Beware of Google Images: The Ultimate Guide to Finding Free Images Online

free images for blogsImages are everywhere online. But, do you ever think about where they came from or whether you’re even allowed to use them on your blog?

Many people assume the images they find online are free to use on their blog, social media updates and even print materials. I made the same mistake when I started working with local businesses.

After all, using images for your blog posts is a great way to increase reader engagement. Tweet it! The right picture quickly orients your readers to your topic, jump starts social sharing and even helps break up long blocks of text.

But, finding the right image can be a challenge. Sites like Twitter, Instagram and even Google Image Search provide an endless stream of seemingly “free” images.
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CEI 039: Gamification Elements for Your Blog or Business

gamification Andrzej MarczewskiToday, Megan interviews Andrzej Marczewski, author of Gamification, & a Bit More, on how to include game elements in your business or on your blog to increase your audience size and engagement.

Gamification is, quite simply, the practice of include game-like elements in tasks that are not games. Our recent Online Scavenger Hunt is a great example of how gamification can be used in your business.

Listen in to this week’s episode all about gamification – what it is, how to recognize it when you see it online, how it works, and how you can apply elements of gamification to your business or blog.

Podcast Run time: 18 min 45 seconds

Click here to download the transcript.

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7 Tips to Create Killer Email Newsletter Campaigns That Convert

Email marketing campaignsHave you ever found yourself racking your brain for hours, trying to come up with ideas and topics for your email marketing campaigns?

If you have, you are definitely not alone.

As an entrepreneur and marketer, one of the most challenging problems I constantly face is figuring out what content I should send to my email subscribers to keep them engaged and coming back for more.

When it comes to email, content marketing is definitely the name of the game. So much so that companies with less than 10 employees are spending 42% of their marketing budget to produce content to increase brand visibility and attract new customers.

Email Content Marketing Works

This may be attributed to the fact that content marketing via email is very effective. It continuously produces measurable results, not just in terms of sales but also engagement, which is a crucial component for building relationships and inspiring trust with your readers.

Just take a look at some of these content marketing statistics from the past years:
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How to Turn Down Clients Without Alienating Them

business growthNew businesses will often take on every single client or customer they can attract.

If you’re still building your customer base, enhancing your reputation, improving the quality of your services or products, acquiring customer testimonials and developing a ground-swell of word-of-mouth support, then you’ll likely be exceedingly grateful for – and accept – every client walking in the door.

That won’t always be the case.

Over time, Tweet it! as you become more successful, you’ll get to a point where you’ll be able to (or may even need to) turn work down .

The very first time this happens to you, relax and enjoy the ride!  Rest assured, this is an extremely high class growth problem to address in your business.

One of the reasons this is such a coveted moment is that it’s usually time to start pricing smartly!
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Late Snows and The Best of the Web

Best of the WebThree feet of snow is only a bit unusual for April in Montreal. But we think it’s going to melt! ;-)

April is here and it’s going to be another busy month for Firepole Marketing. We’re looking forward to onboarding a new wave of students into our Audience Business Masterclass training program, and we’re excited to work with them to launch and grow their businesses.

But, we’re not *too* busy. We remembered to bring you our monthly Best of the Web!

This month, we didn’t hold back! We share some posts about: the length of your blog posts; improving webpage design; product launches that sell more; Facebook ads; growing your business; and more.

Take your time and dive in. You’ll gain some great knowledge out of it.
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4 Offers You Actually Can’t Refuse

Image source

There are natural substances inside every single human being that drive us to action. Image Source

These substances are chemicals, produced by our bodies in reaction to stimuli. Activate one of these chemicals, and you truly have an offer no one can refuse.

Simon Senek is a pioneer in understanding these chemicals and using them effectively.

According to Senek, these are the 4 most powerful chemicals.

Endorphins: The Exercise Chemical

Endorphins are released when we do physical activity. They are the reason “runner’s high” exists. Endorphins also mask physical pain. When you are pushing yourself further than you’ve ever gone before, endorphins are released so you feel good.

Toyota’s most recent ad campaign stimulates endorphins by placing ordinary people in “boring” old Toyota car models with a professional race car driver. The driver whips the car around tight turns on a race track to the delight of his passengers. Toyota is showing that their cars are exciting and push the limits of what’s possible. Just the idea of being edgy in a Toyota is enough to produce endorphins.

Chevy decided to one-up Toyota by creating a series of ads where their Sonic model cars go bungee jumping, sky diving, and one even does a kick-flip over a giant skateboard. The Sonic is a car built for young professionals who crave excitement, and Chevy needed to appeal to that. Watch the video below and see how you feel after watching it. If you start to sweat a little and get excited, Chevy did their job and induced endorphins.
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CEI 038: Engagement and Vulnerability

building business relationshipsJoin us for this frank conversation about vulnerability: what it is, why it’s scary, and why we do it anyway.

Danny certainly didn’t set out to build a business about authenticity, vulnerability, and online marketing. But as our regular listeners know, Firepole Marketing has developed a reputation for all three!

Listen in to this week’s episode to learn why authenticity and vulnerability are so important to your business, and how to practice them even when common sense is tell you not to.

Click here to download the transcript.

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How to Effortlessly Find The Voice That Engages Your Audience

Find Your Voice - Firepole Marketing“I’ve only know you for a few hours and already I’m hooked.”

 “I stumbled across your site, 4 hours have passed by, and I’m STILL reading! I can’t get enough!”

 “Where have you beeeennnn my whole life?”

 Let me guess – 3 things nobody has ever said to you?

You know you’ve got to find your niche. You know your copy has to resonate with your audience to get any attention. You also know that to stand out in the over-populated, highly saturated world of online biz, you have to have a unique voice.

Tweet it! How do I make my voice sound like me? And appeal to my ideal client? And make it interesting? And engaging?

That’s a lot of pressure for one person to write in a unique way. But thankfully, given the hundreds of examples of businesses that do just this, it is achievable.

Let’s get started.
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A Fiction Author’s Dilemma: What Should You Blog About?

blog topic ideasYou’ve been toying with the idea of putting up a blog.

Your engagement with your subscribers over e-mail is great. You’re already seeking resources on where to get themes and hosting for your potential blog.

But there’s something that’s stopping you.

You don’t know what you should blog about.

And you know it’s awful. You can think of countless story ideas and write about them, but when it comes to blog topic ideas, you’re all out of creative juice.

It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way

You know your characters and your stories all too well. Your readers love and devour your stories, so clearly writing isn’t the problem.

And it isn’t motivation, either. You already have a compelling reason to blog: to introduce your writing to new readers and promote your stories.

Tweet it! Trouble finding blog topic ideas to promote your writing shouldn’t stop you from starting a blog.

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Ask the Readers: What is the Value of Online Contests?

online contestsContests are widely regarded as really good ways to increase your online engagement.

They come in all shapes and sizes – from the massively detailed and logistically challenging Great Online Marketing Scavenger Hunts – to the quick and dirty book giveaways and random draws you so often see around the blogosphere.

Likewise, there are all sorts of reasons that you may want to run a contest, from increasing social media engagement to teaching new skills and a whole world of options in between.

Now, some online contests perform better than others, and measuring that performance means knowing what your goals are and how much time and energy you’re willing to commit!

If you’re looking for a quick bump in your blog post engagement – then a simple giveaway can be very effective.

Social media not giving you what you want? Facebook contests, Twitter contests, and Pin it to Win it contests have been around almost as long as their respective social media homes.

Traffic down? A guest posting or other content-centered contest is a great way to see your numbers jump up.

At Firepole, we run at least two online contests a year – the annual guest posting contest in January, and the Great Online Marketing Scavenger Hunt in March – and we always find these to be great ways to deliver value to our audience. Less frequent for us is the one-off contest, where we have something to give away to a lucky commenter – although we have used that technique in the past, like when we were re-launching our podcast.

Whatever type of contest you run, it’s important to have clear goals about what you’re hoping to achieve, and the metrics to see whether or not you reached those goals – whether it’s comment counts, social media shares or backlinks.

And so this month’s ask the readers is about contests.

Do you participate in online contests? Why or why not?

If you’re a blogger yourself – do you run contests? What works best for YOUR audience?