The Secret of Storytelling with Images

the secret of storytelling with imagesSince we’re visual consumers, we need to be visual marketers, too. On Pinterest especially.

Visual storytelling, or storytelling with an image, is an art form — but it’s an essential skill for your marketing strategy kit. So how do you do it?

Visual storytelling makes me think of “Six Word Memoirs.” As you may know, good writing is concise — the less words, the better. But distilling your life story into six words is a challenge, right? In Smith magazine online, Dave Eggers writes, “Fifteen years since last professional haircut” for his 6-word memoir. Stephen Colbert says, “Well, I thought it was funny.” These are concise but tell so much about the person.

Now take this one step further. Instead of six words, use only one image.


Don’t worry – it doesn’t have to tell your life story. 🙂

But the image does have to tell a story.

Think National Geographic and Life magazine.

Is a picture is worth a thousand words?

NO. Not all pictures.

How do you discern if an image tells a story?

3 Questions to Ask

Ask yourself these questions:

1. Can you tell what’s going on? ( & does it make you wonder the backstory?)


2. Does it make you feel something? (fear, wonder, sadness, delight)

at the beach

3. Is it real? (not staged)


You’re looking for images that don’t require a title and that evoke interest in knowing more.


Use your 3 questions to evaluate these photos. Decide if the tell a story or not.

1. stock photo alarm clock

NO. This is a fine photo but it doesn’t tell a story, does it?

2. stock photo kids eating

YES. This gets the aaah factor, and we can tell what’s going on.

3. stock photo girl with doll

YES. We feel a sense of longing and sadness. We can tell the girl is left out of whatever is going on.

4. stock photo hand

NO. This photos, while colorful and interesting for that reason, doesn’t evoke emotion or tell a story.

Are you getting the hang of this?

I want you to apply these 3 questions to your photo selection.

Find images that capture emotion and story and you’ll connect more with your customers.

11 Design Elements for Pinnable Quotes

11 Design Elements for Pinnable Quotes
Quotes inspire pinners to repin – but only if the quote is beautifully designed. So here are 11 design elements to consider when creating a quote image.

(For layman’s purposes, I’m using the word “font” for what graphic artists would correctly call “type.”)

11 Design Elements for Quotes

1. Readable
Remember that your pins will be small and in Pinterest columns. Don’t try to add too much. Make sure they’re readable.
readable 2

2. Font Size Change
Small to big contrast emphasizes important words and phrases. 

3. Font Type Change
Experiment with a font style change to emphasize certain words. 
font change

4. Font Color Change
Pop out important words or phrases with a different font color.
font color change

5. Photo Background
This is tricky because this can be hard to read. Make sure your text is readable.
photo background 1

6. Solid Background
If you have a dark background, use light colored font; a light background, use a dark colored font.
solid background 2

7. Bokeh Background
Out of focus, or bokeh, is hot this year. You can find these images by searching the key word “bokeh.”
bokeh background 1

8. Photograph of the Quote on Paper
photo of quote 1

9. Lines and Embellishments
lines and embellishments

10. Artwork

11. Image with White Space (this doesn’t have to be white, just solid)
image with white space

Now that you’ve seen examples of these gorgeous quote images, let’s contrast that examples that don’t work.

3 Common Design Mistakes

1. Difficult to read – because of font style choice

2. Difficult to read – because of a background choice

3. Difficult to read – because of the font size is too small
font small

Finally, be sure to include your website or logo on your image and that the quote is attributed to the correct person.

Can’t wait to see what you make!

Leave your best quote pin linked in the comments below.


8 Types of Pin Descriptions: Which Knock It Out of the Box?

8 types of pin descriptions
Pin descriptions — betcha’ haven’t thought much about those. But, today I want to take a look at how your pin descriptions make the difference in getting a few or a lot of repins. Then I want you to do some testing.

8 Types of Pin Descriptions

1. Title – all caps
Pin Description title

2. Title – lowercase
pin description title lowercase

3. Excerpt from the blog post
pin description excerpt

4. Title + opinion
blog description title and opinion

5. Description + opinion
Pin Descriptions opinion and description

6. Opinion (only)
Pin Descriptions opinion

7. Looong description (I don’t recommend this!)
Pin Descriptions too long

8. Title + opinion + question
pin description title opinion question

Test and Analyze

Pin the same pin to different boards with different types of descriptions. Wait 24 – 48 hours and see what are your repin results.

which pin description is better

Notice which type of description gets you the best results. In my example above, the Description + Opinion is more successful than the title of the post.

Replicate this and see if it helps your repin count increase.

Pin Description Analysis

Blend In or Stand Out? How to Find Pinnable Images for Business Topics

How to Find Eye Catching Images for Business Blog Posts
It’s hard to find a pinnable image that isn’t over-used and cliche for business topics like speaking, marketing, sales, and training. Even for my Pinterest topics, finding images is challenging.

So, I’ll tell you my 7 secret steps for finding pinnable images that aren’t cliche:

1. Go to your stock images site (I use and click on “What’s New.


You’ll find a lot of random photos. Sort by size since vertical images are best for Pinterest.

What's New on Big Stock Photos

2. You’re looking for something eye-catching that can loosely tie in with your topic.
Example: NCLD’s Section 504 and IDEA comparisons
504 and IEPs

Even a colored background can work.
Example: Rebekah Radice’s SEO Strategies
social media Rebekah Radice

Also, I suggest finding images that have white space for a title and logo or watermark.

3. Alternatively, you can search for a metaphor that works with your topic.
Example: Peg Fitzpatrick’s army metaphor
seriously boost your pinterest strategy pin by Peg Fitzpatrick

4. Another trick is to search for key words that relate, not to your topic, but to your audience. For example, search for the feeling you want your audience to feel when reading your information. Search for words like: inspiration, confident, unique, or elegance.
Example: 5 Elements of a Powerful Personal Brand by Michael Hyatt (Key word: unique)
5 elements of a personal brand

5. Finally, you can search for style of photograph with key words like: cartoon, lens flare, black and white, or retro.
Example: LEGO figure
video games pin

Remember — don’t use a microphone for a speaker, or a money symbol for sales. That’s cliche. You want to be different. Better.

6. When you find one you think might work, save it to your favorites (or Lightbox if you use iStockPhoto.) Scan over your saved images and select the best one.

7. Then, edit to make a pinnable image!

marketing tips for Pinterest


Engagement on Google+ from User-Expert, Megan Sheakoski

Engagement on Google+

Interview with top Google+ user-expert, Megan Sheakoski, of Coffee Cups and Crayons.

I {Heart} Social Media: Wow – 255,326 people have you circled on G+? Tell me first, why G+?

Megan: I originally made a point to use G+ regularly for the SEO benefits and then totally fell in love.  It’s a really good fit for my personality. I love to connect with others and share ideas and to me G+ is like a big chatty Pinterest board! I love the interaction, not only on my own posts, but also on other people’s too.

I {Heart} Social Media: How long have you been on G+ and how did you build up your G+ circles to be so large?

Megan: I’ve been on G+ since 2001 but didn’t start using it regularly until the later part of 2012.  When I decided to use it regularly I made a point to learn everything I could about the culture over there. Then I put myself out there.  At first it can feel a little more uncomfortable posting, commenting and sharing on G+.  Instead of being tentative about interacting I decided to fully embrace it and was able to develop relationships with others who shared my passions.

I also made a point to share all what I learned with others and I think that anytime you can become a resource for others your following starts to grow.  On G+ momentum begets momentum so once I had a following it has continued to grow consistently. G+ suggests people to circle who others in your circles have circled.  The more people that circle you the better chance you have of being suggested.

I {Heart} Social Media: You do hangouts on G+. Why did you start those and how are you growing them?

Megan: I’ve done a bunch of different series mainly because they are so much fun! It’s a very user-friendly way to broadcast and promote content for anyone looking to get into doing video and using YouTube and a fun way to connect with different audiences.

I {Heart} Social Media: How do you manage your time on G+? What tips can you share with us?

Megan: Managing time on G+ can be a huge challenge.  When I first started to use it regularly I spent way too much time on it.  It’s so easy to lose track of time when you are discovering new material and connecting with others.  I found it so difficult to sign off before I had responded to every comment and checked in all of my favorites.  Then one day I realized that that is the beauty of the internet–you can come and go as you please. So I put myself on a timer and signed off when my allotted time was up.  Which I will readily admit was so hard to do at first!

It was the best thing I ever did for myself though.  I can now prioritize and plan my activities for the amount of time that I have instead of working until I was done.  I don’t have a set schedule and adjust it as needed. If I have a bunch of days in a row where I don’t spend a lot of time there then I make sure to have a catch up day so I don’t start to feel overwhelmed.  I also think that G+ is the best place to find content to share on other social media networks.  It’s where I find great things to pin and share on FB.

I {Heart} Social Media: Anything else you want to share that will help us improve our G+ skills?

Megan: I think that thinking of Google Plus as a chatty Pinterest instead of a different version of Facebook will really help people to better know what to expect over there.  It’s not like Facebook where people come to you.  On G+ everyone is going everywhere and that is what makes it so fun!

  • If you are new to the platform post your new content, but make sure to spend a lot of your time interacting with other people’s too.
  • Don’t share your latest post publicly and then immediately to three communities.  Spread out your shares and share other people’s in between.
  • Comment on all of the fun ideas you see and pin them to your favorite boards.
  • Drop by a community to chat with everyone and not just to drop your own posts.

Think of it like a dinner party–they’re much more successful and fun when everyone is interacting with each other!

I {Heart} Social Media:  Great advice on Google+, thank you so much, Megan!

Readers, do something RIGHT NOW that you learned in this interview. What will it be?

Find Megan on Pinterest, G+, Facebook, and Twitter.

Google+ Megan Sheakoski