Inbound marketing is an exploding practice. Hundreds of HubSpot vars are popping up all over the world, which causes prospects to be a bit overwhelmed when it comes time to pick an agency to work with. One competitive advantage that no one will stop you from pursuing is transparency. By showing your clients what lies behind the scenes of an inbound marketing strategy you will surely stand out from the "smoke and mirrors" out there. You will also be shocked at how smoothly things run (financially and logistically) if everything is laid out in stone up front. No secrets people... let it all hang out. Below is one strategy, complete with all the educational resources required, to attract new opportunities and nurture them to a point of sale using content and HubSpot's automated marketing software.
How to find free images for your blog - without getting sued:
Unless you slept through Content Camp or were cyberslacking during calls with your HubSpot Inbound Marketing Consultant, you're well aware that images play an important role in maximizing the SERP performance of your blog articles.
That's no sweat for companies which have a wealth of imagery to draw upon, such as product photography. But what if you need interesting images to illustrate important ideas and your cupboard is bare?
Stock photography web sites like istockphoto.com, bigstockphoto.com, and shutterstock.com are a great resource. But the image licensing costs - ranging from $1 to $30 or more per photo - can add up quickly if you are blogging as prolifically as you should be.
And using images from Google image search, Bing, Flickr, etc. might not be the bargain it seems. Most every image belongs to someone. Using a photograph, illustration, or other graphic for commercial purposes without permission of the rights holder is a violation of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 and exposes you to the risk of significant financial penalties. For example, consider the story of WebCopyPlus, a copywriting firm which ended up paying $4,000 for a photo they could have licensed for only $10.
While it's true you can find images that are licensed under Creative Commons, it's not as fast or convenient as utilizing a stock photography service, and you'll need to sift through a lot of imagery that is not of professional caliber. Plus, the Creative Commons license is only applicable to the author's rights, but not anyone who is depicted in the photograph. For example, using this Creative Commons licensed picture of George Clooney from Flickr to promote your product or service could be a recipe for trouble.
But there is another option. Some relatively new services feature a wide selection of high quality images that are free for use by bloggers. And like their pricey stock photo cousins, their images are fully searchable by keywords and other criteria.
http://www.morguefile.com 200,000+ photos and growing. Also displays commercially licensed imagesfrom the Dreamstime library.
http://sxc.hu Now owned by Getty Images, which has aggressively pursued bloggers who have published its commercial images without proper licensing.
http://www.freedigitalphotos.net My personal favorite; great selection and easy to use. Images are free as long as they are accompanied by a credit for the photographer.
Even when using images from the above services, it is important to understand the terms and conditions under which it is licensed for your use. For example, sxc.hu specifically prohibits the use of images for commercial purposes which include a recognizable face. Using such an image may expose you to a claim from the person depicted ("model"), because neither the photographer or you have secured a model release.
Finding and using interesting images can help you engage your reader, communicate your ideas, and extract maximum inbound marketing performance from your blog posts and other online content. But don't cut corners and misuse someone else's original work for your own benefit.
Some of my customers have been asking me recently, "What percentage of our blog posts should be about our company and ourselves personally?" While there are no hard and fast rules on how many blog posts per month should be about the experiences and backgrounds of your staff personally, there are some great examples from fellow Hubspotters who have found a way to blend personal passions with their business blog:
Dan Alderidge of i-App reads a book that changes his life, his business and his blogging strategy:
After concluding a thorough read, I found the post to be:
Well thought out - Solid points and ideas that built on each other and were backed with examples and references from his personal experience and from around the web.
Easy to read - Bullet points, numbering, images, and line spacing used throughout.
Funny - Dan keeps the tone light and conversational which helps put the reader at ease.
Action Oriented - Dan effectively shares his enthusiasm for the book and he ties its lessons into key quotes and take-aways for his readers to follow up on apply to their own situations.
Link-Building - The effective use of links with anchor text throughout the post served to extend the conversation further and bring the reader to new places on the site and to other relevant domains on the web.
For producing such remarkable content to help and inspire their audience, Dan and his inbound marketing team at i-App were my "heros" for the week and inspired me to record a video-break down of their great post. See my video below for my screen-cast review:
Your turn to contribute:
What did you think of Dan's post? What did you think of the screen-cast? Have you posted any book reviews on your business blog that you would like to share? Is there something from i-App's experience that you can apply to your company's blog publishing plans?
Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.
Blogging is one of the fastest and most efficient way to add pages to your website.
Each blog post counts as a new page which can be indexed for keywords you're trying to "get found for" on search engines.
If you use Hubspot's tool - Keyword Grader and Blogging together, this is the fastest way to research great "long-tail" keywords to go after and to quickly create a blog post that includes that keyword.
Blogging can be social.
It's a platform where multiple people in your company can participate and share/show off their expertise (your company's expertise is one of the many reasons someone will choose to do business with you, or course). It's also a platform to get more engagement from your website visitors. They can post comments/questions to you and other readers in the comments section at the end of every blog post. They can use the social sharing buttons to pass your (helpful/funny/controversial/educational) articles around to their friends on Twitter, Linkedin + Facebook.
Blogging Can Generate Leads for Your Business:
Lastly, educational blog posts are great places to advertise your premium content offers that might be related to the article you're writing. An example of this type of "Call To Action" (CTA) would be: "Wanna learn more about this trend in our industry? Sign up to download our comprehensive guide on top 10 things to look for in our industry."
This allows your website visitors to engage with your company further to visit these offers' landing pages and sign up to download them.
Check out Hubspot's Blog for more information and inspiration:
To learn more about the importance of blogging in building ROI for your inbound marketing efforts, check out these great blog posts Hubspot has written on the subject (and please feel free to share them with your boss or co-workers who might still need a bit more convincing before writing up their first draft)
What do you think of these points? Are there any other benefits that you think could be added here based on your own experience?
An even better question I'd love to hear your two-cents on is: Given all these benefits in the long run for blogging in your company, what are some strong reasons to avoid investing in a consistent blogging strategy?