10.29.2015

A Guide to Free Graphic Resources for Small Businesses

A Guide to Free Graphic Resources for Small Businesses

In the digital age we live in, everyone from the office admin to the social media guru eventually needs a killer graphic, photo, or typeface to pull together an event flier, PowerPoint presentation, or social media post. While you could go on a stock photo site or pay your middle-school aged niece to do your bidding, why not use the free resources available to you? That’s right, free. There are loads of websites dedicated to helping users find modern graphics, typefaces, and photos – all at the click of a button. Today, Sparq wants to share their best kept freebie resources with you.

Free Photo Resources: When your camera phone doesn’t cut it

Have you ever been working on a PowerPoint presentation and thought “if I had just the right photo to represent what I’m talking about, I’d be able to knock this presentation out of the park!” Well, you’re in luck. There are two great websites we want to introduce to you to get your next project looking stellar. The first is freedigitalphotos.net. Freedigitalphotos.net houses a large selection of royalty free stock photography and digital illustrations, perfect for business and personal use. But what’s the catch, you might ask? Well, the photos are only free in the smallest file size (usually below 500px wide). While these photos might not be ideal for high resolution printing, they’ll look sharp and professional in your PowerPoint Presentation, email blast, or Facebook post.

The second free photo resource website we’d like to introduce you to is deathtothestockphoto.com. Death to the Stock Photo was founded by two photographers who wanted to give freelancers, writers, and bloggers access to royalty free, high resolution (and high quality) digital imagery to enhance their projects. The images have a lifestyle, simplistic feel, perfect for communicating a variety of messages to a variety of audiences. By signing up on their website, you’ll receive a pack of images each month (sent straight to your inbox) to save, use, and share – for free. And if you want even more access to more photos, you can sign up for their “Premium” membership (unfortunately, the premium option does cost money), giving you access to a growing pile of 400+ digital images.

Free Typeface Resources: When Times New Roman doesn’t cut it

 A typeface has the ability to make or break a project. Choosing a typeface that fits the “feel” of your project is crucial in making everything cohesive. One of our favorite places to find free typefaces is Dafont.com. DaFont sometimes gets a bad rep in design circles because, while it houses some very interesting and creative typefaces, it also is home to some not-so-great-kind-of-thrown-together typefaces. You just have to be careful about which font you choose.

DaFont have an extensive storehouse of fonts, ranging from handwritten, to foreign looking, to techno, to basic – the list goes on and on. Each typeface falls into a certain category of use, ranging from “For Personal Use Only” to “100% free,” making it incredibly easy for users to find just the right font for their personal or business needs.

Another very similar website is fontspace.com, which claims to house over 23,000 different fonts, some for commercial use and some for personal use.

Free Graphic Resources: When Publisher doesn’t cut it

 Here at Sparq, clean, professional design is so important to us. We have the wonderful opportunity to come along side businesses and help them rebrand, rework their graphics, and launch their business to a whole ‘nother level. While it’s easy to think, “website design doesn’t look that hard! I think I’ll give it a try,”it’s usually best to trust professionals to building an online graphic presence that will evoke professionalism and clarity to consumers. But what if you’re in a pinch for a graphic? What if your company was holding an event this upcoming weekend, and you were in charge of creating a flier to send out to all employees and their families? Have no fear – you’ll find exactly what you need (and more) on openclipart.org.

Open Clip Art gives users the ability to look through hundreds upon hundreds of digital illustrations and download them as PNG or vector files. You’ll find every illustration style imaginable on Open Clip Art, and yes, you can use these images for commercial or non-commercial use! It doesn’t get much better than that. Your event flier will be the talk of the office with Open Clip Art!

Another graphic website we love to utilize here is flaticon.com. Flaticon is home to over 73,000 free vector icons that can be downloaded in a variety of file types and sized to fit your project’s individual needs. Need some social media icons? Flaticon has those. Need a “thumbs up” sign? Flaticon has that. All clean, simple, and beautiful design can be found here. The only catch is that you must credit the author of the graphic (to use the graphic for free) or upgrade a premium license for $9.99 per month (to use the graphic for free without crediting the author). Either way, you’re sure to get your project looking sleek.

With so many avenues for finding free photos, graphics, and typefaces, your next project is sure to be looking professional and modern.

Jenna Hidinger is a Marketing Account Manager & Designer at Sparq Designs, a digital marketing agency in Pittsburgh. Learn more about her, here. If you have questions about building a relationship, contact the  Sparq team today.

Follow Jenna on Twitter,  LinkedIn & Instagram

10.27.2015

How Marketers Can Prepare for the “Internet of Things” Evolution

Years ago it may have seemed far fetched to think the products we use everyday would become practiced to learn our tendencies; what we like, what we dislike, and all our detailed preferences. Our cars now park themselves, restaurants find us, and our home appliances have the ability to re-order our products when we need them.

 

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With technology moving and advancing at a rapid pace, we are starting to see how the world has moved to an “Internet of Things.” Many products that we use each day are “smart products,” and have the ability to acquire information and user preferences to help us make decisions. Our products connect us to brands and the things that we intuitively want to buy. Marketers love the fact that consumers now provide their own information and actively tell the world what they want.

So how does this change marketing efforts for organizations that are all fighting to get our attention?

Although it may sound contradictory to the marketing stereotype, the future of marketing lies less in “talking” and more in “listening.” Let’s face it, consumers have changed – they tell the world what, where and when they want something. So for marketers, becoming better listeners and observers is how they are going to create successful campaigns and appeal to the “new consumer.”

Marketing efforts will become less calculated and more impulsive for brands and organizations now that corporate exposure has become much more attainable. The use of viral activity and online media allow brands with smaller budgets to compete on a more level playing field. Companies need to understand that being innovative and agile will be more productive when trying to grow market share. The future of most marketing efforts will no longer attempt to appeal to the masses – and why would they? Detailed, focused marketing tactics will begin to play a more important role for marketers. Consumers are providing honest data and valuable analytics that marketers compile and make sense of on a daily basis.  Marketing departments can analyze that consumer data on the fly, see what platforms their audiences are using, what individuals are looking for and when they are most inclined to buy.

As marketing professionals in the “Internet of Things,” we need to stay committed to becoming better listeners. Although it may be a new style that will need to refine, ultimately we all have the same goal. The goal is to communicate with one another, and to be a great communicator, you better be a great listener.

Nick Brucker is the President & CEO at Sparq Designs, a digital marketing agency in Pittsburgh. Learn more about him, here. If you have questions about building a relationship, contact the  Sparq team today.

Follow Nick on Twitter & LinkedIn 

10.22.2015

Is Controversial Content Beneficial?

I recently had to listen to a podcast for one of my classes surrounding the social media landscape. The podcast hosted a blogger who was explaining her tips to organically grow a Facebook audience using a combination of outside content and self promotion. The woman covered many of the common tactics for business owners on Facebook but one of her tips really struck me.

“Use controversial content.” Now as a social media marketing  manager posting many times on behalf of someone else, this isn’t an ideal tactic. There aren’t many brands who take pride in scandal, or having controversy associated with their organization. After doing some research on controversial content, I finally discovered what the woman meant; and eventually agreed.

Controversial doesn’t mean that you need to take a stance about gun control or abortion on your brand’s Facebook page; but it’s about redefining controversy. If social media marketing is about starting a conversation, then use content that’s going to start a conversation.

The best example I can share is the ‘toilet paper’ argument. Controversial content doesn’t have to be negative, it can be anything that people love to talk about, and let’s just assume that yes, everyone’s got an opinion on A LOT of topics. If you posted the toilet paper question on your Facebook page stating, “Which one is right? Over or Under?” I guarantee there would be a lot of response.

 

The woman wasn’t saying “post something that is controversial or that will upset people.” But rather post something that people can relate to, and will want to engage with and share their opinions about.

So that’s my changed perspective. Controversial content IS beneficial to your brand. Do you agree with me?

Kait Roth is the Vice President of Digital Marketing at Sparq Designs, a digital marketing agency in Pittsburgh. Learn more about her, here. If you have questions about social media marketing, contact the  Sparq team today.

Follow Kait on TwitterLinkedIn Instagram