Category Archives: Pictures

12 Steps to Create Your Own Infographic

My Web Writerseaselly_visual

It seems like there are infographics to cover every topic. There are even infographics about infographics. What if you have information that you want to tell others, but there is no premade infographic that has all your information? It’s time to make your own. Stumped on how to do that?  Follow these 12 steps to create your own.

Infographic Prep Work

1.      Plan it Out. Know what information you want to give to your readers. Keep your message short, simple, relevant, and original.

2.      Be Specific. Give your readers more than superficial details. Go in depth. Be sure you have correct information. Correct and specific details build your credibility.

3.      Balance Information with Graphics. Infographics shouldn’t be too wordy, but they do need words to get your point across.

4.      Grab Attention with a Headline. Your headline brings in readers. Make it snappy!

5.      Keep Attention with Sub-Headlines. Sub-headlines draw your readers’ eyes through your infographic. Give your audience reasons to keep reading.

 6.      Match Your Tone to the Information. You do not want to detract from your message by making light of a serious topic. Humorous information loses appeal if it is presented in a serious tone.

You’re half way there!  Once you have the information portion of your infographic lined up, it’s time to focus on the graphics.

Designing Your Infographic

1.    Find a Template. There are many websites that offer free templates that you can use, but most of them require you to register with them.  The three largest sites are infogr.am, piktochart, and visual.ly.  There are also templates that work with Microsoft PowerPoint from this blog post. No matter where you get it from use a design that catches the eye.

2.    Choose Your Colors. Use color wisely. Too many colors look chaotic, but too few look boring.

3.    Choose Your Fonts. This is not the time to use every font you can. Focus on readability and restrict yourself to only a few font choices.

4.    Create Your Graphs. Just like with the sources for templates, there are many websites that create graphs for you. Microsoft Excel is also another source for graphs if your information is already in a spreadsheet.

5.    Create Space. As you are putting all the pieces together remind yourself, infographics that share too much information look messy. Allow some open space around your graphics for a more readable finished product.

6.   Put it Out There. After you create infographics, they won’t go viral overnight. You’ll have to work to get them noticed. Share them on Facebook, Pinterest, Google Plus, and LinkedIn.

It may take a few tries to create the perfect graphic. If you have a relevant message and are using good information people will want to share it. ~Megan

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Filed under Content, Facebook, Google Plus, Infographics & Memes, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pictures, Pinterest, Social Media, Tumblr

What is Bing’s Subjectship and How does it Compare to Google’s Authorship?

UPDATE 2015: Google’s Authorship was scrapped by the end of 2013. We believe My Web Writers was a voice that contributed to this end. In an article, Forbes details the finale. Read My 2013 SMX Conversation with Matt Cutts about Google Authorship. About that time, Bing’s subjectship faded into an abyss, as well.

By Natalie

Authorship screen shot

Webmasters are always looking for the next great SEO boost. Google Authorship was launched this past year, so it was only natural that Bing would fire back with its own version, Bing Subjectship. Understanding the two and how they compare can help content writers and other authors and readers decide which they prefer from the world’s two favorite search engines.

Google Authorship

Although just a youngster, Google Authorship is proving itself as a successful tool to drive traffic to websites, especially blogs.  Look at the Google search to the right for “Google Authorship.” The photos you see are the authors of the articles.

Since Google added Authorship to its articles, the click-through rates are much higher than they were before.

Bing’s Subjectship

Bing decided to compete with Google via Bing Subjectship. Instead of seeing a picture of who wrote a specific article or blog post, you’ll see a picture of the subject matter.  If I wrote a popular blog post on a famous singer, my picture would show up next to the search result in Google, but Bing would show a picture of the famous singer and the picture might not be one I even used in my post.  Subjectship appears to be in an experimental stage.

This video further highlights some of the differences between Authorship and Subjectship:

After we contacted Bing for more information about Subjectship, we received the following reply.

It’s me again Docs from Bing Technical Support. We apologize for the delay of our response. We would like to provide you an update from our product group about your inquiry on Bing Subjectship. Allow me to discuss this with you.

Bing Support provides assistance for customers needing help with Bing and the features within Bing. We are unable to provide any additional information regarding Bing Subjectship nor any future plans and releases pertaining to Bing.

Thank you for your inquiry and interest in Bing.
Best Regards,

Docs
Bing Technical Support

So which do you find more appealing- a photo of who wrote the article or blog post, or a photo of who the post is about?

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Filed under Algorithms, Analytics, Blog Writing Tips, Content Marketing, Holiday Blog, Pictures, Search Engine Marketing, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Website Linking

How to Make Your Blog a Brand

by My Web Writers

Your blog is made up of much more than the words which appear on each post. It’s made up of colors, logos, themes and the interaction you have with your readers. Once you’ve committed to launching your blog, don’t stop short of building continuing to build it into a brand. A brand has the power to communicate across posts and resonate within seconds with your readers. It is a critical differentiation between what turns a good blog into a great blog. Here are four essential starting points for turning your blog into a full blown brand – and it begins with some of the most basic details:

Choose a Signature Image & Color Scheme

One of the most essential ways to help brand your blog with your audience is to establish a signature image and color scheme. A signature image could be a logo, but it doesn’t have to be. It could also be a photo of something that represents the theme of your blog, maybe a pen and paper for example or it could be the initials of the blog’s name. If you’re choosing to brand the blog by your own name, consider using a head shot of yourself as the signature image to which readers can relate. As for the colors, this alone can define a blog. Think about your writing style, the topics you’ll be covering and the audience you’ll most likely be reaching. All of these factors will impact whether you choose a color scheme that is bright, upbeat and cheery or a color scheme that is dark, more professional and serious. Overall, your signature image and color scheme should become an extension of your brand and provide an accurate preview as to what readers can expect to find if they choose to read on.

 Develop Specific Themes

 When building a readership for your blog, you should narrow your topics enough to maintain the interest of your core audience. Ideally a blog should have 1-3 core topics with no more than five.  An example might include a blog which themes are Business & Success, Entrepreneurship and Social Media. All three of these topics easily intertwine but are also broad enough to allow for wide range of writing for years to come. What should be avoided is blog posts that jump around from reviews of television shows to talking about household chores and tips for job searching. These are too broad and unrelated to pull in a loyal audience that will be interested in what you write week after week. This also greatly hinders your ability to build a well-defined brand.

 Name Your Blog – And Use It

 Once you define your themes, what you should name your blog will become much clearer. A name should be short and creative above all else. If it is too long or unmemorable, it will be difficult to brand your blog with your audience by its name. You simply won’t use it – it won’t stick. Why is a name so important? Just as after so long our names begin to define a part of our personality and how others refer to us, the same is true for your blog. And just as knowing a name has the ability to turn a stranger into a familiar friend, as your readers connect with your blog and remember it by its name it too will become a familiar friend. Spend some time (but not too much) in this area and really give thought to your blog’s name. Choose something that’s meaningful to you and allows you to take ownership of it and then be sure to always refer to your blog by its chosen name!

 Create Blog-Specific Social Media Accounts

Your personal social media accounts are a great starting point for marketing your blog, but after a while your blog will be ready for its own social media accounts and ability to recruit its own network. Facebook and Twitter are great for blogs because you can promote every single post to people who might not yet be subscribers and reach a massive audience. This also allows you a platform for which you can start a discussion, ask for input or seek guest bloggers. The importance in separating your personal social media from your blog’s social media is that this allows your blog’s social media accounts to be solely dedicated to promoting its content and nothing else. You can and should still continue to promote your blog on your personal pages, but ultimately drive this traffic to your blog’s Facebook or Twitter accounts. A final benefit to doing this is that it allows you to design your blog-specific pages with the signature image, color scheme and name and provides additional ways to be found in search engines.

These core steps provide a great start toward branding your blog. With an easily identifiable brand, you will be better equipped to draw in new visitors and build a loyal reader base. The bottom-line of any effective branding is to remain clear and consistent so that your readers can form a relationship. With this relationship, you and your blog will become like a good friend they look forward to hearing from week after week.

~Stephanie

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Filed under Blog Writing Tips, Business Strategy, Marketing, Pictures, Reputation Management, Social Media

Free Photography Websites for Writers

By My Web Writers

It’s tough to tell which images you can use as a writer and which you can’t. Copyright laws make it difficult for many web writers to find images to place with their content, without paying for them.

These sites offer free images:

Freepixels

Freepixels has thousands of images available for download for free. The license agreement is fairly lengthy, but fully explains what expected for the use of each photograph. There tends to be a lot of advertising on this site, especially for other photography sites that charge for the use of their photos.

Stock.xchng

This site has thousands of images available for use in practically way possible. The photos are royalty free, and can be downloaded for use on blogs, websites, flyers, catalogs, and more. This site is also linked to istockphoto.com, so there are a few advertisements and even search results that come from that site, which you must pay for. Still, Stock.xchng has a lot of great photos for free.

Everystockphoto.com

Combining many free photo websites, this site searches multiple places for photos. Each photo may have a different license agreement with it. Some have required attribution, and others have different stipulations. Make sure you follow the agreement for each free photo you use.

 MorgueFile.com

MorgueFile does a nice job of spelling out its user agreement in simple language, without searching through a huge license agreement. What’s different about this site is the ability to filter results by size, date, category, rating, color and even geotag.

Shutterstock.com

Besides being able to search for images on shutterstock.com, it is also divided into categories like animals, graphics, industrial, objects, seasonal and textures.

ImageAfter.com

Image*after definitely has a different look that the sites mentioned above. A lot of the photos tend to be taken by amateurs and have a non-professional look, but with some digging you can find some good-quality photographs to pair with your writing.

Some other sites to consider:

freephotosweb.com

openphoto.net

Photo Rack

Freerangestock.com

Make sure that whatever site you’re on, you read the license agreement and follow its instructions. Some photos require attribution, some require none at all. There are many people out there who don’t take pictures for money, but instead want to see their work shared around the world. Browse these sites and see what you can find that will work for you, and do it for free!

~Natalie

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Filed under Blog Writing Tips, Favorite Websites, Pictures

Instagram Your Customers

By My Web Writers

For a while, only iPhone customers could experience the joys of Instagram. They took photos of life experiences, picked their favorite filter for the photo and then posted it on Instagram for all of their “followers” to see. Average photos turned into interesting photos with fun, unusual finishes with names like Hudson, Sierra, Lo-Fi, Toaster, Nashville and 1977.

Once Facebook bought the popular mobile phone app a few months ago, Droid customers were soon in on the fun, and it exploded as yet another way for businesses to connect with customers. Companies like CNN and Forever 21 got Instagram accounts and began using it to stay with the times and have major impact on customers.

Like Pinterest, Instagram is all about the visual. Sure you can include a brief caption with your posted photo, but the power is in the picture you post. And what makes Instagram unique at this point, is that it’s strictly a mobile phone app. There’s no uploading pictures to Instagram on your computer. It must be done with a mobile device.

Here are some ways you can use Instagram to entertain your customers and keep them interested in your brand or business:

Preview upcoming products/events

Make it known on other social media that only your Instagram followers will get the previews of products or events before they happen. While it’s a good idea to sync your Instagram with other social media like Facebook and Twitter, consider leaving some Instagram posts strictly to your followers on the app. Customers love to be in the know at the earliest time possible, so they should jump at the chance to follow you on Instagram if they’ll have an exclusive on upcoming products and events.

Hold a contest

One way businesses are using Instagram is having customers take pictures of themselves using certain products. Whoever posts the best photos then receives some sort of prize. Like Twitter, Instagram allows the use of hashtags (#) before words or phrases to make it easy to search for specific topics. Pick a hashtag for customers to post with their photo of themselves using your product.

Follow your customers on Instagram

Like all social media, Instagram will be even more successful if you use it as a tool to interact with your customers. Don’t make it all about your business, but instead see what your customers are up to in their lives. “Like” their photos by double tapping them on your mobile screen, or consider leaving a comment on an interesting photo.

Make a game of it

Have fun with Instagram! Take photos of odd things around your business or extreme close-ups and see if customers can guess what it is. Are you a food company with lots of machinery that makes a product? Take fun pictures of the machines and see if people can guess what that particular machine makes. This gives your customers a chance to interact with your Instagram photos and learn a little bit more about your business and how it’s run.

Have fun, and post daily

If you’re going to have an Instagram account for your business, make sure you have the time to commit to it. Don’t post as often as you would Tweet, but posting once or twice a day is certainly acceptable. If you have trouble coming up with photo ideas, contact content experts for help on what to do.

~Natalie

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Filed under Instagram, Pictures, Social Media

Branch Out Content for Social Search & Knowledge Graph

By My Web Writers

Google is closer to owning…er…sharing knowledge.  What a horse race.  Just a week ago, on May 10, Bing social search re-launched real time search with the help of Facebook friends.  Today, May 16, 2012, Google announced Knowledge Graph for desktop, tablet and mobile devices.  What does the information race mean to writers?  To be good at your job, you need to provide depth.  Be prepared to spend more time on the phone, in interviews, and at your computer.

Researching is Easier & Harder

If you sell oak trees, just type in “Oak Trees” at Google to discover a right-side pane of oak tree facts from the database Google has amassed.  While you’ll still find links to credible websites when you search, you’ll be able to skip that extra step to gather the details through the knowledge map.  Pop over to Bing and type in “Oak Trees” to find out which of your friends planted oak trees in their back yards.  Go ahead and ask where they bought those trees and for how much.  Researching is easier than ever.

However, writing the content that fuels research just got harder.  Don’t bother writing skimpy blog posts that whisk through the basics because Google’s knowledge map and your Bing Facebook friends have the basics covered.

Content needs to provide the next five levels of interesting, informative, and revolutionary to turn heads.  Your own research should involve fact sleuthing via personal interviews and onsite reporting to stay cutting edge.  Article links should span several reads and show that you actually digested your sources’ facts and opinions and that you can offer your readers new insights.

Large publishers who can afford extensive coverage will fare well; but, search engines are the big winners.  If you’re a blogger, an affiliate, or a small publisher you need to find ways to stay current, unique, and relevant.

Answer Questions in Your Content

So, small business writer, you have some oak trees to sell.  Now what?  First, brainstorm what you know are the most relevant questions clients will ask.  Not sure what those are?  Look at Google’s “related searches” for help or jump over to LinkedIn or Quora and ask group questions.  You can even tweet or facebook your friends what they think are relevant questions one would want answered before buying oak trees.

Add Pictures

Upload new and eye-catching pictures to capture Google’s eye and Pinterest’s hits.  Social continues to add to search value.  Google’s knowledge pane thrives on relevant pictures.

Google’s Knowledge Pane Loves Pictures

Add Videos

Some people don’t like to read.  Entertain and inform them with videos.  Video is still under-utilized by many companies.  Google, however, knows that videos are key to informing users.

Branch Your Content’s Semantics

Answer those questions with semantically relevant terms.  In the case of oak trees, paragraphs should discuss the planting depth of oak trees, the leaf shapes, the varieties, common parasites, and maybe even legends that involve oak trees.  Show pictures demonstrating the steps to planting oak trees or supporting oak trees with stakes.  Explain how to nurse sick oak trees.  Find videos of kids planting oak trees on Arbor Day or of oak trees that survived tornadoes.  Share recipes involving oak leaves or roots.  Start tweeting and facebooking links to the insights collected on your oak tree company website.  In short, branch out – semantically.

Want to Learn More About Knowledge Map & Social Search?

We appreciate informative, content marketing.  Discover what others are saying.  (Tip.  Provide lists to other resources in your own content.)

Google ReVamps Search with Massive Real-World Map of Things

Google Launches Knowledge Map to Provide Answers, Not Just Links

~Jean

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Filed under Blog Writing Tips, Business Strategy, Pictures, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Social Media

Use Your Writing Gifts to Better the World

by My Web Writers

Beautiful Flowers Outside a Home in Nicaragua

Last month, I traveled to Nicaragua.  What I saw left me in a quandary.

What can writers do to better the world?

My destination was Ameya- a little village lined with shacks along a dirt road near the Western coastal region of Nicaragua.  My church partnered with Food for the Hungry and sent a team of us to lay a foundation for a classroom and to present a VBS for children.

Write About Organizations Like Food for the Hungry

Food for the Hungry believes that the way to empower the poor is NOT to create dependency.  Community members participate in and take ownership of projects.  So, while our church team was sweating, the community was sweating with us.

Write About Inspiring Youth

Washing at the School’s Well

On the first work day, a fourteen-year-old named Jose watched us dig and smooth out dirt from a ditch.  A brimmed hat shaded my face from the equator sun, but sweat still soaked my shirt.

Jose left his buddies to join me and take my shovel.  By the next day, he recruited fellow teenager, Marco, the good-hearted, to join us.  In broken Spanish, I affirmed, “Jose, you’re a leader.”

Jose’s parents abandoned him four years ago and left him with a family friend.  He struggles with a learning disability and, like many diamonds in the rough, a strong will.  During the week, the family friend vented to one of our team members, while Jose listened.  Pointing at the teen, she scowled, “If you want him, you can take him.”  Jose left the room.  His path is not an easy one.  What will be his future?

Write About Global Friendship

Elieser is Jose’s friend.  Hooked to his Ipod, Elieser didn’t understand what his favorite American musician was saying, so he asked me to explain.  Poor kid.

Interpreting was a stretch.  I didn’t understand what the rapper was saying in English, nor could I understand Elieser’s interpretation of the rap dude.  Finally, I was able to come up with a slangy- “How-Yo-doing?” as the English version and “Como estas?” as the simple, Spanish translation.

Elieser’s face fell and I could see him thinking, “how lame.”

Jose laughed and put his arm around Elieser.  He then asked me to take a picture of the two of them.  Taking “fotos” and videos is a big dealie deal.  Villagers didn’t appear to own cameras.  I was smiling as they smiled at me.  Click.

Write About Girl Power

I noticed thirteen-year-old Heydi in the afternoon on the first day of vacation Bible school.  A cell phone was hanging out of the front of her shirt.  How do kids that don’t have running water in their homes gain access to IPods and cell phones?

Heydi befriended me on day two. When I attempted a conversation in Spanish, she was graciously attentive.  I learned that while she’s thirteen or maybe even fourteen (many children don’t have birth certificates), she’s a fifth grader.  Being a year or more behind in school is quite common.

Any child older than age thirteen is not eligible for sponsorship through Food for the Hungry’s child sponsorship program.  We saw many late teen and early twenty-something mothers.  What will become of them?  Most don’t have an education beyond grade school.

I pulled a children’s book, written in both English and Spanish, from my backpack. Heydi and I sat in a pile of construction gravel, while I read to her.  She asked thoughtful questions and we discussed the meanings of various words.  We talked about the importance of pursuing an education and staying away from boys- at least for awhile.

Write About Education

On our last day, the teens were milling around their school.  I asked, “Porque- why?”

Teaching English in the School Courtyard

“The teacher didn’t show up,” was the nonchalant answer, given as though ho-hum- that’s just the way it is.  My friend, Julie, and I offered to teach.  The unanimous response was, “Sure.”  The young teens carried desks to the dirt courtyard and hung a white board from two nails on the tree.  The outdoors is their current center for learning until a classroom is built for this age group.   Fortunately, we had nice weather all week.  When it rains, school is cancelled for older kids.

I used to teach high school and college English in America.  I will never forget this group from Nicaragua.

With no books and spontaneous teachers, they took notes like the world depended on that lesson.  Everything we wrote down they quickly copied to their papers.

Those kids walked a mile along their community’s dirt road to get to school.  They did not begin the day with warm showers.  There were no teachers, administrators, or front office staff taking attendance and following-up with calls to the parents that morning.  Truancy officers weren’t locating those who skipped school.  The special education teacher didn’t work individually with the child on the IEP. What special education teacher?  An I-E- what?

Many teens, like Heydi, are in charge of younger siblings or cousins, while parents work in fields.  Did the children even eat breakfast that morning?

Write About World Truth

Women Cooking in Nicaragua

They battle such deficiencies, but overcome so much with earnestness.  Inspiring!  We have no excuses in developed countries.  Really, we don’t.  Our pioneer past could be compared to the current reality in Nicaragua.

They withstand the elements, but come to life with appreciation.  Their stick, tin, and tarp homes are decorated with colorful flowers hanging from make-shift pots.  Cooking takes place over wood fires in stone stoves, but the meals are hearty.  The lack of stuff- the lack of choice- the lack of pampering seems to have bolstered their desire to learn and to improve their community’s condition.

Write to Inspire a Better World

Upon our team’s return, I was encouraged to hear news from Food for the Hungry that Ameya’s teenagers united on a project.  They approached the land owner’s foreman, who agreed to donate the edge of a field for soccer.  The teenagers gathered to build goal posts and to form a team.  They’re considering playing other communities on the weekends at their new soccer field.  I’m smiling!

Write to Better the World

Flower Pots Decorate a Home in Nicaragua

What can I do?  What can you do?

  • Participate in a missions trip.
  • Unite with other organizations in the communities you target.  (I found an organization in Ameya- Biblioteca Esperanza y Gracia that is raising funds for mobile libraries.)
  • Blog or tweet about opportunities to help widows and orphans.

    Sharing a Laugh in Nicaragua

  • Partner with organizations to bring electricity and Internet connections to remote communities.  Internet access can stimulate economies.

So, do share.  How are you using your gifts to better our world?

~Jean

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Filed under Descriptive Writing, Education Strategy, Pictures, TED Talks, Women Writers, Writing Careers