Posts Tagged "media"

Using Pictures to Enhance Your Website

Setting up a new website can be challenging, and one of the most common sticking points is the issue of visuals. A web space needs to be visually appealing in order to grab and hold a customer’s attention. Photographs enhance your site in many different ways, making them an ‘extra’ which no serious site can afford to be without. At our recommended hosts, you’ll find many examples of how visuals can make or break a site.

Connecting with Customers

Creating a personal connection through the internet can be a challenge. This is especially troublesome for small businesses, since many customers are wary of making a purchase from a virtually unknown seller. Although photographs can’t tell customers everything about you or your business, they can have a tremendous impact on consumer trust. Seeing the owner of a shop creates an immediate connection—you’re no longer just another faceless web space among millions. Showcasing yourself or your staff at work is even more powerful, as it lets consumers know that you stand behind the product or service you’re selling. The ‘fun factor’ is a nice bonus as well; people love seeing how things are made and created.

Regardless of the type of website you run, you can find a way to incorporate pictures. If your services are not traditionally photogenic, get creative. A shot of a harried, caffeine-fueled techno-genius hard at work over a keyboard will connect with consumers just as effectively as a lavish shot of a haute couture wedding cake.

Showcase What You Do

Remember that a photograph doesn’t have to include a person in order to be an effective marketing tool. A photo of you and your staff (if applicable) should be somewhere on your site—but feel free to incorporate shots of anything which makes your business tick. If you own a small restaurant, take some candid photos of the building itself. Capture a remodeling project as it happens. Bring your camera to the farmer’s market and score some pictures of the delicious produce you hand-select each morning. These ideas can be customized to fit virtually any type of website.

The People Behind the Service

Web-only services often fall prey to the boring web space trap. After all, they don’t have a storefront, a product, or any real-world items to showcase. However, this is always a mistake. A boring website, at best, tells consumers that you put very little effort into capturing their attention. At worst, it may make them think that you’re running a less-than-reputable business. Fight these negative assumptions by showcasing the people behind your service. Consider posting a staff photo and bio section, allowing consumers to see the real people behind the virtual service. You might include some shots of your workplace, even if it’s just a few cubicles or a cluttered home desk. Anything which lets a consumer connect with you is good for your bottom line.

Your Photos vs. Stock Photos

Stock photos are those available through retailers and wholesalers such as Shutterstock. These images are typically of very high quality, but they can quickly add up and become quite expensive. Thankfully, for most small businesses, stock photos are not necessary. In fact, they can actually be a hindrance to creating a personal consumer connection. So what if the stock-photo woman sitting at a cubicle is a bit better dressed than your employees? Your customers want to see the people behind the service, which stock photos simply can’t deliver.

The Bottom Line

In today’s world, no web space can be without some high-quality, personal photos. Remember that there’s no reason for perfection—customers just want their interest piqued, their curiosity satisfied and a personal connection created. You can probably do this with just your smartphone and a few filters—so get going! Your bottom line will thank you.

Finding Photos and Music for Your Website

Visual Appeal Without Heavy Fines

Let’s imagine for a moment that your web space is dedicated to attracting customers to your cozy bed-and-breakfast, nestled in the north woods. You want a beautiful photo for your landing page which conveys the beauty of the area, so you hop on over to Google Images and type in ‘pine forest.’

Gorgeous! You spot the shot you want—only to find that it’s actually a copyrighted image, being sold on Etsy by a small business owner just like yourself. Sigh.

Using that image could land you in a great deal of trouble over copyright infringement—so don’t even think about it. Instead, use one of the legal methods for obtaining great photos. You’ll end up with some great visuals for your web space, and you won’t end up having nightmares about impending court cases.

Your first and most obvious option is to take your own photographs. This isn’t as far-fetched as it may sound—chances are good that your phone, coupled with a free photo-editing software package—can turn out photos which rival any you’ll find online. Try it out and see what you can come up with.

Another option is royalty-free photography. These are photographs which can be purchased for a one-time fee, without having to pay royalties to the photographer. You may be required to cite the source of the photo. In some cases, photos are free to use without citing—in non-profit scenarios. Read the fine print very carefully.

Public domain photos are your safest bet, aside from photos you take yourself. These photos are in the public domain, which generally means that they can be used by anybody, anytime, for any purpose—including commercial use. As always, read the fine print. If your web space happens to have an old-timey feel to it, you may just have hit the jackpot, as vintage and retro photos and graphics are the most plentiful type of public domain images.

Finding Music

While free music is a bit tougher to secure than free images, it can still be done. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that by re-mixing a popular song, you’ve created your very own original piece. Instead, seek out actual artists.

Your easiest option is to visit a stock music site. Sites such as AudioJungle feature loads of low-cost stock music which won’t get you tangled up in copyright law.

Another option is to search YouTube. There are tons of artists out there, placing their music online with the hope that somebody will discover it, enjoy it, and want to use or purchase it. Many of these artists will be happy to either sell you the rights to feature their work, or barter for their music via gift cards, discounts or even profit-sharing opportunities.

Stock Photos

Stock images are popular choice of many large websites, although they don’t always make sense for small business owners and bloggers. Stock images are images owned by a company—Shutterstock is perhaps the most well-known—and then purchased by individuals or companies for use in their web and print advertising. These images are of the highest quality, making them very attractive—but they come at a price.

If you simply can’t find—or take—a shot which captures the essence of your web space, stock photos aren’t a bad idea. Simply keep cost in mind, and only purchase those shots which you’ve already tried, and failed, to obtain at a lower cost. If you purchase pictures, you may need to cut costs in other areas. For professional appearance on a budget, check out our best low-cost packages and get started today!