Tag Archives: new blog

Facebook Branding and Entertainment Blogging

facebook-branding-and-entertainment-bloggingIf you saw my awkward attempt at being live on Facebook, then you also caught my announcement that my feed will be pretty much unchanged by the new Facebook Branding roll out. Since I also do entertainment blogging for an assortment of Horror Websites, people were worried about my posting of images/references to things I don’t own. (In the past I’ve been known to share teaser images I’m sent, as well as links to news articles that I find on the web.) What it boils down to: Facebook branding and entertainment blogging do not play nicely together.

The fact of the matter is I’m not a verified page, even though I’ve gone through the process of becoming “verified”, Facebook didn’t think I was notorious enough to give their version of the dark mark. My stance?


The Issue

The policy essentially states that you can’t share anything that doesn’t belong to you, but in jargony lawyer-speak.

any post — including text, photos, videos, Instant Articles, links, 360 videos, and Live videos — that features a third party product, brand, or sponsor. It is typically posted by media companies, celebrities, or other influencers.

and branded content on pages as: content originating from the Page owner that features third party products, brands, or sponsors that are different from the Page owner.

Since I count as an influencer (damn you, journalistic inclinations!), that means me.

What it means, essentially for me (and for you, if you’re also unverified):

  • No images/texts/posts/links to or containing things which fall under a copyright.
  • No sponsored images or links, at all. This includes Affiliate Links.
  • It sucks to be us if we want to monetize our status as influencers.

What it means for the verified people:

  • More rules to follow, yay! (If your post doesn’t follow Facebook guidelines, then they’ll take it down. Think of it as Facebook Ad regulations on steroids.)
  • You have to tag the owner of the brand you’re posting about, and the owner will be able to see information (statistics would be my guess) about the posts you’re making with them tagged. (Big Brother is watching, and he’s just handed the binoculars to his friend.) A small bonus? They might opt to pay to boost your post based on its performance, which will drive up your engagement numbers.

All is Not Lost!

Facebook Branding and entertainment blogging don’t have to be a huge hassle or impossibility. My personal workaround (until I end up in Facebook jail) will be as follows:

  • Share links to horror reviews written on Wicked Horror, Gores Truly, and Horror Fuel because I wrote those and am affiliated with those names/brands.
  • Share links to Blogging Onward content because duh, that’s mine.
  • Share links and posts which indicates when SUPER COOL content which features a brand/product/etc. is being shared by me on a social media network. I am a writer and therefore a master of being vague when necessary.

Want more detailed information? ComoBlog has written an excellent post which breaks down the new policy.

5 Reasons to Fall Back in Love With Writing

Don’t Like Writing? Don’t Worry. Knowing You Have a Problem is the First Step

reasons-to-fall-back-in-love-with-writingIf you’re like many business owners, or humans in general, writing doesn’t fall high on your list of priorities. You want your website to have a blog, you want your social media accounts to have content, but doing the actual grunt work required to make that happen..? Gross. You need to fall back in love with writing.

Again, I repeat, you aren’t alone.

I’m one of those weirdos who would rather write than do almost anything else (Jonathan can vouch for this. He’s a trooper.), but I recognize that doesn’t apply to everyone. Even bloggers go through bouts of writers’ block where they struggle to find motivation to start tapping those keys. – Beyond that, it’s easy to feel like you don’t have time to sit down and write great insights. Whether you’re trying to create content for your customers (as a business) or readers (as a stand alone/not for profit blog), writing is a difficult process. Of course, even outside of writing, life can get stressful. When you’re busy actually making sales, it’s difficult to sit down and write about how you got there. Here are Five Reasons to Fall Back in Love With Writing.

5 Reasons to Fall Back in Love With Writing

1. Your Business/Website/Organization Needs It
58% of marketers said “original written content” is the most important type of content according to a report by Social Media Examiner. This means that written content is outdoing visuals and videos across the board. Now you might be thinking “But wait, posting photos or videos on Facebook gets more reactions than just posting text! That doesn’t make sense!” — The answer to that is simple. The report features the opinion of marketers, who are trying to get a very specific result. – Do photos get engagement on Facebook? Sure! Unfortunately, shares on Facebook don’t equate sales or views on your website.

2. It’ll Save You Money
Brands relying on inbound marketing save over $14 dollars for every new customer acquired (State of Inbound). What’s inbound marketing? Anything that makes your customers come to you. That might come in the form of an engaging blog article, a post on social media about a new service you’re offering, or a guest post on someone else’s blog. What do they all have in common? They require you to write, AND they will save you time and money. Why try to track your customers down wherever they are, when you could simply write something that makes them come to your turf?

reasons-to-love-writing-infograph3. Don’t Like Writing Articles? No Problem
Fun fact: Infographics are liked and shared on social media 3X more than any other content according to the folks at Massplanner. (PS: That absolutely explains why this post is an infographic as well.) Infographics aren’t the only written content that gets results, though! Quiz engagement numbers go through the roof, and allow you to build better customer relations. The moral of the story? There are plenty of ways that writing converts, so you don’t have to pigeonhole yourself into doing something you absolutely loathe. (Not everyone was meant to have a blog, and that’s okay.)

4. Writing Can Be Cathartic
While I typically think about writing from a web content or copy writing standpoint, writing can absolutely be cathartic and provide relief or release. AlcoholRehab.com actually recommends writing for those who are recovering from an addiction because of its therapeutic value. It’s an outlet where otherwise internalized feelings and thoughts can be expressed. It’s a safe space to get in contact with your subconscious, or an opportunity to make your goals and aspirations real. – If you don’t want to write for professional reasons, it still might be a good idea to write if you’re feeling stressed and can’t pinpoint the reason. An added bonus? You don’t actually have to be good at writing to benefit from the practice. Don’t fear failure. It’s opportunity!

5. If You Can’t Communicate in Writing, It’s Difficult to Succeed
Even if your potential employer, or potential clients don’t take Kyle Wiens’ stance that good grammar is a necessary qualification to hire someone, writing is still an absolute must, so it’s worth it to learn to love it. In today’s digital age, odds are that even those who find you on Periscope or Youtube will end up on your Website, Facebook, Instagram, or other social media page. You can’t rely solely on phone calls, or artfully crafted images to reach your customers for you. Sooner or later, emojis won’t be enough.

Not buying it? Check out my Sources, which are 100% not formatted any semblance of correctly:

3 Free Android Photo Apps

top-3-android-photo-appsSo you’re a blogger or aspiring social media juggernaut, but you don’t have Photoshop or an advanced digital camera to take photos with. You know about great stock photo sites, but you want your website and social media accounts to look polished, professional, and cohesive – even when you’re the one taking photographs.

Great! I have compiled a list of the top 3 FREE Android Photo Apps for you to try out to improve your brand, blog, or business. I’ve dropped my list from a top 10 to a top 3 because you don’t want all of the space on your device to be taken up by apps when you really only need one or two to get the job done.

  1. Snapseed – Snapseed, a photo editing app by Google, gets pretty much everything I might need to do done in one deft swoop. Everything from cropping to filters and spot repair, to adding realistic lens blurs and glow effects can be accomplished in this app. This is my go-to app when I need to do some quick editing on the fly.
  2. Phonto – If you need to add text to an image before it’s good to go, such as for watermarking or branding purposes, then Phonto is your best bet. This app could not be easier to use. You simply load the image you want to use, type in your text, and select the font. You can put multiple text boxes on any image, so if you want to put a quote and then add your website url, this app will get the job done in no time flat.
  3. Collage Photo Maker Pic Grid – If you need to combine multiple images, Layout from Instagram seems like an obvious choice. However, if you want to make your images more interesting and incorporate more photos than Layout allows, then you need Collage Photo Maker Pic Grid. It allows you to do all sorts of crazy layouts which incorporate interesting, dynamic shapes rather than the same old boring rectangle-based ones. You can also add text and filters using this app, so if you need to get something posted in a hurry, you can bypass the first two if you need to.

What are your favorite photography apps for Android? Leave the details in the comments and you may be featured in a future post in this series!

Additional Posts in this Series

Introduction :: 3 Free Alternatives to Photoshop :: 3 Free Android Photo Apps

How to Survive Without Photoshop as a Blogger – Seriously

survive-without-photoshopSo you’ve decided you want to blog, but you’re stuck on what to do for all the cool images that you’re SURE you’ll need. You’ve looked at posts like mine which share great places to get stock photos, or you have a great camera to take your own images, but what now?

Now, you learn about the joys of wishing you had Photoshop. No, really. Between Adobe Photoshop Elements, Photoshop Premiere Elements, and Adobe Lightroom, there are very few photography issues which can’t be resolved. (This assumes, of course, that you’ve dedicated sufficient time and energy to learning the software.)

For those of us who either don’t have the time and energy to commit to learning how to use these sophisticated programs or don’t want to invest that kind of money into something that isn’t turning a profit, or that they haven’t tried before – have no fear! There are many low cost and (my favorite price) free alternatives to things like Adobe Photoshop and Corel Paint Shop Pro, and surviving without Photoshop is 100% possible.

I’ll be writing posts about my favorite Photoshop alternatives in the coming weeks, as well as tutorials about how you can best utilize these tools and apps which make photo editing easy. (No one wants to let their pics hit the net before they’re ready.)  I promise that not having Photoshop doesn’t mean that you can’t blog, or that you won’t be able to create some fantastic images like the ones you’ve seen on other blogs and sites like Pinterest.

I know there are a myriad of iOS programs as well. If I cover your device and miss your favorite photo editing tool, let me know! I’d love to let my readers know about it.

Additional Posts in this Series:

Introduction :: 3 Free Alternatives to Photoshop :: 3 Free Android Photo Apps

Top 5 Free Writing Tools for Bloggers and Freelancers

Top-5-Free-Writing-ToolsOne of the benefits of being a technophile is that over the course of my travels through the expansive world wide web, I come across a variety of resources that will benefit not only me, but fellow writers. (Bloggers, YES THIS MEANS YOU, TOO!) All of us have to write at some point or another, whether it’s a short story we’re submitting to an anthology or a notice to a landlord that you will be vacating a property on a certain date. Written communication is of the utmost importance, and in many instances it can convey messages or meanings which are not intended simply due to missing words, absent clauses, or typos. I will defer to my favorite argument for the Oxford comma:Quite a Difference

Due to the fact that not all of us are grammar experts, I’ve compiled a list of helpful free writing tools for writers of all stripes. Whether you struggle with grammar, passive voice, utilizing cliches, getting started, thinking of a clever headline, or all of the above – I have resources which will help you! The list officially states there are five, but I hope you will appreciate the bonuses I’ve thrown in along the way. Please enjoy the top 5 free writing tools I’ve located just for you! (…and me.)

1. Edit Minion – http://editminion.com/
If you only have time to use one of these tools, I would suggest you utilize Edit Minion. It combines the utilities of the Hemingway Editor, Cliche Finder and After the Deadline, three of the items which will follow on this list. One should tread carefully when utilizing this tool, however. The interface is a bit cumbersome and it can be difficult to sort out what exactly it is that you are looking at or looking for. As they say, with
great power comes great responsibility, so writers are encouraged to play with this one when they have time on their hands so that they can become more familiar with the interface as well as the variety of options provided.

2. Grammarly – https://www.grammarly.com/ or After The Deadline – http://www.polishmywriting.com/
Grammarly is one of the most widely recommended grammar tools available today thanks to their free chrome extension. While this extension does not catch every error (and sometimes catches errors which aren’t there) it is still a useful resource. If you are not well versed in the English language or appreciate having a double check before you hit “submit”, Grammarly is an excellent choice. There is a paid version, but the basic version will catch many standard mistakes on its own without much trouble.After The Deadline is an alternative to Grammarly which some like better based on the simpler interface and the lack of repeated encouragement to buy something from the creators. The web-based application provides spelling, grammar, and stylistic suggestions which are all designed to improve your writing.If you aren’t sure which to try out or which you would like best, my method is to install the Grammarly Chrome extension, and then after writing something using the Grammarly extension I check it in After The Deadline. It might seem excessive, but if I can edit my writing as I type (thanks to Grammarly) I reduce the number of changes I need to make in my secondary revisions (with ATD). It works for me. Find what works for you!

3. Hemingway Editor – http://www.hemingwayapp.com/
The Hemingway App is designed to improve clarity in your writing. It highlights long, complex sentences so you know to shorten them or rewrite them. (You will know which to do based on the color of the highlight.) This app also draws attention to passive voice, complicated word choice, and adverbs. I personally prefer a Hemingwayesque style of writing as opposed to that of Faulkner, so this tool is one of my personal favorites.

4. Cliche Finder – http://cliche.theinfo.org/
The Cliche Finder does exactly what you would imagine. It analyzes your writing for any uses of cliche terms or turns of phrase. As stated above, Edit Minion does have the capability to look for cliches, but Cliche Finder has a much simpler design which makes it an obvious choice for less tech savvy and/or more timestrapped writers and bloggers.

5. Write or Die – http://writeordie.com/
Write or Die is a product created by the makers of Edit Minion and is designed for those times when writers block is threatening to keep you from meeting your deadlines, whether they are self-imposed or client-driven. With Write or Die you plug in the amount of time you wish to write, how forgiving you wish the timer to be, and then start the clock. If you stop typing during that period of time the screen will gradually change color and then obnoxious sounds will go off, reminding you to get back to work! If you struggle with productivity on days that you “aren’t feeling it” I would encourage you to try Write or Die the next time you have a project to complete. It’s a somewhat silly tool that can be cheated, but it succeeds at keeping you focused on the task at hand, even if you’re just working the system.

6. *BONUS RESOURCE* Blog Post Headline Analyzer – http://coschedule.com/headline-analyzer
For my blogging readers I wanted to provide this amazing resource for determining clever titles which is offered by our friends at CoSchedule. Often, the number of shares we receive on social media, the clicks we get on our Newsletters, and the number of sign ups we receive for our newsletters is determined by what we decide to name our blog articles. Often, the most difficult part of writing a blog post for me is not creating the content, but figuring out what to call it! If you struggle with this as well, you can plug in your title ideas to the Blog Post Headline Analyzer and receive immediate feedback as to whether or not your proposed headline is SEO friendly

Is there some part of writing that you need help with that one of these tools can’t fix? Sound off in the comments! I might have a solution up my sleeve to share with you. (If not, I may be able to track one down!) – If you find that any of these tools helps you, let me know and give this post a share on social media to help out your writing friends!

Ten Free Stock Photo Sites You Need To Try Immediately

bignews-stock-immediatelyThe fact is, if you want to have a successful website, blog, or other online presence it’s necessary to have high quality images on your posts and page. A great start to that end is finding high resolution photos to use. Your images ultimately attract attention of readers, make your page a pleasant thing to look at, increase the shareability of your posts, and overall improve your marketability by making sure that there are always more sets of eyes on your content. There are entire courses online devoted to creating great photos for Instagram marketing, for goodness’ sake, so it’s obvious that images are important! Occasionally a post can survive on good content alone, but we live in an incredibly visual world.

The bottom line is when you use high quality images, you’re going to get more attention, and every blogger I know has “get noticed” on their website to do list. The problem is, unless you already have a professional grade camera or are best friends with a photographer, finding awesome images that suit your purposes may be hard to get your hands on with the proper licenses for use. Of course no one goes into blogging thinking “hey, I’d like to get sued today”, but that unfortunately doesn’t keep it from happening when they unknowingly use images which don’t belong to them or which aren’t available for free commercial use on the public domain. That is why it’s important to either A: buy stock images/the rights to stock images so that you may use them in the way that you need to or B: find amazing free resources. Now, the free resources may have the option to pay for premium features or photo sets, but they don’t REQUIRE payment. So now, onto the good stuff!

Ultra Convenient:
These first few resources are my favorites because they take a lot of the guesswork out of trying to find photos. They email new images to their members (even free members!) on a regular basis. Sometimes I’m not sure what photo I want to include in my post, but then I’ll get an email from one of these providers and inspiration will strike!

  • http://www.createherstock.com/ – CreateHER Stock is a new resource that I am absolutely in love with, and is the source of the featured image of this post. This website features photographs of black models and by black photographers. I love the fact that it’s more inclusive than some of the stock photo sites I’ve seen which largely feature waif thin models in hipster attire. Granted, I love the hipster photo and have used some myself, but our world is a diverse place and I think we could all benefit if the internet reflected that a bit better. The site just launched, but so far they have fitness images, general images, fashion images, cosmetic images, and writing/tech/blogging images.
  • https://picjumbo.com/ – Picjumbo is one of my favorites from this list! I love seeing emails from them which is pretty rare for me. (Most emails that aren’t about useful blogging things, attempts to get me to interview actors/review films or books, from my editor at Wicked Horror, or a submission for my Splatterpunk Anthology end up getting ignored for a while or trashed. Such is life!) Their periodic emails are always full of a variety of images, from nature to tech to fashion, so there’s always something useful regardless of what posts I have cooking/on my agenda.
  • http://www.unsplash.com – Unsplash is a pretty straightforward concept. They send 10 beautiful, high quality images to your inbox every 10 days. The images are totally random, but are CONSISTENTLY beautiful and sometimes I find the perfect image for my next blog headline or instagram graphic. If you visit the site rather than waiting on their email then you can actually search for things, but I tend to prefer the Russian roulette “what do you have for me this time?” approach.
  • http://deathtothestockphoto.com/ – Death To The Stock Photo is pretty common. They send a pack of high quality images to your inbox monthly, and they come with a pretty cool narrative about where the photos are from, what inspired the shoot, and where you can get more (for a price). Honestly, I have yet to find an image from this site that really speaks to me, but I can’t deny that all of their images are gorgeous and
    perfect for bloggers… Just not me!

Still Convenient, but SansNewsletter:
Although these resources don’t allow me to be superlazy and send new photos to me, I love these because of the quality of the images and the fact that they’re still free for any purpose.

  • http://morguefile.com/ – Morguefile is a very interesting site where you can access a variety of free photos, but also they have a myriad of paid photo sites in their database as well. Before you ask “isn’t that kind of morbid..?” or wonder what kind of photo sites I’m promoting, know that according to their website: “The term “morgueFile” is popular in the newspaper business to describe the file that holds past issues flats. Although the term has been used by illustrators, comic book artist, designers and teachers as well. The purpose of this site is to provide free image reference material for use in all creative pursuits. This is the world wide web’s morguefile.” Neat! Honestly I clicked on this one for the name and stay for the beautiful photos.
  • http://www.freeimages.com/ — Free Images is all about, you guessed it, free images. They have over 391,438 images at the time of this posting and are growing all the time. Their homepage layout groups their images by category (from “textures and patterns” for graphic work to “army and weapons”, you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for quickly even if you aren’t sure EXACTLY what the keyword for it should be.)
  • https://pixabay.com/ – Pixabay is another site with an amazingly easy to use, category based interface. I love that you can find vector images here in addition to photographs. (Sometimes that just works better, am I right?) They also have a neat “editors choice” function which allows you to see images handpicked by their editors, but even the ones that have simply been submitted by their editors.
  • http://getrefe.com/ – Refe offers both for sale and free photos, so you have to make sure you’re in the “free” section when you download, but these photos are all beautiful and high quality. From technology and abstract to landscape and lifestyle, this site has a variety of images for every need.
  • http://www.photospublicdomain.com/ – Photos Public Domain is exactly what it sounds like, a database of public domain images that have been released for public use. Like all of these sites, this one has photos in a variety of areas, so it’s fun to poke around when looking for ideas for post graphics.
  • http://cupcake.nilssonlee.se/ – I love the images on this site! The majority of them, from the industrial dials and knitting hands to the woodlands and indoor shots look like they belong on an inspirational poster or quote. The only reason this site doesn’t rank higher on my list (not that it’s necessarily a top ten) is because the site layout isn’t as intuitive as some of the others I like to use. With that being said, the photos are gorgeous and the owner is very personable/loves to see examples of their photos being used. It’s always nice when someone appreciates your graphical efforts!

So there are my Ten Favorite Free Stock Photo Sites! Check them out immediately and add the ones you think are best to your favorites list or pin this post for future reference. Shout out in the comments and let me know what your favorite stock image resource is, or why you choose not to utilize images in your posts. I’d love to hear from you!



Update 11/18/15: Unsplash is running a Kickstarter Campaign to fund a gorgeous photo book. Check out their Kickstarter here and consider backing the project if you support free, high quality photography.