We’re big fans of using items around the house to make an image pop or adding accessories to a simple set up. It shouldn’t be surprising that before we take an image for the blog or our social media that we walk around our houses picking up little items to make the shot unique. However, there are some go to items that we keep in a drawer (or scattered all over our desks) in our office that we can always rely on.
Try to think outside the box when shooting your next image and get creative! Some of the most random items around our house can make it into our next shot. Here are 10 Photo Props (that you probably already own) Under $10 that you can use to spruce up your imagery.
- Foam Board
- Contact Paper, Wallpaper, Flooring Samples
- Glitter or Confetti
- Office Supplies (paper clips, pencils, thumbtacks, etc)
- Washi tapes
- Notepads, journals, memo pads
- Succulents or small plants
- Pencil pouches
- Calligraphy prints or greeting cards
- Cup of coffee
We always start with our base. We rotate with white foam board, on-brand painted wooden boards and contact paper. I’ve also been known to snag some discounted scented drawer liners (yes, I meant scented) because the pattern is just too pretty. Having a rotation of backdrops really helps break up your feed or blog posts image and helps bring a fresh look. Try heading over to the hardware store and checking out their Laminate countertop samples - they have some great ones!
Shout Out to the Accessory
Depending on your commentary it might make sense for you to throw in a name brand, store bought or local favorite item. We’re fans of adding Kate Spade pencil pouches, Target Dollar Spot finds or a favorite shop’s print. This not only helps make up most of your image but lets you start a conversation about the item or where you got it. Don’t forget to tag the shop on social media - retailers love that!
The Little Things
Once we lay out what we want to snap we always throw in some little accessories. Think tiny like confetti, glitter or paper clips. These little details help fill in visual white space in your image and keep it interesting. Try layering your paper clips on top of each other or placing them in 3’s. Trust us, to achieve the look of casually strewn takes a lot of patience.
Put a Succulent on It
That’s what I always say. But in all seriousness these little guys bring so much life (literally) to your image. A pop of green foliage goes a long way in making your image stand out and look put together. Try picking up some artificial succulents from your Hobby Lobby or Target or if you feel brave you can try to keep your own alive. Either way, think small. You don’t need a large plant to get in the way of what you’re really trying to showcase.
The Easy Go To
If I ever feel like an image is missing something or I just want to add in a little more of my own personality, I’ll go pick one of my favorite coffee mugs and plop it in. Remember to actually put coffee in the mug, because an overhead shot of an empty cup isn’t the prettiest. We’ve been know to whip up a quick cappuccino at home to get it just right.
The bottom line is we want you to remember that you don’t have to have closets full of photo-ready accessories to add fun to your images. They don’t even have to break the bank. Try browsing in your own home to see what you could use and play with the layout.
If you need help with your image taking skills or editing then make sure you check out The Easiest Photo Editing App for On-The-Go. If you still need convincing that paying attention to quality photography is right for your business then make sure you catch up on How to Use Photography to Sell More, Connect Better and Impress Your Clients (Bonus: DIY Lightbox setup).
SEE HOW WE STYLE OUR IMAGES ON INSTAGRAM
By now, we all know that Instagram is the place to be for creatives. This network provides an amazing opportunity to build authentic relationships that feel intimate and true. Plus, Instagram is all about beautiful, artistic, bold images. But while we pride ourselves on being creative, let’s be honest here: it is hard to post stunning content every single day. At the same time, we stumble upon these gorgeous feeds with hundreds of thousands of followers and we start doubting our abilities. We get impostor syndrome, and think that our Insta feed will never look nearly as cool and polished.
I’ve heard that over 80% of Americans want to write a book, but less than 1% ever do. That’s too bad! I wish I could have a minute to talk with each and every one of them and share my experience. I think some of them would be persuaded to actually put in the effort. Because the truth is, writing and publishing my first book changed my business (and my life) more than any other single action ever has. It was the catalyst that catapulted my success to where it is now.
Becoming an author expanded my audience exponentially, made me a go-to authority in my niche, created an additional stream of passive income, and positively changed my life in so many ways.
We’ve never been more laser focused! April was the month of launching and learning and boy, did we do just that. Inside this income report you will see where we got a 3047% ROI, how we were able to have our biggest launch to date in 7 days, and some insight into transitioning a baby to the nanny life.
As an online business owner, it’s easy to get wrapped up in all the software, all the apps and all the things in general. But really, sometimes the simplest systems are the best to keep yourself organized. In fact, some of the most heavily relied upon systems are the ones that include the least amount of setup and have the highest return on that time invested. Today, I’m going to share with you a foolproof system for keeping content creation organized using Trello, Google Drive, and Butler for Trello, all of which can be used for little to nothing in the cost department. Perfect for the budget conscious boss, right?
Falling in love with a dream is like falling in love with a person. In the beginning, it’s as if you have the heart eyes emoji stamped to your face at all times. You even sort of stalk your dream like you do the new person you’re dating, but instead of Facebook, your tool of choice is Google. You find out everything there is to know about this dream and your excitement level is through the roof. However, there comes a time when you start to experience cycles of doubt. You begin to wonder if this thing is really going to work out and if Aunt Martha was right about this business idea being a flop. It's totally ok to feel this way, but it's important that you don't let this doubt stand in the way of pursuing your dream business.
When it comes to drafting up your copy for a Facebook ad, you can’t just one-and-done apply the copywriting techniques you’d use for Google ads, or the copywriting techniques you’d use for a sales page.
Facebook ads are a new bear, and here’s why you need to tackle them a little bit differently!
It pains my little copywriter heart a bit, but, unlike a lot of web marketing, your images actually count for more here: upwards of 75% of your ad’s conversion rate is all thanks to your image, show studies from Consumer Acquisition.
The idea of selling your creative business may seem completely crazy. Maybe you left a corporate job to start your business or maybe it’s been a dream that’s years in the making. You have passion for your business, and your soul is in every detail.
This is exactly how I felt about my first business. I started and ran a wedding blog for five years, and boy, did I love that thing. The first two years all I thought about was blog posts, SEO, photo shoots and advertisers. I can’t remember what I ate for breakfast this morning, but I will never forget the day I realized that I was making as much on my blog as I was at my 9–5 job. I poured my heart and soul into every single post, and it always rewarded me for my efforts.
As life moved on and I got busier, the passion for my business waned. I still loved my blog but it was not as easy to put the time in, and as it grew it needed more and more from me. I never considered selling until someone suggested it, and I was a little shocked. Even though I had two employees and was making a solid full time salary, I couldn’t imagine who would want to buy my small little passion project. The business was so much a part of me, it also totally freaked me out to think what I would do if I sold it.
With the huge influx of new solo or small group entrepreneurs into the world, the realm of branding has shifted. Where “personal branding” used to refer to the act of dressing up your personality, packaging yourself as a commodity in order to climb the corporate ladder, it now means something very, very different. Now personal branding refers to bloggers, solo photographers, freelancers, and all kinds of entrepreneurs and how they market themselves and their products or services. Furthermore, as these talented and capable people begin to brand themselves, a trend of DIY personal branding has taken over the blogosphere and social media marketing genres.
There is nothing wrong with DIY branding, particularly in the creative sector. After all, branding is something many creatives learn by trade and doing it in-house can save a lot of upfront cash for a new or small business. However, there is an unfortunate downside to the the DIY approach, especially in today’s post Pinterest world. Too often creatives, bloggers, and infopreneurs build a brand from shallow trends in their niche. Driven by the time stresses of the #sidehustle, or the ever-present comparison game, they abandon the core concept of authenticity and originality in branding and clamor to make something, anything so that they can launch their endeavors and build their businesses.
Have you ever had an email subscriber hop on your list … just to grab the freebie and peace out once you send a weekly newsletter?
Yup, it happens to us all. Which stinks, because you’re just burning the midnight oil to build your list for your upcoming pitch or offer, and it just stays static at a plateau.
What if I told you there was a little hack to getting those folks to stick around AND fall more in love with you and what you have to teach in the process?
There are obvious benefits to leading a healthy lifestyle — you’ll be healthy, look toned & strong, and maybe even hit your happy weight. But those are future you problems. All present you really cares about right now is building a sustainable business.
You could use those benefits, but not as much as you could use the benefits of making a full time living as a boss babe.
Building a brand that’s authentic and that you love could be the difference between having a successful business and one that’s not. Why? Because having a brand that’s authentic means being more in tune with who you are and where your passions lie as well as the needs of your audience. When I started my business as a branding strategist and designer 10 years ago, I wasn’t authentic at all. I did what I thought I needed to do. I offered a limitless amount of services, I talked about everything that I did, and I left “me” out of the equation. As I progressed in my career, I came to realize that I was making a huge mistake that was basically limiting my success.
So, I made a shift in the way I communicated with my audience and with myself, understanding my passions and being unapologetic about doing what I love. Here are the five steps you should follow in order to build an authentic brand that you love.
Marketing can do pretty amazing stuff for your business. But the one part of it that's not that cool is customer profiles. And that's especially true if you're starting a brand new blog from scratch.
What's a customer profile anyways?
Customer profiles are semi-fictional representations of the people you want to reach. These profiles, also known as buyer personas, include details such as:
- Who you want to reach
- What they do for a living
- How old they are
- Problems that they face daily that might impact their decision to buy things.
March already feels like decades ago, but so many important things happened that set us up for success in April that it would be a shame to just skip over the nitty gritty details. Inside this income report you will find out exactly what we have been investing in and spending time learning about behind the scenes, as well as our brand new tool to help automate some of the processes.
Why do we do income reports?
In an effort to be as transparent as possible in our own business, we have chosen to make 2017 the year in which we showcase the good, the bad and the ugly. That means we talk about money on months when we bring home the bacon and on months when we’d rather not discuss finances. We hope you learn a LOT from these reports. Replicate and tweak our strategies to use in your own business. Get inspired, learn from our mistakes and grow your own online business.
The day I discovered Kiwi for Gmail was the day I realized there really was actually a better way. If you are anything like me, you are constantly switching between different Gmail accounts, trying to figure out where you saved your last Google doc and just wishing that, for the love of all things bacon flavored, it would stop logging you out when you didn’t ask it to. Kiwi for Gmail is a simple application that allows people to utilize Gmail + the G-Suite right on their desktop… sweet, seriously.
Quizzes are so hot right now. Think of all those quizzes from Buzzfeed that fill your night. Wondering what kind of Starbucks drink you are. Finding out what type of home you should buy based off how you would make a burger. That stuff is deep.
Well, let’s use that quiz fever for good, shall we? Let’s provide value (gasp!) and grow our lists at the same time (double gasp!). Earlier this week we debuted our first quiz, Find Out Your Productivity Spirit Animal. Today, we’re walking you through how to make your very own quiz step-by-step.
You’ve tried planners, apps, notebooks, post-it notes and even set up entire walls of “organization” in order to master your productivity. Babe, quit trying so hard. You just need to know your productivity spirit animal and you will be set for life. You’ll know the environment you thrive in, where you get stuck and what you should do next.
But first, it only seemed right that we arm you with a few tips to get more done right away!
Branded patterns are such a great way to make a statement with your visuals.
You can get some gorgeous patterns on Creative Market and Etsy, and Rachel from Haute Chocolate includes some gorgeous options in her monthly Graphics Pack.
Many of my website design clients aren't photographers, but they know they need great photos to make their website design pop. The trick isn't finding stock photography (it's all over the internet), but finding the right stock images and making them work for your website. Here’s the thing: if you use the wrong images on your website, you’re going to run into problems.
As creatives, we never seem to be short of ideas and things that we want to try. Unfortunately, though, this can often mean that we rush into things too quickly and get caught up in the excitement, only to wonder what in the world we were thinking a little later on. I’ve been there too. I started my first Etsy shop in 2010 and literally just created things I loved and put them online. My shop had everything, from jewellery to leather bags, artwork, scarves, fashion and printed fabric. I sat and waited for the sales to come in, but they didn’t. It was so disappointing to not have any sales and sit wondering what I’d done wrong. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, so I thought I’d give you the benefit of my initial failure and hopefully get you started on the right foot
Okay, boss lady. You’ve got a killer website, an awesome team, amazing clients, and a brand that is flourishing beautifully. Things are popping right now for your business. Take a look at your schedule for next week. I’m sure your endless list of to-dos looks a little something like this:
- Monday: Meetings, meetings and more meetings.
- Tuesday: Skype call with your business bestie.
- Wednesday: You’ve got an awesome webinar packed with helpful information.
- Thursday: A speaking engagement. Oh, and you have to pack for that conference next week.
- Friday: Happy hour with your boo.
But, wait..hello??? What are you going to wear, girl?!
As entrepreneurs, our schedules and lives can get a little hectic. Okay, a lot hectic. Nonetheless, that’s no excuse not to look your best. Crafting a cohesive, consistent, and curated wardrobe that aligns with the aesthetic of your brand will not only do wonders for your business, but it will greatly impact your self-confidence, which will in turn make you more successful.
Do I have your attention yet? No? Okay, well what if I told you that you could make more money from your business by cultivating and elevating your style and your wardrobe?
YouTube can seem like a pretty scary obstacle to tackle. Not only is it video (eeek, your face is now out there for the world to see!), but how do you create a video strategy that’s manageable for you?! What is a video strategy? What you do know is, if you are going to take on a new platform you want to have a strategic plan and have a measurable ROI from your new endeavor!
I feel ya! I am a mom to 2 little ones under 3 and I’m not going to take on a new platform that will suck up more of my time (I’m looking at you Facebook), let alone a platform where I need to get showered and dolled up every week just to film videos!
This is exactly why having a plan will not only save you time BUT will allow your videos to convert at a much higher rate. I plan out my videos ahead of time and film as many as possible in one day thanks to my video strategy. This allows me to stay consistent with my video content.
Way back in 2015, we shared our secrets on how we increased our Pin impressions by 53,285.71% in just two weeks! That is bananas. Since we get asked all the time to share our Pinterest strategy, we’d like to walk you through the tactics we used back then to make it all happen.
You might be aware that we now use Tailwind to make this process even easier, but for those of you on a shoestring budget, this can get you big results for f-r-e-e.
Today, we’re covering the secret daily formula that took us from 3% Pinterest Referral Traffic, to 32.39% without decreasing other traffic sources. We’re also giving you a nice peek at Pinterest Analytics so you can begin to see how your own account is shaping up.
Back when we were just using the daily Pinterest formula (so no Tailwind yet), our Pinterest profile was being seen on average 7,175 times daily. Pins that linked back directly to our website increased by 100% and we began to see average daily impressions in the tens of thousands. How can you make this happen?
Google processes over 40,000 searches every second, which is 3.5 billion searches a day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide.
My guess is that you can’t go very long without asking Google for an answer. Well guess what, neither can your clients. They are searching for your business right now, but the real question is, can they find you?
If you have ever tried to search for your business by what you do, e.g. wedding photographer or what you want to be known for, e.g. natural light wedding photographer Boston, Massachusetts, and have been disappointed as to where your business ranks on the Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP), then you are probably in the market to hire an SEO consultant.
SEO consultants research and analyze the trends and best practices online to develop a strategy to improve search engine rankings.
As promised, February’s income report coming at you! Inside we’ll chat about what you don’t see (this may have something to do with our new Burrito method), our Facebook Ads experiment and a little #TeamTCC update.
Normally I’d tell you to grab a cup of coffee, but I feel like this one deserves a bag of chips and some fresh guac. Enjoy!
So you’ve started a blog — congratulations! You’ve probably heard amazing stories of people making money from their blog and you’ve envisioned this life of writing posts + cashing checks (virtually). It sounds like a dream.
But maybe it’s not going quite as you expected. Maybe you’re not making it rain dollar bills, people aren’t knocking down your door with offers to pay you for posts, and perhaps all of this seems a lot harder than you thought it would be. Sound familiar?
Well, there are probably some pretty solid reasons why you aren’t making any money from your blog. And a lot of it starts with your expectations. Let’s break down the school of thought that’s traditionally surrounded the world of blogging + money making so you can start to see it a bit more clearly.
Bonus: we’ve got actionable ideas for you on how to actually start making money with your blog further down in this post, so keep reading!
Do you dream of having your own shop? Do you have visions of customers oohing and aahing over your latest creations while sipping a cup of tea or free-trade coffee? There are several options for showcasing your product-based business, from a rented committed storefront, to fairs and festivals, to a booth in a co-op or antique mall.
As a bookshop owner who has pivoted through a few of these business models, let me share some pros and cons and lessons learned along the way.
Figuring out how to be productive as a small business owner is a job in and of itself. If you’re like us, then you’ve tried ALLL the systems! Some are free (like post-it notes, the notes app on your phone, notebooks and notepads) and some are paid (expensive software or paid apps that you think will do the trick). For some reason, they’ve all failed — and you may feel like you’ve failed all of them. Because for a lot of us (especially us creatives), our brains only work a certain way.
Seriously — for us to be productive, organized and put together we have to have the moon in a certain phase, standing on one foot, in a finger towards the north wind kind of pose. You feel us?
From the pages of glossy Seventeen and Cosmopolitan magazines to our ever-growing obsession with Buzzfeed, quizzes are as addictive as a Game of Thrones marathon (and I do NOT say that lightly). We love quizzes because they teach us about ourselves. As humans, it’s in our nature to want to understand ourselves better and test ourselves. Beyond that, we want to see how we stack up against our friends. This curiosity is what makes quizzes such a fabulously effective lead generation tool.
You’ve seen them on Social Media, and you’re curious, “How on earth do I make a GIF?” Graphics Interchange Format (GIFs) are files that show animation or simple movement. They are a great way to add a little fun to your feed, show off some personality, stand out and change things up a bit. They’re the perfect mix between the two leading forms of communication, visuals and video.
In terms of content sharing, specifically blog post sharing, Pinterest is Queen. It’s hands down the best platform to get your content in front of the most people organically (they don’t need to be following you to see your content), so spending time here as an online business owner is a no-brainer.