Nannette Minley – Marketing Strategist

Nannette Minley – Marketing Strategist

This week I attended a Meet Up where a person spoke about SEO (Search Engine Optimization). The talk had some interesting tips and insight; however the speaker did not fail to mention that his authority was based upon the fact that he has 10,000 followers and had written a book on the psychology of marketing. He invited us 3 times during the talk to email him and get his white paper without an opt-in.

According to my understanding this is the opposite of what Nannette Minley does. She coaches entrepreneurs trying to make an impact with customized marketing strategies for their business. The focus is on their vision and clarity rather than determining success in terms of 10,000 followers or the six figure slogan.

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Kathy Miller Wilson – WELA Workshops

Kathy Miller Wilson – WELA Workshops

Whilst talking to Kathy Wilson of WELA (Workplace Etiquette Leadership Academy) Workshops I felt the deep commitment that she has of bringing leadership experience gained in the workforce to young adults entering the workforce, teams and individuals  ‘building people to become the best versions of themselves’.

What impressed me about Kathy that is not included in her list of services is how she as an individual felt motivated to expand her job description from Budget Director into something that inspired and fulfilled her. Coworkers who understood her talents would approach her for help and advice. She loved grooming staff for greatness, revealing their strengths and weaknesses, passions, unique talents and gifts.  She loved seeing that light bulb come on when they “Got It”, and moved from awareness to growing with intention into their purpose, and eventually soar into their destiny.

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Sharon Khen – Life Coach

Sharon Khen – Life Coach

I immediately fell in love with Sharon Khen, a warm, empathetic and skillful Life Coach who has a universal love of all people.

Sharon specializes in:

  • Family Coaching, such as parenting and empowering parental authority, and building healthy family relationships.
  • Working through life transitions for situations like divorce, marriage, becoming parents and relocation. Turning overwhelming feelings of chaos into an opportunity for empowerment and to gain a new sense of control over one’s life.
  • Confidence Coaching, using proven strategies to create a healthy self image and help build self-confidence.
  • Stress Management Coaching, using practical strategies to take control of the stress and how to cope with it .

 

 

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Patricia Eubanks – M.O.T.H.E.R.

Patricia Eubanks – M.O.T.H.E.R.

Meet Patricia Eubanks from M.O.T.H.E.R. (My Opportunity To Help Everyone Resource).

Johan Sebastian Bach is now generally regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time. The turning point in his life was a tragedy that occurred when his first wife died unexpectedly. Suddenly the gates of inspiration opened and his greatest and most productive musical creations occurred following her death. Pat Eubanks may be compared to Bach since her greatest creativity and ingenuity occurred as a result of her misfortune.

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Jennifer Moore – The Sage Assistant

Jennifer Moore – The Sage Assistant

Jennifer Moore offers professional Virtual Assisting Services both remotely and on site in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. As a creative person, Jennifer can easily handle assignments such as:

  • Writing,
  • Editing,
  • Writing and posting blog entries,
  • Web copy,
  • Web data entry,
  • Business profiles,
  • Short form articles,
  • Copy editing,
  • Proof reading,
  • Ecommerce support,
  • Line editing, and
  • Traditional administrative tasks.

The aim is to free up her client’s time for more important tasks. She is always willing to expand her skill set and take on new challenges.
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Lisa Shaughnessy – inkerB Consulting LLC

Lisa Shaughnessy – inkerB Consulting LLC

Lisa Shaughnessy’s passion is helping small businesses streamline their business processes. InkerB offers consulting services to help small businesses:

  • Create and organize their processes,
  • To easily delegate tasks,
  • Open room for more clients, and
  • Prevent costly mistakes.

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The Value of Animation

The Value of Animation

Do you use visuals on your social media? What about video or animation?

The gif pronounced jif, is a short loop of images. It has been around for some time and only gained traction recently with other forms of visual animation such as slide shows. The user may be scanning hundreds of items of content in her feed and a moving image or video is more likely to attract her attention.

What are the best tools to create visuals and how can we find existing gifs?

Here is a great resource from Social Examiner   that explains what resources are available and the optimal  gif frequency in our Social media posts.

 

 

 

 

How to Impress your Audience with Image Optimization

How to Impress your Audience with Image Optimization

The number of do it yourself websites has expanded like a mushroom cloud. Large companies and even smaller agencies offer plans where a user with no prior programming experience can set up a website using their software. Although some software includes images, it does not prepare the user for inserting appropriate images.

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”

A striking photograph can enhance your brand and express emotions. Poor graphics and images can impair the quality of the site. It is preferable to include high quality stock photography to grainy and blurred photographs or personal pictures.
There are two categories of images: Images with story appeal and Images which demonstrate. An image with story appeal evokes curiosity and triggers the reader to read the post. It should be placed at the top of the post. Images that demonstrate create a visual explanation of text on the site or are used to simplify an explanation. Included in this category are charts, before and after pictures and product images. Selecting an appropriate image relevant to the content is only part of the required effort. The other part is having a clear grasp of file formats, size, and optimization.

A few guidelines
1)  Images slow down the time that it takes a page to load. In order to justify the time, they should be superb, highly relevant and optimized for the space that they take up on the page.
2)  Captions are read more than copy – according to Kissmetrics .
3)  If there is a long article, a visual is a good way to break up the space

Using the correct file format:

The file formats mostly used on web are jpg, gif and png. If your file is in a different format, you will need to convert it. On Windows, I use Microsoft Office Picture Manager.

Best image online editors:

Image file formats for web

.jpg

A pixelated jpg

A pixelated jpg

.jpg is the format preferred by photographers. It uses an algorithm to compress the image whilst maintaining the balance and quality of the image. However, compressing it also degrades the quality and removes the details, so it may be advisable to save a copy of the original image. Excessive compression causes distortion viewed as small checkered patterns on the image known as “jpeg noise”. Different photos need different compression so attempt different compressions whilst viewing the result in order to achieve a usable photo with a small file size.

.gif

GIF is the older format adopted by the original designers of the World Wide Web for flat color graphics. It was created in the 1980’s and is pronounced ‘jif’ as in ‘jiffy’. GIFs are less

Icon using gif file format

.gifs have a smaller color range and are good for logos and icons

popular due to the fact that they can accommodate a smaller color range, but are still are popular for their ability to save multiple frames within a single file. This allows one to make an animation which is still gaining popularity. Limit the use of these files in a web site since reading the text can be interrupted by the movement on the screen.

Gif Animation

.gifs are great for animation. This was created using “Legend”

GIFs compress color well without losing data or distorting the image. In addition they allow us to set one color to be transparent which can be very helpful when placing graphics over a colorful or photographic background or for logos. Compressing a photo using a .gif means switching from many colors to a few colors and can lead to a grainy look known as “dithering”. Gifs are good for logos, diagrams and infographics.

.png

png file showing transparent background

.png files show opacity and allow transparent backgrounds. The grey squares indicate a transparent background.

The PNG file is relatively new and created specifically for web purposes. . Animated pngs (MNG, for Multiple-image Network Graphics or APNG, for Animated Portable Network Graphics) are superior in quality to gif animations due to their cleaner, brighter, vivid images with cleaner edges and transparency options. However, due to the fact that they are poorly supported, the files degrade to static PNG images on clients with no support. Aside from the animation feature pngs have replaced gifs in all other respects, since they support a large range of color depths, and different levels of transparency. Pngs are excellent for line art, text, and logos—images that contain large areas of homogenous color with sharp transitions between colors. They can also be used for photographs and are good for backgrounds; however the file size is larger than for a jpg file.

Which kind is best?
It depends…

jpg – good for photos. Cons – may cause loss of detail
gif – good for line art, logos, images with solid areas of the same color and animation. Poor for photographs.
png – good for both photographs and line art. Good for compressing photos without losing detail. Con is that the photo files are larger than jpg files.

What do you prefer?

(Leave your comments at the end.)

 

Using the correct file size

File size refers to the amount of space that the file occupies on a storage device. The smaller the file size, the faster it will load on a website. It is important to determine who is viewing your web page and their location. Some users have slower internet connections, older devices or are using their phone. If the image takes too long to load, they may abandon the site. Google recommends a maximum load time of two seconds.
Photos taken using a mobile device may be very large. The question is whether we need to load such a large image?

Resolution

One of the ways of reducing file size is by reducing resolution. If you enlarge a photo, you may notice that it is comprised of little squares. Each square is known as a dot and the resolution is measured in dpi (dots per inch). Most computer monitors will display a maximum of 72dpi so having a resolution higher than that will only serve to increase the file size. (If you have a resolution of 72 dpi and your image is 6 inches wide, then your image will be 72 x 6 = 432 pixels.)
Most desktop monitors are at least 1,280 pixels (px) wide. Some may have very large monitors – 1,920 px, 2,560px or even larger.

WordPress defines default image sizes as follows:

  • a Large version (default 600px)
  • a Medium version (default 300px)
  • a Thumbnail (default 150px)

I usually load the image files onto my site at the maximum size that they will display. (If I am designing for desktop, then a quarter of the screen will be 1280/4=320px wide). Loading a larger file means that it will be resized by the browser and the time it takes for the page to load will increase. If you make the image too small and it is being viewed on a larger screen, the quality will be blurred and pixelated. (The best bet is to look at your analytics report to see what size screens your visitors are using.)

There are tools for testing web speed and they will generally give a report on which images should be compressed in order to enhance page loading speed.

 

Best resources to optimize images:

TinyPNG For compressing jpg and png files online 

Imagify (online, free & paid options)
ImageOptim  ( Mac)
PNG Gauntlet  (Windows)
Trimage (Linux)
JPEGmini ($20, Mac & Windows)
• More here 

The rule of thirds

The eyes of the subject should be 2/3 of the way up

Cropping

In many cases, the image available has a lot of irrelevant background and cropping it would help to focus on the important part. When cropping, remember to leave some space around the element in focus and don’t place it dead center. People or subjects are more appealing when placed off center. The rule of thirds in photography divides the image horizontally into 3 strips. The eyes of the subject should be along the line 2/3 of the way up.

 

Alt text and title text

Google Lunar New Year Alt Text

Screenshot of Google Lunar New Year Alt Text

Sometimes the link to an image is broken and the only clue that the reader has to the image is the alt text. The alt text is also used by visually impaired people to read your post. As mentioned in Wikipedia : “In situations where the image is not available to the reader, perhaps because they have turned off images in their web browser or are using a screen reader due to a visual impairment, the alternative text ensures that no information or functionality is lost.” Be sure that your alt text includes the relevant keyword and relates to your image. Google places a high value on the alt text to determine what the image is portraying, and also to determine the text content adjacent to the image.

 

Resources

Finding images on the internet is easy. Copying or downloading images without verifying the licensing can expose us to exorbitant legal fees in the form of copyright infringement penalties. Paying for a royalty free service like Shutterstock is well worth the investment. Be mindful that the same business photos of people shaking hands that you are downloading from Shutterstock are being universally used in thousands of websites. Where possible get professional pictures of your business, or use your own images.

 

Here are some of the best free stock picture sites:

If you are interested in other resources check Pinterest. Always check the licensing policy before you download. Some artists expect you to attribute their work on your site in exchange for the picture.

Where do you like to download your images?

 

 

From your blog – Million Eyez

If you have a WordPress site, the MillionEyez  plugin makes choosing an image for your blog very easy. Just install the plugin, and write a detailed description of the type of photo you want. Within minutes photographers will submit photographs for you to review and you can either have one or several that appear as a slideshow.

Million Eyez WordPress Plugin

Million Eyez sends you photos within minutes

As displayed in  Positively Randy Dog Training!

 

Conclusion

High quality images and photographs will set your website apart and make it unforgettable. In order to maximize this tool, remember to prepare your image by selecting the appropriate file format, size and image resolution.Crop and resize as necessary to focus the subjects. Find the balance between a good image and small file size so that the website looks great and loads quickly.

What are your favorite tools? Please add your comments below

 

Free blogging in 2017

Free blogging in 2017

I gaze of of the window in the early dawn light. In the slight drizzle I admire the ever changing tapestry of greens, yellows, browns and maroons of the fall vista before me.

Following the tantalizing aromas, soul food offerings and time spent with loved ones on Thanksgiving comes the mania of Black Friday and Cyber Monday as shoppers attempt to get a head start on their holiday shopping and new year needs.

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WordCamp US 2016, Philadelphia , Dec 2-4 2016 – A Personal Recap

WordCamp US 2016, Philadelphia , Dec 2-4 2016 – A Personal Recap

My third ever WordCamp – WordPress conference – took me to downtown Philadelphia in December 2016. As ‘1099’ freelancer I feel fortunate to live close enough to Philly to be able to drive up for this event.

I arrived on Friday morning following a 3 hour Philadelphia Convention Centerdrive only to discover that the parking at the Philadelphia Convention Center was something like $10 per hour and that several of the parking lots recommended in the link to Philadelphia city parking didn’t exist. I began my morning with a scenic tour of downtown Philly until a lot was located scarcely a block away for $17 all day. Woot!

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