26 Amazing Websites with Stunning Free Stock Photos

Avoid the Stock Photo Headache

Building a website, graphic, or photo can be difficult if you're paying top dollar for stock photos. Finding breathtaking free stock photos can be a chore if you don't know where to look. Usually you will find low-resolution photos, people wearing 90's Gap headsets, or images that eat up your project budget. Below is a growing list (so star this page) of the best free stock photo sites we have stumbled upon. 

26 awesome websites for free stock photos by villagemarketingco.com
  1. CC Search http://search.creativecommons.org/
  2. Picography http://picography.co/
  3. Flickr https://www.flickr.com/search/
  4. Picjumbo http://picjumbo.com/
  5. Jay Mantree http://jaymantri.com/
  6. Getrefe http://getrefe.tumblr.com/
  7. Unsplash http://unsplash.com/
  8. Function http://wefunction.com/category/free-photos/
  9. New Old Stock http://nos.twnsnd.co/
  10. IM Free  http://imcreator.com/free
  11. Superfamous  http://superfamous.com/
  12. The Pattern Library http://thepatternlibrary.com/
  13. Gratisography http://www.gratisography.com/
  14. Death to the Stock Photo http://join.deathtothestockphoto.com/
  15. Jay Mantri http://jaymantri.com/
  16. Little Visuals http://littlevisuals.co/
  17. Public Domain Archive http://publicdomainarchive.com/
  18. Magdeleine http://magdeleine.co/
  19. Photopin http://photopin.com/
  20. Foodiesfeed http://foodiesfeed.com
  21. Splitshire http://splitshire.com/
  22. Kaboom Pics http://kaboompics.com/
  23. Foodies Feed http://foodiesfeed.com/
  24. Picography http://picography.co/
  25. Refe http://getrefe.com/downloads/category/free/
  26. Snapographic http://snapographic.com/

HAIKU SUMMARY

Stock photos cost much
Use free sites and save money
Attribute author

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How Hootsuite is sabotaging your Social Media Plan

Hootsuite is a social media scheduling tool that is a popular choice for many small businesses. I agree that there are other useful tools like Tweetdeck and Sprout Social, but Hootsuite is better known and more widely used by social media managers and marketing teams the world over. I remember my first marketing job required me to learn Hootsuite. I'd never heard of it before that point. I've since migrated to other softwares that are cheaper and, for the most part, easier to use, but I regularly recommend Hootsuite to clients and friends.

Here is what's great about Hootsuite 

Here are a few of Hootsuite’s long list of useful features:

Manage multiple social accounts

Facebook pages and profiles

LinkedIn

Twitter

WordPress

Google Plus

All this and more from a single Hootsuite account. 

Schedule posts and updates

Schedule a post or an event in the future. This helps marketing teams avoid cramped posting schedules that reek of unprofessionalism.

Go Bulk or Go home

It's easy to post in bulk. Create a spreadsheet (csv file) then follow the instructions on Hootsuite. Know what? Just start by reading the instructions here.(Click here)

Create access for your team

Team collaboration is easy when you can tweet, mark as done, or even track ongoing messages. 

Smartphone Friendly

Pull out the smartphone, Hootsuite has semi-usable* Mobile apps for popular devices like iPhone, iPad, and Android. 

*overall you can check things and even post, but limited functionality compared to desktop.

Personalized Analytics Reporting

Get reports that will give a general idea of how your accounts are doing online. These reports can be costly and not very descriptive.

Are you there Hootsuite? It's me, Marketing.

Hootsuite has long been praised for their extensive FAQ, support pages  and cheerful human customer support. Not too shabby.

The Dark side of the Hoot. 

I know, the title is 'How Hootsuite is sabotaging  your social media plan'. Yet, I've been sitting here listing what's awesome about Hootsuite. Here is the truth, Hootsuite is the correct choice and the best product for many people. What this post is about are the Liz Lemon-esque deal breaker problems which may ruin this software for a lot of users.

I would be interested in what you think about Hootsuite, so please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below. To learn more about other simple ways to improve your social reach, check out my recent post on 5 SEO tips for local search.

Here's the big secret, this issue really only affects small businesses and personal accounts. The two main reasons are the cost of Hootsuite and the strategically lacking functionality. Yes, Hootsuite is free, and Pro is only $8.99 per month, but there are prohibitively expensive features of Hootsuite that most businesses (and some personal accounts) need.

In any event, here are my top 4 reasons NOT to use Hootsuite

Number 1 - Ow.ly is number one in Soviet Russia

For some, the ow.ly reports provide basic information regarding click throughs, referrers and more. Although, this does come at a price, you are required to use the 'state run' Hootsuite version of bitly, or tinyurl; the ow.ly url shortener. It's like the russian version of winnie the Pooh. Everything is there, it looks cute, but something is not quite right.

Hootsuite users are forced to abide by this url shortener. Now, you are able to add your own custom url shortener but this costs money too. Are you sensing the theme here?

Let's say you are like many users and will not pay for a custom url. This ow.ly url transmits to the world that you are using Hootsuite. You may not want people to know that there is no one staffing the social media desk.

One major issue is a lack of tracking from Hootsuite. If you are using any social media schedulers like Social Oomph, TweetDeck or Buffer, then Hootsuite can't track these links. The expensive Hootsuite analytics you are paying for are not capturing the whole picture. You aren't seeing the click throughs from all your monthly links. This is also true if you are using the reports from the previously mentioned social posting tools, you won't be able to see the hootsuite links' information. There is a way to get around this issue, but you're not going to like it. You can read both reports, each month.

Like the Iron Curtain, Hootsuite wants to keep its comrades in. No need for any other forms of social media or internet marketing services, you have Hootsuite...yeah, right.

For larger companies, this is not a deal breaker issue. If you want to offer customer services online through Twitter, then Hootsuite may be right. But, if you or your company is like the rest of the world, you probably use Buffer or picture services like Twit Pic, you are out of luck. 

Number 2 - I mentioned you need to pay for Custom URL Shorteners, Right?

Not many people use custom url shorteners. Some people do, they use them to customize and brand their links. But like most people, I use bit.ly to create custom urls for free.

Now, if you want Hootsuite to create a custom url then it’s $49.99. Keep in mind this is the cost per month, not per year. Pull out your calculators, that's a total of  $600 dollars for that custom URL. Hootsuite has gone a tad overboard. Considering these custom urls only provide information to the Hootsuite reports, this is bananas. 

Transient

Number 3 - Hootsuite Reports are Pricey

I give the credit where it is due, I admit that Hootsuite has developed some incredible analytics reports. These will show how your social networks are faring in the high waters of the internet,

Here's how you do it. You purchase reports using points (learn more here). Presuming your account is a Pro rate of $8.99 a month, you are allotted 50 points per month to buy these reports. According to the discussion accessible through the link above, these points are like space on a hard-drive. Each report takes up around 50 points of space. Custom reports occupy more space and require additional pylons, I mean money. Basically, you need to fork over more money per month to get truly useful information out of your Hootsuite reports. If you are looking for a comprehensive way to monitor your social media performance, Hootsuite's Pro plan will not be enough.

I find that small businesses feel a $50 report is too expensive, especially considering they are already paying $9 a month. It sort of feels like the Hulu of social media reporting. You pay to watch shows and then also have to watch long ads. Something doesn't feel right. On the other hand, for medium and larger firms with a sizable social media team, these reports are accessible in price. Most of these established businesses will have the tools to glean the most value from these reports. One more thing, Hootsuite seamlessly integrates Google analytics and Facebook information to build useful data. Again, if you can bear the costs of these reports, great. If you can't, this may be a deal breaker.

 

Click the image above or the link below to find a great post about how to read the free report Hootsuite gives you. (click here)

Number 4 - Facebook unofficially Hates Hootsuites 

Since Facebook updated it's algorithm ow.ly links have been seeing lower reach within Facebook. This was a move by Facebook to limit spammy or duplicate content. However, Hootsuite users have been complaining about a lack of reach and visibility issues with Facebook. This isn't Hootsuite specific though, many third party apps have been having issues with Facebook's EdgeRank score (this influences if your post will appear in your audiences' newsfeeds). Officially, facebook denies that these apps are being affected but many users say otherwise. For now, I recommend to clients that they should schedule posts for Facebook within Facebook (they have a simple scheduling system).

The Social Media Scheduler most recommended for and by clients 

Transient

With over 1 million registered users, Buffer ($10 Monthly $104 Yearly) allows you to choose from multiple accounts to post to. Such as Facebook profiles, pages and groups, LinkedIn groups, profiles, and company pages, Google Plus and Twitter, they even have App.net. I recommend this product to clients that aren't too familiar with proper posting schedules. This helps you pick a weekly and daily schedule and stick to it. 

You have the option to  "post now" or add your post to a scheduled queue. Buffer recently started offering comprehensive analytics on business accounts. The business plan starts at a reasonable $50 per month and comes with multiple accounts, 2 member team management and access, unlimited posting, and customizable reporting. You can also pull data from the Buffer servers in a CSV form. 

Other Resources

There are more tools than buffer that perform similar services as Hootsuite. Check out the comments and share your thoughts  on other services you recommend.

If you already paid for Hootsuite and want to get the most out of it, check out these links below.

Sum it all up

We did it, 4 reasons why Hootsuite may not be the best choice for you. Of course, these reasons may not be total deal breakers for you. There is the possibility that you may feel these are not the most egregious of reasons, but they are valid annoyances that I have had to deal with. Although, as I mentioned before, I regularly recommend Hootsuite to many clients and businesses. Hootsuite may be for you if you can afford the cost of the Hootsuite extras and value comprehensive customer service. 

How do you feel about this? Please add what you think in the comments below.

HAIKU SUMMARY

Hootsuite can post well
Tracking can be expensive
Need alternative

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New Website Works but the Old Site Ranks Better in Google Search


Congratulations on your new website. I'm sure it looks fresh and mobile friendly. But... you told someone to Google it and they can't find it. Yeah, that can happen. Lets go over why and how a 301 Redirect can improve your page rank immediately. 

Giving Google Authority to a different website

Your old website has been around for a while. In that time it earned credibility with Google. But your old website is just that, old. Your new website represents the future of your business, product, or story. The most recommended way to give your old site's authority to  your new site is with a 301 redirect.

How to Do a 301 Redirect

Here is a video on how to do a 301 redirects for a wordpress website:

Best 301 Tutorials on the web

I collected these links from all over the web. If you need an entire site or even a single page redirected, the type of redirect required depends on the server and the website. "19 percent of the web runs on Word" according to VentureBeat.com. It's safe to assume you have a Wordpress site, if so, I would recommend the wordpress link. Even if you want to use Apache or Java or even PHP, there are links for that too. If I'm missing anything let me know.

In general, for 301 I recommend this site. The writer updates his posts regularly and he has a lot of useful tools and information.

The Reason why we 301 

The goal here is to get your new website the authority you already earned with your old site. Cash in with a 301 redirect. If you are unsure how Google will react, let me assure you they encourage this. In almost every case, this is helpful. Unless your old site is flagged in some way, there is no reason not to 301 redirect. The Page Rank Google gives you from a 301 redirect is almost identical to the Page Rank lost when a site links to you.  According to Matt Cutts, Google's head of Web Spam, a 301 redirect "is like having a link to your website". Watch the video below to see what else Matt Cutts has to say about 301 and how it changes your Page Rank.

 

 

HAIKU SUMMARY

Check out my new site
Google it. Just a second.
It's still your old one

 

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5 SEO Tips for Optimizing Local Search

5 SEO Optimization Tips for Local Search

The objective is not to “make your links appear natural”; the objective is that your links are natural.
— Matt Cutts, Google's Head of Webspam
Transient

SEO Tips to Optimize for Local Search

Here are 5 tips for your business to get the most out of local search. 

  1. Build your business profile on Google Places – If you haven't already done so, set up a Google Places account.  You're going to want to check that all your information is identical to your website, social media, and any directories you may be listed under. We recommend including pictures, discounts, product information and especially Youtube videos about your business. If you know what keywords you're trying to rank for on your website, be sure to include them in your description. Don't jam as many as you can in there. Choose only a few. Don't forget: set up similar accounts on Yahoo Local & Bing Local. Here's a Bonus that not a lot of people know, making a Google Places profile enables your business to appear for Google+ Local mobile searches. Yeah, we know. It's AWESOME.

  2. Where are you? – Be sure to optimize for geo-specific keywords. Does your business operate in Ridgewood, New Jersey. Don't just stop at the surface, include city names in your h1, h2, meta tags, and all of your copy.

  3. Get Ranked – Positive reviews on your website or sites like Yelp go a long way with Google and other search engines. Take out your phone and search for a restaurant you like, odds are you will see a yelp or Google review on there.  Google sees positive reviews like a guiding beacon of truthy hope. Offer prizes and promotions to make sure your customers let you know how they feel about your service.

  4. Be in reputable online directories – Search engines respect a number of reputable online directories. It's pretty easy to get listed and it helps you build links to your website. These directories make it easy for searchers and search engines to find and verify your local business info.

  5. Social media and SEO – Social media is often neglected in small businesses. But it can be used to build a community that cares about who you are and what you're doing. What you may not know is social media improves local search. Social media has been proven to help your SERP rankings. We recommend you beef up your social media, especially Google Plus,  as it can help any business looking to improve its online presence.

Get Started Today

We know you're just as excited as we are about the potential of local search. We included a list of directories and websites your business should be listed on. Try to do at least three. Do all and you'll be the envy of all the jocks and cool kids in your town.

Local search is waiting for you. The results, especially for small businesses, can be significant. You'll see increased site traffic and even online sales (if that's your thing). We hope these 5 SEO tips for optimizing for local search have helped you. Let us know if you know of any additional tips for optimizing for local search. 

HAIKU SUMMARY

A Local Searcher
Your Business Found Instantly
Optimization

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Viral Marketing with Reddit

92% of respondents reported that a positive recommendation from a friend, family member, or someone they trust is the biggest influence on whether they buy a product or service.
— Paul M. Rand
"Bloomberg TV provided viewers with an important lesson in digital currency when one of its anchors had a gift card stolen while showing it during a live broadcast." -RT.com

"Bloomberg TV provided viewers with an important lesson in digital currency when one of its anchors had a gift card stolen while showing it during a live broadcast."

-RT.com

Matt Miller, a Bloomberg TV news anchors, has gone viral. You're probably aware Miller's Bitcoins were stolen during his segment “12 Days of Bitcoin”. Well, this snafu turned $20 worth of Bitcoins into a low cost viral marketing campaign worth millions of dollars.

It happened in a flash - the $20 Bitcoin gift certificate was on screen for less than a minute. This was just enough time for a Redditor to scan the digital QR code, unlocking the gift for himself.

Milywaymasta, the Redditor, even explained how he did it.

“The guy that is hosting the series gave bitcoin gift certificates to the other two hosts. One of them opens up the certificate to reveal QR code of the private key,” he wrote. "They then proceeded to show a closeup of the QR code in glorious HD for about 10 seconds. Hilarious."

The user offered to return the Bitcoins, but Miller conceded on Reddit and told him he earned it.  (See image below)

This authentic response earned Miller some karma on Reddit.

This authentic response earned Miller some karma on Reddit.

This story has gone viral. Let's figure out why:

  1. Miller gave Reddit users the opportunity to 'acquire' his bitcoins during his Bloomberg TV segment.
  2. Milywaymasta takes the bitcoins and posts the now popularized story on Reddit.
  3. The unique content is picked up by social media outlets.
  4. Exponential growth ensues.

Now, Miller is on the front page of your newsfeed, Reddit, and social posts across the web. We're wondering...did Miller plan this? For the price of $20, Miller gained free advertising, generated interest in his content, and organically grew his brand.

Remember, the most effective sales pitch doesn't come from a salesman, it comes from a friend's recommendation. Think of it like a Google search. Which do you trust more, the organic or paid result? Reddit works the same way. Your average Bloomberg story may not be hot news, but once the show was scammed by a Redditor, the content went viral.

Now, how can you apply this to your brand or business? We'll be answering questions and brainstorming with you. Reach out and let us know what you think.

Haiku Summary

One Bloomberg Anchor
Twenty dollars in Bitcoins
Millions of free ads

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You will not believe what Casey Neistat did with a $25,000 production budget.

Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all.
— Helen Keller

It can be difficult for small businesses to get their content in front of the right people. It can be even harder to get them to notice your brand message. But give Casey Neistat $25,000 production budget to promote 20th Century Fox's new movie "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" and he'll show you how to engage the world. As we always say, just be authentic.

When Fox first approached Neistat, it was following the terrible Typhoon Haiyan which took the lives of many in the Philippines. The original concept proposed by Fox was "Live your dreams". Neistat had a slightly different idea for a promotional video. Take the entire $25,000 and donate it to relief efforts in the Philippines. But this wasn't just a simple check signing. No, Casey and his crew traveled across the globe, as they are known to do, to film their impact.

When we first saw this video a few days ago it was around 12,000 views. It is now well over 520,000 hits within two days. We are witnessing a viral event, let's learn from it.

Watch the video. Tell us what you think at @VillageMarketingCo. How can you apply this to your business or brand? We will be answering any questions and brainstorming with you on this.

Haiku Summary

Fox needs promotion
Casey leaps over oceans
Viral commotion 

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Shoppers went from Puzzled to Speechless when they saw these Mannequins

“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.
— C.S Lewis

Holiday shoppers know that mannequins are constantly reminding us how imperfect we are. Even without heads, they look down on us for our non-scientifically proportioned dimensions. We're sick of it. Enter Pro Infirmis, a Swiss organization dedicated to enriching the lives of the disabled.

Recently, they developed fascinating storefront mannequins, identical to real humans, in a project they call "Because Who is Perfect? Get Closer".  The models' lives changed forever when they saw their figure in a storefront. By being true to form, Pro Infirmis created a video that is now topping 5 Million views. Watch and see how effective authenticity can be for your brand. 

HAIKU SUMMARY

Authenticity
for any brand or business
creates connections

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As seen on: Huffington Post