5 Great Sites to Get Free Stock Photos

These days there are endless sites to get amazing free stock photos. There are so many sites offering royalty-free images there is no longer any reason to take any old image from the Internet and use it on your website.

5 Great Sites to Get Free Stock Photos

Hey, do you love this stock photo in my blog header image? It’s available exclusively from Sage Media & Marketing and free for your personal or commercial use.

What are royalty-free images?

There’s a difference between stock photos and royalty-free stock photos, although they can be one and the same. At times. A free stock image means you can use it free-of-charge. Royalty-free means you can use the image however you want but you may have to purchase it.

When you’re on a stock photo website, take a moment to review the terms and conditions. Sometimes you can download a free stock image but there are restrictions in how you can use it or you must credit the source and/or photographer. Some sites allow you to use an image once for free and require you to purchase a license to use it again or in another way. Some free stock image photo sites are also royalty-free and allow you to use the images for commercial use.

There are some great commercial use, royalty-free free stock photo websites out there. And that’s important to us because we’re writers, not photographers. We need the help! While I do purchase stock images and take my own photos from time to time, I mix in a good amount of free stock photos on my website and social media.

Places to Get Free Stock Photos

Sage Media & Marketing

These images are a customized mix of flat lays and lifestyle, perfect for bloggers and small business owners alike. There are 10 free stock photos available from Sage Media & Marketing with more promised in the future. The best part about these stock images is they aren’t available on any other stock photo website so there’s a good chance you haven’t seen them around.

Pixabay

I’ve talked about Pixabay before and I still recommend it. It’s a great place to go for general images. The free stock photography site offers more than a million images and videos including illustrations and vector graphics. It’s worth checking out.

Unsplash

Unsplash is the hipster mecca of free stock photos. These beautiful, free photos are gifted by the world’s most generous community of photographers, according to the website. All photos are licensed under Creative Commons Zero, meaning you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash.

Gratisography

These quirky, creative, always free photos are toted as the world’s quirkiest collection of free high-resolution pictures. According to the website, these free stock photos are comprised of the world’s best, most creative images and are free of copyright restrictions.

New Old Stock (this is such a cool free stock photo site)

This site curates old photos for personal and non-commercial use, at minimum. Links to the original image location are provided for users to check the licensing details for themselves. Most or all of the images available on this site are in the public domain, which means no permission is required to use these free stock photos at all.

These are a few of my go-to sites for free stock images and I hope you find great images from them.

But if we’re taking free stock photos, how do photographers get paid?

I wanted to address this objection because this freelance lifestyle isn’t easy. And, if you’re like me, you’re friends with professional photographers and you want to support them whenever possible.

And you may be wondering if taking free stock photos is a bit hypocritical since many photographers are freelance and we work so hard to not work for free.

When you use free stock photos you’re not stealing from the photographer. Many of them are trying to make a name for themselves and are gifting their images to the community as part of their long-term strategy. Once they gain a larger following they’re able to make money from their photography through bookings, selling images to their follows and fans, and many other income streams. They’ve decided by offering some things for free it will help them reach their career goals.

Hmm…free stock photos are much like offering free advice on blogs….

Here’s the bottom line: if you don’t feel comfortable using free stock photos then don’t. Take your own or purchase them. There are upsides to not using free stock photos. Not only will your conscience be clear, you’re images will be unique and customized if you take them yourself. If you purchase stock photos your images will likely higher quality and less “all over the Internet.” So there are there’s that.

Once you have great photos, here’s how to make them even better.

These days there are endless sites to get amazing free stock photos. There are so many sites there's no excuse not to have great images on your website.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

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These days there are endless sites to get amazing free stock photos. There are so many sites there's no excuse not to have great images on your website.
These days there are endless sites to get amazing free stock photos. There are so many sites offering royalty-free images there is no longer any reason to take any old image from the Internet and use it on your website.

Influencer vs Influence

Even if your dream isn’t to be a social media influencer you may wish your online following was stronger. But does stronger mean bigger? Not always. If you have the right followers numbers aren’t as important.

Influencer vs Influence: How to Build an Authentic Brand

Influencer vs influence

Last summer I had a string of clients who hired me launch and maintain their Instagram profile. These small businesses wanted to add social media marketing but didn’t know much about it. Since I love both social media and marketing this is pretty much a dream project. I worked hard to create a strategy that reflected the brand and would attract their ideal customer. I chose or created images, wrote captions, and scheduled posts based on best practices.

And then we launched

After two or three months of social media posts my clients complained that they weren’t happy with the amount of followers they had, wasn’t that the point of the work I was doing?

The first time this came up I was surprised. We had talked about the long game, how gaining authentic followers doesn’t happen overnight. I thought we were on the same page. So why were we so far off base?

Expectations.

These clients were new to social media. Their businesses were also new. They had little to no online presence and had heard from a few people that if they went on social media they’d find success. So imagine their disappointment when they realized building an authentic brand on social media doesn’t happen overnight and also is a lot of work.

It was a tough lesson for both of us. I learned I needed to be a lot more blunt about how much time and energy needs to be devoted to building a legitimate social media presence. Now when I begin working with a client I put in writing what is within my control (posting frequency, content) and what is not (sales, growing followers). And I believe these clients also learned that becoming and influencer on social media isn’t something you can automate and expect return from. It involves relationship-building, listening, and connecting with your ideal customer.

What you can and can’t buy

The influencer role is somewhat new so it makes sense that people don’t quite understand what an influencer is. In general, an influencer is someone who has an engaged following of people who pay close attention to their thoughts and opinions.

A true influencer can post about a great new product they’ve discovered and they have built so much trust with their audience that they rush out to also purchase the same product.

I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t love this kind of influence. I mean, duh! It’s amazing! But where people get confused is they see an influencer and they equate the number of followers they have with influence. But numbers don’t equal influence. You can purchase social media followers and engagement. You cannot purchase influence.

How to become an influencer on social media

There is no silver bullet when it comes to becoming an influencer. If you can build a community of people who want to hear what you have to say and trust your judgment then you’re an influencer. And your message is amplified the more followers you have.

If you Google “how to become an influencer” you’ll see many, many articles dedicated to giving you the answer. But no matter what you won’t find a secret tip to getting away from putting the time and work into building your platform, branding yourself, and showing up with authenticity and something to say.

If you want to be a social media influencer and work with brands then you do need at least some sort of a following. To improve, choose one platform to focus on and become an expert at it. Learn the rules and how people engage. Figure out how you fit into the picture and then create a strategy based on finding your ideal followers and connecting with them. It will take time and energy. It will not happen overnight. But if you can make authentic connections and continue offering value to your followers, you will become an influencer.

For more, here are the three things brands look for when hiring influencers from the Spark Society.

Even if your dream isn't to be a social media influencer you may wish your online following was stronger. But does stronger mean bigger? Not always. If you have the right followers numbers aren't as important.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

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Building Your Brand as a Freelancer

Building your brand as a freelancer is key in order to both keep clients coming back and bring in new clients. For my freelance business, branding has both brought in more paying work and the kind of writing I love to do.

Building Your Brand as a Freelancer

If you want to read my personal branding story check out Branding Yourself: Choosing a Niche.

From this experience I’ve learned a lot about how branding yourself on your website or blog is good for search engine optimization as well as for attracting your ideal clients. But more than that, branding yourself is important for growing your business in the direction you want it to go.

Branding Yourself: Choosing a Niche

Building your brand as a freelancer

Here are a few ways you can start building your brand as a freelancer right now.

Establish Yourself As An Expert

Positioning yourself as an expert isn’t as intimidating or difficult as it first sounds. You do this by sharing helpful information with your audience. Figure out the questions they’re asking and the problems they’re trying to solve and then provide the answers/solutions. This is a fabulous opportunity to help people take the next step on their journey as well as share your unique knowledge and expertise. Don’t worry too much about sharing free information. You build trust with your audience by helping people and establishing yourself as an expert doesn’t hurt either. People hire people they trust.

Focus On Your Digital Footprint

Whether you’re building a website or setting up your social media profiles for business, make sure your digital presence is easy to discover and communicates clearly. Here’s what a solid digital footprint includes: strong branding, unique personality and clear services. This is also a good time to invest in professional headshots (and don’t feel like you have to stick to stuff corporate—consider lifestyle photos!) and graphics. Think of your various bios and about pages as an opportunity to let your ideal client know how you can help them and why you’re the right choice. Don’t underestimate the power of a great about page!

Create an On-Brand Marketing Strategy

I don’t care if you’re too busy or you just plain hate it, building your brand includes marketing. Unless you love the feast-and-famine cycle of freelancing, that is. Solid content marketing strategies can keep your prospect funnel full all year long. When creating your marketing strategy make sure to build something sustainable otherwise you’ll quit before you start.

Bonus tip: Check out How To Write For Print Media from Ultimate Banners.

Show Off Your Personality

A big part about building your brand is growing your platform. Figure out what makes you stand out in your market and find ways to weave it into your business. Your personality is part of your brand, so be sure to highlight it. The first step is to find your unique voice and which aspects of your personality and experiences are best to convey. Focus on the positive, exciting and engaging aspects of your brand personality.

Building Your Brand? Invest in Relationships

Referrals are a gold mine, which is why networking with other freelancers is so important. Word of mouth is also extremely powerful, so make a point to invest in your relationships. You never know which clients might suggest you to a new anchor client or introduce you an amazing career opportunity. Take time to go the extra mile, giving excellent service and ensuring both your colleagues and clients are taken care of.

Building your brand as a freelancer is key in order to both keep clients coming back and bring in new clients. For my freelance business, branding has both brought in more paying work and the kind of writing I love to do.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

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Simple Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

There are a lot of options when it comes to marketing your small business but these four simple marketing tips are ones you can implement today. I know I sound like a broken record, but you have to keep your marketing machine running. Even though you’re too busy and you hate marketing. Let’s agree to choose one thing from this list and implement it today. Deal?

Simple marketing tips for small businesses

Simple Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

To make the most out of digital marketing and branding opportunities, you don’t need to crack the social media algorithm. Here are some simple marketing tips that require far less effort and deliver better results. Do I have your attention? Read on.

Submit directory registrations

Registering your business on various directories is an easy way to improve your search results and be discovered. Google and Facebook reviews help too! If you’re business is home-based you may also want to get a business mailing address (from somewhere like https://physicaladdress.com or a local post office box) to avoid putting your home address online.

Discover target keywords

Once you’re clear on who you serve and how you can help them, finding the best keywords to use online will bring more qualified traffic to your website. Start out with SEO tools you can download for free and go from there. Understanding the terms and phrases people use in search helps you better connect with your target audience.

Automate your social media

No one has extra hours to spend on social media. You can and you should automate your social. There are social media packages for small business owners out there that may help. I’ve also outlined my top six social media scheduling tools that I use every day. Trust me, you can still engage authentically even if you don’t live-post every single image on Instagram.

Distribute press releases

I think media releases are amazing and I think they can work to create a real buzz about your brand. However, for this marketing tactic to work you do need to be doing something worth talking about. Brainstorm an angle that would be considered newsworthy and pitch your story to local media outlets. Just keep in mind a business profile isn’t news, it’s advertising. Craft a story where you’re someone doing something interesting for a compelling reason.

Marketing your brand doesn’t have to be complicated. Get your small business online and set yourself up to be discovered on search and social. Then do cool stuff that makes people want to talk about you and make sure they know about it. And if you want some extra help, that’s what I’m here for.

There are a lot of options when it comes to marketing your small business but these four simple marketing tips are ones you can implement today. I know I sound like a broken record, but you have to keep your marketing machine running, even though you're too busy and you hate marketing. Let's agree to choose one thing from this list and implement it today. Deal?

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required

Meeting Your Ideal Client in Person | Getting It Right

Many freelance writers know their ideal client and are great at communicating online. But what if you’re meeting in person?

Ideal Client

Meeting Your Ideal Client…In Person

The introvert in me thinks maybe I can get by without having to meet clients or prospects in person or speak on the phone. Because I’m pretty good at ruining things in person with my awkwardness and inability to conquer small talk.

However, the business owner in me knows I can’t always hide behind a screen. Getting out there and spending time with clients and other freelancers is an important part of growing my business.

And if I can’t meet for coffee, how will I ever gain the confidence to attend a trade show or event or speak at a large conference?

Here are a few tips for getting public engagement right the first time.

Make Your Presence Stand Out

No matter the event, investing in some branding is a worthwhile expense. If it’s a booth at a trade show, a branded area will help you stand out, plus you can use it again and again. Some popular items include custom printed marquees, pop-up stands and table banners.

When Meeting Your Ideal Client, Have Something to Say

I find small talk difficult. I feel awkward and unsure of myself. But then I figured out a secret trick: work out anecdotes ahead of time. And when someone asks me about what I do and who I serve? Well, I also have my elevator pitch memorized.

Consider Offering Freebies

They work on your website so why wouldn’t the work in person? One of my freelancing friends has branded pens that she hands out to colleagues and clients. I love it! There are many reasons to invest in promotional products for your business, and the right promotional products will both be useful and will create a lasting impression. But don’t go overboard with the swag. Stick to a budget you can afford and regularly evaluate their impact.

Show confidence

Confidence is key when it comes to meeting with members of the public. Help your team to develop confidence when making sales or providing services to help make the right impression on your customers. Providing training, creating scenarios, etc. can all help your employees improve their confidence when meeting the public to give the best impression of your company from that first interaction.

Making a meaningful connection with your ideal client and networking with other freelancers can help you grow your business. As a classic form of marketing, you shouldn’t underestimate the value of going out there and meeting people face to face. What’s next on your list of ways to improve your business?

Many freelance writers know their ideal client and are great at communicating online. But what if you're meeting in person?

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required