Spice up your blog with free or low-cost photos

A photo can make the difference between whether someone reads—or skips—your financial blog post.

Here are some free or low-cost sources for photos you can use in your blog and elsewhere.

  1. FreeDigitalPhotos.net
  2. stock.xchng
  3. Wikimedia Commons, which I discussed in “When your blog demands a photo of a public figure
  4. Compfight
  5. Flickr’s Creative Commons licensed content
  6. morgueFile
  7. RGBStock.com
  8. Pexels.com
  9. Pixabay.com

Make sure you carefully read—and abide by—the licensing agreements for each photo. Photos on the same website may have different requirements. I like FreeDigitalPhotos.net’s clear explanation of how its photos should be credited. If you’re using photos on your blog, you may need photos that are approved for commercial use.

I learned about some of these sources from @LawWriting,@ErikSherman, and my fellow writers at Freelance Success. Thanks, friends!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy “When your blog demands a photo of a public figure.”

Note: This post was updated on May 29, 2013, and April 23, 2017. 

How I’ve benefited from Twitter

“Has being active in social media helped you grow your business?”

This question from a wealth manager set me thinking. Most of my new business still comes through old-fashioned referrals from people whom I’ve met face-to-face. But that’s changing thanks to social media, especially Twitter. There’s no doubt that my Twitter has helped my business. I see three main benefits.

#1 Bigger network of experts
When I’ve got a problem to solve, I can now call on a much bigger network of experts for help. This has been especially helpful with my technology challenges, where @RussThornton, @BillWinterberg, @RussellDunkin, @Blano, and @KristenLuke have been particularly helpful. This is just a sampling of my expert sources. There are many, many other experts on Twitter whom I’ve learned from.

#2 Bigger pool of prospective clients
Twitter has expanded my newsletter circulation, which is an important source of new clients. For example, most of my teleclass students have been newsletter subscribers for awhile. I’ve consistently gained more new subscribers post-Twitter than pre-Twitter.

One of my favorite clients found me through Twitter, got to know me better through my newsletter, and then became a client.

# 3 Convenient way to network and socialize
Twitter keeps me from feeling isolated as a solo entrepreneur. It also suits my style. I can hop off a work project for 10 minutes, read and chat with some folks, and then settle back to work. I don’t need to spend an hour schlepping into Boston on the commuter rail and then an hour coming back.

Feeling happier from brief spurts of socializing help me to focus better when I’m doing actual work.

There are other benefits, too. But these three are enough to keep me tweeting.
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Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

What students say about “How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read”

The investment and wealth managers who’ve taken my writing class, “How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read,” have enjoyed it. Here’s a sampling of what my students have said on their evaluation forms and in phone calls with me.

*  What was valuable for me was the structure. The handouts, the thesis statement, the rules.

*  Your class delivered exactly what it promised.

*  The best part for me was having my work edited and critiqued by a professional.

*  Susan is onto something unique. There’s no one else doing exactly what she does.

*  The class is great! I’m really getting a huge amount of value — there really is a process to writing.

*  Any advisor who’s serious about blogging should take this class.

*  Susan’s coaching is a classic case of “under-promise, over-deliver.” I highly recommend her as a writing coach or teacher. Her coaching has improved the quality of writing in my blog posts. My writing skills were very rusty when we started. Susan’s practical, insightful suggestions–along with her Blog Post Preparation Worksheet–have been an incredibly valuable resource.

*  I have Susan’s checklist out on my desk to help me review my blog posts.

*  You really helped me with how to organize my thoughts before writing.

* I liked how you gave us outside-the-box ideas.

* You really helped me by saying that not everyone can immediately write everything down right

*  I would sign up for another class with you. Have you thought about offering a class about writing emails?

Register for How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read: A 5-Week Writing Teleclass for Financial Advisors in Once-a-week telephone conference call for 5 weeks, April 22-May 20  on Eventbrite

I’d like to thank the great students who made teaching this class such a pleasure!

This post was updated on April 25, 2010, and June 10, 2011.

Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Which blogging platform should I use?

If you’re not yet blogging, you’re probably wondering which blogging platform to use.

WordPress seems the most popular. If I were starting my blog today, I’d probably go with WordPress rather than Blogger. I’m no expert on blogging platforms, so you’ll find below some opinions from folks who know more than me.

Technology specialist Bill Winterberg told me via Twitter that he prefers WordPress “because if you need new functions, there’s likely a plugin available. Support and forums are comprehensive, too.” Speaking of plugins, Bill told me about Akismet, a spam-blocking plug-in that’s available for WordPress, but not Blogger. By the way, as I understand it, a plug-in is software that expands the capabilities of a larger piece of software–but don’t quote me on that.

The Tech for Luddites blog, written by my friend Elizabeth Kricfalusi, compares Blogger vs. TypePad vs. WordPress in “Picking a Platform for Your Blog.” She also favors WordPress. If you’re a non-technical person with computer questions, you may enjoy her blog, with its motto, “Increase Proficiency. Decrease Profanity.” 

For a blogging platform comparison from another source, check out the “Blogger vs. WordPress Comparison Table 2010.”

WordPress was also the choice of the financial advisors who took my recent class on “How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read” (next session starts April 22).
I’d be happy to get comments on this post from those of you who are more knowledgeable about blogging platforms.
Sign up for  “How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read: A Five-Week Teleclass for Financial Advisors starting April 22 or join the list for my free monthly newsletter.
Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Poll: Would you hire a ghost blogger for your company?

Investment and wealth managers have great skills. But writing isn’t necessarily one of them. So what’s a financial professional to do now that blogging is an important part of marketing?

Some companies hire ghostwriters to write their blog posts for them. Ghostblogging can encompass everything from coming up with the ideas, doing the research, writing, formatting posts, and even responding to comments in the voice of the company. Or it can involve a much bigger contribution from the client whose name goes on the post.

Critics say that hiring a ghostblogger is bad. In “The Ghost Speaks,” writer Michael Janofsky quotes communications consultant Shel Holtz, “I’m a huge fan of transparency. My advice to executives is: If you don’t take the time to write yourself, find another channel of communication.”

What do YOU think? Please answer the poll that will run in the  right-hand column of this blog until I replace it with next month’s poll. I’ll report on the results in my May e-newsletter.
Sign up for the next session of “How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read: A Five-Week Teleclass for Financial Advisors” starting April 22 or join the mailing list for my free monthly newsletter.
Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

The compliance-constrained financial advisor’s guide to using LinkedIn: Part I

“I’ll connect on LinkedIn if my clients ask me, but I don’t see the value of LinkedIn because my compliance officer won’t let me do anything.”

If this is how you feel about LinkedIn, this article is for you.

Even if you can’t post more than your name and company affiliation, you can benefit from LinkedIn in two big ways. First, your listing makes you more easily located in an Internet search. That’s the focus of this article. In Part II of this article, I will address more active, yet compliance-friendly, strategies you can apply.

It’s easier for clients, prospects, and referral sources to find you
You want clients, prospects, and referral sources to find good information when they Google your name.  LinkedIn profiles tend to rank high in such searches. 
Just make sure you’ve made your profile public by clicking on “Edit Public Profile Settings” and checking “Full View” instead of “None.”

You can increase the ease with which you’re found by creating a custom URL for your LinkedIn profile, so the URL reads http://www.linkedin.com/in/YOURNAME. Simply edit the Public Profile URL at the bottom of the “Edit My Profile” page.

Your LinkedIn profile also offers the advantage of presenting yourself as you’d like to be seen, within the confines of what’s permitted by your compliance department.

Another factor to consider: Many LinkedIn users will look for you using the site’s search box. If you’re not on LinkedIn, it’s almost as if you don’t exist.

So, hurry and put your profile up on LinkedIn. If you’re already on LinkedIn, stay tuned for my article on compliance-friendly ways to use LinkedIn. 

Related posts
* My most popular blog posts of 2009
* Guest Post: “How to Use LinkedIn When Your Compliance Department Says No”
* Twitter to the rescue of my colleague with an RFP dilemma
* How to publicize your white paper using LinkedIn
The next session of “How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read: A Five-Week Teleclass for Financial Advisors” will start in April. For more information, sign up to receive “Information on upcoming classes, workshops, and other events” as well as my free monthly newsletter.
Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved