Three best resources for online images

flickr-photosIf you are working on a blog or a website, you may be in need of good-quality graphics to liven up long paragraphs of text.

Fortunately the Internet is full of great resources, and thanks to technology it’s all searchable.

Resource #1 is Google Images. Type in what you need, hit search, and then browse thousands of results. However, be cautious in reuse of these images, especially for commercial purposes. Most of these are likely to be copyrighted. If they were obtained from the stock photo vendors, like Corbis or Getty, they were purchased at no small cost. Likewise if your competitor paid for a photo shoot they probably would not approve of you “borrowing” what they spent good money on. However they can help you locate appropriate images, and in many cases you can ask and obtain permission to reuse.

Corbis and Getty aren’t the only sources for stock photography. Resource #2, istockphoto.com, is an excellent source for inexpensive stock photography. Small low-resolution images, appropriate for most web needs, cost little more than $1. Freelancers world-wide contribute their work so the selection is vast and the quality has improved dramatically over the last several years. Their images are royalty-free which means once you purchase it, you have rights to use it as you see fit.

The third resource is Flickr. Most people think of this site as an online shareable photo album. However, many choose to allow others to use their photos via the Creative Commons license. This reserves some rights but allows a wide variety of usages up to including commercial use and creation of derivative works.

iPhone 2.0 – it’s all about the apps

iPhone appsEveryone’s talking – and blogging – about the latest iPhone. As one of the original owners, there on iDay 2007, how can I resist?

You may be surprised to hear I’m not buying a new phone. GPS would be nice, but the geo-tracking already built in is enough to get me un-lost when needed. The faster Internet? Well, I admit that’s tempting, and ultimately I may upgrade. But a plastic case? Really?

Actually, the best part of iPhone 2.0 isn’t the new phone, it’s the software. Fortunately all iPhone owners get it, not just the newbies. There are plenty of new features, from subtle to amazing, but the single most revolutionary change is open developer access. Programmers are now writing iPhone applications as fast as they can type.

Download new iPhone apps directly to your phone via the iTunes store. Many are free, others cost. Look for a rapidly expanding selection as more and more programmers get involved in iPhone development.

The most useful app I’ve found is the new iPhone version of Jott, a free reminder service I wrote about a while back. It records a voice message but transcribes it to a written note. Perfect for jotting down your to-do list in the car or between meetings.

Many apps tie into social networking, so you can tweet to Twitter throughout the day, locate Facebook friends who are close using GPS, or instantly geo-tag and post new photos to Flickr.

But my very favorite so far is midomi. Have you ever heard a great song and wanted to know the artist? Hold up your iPhone to the radio so midomi can listen. In seconds, you’ll have your answer. Can’t remember a favorite song but you can hum the tune? Sing directly into your phone. Seriously. I’m so fascinated I’ve been singing to my dogs for the past 20 minutes to see if I could stump it. So far it’s gotten every single one right. I’ll be unbeatable next time we play “name that tune” on trivia night!

One last thing…for all you Apple-bashing Microsoft devotees, you can sync with Exchange. Wirelessly. With push technology that rivals the BlackBerry. The iPhone is now officially a player in the business cellular market.

add to del.icio.usDigg itStumble It!Add to Blinkslistadd to furladd to ma.gnoliaadd to simpyseed the vineTailRank

Four ways social networking builds your business

A social network

You may know what a social network is, but do you know why you need one? There are a wide variety of ways it can help your business, limited only by your imagination.

To get you started, I’ve got four ideas for you. If you’ve got successful social networking strategies, please post your comments and share your ideas!

  1. Promote a new service – most sites have a place to put in what you are doing, right now. If you have a new product or service you are launching, say so. When I first started my blog, my status read “Wendy is writing for her blog, http://www.techzestblog.com,” and it was a great way to get the word out.
  2. Recruit staff – there are a few angles here. First, have a great blurb about your business – what you do, what makes you special, why someone would want to work there. Then you’ve got a couple of options. You can post that you are looking for someone, and see who comes to you, or you can search your network for people who already possess the skills you need and reach out to them. My most recent hire was a referral from a colleague obtained in just this way.
  3. Build website traffic – this one’s easy. Anywhere you have a personal profile, add your website. Add helpful resources to your site so you can offer people a reason to visit.
  4. Do something buzzworthy – viral marketing can be incredibly effective if you have a creative bent. Release a funny YouTube video, create a fun Facebook application, start a group on LinkedIn, or put together a unique photo album on Flickr. Tell all your friends. If you come up with something buzzworthy, they’ll tell their friends, who will tell their friends, and so on…and suddenly you have a whole new level of name recognition. Be sure whatever you post ties to your business and includes website links so you are easy to find.

Got more ideas? Post your comments below!

Expand your network (your social network, that is)

Social networksSocial networking has taken off–are you in the loop? LinkedIn is hands-down the biggest site for business networking, but many other sites can help you connect. No matter what your interest, there’s a perfect place to share it online.

In this post, we’ll look at the variety of social networking sites available. In a subsequent post, we’ll explore ways these can be used to help you and your business.

  • MySpace was not the first social networking site, but it was one of the first to hit the mainstream and really take off. It remains popular today, with millions of members.
  • Facebook was limited to high school and college students until September 2006. Since then it has usurped MySpace and become *the* place to be online. New applications sprout up each day, making it a broad platform for connections.
  • Plaxo is taking the Facebook approach to the business world in competition to LinkedIn. They’ve long been known for their online address book that requests automatic updates by email, but it remains to be seen how popular its social networking side will be.
  • Flickr is social networking via photos. Post your favorites or post them all, then tag them, label them, categorize them, and share them.
  • YouTube takes Flickr to the next level with video instead of photography. Record anything you want, post it and tag it, then wait for the comments to come in.
  • Twitter allows you to share exactly what you are doing at any point in time. Consider it a real-time community status board.
  • Digg, Del.ico.us, and StumbleUpon are not traditional social networking sites, but they use each the power of community to accomplish the same thing: link you to recommendations made by others with similar interests. By bringing like interests together, everyone gets more of what they love most.

These sites mingle the real world with the virtual world almost seamlessly. While it’s easy to sign up on any of these sites, you’ll have to return regularly to make strong connections. Real-world friends and colleagues require your time and attention; your virtual connections do as well.