When in doubt, no.
You wouldn’t pull a photo off National Geographic’s Website to promote your own business. But what about an image you find on Flickr, Instagram or Pinterest? The answer is still no…with some exceptions. And yet it’s easy to assume that freely shared images online are yours for the taking.
If you are using images pulled from the Internet without attribution or permission, there are two good reasons to stop the practice.
- Violating a creator’s rights, no matter who they are, is bad business. Flipping that around, providing an attribution and possibly a link (source, creator’s name, image title) demonstrates your generosity and respect for a creator’s work. And you’ll help educate others on proper image use.
- You don’t want to damage your reputation if the author of the image stumbles upon your Instagram feed. They might simply ask you to remove the image, or worse.
Have you let your website languish, turning to Facebook instead as your de facto website? As an art and craft supporter and practicing artist myself, I often seek out artists and makers of all kinds. Perhaps I stumbled onto an image on Pinterest. I want to learn more about the artist, see what events they participate in and view new work.
More often than not, I find a website that hasn’t been updated in ages making me believe the artist is no longer active until I discover a Facebook page with recent updates. Very often, there’s no website, only a Facebook page.
It’s easy to understand why people default to Facebook for their content. It’s easy to use, especially if you couple that with a website that is sorely out of date and/or difficult to update. I still come across people who have to pay someone to make updates, and often wait a long time to do so. That is a thing of the past. No one, least of all a small business, can afford to be hamstrung like that. The world moves too fast. (See this earlier post on developing a new website with today’s tools.)
If you use an e-mail service to send newsletters or blasts, how did you build your list? If the answer is that you invited people or they added themselves via a form on your website, three cheers for you! No coal in your Christmas stocking.
Email is still one of the most powerful ways to connect with customers or prospects short of having coffee together, even if automated (because you can personalize it with the recipient’s name). You’re not competing with a stream of cat photos in Facebook or random Twitter chatter. It’s a great way to further your brand and personality, and become a go-to person in your field.
But you don’t want people scratching their heads when your third e-blast of the week arrives in their in-box, wondering if they forgot they signed up for your list.
There are three types of emails from businesses: total spam, almost spam and not spam. If you invited people to your list or they signed up (knowing what they were getting), that’s not spam.
We all know what total spam is.
Almost spam is everything else, such as adding people to your list, even people you know, even good friends, who might very well have said, “Yes, sign me up Scottie!” if only you’d asked.
But they can delete emails, right? Trust and respect rule here. The burden shouldn’t be on the recipient. Your goal is to inform, inspire and delight. It’s a sign of respect to ask permission to add someone to a list, even a client. Read more
Even as I help people unlock and articulate what makes them unique, there’s a simple truth that goes beyond crafting the perfect brand.
It’s about showing you give a damn.
It’s even better when it’s unexpected.
Maybe it’s a gift where a gift would seem surprising.
Maybe it’s helping a client to take a risk where you know they’ll benefit.
Maybe it’s fantastic customer service where people have stopped thinking they’ll get it.
Maybe it’s a personal note to one person even though you serve many just like her.
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”If all you have is the desire to get picked, that’s not sufficient.“
Wandering the aisles at a craft show a while back, I was surprised that the same styles and motifs appeared over and over. Most likely, each artist thought of himself as different. But why didn’t anyone want to stand out, especially in a creative industry?
It is said that there are very few original ideas. But there’s plenty of room for a different kind of originality. Put two or more existing ideas together to form a new product or service. Put a new spin on an old idea. Use your voice. If you’re an independent business owner and you’re not putting your unique voice to work, you’re overlooking the one tool you have that no one else does. Read more