I adapted this post from my friend and client Jim Whitaker. Jim is the founder and president of Smarts Publishing which has been helping insurance agents and brokers sell and promote their services since 1988.  If you are in the insurance business you will definitely want to subscribe to his blog.

If you’re going to start blog or if you are already a blogger, here are some resources for you:

      • One of the best ways to add a little life to your blog post is to include a photo.  There are now dozens of websites that offer free stock photos.  Some require attribution; some stipulate that you display a small amount of advertising somewhere on the page; some offer low resolution photos with higher resolution versions available for a price, and so on.  Some but not all require you to set up an account.

The article “18 More Free Stock Photo Sites,” in Digital Image Magazine, contains links to other free stock photo sites lists including its forerunner article in Digital Image Magazine, “25 Free Stock Photo Sites.”  I got the photo on this page from freedigitalphotos.net, which I am using here in an attempt to evoke the image of a carefree insurance blogger joyfully posting her latest insights. The only requirement is that I publish a credit to Ambro/FreeDigitalPhotos.net, along with a hyperlink to Ambro’s portfolio page. I have just done that, but instead I could also have placed a hyperlinked caption under the photo, “Courtesy of Ambro/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.”  I also could have paid $3.00 and not had to bother!

  • In addition to photos, another visual device that will spice up your blog is the video clip.  For instance, the classic valet scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a great illustration of why a garage liability policy might be a good idea for someone in the business.  But beware. You may be infringing on copyright law. I just hyperlinked to the video on YouTube, so the video is technically not on my site.  It’s on YouTube’s.  No problem, but it would be kind of cool if I embedded the link here, then you could see that it is actually a scene from the movie.  This could be entertaining, and a reader might say, “I think I’ll stay here a while and watch this.”  That would be good for my search rankings.

YouTube states in its agreement with people who post videos on their site that in so doing they are granting YouTube’s users a “non-exclusive license” to access it and play it on their own sites. The problem with clips from movies and TV shows is that most of this content has been illegally uploaded in the first place.  (The Ferris Bueller clip I linked to was uploaded by gameshowkid222; think he’s legit?) I’ve seen a lot of agents, among others, do it anyway and I’ve never heard of anyone having a problem — if anyone is going to have a problem it will be YouTube, not you.  But it’s probably not legal and you should know that. You can read more about copyrights and YouTube at HubPages.

  • Some entertaining videos that should present no copyright infringement issues are insurance company commercials.  You can get formal permission from the carriers, though it’s doubtful they would mind, even if you didn’t ask, if you have a business relationship with them.  Allstate’s Mayhem commercials with Dean Winters, Traveler’s Insurance Rabbit Foot commercial, the Aflac duck —a lot of people enjoy these commercials and they offer a great opening to write about a particular insurance product you want to promote.
  •  A great source for feature videos on insurance subjects is the Insurance Information InstituteThey have dozens of auto and homeowners insurance videos. They also have videos on long-term care, life insurance and business insurance.  You can request an embed code for any video you want to use.  I especially like their new series, Advice from Dummies, featuring a couple of crash test dummies, Crystal and Kirk, who sport British accents for some reason.  With droll British humor, Crystal enlightens Kirk with insurance tips in each video so that he won’t be such an insurance dummy.
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  • Last, you might want to buy content for your insurance blog from Smart’s. You write the lead-in, whether it’s inspired by a personal experience with someone who didn’t buy disability insurance or a claim one of your clients was involved with or a newspaper story.  You can then use the Smart’s content for the rest of the story.  Just check out the Smart’s Content Warehouse for ideas.

By the way, we’ve got a soft spot for bloggers.  So if you decide to use our Content Warehouse on a regular basis, we’ll give you a special insurance blogger rate, if you ask.

Happy blogging!

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That ends what Jim wrote. I did not take out or modify the info specific to the insurance industry because I wanted you to see the types of resources available and there may well be similar resources available for your business too.

Have you had any particular success with  Blogs? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts and experiences!