how to Make a Puzzle Feed Without Photoshop

I HAVE A NEW PROCESS ! PLEASE READ MY NEW POST HERE

Puzzle feeds have been all the craze lately after @juniperoats on Instagram shared her tutorial with @Preview.app. I have honestly seen them everywhere since then, emerging slowly. If you have no idea what a puzzle feed is, here's @juniperoats ' feed: 

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I decided to put my own spin on the puzzle feed craze by only doing a background image that connects with all 9 squares. Most puzzle feeds have pictures, colors, and other overlays that connect. Here is what mine is going to look like as of writing this post:  

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As you can tell it's slightly different than the norm, but I'm obsessed with it. 

Most people I've talked to use Photoshop, but I was determined to find a way to do this without it. It took 3 apps, and a lot of trial and error, but I've totally simplified the process and did all the hard work for you. Here's how to create my style of puzzle feed without photoshop. 

I HAVE A NEW PROCESS READ MY NEW POST HERE 

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The Apps you'll need for creation:  

  • Canva
  • 9 cut (or similar grid app)
  • picsart  

*it is extremely important that you follow the steps carefully. For example when I first tried this, my background graphic wasn't the best quality, so when I tried to create the whole thing on Picsart, the text and other overlays turned out pixelated. By using canva for your text and pictures AND THEN pics art for overlays, you'll avoid the pixelation. I also want to note that there are probably other ways to do this, but this is the method that I found that worked first and best for me.

Creating your background image or layout

Step 1: First you'll want to open up Pics art. This app is super simple to navigate, and I've even done a tutorial on my YouTube on how I make my graphics. It'll give you a good idea on how to start.

Start by pressing the new image button and clicking edit. It'll then ask you if you want to select an image, or you'll have color options. This is totally up to you if you want a picture or colors. I personally started with a white background.  

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Then I added stickers and colors to create my image. This is the part where you get creative. Experiment with different color blocks or patterns. Most people use a series of textures. I can't really guide you through this part, so I'll leave some feed inspiration throughout the post. You are ONLY adding the background colors and images at this point ! 

 

I HAVE A NEW PROCESS ! PLEASE READ MY NEW POST HERE

Step 2: Head over to canva 

This is where you will add any text or images you want to add on top of your background images. 

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Canva now has a website and app so you can choose what works best for you. Canva is a really easy design tool that I use for literally every single graphic I've ever made for anything.  

The nice part about this is, since you already have the background saved, you'll be able to use it over and over again to create a continuous feed. Adding pictures and text later just let's you customize it. 

Once you're finished adding images and text, you might be done. If not, save, and keep moving forward. 

If all of this seems complicated, I've created templates for puzzle feeds you can edit in CANVA.  CLICK HERE for the puzzle feed templates.

Step 3: If you want to add logo overlays or patterns or literally any finishing touches head back on over to Pics art

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I realize this is a lot of picture saving and app switching, but for now this is the only method I could find where I kept the quality of the images at the highest they can be. When you edit a picture too much with too many overlays  (especially if you keep reusing the same one over and over) it'll start to distort and become pixelated. By putting it into canva first and then adding overlays, you're preserving that original quality.  

Now you can add other images like product shots, logos, patterns, textures, Etc. Without them being fuzzy.  

Step 4: Save your photo and upload it to 9 cut

 @plushcontentco

 @plushcontentco

This will be the final step in creating your puzzle feed. Like I said I used the 9 cut app, but you can use any other app that will turn your picture into a grid for Instagram. Make sure you select 3 X 3 and it will crop automatically. 


Step 5 Bonus round: upload to preview app

I use Preview app to plan my feed. This allows you to see what the puzzle will look like on your feed before actually uploading it. I have been obsessed with Preview and everything it has to offer. You'll be able to see if everything looks cohesive and it helps you easily make changes. 

  

How to make money on Instagram using Heartbeat

 ** post contains affiliate links **

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Many of you took interest in my last post "3 easy ways to make money on Instagram", and I got a ton of questions on the Heartbeat program I use.

Some of you jumped on the bandwagon right after I made the post, but I'm sure others of you were a little hesitant because making money for posting on Instagram seems too good to be true. However, I am here to tell you that it's not. It is 100% possible to get paid to post pictures on Instagram. 

Here's how:

Heartbeat is a website that allows you to sign up for an account and start earning money from campaigns you promote on Instagram. 

It is super easy to sign up for an account, and takes less than 15 minutes to get everything set up. Heartbeat has you fill out mini quizzes to find out more about your interests so they can send offers that match your niche and what you're most interested in. 

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If you're still not convinced, every ambassador for HeartBeat will get a chance to redeem exclusive discount codes to get offered products at a reduced price! So even if you don't qualify for the campaign, you can still get the same discounted offers. 

HeartBeat will pay you a set rate for each of the posts you make. Sometimes the campaign is in exchange for a free product, so just make sure you read the details completely. Although usually it'll say flat out at the beginning if it's paid or not, so you don't waste your time. 

My personal rate per post is $10. There are multiple ways to increase your rate amount, so be on the look out for those opportunities. 

>> Want to boost you Instagram game to get more people looking at your feed ? Join my free email course  <<

The campaigns I have completed have paid me about a week after completing the campaign, and they're always on top of their payments! I had a few questions and their team got back to me super fast. 

Keep in mind the only way to get paid right now from my understanding (as of 10/5/17) is through PayPal. So make sure you have that account set up before hand so you can get your payments!

In addition to payments from the campaigns, you can also get payments from referring your friends and readers! They pay you $1 per sign up after the person you referred completes their first campaign! It's a win-win because you get a bonus, and they just made money for posting on Instagram. 

This isn't going to get you rich, but I can tell you it has helped out a lot when I've needed extra spending money, or if I have a credit card minimum payment due *COUGH*. PLUS all you're doing is posting pictures related to the campaign on your page.

If you're worried about it being spammy, most campaigns only require you to keep the post up for 72 hours before deleting. Make sure you read the rules of the campaign though, or you'll lose out on the payment.

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I have successfully completed two campaigns myself, and I can truly say this website is legit. No scams, actual pay, and plenty of opportunities to sign up. I've turned down more than I've accepted because I want it to relate to my audience. However, I get multiple emails a month from them asking to sign up for campaigns I qualify for.  

if you want to earn money for posting on Instagram too, then click the button below or click HERE to sign up !

3 Apps You Need To Be Using For Instagram Picture Editing

You ever see that perfect feed, or the perfectly white background on pictures, and you literally just stare at it wondering how the hell they did that? 🙋🏼 Yeah. Me too. 

That is until I discovered the three apps I'm going to talk about in this post today. I am not kidding these 3 picture editing apps are my go to apps. I've used them every single day since I found out about them. I have since become a pro (sorta). 

In no particular order, make sure you download these 3 apps.  (please note I have an android but these should be available for IPhone as well.) 

1. A Color Story   

 

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Color Story is the app I use for my perfectly white backgrounds. I'm able to get a dimly lit photo to look like a diamond in the sky in about 5 clicks. All I had to do was purchase one filter pack for I think $1.99 to make it happen to my liking. It's called bright whites I believe (update: It's called flashes of delight). However, these results are achievable without the pack. It'll just take a little longer to figure out the exact combo of settings. 

The app is super easy to navigate and is extremely straightforward. The first screen will have you choose a photo. Then it'll ask if you'd like to crop (always do 1:1 ratio for Instagram sizing). Then it's all up to you! Mess with filters, or head to settings for a more custom approach. I use a mixture of both. My best friends are temperature and exposure. The end result is a feed that'll look something like this if you edit like I do:  

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2. Pics art  

The next app I use for my text graphics, story graphics, and for putting borders around my Insta pics. It's called PicsArt. The most amazing, close to Photoshop-for-phones-if-you-know-how-to-use-it app out there in my opinion. It's extremely user friendly and only takes me about 10 minutes at most to make my Instagram story graphics from scratch. 

Some notable features are the basic crop tools and resize tools, clone feature, color adustments, a secret whitening tool found in the "corrections" section when you go to "FX", border options, and stickers. Yeah. The stickers are bomb and very addicting.  

 

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Literally says awesome stickers. I'm not lying. 

There are also plenty "free to edit" stock photos as well that you can mix up with your promos and such.  

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Those are a few examples of thing I've made in picsart. It's an amazing tool to perfect any sort of text or creative promo. I don't use this all the time (because I use canva for my actual Instagram feed), but it's a quick and easy process when I do, and I always love the end result. 

3. Preview App

Preview is the app I use to review my feed before actually posting anything to it. It starts off blank but you can either load your current feed in, or add pictures manually. I have my feed loaded in, and whenever I want to test out a picture I'll add one manually to see if it'll fit with the aesthetic. 

 

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I love being able to see how things look before posting. For anyone who is looking for a way to better their aesthetic, this is the app. Not only can you preview your feed, but there are a few analytics and hashtag options in the free version that I like too. 

 

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These are the analytics you can see with the free version. I get most of my analytics from the actual Instagram app, but this is awesome to see how my engagement has been doing lately.  

There is a scheduling option as well AND when you go to the caption options you can find popular hashtags for your niche. Check it out.

 

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This is a great way to diversify the hashtags you use when you post. You just select the ones you want, and copy and paste them all at once.  

So now that I've told you my 3 favorite apps, don't forget to head over to my Instagram and Facebook group and let me know what your favorite apps are!

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How I tripled my Instagram Following in one month

I use to hear stories all the time about how people were 3x ing their followers and seeing a 5 billion percent increase in traffic and crazy stuff like that. I use to brush it off and taking it all with a grain of salt. When you hear large statistics like that you can't just go on believing it's always true. They could've made it a little more dramatic than it really was. Maybe it simply didn't happen at all but they had the right strategies. 

Whatever the case, I never believed it was possible. Until it happened to me that is...  

Since March of 2017 (it's July 1st 2017 upon writing this) I've been busting my actual ass to gain my followers. My planner account @planwithlexi has 1100 followers. So starting from scratch was a horrible experience. It took about a year of constant posting and interaction to make it to 1100. I was NOT about to have that be the same case with @paperandaplan. 

I felt like I was getting nowhere. I just didn't get what the issue was...

Yeah Instagram's algorithm wasn't how it use to be. I couldn't wake up at 5 am and guarantee I would be the first person to show up on 90% Of my follower's feeds because chronological got the boot. It was all about engagement now. Despite having some comments here and there it didn't seem to do anything. Something was off.  

Then I did something that would triple my following in one month.  

I went from 200 to nearly 600 in one month. 580 to be exact.  

In May I decided to join the Instant boss club. (Oh no! There it is. The plug!! Haha don't leave yet I'm gonna share real information not just a product.)

**Affiliate links included

**Affiliate links included

In a nut shell the instant boss club is all about helping new (and experienced) instagrammers boost engagement and followers while teaching valuable lessons to get ahead. 

The club includes: 

Instagram lessons to help stay up to date with your Instagram knowledge and try out some new tricks. 

Comment pods that are actually ACTIVE  

Access to organize and participate in loop giveaways  

Stock graphics  

and so much more.  

The community is so supportive and Jennifer (owner of the IBC) is always on hand to answer questions and give you personal suggestions.  

The club is geared towards businesses but I think bloggers and personal brands can benefit from this as well. You'll have to see it to believe it. 

Why does the club make a difference??  

All of the features added to the club are updated every month.  So you're getting the latest Instagram boosting lessons,  printables, graphics, etc. It has really made me step up my game.  

Before joining the club I knew there had to be an easier and faster way to get to 1k. It took me a while year all on my own without anyone commenting on my pictures and lessons to help me. I was basically self taught. It showed because it took WAY longer. If my traffic keeps up the same way, I'll be able to do it in a fraction of the time. Like 3 months. 

There is a huge support system behind the group as well, and I am always looking forward to new information being released. There's not like one or two lessons. There's gotta be at least 15 to 20 lessons in there right now and it'll just keep growing as the months go on. It's the club that keeps giving seriously.

Tips

One of the steps to gaining more followers is t o have the perfect Instagram Bio. There are 4 major components you need to have in your bio right now: 

  1. What you do
  2. Who you help
  3. Personal thought
  4. Call to action

To learn more click here and read on how to write the perfect Instagram Bio. you'll be surprised how important this is. 

The next step we take is perfecting your feed aesthetic. This is one you'll have to experiment with a little. My biggest tip would be to focus on your colors, fonts, and subject matter. Be somewhat strict about it too.  This helps to brand your feed and images so you can stand out from everyone else. 

Imagine you just threw a bunch of colors together and it was all quotes and a bunch of words everywhere and you didn't plan your feed at all. Someone who lands on your page isn't going to be interested. This is gonna sound bad but if you dont have a branded feed I'm not following you unless we are friends. 

Join comment pods . This step alone boosted my engagement so much that I started placing in the top posts section of my hashtags. This is super important to your visibility and reach. 

The new Instagram algorithm works off engagement like I said earlier. So getting people to interact with your posts is KEY.  

Try posting a relatable quote. These usually do the trick because people feel so connected with them. You can also try spicing up your captions. I know they say a picture is worth a thousand words, but a picture alone won't sell your brand to someone who has never seen you before. Sure they might stick around for the pictures, but the chances of you converting them to loyal followers (and possibly customers) is extremely low.  

Want more? 

I can teach you everything you need to know (for free) about Instagram in just 5 days. I just opened up my free Instagram  email course  ! Click here for more information. If you want to triple your followers,  take the course. It's the exact steps I took.

See you soon!  

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How to Write the Perfect Instagram Bio

We all know Instagram is this amazing platform for our brands by now. Everyone's using it, everyone's talking about it, but how can you really get people interested in what you're posting ?? 

The first way to do this is through your Instagram bio. I know you're probably thinking to yourself "How much can my bio really matter ?? You only get 100 something characters anyways." 

True, but those 100 something characters can really make or break your brand/business on Instagram believe it or not.  

So today we are going to go over a few steps to get your Instagram Bio up to par. Ready?? Let's do this. 

1. Delete everything you have and start fresh

It's best to delete everything because you want to make sure you have all the available characters and you're not trying to work around what you already have. This was hard for me at first, but I can't even tell you what my first bio said. Something about coffee and an emoji I think. So delete everything you have right now and start with a clean slate.

2. First Line: state what you do

You'll want the first line of your bio who you cater to. MAKE THIS AS CONSISE AS YOU CAN. 6 words ! I'm so serious. My first line says "millennial women content creators" that's 4. You can do it. 

You want to make sure the first thing your reader or potential follower sees is who you help. This way they can decide if they're on the right profile immediately. You do not want to waste your time on people that don't care about what you do or don't resonate with your page in any way at all.  

It's better to have 300 content creators than to have 1000 fitness coaches if that's not who your audience is.  

3. Second line: what you do  

The very next line after who you help should be what you do. After the reader knows they belong on your page they're gonna want to know how you can help them. 

This is so important because you would be surprised how many times I go to someone's bio and what they do is nowhere to be found. There's a bunch of random information, maybe a tag line or something, but no clear indication of what the page is about. Sure you could go through their feed, but you want your audience to know QUICK. They say you have about 10 seconds to make an impression with your account. This is about the first 9 pictures of your feed and your bio.

Make the first impression a good one and just tell your audience what you do! 

My second line reads "planning, productivity & social media" Again, condense it ! You only have 100 something characters.  

4. Third line : something personal  

This line is really important because you want your audience to know a little about you. They don't want to be following a robot or someone they know nothing about. Make a connection. 

For this part I would recommend emojis only to save up space incase you need to add something later.  (which you do) 

For this I said "loves: ☕🏖🐱🕉🌸" because I love coffee, beaches, cats, yoga, and flowers. I wouldn't have enough room if I typed this all out In words. So please be sure to utilize emojis for this unless it really can't be put into emoji form. However more often than not it can be. 

Some ideas:  

Family 👨‍👩‍👧 

Wife 👰

Working out 🏋

Organic/plant based 🌱 

Books 📚 

Planning 📒 

Coffee ☕ 

Tacos 🌮 

Shopping 🛍 

Spirituality coaches 🔮 

Plus many more. 

5. Final line  

Right below this line is where your website will show up. So what I recommend doing here is putting a call to action for your website.  

I use linktr.ee so I have many links under one. 

My line reads " 👇 freebies, fb group, blog & more" 

And the little pointing down emoji points to my link. If you have a new blog post always in that spot you can put "👇 read my latest post" or if you are advertising a course down there "👇 FREE webinar training" 

Mine never changes because I use linktr.ee and usually the same stuff is there. Freebies, fb group, blog. That pretty much sums it up so mine always stays the same. I highly recommend linktr.ee because it's free. (I pay for premium features, but it is free to anyone who wants to use it for free unless you want to purchase the monthly subscription for $6.) 

6. Bonus line  

If you have enough room like I did, you can add an extra line above the call to action. For this space I used it as an opportunity to tell people about my branded hashtag. This is the tag I use for all my posts and encourage other people to also post under it so I can feature them on my feed or stories. It reads "📸 #productivitybabes "  

However you can add any small piece of info here if space allows.  

7. What to do if you don't have enough space

Condense condense condense!!

See if you can use symbols for things instead of the full word. Instead of "and" I always put "&".

Instead of "I take only PayPal payments" or "etsy sales at this time only" you could put "📲💰PayPal only" and "💻etsy seller"  

I also tend to use fragments instead of full sentences. Like adjectives basically and leave out the rest. For example "millennial women content creators" instead of "I help teach millennial women content creators". 

This will help reduce character count so you have more room. Believe me it's tough but you can do it. Here's a screenshot of my finished bio incase you want to see for refference.  

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You can also ditch the punctuation but I had room for mine. As well as the bullet points. 

Send me a DM on instagram if you want me to take a look at your bio for you. I would be happy to give advice.  

 

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I'm breaking the biggest social media marketing rule with this....

If you're in business at all you know how important it is to keep a consistent brand image. Your brand image is what people will recognize you by, how you become distinguishable in this insanely huge industry, it's who you are and how you communicate your message, and let's face it - it's a pretty big deal. 

For those of you who aren't in business, branding is huge. Think of McDonald's or Nike. You can immediately distinguish their colors, logo, slogans, etc. Everything that makes up McDonald's, Nike, Forever21 , any big or small name is branding.  

Another big name in the productivity world is @Misstrenchcoat . She is immediately recognizable by her black and white stripe pattern, turquoise accents, and glasses. 

You all might know me by the pink and gold theme, the gold glitter lettering, or my immense obsession with coffee and flowers.  

However one of the biggest unspoken rules of marketing is to keep a consistent profile image to become easily recognizable across platforms.  

An even BIGGER unspoken rule is that your profile picture should show your face making direct eye contact. I myself learned this from Jenna Kutcher's most recent webinar & instagram challenge.  So for a few weeks I had a somewhat staged photo of me at my desk which seemed fitting to my brand. However it looked totally fake.

Having your face and making eye contact in your picture is suppose to establish some kind of trust. It's suppose to be warm and inviting. When you see my face you're suppose to be more likely to follow me or something. Which I believe. However I also believe this: I am not every other brand. 

Call me stubborn, say what you want, but I really do believe there has to be something to set me apart. I know for a fact I'm not the first person or the last person to break this rule, but I'm doing it.  

I strongly believe my "brand profile picture" should change as I do. I am the face of my brand after all. (Or in the most recent case, not my face).  

This is the picture I am currently using as my Instagram profile image.  

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Not too bad right ?? It's still me. So why is this such a big deal? 

So many people preach this full face, professional, smiling, staged look. It makes it more "official". What always confused me is why I can't be authentic ? Why I should have to be a robot and follow the crowed ? By no means am I knocking everyone who decides to do a full blown professional picture, because I'll probably some day have my own. I'll just never understand how this standard came to be. 

I like having some mystery behind my profile picture ! I honestly think that my profile picture shouldn't be the determining factor of someone following me or not, or deeming how professional I am based on the photo quality. Those things should be determined through my content. I show my face plenty of other places ! In my Instagram feed, on my stories, on my YouTube channel, on my about me page on my blog , and more. Just because my face isn't the first picture you see doesn't mean that it's not there. 

Do you have any thoughts or comments ? Do you think more people should be breaking this rule?

Feel free to send me a message on my Instagram @paperandaplan or head over and engage in my Facebook group www.facebook.com/groups/productivitybabes  

remember to repin if you found this helpful or interesting 

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How To Boost Your Platform Views Using Linktr.ee

 

 

If you use Instagram for your business or you simply have a lot of links to direct your followers to, then I have the perfect tool for you! Instagram (and most other social media) only lets you have one functional link in your bio. Just one. I'm sure we have all experienced the struggle at one point or another. We put out so much content and can only show case one link to our followers. I've wanted to link to my YouTube channel, my blog, my Twitter, my Pinterest, etc. all at the same time and ended up having to choose one. This was a huge downfall when it came to my page views! If I can't promote multiple platforms at one time that means I'll need to dedicate an entire platform to cross post every single piece of content I have. This is what my Twitter was used for, when in reality that's not what twitter is used for at all. My Twitter was cluttered to the core. Instagram, blogs, videos, polls, links to my other pages. There was no focus, and it was a mess. An absolute mess. Then one day I came across something called Linktr.ee.

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So what is Linktr.ee?

Linktr.ee is a website that allows you to create a landing page for all of your links! You can turn them on and off, and it even has it's own built in stats. The stats tells you how many clicks your website got via linktr.ee. Right now there are only about 6 different color options to choose from for your landing page, but by the end of April 2017 they project to have their custom theme feature active. This is what my landing page looks like right now.

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 aAs you can see from the photo, I have my Pinterest linked, my Twitter linked, my YouTube linked, and my website linked. This is the landing page you will see if you clicked on the link in my bio.

So how can Linktr.ee help me?

As I mentioned earlier, this can help you market multiple platforms under one single profile! Keep in mind you don't just have to just use this for Instagram! You can put this link in your Twitter bio, your Pinterest bio, and even in the description of your videos on YouTube! You can list it on your Facebook group, etc.

Linktr.ee can support links to basically anywhere. If you have an email list landing page you want people to sign up at, then you can link your email list. If you want people to view your newest blog post you can redirect them there as well. The option to showcase many links in one place is a game changer. This means we no longer have to promote one link at a time per page. We can provide more value and more options through Linktr.ee.

Once they apply their custom theme feature, we will also be able to match our landing page to our brand. This is key because it will flow nicely with our brand and other pages.

The statistics for Linktr.ee is a little icon in the corner below each link. Don't worry only you can see this on your dashboard after logging in. It will look like a small graph and will have a number on it. This is how many clicks your link has gotten via Linktr.ee. This way you can see if Linktr.ee is an effective marketing tactic for you, and how much traction it is bringing in. For me personally it worked amazing. My pages had 57 views in just a few days! This may not seem like a lot, but if you really think about it before Linktr.ee there was really no way to effectively promote multiple links. So the fact they are all able to get traction now is an amazing break through.

Not only will this help you for promoting your pages, but it will also help your audience! With all your links in one place you can easily direct your audience to the landing page. They no longer have to search for your platforms and try and figure out which ones are authentic and which ones are not. No confusion and less work means happier customers and audience members.

I highly recommend Linktr.ee for boosting your platform views. This website has been a game changer for many businesses including my own. With the ability to finally promote multiple links on multiple platforms it makes Linktr.ee such a valuable tool.

If you have any questions about Linkt.ree that I can answer feel free to leave a comment, or head over to my contact page and shoot me an email. I would be happy to help. Please keep in mind that I am not affiliated with Linktr.ee what so ever. So answers to complicated questions might be limited.

As Always, thanks for reading!