11 Ways to Increase Conversions for Your Ecommerce Store


Ecommerce platforms rely on sales to survive. If you operate one of these websites, you know how important sales are for your business.

Whether you sell products exclusively online or have an ecommerce site in addition to your brick and mortar store, you need high conversion rates to be successful.

What do you do when your sales plateau and your conversions drop?

You need to analyze your website. What you’ve been doing in the past may have worked, but it’s imperative for you to constantly optimize and improve your ecommerce store.

After reviewing your site, you might realize certain elements are killing your conversions.

Fortunately, you’re in luck. If you want to improve your conversion rates and generate more sales, all you need to do is make some changes.

Through research and my personal experience consulting businesses, I’ve identified and outlined the top ways to increase ecommerce conversions.

Here’s what you need to do.

1. Simplify your website

Websites with simple designs have higher conversion rates.

Depending on your company, you might have hundreds or even thousands of products for sale on your website. But trying to cram all of those products onto one page is ineffective, and it’s crushing your conversions.

Clutter overwhelms the customers. Instead, focus on your top selling products or items with the highest profit margins.

Let’s look at a globally recognized brand as an example. Here’s Apple’s homepage:

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When in doubt, it’s always a great idea to look at successful companies as examples. Apple is an industry leader, and their website is about as simple as it gets.

Think about the number of different products they offer. They have all kinds of different desktop computers, laptops, phones, and other electric accessories, not to mention the digital products like software and music.

If they tried to fit everything they sell on their homepage, it would be an absolute mess.

Instead, they promote one product and have a navigation bar at the top of the screen that lists different categories.

This makes it really easy for shoppers to find exactly what they’re looking for.

In the fourth quarter of 2017, Apple reported $52.6 billion in revenue— a 12% increase compared to the fourth quarter of 2016. It’s safe to say they don’t have a problem with conversion rates.

2. Use high quality images

One of the most difficult parts of online shopping is the lack of direct access to the products shoppers consider buying. They rely on photos to get an accurate idea of their options.

It’s up to you to make sure you have lots of high quality pictures for every product.

You should have a photograph from every angle. Zoom in on features. Have pictures of models using or wearing what you’re selling.

This will make it much easier for shoppers to make a decision.

Here’s a great example of what I’m talking about from the Nike website:

image3 3

They’ve got six different pictures of just one white hoodie. If you click on the other colors for this product, you’ll see even more photos.

I realize this takes time. It’s not necessarily the easiest process to take half a dozen photos of everything you’re selling.

But in the long run, it’s well worth it. Now shoppers know exactly what this product looks like from every angle. They’re more likely to buy it if it fits their needs.

3. Include a detailed product description

In addition to photos, you’ll want to thoroughly describe what you’re selling. With items like clothing, it’s usually self-explanatory.

However, if you’re selling electronics or something that has a bit of a learning curve, an accurate and detailed product description could help you close the sale.

Think of it like this. If a customer were to walk into a physical store, there would be employees to answer questions and help explain how different products work.

Shoppers don’t have that luxury when they browse online. It’s your job to make sure they aren’t confused about a product.

Even if you’re selling something simple, such as a t-shirt, point out how it differs from others. Does it keep you cool when it’s hot? Does it keep you warm when it’s cold?

These are things that can’t be determined from a photo alone.

Check out how Amazon accomplishes this with one of their TV wall mounts:

image6 3

Just like companies in our previous two examples, Amazon is another industry leader across the globe. They know how to sell products online.

While the photos are helpful, the description really helps the consumers.

It explains which kinds of TVs this mount is compatible with as far as size and weight are concerned. The description also covers the various mounting patterns based on what kind of TV you have.

Without the description, you wouldn’t know how far off the wall the mount comes or how close to the wall you can push it.

Not everyone is an expert in mounting televisions. The majority of people probably never have to do this. And unless you install home theater equipment for a living, it’s probably not something you’ll do more than a few times in your life.

For a unique and somewhat niche product like this, accurate descriptions can really help drive the sale.

4. Show video demonstrations

This element takes our last point a step further. Instead of telling the consumer what your product does and how it works, show them.

If you haven’t been using video content to increase sales, you need to start right away.

Why?

Well, for starters, 64% of people are more likely to complete an online purchase after watching a video about a product. Furthermore, 90% of consumers say that videos help them make a buying decision.

Consumers want videos, so give them what they want. Thule recognizes this. That’s why they include videos with all their products on their website.

image4 3

The video is super helpful. It gives the consumer way more information than they could get from just a photo and a description.

In this example, the customers learn how to properly fold and assemble the stroller for transportation and easy storage. The video also shows how to safely secure a child in the seat.

It’s an effective way to give your website visitors a more accurate description of the product. They can see it being used instead of just reading about it and looking at pictures.

5. Offer easily accessible customer service

As I briefly mentioned earlier, there’s nobody there to assist the consumer when they’re shopping online, unlike in a physical store.

Do your best to replicate that customer service experience. You may have photos, videos, and a great description, but customers will still have questions.

Make sure you give them several options to reach a customer service representative:

  • phone
  • live chat
  • email

Offer as many options as possible so each customer can contact your company based on their personal preference.

You also need to have support ready at all hours. As an ecommerce platform, I know you’re aware that customers all over the world have access to your website 24 hours a day.

Let’s play out a scenario. A customer is interested in one of your products but has a few simple questions. They try to contact customer support but don’t get an answer.

They won’t complete the purchase process. But if their questions get answered right away, your conversion rates will improve.

6. Don’t surprise your customers with extra fees

Consumers are sensitive to price. You have to be upfront and totally transparent with the prices on your website.

The customer expects to see the same price for the same product on all pages, including in their shopping cart.

Adding hidden charges, taxes, and shipping fees will crush your conversions.

Look at the top reasons for shopping cart abandonment:

image2 3

Extra costs are the number one reason why consumers abandon their shopping carts.

Look, I realize you’ve got to pay sales tax and shipping isn’t free. But rather than surprising the customer when they check out, include those costs in the original price.

You’ll still get paid enough to make a profit, and the customer won’t be surprised with extra fees. It’s a win-win scenario for everyone.

Plus, it will reduce cart abandonment and improve your conversion rates.

7. Send shopping cart abandonment emails

Let’s continue with our last point. While you can certainly do things to improve your shopping cart abandonment rates, some customers still won’t always complete their purchases.

You can’t ignore this.

Someone was just a click or two away from buying something on your website. They identified what they wanted and added it to their cart.

It’s going to be much easier to try to get this customer to convert than to find a new customer.

This person is already familiar with your brand and obviously interested in at least one of your products. Sometimes they just need a bit of extra motivation to complete the sale.

Send out a shopping cart abandonment email to remind the consumer of your products. Here’s an example from Oakley:

image7 3

This product will still be fresh in the customer’s mind—they just left it in their shopping cart. They wanted it, but for one reason or another, it just didn’t happen.

Receiving this email could be enough to trigger an impulse buy.

8. Include all your contact information

On top of providing customer service, you should have as much information as possible about your company available on your website.

Clearly display your:

  • address
  • phone numbers
  • fax
  • email

If this information isn’t on your site, it could appear sketchy. Customers may think you’re not a reputable company.

What if they have a problem with their order? If your contact information isn’t available, how will they get their issue resolved?

That uncertainty could prevent people from buying things on your website.

9. Run promotions

As I said earlier when talking about extra fees and costs, consumers are price-sensitive. It’s important to be aware of this.

One way to get people to convert more on your ecommerce site is by running promotions. Offer sales, discounts, or other special offers that sound enticing.

It just needs to be worth it. For example, if you’re offering a 5% discount on orders over $200, it’s not going to make anybody rush to make a purchase.

But on the other hand, if you’re offering 25% off everything on your website, it will boost your conversions.

Just make sure you have all your numbers worked out. You don’t want to slash prices so low that you’re not turning a profit with each sale.

The best way to go about this is by jacking up your prices initially, then constantly running sales.

Check out all of these different promotions on the Macy’s website:

image8 1

They have some discounts as high as 50% off. This is a great way to drive sales.

Just make sure you’re careful with this strategy. Once you start offering discounts and promotions, customers may be less likely to buy things at full price. They’ll just wait until the next time you run a sale.

If you’re going to incorporate discounts, markdowns, and other promotional offers into your ecommerce marketing campaign, be prepared to do it often.

10. Accept as many payment options as possible

I realize some credit card companies charge you higher fees than others. But that’s no reason to exclude those payment options from your website.

You can’t assume every customer visiting your website has a Visa card. You need to accept all major credit cards, including Mastercard, Discover, and American Express.

Even if they have a card you accept, it doesn’t mean they want to use it. They might have better benefits or a lower balance on a different card.

You should also take alternative forms of payment, such as PayPal, Venmo, or Apple Pay.

Offering more options increases the chances of the customer being able to pay with their preferred card or method.

It’s also important that the checkout process is completely secure. That way your customers feel safe about entering their credit card information.

11. Recommend products to enhance the shopping experience

If your site is using cookies to track browsing behavior, you can recommend products to your customers based on what they like. Use their previous order history as well to personalize recommendations.

This shows the consumer you care. Their browsing experience is different from everyone else’s.

Here’s an example from Bed Bath & Beyond:

image5 3

You can also try to upsell to your customers when they add something to their shopping carts. For example, if they buy a pair of headphones, you can recommend a carrying case for them.

Again, it reflects their personal experience. This strategy works.

Research shows that 49% of consumers said they bought something they weren’t initially planning on purchasing after seeing a personalized recommendation.

Conclusion

Whether your business is brand new or has been around for a while, there is always room for improvement.

You can make simple modifications to your ecommerce website to get more conversions.

These 11 tips are the best place for you to start. Refer back to the examples and the data I showed you for guidance.

I’m not saying you need to implement all of these strategies overnight. In fact, you may even have a couple of these in place already.

But over time, you need to optimize your ecommerce website if you want to get as many sales as possible.

Follow these tips, and I’m sure you’ll see an improvement.

What elements of your ecommerce website have you changed to increase your conversion rates?





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How to Use Content Scrapers to Automate these 7 SEO Hacks


automate seo with content scrapers

Everyone is looking to get ahead when it comes to SEO.

But that can be hard when your competitors are putting out content that ranks better than yours.

There are a lot of reasons why their content ranks, of course. Maybe they have better domain authority than you do, or maybe they have a larger built-in audience.

That shouldn’t get you down, though.

There are ways that you can use their content to your advantage.

One of those ways is to use a content scraper (also known as a web scraper) to gain insights into what they’re doing so you can do it, too.

The only caveat is that you have to know how to use them correctly. Otherwise, you could be stuck with the wrong data.

Here’s what to know.

What is content scraping?

Content scrapers are automated programs that pull data from multiple websites.

Let’s say for a moment that you wanted to see what sort of titles your competitors were using on their blog posts to get the most clicks.

You could visit each website individually, scroll through archived blogs then copy and paste each title into a spreadsheet. That’s how most marketers do it.

post tracking

But that’s a lot of work.

Some sites have hundreds or even thousands of archived blog posts you might have to sort through.

Instead, you can use a content scrapers to gather those titles for you, along with metadata descriptions and links, if needed (all factors that can influence SEO).

At this point, you might be wondering, “If this was so easy and perfect, why isn’t everyone doing it?”

Well, they probably are. Google actually scrapes your site to add content to its index.

That’s how your content ranks.

But there are also plenty of malicious scrapers out there who might steal your content and post it on their website in order to outrank you.

They might:

  • Copy and republish content word-for-word (also known as plagiarism).
  • Copy content from other sites with some minor modifications, publishing it as original.
  • List other blog posts on their news feeds from other sources (consider it external linking done wrong).

Google doesn’t like any of these things, and they will penalize you for it.

googlescraper

I don’t want you to do any of these things either.

I don’t believe in stealing content in order to rank, especially since original content is so good for marketing.

What you can do is use scrapers as a “white hat” marketing tool.

In other words, you can pull just the data you need from websites without having to do the manual work, but not use that data to copy content.

You’re going to use the data to inform your marketing practices.

Here are a few ways you can use white hat content scrapers to boost your SEO.

1. Scrape organic keyword results

The best use for content scraping is keyword research.

This means finding out which keywords your competitors are ranking for, what metadata they use for their blog posts, and what type of PPC ads they’re running.

You can start with a simple content-scraping plugin like Scraper for Chrome.

scraper how to

But depending on what you want to do, a more robust tool might be better.

You can also build your own content scraper if you have the coding know-how.

The tool you choose will ultimately depend on how many websites you want to scrape.

If you want to know what hundreds of other sites in your industry are doing, then you need more than just a plugin.

To scrape for a list of competitive keywords, for example, a tool like SEMRush (technically a web scraper) is fast and easy.

But SEMRush won’t scrape every website because many sites use proxies to block scrapers.

If you need to expand your search to “unsearchable” sites, you can use a tool like ScrapeBox.

scrapebox gui

Scrapebox is a good alternative to SEMRush because it works on almost any site. It’s also pretty easy to use.

To use Scrapebox, drop a keyword (or keyword list) into ScrapeBox’s Keyword Scraper Tool.

scrapebox screenshot 574x425

Then select your scrape sources and search engines.

You have a few options, including Google Suggest, YouTube Suggestions, and Google Product Search.

scrapebox keyword scraper options screenshot

Once you have your chosen sites, click “Scrape.”

Depending on the sources you choose, it can take several minutes to generate a list.

But once it’s done you should have a much larger list of potential keywords available to you.

scrapebox results

Just be sure to get rid of duplicates using the “Remove Duplicate Keywords” feature.

And there you have it!

No fuss, scalable keyword research from any site on the web.

2. Search Adword copy for inspiration

SEMRush might not be great for “unsearchable” sites but it’s still a helpful scraper for Adwords.

While some sites may block scrapers from using their keywords or searching their blog metadata, for example, Adwords are less likely to be blocked.

To find paid keywords go to SEMrush > Advertising Research > Positions and enter a domain.

semrush1

This will give you a list of keywords that domain purchased via AdWords.

By clicking on the arrows in the CPC column, you can sort the results in descending or ascending order by cost.

semrush2

You can then export this data into a spreadsheet to keep track of your keywords.

If you have access to SEMRush, but you don’t like how the export feature organizes keywords, you can also use a plugin like SEOGadget for Excel.

It takes the data from SEMRush (or other scraper tools, like Moz) and automatically organizes it into Excel.

2 setup

You can then scrape sites directly from Excel using different Excel formulas and functions.

17 moz urlmetrics

This can be really helpful if you’re the sort of person who doesn’t like using ten different tools just to do some preliminary keyword research.

You can set up the whole process in Excel and have fields auto-populated when you need them.

The plugin is also free, as long as you have an API key to a tool like SEMRush.

So if you’re already doing keyword research using scraper tools, this will save you a lot of time and energy in the process.

3. Find potential influencers with blog comments

I’ve written before about how blog comments can improve your SEO and help you connect with your audience.

That’s why I have comments enabled on my blog.

I also know that guest blogging is a great way to boost SEO, especially if you can find bigger influencers to write for you.

I guest blog all the time.

guestblogging

That’s a built-in audience right there, plus you’ll see a big boost to your traffic.

It’s not always easy to get those big name influencers to write for you. Many of them are busy, or may not guest post on anyone’s site, much less yours.

But you can always find people who might be willing to write for you — smaller influencers or lesser-known experts — by searching blog comments.

If you want “brand evangelists” for your own blog, you can scrape all of your own comments to find those who might be interested in guest posting.

This method doesn’t even involve your competitors.

The first thing you’ll want to do is find all the posts on your site related to a specific topic, and scrape the names and contact information of any commenters on those posts.

guestbloggin2

Once you have the names and contact information for your commenters, you can reach out and see if they would be interested in writing for you.

If you’re scraping your own site, you already have a connection point (they already commented on your post, so they know who you are), so it’s a warmer lead than a cold email.

You can also scrape competitor’s websites to find other influencers, but just remember that any contact you make will be totally cold.

Remember: Just because someone commented on a blog doesn’t mean they want solicitations, so be sure to approach carefully.

4. Use data feeds for guest blogging research

But what if you want to be the one guest posting?

Having your name and website linked to other blogs is a great way to boost your own site’s SEO, but it’s not always easy to become a guest poster.

You have to:

  • Develop relationships with other sites.
    Figure out how they produce their content (they might not tell you).
  • Come up with a successful pitch or two (or ten).
  • Write a cold email that sells them on why you deserve to be a guest poster.

While ultimately worth it for the SEO boost, it can be a rigorous process depending on who you’re pitching.

Check out these rules for submitting to a site like Forbes, for example:

forbesguidelines

More than likely they’ll want someone to write for them who is already familiar with their content.

You don’t want to spend the time searching for and sorting through their entire blog feed to find articles that relate to your pitch, though.

That can be incredibly time-consuming.

So instead, use a content scraper to pull blog information from their RSS feed.

First, you want to find the RSS for their blog. Usually, it’s something like “domain.com/blog/feed” (not every site has an RSS feed like this, so this won’t work for everyone).

You can find mine here, for example. It looks something like this:

neilfeed

It’s just a bunch of raw data, though.

That’s where the scraper will come in handy. It will categorize that data into a list or spreadsheet of titles, authors, publishing dates, URL links, and so on.

This will let you sift through the data for relevant content.

You can then find posts similar to your pitch, or come up with topic ideas that might appeal to their audience.

It’s all for research purposes, of course, but it’s research that can land you a guest spot.

And if your pitch lands, it will be great for your own rankings.

5. Determine your best performing categories

While I would love to say that all of my blogs show up on Google’s first page SERPs, they don’t.

A lot of them do, but not all.

I do try to write content that at least stands a chance of showing up on the first page, though, which means I spend time reviewing my best performing posts.

I’ve found that it’s not just a specific title that makes some posts more shareable than others. Really, it’s the topic itself.

Some categories are simply more shareable for my audience than others.

When I look at my most shared posts, I can see a pattern:

neilcategories1

They tend to be about content marketing.

So I list that category near the top of my blog’s homepage.

neilcategories2

My most popular topics tend to fall into a small number of categories in general.

I’ve written about other stuff, sure. But this is the stuff that people really want to read from me.

You can figure out which categories are doing well by using a content scraper like Ahrefs Site Explorer.

Type in the domain you want to search, click on “Top Content” and then export the results.

ahrefs

Your document should look something like this:

ahrefs2

You can then find the most popular categories for each blog post by clicking on the individual links and running them through a web-scraping tool like Screaming Frog.

Screaming Frog will analyze the results and organize them based on specific metrics.

blog data complete

This will give you insight into which categories are the best performing for your audience.

You can also run this tool on competitor websites to see how they organize their content and what their audience finds most appealing.

It’s a great strategy if you’re looking to add categories or narrow down the topics of your blog.

I usually recommend doing this type of research at least once a year to make sure your content is still resonating with your audience.

6. Find content on forums to create backlinks

Most marketers are aware that building backlinks is an important part of SEO.

One of the best ways to build backlinks is by using forums like Quora and Reddit to find questions related to your business and then answer them, typically with a link back to your site.

Here’s an example of a subreddit for Content Marketing:

reddit

But all of this looks rather messy, right?

Well, Reddit actually makes it easy to scrape and organize data from their site.

They have an API (a web application) that is already set up for data collection. Many forums and websites have APIs that can help you scrape data legally.

You can access Reddit’s API through the GitHub Reddit wiki, their API documentation or the subreddit /r/redditdev.

reddit2

While this does take a little bit of technical know-how, it can help you sort through the chaos of forums that are often 100+ pages deep with content.

Unfortunately, Quora doesn’t allow scraping of their site for legal reasons.

So while you can get content from them with a scraper, it’s considered “black hat” scraping and you don’t really want to do it.

But I mention it because you can still search Quora for top questions using their search bar.

quora1

It’s not “automated” the way a scraper normally would be, but it still works.

But there are other forums that do allow their sites to be scraped, like StackOverflow.

stackoverflow

If you’re talking to other developers, or want to create content for SaaS owners, for example, then scraping the top questions from this site will come in handy.

And you can always use this scraped data for more than just backlinks, of course.

Using forums is a great way to come up with blog topics.

If you are using a scraping tool to pull top questions for blog inspiration, make sure your scraper is configured to pull posts that have answers.

quora5

This will save you quite a bit of time when you actually write your content later on.

7. Get more data for your blog posts

You can also scrape content that will help inform your blog posts.

Finding accurate data, whether it be a case study, report, or product information, can make the difference if you’re trying to write a high-quality post.

Let’s say you were going to do a product review on the top products from Amazon in specific categories (Home, Electronics, etc.).

You want to make sure that you have the right pricing information and the right features listed.

But Amazon is a big place. They don’t say “Earth’s biggest selection” for no reason.

earthsbiggest

The easiest thing to do is to use a web scraper that can pull product information automatically from sites like Amazon, eBay, or Google Shopping.

Tools like Webhose.io provide real-time data for thousands of sites, and they have a free plan for making up to 1,000 requests per month.

2 webhose.io

This can be helpful for marketers that want quick data from a large number of websites without spending hundreds of dollars on a larger web-scraping tool.

If you wanted to create a list of “The Best Email Marketing Software of 2018,“ for example, you could pull pricing and feature information from multiple sites at once to compile your list.

emailmarketing1

You can also pull data from sites like Statista to compile research for infographics or other shareable content.

Basically, you can find any data you need to make your blog posts better and more original.

This will not only help you create external links, but it will also improve the quality of your content.

And we all know that Google (and your audience) loves great content.

Tips for using content scrapers

When talking about web scrapers, it’s important to make sure that you’re using them for research and to inform your marketing practices.

Whatever you do, please don’t use them to plagiarize other people’s content.

plagarism

Not only is it a big “no-no” for Google, but it’s also bad for building relationships with other blogs.

If you’re trying to build backlinks by becoming a guest poster, for example, you don’t want to steal that site’s content.

They’ll probably notice.

You also want to use tools that are considered “white hat” tools.

Black-hat scrapers — scrapers designed to steal content, for example — can be used for white-hat scraping, but you have to be vigilant about using them properly.

Scrapebox, the tool we mentioned earlier, can be used for both white and black-hat web scraping, for instance.

scrapebox2

But most tools like this are designed for white-hat marketers, even if people use them for the wrong reasons.

If you truly want to automate the process, consider using tools that are “out-of-the-box” ready, meaning that you can plug in keywords or domain names, hit a button, and get results.

Web scraping can be incredibly complicated, especially if you don’t have a coding background.

Even if you do understand coding, there are plenty of things that can go wrong with a web scraper.

And many sites have proxies and other tools that can break web scrapers if they’re not well-designed.

For the most part, a web scraper like SEMRush should be enough to do the job.

But know that there are other options available to you if you want more data.

Conclusion

Web scraping can be a great thing for marketing research when done right.

First, be sure you use the right tool for the job. If you have a lot of heavy scraping to do, or you want to pull from multiple sites, consider using something more robust.

If you just want to pull blog titles and metadata, there are some plugins that will work well.

Just remember that all of it should be white hat, meaning that you’re not using that data to do malicious things.

Use it to find the most important information first: keywords, metadata, PPC ads, and inspiration for your blog.

And don’t forget to scrape your own site for that information, too.

The more you know about your own data, the better your marketing strategies will be.

How do you use scraping tools for white-hat strategy?

The post How to Use Content Scrapers to Automate these 7 SEO Hacks appeared first on Neil Patel.



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A Simple Yet Effective Strategy For Generating High-Quality Links from Images


get links from images

Why is link building so hard?

Having a high-quality link building strategy involves a lot of work. It’s not going to come easy, even for the “big guys.”

You have to work on your domain authority. You have to work on linking to great sources.

And you have to create backlinks, which is, arguably, one of the hardest things to do.

Unless you’re showing up on the first page of SERPs, most people don’t want to link back to you (unless you ask, of course).

So what can you do to create more links, even if you don’t have a first-page ranking?

Images.

That’s right. Image links — especially from original images — is an easy (or easier) way to generate high-quality links for SEO.

Surprised? Don’t be. Here’s what you need to know.

Why original image links work for SEO

If you’ve read one of my blogs before, you know that I like to use images.

Not only do they break up the monotony of long blocks of text, but they can be great visual aids to clarify any point.

They also create more linking opportunities.

Aside from domain authority, links are your #1 priority for ranking with Google’s algorithm.

piechart

Google uses the metadata from your images (file name, description, etc.) to create unique links back to your site.

If your images are shared on social media, you will also see a boost to your organic traffic.

But one thing you have to remember is that the type of images you use does matter.

Original images often perform better than stock photos, especially for sharing.

Marketing Experiments once tested a real photo of their client against their best-performing stock photo and found that almost 35% of visitors were more engaged when viewing the original image.

Test Results1 1024x250

It’s becoming a lot easier to create original images, too.

There are dozens of companies out there designed solely to help you create images quickly and professionally.

I created this image in under a minute using Canva (for free):

Blue Photo Events and Education Facebook Post

Is it the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen? Maybe not. But it’s mine, and it’s shareable.

More importantly, it’s an image I can use to create another link back to my blog.

These types of original images also give me the added benefit of avoiding copyright issues.

Stock photos often require accreditation, or you have to shell out the big bucks to purchase them. And as Marketing Experiments showed, they don’t always work.

But there’s something about using an original image that really makes the process better.

So how do you do it, exactly?

Here are a few ideas for creating original, shareable images for your blog to build new links.

1. Infographics

There’s been a rise in the use of infographics over the last few years, and for good reason.

Studies show that infographics are the top-rated medium (61%) for learning and retention.

They’re also the most shared type of content on social media, and the most searched image type on Google.

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Go ahead and type “[your industry] + infographic” into Google and you’ll immediately see thousands of results.

Here’s what I got for “Content Marketing Infographic:”

contentmarketinginfographic

Even though infographics are popular, most people feel at least a slight trepidation about creating them.

They are incredibly design-heavy. If you’re not artistically inclined or know someone who is, it may be challenging to create infographics on a regular basis.

But once you understand the process and you know which tools will help you, it becomes a lot easier.

Here’s a quick rundown of the process:

  1. Collect data and organize it.
  2. Write the content out like it will be displayed.
  3. Choose a tool that will help you design it.
  4. Create it.

Sounds simple, right?

Contrary to what you might think, the design part is probably the least important part of your infographic.

What you need is the data (here’s a list of 100 free data sources).

For content marketing graphics, try Content Marketing Institute’s research insights.

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For B2B data, Statista is still the leader in the industry for stats and charts that can easily be translated into an infographic.

Even something like Google Trends can give you accurate data for your graphics.

Once you have your data, you can use an infographic tool to design one quickly.

Canva’s Infographic Maker is a great option for those who don’t have a lot of design experience.

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Piktochart, Venngage, and Visme are specifically designed for infographics (that’s how popular infographics are).

Take advantage of any help you can get, especially if the thought of creating an infographic scares you a bit.

2. Maps

If you’re not into infographics but still want the shareability, use their equally-effective cousin instead: maps.

Maps are great because most of the design is done for you. A map is a map is a map, after all.

But there’s room for you to get creative and really showcase data in a unique way.

Here’s a good example of an infographic map from Global Post.

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They used public data from the CIA database to create a map of the world showing each country’s major export.

Aside from being really cool, you can curate maps made from other sites for bonus links.

If you search for the term “maps” in Ahrefs’ content explorer, for example, you can see examples of curated maps that received quite a few links.

curated maps

Coming up with data for your maps will take a bit of research, but the same can be said for infographics.

Google Trends will actually give you global data already laid out as a map if you want to save some time and energy on your research.

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And again, design tools are your friends.

MapChart is a handy, free tool for creating these types of images. You can showcase the whole world or just certain countries or regions.

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They also offer historical maps if you really want to put a spin on things.

Maps give you an extra edge of creativity while providing valuable information for your readers.

Social media loves them. People love them. So why not?

3. Quotes

Another thing that social media (and people) love is quotes.

Motivational, educational, and humorous quotes tend to do well when it comes to social sharing.

Pinterest even has an entire category dedicated to quotes and mottos.

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Quotes are inherently motivational, rather than informative.

Scott Sobel, founder of Media & Communications Strategies, believes that quotes motivate us on a primal level rather than intellectual because humans are aspirational in nature.

“We want to look up to role models and leaders and follow what they ask,” he says. “Leaders and their words – inspirational quotes – affect us on a primal level.”

There’s also something emotional about quotes that make us want to share them.

Take this quote from Wendy Piersall, for example:

Pinterest

I would bet that any marketer reading this quote understands the frustration behind it.

That frustration — that emotion — drives a lot of the content that I write.

So it only makes sense that putting an emotion like that to words would resonate with others.

I also like quotes because they’re easier to make than infographics.

You can create a social media quote graphic using Canva in a matter of minutes.

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Quotes are also easier to find than other types of data.

When I type “content marketing quotes” into Google, I’m flooded with options.

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As I’m sure you’ve noticed, there are also plenty of quote images available, too.

If I were trying to use a quote for my blog or Twitter, for example, it’s fairly easy to grab an image like that and share it.

If I’m looking to create links back to my own site, though, I can just as easily create an image like that.

I have the ability to create something memorable and emotional while adding to my link-building strategy.

It’s a win-win.

4. Photography

On the opposite side of the “quick-and-easy” spectrum is original photography.

Photography can be easy, depending on the types of photos you need.

Unlike infographics, maps, and quotes, however, there are less “out-of-the-box” tools that can help you create original photos.

You need a camera, or someone with a camera, to do the job for you.

But original photos work.

In one case study for a moving company in New York City, they saw 45% higher conversion rates when they switched from stock photos to using real photos of their team and customers.

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The owner of the company went as far as saying that using real photos “added about $10,000 per month in interstate moves.”

That’s pretty incredible.

Like I said, producing real photos can be more challenging than creating other types of images.

You have two main options when it comes to photography:

  • Taking them yourself (and buying the camera equipment, learning how to shoot, etc.)
  • Hiring a professional photographer

The easiest (but often most expensive) option would be to hire a photographer.

There are ways you can do that without spending thousands of dollars, however.

Sites like Fiverr will let you hire photographers for as little as $5 a project (though expect to pay more for various photography services).

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You can also hire photographers from sites like Upwork, which let you filter results by categories.

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Upwork and other freelancer sites sometimes let you search for freelance photographers based on their hourly rates, too.

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This allows you the freedom to set your own price while still getting decent photos.

Once you have some images created, you can generate backlinks if any sites use them.

Just do a reverse image search to find your images, and then ask the site to link back to you.

Google Images

If you’re of the DIY-variety, you can invest in camera equipment and editing software to take the photos yourself.

Though it’s important to note that the original photos that do the best tend to be high-quality.

If you’re not sure you know how to produce high-quality images, leave it to the professionals.

5. Memes

If you want to do something a little more risque, you can try your hand at creating memes.

Memes are defined as “any concept that spreads across the Internet,” but they most often take the form of specific visuals paired with a type of quote.

Here’s a great example of a B2B meme:

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Memes are probably one the most shareable image types on this list.

Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit are full of them.

The reason they’re not #1, however, is that they can just as easily hurt your brand as help it if you’re not careful.

Wendy’s, for example, received a lot of heat for unintentionally posting a racist meme on their Twitter page.

It was a case of misunderstanding, but it definitely made the wrong sort of impact (though you could say that “any SEO is good SEO.” They did get a lot more links).

Memes are easy to make, but as a general rule, you have to really know your memes before making them.

The site Know Your Meme is perfect for this.

knowyourmemes

It explains the meaning behind the meme, why it’s popular, and how it’s best used.

This will give you an idea of its popularity and whether or not it’s outdated (meme life is relatively short).

In terms of user-friendliness, memes are easy to make.

A tool like Meme Generator or Quick Meme will let you whip one up in less than 5 minutes.

memegenerator

If you’ve never created a meme before, it’s best to look at examples first.

As with any joke, certain types of memes may fall flat, or they may turn off your audience if they’re too corny or used incorrectly.

But you shouldn’t be afraid to get creative with it, either.

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At the end of the day, if you think your audience will find it funny, it will probably work.

Not all businesses like to use memes, so it’s understandable if you skip this option.

Just know that it’s available.

And be sure to get feedback on your memes that you do produce, so you don’t accidentally share something offensive.

You want backlinks for the right reasons.

6. Featured images

The last type of image that will really help your link-building strategy is one you’re already creating.

Your blog’s featured image, when optimized, is great for backlinks.

The featured image is usually the top image on your blog.

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Or it’s the one that appears automatically when people share your blog post on social media.

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Featured images aren’t just great for design. A compelling featured image will get clicks.

When it comes to the types of images to use, stock photos are actually OK here.

I use stock photos for my featured images rather than having original photography (which is great for in-post images and landing pages) because it’s just easy.

If you have a great title, stock images won’t hurt your clickability.

Having a personalized featured image, rather than a standard stock photo, can also help your link building.

Using featured images is a great way to show up in Google’s image feed.

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A well-designed featured image stands out and is more likely to get clicks over the other ones.

It’s also less likely to be used by other brands because it has your business name on it.

If people are already familiar with your brand, then they know they can trust whatever article is linked to that image.

So, in a way, it’s like social proof.

You can customize your photos with some branding, or otherwise “spice” them up using different tools.

Gravit Designer, for instance, is a free vector graphic design tool that will let you add (or create) logos, text or unique graphics for your featured images.

gravitdesigner

The key is to use a compelling title along with your featured image so that even if you’re using a stock photo, it’s more interesting.

A good title alongside a good image will go a long way toward link building.

So find ways to make your content more visually appealing and you’ll increase shares.

How to optimize your images for link building

Of course, a pretty image won’t necessarily get you links if you don’t optimize and promote them.

Here are a few tips for link building with images.

1. Optimize images for each platform

All social media platforms have different size preferences for shared images.

Choose the right image sizes for each channel so that things look cohesive.

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You should also bear in mind that certain platforms are naturally more visual than others.

Twitter, for instance, loves memes and infographics, while Instagram or Pinterest might do better with a quote image or a standard photo. And Facebook and LinkedIn love featured images.

The more you can tailor your images to a platform, the better your shot at getting links.

2. Use infographic submission sites

Don’t think you have to do all the work yourself when it comes to promotion.

There are numerous paid and free infographic submission sites that will promote your infographic for you and generate unique links.

A few options include:

When creating an infographic, remember to use a code generator like Siegemedia to encourage sites to credit you properly with a link.

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This way you know people won’t steal your infographics without giving you the links you want.

3. Optimize your image metadata for better shareability

Google will index your images based on metadata, so you want to be sure it’s there.

When creating an image on your blog, make sure you have:

  • An image file name (including keywords) — e.g. “/how-to-rank-on-google.png”
  • Alt image text — This will help with Image Search SEO.
  • Image caption — Include as many keywords as possible in your caption, too.

These things will go a long way to helping your images show up in search.

You should also compress your images using a tool like TinyPNG before uploading them to your website.

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This will prevent your posts from being bogged down when your posts are image-heavy, or even when you have large image files.

And the faster your loading speed, the easier it will be for people to share your posts.

4. Create an embed of your image (for infographics, maps, and quotes)

The goal of creating images like infographics and maps is to make them as shareable as possible.

One way to do this is by allowing people to embed your image onto their site with an automatic link back to yours.

A tool like Embed.ly will help you do this quickly and easily.

Embed Code Generator Embedly

You will also be able to track how many people are linking to your image or embedding it on their site.

This way you don’t have to spend time on Google doing a reverse image search for credit links.

5. Use relevant imagery

Finally, it’s important to use relevant images for the posts or pages they’ll be used on.

Google’s image recognition is getting better, but it’s not perfect.

If you have a picture of an adorable puppy as your featured image for a post about user-friendly web designs, for example, it won’t show up when people search for “web designer.”

Stick with images that relate back to the content, so people (and Google) know what they’re getting when they click on it.

The less confusing your images are, the more likely they will be to get the right clicks.

Conclusion

Image link building can be very effective when done right.

Images provide valuable opportunities to create backlinks to your site, in addition to their practicality for things like design and shareability.

The key is to create the right type of image for the right situation.

Infographics, maps, memes, and quotes are great for visual platforms, but they take time to put together.

Original photography, on the other hand, is more time-consuming. But if you have content that needs it, the investment is worth it.

Just remember that every image needs to be optimized if you truly want to get links.

What tools do you use to create your own images?

The post A Simple Yet Effective Strategy For Generating High-Quality Links from Images appeared first on Neil Patel.



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What Content Creators Can Learn from Professional Artists


Great to see you again! This week was all about art. Some people think of “art” as self-indulgent or impractical, but that’s a dangerous myth. We’re talking about the roll-up-your-sleeves work that adds more artistry to your content — which is what we all need to attract our audiences’ attention in 2018. On Monday, Stefanie
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The post What Content Creators Can Learn from Professional Artists appeared first on Copyblogger.



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The Top 15 Apps to Edit Your Instagram Photos and Videos Like a Pro


By now I’m sure you realize how important Instagram is for your business.

Every day your audience gets bombarded with many different pictures and videos showing up on their timelines. That’s why I’ve told you in the past that you need to write captions that drive engagement.

But nobody will read your captions if the image doesn’t capture their attention. They’ll just keep mindlessly scrolling past your post.

I’ve seen some companies hire experts in photography to help them put out better Instagram posts.

While I can applaud the effort, I also think it’s a complete waste of money. You can take your own photos without hiring a professional.

Now you can use that extra cash and apply it to other aspects of your business to focus on the newest marketing trends.

Instagram has tools allowing you to edit your photos and videos directly on their platform. Those might be okay for the average person, but your business should avoid them.

Why?

It’s all about standing out from the crowd.

All of the 800 million monthly active Instagram users have access to those editing tools. If you’re using them too, your posts will look like everyone else’s.

There are other apps available that can help make your photos stand out. But there are thousands of them out there, so it’s tough to figure out which ones are most useful.

That’s why I’ve taken the time to share with you the best 15 apps for photo and video editing. These will help you take your Instagram posts to the next level.

I’ll go through all of my favorites and show you some of the key features of each one.

1. Afterlight 2

If you’re looking for unique filters, Afterlight 2 has a huge collection of old school and vintage ones available. These are definitely an upgrade from filters that come standard with Instagram.

They also have some really cool effects and designs that allow you to add text and other typography to your images:

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You can even put part of your text behind elements within your photo. This feature is perfect for businesses.

Now you can capture the attention of your followers by layering a catchy headline directly over your image as opposed to just writing a caption. This is a great opportunity for you to do something like:

  • advertise a sale
  • promote a new product
  • build hype for an event
  • run a contest
  • get more followers
  • draw attention to a link in your bio

You can download Afterlight 2 for $2.99, and that’s all you’ll ever pay for this app. They don’t have any other in-app upgrades or additional charges to access their best features.

2. Snapseed

Snapseed takes your editing effects to a whole new level. You can apply effects and filters to specific areas of your image with high precision:

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They’ve got a really cool editing feature called a perspective tool. This helps you automatically adjust or correct any skewed lines in your images.

Let’s face it, a picture taken by hand won’t be 100% perfect. You might think your horizon is level or buildings are lined up properly, but that’s rarely the case.

That’s when the perspective tool can make your photos look professional.

What’s the best part about Snapseed? It’s free. It’s definitely worth checking out since there’s no risk involved.

3. Aviary Photo Editor

Aviary Photo Editor is an Adobe product. If you’ve used Adobe software and were happy with the experience, you should give this Photo Editor a try:

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The editing tools on Aviary allow you to saturate colors within your photos as well as soften or sharpen areas for an effect.

Aviary also has a large collection of frames, stickers, and other overlays to embellish your images. You can even hand-draw captions across the pictures.

I like to use Aviary because of the features allowing me to fine-tune my images. With just a couple of clicks, you can eliminate blemishes or brighten shadows to make your images more lively.

Aviary saves your images to the cloud. If you have an Adobe ID, you can access your images from anywhere and edit them from any device.

This feature comes in handy if you’re taking and editing images as a team. Everything can be stored in one place.

4. Vintagio

For those of you who want to add a vintage feel to your videos, Vintagio has what you need, as the name suggests.

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If you’ve got a fashion company or ecommerce store that sells clothing, this app can be useful for promoting products from bygone eras.

If you want your video to appear to be from a certain time period, their video filters can match the style of that time. That way, it’s clear to your audience that the setting of your video is not supposed to be the present day.

You can also trim and piece together different video clips with this app.

And you can change the video quality of your clips if you want to create something that looks like it’s from the 1950s.

Vintagio has great soundtracks from different eras as well. You can adjust the speed and timing and add other effects to your clips too.

Combining all these elements together will help you make a unique Instagram video.

5. Average Camera Pro

The name says it all. Average Camera Pro was created to help regular people edit photos like professionals.

Unlike other apps that just edit photos, Average Camera Pro has a built-in camera function. You can use it to take multiple pictures at the same time or set a timer for the photos.

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You’d find these tools on high-quality and expensive cameras. But you can have them on your phone for just $0.99.

This camera function works best if you want to take pictures in low-light settings. Since you’re increasing the exposure time, you’ll get brighter pictures that would normally appear dark on a regular phone camera.

Sometimes when you try to brighten a really dark photo, the editing looks obvious in your final image.

But you won’t have to worry about that if you take the pictures with Average Camera Pro.

6. TiltShift

TiltShift is great for bringing focus to a specific area of an outdoor scene. So if you’ve got a business with a physical storefront, you can use this app to bring your location to life.

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The effect makes your image appear as if it’s a miniature. Instagram has a tilt-shift feature built into their editing tools, but this one is far more advanced.

If you take lots of landscapes or other outdoor photos, this app is worth getting for just $1.99.

7. Superimpose

Do you want to change the background of a picture you took? Instagram doesn’t have any tools for that, so you’ll need to get the Superimpose app.

Superimpose lets you remove the background from an image.

Then, you can combine it with another picture. This is awesome from an advertising perspective.

Want to take an exotic beach photo without leaving your office?

No problem.

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Check out these creative images above. Superimpose allows you to blend images together or even change an image into something unrealistic, such as a fish with the head of a chicken.

Using Superimpose  as part of your arsenal of photo editing tools will make your brand stand out on Instagram. You can create images that are fun, exciting, and imaginative.

Plus, their software creates a smooth final product that’s believable. Your pictures won’t have that unprofessional crop and paste feel to them.

It’s only $1.99 to download. In no time at all, you’ll be uploading new photos to Instagram that will get your followers talking.

8. 8mm Vintage Camera

The 8mm Vintage Camera is great for shooting and editing longer videos. Now that Instagram lets you upload videos that are up to a minute long, this app is perfect for you.

You can get really cool video effects such as:

  • light leaks
  • scratches
  • flames flickering
  • dust

All of these can make your videos feel more authentic.

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8mm Vintage Camera was even used in the filming of an Oscar-nominated movie.

If a professional director can use this app to get on the red carpet, you can certainly use it to edit your Instagram videos. It’s available for download for just $1.99 with some additional premium themes available as in-app purchases.

9. CrossProcess

If you love adding filters to your photos but are sick and tired of using the same ones, it’s time for an upgrade. CrossProcess has over 70 filters.

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I’ve seen many businesses on Instagram using the same one or two filters over and over again.

It’s boring.

Your followers will realize pretty quickly you’re not being very original. Once this happens, they may start ignoring your posts. Or even worse, they could unfollow you.

If they aren’t following you, you won’t be able to keep them informed of other promotional information that drives engagement and gets conversions.

You can prevent this from happening by simply spicing up your photos with new filters available from CrossProcess.

10. PicFrame

Instagram allows you to upload multiple photos to one post. The only problem is you have to rely on your followers to scroll through each one.

This is not always the case.

If you want to combine multiple photos into one image, you can do it by creating a collage with PicFrame:

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One of the coolest parts of this app is you can apply different filters and effects to each image within your collage as opposed to having one tone across the entire picture. That way, they can all be unique and stand out from each other.

You can also adjust the color and design patterns of your frames with this app.

If you really want to enhance your collage, PicFrame has lots of bonus features like stickers, shapes, text, and even music.

I think it’s worth the $2.99 price tag.

11. Facetune 2

If the majority of your Instagram photos contain people as opposed to just products or landscapes, you need to consider Facetune 2.

Nobody is perfect. Sometimes, we get blemishes, breakouts, or acne. After a long night of tossing and turning, everyone gets bags under their eyes.

But these imperfections shouldn’t discourage you from posing for a photo.

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This app can make photos of people more flattering. Sometimes, all it takes is a slight adjustment to the lighting.

Facetune 2 also has specific filters designed for selfies. Sometimes the front-facing camera on our phones doesn’t take the best pictures, so just apply one of the filters to make up for it.

With a few easy steps, you can easily:

  • whiten teeth
  • change eye color
  • remove wrinkles
  • eliminate shine on oily skin
  • make dull skin appear vibrant

The Facetune 2 app is completely free, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t at least try it.

12. Tiny Planet Photos and Video

Tiny Planet lets you take images and videos with a fisheye lens effect.

This effect creates the appearance of a “tiny planet”—hence, the name.

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Have you checked Instagram today? How many photos have you seen so far that look like this?

I’m willing to bet you haven’t seen any. I know I haven’t.

Get this app if you want to create images that are fun. The circular and warped photos this app creates can also be used as background images on phones, computers, or other devices.

You can suggest that to your followers.

13. Quick

Quick has really cool fonts that you can add to your photos.

They simplified the photo editing process with this app. Quick advertises that it’s designed to be used with “just a thumb.” So you won’t need to get on your computer or do anything too fancy to get great photos.

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You can send your edited image straight to Instagram or other social media platforms directly from the app.

As you can see from the example above, their text overlay features are great for captioning a photo or listing a price for something on your ecommerce store.

14. DXP FREE

The whole purpose of the DXP FREE app is to create multiple exposures on one image.

As a result, your pictures will stand out. Check out these examples:

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Instagram doesn’t offer such tools.

This app does require a little bit of patience and precision. You’ll need to understand the concepts of blending, or you might get a bit frustrated when you’re trying to edit.

But like with anything else, the more you use it, the easier it’ll get. Just as the name says, it’s free to download.

15. Tangent

Tangent lets you add patterns, textures, and geometric shapes to your images.

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It’s another way to let your creative juices flow.

It also has some features that allow you to add framing overlays to your photos.

Tangent gives you an opportunity to express yourself. If your company has an audience that recognizes art and creativity, you’ll definitely want to use Tangent to impress your Instagram followers.

Conclusion

To captivate your Instagram followers, you’ll need to make sure your photos and videos are edited properly. That doesn’t mean you have to hire a professional editor.

There are plenty of apps available that are really easy for anyone to use. Lots of these are free of charge or only cost a couple of dollars, so they are worth a try.

Everyone with an Instagram account has access to the same filters and editing tools.

Editing your photos with another app can separate your pictures from the crowd. If you’re not sure where to find the best apps, refer to this list as a guideline.

All of these apps are unique and offer different features depending on what you’re looking for, such as collages, text overlays, face touch-ups, or vintage themes.

What types of camera effects do you like to use when you’re editing photos and videos on Instagram?





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