5 Websites to Get Free Images for Your Blog, Social Media and Email Newsletter

Are you looking for royalty-free, professional photographs, vectors and illustrations?

I got dat good good for you. 😉

Just when you thought all the gift-giving was over… Happy Holidays, bitches!

Here’s my list of my tested, tried-and-true sources for free photographs, vectors and illustrations that I use on my blogs, social media accounts and email newsletters:

1. Creative Market

What I love about Creative Market is that it’s much more than just “stock art.” I’ve gotten free website templates, vector files, illustrations, photoshop templates, fonts and more. While Creative Market offers a robust selection of amazing products you can pay for, every week it has 6 free downloads you can take advantage of for your business. It’s definitely my favorite source for vectors, illustrations and specialty art beyond photography. Sign up here.

2. UnSplash

UnSplash is a nice collection of – to me – quite beautiful and soothing photography submitted by different artists. I’ve used several of their images for blog features, social media backgrounds and more. You can browse their collection.

3. Death to Stock

Besides having an interesting name, Death to Stock is probably my favorite “(un)stock photography” site. They offer paid premium subscriptions, but they also give out a bundle of free photographs every month. I have several bundles from over the years and still go back to them when I need something specific. Check em out.

4. Pexels

Pexels is a website I’ve used often this year for brands that I work with. It offers a good searchable database of professional images from different royalty free sites and their user interface makes searching and downloading images super easy. Check them out here.

5. Flickr Creative Commons

Flickr Creative Commons database is the most robust, but also the most unprofessional. I’ve used this database in past years when I was looking for a highly specific image that didn’t, necessarily, need to be professionally shot. It can sometimes be a crap-shoot, but it can also sometimes give you exactly what you need. One thing to remember, is that these are Creative Commons licensed photos. If you aren’t familiar with what that means, check the right hand column of this page for a BRIEF overview of what the different licenses mean.


If you like using gifs in your life in general, I stay on giphy on my computer, in my text keyboard, and in my slack channels. It offers a steady stream of funny, inappropriate, lovely and extremely accurate animated gifs to use in your work. Check it out and you’ll thank me later.

#RecentRead: Mobile Engagement that Sticks

#RecentRead: Mobile Engagement that Sticks

I’ve been thinking a lot about mobile engagement and how to improve mobile engagement for myself and the brands I work with in 2018. I ran across an article on DMNews where they featured Marissa Aydlett, SVP of Marketing at Braze (formerly Appboy), who gave some pretty interesting tips for creating bomb user experiences on mobile. A few of my favorite highlights below:

Run experiments to enhance engagement.

Experiment to enhance

Finding the right strategy doesn’t happen overnight. And as consumer habits change (which they often do) it’s important for marketing teams to test, measure and tweak their processes to keep up with the needs of consumers.

“You can be testing a variety of different variants,” Aydlett said. “What’s the right message, what’s your control, and how do you optimize for that right message and continue to be able to be creative?”

In the end, crafting an optimal user experience comes down to one core principle:

“It’s making the conversation more authentic, and creating better experiences,” Aydlett said.

Remember my #RecentRead about segmentation? Well, the same principles apply when it comes to mobile experiences. Websites shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all experiences. Depending on how people come to your site, what device they are using and their relationship with you, you should offer a unique experience for them. Mobile devices are highly personal and core to each human being. How can you play on those emotions by delivering highly personal and core experiences for them via mobile?

Trust me, this is a vexing problem that requires time and resources to work out within each niche. Don’t worry, yet, if you haven’t quite solved it.

Perhaps the most powerful concept – to me – when it comes to mobile engagement is the need/ability/REQUIREMENT to create a habit of engagement around your brand on mobile. Marie Forleo had a GREAT segment in her recent MarieTV live call-in show about how social media apps are designed to be addictive. (The Marie Forleo video is embedded below to start at the moment she talks about it, but the WHOLE video is definitely worth a watch). Why do you think Facebook is so powerful? It’s designed to make you want to engage with it often.

While this is scary and annoying and distracting, it’s also a tactic you can use for your own business. How can you create a habit culture around your brand via mobile? And you don’t have to be an app developer to make this happen. There are so many simple ways you can create a culture of engagement around your brand. DMNews suggests:

For example, perhaps a consumer knows they’ll receive your newsletters at a set time every week, or they’ll receive a push notification when new offers or app updates are available. When customers become comfortable with cadence, regular brand interactions are more likely to become part of their day-to-day.

There are some other great tips in the article. Read the full thing here: 6 Tips For Mobile Engagement That Sticks



Bomb-Ass Company Holiday Greetings That Make Your Company’s Card Look Like a Piece of Gold-Foiled Trash

Bomb-Ass Company Holiday Greetings That Make Your Company’s Card Look Like a Piece of Gold-Foiled Trash

I don’t have much to say before diving right into this one, because I’m going to let these bomb-ass holiday cards speak for themselves. But first, as a media professional, I want to re-emphasize the power of media and of creating memorable experiences for your audience.

Your lame ass templated holiday card that you ordered at the last minute from “BadStockArtCards.com” won’t do the trick.

I have more to say but I’ll let these holiday greeting speak for themselves.

“Dear Satan” From Anomaly:

And of course I had to feature VaynerMedia… because I luurve Gary V. and all the amazing work they are doing.

VaynerMedia clients will meet Vee in the form of a personalized holiday greeting card included with a customized Amazon Echo Dot that comes preloaded with a new Alexa skill called Vayner. Vayner is an interactive skill featuring weekly updates on the digital voice industry, including platform news and discussion of recent trends in the marketplace. Say “Enable Vayner skill” to try it out. See the unboxing of the gift below.

And could you just look at what 215 McCann did for their holiday gift?

This agency is sending out cookies in the shape of the agency team. Line drawings of 215 McCann employees were turned into 3D printed cookie cutters, and then used to bake face-shaped cookies. Recipients also receive a link to a video, shot in stop motion, that playfully illustrates an almost magical baking process, one that transforms a lump of flour into the face of agency CCO Scott Duchon. Each recipient receives a tin that holds 32 cookies (four stacks of eight) that feature the faces of those 215 McCann staffers they’re most familiar with. It all sums up the agency mantra: “Truth Well Told. Cookies Well Baked.​”

Watch the video of the process here: Happy Holiday from 215 McCann.

For more bomb-ass holiday cards, check out this roundup from AdWeek: See Adweek’s 7 Favorite Agency Holiday Cards of 2017

…and even more here: Agency Holiday Cards 2017: The Most Creative Farewells to the Year

#RecentRead: E-Commerce Email List Segmentation

#RecentRead: E-Commerce Email List Segmentation

A lot of people say “segmentation is the key to engaging with your audience.” Hell, I almost started this very post with something along those lines. Then I thought: but what does that actually mean for people? And how do they implement that into the work they do?

Thankfully, I read an article recently from Mailchimp that gives some pretty boss actionable tips on executing email list segmentation for e-commerce businesses. These tips are pretty simple, but very impactful for results. I also just discovered that Mailchimp offers several pre-built segments for you when you connect your e-commerce store to your Mailchimp account, including segments that target potential, first-time, recent, lapsed and loyal customers.

Here’s a highlight from the blog post:

Target lapsed customers

A lapsed customer is someone who’s had prior interest in your business and products, but hasn’t made a purchase in a while. Give them a gentle nudge back to your store by sending a customer re-engagement automation to the Lapsed Customers pre-built segment. Here’s how that series might look for your business:

  • Email #1: Tell your customers that you miss them, showcase your best sellers, or introduce them to some of your newest arrivals.
  • Email #2: Add a promo code content block to your emails and offer a discount to returning customers.
  • Email #3: Make one last push to bring the customers back to your store—with an even bigger discount.

Even if you don’t have an online store, these same concepts can be applied to your content or services based on visits to your website. Or you can use these same techniques to re-engage people on your email list. For example:

  • segment your email list based on people who haven’t opened one of your emails in 6-months.
  • Then send a targeted email to that segment asking each person if they still want to be on your list. Give them a 2- to 3-option question re what they want to hear about from you.
  • Automatically append their responses to their accounts so that you can segment them based on that information later.

This will allow you to speak more directly to them and give each person the valuable information they requested.

If you don’t hear from them, delete them from your list. If someone hasn’t opened one of your emails in 6-months or more, they aren’t your audience. And keeping them is just like keeping old, ratty, split-ended hair just because it’s long. Let it go, girl.

To discover a few more Mailchimp recommendations for targeting different e-commerce segments on your list, check out this recent blog by Brandon K with Mailchimp: “3 Essential Pre-Built Segments for Your E-Commerce Business

#SocialSkim: Facebook vs. ‘Engagement Bait’; Amazon vs. YouTube: 11 Stories This Week

#SocialSkim: Facebook vs. ‘Engagement Bait’; Amazon vs. YouTube: 11 Stories This Week

Habari gani?

The news in social media last week was pretty interesting, according to a new article by Chris Neri. The MarketingProfs #SocialSkim article featured some news that affects me and the brands I work with directly…so it may affect you too. I’ll get right to it:

Facebook is going to punish you if you try to “bait” your audience into engaging with you.

You know all those “share this with 7 friends to enter to win” or “comment if you like puppies” or “vote with a reaction” posts you see on Facebook? Well the social media giant says – quote* – you gon’ learn today (or soon) when it comes to using their algorithm to grow your business.

While some posts like this are just cheesy, I’ve seen some really well done contests, legitimate audience surveys and just fun/entertaining campaigns. In addition to the practical implications of using Facebook native features to build awareness for critical needs.

Neri assures:

Missing child reports, fundraisers, and travel tip requests, among others, will be omitted from the social network’s new policing policy.

Choose your next Facebook campaign wisely, folks.

…Another interesting development, based on Neri’s article, relates to the company that gets all my money: Amazon.

Seems somethings brewing in Bezo’s bunker to position it for straight up digital MMA with Google. Neri writes:

A new twist on the ongoing Amazon YouTube feud could be on the horizon in 2018: Amazon recently trademarked “AmazonTube,” which the trademark application describes as “non-downloadable pre-recorded audio, visual and audiovisual works via wireless networks on a variety of topics of general interest.”

That makes AmazonTube sound a whole lot like an on-demand video streaming network just like…YouTube.

Between Google’s YouTube pulling its app from Amazon’s Echo Show and FireTV devices, and Amazon’s Prime Video app being unavailable on Google Chromecast, AmazonTube seems to be the next big arena where the two media giants square off.

We should all keep an eye on this.

…Next up: customer service on social media. We all know Facebook has been tweaking (and promoting) it’s messenger features for businesses as a way for them to interact with their audiences, well now Twitter makes some upgrades to help brands get more personal with their tweeps as well.

Businesses will now have nameable and editable welcome messages when creating Direct Message Cards as a part of campaigns to keep their messaging relevant to the campaign.

But what do users get in all this? They’ll be able to see whether the messages they’ve sent have been read by a human customer service agent or a chatbot, thanks to the introduction of read receipts and typing indicators.

If you’re a small business or solopreneur looking to incorporate social customer service into your arsenal, you should keep an eye on this one.

There’s even more great social topics and tidbits in Neri’s article, including info on Twitter stock, creating your own SnapChat lens, AIM’s farewell – insert “I thought they had already died” comment here – and more.

Read more here: #SocialSkim: Facebook vs. ‘Engagement Bait’; Amazon vs. YouTube: 11 Stories This Week

*Not a real quote. Obvi.