Category Archives for "Video"

How to Crowdfund Your Next Project
Dec 09

How to Run a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign – Interview with Ebony Love, LoveBug Studios

By Maria Peagler

How to Crowdfund Your Next Project

Have you considered crowdfunding your next project?

If so, you definitely want to listen to today’s interview with Ebony Love, founder of LoveBug Studios. She ran a successful crowdfunding compaign that generated over 2X her goal (and she admits she had a few #fails along the way).

I was surprised at some of the revelations Ebony shared with me: I thought I understood crowdfunding, but the tactics she used (and those she didn’t) turned traditional advice on its head.

Crowdfunding with Ebony Love: Interview Audio

You can listen to the full 30-minute interview, or get bite-sized “tips” below:

Listen to the Full Interview with Ebony Love (30 min)

Bite-sized clips are below, each about 5 minutes in length. Click on the link to listen:

Members – Find out where the largest percentage of Ebony’s supporters came from, if she had help promoting her campaign, and her advice to others considering crowdfunding by logging in:  Click here to login!


Interview Transcript with Timestamps

0:00:00 MARIA: Welcome everyone this is Maria Peagler with And today I have with me Ebony Love the founder of LoveBug Studios and a successful Kickstarter campaign generator. Welcome, Ebony!

0:02:02 EBONY: Hi Maria. Thanks for having me.

0:02:05 MARIA: Absolutely, Ebony I have wanted to do this interview with you for a while because I was fascinated at the whole Kickstarter campaign that you did. I supported you. I contributed to your Kickstarter campaign. Can you tell our listeners out there a little bit about your campaign and your funding goal?

0:02:30 EBONY: Absolutely, Thank you so much Maria for supporting my campaign it really meant a lot to me to see your support there. When i initially started a campaign it was for a book about fabric die cutting and that particular topic is a very niche topic and there’s only a certain segment of the quilting community that’s going to be interested in something like that. Before I went to the expense and sort of going down the path of spending all this money investing in illustrators and graphic artists to solve these things. I wanted to make sure that there was actually a market to support this book that i was writing so part of this was market research a sort of test. We have to water a little bit and see if there was enough support for an idea like this to come out with a book for this particular niche. My initial funding goal was $5000 and when I put together my budget, when I thought about was. I’m willing to make an investment in this project and if other people are willing to invest with me as well then, I’m going to kick in some funding. My actual budget was about $10000 for the production of the book and so i set the campaign budget for half of that. If I can raise half the money I can kick in the other half and that would make it ok.

0:04:05 MARIA: Ok, so you came up with the budget of 10000 is like a fifty-fifty.50% you would be putting in and then 50% your contributors will be putting in. Now, what did you end up raising from your $5000 goal?

0:04:26 EBONY: I ended up raising just over $12000 for the project which it only took about 6 or 7 days to hit the $5000 mark and then the whole campaign went for about 30 days. So I was really elated to raise that amount of money so quickly the thing about Kickstarter is that when you set your campaign timeline you set it typically 30 days and even if you raise your target early the campaign doesn’t end it just keep going that’s how we went over the $5000 amount.

0:05:12 MARIA: How did you decide to use Kickstarter rather than someplace like Indiegogo. The reason I ask is because with Kickstarter for those who may not be familiar with it, with Kickstarter it’s an all or nothing thing if you don’t reach your goal or you don’t get to keep any of the contribution but on Indiegogo you don’t have to reach a goal you get to keep whatever you raise. And so, tell me how you decided on Kickstarter.

0:05:48 EBONY: Yes, both platforms when I’m just in this campaign back a couple of years ago both platforms are really really early on in there sort of introduction and the modelling. One thing about Indiegogo and I haven’t look in a while but at the time if you didn’t raise your campaign goal there actual cost to you was higher than if you hit your goal. So that was one factor, the other factor I thought to myself if I can’t get the support that I need to do this project then i really need to think very hard about whether or not i should go forward and take this, so it wasn’t just about raising a certain amount of money it was also making sure that I was able to garner enough support to go forward.

0:06:43 MARIA: Right, right, which was really smart to use Kickstarter as a market research tool because I know so many authors who just jump in they spend the money and then find out really that they didn’t know how to promote the book there is really know readership for the book and if they have done something like this beforehand they could have save themselves a lot of heartache.

0:07:06 EBONY: Yes, Absolutely!

0:07:08 MARIA: So let me ask you Ebony, It took you 30 days. The campaign was 30 days. How long did it take you to prepare for the campaign to actually get everything on Kickstarter get your video, get all that materials that you needed, how long did that take you?

0:07:29 EBONY: It took me probably about 3-4 weeks of planning part of that time Kickstarter had a pretty rigorous review process also so you couldn’t just put something out there and hit go and it just public they actually would go through and review your project to make sure it was appropriate for the platform the other component is writing the compelling copy. So I think in the media industry we call it romance copy. Writing that copy that’s really going to inspire and really reach the folks that I’m trying to reach and communicate my own passion and devising the reward that In and of itself I was racking my brain trying to think about what types of reward I mean obviously the book a copy of the book that’s pretty simple but in order to get people to sort of contribute that higher level i had to come up and really get creative with something and the thing about Kickstarter is when you offer a reward they have to be tangible reward it can’t be like a coupon for a future purchase for something like that it’s got to be something that people actually receive and it’s worth something at the time and it’s not some sort of “Hey if you don’t knit here I’ll contribute 10 dollars to charity. It has to be something that the backer get out of it. And i think i refer to it as investment but it’s really not an investment because you’re not yet shares

0:09:13 MARIA: Right, right

0:09:15 EBONY: But you should get something out of it. It’s not a donation when you contribute you’re getting something in return.

0:09:19 MARIA: And so, how crucial do you think to be the big prices were? That the prices they should offer and the levels that you offer, how crucial were those?

0:09:25 EBONY: I think that they were instrumental in helping the campaign go as far as it did. When I think about my entire network of people so just in my own personal network not everybody is a quilter not everybody is a die cutter so if all I offered was the die cutting book that’s not going to be of interest necessarily to everyone so there could be folks think: “You know what? I support what you do I’m really thrilled about this and I want to make sure it is successful but I really don’t need a coffee-table book.

0:10:13 MARIA:*laughs*

0:10:17 EBONY: The other piece two is by having different levels of contribution it gives people the opportunity to look and say “There’s a level here that I can afford. Because not everybody can just say here’s 30 bucks for a book that I’m not going to read. Some people may be able to contribute a dollar other people might say.”You know what I really support this artist, I know this person I feel good about what they’re doing, I can actually contribute a higher level so actually having those different reward level it gives you a choice i personally think i had too many and at the end of the day you’re the one who has to actually fulfill all those rewards.

0:11:04 MARIA:*laughs* Right.

0:11:08 EBONY:*laughs*After a while but i think having at least 3 or 4 options gives people sort of a way to contribute at a level there comfortable with.

0:11:18 MARIA: And so you had levels from a dollar all the way up to 1500 dollars and what was your most popular level?

0:11:29 EBONY: My most popular level I believe was at the 50 dollar level you’ve got a copy of the book and some other little trinket so I think my average donation across the board was about 46 dollars so some people came in lower than that, some people came in higher than that but most people were right in middle of a reward.

0:12:00 MARIA: I’m looking at your Kickstarter site right now and it looks like you had a 104 backers at 30 dollars. Now, do you think it was the dollar amount? Do you think it was just the right amount? Or do you think it was the acknowledgement that they’ve got in getting the book as the reward?

0:12:22 EBONY: I think so, I think most of the people who purchased at that level were once who wanted the book. They were rolling to get that book so it was a way for them and what’s interesting when you structure your reward, is it’s not necessarily meant to be a like discount of a retail price although some that way it’s actually meant to be because you do need feed bonds so the book actually retails for 30 dollars so that was like the level. I think that level people were going to buy the book anyway when it came out and that’s the level that they supported.

0:13:09 MARIA: Okay, And what did you do to promote the campaign as far as social media and email marketing and get the word out, What did you do to promote it ?

0:13:22 EBONY: so I actually did a several tiers of marketing and I didn’t want to bombard my network with you know just post after post after post of this particular campaign. The first method that Senel was just a family and close friends just to first get started with the toe on the water and also when you put it out to just friends and family you tend to get kind of that bubble of will support anything that you do and that makes you feel better. You feel better about what you’re doing to get some of that initial push and then I put it up on Facebook to wider the audience which will include my friends and friends of friends and hope to unnecessarily no personally but we’re friends on Facebook and that’s the next level campaign and some of those folks even shared my campaign with their friends and that’s another way to get to expanse. The third way was just through my newsletter list so I have an email list for my business where I send out announcement about where I’m going to be and what’s going on with my business and where you can see me that went to my email list. I also posted on my blog talking about the Kickstarter campaign and what it meant and what I was trying to do. I have several avenue to pursue but I didn’t do them all at once. I didn’t’ post everywhere on the same day. I spread it out over probably a week to 10 day period to reach all those audiences.

0:15:13 MARIA: Ok, and do you have any idea of which promotion garnered the most support?

0:15:22 EBONY: I believe it was probably the Iddy mount campaign just because there were thousands of people on my email list versus a couple of dozens on my Facebook page.

0:15:39 MARIA: So you have an email marketing list with several thousand contacts on?

0:15:47 EBONY: Yes. I think it’s the time I probably had under a thousand people subscribe to my email list. Now it certainly grown as my name has gotten out there but I think it’s the time it was under a thousand people on my email list but it was certainly a lot bigger of an audience than on my Facebook page.

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Your Ultimate Guide to Productivity Tools
Dec 02

The Ultimate Guide to Productivity Tools for Small Business

By Maria Peagler

Your Ultimate Guide to Productivity Tools

Ever wish you could clone yourself to get more done?

We’re all striving to accomplish more with less resources in the 21st century, and that’s especially true if you’re a solopreneur or small brand. I’ve made it my mission to keep my business (and my training) as simple and elegant as possible. That makes it easier for me to develop and advance a thriving business while also being a wife to an entrepreneur and involved mom to two teenage sons.

My secret?

Awesome tools. And a hack I’ll show you in a moment (saving me HOURS of time each week and thousands of dollars I don’t have to spend on labor that I can invest in my business).

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not a tool junkie (you know — those people who are ALWAYS touting the latest app they’ve downloaded and can’t wait to tell you about it). I don’t have time for that.

Instead, I invest in the best tools that make it possible to run an agile business I love and allow me to enjoy a full life outside of work.

So today I’m sharing with you my favorite tools I use on a DAILY basis and WHY I think they’re the best at what they offer.

Google Apps for Business

The paid version of Gmail, Google Drive, Docs and more. This is a huge switch for me, as I made a lucrative career from being a technical writer of books on Microsoft and other Windows’ products. Five years ago I purchased a Mac (because it just works, period) and didn’t want to pay for the Office Suite, so I started using Google Docs instead.

Google’s suite of products is nowhere near as robust as the Office suite, so if you need deep features like long documents and tables of contents in your word processor, stick with Word. But for what I do, which is mostly tables, presentations, and simple PDFs, Google Docs works great.

I’ve become an enormous fan of using Google Sheets for applications far beyond financials — planning, dashboards, and libraries of data I keep in a spreadsheet. It’s so simple to create a worksheet with multiple sheets and keep track of goals, reports, and content libraries within one file.

But why the paid version?

In May of this year, my email address was blacklisted as a spammer due to my hosting company sharing my virtual private server (VPS) with another company that was identified as sending SPAM email. The only way to fix the situation was to enroll in Google Apps for Business and use the paid version of their Gmail. That way, I would never again have to worry about my email being listed as SPAM.

The best part of using Google Apps for Business? Google support. Yes, really! Once you are a paying client, Google provides the BEST support I’ve ever encountered.

Related resources: How to Combine Social Media and Email Marketing to Capture Leads You’re Missing

Not surprising, since I teach a class on how to create your website using WordPress, but my love of this platform goes far beyond just being able to create a simple website with it.

When I started, I researched the most popular learning management systems (LMS) at the time, which were Moodle and Blackboard. I found them to be bloated, cumbersome, and better suited for enterprise organizations and institutions.

I also tried BuddyPress, which has a social network feature built into it, but found it to be unstable and not as well-supported as WordPress.

So why do I love WordPress so much? It allows me to:

  • create a simple website I can modify without being a developer
  • add a blog to my website that has the same look and feel as my website
  • create an online training site by adapting WordPress posts, pages, categories and shortcodes into an agile learning system I can change as my needs evolve
  • find answers to common WordPress problems because it has a global network of users who have encountered the same issues
  • easily hire developers and designers who have worked on WordPress and have deep experience with it
  • easily train interns and new hires on how we use WordPress because they likely already have experience with it
WordPress 101 Learn how to build your own blog/website — no coding required
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Wishlist Member WordPress Plugin

Wishlist Member (WLM) is a WordPress plugin allowing me to make my paid classes private. It’s categorized as a membership site plugin, but you can do much more with it than that.

WLM was not the first solution I tried (BuddyPress, S2Member, WPDev Member), but it’s the ONLY one that worked consistently, was stable, and well-supported.

They also have a companion membership program called Wishlist Insider I belonged to for a year to learn how others used it, network with WLM users, and get up-to-speed quickly to get the type of online training site I wanted.

Newer membership site plugins are available now, but I plan to stick with WLM. They offer a one-time price (vs. monthly for the newer plugins) and I don’t want to have to learn a new system and transition my members to it. I’ve found a solution that works for me and allows me to stay agile and robust in my offering.

Trello Project Management

Trello is an online project management system I absolutely love (and its cute dog mascot Taco).

I’ve tried BaseCamp, Asana, and even developed a class on Harvard Project Manager years ago. Most project management tools are needlessly complex and dull to use. The beauty of Trello is in its simplicity: it has a Pinterest-like interface, using cards, and you can organize your projects in any way that suits your business and working style.

It has few restrictions on how you setup your projects: that freedom allows you to make your Trello system truly your own.  You use Organizations, Boards, Lists, and Cards to create your projects and invite team members. You can add links, images, video, and text formatting to your projects to make them multimedia-rich.

We use Trello for our in-house training and orientation, our editorial calendar, ongoing projects, social media services clients, and website development projects. I can assign dates to projects, communicate with and tag team members about projects and see a calendar view of our editorial calendar to see what’s coming up next.

Aweber Email Marketing

The first thing I did in my business, before I ever had a website, was invest in email marketing software. I started out using iContact, but have since transitioned to Aweber for the segmentation features (I can send automatic emails to my audience depending upon what their interests are).

I had used ConstantContact for clients and didn’t like its user interface, and wasn’t interested in free so never tried MailChimp. I wanted a tool I could use immediately and start seeing ROI.  I loved iContact’s simplicity and great support, and appreciate Aweber’s terrific support as well.

Aweber has a steeper learning curve than other email marketing applications, but that’s the trade-off for more features, and I’m happy to pay it.

I use Aweber for sending out our weekly newsletter and sending automatic follow-up emails to people taking our free social media strategy class. I love the reporting I get: I can immediately identify what topics are most popular, what people are clicking on and what they open.

Snagit and Voila Screen Capture Tools

I use screen capture tools daily in developing and updating our training classes, building our Swipe File to show members examples of brands doing social media well, providing customer support, communicating with my team members, when we have technical challenges and are communicating with support teams, and far more.

When it comes to training, a picture really is worth a thousand words, and members love seeing an informative image rather than have to sit through a video.

I used TechSmith’s Snagit for years and found it to be the best screen capture tool available. However, when I upgraded to Mavericks operating system and to the latest version of Snagit, it slowed my computer to a crawl. So I transitioned to Voila, a Mac-based screen capture tool. It doesn’t have as many annotation and editing features as Snagit, but it takes advantage of the Mac operating system, allowing me to drag and drop images into almost any application.


Swipe File "Steal" these tactics from successful brands for your own business
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For a long time I just didn’t get why so many people were fanatical about Evernote. Sure, it was a great note-taking app and you could do a lot more with it, but I hadn’t really investigated all of its features.

I became hooked for personal reasons: I was researching a family trip we were taking to Washington D.C., and saved our hotel, tour reservations, itineraries and more to Evernote, and it was available on my smartphone while we were traveling. I could research a museum and capture a screen listing its hours/directions, and that screen capture would be available on my phone.

I now use Evernote for my business: writing my daily To-Do list, saving articles I want to refer to later, outlining large projects, and so much more.

The Productivity Hack That Saves Me Hours Each Week

The best part of using these applications? They can work together in automating much of my business. I can set up tasks to be automated, saving me time, and my virtual assistant can work on far more productive projects.

This hack allows me to practically clone myself for far greater productivity.

Some of the tasks I automate:

  • Dictating the foundation for a blog post into my smartphone and saving it to Evernote
  • Creating a content library by building a list of our blog posts and their URLs in a Google spreadsheet
  • Automatically uploading a video to YouTube, which in turn creates a blog post draft in WordPress
  • Creating a spreadsheet of my latest Twitter followers, their bios and follower counts
  • and much, much more

I set up these tasks just once, and they run automatically as necessary. My virtual assistant doesn’t have to spend her time on these items, so I can have her generating important reports and focusing on customer service (tasks that require the human touch to really do well).

How do I automate these tasks? Stay tuned: tomorrow’s post will give you the details!


Nov 20

How to Avoid Freebie Seekers in the Sharing Economy

By Maria Peagler

How to Avoid Freebie Seekers in the

I’ve got some tough love for you today . . .

Do you give away too much in your business?

We’re in a “sharing economy” aren’t we? You’re supposed to give away content to get traffic to your website, to get engagement on your posts, and to ultimately generate revenue, right?

After all, Seth Godin says that’s what creates a “tribe.”

Here’s the tough love part: are you Seth Godin?

Didn’t think so.  Neither am I.

So for the rest of us, how do you turn the expectation of “free” into a sale without turning people off? That’s what you’re going to learn in this post, plus a terrific example of how one of the major car brands does this better than all the rest.

Identify Free vs. Paid in Your Business

In my own business, I give away a free social media strategy class: it’s shorter than my paid classes, doesn’t have as much multi-media content, but it gives people a “taste” of the quality and scope of what being a member is like.

how to avoid freebie seekers

Visitors see Pricing right away, plus they can optin for a free class, both on Home Page

For some people though, that’s not enough.

They want to see more video — “I want to see what your videos are like.”

I point them to my YouTube channel. I DON’T give them access to paid content.


Did they complain?

Yes, some did.

Did I add more video to my free class?

No, I didn’t. I don’t want members who are constantly complaining and never satisfied, so those who don’t like the free class have weeded themselves out of the potential member pool.

They did me a HUGE favor by self-identifying themselves as NOT potential members.

Set Expectations Early That You’ll Be Selling

Every visitor touchpoint I offer includes marketing to set the expectation that is a paid service.

I make it abundantly clear by displaying Pricing & Plans prominently in the website main menu. From their first visit, people realize I offer a premium training experience they need to purchase to receive.

When visitors opt-in to the free Social Media Strategy class, the first screen they see is a one-time offer for 25% discount off of Annual Membership.  I make it clear they’re still getting the free class and details are on their way to their Inbox. In the meantime, they get an exclusive offer no other visitors see.

how to avoid freebie seekers

Free class subscribers get a special offer after they optin

In an autoresponder series using Aweber, those same subscribers get a daily email from me for six days, telling them how to get the most out of their free class. At the end of each email, is a reminder that they have X number of days to take advantage of the discount for Annual Membership.

how to avoid freebie seekers3

I train my visitors to expect a marketing pitch from me in almost every email

Our blog posts offer deep content on social media marketing that get shared globally, and in each post are links to recommended classes, webinars, and infographics readers can receive as a member to learn even more about that particular topic.

how to avoid freebie seekers4

In this blog post, I have five recommended resource pitches embedded in my educational content

I’m not overly-aggressive, but almost every message visitors get from me will have some sort of an offer included it.

The first priority here is the best-quality social media training, whether in paid classes or on our public blog. However, included in that training is our marketing pitch.


Make It Clear Why People Should Pay for What You Offer

There’s so much available for free on the web that you need to make it stupidly simple WHY your brand is better than the free content available elsewhere.

Sure, you can find free social media articles all over the web. But how easy is it to find the training you need, on the topic you need, from a source you trust, that’s up-to-date?

Profitable business owners don’t waste time spending hours searching for a free solution on the web.  They’re willing to pay for the right solution, right now.

I share my class outlines so people know exactly what they’ll be learning; I show the infographics they’ll get; I list the member webinars available; and I reassure visitors that we update our content continuously, so they learn what works NOW, not what worked six months ago.

Your most loyal customers will become your brand advocates, telling others why they shouldn’t waste their time on “free,” but choose your brand instead, as SMOC member Pat Roa Perez did here on a blog post she penned for Shewrites:

How to avoid freebie seekers

Member Pat Roa Perez became a brand advocate and shared why she paid for

Are you making it clear to your potential clients WHY they should pay for your offering? How is yours better than free?

Over-Deliver Once Visitors Become a Client

Have you ever felt like once you made a purchase, the honeymoon was over?

Before you bought, the brand was chasing after you like a puppy, showering you with sloppy kisses.

Once you purchased, however, that puppy started chasing someone else and totally forgot about you.

What you experience is called “buyer’s remorse,” and it’s the brand’s fault for not welcoming you with a positive experience.

Once your visitors become a client, you need to WOW them with an awesome customer service culture.

  • Reassure them they’ve made the right purchase.
  • Communicate exactly what will happen now, how they can use your brand’s offering, and how they can get get help if they need it.
  • If you offer a guarantee, explain to them how it works and how they can use it.

This process is called onboarding, and it’s critical to reduce refunds. Read more about how we onboard new members in this blog post.

I purchased a Subaru this year, and they offer roadside assistance as a courtesy to their car owners. “Great,” I thought, “I’ll need to add that telephone number to my smartphone so I have it handy.”

Guess what? Subaru put the roadside assistance number directly on the driver’s side window, where you can see it WHEN you need it:

Subaru reassures car owners with their roadside assistance # right on the window

I’ve had roadside assistance with the last three cars I’ve owned, but never did the auto brand make it so EASY to actually use their service. In fact, most of them made it downright difficult to find that number.

Subaru makes tiny gestures that win over their customer’s hearts. Yes, their cars are reliable. But they also offer a culture reinforcing their tagline “Love. It What Makes a Subaru.”


You are competing with FREE everyday when you have an online business (or low-cost competitors with a brick-and-mortar presence). Ensure you’re educating your potential clients as to WHY your offering is better than free or low-cost.  Don’t be afraid to include marketing messages when you deliver your best stuff.

What has been your experience with offering free content in your social media marketing? Share your experience in the comments below:

Nov 14

Facebook Engagement & Reach: How To Social Media Training [VIDEO]

By Maria Peagler

The key to getting results from Facebook is in posting content that generates reach and engagement. So how do you figure out what kind of posts your audience responds to best?

This video looks at a simple way to identify which posts get the greatest reach and engagement so you’ll know what kind of content you should focus on sharing. Timestamps & transcript are below the video:

00:20: Identify How to Get Greater Post Reach & Engagement in Less than 30 Seconds

02:00: Second Facebook Post Type Insight Example

02:42: Comparison with Targeted Posts Excluded

02:58: Identify What’s Working Now

03:40: Why Status Updates Get the Most Reach


This is Maria Peagler with with the fifth in a series on Facebook Insights videos. And in this video we’re going to be taking a look at how you can easily identify—in less than 30 seconds—how you can get greater post reach and engagement. Again, we’re going to go to your Facebook page Insights by clicking on See Insights. And we’re going to go to your Posts section. And you’re going to look at Post Types. And the area that pops up here is incredibly important because it shows you the most popular post types that you do. Not individual posts, but the kind of post, whether they’re photo posts, just a plain text status update, a link, it could be a video, it could be an offer. But you can see for my particular page, photos are, by far, what get the most reach and, overwhelmingly, the most engagement. So for this, it’s a no-brainer for me. It’s going to be a photo post. Links tend to get more engagement than a status update, but status updates get a far greater reach than links do. So what that tells me is that I might want to do a status update and just put maybe a shortened link on it so that it doesn’t show up as the type of link that you would see in a Facebook link post. So, overall, what I would do is anytime I do a Facebook post I’m going to put a photo with it and I can also add a link, but that photo is going to be what gives it the greater reach.

Let’s take a look at another Facebook page. And you can see here that it’s pretty much the same proportion. Again, photos are the most popular type followed by status and links. In this particular case, though, the links didn’t get as much engagement as mine did. For this page a status post gets a lot of engagement. But again, overwhelmingly, it’s the photo posts that get the greatest reach and engagement. You can exclude targeted posts, which are ones that are done with an ad. I don’t think that there are any on this page, but we will go back to my insights and take a look at that.

Okay. Back here we’re going to look on the insights back on my business page. Again, we’re going to go to posts because we want to see what the most popular post types are. I’ll click on that section. And let’s see. I’m going to exclude targeted posts and see if that changes anything. Well, it does. It does a lot, actually. I want to show this to you again. Right here for all posts, photo, status and link. Okay. If I exclude targeted posts that means that these are only the ones that are organic. Status posts are twice as popular as anything else. They don’t get the most engagement but they do get the most reach. And that, it’s a theory on my part, but here’s what I think this is.

A status update is easy for Facebook to store on its servers. A photo takes a lot of storage space, and so does a video. And so they automatically give status updates greater reach to save on their own hosting and storage costs. So a photo, they’re not going to give as great a reach, but you can see it still gets the most engagement. So that’s interesting. And then a link, again, gets the least reach and the least engagement as far as both clicks, likes, comments and shares.

So this is how you can tell what your most popular post types are. Identify those and do more of them. This is Maria Peagler from

Nov 11

7 Surprising Secrets I’ve Learned from Beauty Vloggers

By Maria Peagler

7 Surprising Secrets I’ve Learned from Beauty Vloggers.

Beauty vloggers are not professional marketers, but they are CRUSHING traditional branding & promotion with their own style. Find out how they do it.

7 surprising secrets i learned from beauty bloggers

I have a confession to make  . . .

I LOVE watching YouTube beauty and hair videos.

In fact, over the past year I’ve been consuming a lot of beauty vlogger content: I drastically changed my hairstyle from blow-drying everyday to going naturally curly, and I needed a lot of help in maintaining my new hairstyle.

So where did I turn?

YouTube, of course.

And after watching hundreds of hair videos, following beauty vloggers on multiple social networks, and seeing how they work individually and together — I WAS BLOWN AWAY.

Most of these ladies (and gentlemen) don’t have traditional marketing or technology backgrounds, but they are ROCKING their social media presence. I’ve observed them carefully, identified their secrets, and am sharing them so you can adapt them for your own marketing.

1. Beauty Vloggers are Prolific Content Generators

The YouTube beauty vloggers I watch are all generating new videos at least once per week, sometimes more often. Their #1 secret to their success is creating a generous amount of content.  Here are some examples:

Goss Makeup Artist is a UK-based vlogger who records videos from his home makeup studio. Nothing fancy, but look at the number of videos he has on his channel — over 700, and he’s earned 1.8 million subscribers:

what i learned from beauty vloggers

Sarah Stevens (married now, not sure of her married name) started making videos as a high school student, continued on through college (filming from her dorm room), and now continues as she’s married, living and teaching English in Qatar. Again, she has a huge amount of content: over 200 videos and 14K subscribers:

what i learned from beauty vloggers

Angie (doesn’t give her last name) has a beauty channel for menopausal women, and again, has over 200 videos and 46K subscribers. She crushes the idea that you have to be young to be beauty vlogger:

what i learned from beauty vloggers

Louise Glitter, another UK-based vlogger, offers a plus-sized beauty channel that draws a loyal audience of 1.7 million subscribers! Notice she also has a video collection over 250+:

what i learned from beauty vloggersJenell Stewart is a black vlogger who focuses on natural hair styles and products for women with curly hair. She has over 500 videos and 105K subscribers:

what i learned from beauty vloggers

Notice how diverse these channels are? They come from men, women, young, middle-aged, all colors, sizes and nationalities. The one secret they all have in common is creating A LOT OF CONTENT.


2. Beauty Vloggers Share Their Editorial Schedule

What day is your favorite television show on?

You knew immediately, didn’t you?

The second secret of these beauty vloggers is they adhere to a publishing schedule and share it with their audience. They schedule their own “shows,” just as network and cable television do.

Goss Makeup Artist displays his schedule directly on his YouTube banner:

scrn_2014-11-10_12-54-21_PM copy

Are you letting your audience know when they can expect new content from you? Are you consistent enough to publish a schedule at all?

3. Beauty Vloggers Follow Content Themes

One of the trends I noticed early on in my video watching phase is that vloggers often follow established themes in their videos:

  • Reviews – reviews of products both provided by brands asking for the review and those they’ve purchased on their own.  Most vloggers were 100% transparent when they had been approached by a beauty brand and gave their candid review, sometimes being “I wouldn’t use this again.”
  • Empties – reviews of multiple products they’ve used up and saved for this video.
  • Hauls – sharing products purchased during a shopping trip. Not a review video, but a highlight of products they’ll be using and probably reviewing in the future.
  • Get Ready with Me – a how-to video of the vlogger showing their beauty or hair routine. Normally the video shows the vlogger getting ready and they add the narration afterward, so they’re not talking directly to you in the video.
  • Collabs – collaboration videos with a vlogger colleague.  These usually take two forms: either both appear in the video together, or they each do their own version of the video and link to the other person’s in the video description.
  • How-to’s – the tried and true how-to video, done in the vlogger’s own style.

Beauty vloggers’ third secret is they follow similar content trends, making it easier for them to pick up viewers from other beauty channels.  Their videos are similar, but still different enough, to interest viewers who want to learn and watch other vloggers in the same space.

What content themes appear in your industry? Have you watched enough video to know these trends? If not, take some time to watch channels with large viewerships and identify their content themes.

4. Beauty Vloggers Optimize Their Social Media Profiles

The fourth secret of these savvy vloggers is the one I was the most impressed with: they take advantage of every opportunity to share their other social networks and their most popular content. They use their popularity on one channel to build their audience for their others.

Sarah Stevens has Facebook, twitter, Instagram and blog accounts in addition to her YouTube channel, and she points to them not just once, but twice on her banner area: once with hyperlinks, and once with icons under her title:



Sarah also optimizes each of her videos with links to her other social networks, how to subscribe to her YouTube channel, and her most popular videos. Shown below are the links she shares from the video people see first — her channel introduction video:



You can do the same whether you have a YouTube channel or not. Almost every social network offers the ability to link to your other social networks. You can do this in Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Slideshare, and Google+.  You can also point to your most popular content in multiple ways on your blog.

Give people the EZ button so they can follow you, consume your content, and find your best stuff.


5. Beauty Vloggers Understand the Power of Images

Their fifth secret is one that showcases the power of images.  Yes, their main content is a video, but vloggers know the first glimpse anyone will ever see of their video is the thumbnail.

Here, Sprinkle of Glitter showcases her videos with thumbnails that usually have her looking directly at you and display a clear title:

sprinkles of glitter optimizes her video thumbnails



6. Beauty Vloggers Collaborate to Increase Their Visibility

I found it surprising how small the beauty vlogging world was. Each vlogger specializes in their own niche and often collaborates (called a “collab” video) with someone else in their niche to increase their visibility.

Rather than seeing each other as competition, they help one another reach a larger audience. That’s their sixth secret: they rely on colleagues to build their audience.

Here, Louise collaborates with another vlogger Karen, and links to Karen’s video and channels from her own:

sprinkle of glitter collab video


7. Beauty Bloggers Have True Relationships with Their Audience

Many of the beauty vloggers I’ve profiled here get their video ideas from their viewers — and give them credit for it, naming them in the video.

They often receive hundreds of comments, and respond to them individually. They have true conversations with their fans, answering questions, responding to suggestions, and even asking their audience for feedback and their own experiences.

Of course, being so visible means you’ll open yourself up to some “haters,” but these vloggers didn’t let that stop them.  In fact, they didn’t respond to haters at all.  And often their audience defended them against snarky commenters.

That’s the seventh and final secret: while many social media experts tout “relationship marketing,” these vloggers establish deep and loyal fan bases that buy the products they recommend, watch every video they share, and anxiously await their next one.


I must admit I completely underestimated beauty vloggers: I started out simply wanting to learn how to style a new haircut. What I ultimately observed, however, was much more than that.

Beauty vloggers demonstrate you don’t need to be a professional marketer to grow your brand. What it does take is passion, consistency, honesty with your audience, listening to them, talking to them, and making it easy for them to find you.

What beauty vloggers do you follow? What have you learned from them about beauty and marketing? Share in the comments below:

Nov 07

The 80/20 of Your Social Media Marketing [VIDEO]

By Maria Peagler

The best way to keep your social media marketing effective and efficient is to focus on what works. By following the 80/2o rule, you’ll focus on the 20% of your efforts that provide 80% of your results.

This video looks at three tactics to help you identify and employ this concept in your own marketing campaigns. For more in-depth instructions, take a look at the blog posts mentioned in the video:

Timestamps & transcript are below the video:

00:00: The 80/20 of Your Social Media Marketing

00:49: Set Goals for Your Social Media Marketing

01:34: Create an Action Plan

02:58: Identify What’s Working Now

04:00: Measure How Your Marketing Efforts Worked

05:12: Automate the Social Media Tasks That Don’t Require Your Engagement


Where is the 80/20 of your social media marketing? The most profitable 20% of your efforts that bring 80% of your results. That’s what we’re going to look at in today’s video. It comes to the 80/20 rule of social media marketing. You want to look at where your most profitable 20% is. And the way that you’re going to do that is with three tactics.

You’re going to identify your marketing goals. You’re going to identify what’s working now. And then third, you’re going to automate some of your social media tasks that don’t require your engagement. So let’s take an in-depth look at each one of these. The first thing that you want to do is to start setting goals for your social media marketing. I have had clients who make seven figures, but they’ve told me I don’t know what social media can do for me. And so, ideally, what you want to do is to set goals that tie business goals, or even revenue goals, to your social media marketing. And those goals need to be smart. They need to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based. In doing that, you will have a very specific goal that you can tie to your social media marketing effort.

Then once you’ve got your smart goals, you need to create an action plan. And I’m going to have links to each of the blog posts that I’m showing you in this video, because each of these blog posts walk you through this process step-by-step. This, Creating an Action Plan for Your SMART Social Media Goals, this is one of the most popular blog posts that we have at What I recommend that you do after you create those goals is to create a monthly action plan where you break down what you want to be able to achieve each month, and then break down those monthly tasks into weekly and daily actions. This works. I can tell you it works because I use this. When you look at a goal, sometimes it seems just too big. But if you break it down into very doable steps, it’s much easier to do. Thirdly, after you set your goals and after you create that action plan, you want to start measuring.

That comes into the second step of identifying the 80/20 of your social media marketing, which is how do I identify what’s working now. And there’s several ways that you can do this. One of the ways is that is most popular is to use Google Analytics. And if you don’t have Google Analytics installed on your website or if you’re not really sure how to use it, definitely come and take a look at this post. It’s my Google Analytics for WordPress, how to easily measure what matters. It will walk you through not only installing Google Analytics, but looking at things like who is my audience, where’s my traffic coming from and what is my most popular content. You can also take a look at three very important metrics with Google Analytics.

This is from a post that I called 3 Metrics to Measure Year-End Social Media Results. As you come to the end of the year—you should be doing this all year, but especially toward the end of the year—you really want to measure how your marketing efforts worked. So the first thing you want to be able to look at is how much traffic did online marketing drive to my website. I believe in keeping measurements simple, and that’s what this post does. First of all, you just take a look to see how much traffic did social media bring. What were your best-performing posts. Then, you measure sales and compare that with traffic and see is there a correlation. Now this is the simplest way to measure social media results as far as tying them directly to revenue. There are all kinds of more complex ways to do this, but this is one of the simplest ways to do it. Another way that you can measure social media success is to look at insights. Facebook and Twitter and YouTube all offer insights into who your most profitable fans are, what the most popular posts that you do are. So you want to identify what’s working now.

Then, automate the social media tasks that don’t require your engagement. And I list a whole bunch of these here. But ultimately, what you want to do is to identify what are the tasks that you can delegate that don’t require you to do them. You want to find out the simplest way to do that. Sometimes it could be an app, it could be a virtual assistant. There are a lot of different way that you can do this. One of my favorite ways is using different apps. I use one called IFTTT. It’s called “Ift.” Zapier is another one that you can use. So definitely take a look at each of these blog posts that I will have linked below. By doing these three tasks, you will definitely be able to identify the most profitable part of your marketing and automate the parts of your marketing that don’t require your involvement.

This is Maria Peagler from with the 80/20 of your social media marketing.

Oct 31

Visual Storytelling for Brands – 3 Case Studies & Infographic [VIDEO]

By Maria Peagler

In this age of instant gratification, engaging your audience can sometimes seem like a race against ever-shortening attention spans. This week we’ve looked at how visual storytelling is a critical part of marketing.

To conclude the week, here’s a video defining visual storytelling and showing how three very different businesses are using visuals to tell their stories. Click here to listen to the interview with Ekaterina Walker, co-author of The Art of Visual Storytelling, and click here to view the full blog post and see the infographic on visual storytelling for brands. Timestamps & transcript are below the video:

00:00: How to Do Visual Storytelling to Market Your Brand

00:35: The Power of Visual Storytelling by Ekaterina Walker

01:12: Visuals Lead to More Engagement

02:25: Northern Valley Auto Body Case Study

04:35: Missouri Star Quilt Company Case Study

08:07: Marketing Experiments Case Study

09:44: Recap


This is Maria Peagler with, and in this video I am going to show you how you can do visual storytelling to market your brand. We’re here on the blog, and this is a post that we did that involves multiple case studies of brands who are doing visual storytelling well. And so I am going to show you examples of each of these brands. 

But first, we’re going to define what visual storytelling is. And this comes from an interview that I did with Ekaterina Walter, who is co-author of the book, The Power of Visual Storytelling. And in it, Ekaterina says that the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text. And that the internet has caused the human attention span to officially drop below that of a goldfish. And so it becomes increasingly difficult to keep your brand’s message sticky. And so one of the best ways to do that is with visual content. Web posts with visuals get 180% more engagement. Viewers spend 100% more time on a web page with a video. If you’re doing a press release, if it has a video it will get 45% more traffic. And if you have a web page with an infographic you’ll get 12% more traffic. And so what you can do is to take your story as a brand and use visual content in the form of photos, videos, infographics, presentations, GIFs, memes, Vine video, you name it. Whatever is easy for you to create. Ekaterina suggests doing that by creating your visual road map. And that’s where you’re going to set the goals for your visual content. You’re going to listen to your customers and see what their pain points are. And from those two things you’ll identify your message, start your visual storytelling, identify what’s working and measure those results. So let’s take a look at three businesses that are doing this really, really well. 

The first one I want to show you is one called Northern Valley Auto Body. They are a New Jersey Auto Body repair shop and I have never been there. I live in Georgia, so I am not affiliated with them in any way, but they do a fabulous job of visual storytelling. You can see their Facebook page isn’t perfect. Their timeline cover could use a little tweaking here. But what they do really well is they have a ton of photos. As a matter of fact, I’m going to go to their photo album and show you all the different albums that they have. So you can see they show that they do Ford cars, Lexus, Saab, Toyota, Honda, Mazda. My favorite one, though, is this Mustang photo album. They show a Mustang before and after. Here it is after it’s been restored, and they show the photos of the process that they went through in fixing this car and, frankly, what a mess it was beforehand. So the story that they’re telling with these photos is one of transparency and trust. How many times have you gone in to have your car repaired and you have no idea if you can trust the brand? You have no idea who the people are, what they’re going to be doing with your car. It’s always a little anxious for people, to turn your car over to someone when it needs repair, whether it’s a mechanic or a body shop. And because they are so open with their process, they’re showing you exactly what they do. And so their story is one of transparency and trust. And it was a very simple thing to do. These are not sophisticated photos. It’s just they took the time to whip out their smart-phone and document the process of fixing these cars. So they’re doing a fantastic job with their visual storytelling. 

Another small business that I love to profile is the Missouri Quilt Company. And the reason they are so fascinating is that the founder—who is right here, Jenny Doan—she and her daughter opened a quilt shop at the height of the U.S. recession. It was about 2010. There was a woman who was a former Wall Street Journal reporter who also is a quilter, Meg Cox, who really followed this mother-daughter team because she really didn’t think that they were going to make it. The lived in a small town, they really didn’t have any kind of a business background, but they took their business from zero to being the largest employer in their small town. And they did it through visual content, specifically YouTube quilting tutorials. And it’s really smart the way they did this and I’m going to show you. This is their YouTube channel and you can see they’ve got all kinds of videos here. But the things that are really amazing to me about the Missouri Star Quilt Company is this. They started out having no idea how to do a really good video. In fact, if you look at their early videos, they’re pretty awful, frankly. The lighting is bad, there’s no titles on them. You can see they got far more sophisticated as they were going along. But here’s one, this video that’s two years old. There are some that are even four years old. And people don’t care what the production quality is. If they’re useful they get over a million views. And there was nothing special about this particular video. It’s simply a quilt that shows you how to make a quilt top in less than an hour. And it looks like they’re monetizing the videos, as well, with advertising. Let’s get past the ad and I’m going to show you the quality of this video. 

See now they have this nice little intro here. That wasn’t always the case. So you can see there’s nothing fancy about this. The lighting isn’t great. But it’s a 13-minute video that shows you how to create a quilt top in less than an hour. That’s the key right there. This is a hugely popular video on YouTube. They have over 205,000 subscribers, a million views to this one video. And the amazing thing that they’ve done is not only has this sold fabric for them in their quilt shop, but it sells fabric at a higher profit margin. They focus on what are called precuts. And that’s what a jelly roll is right there. They’re two and a half inch strips that are precut so that, as a quilter, you don’t have to cut those. But it also means that as a quilt shop they don’t have to spend the money on the labor for an employee to cut that fabric. It’s precut. And so it’s quicker for them to sell to you and it’s quicker for you to put a quilt top together. So not only are they doing quilting tutorials that are free, it sells their product at a higher profit margin than most other quilt shops would do. So that’s the second case study. 

Now the third case study is going to be a larger brand that’s based out of Jacksonville, Florida called Marketing Experiments. And they are pretty well known in the marketing industry, but you can see they don’t have anywhere near what the Missouri Star Quilt Company has as far as views or subscribers because it’s a B2B company. They are a company that holds marketing clinics, they do marketing research case studies. And what they do is fascinating to me, because they hold live marketing clinics—they’re really webinars, but they call them a clinic—where the founder, Flint McGlaughlin goes through and explains the findings of one of the case studies that they’ve done. They do some live optimization, they’re an hour long, they have a ton of good content in them. You can see that they’ve got a good number of views here, almost 18,000 views. But the other thing that they do which, to me, is so fascinating, is that they upload their slides to SlideShare, as well. So this is the same web clinic. But instead of having to watch an hour long video, they’ve uploaded it to SlideShare and you can go through the 73 slides in just a few minutes. Now, they don’t get nearly as many views, but I can tell you that, personally, when I want to see something that Marketing Experiments has done, I go through and I look at the slideshow. 

And so these are three different kinds of visual storytelling. The Northern Valley Auto Body shop is doing it with images, showing transparency. Missouri Quilt Company, their story is quick and easy. You go to them to figure out how to make a quilt easy, using precuts. That’s their story. Marketing Experiments, their story is deep knowledge and experience in marketing. And they work with very, very big brands. And so that is their story. And they’re all doing it in a different way. Some are using video, some are using presentations and some are using images. But all three of these brands are using visual storytelling. Now you can learn more at the blog. We have visual storytelling week with not only a post that details all of these brands and more, so I will put the link to this blog post in the description. But we also have an interview with the author of The Power of Visual Storytelling, Ekaterina Walter. And it’s a 30 minute video, but we also have the transcript and clips of the interview so you don’t have to listen to the whole thing if you don’t have time. So this is Maria Peagler with on visual storytelling for brands.

visual storytelling infographic
Oct 29

Visual Storytelling for Brands

By Maria Peagler

 visual storytelling maria peagler

Editor’s note: We’re continuing our Visual Storytelling theme this week with a look at how brands can market using visual content, along with examples of those doing this well.  You can listen to my interview (or read the transcript) of my interview with Ekaterina Walter, co-author of The Power of Visual Storytelling here.

The human attention span has dwindled to eight seconds — less than that of a goldfish — according to a 2002 BBC article. With so many competing websites, social networks and entertainment on the internet, how can brands make their message stand out, be remembered and generate results?

Visual content: our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text. Done well, your story told in a visual way, sticks with readers far better than just words on a page or screen.

What is Visual Storytelling and How Does it Benefit My Business?

Visual storytelling encompasses far more than just using visuals in your marketing: it’s about telling your brand’s story — what your purpose is & what you stand for — in a visual way.  I like to think of it as Start With Why meets The Back of the Napkin meets Made to Stick.

Marketing your brand visually makes your message sticky: your audience remembers it, engages with it, and is far more likely to actually consume it.  Here are visual content statistics:

  • Web posts with visuals are 180% more likely to get engagement
  • Visitors spend 100% more time on web pages with video
  • Press releases incorporating video get 45% more traffic
  • Web posts including infographics get 12% more traffic

If you’d like more traffic from highly engaged visitors who are more likely to buy from you, visual content is a highly effective approach.

What Visual Content is Best for Your Brand?

The type of visual content you should use depends on several factors, including what’s easiest for your team (or you) to create, as well as your audience demographics and where they hang out online.  While Vine is a great place to find 18-20 year-olds, it won’t be effective for reaching baby boomers. Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest are better suited for that audience.

Identify your audience, discover where they are online (and offline), and target them according to your business goals.

Tell Your Story Using Simple Images

A brand who does this well is is Northern Valley Auto Body in Englewood, NJ, as shown here on their Facebook page.  They take before & after photos of the cars they repair, as well as in-process pics.  Not only is it fascinating to see how they work, the story their images tell is one of trust and transparency: the usually off-limits to clients body shop has completely opened their doors and invited you to watch their process:

visual storytelling case study

Photos of in-process restorations instills a sense of trust in their brand.

Notice the simplicity of this visual story: photos taken in the garage with a smartphone and uploaded to a Facebook album. No filters, no captions, nothing but photos of their work. This didn’t take a graphic design team, but one person who stopped long enough to document the brand’s work.

Educate & Entertain Using Video Tutorials

Missouri Star Quilt Company opened their doors during the height of the U.S. recession, and their odds were so slim of making it they were covered by Wall Street Journal reporter Meg Cox (a quilter herself). How founder, Jenny Doan, not only survived the recession but became the largest employer in her small town is all due to her free quilting tutorials on YouTube.

missouri star quilt company tutorials

Missouri Star Quilt Company grew their brand to the largest employer in their town using YouTube video tutorials

Jenny’s videos are simple, brief, but show her personality and simple ways to make a quilt from pre-cuts: fabric pieces already cut into shapes ready for quilters to sew together. Not only do her videos market the shop’s inventory of pre-cut fabrics, they also help reduce her labor costs, as pre-cuts don’t require an employee to cut a piece of fabric for every customer, as do bolts of fabric.

Jenny’s early videos were rough, with poor lighting and showing her sitting at a sewing machine. But, viewers weren’t concerned with the production quality: they loved Missouri Quilt Company’s videos, and some of their most popular videos are their oldest, garnering over a million views.

Reach Business Clients Using Presentations

Marketing Experiments is a well-known brand in the marketing industry that uses presentations and videos to reach their target audience. They offer hour-long “clinics” where they share the results of their case studies, research, and do live optimizations of brands who need their advice. They offer the clinics live, but also upload the replay to YouTube, and the shorter slide deck to Slideshare:

visual storytelling case study

Marketing Experiments offers their “marketing clinics” on video as well as slide deck presentations

visual storytelling case study

Marketing Experiments uploads their presentations to Slideshare for those who don’t want to watch the entire video


Speak Your Audience’s Language with Infographics, GIFs, Memes

Here at we use infographics to offer quick guides to social networks:

2014 Edition of Facebook Marketing Infographic

2014 Edition of Facebook Marketing Infographic

Dr. Pepper uses GIFs, Hubspot has an entire Pinterest board dedicated to marketing memes, the White House creates Vine videos, and brands aplenty are on Instagram. So no matter who your audience is, you can reach them using some form of visual content.

Create Your Visual Roadmap

To get the most from your visual content marketing, establish your roadmap: your brand’s strategy and execution plan, by answering these questions:

  • what does your brand stand for (and how does it differ from your competition)?
  • what is your brand’s purpose?
  • what are your business goals for your marketing?
  • what are your customer’s pain points?
  • what marketing efforts are working now?

Your answers shape your business’ unique visual roadmap, making your brand unforgettable to your audience, and resonating with them in a way no plain text ever will.

What type of visual storytelling is your business doing and what have been your results? Share your story in the comments below.

Related Resources

Visual Social Media Webinar*

Your First Business Video Webinar*

Facebook Image Sizes Cheat Sheet

Google+ Image Sizes Cheat Sheet*

Instagram Marketing Infographic

Instagram for Business Case Studies

How to Build a DIY Stock Photo Library for Social Media

VIDEO TUTORIAL: How to Build a Stock Photo Library Using Canva

Your First Business Video Checklist

Our Most Popular Infographics from 2014

Our Most Popular Infographics from 2012

* denotes members-only content

Social Media Manager Learning Track
Oct 24

Social Media Training — Social Media Manager Learning Track [VIDEO]

By Maria Peagler

Do you need to update your online marketing skills? Are you interested in becoming a social media manager? Our Social Media Manager Learning Track provides the training you need to succeed at digital marketing, no matter what your needs are.

Here’s a brief look at who the Social Media Manager Learning Track is for and what you’ll get. Click here for more details on what you’ll learn. Timestamps & transcript are below the video:

00:00:  Who the Social Media Manager Learning Track Is For

00:19:  What You’ll Learn

00:53:  What Else You’ll Get

01:15:  Visit to Get Started


Whether you want a career in digital marketing or just need to update your social media marketing skills, our new Social Media Manager Learning Track at is perfect for you.

This learning track dives deep into topics that go beyond just one social network. You’ll learn how to do things like eCommerce, get website sales, you’ll learn what you need to know to outsource social media marketing whether you are the one doing the outsourcing as an agency or someone is hiring you. You’ll learn how to do social media for local business, content marketing, Facebook ads, business video, optimizing a social media strategy and much, much more, all designed to be a deep dive into creating, developing and executing social media campaigns.

And that’s in addition to all the classes you get here on every social network. And our well-known infographics, swipe files so you can learn what others are doing that works in social media marketing, your bonus webinars that go into one particular topic–for example, social media for local business–and much more.

So visit today to get a new career in digital marketing or update your social media marketing skills.

Oct 17

Pinterest Marketing How To: Makeover Your Boards to Drive Sales [VIDEO]

By Maria Peagler

This week’s video tutorial walks you through the makeover of SMOC member, Craftsy teacher, quilt designer and business owner Debbie Maddy’s Pinterest boards.

Though Debbie already has a strong presence and good following on Pinterest, she can optimize her content to increase her brand’s visibility and drive more content.

Regardless of what product or service you provide, you can use the suggestions offered in this makeover to improve your own pins and create a stronger, profitable Pinterest presence.

Timestamps & transcript are below the video:

Note: As of August 2013, Google retired their keyword tool and replaced it with the Keyword Planner, which isn’t nearly as useful. So I now recommend using the Bing Keyword Tool. The keywords it provides work equally well in any search engine. All you’re doing is changing where you do your research.

Video Timestamps

00:15:  SMOC Student Debbie Maddy’s Pinterest Makeover

01:27:  Suggestions to Improve Boards & Drive Traffic

02:48:  When Pin Links Don’t Match Website URL it Can Be Confusing

03:45:  Create a Dedicated Board for Each Pattern

04:25:  Encourage People to Visit Website for More Information & Include Price

05:15:  Use Search Engine Optimization to Make Pins More Visible

05:50:  Repins Are Key for Visibility

06:30:  Add Keywords People Use to Search for Your Products to Product Description

07:30:  Google Keyword Tool

07:57:  Input Website URL

08:41:  Identify Most Popular Keyword Ideas

09:26:  Low Competition, High Search Volume Keywords Are an Excellent Opportunity

10:30:  Optimize Existing Pin for Higher Visibility

11:05:  Debbie Maddy Pinterest Makeover Recap

12:18:  Don’t Hard Sell on Pinterest, But Include What People Are Looking for Separately


Welcome to this month’s social media makeover. I’m making over the Pinterest boards of Debbie Maddy, who is a student who is a quilt designer, teacher and founder of her own business. She asked me to take a look at her Pinterest boards and offer some feedback. So here we’re on Debbie’s Pinterest account and you can see that she’s got 41 boards and 632 pins. She’s got 29 likes, which is really good. She’s got a lot of followers and you can see that she has far more followers than people that she is following. That’s always a good sign that you have influence. 

And so Debbie is doing a really good job. Her Pinterest boards are beautiful. And she’s got a variety here. Even though her business is quilting she has a wide variety of boards. Some are about fabric, jewelery, just things that she loves, inspiring quotes, cool stuff just for fun, recipes and she’s got some great titles here. So she’s doing a really good job with her Pinterest boards. I do have some suggestions for improvement, and mostly that has to do with how she can drive business from her Pinterest page. 

Now looking at her boards, it’s difficult to figure out exactly what Debbie’s products are here. She’s got a link to her website and to her Facebook page, which is fantastic. But what I’m not seeing is anything like my quilts, my patterns. I want to see something that says what Debbie’s business is and shows it here on Pinterest. Now she does have a board here called Quilts I Love. And when you click on this it will show you a variety of quilts which include her patterns, but also quilts that she just likes. But you cannot tell here which are which. I can’t tell here which are Debbie’s quilts and which are ones that she just really likes. 

Now the ones that are Debbie’s Quilts are these right here. I looked on her website and looked to see which ones were hers. But you’ll notice here she’s got a good description here. Modern Art with Fabric, her company name and her name. But the link here doesn’t say her website. It says Now that’s a little confusing. And so when I click on this what it does is it takes me to the cover of this pattern. But again, it says webstore quiltropis. A lot of people, I think, probably wouldn’t click on that, because they think they’re going immediately to a store and not Debbie’s website. But actually, if you click on it, it does take you to Debbie’s website. So here you get more information and you can click to view additional images that are in the pattern and in the book. So she’s doing a great job here on her website, but it’s not really apparent on her Pinterest board. 

So here is what I recommend for Debbie. For this particular pattern, or for each of her patterns, I recommend making one Pinterest board for each of her patterns. And for this one you could call the board Modern Art with Fabric. This is a contemporary pattern. It’s designed to go with a contemporary fabric. And so you could put that in the description. And I’m going to talk a little bit more about that later. But the reason I recommend that you have an entire board is that you can include these additional images right there on Pinterest. And I would also say something like click on the image to go to my website and see more photos or a longer description. 

There is also a recent study showing that Pinterest pins that you can buy from, that have a dollar figure attached to them, actually get more clicks than pins that don’t. So it’s worth experimenting here for Debbie by putting a price in here. And all she has to do is in the description, add the price, and you would do that with a dollar figure. So whatever her price is–$20–if she puts this on her Pinterest description it will put a little tag her, banner with the price, and she’ll get more clicks for it. 

The other thing that I think that Debbie can do here is do a little bit of Search Engine Optimization. And what I mean by that, you don’t have to be an SEO geek to do this. But there are a few things that Debbie can do here to really increase how visible her patterns are. Now they’re already going to be very visible because you can see this board right here already has 496 followers. And the more followers you have–generally, to your Pinterest account and to your boards–the more visibility they’ll see. But the big thing for visibility is to get repins. When somebody repins your quilt or your board, that immediately puts it in front of all of my followers on Pinterest. So that is something that you really want to work to get are repins, and so there’s a couple ways that you do that. 

One is with a contest. And contests are really bit on Pinterest, and have a contest where people repin. And that’s something that will definitely get you a lot more visibility. But another way that you can do it is with Search Engine Optimization, and that’s simply figuring out what keywords people use to search for your products and use those in your descriptions. Now there’s no kind of search engine search tool for Pinterest. However, you can use Google’s Keyword Tool to figure out what keywords people use to search for quilting patterns. 

Now Debbie specializes in patterns that are easy for beginners and you can see that if you go to her website and to her homepage. She’s got quilt designs here and everything is easy. A lot of simple techniques. And you can see that as you go through her website she uses a lot of the words easy, simple. So she focuses on things that are very simple for beginners. 

And so I’m going to go to the Google Keyword Tool here. And anyone can use this. Again, you don’t have to be a super geek to do this. You don’t have to be an SEO person to know how to do this. And so I’m going to end up at the Google Keyword Tool. And here are a couple ways that Debbie can do this. The first one is by putting in the URL of her website. And I clicked off of that so I’m going to go here again and go to her homepage. And I am going to copy this and paste it into this Google Keyword Tool right here where it says website. I’m going to paste Debbie’s website name, click on only show ideas that are closely related to this, because otherwise I get a lot of junk. And you want to click on search. And it’s automatically going to show you ad group ideas. I’m not interested in doing an ad, but I do want to see keyword ideas. 

Here are an awful lot. 79 different keyword ideas. We want to immediately hone in on the most popular one. And so we want to do local monthly searches. Local means the United States. And you can see here that there are over 2 million searches for things like quilt a quilt, quilts quilts quilts, things like that. But what I recommend for Debbie is that she really hone in on the type of patterns that she does, which is easy quilt, quilt for beginner, beginner quilt, simple quilt patterns. Those are the things that are going to get her the best opportunities for visibility for people who are targeted to her audience. She also does star quilts. You can see there’s a star quilt here that has low competition and high searches. 49,000 searches a month and low competition, which means not many other people are using these keywords. So that’s an excellent opportunity for Debbie. So what I would do is search for things that have high searches but low competition. And you can see here, y seams. People look for those things. And so those are all things. Debbie needs to go through here and look for things that have low search competition but high volume. And simple quilt blocks is something that has one of the highest search volumes. And quilt star. So those are the kinds of descriptions that Debbie needs to put into her Pinterest boards and descriptions. 

And so right here, this is called the Ashleigh pattern. But Debbie has an opportunity to actually call this something that will get her higher visibility. This is a star quilt block. And so she can put quilt star pattern in the description. She can add a lot more information here. That it’s the Ashleigh pattern, the price, very simple pattern. You can put an awful lot of information here in a Pinterest description. 

Let’s recap here the things that I’m recommending for Debbie. She has an excellent start already, but she definitely needs to add prices to her board and pin descriptions. She also needs to use keywords in her pin and board names. Add more photos for each pattern. And create a board for each pattern with additional photos. And I think all of those things are thing that will really help Debbie. Also, add a call-to-action for each pin saying click to see more photos and description. And you don’t want to do a hard sell on Pinterest, but these are things that people are looking for on Pinterest. And so by including those and separating them out from just quilts I love and putting it at the very top, I would recommend that Debbie put it in the top row. Her quilt boards. Or at least have them all together. She could do them on the second row, but just so they’re visible and so people don’t have to scroll down.

Oct 03

Beyond Your Social Media Strategy: How’s Your Execution? [VIDEO]

By Maria Peagler

This week in our Friday video tutorial we’re bringing you a video tutorial for one of our most popular blog posts: Creating an Action Plan for Your Social Media.

It was one post in a three-part series, and it continues to be a post our readers return to again and again.  In this video, we share a case study of the coaching Maria Peagler did with one of our members who needed an action plan for promoting her latest book.

No matter what your brand, you can use this same process to create SMART goals, develop an action plan, and measure your results for your social media marketing.

Links to the original blog posts, timestamps & transcript are below the video:

Original Blog Post Series

Part One:  Set Your Social Media Goals
Part Two:  Create Your Action Plan
Part Three:  Measure Your Results

Video Timestamps

00:13:  It’s Easiest to Break Down While Executing Social Media Plan

00:30:  Blog Post Series on Creating Action Plan for Social Media Goals

00:47:  First Step is to Set Social Media Goals

00:57:  People Don’t Take Time to Tie Efforts to Business Goal

01:30:  Tie Social Media Marketing to Goals & Create Smart Goals

01:55:  Second Step is to Create an Action Plan

02:15:  Example of Pinterest Campaign Action Plan

02:25:  Action Plan Breaks Down Smart Goals Over Time

03:03:  Break Monthly Goals Down into Weekly & Daily Goals

03:29:  Long-term Goals Are More Overwhelming Than Broken Down Short-term Goals

04:13:  Creating Monthly Goals from Pinterest Campaign Action Plan

04:50:  Breaking Down Monthly Goals for Pinterest Campaign

05:18: Members Get  Action Plan Spreadsheet as Bonus

05:32:  Step Three is Measuring Results

05:50:  Recap Three Steps

06:03:  Identify What You Can Measure

06:17:  Measurable Figures from Pinterest Campaign

06:30: You’ll Discover Other Opportunities Through Social Media Marketing

06:54: Benchmark Figures & Identify Where You Started

07:32: Identify How to Measure Each Element & Keep It Simple

07:50: It Can Be Hard to Track Social Media Results

08:08: It’s Easiest to Track Things Over Time

08:20: Watch Google Analytics and Sales Rank Over Time & Track Changes

08:43: Track Sales During Promotions & Campaigns

09:17: Read More in Blog Posts

09:37: Always Set Smart Goals, Create Action Plan & Measure Results for Any Campaign


Hi this is Maria Peagler from, and in this brief video I am going to show you how you can go beyond setting a social media strategy, and really focus on your execution, because it’s in the actual doing of your social media plan, or any kind of a goal that we have, that we usually end up breaking down and getting some difficulty in executing our goals. This is a series of blog posts that I did that are some of our most popular blog posts, because it creates and action plan for your social media goals. It’s a series of three blog posts that I will link to below the video.

The first is to set your social  media goals. We find here at a lot of people really don’t take the time to do that. They don’t take the time to tie their social media efforts to the business goal. I talk about, in this blog post, one of our highest, most successful revenue producing clients, she is the number one real estate agent in the state of Georgia, and she said “You know I really don’t know what social media can do for me.” So, what I recommended was to tie into your business goals. If you have certain revenue goals, if you have new products coming out, tie your social media marketing to those goals, and create smart goals. A smart goal is specific, it’s measurable, achievable, relevant, and time based. So, here is an example of smart goals in action, turned into a social media action plan.

This is the second blog post in this three part series, and I used one of our actual clients here, who was an author, and she had a new book coming out, and she really wanted to promote this book, because she wanted a future with her publisher. She needed to sell a good number of books. So, what I recommended  was to create a  Pintrest campaign to sell a thousand books. We were very specific in her social media goals. So we created an action plan, and what this was was her smart goals broken down by time. Her book was coming out in December, so she wanted to really start promoting it in January. So, she knew that she needed to get her cover art from her publisher, get an amazon link to buy the book, a publisher link to buy the book, order copies for the give away. So you can see here that everything is broken down into monthly goals, and these  are the steps that she needs to do, and you can even break that down  further. You can break that down from monthly into weekly and daily goals. So, here we took the action plan for February, which was to find fellow authors to promote it, creates Pintrest boards, and do a contest. We broke that down into weekly and daily goals. I can tell you that I actually do this in my business and it works, because when you look at a goal from a very long view, it looks overwhelming. If you can break it down into bite size steps it’s very doable. So here we’ve broken it down into a weekly and daily action. So here, for this particular goal, it was to  invite fellow authors to promote it. Well, what does that involve? You have to identify the authors, editors and designers that you want to invite, and you’ve got to get their contact information and send  out an invitation for them to promote it, with a time table, because   promotion, especially when you are doing a book tour, you want things to come out at the same time. So, for this particular week in February she, our client, was going to actually do the identification of the authors  to invite and to create that promotion time table. Then for the second goal of creating those Pintrest boards, she needed to identify a new Pintrest board for a each day of the promotions, take photos, get permission from her publisher to use them, create tutorials that she can use on Pintrest, and create a book trailer video. Now, she’s not going to do this all at once, that’s just for February. But for this week she needed to contact the publisher, she needed to create one quilt tutorial and get images for the book trailer video. So, for her daily actions, she’s going to email  the editor today, create a brief tutorial, and start getting those images. So you can see here how breaking these down into daily actions makes these very, very simple. Now members you get this spreadsheet. This is a Google docs spreadsheet that you can use in excel as well. You get this spreadsheet as a bonus in your memership. 

The third part of this execution plan is measuring the results, because you need to see results from your social media efforts. Whether you’re spending money or time, you’re investing in social media, and you need to see what kind of payoff you’re getting. 

Let’s recap this. So, first we set smart goals, second we created an action plan, and then third we are measuring our social media return on investment. So, first of all you need to identify what you can measure. You can definitely measure sales, but for an author you often don’t  have access to your sales figures, you need to get those from your publisher. What you can measure, for this particular campaign are: Pintrest re-pins, traffic to her  website that was referred from Pintrest, her Amazon sales rank, new lecture and workshop booking. You’ll see a lot of opportunities that come from your social media marketing that aren’t directly your goal, but they happen anyway, which is always a great thing. Those are like the gravy  on top, and additional publicity. You’ll get the request for interviews, for book reviews, so you need to identify what items you need to measure, and you need to benchmark it. So, you need to identify what your starting place is for that particular element. You need to take a look at “Ok, so how many Pintreset re-pins did I have before this campaign. How much traffic am I getting from Pintrest before this campaign  started? What was my Amazon sales rank before the campaign, during it and after?” So, you need to know where you’re starting from, so you can  identify what kind of a boost, and what kind of results you got from that particular campaign. Then you need to identify how to measure each element. Now, this is where it can get kind of complicated, and I recommend keeping this stupidly simple, and I say that because I am not a numbers person, so it get’s difficult to measure results, and sometimes it’s hard to measure social media results, because you can’t track social media directly from a sale. Very few people go  directly from Pintrest to Amazon and buy directly. So, what you want to do, the easiest thing to do, is to track things over time. 

I’m not sure if I have this here…Yeah here it is. Let’s see…I actually don’t have it here, but what you want to take a look at is your Google analytics and your sales rank. You want to watch your sales rank over time and see how that  changes over the date of your promotion. You will definitely see an uptake. In this particular case we are showcasing an author in Amazon sales rank, but if you  have a product that you are selling, or a service, take a look at your sales over that particular month, or week that you are doing that promotion, and see how they increase. That’s going to tell you what kind of a result you got. Even if it shows you that those sales came from Google. You know, people will see you on social media, but not buy immediately, but then they will Google you to find your website. So, even if Amazon and Google analytics says that they are coming from someplace. They are actually  a result of your social media marketing. Now you can go deeper into this measurement by reading these blog posts. Again, I will link to these below the video, but you want to take a look at the  major three steps when you’re executing any kind of social media campaign. You want to set some smart goals, create your action plan, and then you want to measure the results from your campaign. 

This is Maria Peagler from  with this brief video on how to go beyond social media and execute your social media campaign.

Sep 26

How to Create a Stock Photo Library for Social Media [VIDEO]

By Maria Peagler

Have you noticed how many gorgeous images are being shared on social networks? How do small businesses get such fabulous photos without having a graphic designer or photographer on staff? You’re about to find out!

To learn how to take great photos with the equipment you’ve already got, click here to review our step-by-step post.

To learn how to edit, add text, and repurpose those photos, watch this brief tutorial video. BONUS: toward the end of the video I reveal how we store and share our stock photo library with our team for free (or ridiculously low-cost).

Timestamps & transcript are below the video:

00:15:  The How to Build Your Own Stock Photo Library Blog Post Has Photography Tips

01:00:  The Visual Social Media Webinar Has Advice on Using Your Smartphone

01:25:  Use a Photo in Canva

02:02:  Canva’s Stock Photos

02:17:  How to Get Started in Canva

02:30:  Select How the Photo Will Be Used

02:55:  Canva Sizes the Canvas Based on Your Selection

03:05:  How to Add a Canva Image to the Canvas

03:15:  Use Uploaded Images

03:30:  Resize Image to Fit the Canvas

03:40:  Add a Colored Rectangle to the Canvas

04:00:  Adjust the Rectangle’s Size & Color

04:27:  Add Main Text

04:45:  Edit Text

04:59:  Create Sophisticated Text

05:45:  Add Your Brand Name Using Body Text

06:42:  Save & Download the Completed Image

07:00: Repurpose an Image Using Canva

07:15: Apply a Filter

07:50: Edit Design Elements to Match

08:17: Change Text Content & Color

09:20: Save & Download a New Image Created from the Same Photo

09:40: Delete Design Elements & Resize the Photo

10:02: Apply a New Filter

10:18: Add Quality Design Elements, No Drawing Skills Necessary

10:45: Edit Design Elements to Complement the Photo

11:15: Edit Default Text Content

11:35: Edit Font & Color

11:56: Add Desired Text Content

12:20: The Move & Delete Options Will Affect the Entire Design Element

12:35: Remove Default Text & Use the Text Tool for Customized Placement

13:00: Adjust Placement & Font Size

13:25: Save & Download the Image for Free

13:40: Use the Same Image Over & Over Again for Different Results

14:00: Canva Saves the Last Image You Worked On

14:20: Use Dropbox to Make Images Available to Your Team

14:40: Dropbox Creates a Folder on Your Computer

14:49: Simply Drop Files in the Folder & Share It

15:00: Dropbox Shared Folder Demo

15:28: Your Stock Photo Library Becomes Available to Your Entire Team

15:40 Rename an Image in the Dropbox Folder



This is Maria Peagler with In this video, I am going to show you how you can create a do it yourself stock photo library for social media. We actually did a blog post for this that was hugely popular. It made Guy Kawasaki’s Alltop most popular social media articles, and it has been shared extensively across the web and our intern Amanda wrote this article. She does a great job with photography, now she’s not a professional photographer, but she talks about how to take a photo here, use the rule of thirds, and different editing tools you can use.

In this video, I’m not going to cover how to take the photo, you can refer to the blog for this, but I’m going to show you how to edit edit these in a tool called Canva. If you refer our visual social media webinar, you can see all kinds of really easy ways that you can take photos with your smart phone and do photo and video.

I am going to show you how you can use a free new tool called Canva. What I’m going to do is show you a photo that I took and used in Canva. Now, this is a photo that I took years ago at Amicalola State park. It is the southern base of the Appalachian Trail and it was Fall at the top of the waterfall and it was just a gorgeous day. I took this photo and I used it in Canva just to do a photo post that said Happy Fall Y’all and is branded with our brand name, and I’m going to show you how I did this and I’m also going to show you how you reuse the same photo over and over to get different kinds of effects.

Canva has a lot of photos that you can use. If you use their photos, you have to pay $1, which I think is totally worth it. It just so happen that I had one that I could use. The way that you start, in Canva, is you actually go here and from their homepage tell it what size, type of image you are going to do. Like, where are you going to use this. Is it going to be a social media post, they have things specifically, a Facebook Cover, a Facebook post, they have things for Twitter, they also have things for Pinterest and Google+. So you tell it the things that you want to do.

I’m just going to say, this is going to be a Facebook post. It will automatically come up with a correctly sized canvas for you to use. You don’t ever have to worry. Now, I could use one of their images, just by pulling it over, and bringing it here and I can edit it. I’m actually going to delete this, and upload my own. I’m going to use one of the images that i’ve already uploaded, but you can see here that I have several images that i’ve pulled into Canva and I’m going to use this beautiful Fall photo.

Now you can see that it doesn’t really take up the whole area, so I can resize it here and just drag it. Then I want to add some text down here at the bottom that says Happy Fall Y’all. So, I can go to the background and pull in a rectangle shape. You can see it right down there at the bottom. Now if I want it to be bigger, I can change the dimensions of this photo so that you know I can pull it up and see more of the rectangle down here. I can also change the color of the rectangle, I want it more of a fall color. So I can go here and kind of. That’s a nice kind of mustard brown yellow color. So i’ve got to a nice area there where I can put some text.
I’m going to go over here to the text area and I want to add some text. Normally we would put it in the middle, you can drag that down here. I’m going to say Happy Fall Y’all and I think I made this an Oswald font because that’s the font that I use on my website.

A really cool thing you can do is to make the text look very sophisticated, you can make it a similar color, but make it lighter or darker. I’m going to make it darker, and I’m also going to do some text spacing. I’m going to change this to all caps. I’m going to make the text box a little bigger and then move to the center here. And then I can add some more text over here by clicking the body text now thats going to be smaller, and this is where I’m going to put in my brand.

You always want to brand the images that you do. Again, I’m going to do a nice dark color and I’m going to do something a little different, I’m going to go across the color wheel here and do something in a nice blue color. Also, change this to the Oswald font, and there we go. It’s a nice image. All I’ve got to do is say I want to download it and save the design and it downloads it for you. You can also link to it if you’d like.

Now, I’m going to show you how to use the same photo over and over again, its a really cool thing. I’m going to stay here and I’m going to go to, I’m going to click on the photo, and it gives you options for editing it, I’m going to go to filter, and this is very much like Instagram filters, you can change the look of your photo. Drama makes it very dark and this photo was already dark so I don’t really need that. You can make it a nice gray scale which would be great for creating something with a more sophisticated pallette.

I’m going to change this to a softer blue a nice teal color. I’m going to change the text to say something inspirational. Again, I’m going to change this to be similar to the background, I’m going to pick that same color, but I’m going to go in here to the plus and make it darker. It gives you a really sophisticated look. I’m going to do the same thing with my text here. And there we go. The same one done differently. Again I can download that, and make it an image.

And then I can do something completely different. I can delete this text, delete this square, make the image fill up the entire space by making it better, use a different filter, and I’m going to change that filter. Oh thats kind of cool, that retro. It gives it almost a polaroid look and then I can use, the cool thing about Canva is that you don’t have to know how to draw. You can take one of their objects over there and pull it over and you can see some are free and some are premium. This is a nice image that I’m going to put here and I’m going to change the color and i’ve got some very muted colors here.

So again I’m going to do the same thing. I’m going to start with this, but then I’m going to change it, it needs to go in the middle here. Yes I did write a book on color so I understand how to do a lot of this and actually I can probably do a bonus webinar on how to use color in your brand and images. So I’m going to change the text here to something inspirational. ‘Your Life Your Business Your Dream’, pick Josefin Sans font. I don’t want to delete the whole circle. I just want to take out the text with the delete button and then I’m going to add the text through the text button instead. So I’m going to paste that in there go to josefin sans, go to that color that I had, and then move it up. You’ll probably need to change the font size a little bit and center it. So I’m going to stop here and download this. Again because its my image, it doesn’t cost anything. You can also use Canva’s images which I do recommend if you don’t have one you want to use yourself.

You can see how easy this is and from the same image, you can use it over and over again to get different types of images for your business. Canva saves the last one you did, but you have it downloaded so you can use them at any time. This is one way you can use Canva to make your own stock photo library and I’m also going to give you a great tip here at the end on making these images available to your team.

If you work with a virtual assistant, if you have staff who need to use the same images, you can use Dropbox to make it really really simple. Dropbox is cloud storage, but the great thing about it is it creates a folder on your computer, so all you have to do to make the images available to your staff is to drop it in that Dropbox folder and share it with them. We use this with our social media services clients, we do this alot. So here is this dDropbox folder and in one of our folders is our stock photos. So here what I can do is pull one of these photos into the stock photo folder and its going to put those photos there so that now they’re accessible to my entire staff. We’ve got our own stock photo library that we can reuse over and over again. Here is my Happy Fall Image, I can put your biz, your life, your dream, so we know its an inspirational type of photo. So this is a brief tutorial on how to create your own do it yourself stock photo library. This is Maria Peagler with

The Learn Startup Approach to Education in America
Sep 10

The Lean Startup Approach to Education & Employment in America

By Maria Peagler

The Learn Startup Approach to Education in America

Robert Reich, the former Secretary of Labor under the Clinton administration, posted a commentary on his tumblr blog last week about American college graduates being over-educated and under-employed:

“Too often in modern America, we equate “equal opportunity” with an opportunity to get a four-year liberal arts degree. It should mean an opportunity to learn what’s necessary to get a good job.”

Reich then continues to recommend two-year degrees at vocational schools as a common-sense approach to securing a top job that opens the door the middle class in America, without the huge debt.

The Lean Startup Approach to Education

America is widely heralded as the global hotbed of innovation using the Lean Startup method pioneered by Eric Reis: almost every major social media platform originated here, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and more.

But where is the lean startup approach to education?  If the minimum viable product (MVP) is necessary for a lean approach to business, shouldn’t a minimum viable education (MVE) be the wise approach to a career, especially in an employment landscape littered with college grads saddled with college loan debt?

How relevant will your four-year degree be in ten years, when your job no longer exists? Middle-aged journalists who once had flourishing careers at The New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal are out of work because their industry was disrupted by digital alternatives.

Isn’t a better approach to get the MVE for your first career, and then pivot your education as your career and your industry evolve?

Don’t get me wrong:  I’m a lifelong learner, and I got a four-year degree when it was AFFORDABLE.  I paid my entire way through college, getting Pell Grants, student loans, and juggling three jobs.

My family lived below the poverty line, and I was able to get a degree from one of the top journalism colleges in the country. But I didn’t graduate with a burden of enormous college loan debt.

Since then, I have NEVER once considered going back to a university to further my education.  Why?

Because there are so many better alternatives to learning that are quicker, more up-to-date, and less expensive.

Minimum Viable Education Resources

While public and private universities in American have raised tuition every year far above the inflation rate, a more sane approach to education has been burgeoning:  online learning., Skillshare, TeamTreehouse, and yes, here at, you can get a great education in the digital sector.  Here’s a rundown of what each offers:

Learn Software Applications with

Pros: Classes on almost every major software application, including current and previous releases.  Lynda’s classes are a wonderful fit for creative professionals, as they offer courses on photography, animation, and other creative careers.  They’re also best for apps  that have new releases, like Windows 11 or Photoshop CC 2014, as they debut a new class with each new release.

Cons:  For social media platforms, Lynda’s classes are unable to keep up with the constant pace of changes.  They also do not offer a forum or access to instructors when you have questions.

Learn Creative Business Skills with

Pros:  Classes on business, design, fashion, photography, film music, and technology.  I’ve taken Skillshare classes, and they’re a “light” approach to online learning, with an average of three lessons for each class.  They offer a multi-media curriculum and often curate their content from other sources.

Cons:  Available of instructors to offer feedback to students is inconsistent: some are great, others never show up. But the low price-point of their classes makes it worth it to try out and see what you’ll learn.  Some instructors are not great teachers, but are great practitioners, so you often need to be patient through long videos that could be shorter.

Learn Web Development with

Pros: Classes on web development that include Sass, Ruby on Rails, Javascript, WordPress, Android app development, PHP, HTML, business skills and more. They offer a great variety of classes, an online forum with monthly challenges, all for a low price point.

Cons: I was pleasantly surprised by TeamTreehouse.  Their founder comes from an affiliate marketing and vitamin business background, and like so many others in the last five years, entered the online training arena when it became possible using lean startup technologies.  While I have not taken a class from Treehouse (their shortened name), an SMOC intern has, and she was quite pleased with the learning platform.  They offer a free trial, which I would definitely take and see if you can get feedback or help when working on a coding project.

Learn Social Media with

Pros: Classes on every major social network and search engine optimization, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, Slideshare, WordPress, YouTube, and more.  Offers a forum for questions, 1:1 coaching with its founder, as well as additional resources like infographics, bonus webinars, and case studies, all for a low price point.

Cons:  Students get a certificate of completion when they finish all lessons in a class; no testing or exams are necessary. Certification is from, not a third-party such as the American Council on Education (ACE), as that would triple the cost of classes here. Don’t offer classes on smaller social networks like Tumblr, Reddit, Delicious, or Digg.

Get a Digital Education for Less Than One Year’s Tuition at a University

You could take classes from every provider I’ve listed here for less than one year’s tuition at a public university.  You’d have a well-rounded  education from the recognized providers in photography, animation, Photoshop, Adobe Creative Suite, logo design, music production, web and app development and social media.

Each provider offers a free trial so you can take a class and see if it’s a good fit.  When’s the last time a university offered that?

You could have an impressive collection of skills for your resume, but how would you get the experience every employer wants?

Become an intern, an apprentice for a professional you admire, or volunteer your time for a non-profit who can sorely use your skills.  You get practical experience for your portfolio and build important professional relationships that will help you find a well-paying job in your new industry.

So yes, Robert Reich, there is a better way.  All made here in America, available for a global audience.


learning styles online training
Sep 03

How Our Online Training Works for Different Learning Styles

By Maria Peagler

learning styles online training

We all learn differently. Fortunately, the old days of one size-fits-all training are gone, and it’s more feasible than ever to find online training that fits your unique learning style.

What are learning styles?

Your learning style is the way you absorb, understand, and apply new knowledge.  Your learning styles are as unique as you are — almost a fingerprint of how you assimilate new information.  If you can understand your learning style, you can find training that fits you and be a more active participant in the learning process.

The main learning styles are:

Visual – reading a lesson, reviewing an infographic, or watching a video

Auditory – listening to a video or an audio, or getting 1:1 coaching

Kinesthetic – moving while learning. Standing up while reading or watching a video, walking while listening to an audio, and applying the lessons by going and doing them in your social networks

You may learn best via one learning style, or you could learn through a combination of learning styles.

Textbooks and lectures have been the staples of colleges and universities.  PowerPoint lectures have become the defacto standard for many online training companies.

Thankfully, we do it differently.

How We Teach to Each Learning Style

80% of people learn through visuals in some way. You may be a pure visual learner, or you may be a combination of visual with some auditory and kinesthetic.  For example, I learn by reading, watching, and then doing.  I learned early in college that if I could write something down, I retained more of it.

My younger son is a kinesthetic learner:  he learns by touching, moving, and doing.  He loves Rubik’s Cubes and solves math problems best when he can stand up at school.

My older son was ill for a year while in high school, and his illness diminished his ability to concentrate and retain information.  We found that using muscle memory was the key to his learning: if he could incorporate movement into his learning, he retained more of it.

Three people, three very different ways of absorbing what they need to be successful in life.

That’s why we offer a multimedia curriculum here at  Yes, we do offer videos, but our training isn’t only videos.  That would be a rigid training style requiring you sit for long periods of time that most busy entrepreneurs don’t have.

Instead, we offer multiple ways of learning:

  • chunked lessons with bite-sized content
  • each lesson is broken up into the why, what, and how: yes, we actually answer those burning questions like, “when will I ever use this” and “why do I need this?”  There’s no point to doing something if it doesn’t offer ROI for your business.
  • screenshots that point out exactly what you’ll see and where to click
  • videos that walk you through complex processes; you can replay them over and over and return to them when needed
  • one-page infographics to download for easy reference
  • swipe-files to show you what’s worked for other brands and how you can do the same
  • bonus webinar videos and mp3s you can listen to anytime, anywhere
  • responsive classes that you can take on ANY device: desktop, laptop, smartphone, or tablet
  • 1:1 coaching for individual guidance and advice

What to Look for When You Evaluate Online Training

First, absolutely expect a sample class.  You need to see how that training is delivered, what content they cover, how easy it is to navigate around the website to find what you need when you need it, and if they offer help when you get stuck.

You cannot rely on what brands proclaim to offer.  Terms like “industry standard,” “best,” and “recognized,” are vague and meaningless.  I’ll give you an example:

I was approached by an employee of a leading social dashboard brand that also offers online training.  They were quite proud of their “courseware” and their accrediation from a public university.

Once I started asking questions, however, what they offered did not live up to their claims.

What was their courseware?

Their response was “our own propriety SCORM-compliant solution, unique to their brand. ”  They offered me a look at their courseware, and what did I find?

PowerPoint.  Plain and simple.  And you couldn’t move on to the next lesson without finishing the current one.  What a total waste of an entrepreneur’s time.

What exactly is their accreditation?  Is it a degree?


Is it a continuing education credit?


It’s a piece of paper that costs you almost $2,500 to earn. But you get no degree, no certification with any meaning, and outdated training.

So, always try a sample class to see what the brand has to offer.  If they don’t offer a free class, move on. Your time and money are too precious to waste on hyped claims.

How to Find the Right Training for You

Try out a sample class from multiple training companies to see what feels right.  Do they fit your learning style? Can you get help when you have a question?

If you have to learn how to use their courseware before you start learning the content, that training company has failed you.

Online learning should be a seamless transition into the class, the community, and the content.

What has your experience been with online training? What’s important to you in a class? Share in the comments!