10 Ways To Use Styled Stock Photos

10 easy way to use styled stock photos for your blog or online business. Tips on using styled stock photos in creative ways to build your brand and market your business. Get access to styled stock photos for female entrepreneurs and bloggers.

Last month I launched the Styled Stock Society and I'm thrilled that so many business owners and bloggers have already joined! I'm seriously just happy that I can share an affordable resource for feminine styled stock photos and help you save time! Since launching the Styled Stock Society, one of the most frequently asked questions I've received is “how can I use these photos” – so today I'm sharing 10 easy ways you can use styled stock photos to enhance your visual brand.

BLOG POST GRAPHICS

If you're not optimizing your blog post images for Pinterest you're missing out on a TON of traffic! Pinterest is my biggest source of referral traffic and I know that having consistent, “pinnable” graphics on my blog has made a huge difference. (Go ahead and pin this blog post to share with your Pinterest followers now!) Using stock photos in your blog post graphics can save you a ton of time and ensure you have high quality visuals that your audience is more likely to share. You can find tons of examples of how Styled Stock Society are using photos to create pin-worthy graphics over on our community Pinterest board! 

WEBSITE / BLOG HEADERS

Full disclosure – when it comes to headers or any primary brand images on your website or blog, I recommend using custom stock photos to ensure your brand is unique to you. BUT I know not everyone has the resources to take or hire someone for custom branded photos, so stock photos are an affordable way to have a polished online presence. If you're using styled stock photos for your website / blog / Etsy shop header / etc. make sure you're adding custom elements like your brand fonts and colors so that the image still looks specific to your brand!

GET FREE STOCK PHOTOS IN YOUR INBOX EACH MONTH

SOCIAL MEDIA HEADER GRAPHICS

Facebook and Twitter both allow for custom header images that you should take advantage of to build your brand and attract your target audience. Since these spaces are fairly large, having high resolution images is key – so if you aren't using your own photos, styled stock images can be an easy way to create beautiful headers.

You can see examples of how I've used stock photos on my Twitter and Facebook profile pages!

SOCIAL MEDIA POST GRAPHICS

When you're constantly posting on social media all day every day, it can definitely be a lot of work (or a lot of $$$) to have social media post graphics ready to go! But keep in mind – visual content is 40x more likely to get share on social media than other types of content, Facebook posts with images get 2.3x more engagement than those without images, and Twitter posts with images receive 150% more retweets than those without images (sources). Stock photos are great for those days when you need filler content for Instagram or images for Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Using stock photos in your blog post graphics can save you a ton of time and ensure you have high quality visuals that your audience is more likely to share.Click To Tweet

EMAIL HEADERS / NEWSLETTER GRAPHICS

You can also use styled stock photos in your emails if you send a regular newsletter to your subscribers (if you don't do this already, you should). They can add visual interest to email header graphics or specific calls to action, and you can even make them part of your email templates to create a branded effect.

CONTENT UPGRADES / WORKSHEETS/ PDF DOWNLOADS

If you're looking to jazz up your content upgrades, worksheets, or any sort of opt-in PDF download, adding stock photos is an easy way to make your downloads more visually appealing. Just make sure that if you're using styled stock photos in your downloads they are overlaid with text or other elements so the images cannot be extracted.

SALES PAGES

Great sales pages have great visuals (are you noticing a trend here?!), and styled stock photos can be an affordable way to jazz up your sales pages for programs, courses, ebooks, etc. Stock photo “mockups” with your branded content are a particularly great way to give your potential clients a peek at whatever you're selling, but you can also use stock photos to separate blocks of text or highlight certain elements on your sales page.

COURSE SLIDES / WORKBOOKS

When you're creating and selling online courses, you can also use styled stock photos in your course slides or workbooks to make them a little prettier. Just don't forget to check the terms of use of any stock photos you are using to make sure you can use them for commercial purposes if you're going to use them as part of paid products!

PROMOTIONAL GRAPHICS

Finally, you can also use styled stock photos for promotional graphics – so if you're advertising a sale, a webinar, a special event, or any other promotion, you can use styled stock photos to visually enhance your promotional text or as background images.

ADS

If you're running online ads to get more eyes on those sales pages (or any opt-ins), you'll need high quality images as well. You can use styled stock photos for your Facebook ads or other advertising to attract potential customers / clients to your site! Eye-catching graphics can make the difference in someone clicking through on an advertisement (or not), so don't underestimate the power of visual content when it comes to marketing your brand.

JOIN THE STYLED STOCK SOCIETY

These are just 10 ways you can use styled stock photos for your blog or business – but there are definitely other possibilities. If you're looking for feminine styled stock photos, don't forget – membership in the Styled Stock Society is less than $30/month and you can save even more by purchasing an annual or lifetime membership! Find out more about the Styled Stock Society >> right this way!

P.S. – You can also get on my VIP list for free styled stock photos every month. Join below! 

GET FREE STOCK PHOTOS IN YOUR INBOX EACH MONTH

How Instagram Insights Compares To Iconosquare Analytics

How Instagram Insights new analytics tools compare to Iconosquare analytics. A comparison of Instagram analytics tools, how they can help you grow an engaged Instagram following, and whether or not investing in analytics tools makes sense.

Earlier this week I was pleasantly surprised to see a popup notification after I updated to latest version of Instagram letting me know that Instagram analytics have arrived! Instagram announced last month that their “Instagram Insights” analytics information as well as other other business tools would be rolling out, but after a quick google search and asking around in various social media communities, I found very little concrete information around the who/when/whys of the tools are rolling out other than “business profiles, insights and the ability to promote will be rolling out in the US, Australia and New Zealand in the coming months, and will be available in all regions globally by the end of the year.”

I might of done a little happy dance when I realized I had access to Instagram Insights – if you don't already know, I'm a HUGE data nerd and am excited to see analytics information directly within the Instagram app! I currently use and recommend the paid service Iconosquare for Instagram analytics (Squarelovin is similar + free), though Iconosquare just announced their “PLUS” level membership (the lowest tier) is going up from $28.80/year to $49.00/year starting July 11, 2016, so I thought this would be a good time to evaluate whether or not it makes sense to continue to pay for analytics information when Instagram itself is now providing it for free.

INSTAGRAM INSIGHTS

If you haven't seen the new Instagram Insights, it is similar to the analytics for Facebook pages in that it gives you data on your followers and your Instagram posts. This type of information is sooo valuable in determining if you're actually reaching your target audience and the types of content that are resonating with your audience.

Mochi Instagram Dog Profile

To access Instagram Insights, there is a bar chart icon next to the settings icon at the top of your Instagram profile. If you don't see this yet, then the analytics haven't rolled out to you yet – your Instagram account may need to be associated with a Facebook account for Insights to work (I had to confirm my Facebook Information to access Instagram Insights the first time) so if you haven't connected it already, you may want to do that now!

Instagram Insights: Impressions, Reach, and Engagement

The first section you see tells you your number of post “impressions” for the week (number of times all of your posts have been seen) and if you swipe left, you'll see your “reach” for the week (number of unique accounts that have seen any of your posts). These numbers are interesting because (to my knowledge) Iconosquare and other analytics tools I've used in the past have only tracked likes / engagement / growth but haven't been able to provide insight as to how many people are actually seeing your posts. On a weekly level, the numbers don't mean a ton to me, but on a per post level this is really helpful information!

Instagram post insights for @mochiandthecity Instagram celebrity dog

Looking at my Instagram posts from the last week, I can see the post specific impressions / reach / engagement by clicking on the “View Insights” tab below each photo. It's interesting to see engagement in relation to reach because to me, this is more indicative of audience preferences than looking at engagement in relation to overall followers. With that said, I'd love to see percentages in addition to raw numbers! #hinthint

Unfortunately, Insights are not available for historic posts beyond the last week (I'm guessing this is the last 7 days from whenever you get access to Insights), but moving forward this will be less relevant as you'll be able to see up to 2 years of analytics.

It's interesting to see engagement in relation to reach because to me, this is more indicative of audience preferences than looking at engagement in relation to overall followers.Click To Tweet

Instagram Insights: Top Posts

Instagram Insights Top Posts for @mochiandthecity

Going back to the main Instagram Insights area, you can see a “Top Posts” section that you can sort by type of post (all posts / photos  videos), by time period (7 days / 30 days / 3 months / 6 months / 1 year / 2 years), and filter by impressions / reach / engagement / likes / comments). This is an easy way to get a sense of what types of content your audience is engaging with so you can do more of what's working (and less of what's not).

Instagram Insights: Followers

Instagram Insights for @mochiandthecity Instagram dog

Possibly the most exciting part of the Instagram Insights information is the follower demographic analytics. You can see the breakdown of your followers by gender, by age, and by location. You can also further breakdown the age ranges for either male or female followers. I'd love to be able to see more specific numbers rather than just %s or ranges, but it's still great data to have in terms of knowing if you are attracting the right people. Mochi's target audience includes female millenials so seeing 84% women and the largest demographic segment from 18-34 is a good sign!

Instagram Insights Location analytics

For location, you can view followers by city or country – I think this would be particularly helpful for any one with a local business or local target audience, but it's also helpful in determining which time zones the majority of your followers are in so you can post accordingly. There's also an hourly breakdown showing when your followers are active (it's no surprise Mochi's audience is less active between 1am – 7am ET since the majority are in the U.S. and specifically in NYC) – and which days of the week your followers are more/less active (in Mochi's case, it doesn't really matter). 

This level of demographic information is unique to Instagram Insights vs. other Instagram analytics tools (which makes sense since Facebook owns Instagram), and combined with the other analytics information like reach / engagement, this is definitely a helpful in knowing how to position your best content in front of the right audience at the right time.

HOW INSTAGRAM INSIGHTS COMPARES TO ICONOSQUARE ANALYTICS

While Instagram Insights provides a lot of great information, there are still a number of ways that Iconosquare sets itself apart. In particular:

  • Custom time periods – The ability to sort by custom time periods is extremely valuable for evaluating campaigns whether you're looking at top posts/ engagement over time / follower growth or other stats.
  • Follower growth over time + gain/loss – Iconosquare provides more information about account growth over time both in numbers and in graph form. It also shows daily gain / loss information as well as specifically which followers followed / unfollowed so you have additional insights.
  • Community details – I don't pay a lot of attention to who's following back / who's not, but if you're looking for more account specific detail regarding your followers, Iconosquare is a more helpful tool.
  • Engagement as a percentage – While it's nice to have the impressions / reach information from Instagram Insights, I'd really love the see engagement as a percentage instead of just the total number of likes / comments.
  • Change from week to week or month to month as a percentage – Tracking growth or engagement from one time period to the next is something I look at pretty often, and there's no way to really do that with Instagram Insights.
  • Daily reporting – I really like getting a daily report (by email) from Iconosquare showing a quick overview of the previous day's activities. Instagram currently doesn't have it's own reporting tools beyond what you see in the app (and to my knowledge that's not something they have planned to roll out in the coming months).

OVERALL THOUGHTS

For the average Instagram business user, Instagram Insights are simple (free!) way to get key analytics that can help you grow an engaged Instagram followingYou probably don't “need” additional analytics – and for the initial release of it's business tools – I think Instagram has done a great job at providing the most valuable information in an easy to access manner. I'm interested to see if / when / how they update the Instagram Insights capabilities as they roll out additional features like business profiles and in app advertising capabilities.

With that said, I'll probably continue to pay for Iconosquare (at least for Mochi's account), because I like the more detailed analytics and daily reporting feature. To me, these things are worth the $4/month Iconosquare fee, but if you're just looking for straightforward analytics, Instagram Insights might be your new BFF.

If you have access to Instagram Insights already, I'd love to hear your thoughts! 

Instagram Resource Guide for shooting, editing, scheduling photos

What I learned from 4 launches in 3 months

What I Learned from Four Launches in Three Months - Launching Courses + Subscriptions

 

Some of y'all may know that in March I started to shift my business from primarily client-based work to incorporating online courses and other more “passive” forms of income. I kinda hate the term passive income because (in my experience) A LOT of work goes into creating / marketing digital products, but it is pretty damn cool to literally make money while I'm sleeping. With that said, I still enjoy one-on-one client work and am (currently) not trying to replace it completely with other income streams. I've been getting a lot of questions about launching, so I thought I'd share a few lessons I've learned from launching 3 online courses + 1 membership during the past few months!

Fail Fast + Get Better

I'm somewhat of a chronic over-planner, but for some reason this hasn't translated to my business – and I'm thankful for that. Instead of spending months planning + agonizing over every aspect of my launch plans, I can go from idea to live sales page in less than a week. I set a “minimum goal” for pre-sales and once I hit that, I create + launch within 2-3 weeks. My first launch wasn't perfect. My second launch wasn't perfect. There's always something to improve or try differently the next time and I don't really think there's such a thing as a “perfect” launch.

My “plan” for the last 3 months was essentially, fail fast + learn + tweak + repeat. I actually closed the cart on my first launch + opened the pre-sale for my second launch exactly 12 hours later. I wouldn't recommend that timeline to anyone else (take a freakin' break y'all!), but if you've been planning your launch for awhile and haven't just DONE it already – make it happen. I wouldn't consider any of my launches actual failures – I hit my minimum sales goals every time, and I hit my target sales goals most of the time. I still haven't hit my “stretch goals” for any of my launches, but I'm continuing to grow my email list, try new strategies, and tweak my sales funnels.

Key takeaway: Assuming you have an audience (even a small one) – create an MVP and put it out there. You can always make it better, but you'll never know unless you just do it.  

The More Specific The Better

I talked about how finding a niche made SUCH A DIFFERENCE in my first launch vs. my second launch in this post. And a couple of launches later, I still feel the same way. As long as you can find your audience and validate your idea, I think the more specific it is, the better.

It's a little weird because you'd think a general course on something like “Photoshop for bloggers” would attract more people than something really specific like “Photoshop for nomadic food bloggers in Europe” – but in that example, I'd bet most of the nomadic food bloggers in Europe get excited about the course because it's REALLY specific to them. If you create a generic product or service, you're probably going to have a lot of competition. And if you can stand out, that's great – but it's much easier to stand out when you're doing something that no one else is doing in a particular niche! 

Key takeaway: If your idea is so specific that it makes you a little uncomfortable, that's probably a good thing.

There's A Good Reason I'm My Own Boss

I'm kind of a control freak. I prefer being in charge of (most) things because I know I'm picky about the way they get done. So it's probably no surprise I was never big into team sports (I was a competitive swimmer) or group projects (my “less-motivated” friends loved being on my team for group projects because they knew I would do all the work and just put their names on it).

When it comes to launching, I like to get a LOT done in a short amount of time. My schedule is a bit manic and I wouldn't impose it on anyone else. It wouldn't be fair. While I'm not great at delegating, I'm working on it. I love my VA but we basically just check in once a month so it's not like we're actively communicating all the time. And my solo webinars have all been more profitable than my joint webinars. It's not that I can't play well with others, but I'm just more comfortable working on my on terms. And that's ok.

Key takeaway: The “best” way to launch something is the way that works for you.

There's always something to improve or try differently the next time and I don't really think there's such a thing as a “perfect” launch.Click To Tweet

FOMO Is A Big Motivator

I've done both open/close cart launches and evergreen launches. I've experimented with price increases, bonuses, upsells, downsells, bundles, etc. but urgency has been the biggest motivator for generating sales. Meaning EVERY time I send an email about an offer ending soon, I get sales. FOMO is real y'all. People don't like to miss out.

Limited time offers are your friend, but that doesn't mean you constantly have to have “sales” or discount your products / services – on the flip side, you can always give MORE value for a limited time by offering a bonus.

Key takeaway: Wish you were getting more sales right NOW? Launch a time sensitive offer.

It's Easier To Sell To Your Existing Audience Than To Find A New One

There are a lot of articles (and a few well-known courses) out there that will tell you that you don't have to grow your audience before you launch, because you can launch with a small audience and/or grow your audience while you plan your launch. I agree to an extent (you gotta start somewhere) BUT, from my experience it's easier to create something that your existing audience already wants, rather than find a new audience to buy the thing you want to create. For my first course – I chose my course idea before I had a targeted audience (don't do this). Even though I had over 1,000 people on my email list when I launched, but only about 300 were really interested in the course. I felt like I had to spend a lot of time trying to convince people WHY they would benefit from it, and in the end it didn't convert as well as well as I wanted.

For my most recent launch – I had quadrupled the size of my email list, and I also realized that I had over 1,000 people interested in a specific product, so I created a membership based on something that I already knew people wanted. I didn't need to convince people it was good idea, because they already wanted what I was selling. It was a much easier (and more profitable) launch. 

Key takeaway: Give your audience want they want, not what you think they need.

List Building + Nurturing Is Sooo Important (So Important)

Speaking of email lists, it's worth repeating that while you can launch with a small audience (especially if they are SUPER engaged), list building is soooo important if you want to sell digital products and especially if you want to sell evergreen products. If you want to sell (and keep selling), you need to keep growing your list + converting more subscribers into customers. So if your list growth is stagnant, it taps out. BUT a bigger list isn't necessarily better IF it's not targeted. Meaning if 2,500 people opt in to your email list because you gave away free stock photos, and then you try to sell them a ecourse on Facebook ads – its probably not going to convert very well. So make sure your opt-ins relate to your paid products (or services)!

Key takeaway: Focus on growing your email list if you want passive income! 

What's Next

So those are a few of the key things I've learned from 4 launches in 3 months – though there could easily be a part 2 of this post with even more of the technical lessons I learned from launching (comment if that's something you'd want to see)! Now that the year is halfway over, I've been re-assessing where my business is and where I want it to be at the end of 2016 so I can plan for the next few months. Even though I keep track of things month-to-month, it's been helpful to take a step back and look at my overall goals for the year.

If you've launched digital products, can you relate to any of these lessons? And if you're thinking about launching – what questions do you have?!