How to Get More Engagement With Your Visual Content

By now, you know how important it is to incorporate visual content into your social media strategy.
Not only do images get more social shares, but they also compel fans, viewers, and website visitors to stick around longer. I mean, hey, we’re only human … and humans are naturally drawn to visual content. While we only remember about 20% of what we read, we retain as much as 80% of what we see. 

But visual content for the sake of visual content isn’t good enough. If you want your images to engage your fans, followers, and prospects, they have to be good.
But what exactly does “good” mean when it comes to visual content? There’s a lot to it: great topic, color consistency and effective design, proper dimensions for publishing, promotional strategy … and you’ll need a game plan to maximize your ROI.
To help you create that game plan and boost engagement with your visual content, HubSpot teamed up with Market Domination Media to create the infographic below. Check it out.

Food Photography – An Introduction

Food Photography
Interested in learning about Food Photography? Read on for some introductory tips.
Visit any bookshop and head for the cook book section and you’ll be overwhelmed by the array of books filled with scrumptious recipes accompanied by wonderful photography of the meals being written about.
Colorful stacks of vegetables drizzled with rich sauces on a clean white plate with glistening table settings – you know the shots.
Sometimes the photography is almost the true focus of the book with the recipes taking a secondary role.
But how do you photograph food and get such great results?

1. Lighting

Treat the food you’re photographing as you would any other still life subject and ensure that it is well lit. Many of the poor examples of food photography that I’ve come across in the research for this article could have been drastically improved with adequate lighting. One of the best places to photograph food is by a window where there is plenty of natural light – perhaps supported with flash bounced off a ceiling or wall to give more balanced lighting that cuts out the shadows. This daylight helps to keep the food looking much more natural.

2. Props

Pay attention not only to the arrangement of the food itself but to the context that you put it in including the plate or bowl and any table settings around it. Don’t clutter the photo with a full table setting but consider one or two extra elements such as a glass, fork, flower or napkin. These elements can often be placed in secondary positions in the foreground or background of your shot.

3. Be Quick

Food doesn’t keep it’s appetizing looks for long so as a photographer you’ll need to be well prepared and able to shoot quickly after it’s been cooked before it melts, collapses, wilts and/or changes color. This means being prepared and knowing what you want to achieve before the food arrives. One strategy that some use is to have the shot completely set up with props before the food is ready and then to substitute a stand-in plate to get your exposure right. Then when the food is ready you just switch the stand-in plate with the real thing and you’re ready to start shooting.

4. Style it

The way food is set out on the plate is as important as the way you photograph it. Pay attention to the balance of food in a shot (color, shapes etc) and leave a way into the shot (using leading lines and the rule of thirds to help guide your viewer’s eye into the dish). One of the best ways to learn is to get some cook books to see how the pros do it.

5. Enhance it

One tip that a photographer gave me last week when I said I was writing this was to have some vegetable oil on hand and to brush it over food to make it glisten in your shots.

6. Get Down Low

A mistake that many beginner food photographers make is taking shots that look down on a plate from directly above. While this can work in some circumstances – in most cases you’ll get a more better shot by shooting from down close to plate level (or slightly above it).

7. Macro

Really focusing in upon just one part of the dish can be an effective way of highlighting the different elements of it.

8. Steam

Having steam rising off your food can give it a ‘just cooked’ feel which some food photographers like. Of course this can be difficult to achieve naturally. I spoke with one food stylist a few years back who told me that they added steam with a number of artificial strategies including microwaving water soaked cotton balls and placing them behind food. This is probably a little advanced for most of us – however it was an interesting trick so I thought I’d include it.


36 Tried-and-True Ways to Promote Your Blog Posts

There are lots of things you need to do to have a successful blog. Not only do your posts need to be well-written, helpful, and relevant to your target audience, but you’ve also got to make sure you’re promoting them correctly so they get in front of people who could become your fans — and maybe even your customers.
Luckily, you have many creative options when it comes to promoting your blog content.
In the infographic below from ReferralCandy, we hear from over 40 marketing experts about their favorite blog promotion tactics — everything from relationship building to email segmentation to social media. Check it out.

The Fastest Growing Social Networks In 2014 (Where You MUST Be In 2015)

Did you know that Pinterest was the fastest growing social network in 2014? Have you got a Pinterest marketing strategy in place?
If you haven’t now would be a good time to start! For those who don’t know, Pinterest is an image based social network and as the stats in the infographic below show their total members grew by 54% and their active users grew by a whopping 97% in 2014.
The infographic, which was created by Global Web Index, also shows Tumblr experienced large growth with Facebook showing a fall in active users.
The Fastest Growing Social Networks in 2014 (and Where You Should Be in 2015)

How to Write a Blog Post in 10 Simple Steps

Writing blog posts used to be one of my most dreaded tasks, but recently I am dreading it less, sometimes I actually like it! Ever since I spelled out the steps I need to go through, the job is a lot more fun. And the formula I follow ensures that I’m putting out the best content that I can. So, I decided to share it with you (with breaks for coffee, included!). Here’s my very basic primer on how to write a blog post.
Who knows? You may even end up enjoying the process, too.

How To Write A Blog Post In 10 Simple Steps

Step 1: Choose Your Topic
Brainstorm your way to an editorial calendar, so you have multiple ideas at your fingertips, and schedule a date for each idea. This calendar not only helps to keep you accountable, but it provides a place for you to brain dump ideas. If you’re like most people, you probably struggle to come up with compelling topics. Go here for some help:
Once you’ve set a schedule, don’t be afraid to change your mind. If something comes up that you just are dying to write about, and if it makes sense for your audience, do it! You can always move the post you had scheduled to another time.
Step 2: Decide The Purpose Of Your Post
Why are you writing it? Is it helpful? Informative? Controversial? Entertaining? Are you trying to prove a point or share some thoughts?
Step 3: Determine The Tone Of Your Post
How do you want to engage your audience? With humor? Straight-forward facts? A nuanced discourse? Always keep your audience in mind. What approach will best reach most of them?
Step 4: Free Write
At this stage, just let your thoughts flow and get them down on “paper.” I actually use a notebook and a pencil and some writers suggest that you don’t even lift the pencil (or pen) from the paper. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or even the form of your post (i.e. a list, an infographic, a straight essay, etc.). Just write.
Step 5: Do Your Research
Some blog topics require a bit (or a lot) of research. It’s helpful to read what other writers have to say about your topic, or you may need stats to prove your point. Google puts the world at your fingertips, so use it! If you end up quoting another writer or if you use stats from a different website, give credit where credit is due with a link either in the body of your post or at the end.
Take A Break. Go get a cup of coffee, or (if you work at home) throw in a load of laundry.
Step 6: Write Your First Draft
If you’re lucky you will be able to use a lot of what is in your free writing. But at this stage, pretend you are working on your final draft. Use the active, not the passive, voice; keep your sentences clear, avoid run-ons, and break new thoughts into paragraphs.
(Tip: Do not type directly into your blog software. Use a Word document or something similar. It’s way harder to correct mistakes in your blog than on a document.)
Step 7: Decide On Form
Read through your Frist Draft and decide which format your blog will be in. Is it appropriate for a list? Does it lend itself or an inforgraphic? Do you need more charts or other graphics to prove your point? I have discovered that when I make this decision at this stage, my blog posts make more sense.
(A note about lists: Bloggers love lists because they are easy for people to scan. But not all blogs are should to be in a list format. For example, if I had turned this blog into a list, there would be 15 steps! 15 steps to writing a blog post? Blech!
Step 8: Create Your Headline
It’s the subject line when your blog is emailed, it’s the text in tweets, it appears on Facebook posts, etc. Developing a great headline is as important as creating the content.
Step 9: Find The Perfect Image
The human brain processes pictures much faster than it processes text.  So an image will help your readers more quickly understand what your post is about. Choose one that is completely relevant to your content and if you don’t want to pay for usage, make sure it’s licensed for free commercial use.
Take a Break! Another cup of coffee? Or take a walk around the block or do something else on your list.
OK, now’s the time to for your final draft. You have decided on your format, your headline, and you have a pretty good working draft that you can now polish.
Step 10: Proof Your Post
I live in fear of publishing typos and incorrect information in my blog, so I tend proofread like a demon.
1st Proofing:
Read through your post and look for inconsistencies in tone. Make sure you’ve made your point. Check for typos. Is the structure correct? Do you have an intro paragraph and a concluding paragraph? Have you included links to your sources and stats?
Tip On Proofing: Use spellcheck, for sure, but don’t depend on it entirely. Spellcheck can bite you! Watch out for some of the most commonly made errors (I see these all the time, even on very successful blogs) such as “their” instead of “there” or “bog” instead of “blog.”
2nd Proofing:
Now, here’s a trick: start at the end of your post and read towards the top…one sentence at a time. Proofing this way usually helps to find those (embarrassing) mistakes, such as leaving a word out. If you have a friend or colleague who can take a look, that’s great, too. Also, try reading it out loud, slowly and clearly. You’ll hear a lot.
Final Proofing:
If you don’t have to publish your post immediately, save the final proofing for the next morning. You’ll be amazed at how fresh eyes can find typos. Resist the urge to rewrite the entire post, unless you have more time.
More Tips:
Use short paragraphs (no more than 3-4 sentences per), and do not double-space after periods.