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
We are firm believers in waiting to invest until the time is right. That said, we never imagined how much we could benefit from using a free product. In fact, how much more money we would make — we’re talking over $125k in 9 months.
Holy moly guacamole. Are you ready for this? Now, some of you might have already heard the breakdown of our Strategy Academy launch, but this gives you a good picture of what else happened in the month of June. Also, it’s nice to see what we actually made, even though we had a $97k launch. #Perspective
When it comes to starting a business, there are usually a lot of overhead costs. Let’s be honest, those overhead costs can get overwhelming rather quickly, can’t they? You have people coming from every angle recommending that you use this cool new tool that they use because it got them one billion followers. Well, that’s a slight exaggeration, but you know what I mean!
Want to know the hardest part about opening your business? Simply getting started. That’s the only thing you need to focus on. You need the bare minimum to get the ball rolling on this cool new idea that you’re ready to show the world, but you’re overwhelmed by starting and worrying about how to afford to launch without putting it all on your credit card or taking out a loan.
Alright, friends, gather round. It's time for a story and it's one you absolutely want to hear today.
When I was a younger woman, I thought to myself, "Gee Golly. Wouldn't it be nice to turn my hobby into a business?" Wearing rose tinted glasses, I spent many days and nights planning out what I wanted to do, eager to create this business that would leave me feeling productive and satisfied. In fact, I had this crazy vision of what working for myself would look like. You know you want to hear about it.
Raise your hand if selling to your favorite store tops your business bucket list? But as exciting as it is to see your products on the shelf of a store, there’s a whole new set of challenges that come with developing wholesale and retail partnerships. One of the not-so-sexy sides of developing a wholesale/retailer business? You have to get comfortable with having some awkward and, at times, unpleasant conversations.
All good things take time. And time we took. May was not only profitable, but it was a time for us to prepare for our largest launch to date in June. We spent weeks behind the scenes working with our current students, preparing bonuses and other awesome new materials and even working on some alternative ways to bring in more cash. See how May shaped up today.
Ever feel like you need to hide that your business is small?
Early on in my handbag business when I had no one working for me, I would use phrases like, "Thank you for calling us. A customer service representative will contact you within one business day."
I used my first and middle names as my business name to give the company a big "designer" image. And I'd do everything I could to hide that I was 18 years old for fear that I wouldn't be taken seriously.
A couple of years in, I had a big realization.
Launching can be very stressful. You know it and I know it (and I actually loooooove launching). You may have learned the secrets to writing a great sales page or even emails that can help you persuade like a boss, but what I don’t often see is people crafting a holistic launch plan.
A good launch is done from “open cart” to “close cart” alone, but a great launch is started weeks or months before you even give people the chance to buy. The best part is that if you take the time to be intentional before your launch, you take some stress out of the launch itself while also boosting your conversion rates. (Hallelujah!)
Crap. It's that time again. You have to send out another newsletter. (Didn't you just do one of those? Oh yeah. That was a month ago. *face-palm*)
You sit down at your computer, staring at the blank screen. Suddenly, you find yourself going down a Google rabbit hole, frantically researching what happened to all the characters from Saved by the Bell.
With little time left in your day, you whip together a fast, frenzied newsletter and hit SEND. And then... nothing. Your open rate is dismal. No one is responding/sharing/clicking. And, for sure, no one is BUYING.
So why is this happening?
Well, there could be several things going on. Often, it’s not just “one thing”, but rather a combination of several issues. Let’s dig into those issues and some quick fixes, shall we?
"I LOVE my business but… keeping up with the financials makes me feel all sorts of icky!"
That statement right there, is exactly what I hear from almost every creative I work with, time and time again! It feels like they have mastered all areas of their business but one. Managing finances correctly is a highly dreaded task for most creative entrepreneurs. I feel their pain, I really do! That’s why I want to provide you with a few simple but valuable steps to help you get started and begin to conquer this “left field” task. After reading this post, my hope is that you feel better and more capable of tackling this head on. Let’s get started!
You've watched your friends, colleagues and competitors land guest blog posts, podcast and television interviews and features in your favorite magazines. (You know, places like The Huffington Post, Being Boss and, ahem, this here blog.) They’re getting featured and getting the chance to grow their audience, boost their revenue and earn the kind of credibility you crave.
You want to have that experience – and that success – too. So you jump straight to working on some pitches of your own and end up missing a crucial step in the process of getting featured. (Don’t worry – almost everyone does.)
Do you know how many online businesses there are today? About 1.2 bazillion* (*extreme hyperbole). Or at least, it feels that way, doesn’t it? There’s no doubt that the online business world is full to the brim, and more new businesses keep popping up every day.
With the glut of online businesses out there, you need a way to stand out and to connect with your potential clients and customers. You can’t simply say, “I’m a graphic designer” and have clients flock to you, because there are about 3.4 million* (*yep, hyperbole again) graphic designers out there.
So, what can you do about that? You can humanize your business through the very thing that you share all the time: your copywriting and content.
I totally believe in the power of a positive mental attitude, but I know that listening to a random recording is not going to cure the self-doubt and insecurity that can plague my own creative nature, or anyone else’s.
There is one thing that I’ve found to make a massive difference in how much I can do, and the quality of my work, though. It’s called confidence.
Many designer-makers sell their wares on big marketplaces like Amazon or Etsy, which enables them to become visible to a large audience almost seamlessly. However, these marketplaces can also make it difficult to stand out among the competition. If you are a designer-maker, DIY-er, or any other creative who sells homemade goods, you may have decided that setting up your own e-commerce shop is in your best interests.
Even after launching an e-commerce site, it can be difficult to stand apart from the herd. Thankfully, there are many different ways that you can promote your business and establish your value as an individual seller. With such a competitive market, it can be tempting to cut corners or engage in tactics that are less-than-savory. We’ll look at the top mistakes to avoid when promoting your craft e-commerce site and what you can do instead.
If you're like most creative business owners, you're super busy doing #allthethings in your business. You're the chief service provider, director of marketing, and content manager. It's no wonder that you hardly have any time left to tackle the administrative part of your business. Let’s be honest. Your bookkeeping isn't exactly the shiniest penny in the jar either, so it's often pushed aside week after week until it can be pushed no more — which usually signals that it's tax time! Am I right?
As a product-based business owner, you are the face of your business. You know your line better than anyone else and are ready to chat up buyers + retailers about your awesome assortment of products. As an introvert, though, chances are you will find needing to be so “on” all the time exhausting. Running a business as an introvert comes with its own set of challenges because our natural tendencies don’t always align with how our extroverted clients + customers think.
While it’s tempting to sit back and hope that people will find you and purchase your products, you know that your business and marketing strategy is what sets you apart from the competition. For many introverts, all the “look at me and my business” talk can leave us ready to run for the hills. If you have ever struggled with finding a balance between putting yourself out there (because you know you have to) and staying true to your introvert roots, then today’s post has your name written all over it.
Here’s a little secret: I’ve been self-employed for more than 12 years, but I’ve only been a business owner for two years. Yep, for a full decade I was “just a freelancer”.
My answer to the “what do you do?” question used to be, “I’m a freelance writer”. Not a business owner, not a CEO, not a badass boss babe. I was just a writer who happened to make a pretty good living doing it.
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.