images on our self-published musings on social media. It is important to reinforce this lesson because Visual Content is king when it comes to the internet. After all, Photos are the main type of posts shared on social media with Facebook having approximately 3000 million photo uploads per day! But that’s just one type of Visual Content.

Visual Content Assets are among the most important forms of content you can publish. It is ranked as the second most important form of content second only to blogging by a very small margin. Notice that in any information you deem important enough to read, Visual Content is always present. That’s because we all know that people are likely to remember information when it is paired with an image (at 65% retention) compared to just hearing about it (at 10% retention).

If you’re looking to up your game and create amazing visual content for whatever reason (maybe to get more followers, retain customers, create a fanbase, etc.), in addition to photos or images, here are four more types of Visual Content that you should start using right now:

Videos – I’m sure you’ve seen one of those 2minute videos where they show you how to make 4 Easy Slow Cook Dinners or Rotini Pasta 4 ways. Why are these things such a hit? Well, they’re fun to watch, low commitment because they’re short, easy to remember with easy to follow instructions, and likely to go viral right away. If you can put together a video like that, you’re golden!

Inspirational Quotes – this is extremely popular and can generate tons of engagement mainly because people can easily relate to them. Another plus is that they’re very easy to create, which is why they’re a favorite tool of bloggers when they need Visual Content in a pinch.

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Infographics and Graphical Data – People zone out when you explain statistics to them. People generally do that when presented with numbers. This is a huge hurdle when you’re trying to explain facts and figures. But if you make it easier for them to visualize the statistics and create an easier comparison, then you’ve won the battle. Keep in mind that a whopping 40% of people understand visual data better than data presented as just plain text.    

 

Screenshots – Everything we publish on the internet is archived on some server somewhere. Screenshots are great for showing archived information that used to exist. It could also be used to draw attention to a small part of a particularly long text. It can even be used to clarify text especially when coupled with a highlight or an annotation. Live capture is also a particularly great function of the screenshot and can be useful for tweets, reviews, and testimonials.

Stay tuned for five more types of Visual Content Assets that will take your published content to the next level. In the meantime, remember to stay humble and hustle hard.

 

Written by Jaie O.- The Help

Should I Use This Image?

Should I Use This Image?

16825924_10209924375120044_1238163515279855137_oUnless it is something you create yourself, the short answer is NO. But the article does not stop here. Many people are NOT aware of the risks involved in downloading images off the internet and using those images for themselves. Many business owners are unaware of the legal implications and the massive fines involved in using the unsourced content. In fact, even famous personalities have fallen to committing the mistake of using unsourced content on social media.

In today’s social media landscape, posts with images are the most engaging type of post you can put up on social media. Image posts make up 75% of the content posted on Facebook worldwide. Some platforms are even dedicated to image posting, like Instagram.

Let’s take a look at what copyright is, shall we?

According to Merriam-Webster, Copyright is defined as “the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute the matter and form of something (as a literary, musical, or artistic work).” Copyright laws are set up to protect all creative works and laws vary from country to country.

Simply put, you own everything you’ve artistically created – and you have exclusive rights to display, use, and reproduce your original work. If you are using a creative output from someone else, without their permission, you might be infringing on their copyrights.

Let’s face it. Not all of us can be artists, and some images are too beautiful not to share. Also, there are images out there that you can use without requiring the owner’s permission. How do we use them and where can we find them?

Your best bet is to look for images that are under the Creative Commons license. Under the Creative Commons license, artists can give permission to use their work for certain purposes without requiring permission. But you still have to be very careful about using this system as licenses aren’t all the same. When in doubt, use images that are licensed under Creative Commons Zero, which means you can use them for any purpose without having to attribute them to the owner.

Another great option is to subscribe to a stock photography site, there are millions of beautiful high-resolution images to choose from, and you are sure to find one that works best for you. Every business owner or freelancer should have their favorite go-to stock photography site. Some of the most popular ones are Shutterstock, iStock, Bigstock, Getty Images, and Dreamstime. You can also check out the free stock photography sites like Gratisography.

Don’t think about copyright laws as a huge nuisance. Think about them as a protective blanket. After all, the same copyright laws that protect these beautiful images are the same ones that protect all the content that you publish online.

 

Happy image hunting! Do you have any favorite images stashes or caches that you would like to share with us? Let us know in the comments. Remember to stay humble and hustle hard.

 

 

Written by Jaie O.- The Help

Your Business’ Online Reputation

Your Business’ Online Reputation

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Small business owners must not take it for granted that only big brands need to monitor their reputation online. On the contrary, it is easier to risk your reputation when you are a small to medium business. Since most people are online, it is relatively easier to make or break a business with just one bad review.

Customers expect an online presence for all business they interact with. It is the first thing people check when deciding to do business for the first time. For example, if I wanted to try out a new restaurant, I would check their social media accounts and look for reviews about them online. What I read and what I find out online about the business will form my first impression. Most of us will reserve judgment given one or two bad reviews, and would still try out the place. However, I can tell you that not all of us are as forgiving and will give a business a chance once we encounter a bad review.

To be able to manage your business’ online reputation, you must be aware of what people are saying about your business. This is where it pays to have eyes and ears everywhere. So, if you haven’t started yet, start setting up a keyword monitoring tool. Some tools to try are Google Alerts (free!), Tagboard, ZohoSocial, and SocialMention among others.

These tools will alert you whenever you are mentioned online. It can also monitor how the hashtags related to your business are being used. This is a crucial step so set it up if you are serious about your business’ online reputation. This will start the series of events that can make or break your business. Once you are aware of what is being said about you online, you have to respond in an appropriate and timely manner. Sometimes, knowing is enough. Sometimes, you need to take action.

A quick thank you would do most of the time. People love validation and giving them a quick shout out would do wonders for your online engagement. Your thank you note doesn’t have to be long winded. You can just say “Hi! Thank you for dropping by!” or “Thank you, glad you liked the coffee!” And when you get a less than satisfied customer giving you flack online, you don’t have to don your full battle gear. Pick your battles wisely. You can just send out a quick acknowledgment with a promise to do better. Say “Hey! We appreciate your comment. We hope you give us another chance by making it up to you.”

 

Written by Jaie O.- The Help

A Good Online Reputation

A Good Online Reputation

16601642_10209840668347427_1783428789780842898_oYour reputation is everything. Guard it with your life. This is especially true if you are on social media – and most people are (unless they are living under a rock or in a cave with no wifi signal).

During the “olden days” of analog and landlines, there was very little documentation of what we said and what we did. Sure, we posed for photos and had candid shots now and then. But that can quickly be forgotten. Now, thanks to social media (and our lax privacy settings), everything we ever say or do has been documented for everyone to see.

 

Our political rants on Facebook, our misspelled texts, unflattering photos of double chins and drunken nights out have been shared online one way or another. It is very difficult to control what has been shared since everything is now archived and forever saved away in a server somewhere for posterity’s sake.

So without further ado, here are a few tips on how to safeguard your online reputation.

  • Start by searching for yourself on search engines. Don’t just use Google, but that is definitely a great place to start. Use all search engines possible. Google does not have the monopoly over search engines (at least not yet), so try searching for your name under all the different search engines out there. Here’s a list of all the search engines to try: Yahoo, Bing, Baidu, AOL, Ask.com, Excite, Yandex, or Lycos. This is in no way an exhaustive list, but they are good places to check.
  • When searching for your name, use any and all iterations of your name – full name, nickname, screen names, pen names, misspellings of your name, etc. For all you know, you might be sharing a name with a convicted drug dealer. Be thorough. After that, you can then add a few keywords like hometown, schools, jobs, etc.
  • Once you’ve found a few (hopefully just a few) links, posts, or photos that you wish to forget, set them to private. Check your privacy settings and adjust them so that no one can access your embarrassing moments. Or better yet, try to remove them or get them removed from the site on which you found them.
  • It is always a good idea to revisit your privacy settings once in awhile. After all, social media platforms are notorious for changing their privacy policies as often as the weather changes. While YOU may be very careful of what you post and what you share, others may not share the same self-censorship as you. Friends may tag you in a photo from your wild college days dancing awkwardly at a party or even getting tipsy on one too many tequila shots. Though these may seem like light years away now, they can still pop up from time to time to haunt you (hello, Facebook memories!). I’m sure these are things that you would rather not have your employer see.

Remember always to keep private things private. Some things are better left to be written in diaries, kept in your phone gallery, or committed to memory. You don’t always have to share every single thought running through your head. Be careful about what goes out online. Remember to stay humble and hustle hard. Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

Written by Jaie O.- The Help

The Ingredients of a Perfect List

The Ingredients of a Perfect List

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What makes an organized person? You may argue that a lot of things help a person get organized. But no one can do it without lists. List don’t have to be written to be effective. Some people can make do with mental list. They just commit the list of things they need to get done to memory for ticking off later. Yes. Some are blessed like that. Most of us would probably forget half the things we’ve mentally noted down. Especially when you’re older or if the mental list were made in the middle of the night, before dozing off after a long tiring day. We’re all guilty of doing that. However, the most efficient lists are the lists we write down where they are not in danger of being forgotten or where they can be referred back to from time to time. Written lists are way better. After all, even perfect Santa made lists…and checked them twice.

Here’s a breakdown of the perfect list and it has only 2 ingredients:

Choose a tool. A lot of us do it the old school way of using pen and paper for keeping lists. Grocery lists are often written on paper. So are lists of things to bring for travel or trips. You can also write lists on boards where you can easily see the list as a constant reminder. But if you are one of the more techie ones, which is often the case in today’s generation, you might opt to use any of the list making apps available on Android and iOS. Desktop apps are also available for those who spend more time in front of their computers.

Here are a few suggestions for apps:

  • Google Keep: for Google Apps fans
  • Todoist: for those who are fans of integration and connecting their apps with other tools.
  • Remember the Milk: for sharing and delegating.
  • Wunderlist: for fans of elegant, simple, and beautiful design.
  • Any.do: for those who are minimalists.

Choose a system. Does your list begin with most important things first? That would work well for to-do lists. Do you want to go alphabetical? This works well for titles. Do you want to list items according to location? This works well for after work or weekend errands. In which case, you would do well to list the furthest first and the nearest last so you can work your way through errands on the way home.

Now, put them together and stick to the plan. One of the best feelings in the world is getting to cross off items on a list. Making lists will never be out of date. We all have thousands of things to do and all of them seemingly need our immediate attention. Being able to capture the thoughts buzzing around inside our heads into an organized list is half the battle. This actually lets us know what action items are needed and how we can plan our time around actually completing tasks. Do you have any favorite list making techniques you want to share with us? Let us know in the comments! Remember to stay humble and hustle hard.

 

Written by Jaie O.- The Help