Kickstart Your Visual Content Marketing Without Delay

No designer on staff. No funds to contract one, not even for a single project. And you think you have zero creative bones in your body. It’s no problem.

I’m going to share the fastest way to kickstart your visual marketing in the new year or to launch a new brand at any time FAST — no design skills required.

Now if you have your social media marketing plan in place and are chugging along, creating great content and graphics, then you can skip this post.

But if you’re like me, you don’t have your whole act together. You’re ready for a fresh start with a simplified action plan. But all the new goals, resolutions, suggestions, and to-do lists quickly pile up once again. Overwhelm hits once again.

You know visual marketing is an important part of your business, but you’re back to square one. Where to begin?

Well, it’s time to move forward. No marketing plan to set up. No strategy session first. You don’t need a logo — or even a “complete” website — to start marketing your business.

In a perfect world with lots of time and money, I would tell you to hire a designer to set up a style guide. Create a logo if you don’t have one. But only after you’ve researched your target market to get a feel for their favorite movies and restaurants. And you are following your competitors and constantly on top of everything that’s happening in your industry, right?

The list of things you could do goes on. And you should do these things at some point. But for now, I quote my man, Mark Twain. He said “the secret of getting ahead is getting started.” (Hint: That’s the when. Just jump on in. NOW!)

The secret of getting ahead is getting started. —Mark TwainClick To Tweet

I heard 2014 was the year of video. 2015 the year of live streaming. And 2016 seems to be the year of membership communities. It doesn’t matter what’s next… Whatever you’re doing or selling, you need more eyeballs. Marketing is here to stay. And visual marketing will get you there faster.

Why visuals? Check out these 16 eye-popping visual content statistics by Larry Kim over at Inc. magazine. His bottom line? Visuals are effective because they help people process, understand, and retain more information more quickly.

Okay, so now you might be wondering how? How do I jump into any kind of visual marketing without design skills or a designer on staff?

I’m not suggesting you jump in completely blind with zero plan, of course. But a general idea is all you need. You don’t have to have everything lined out. Nothing will ever be 100% and you will never launch. It’s best to start, and then adjust along the way.

The easiest way to do this, is to pick one social media platform and one color to brand yourself.

I’ve mentioned both of these ideas before, suggesting Instagram is the first place to turn regarding social media. And I’ve outlined some thoughts on the best color for your business, too.

If you’re not a fan of Instagram — or know already that your target market is more prevalent elsewhere – then all means go with what works. The method is simply to simplify. Start small and focus on one.

And if you don’t believe in the power of color, just head over to your local Target store wearing a solid red shirt. Let me know how long it takes before you’re questioned by a customer. All the employees wear read so everyone around will think you work there, too.

Yes, typography and photography and layout and “feel” and so much more can contribute to solid visual content and make your graphics stand out. All of these elements come together and help shape a memorable brand, but nothing works as fast as color. I feel so strongly about this in branding/business, I’ve started to dive into the psychology of color.

And while a multi-color scheme can work, I suggest one color — once again as part of a quick and simple process. It’s easier and quicker to select one color and run with it. It’s also easier to add additional colors or pick a completely new color scheme in the future, should you find your initial choice isn’t working.

Practicing what I preach, I use orange in my own @boldbrandfast branding and green in my apparel startup, Avocado Shirt Co.

Have you chosen ONE social media network and ONE color to represent you, your brand or your business?

The 3 P’s of the Timely Instagram Image (And How to Create One on the Fly)

My boldbrandfast Instagram account continues to grow as I strive to create timely images and post consistently. I try and post engaging graphics with purpose about two times per day, every single day.

Now, most of us have a smartphone in hand 99% of the day. Of course it’s easy to snap a quick selfie or a behind-the-scenes shot and upload it fast. It’s one of the beautiful aspects about Instagram.

But today I’m going to show you the 3 P’s of timely Instagram images that look great — and are consistent with your brand, even on the fly.

1. Plan Out Your Instagram Content

Before you post another picture, plan  out your content. You need to have a big-picture idea of what your whole account looks like, who your target market is, and what valuable content you plan to share with them every day.

Sure, you want to be flexible to share the occasional selfie or pic of your lunch, but don’t be tempted to fill your stream with duck faces. It’s best to have a theme (read: strategy) and stay focused on what you post, as it relates to your brand. Instagram is great for sharing team activities, behind-the-scenes shots, and previews of upcoming products or coming-soon promotions.

Jeff Sieh, creator and host of The Manly Pinterest Tips podcast and show, wouldn’t use high-heel shoes to talk to his audience.

A photo posted by Jeff Sieh (@jeffsieh) on

  On the other hand, Jilleysue has targeted women, embraced pink and called herself the GIRLBOSS MOTIVATOR. High heels work for her brand!

In other words, the following steps (or anything else you post on Instagram) won’t matter if you don’t first plan and finalize your Instagram marketing goals.


3ps-instagram-graphics-bold-brand-fast-rob-russo2. Prepare Starter Graphics & Text

How do I have eight custom-designed, ready-to-go image templates saved on my iPhone, ready to be used at a moment’s noticed?

It’s easy when you prepare them ahead of time and (#ProTip) create them in batches.

Here’s an example of four images I’ve created and now keep on my phone to have at my fingertips. I like to call them backgrounds or Instagram image starters.

Three of these images, when posted in a certain order, tile together to create a bold orange stripe. The only extra effort required is to note the order of upload and plan out three posts that will fit together. (This is the little extra effort that really gets noticed.)

I have several others that are perfect stand-alone posts.

All use my brand color and logo. Sometimes I add a hashtag, such as #thinkvisualnow and/or my Instagram handle @boldbrandfast.

Besides these graphic templates, I have several notes saved on my phone (I use the Notes app on my iPhone) with saved hashtags and my choice of CTA (call-to-action) text. When writing the image description, I cut and paste as needed.

3. Pounce! Create Instagram Images with Ease

Now that you are armed with a plan and prepared with your custom-designed image templates and text, all accessible at your fingertips, you’re ready to pounce as soon as inspiration strikes.

I try to post organically at least once a day to my Instagram account. While I often plan out what am going to say with the image in mind, you never know when a timely update would be perfect for your brand.

Whenever I come across a quote that resonates or think of a tip I want to share, I can create it fast (usually in WordSwag or Typorama) by adding simple text over my pre-made backgrounds.

Here’s one example of a graphic I created:

So if you’re not on Instagram, what are you waiting for?

And if you agree that Instagram is a must and have an account setup already, be sure to check out my profile and follow me for more visual content tips and secrets.

Stand Out On Instagram - Visual Content Marketing Strategies to Get Noticed as an Industry ExpertStand Out on Instagram

Learn how to get noticed as an industry expert with proven visual strategies — no design skills necessary.

How to Connect with Industry Leaders in Your Niche (Hint: Start with Instagram)

Whether you look up to, honor and/or try to emulate the industry leaders in your niche, it wouldn’t hurt to connect with a few of them, right?

Facebook organic reach is down… The Twitter stream moves too fast… But Instagram?

Ah, Instagram is like no other social media network. It’s a close-knit community, the perfect place to really connect with those you know best and those most supportive of your business.

And Instagram is the best place to connect with industry leaders. Remember, I’ve stated before that I believe every entrepreneur needs to be on Instagram.

Engagement is higher on Instagram. It feels more real. And those big shots? The industry experts you look up to and want to one day join? They’re simply more attainable on Instagram.

garyvee follows Rob Russo, Bold Brand FastGary Vaynerchuk Just Followed Me on Instagram (Here’s How It Happened)

Take Gary Vaynerchuk, for example, who recently followed me on Instagram. I commented on one of his photos. He commenting back… You know, engaging with me. (Hat tip to my buddy, Ryan Bilello for giving me a shoutout on one of Gary’s Instagram photos that led to Gary following me.)

Here’s how it happened.

  1. Ryan Bilello @mentioned me and gave my kudos on one of Gary’s Instagram photos.
  2. I said a humble thanks in the comments to Ryan, with an @mention to both Ryan and Gary.
  3. Gary followed me!
  4. I commented on another @garyvee photo a couple of days later.
  5. Gary commented back and said I was awesome. (He even took the time to immediately followup when he noticed autocorrect had a way with his original comment.)

Here’s a closer look at why @garyvee may have followed me.

First of all, someone else (a friend, client) — in this case one of my big supporters, Ryan — had lovely things to say about me. I didn’t go in and spam Gary’s comments with all that I could offer and try to share my expertise.

I didn’t have to say one thing, actually, because Ryan did it for me (completely unsolicited). Talking about yourself is overrated. It’s best when others rave about you instead.

Second, I immediately got the notification that Ryan mentioned me so I promptly commented, too. I thanked Ryan for the kind words and continued the conversation. Again, not selling myself or pitching anything.

Gary followed me! Full transparency: I don’t know if he took a quick look at my profile or if Ryan’s comment alone worked, but the stars aligned.

Next, I commented and liked some of Gary’s other photos. Again, the goal was to engage, add value, continue the conversation.

ProTip: I included an emoji (or two or three) in every comment. Something bright or bold that stands out. This is a tip I picked up from Anthony of Crush Social (follow @crushsocial on Instagram now and tell him I sent you). I know my comments with emojis stood out in all the chatter that refreshed fast.

Use (at least) 1 EMOJI in every comment to STAND OUT.Click To Tweet

All this to say, connecting with industry influencers is, in my opinion, best done on Instagram. I think you have to work a lot harder to create a sincere connection on any other social channel.

Remember, the outcome won’t always happen immediately. I was pleasantly surprised when Gary quickly followed me. But sometimes it’s a process.

Identify your top 5-10 influencers and begin to engage with them often. But not too often. You’ll have to find the balance between never remembered and stalker. (Don’t be a stalker.) Just keep it consistent over time.

The key, like always, is to add value and build that know, like and trust factor.

Your Turn: What tips do you have on how to connect with industry leaders?

Stand Out On Instagram - Visual Content Marketing Strategies to Get Noticed as an Industry ExpertStand Out on Instagram

Learn how to get noticed as an industry expert with proven visual strategies — no design skills necessary.

Beyond the Duck Face and FoodPorn: 5 Reasons Entrepreneurs Must Be on Instagram

Much like Pinterest has grown beyond recipes and crafts, Instagram is more than ridiculous selfies and pictures of lunch. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

If you are an online entrepreneur — or really any small business owner these days — then, yes, you need to be on social media. But I’ll argue you must be on Instagram.

I’ll even go as far to say Instagram is the most important social media network.

Can’t Be on Every Social Media Network? (Better Be on Instagram)

I would encourage every entrepreneur to have a presence across all of social media. But the grass is greener where you water it. Without a strategy or small team, you might not be able to truly be everywhere.

So when you’re just getting started, I’d suggest you start with Instagram.

Because at the end of the day, social media is about relationships… It’s about people. Social media is not about selling. Sure you can sell on social, but you will be more successful if you give and engage first. Then folks will want to do business with you (because they already know, like and trust you).

And Instagram is the perfect place to increase connections and build that trust. 

Instagram is the best place to increase connections and build trust.Click To Tweet

5 Reasons Entrepreneurs Must Be on Instagram

  1. It’s Visual, Baby!

    Instagram started around the visual. True, all social media networks are focusing on images now as it is proven visual content gets more eyeballs and higher engagement. But while some social networks didn’t start that way (Twitter was once 140 characters of text only, for example), Instagram began with the image in mind — and that’s how the majority of human beings communicate.

  2. Easy Content Creation

    It’s easy to create content and post it fast on Instagram. This is somewhat true across the board as apps improve and great tools like Canva are more readily available. Instagram is built for mobile and there are a ton of mobile apps that make content creation a breeze. And since our smartphone doubles as a camera, it’s easy to capture new photos on the fly.

  3. Always In Hand, On Mind

    Speaking of mobile, Instagram is always in hand. Even when we step away from the computer, our smartphone is still within reach. Every network has a mobile app, of couse. But Instagram is the biggest network/app I know of that is best viewed and used on our phones. You have to use a phone to post new content so it’s naturally on our minds while the phone is in hand.

  4. Higher Engagement

    The doubletaps and comments don’t lie. If you’re involved in the Instagram community, it doesn’t take long to feel the love. While our posts and updates often get lost in the sea of overwhelm on Twitter and Facebook, engagement is instant and almost always higher on Instagram. (Don’t believe me just try it!)

  5. Personal Connection

    (This is a big one… Possibly my fav!) These days, it’s not all big business. Lots of people might trust big companies that are established, but we all want to do business with other people. We want to connect with individuals and know the face(s) behind the brands. Instagram, with it’s behind-the-scenes peeks and personalized vibe, helps us get that connection we crave.

So if you’re not on Instagram, what are you waiting for?

And if you agree that Instagram is a must and have an account setup already, be sure to check out my profile and follow me for more visual content tips and secrets.