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3 Things I Quit Doing to Grow My Business This Year

3 things I stopped doing to grow my business this year - how I streamlined my small business to grow my revenue while doing less work.

You don’t have to do #allthethings to be successful.

Last year in my quest to figure out what it is I “really” want to do with my life, I launched WAYYY too many things. So this year has been all about trimming the fat. Getting rid of the things that 1) I hated doing 2) weren’t profitable enough for me to want to do more of 3) weren’t allowing me the freedom to live / work the way I wanted.

Streamline.

I’m not really into picking a word of the year, but I guess you could say that’s what mine would be.

One of the things that sort of bothered me about being a marketing consultant was that I felt like I was always telling people what to do. I mean people were literally paying me to tell them what to do, but in general I felt like I was constantly shouting “you should do this because….”

I’m sure you see / read / hear it all the time…

You should post on Instagram every day. You should blog every week. You should start a YouTube channel for the SEO benefits. You should be doing Facebook live videos to connect with your audience. You should launch an online course so you can stop trading your hours for dollars.

#realtalk – You “could” do all of these things and still not be any more successful than you were before.

I’m not saying any of these things are “wrong” or that you “shouldn’t” do them…

BUT AT SOME POINT YOU HAVE TO STOP LISTENING TO WHAT OTHER PEOPLE TELL YOU TO DO AND FOCUS ON ACTUALLY DOING THE THINGS THAT DRIVE YOUR BUSINESS FORWARD.

Wanna know what I quit doing over the summer that made absolutely no difference in my business?

  1. Blogging regularly – I used to publish new posts every. single. week. and long story short, I haven’t been doing that regularly this year. Yes, this has (slightly) affected my blog traffic, but more importantly it has not negatively affected my revenue! Quick tip: iI you don’t want to make time to blog regularly, make sure you have evergreen blog posts that can consistently drive traffic back to your site even when you’re not publishing new content. The main reason I continue to get consistent traffic > subscribers > customers is that I have Tailwind + BoardBooster working on autopilot to promote old posts!
  2. Being active in Facebook groups – I used to waste SO MUCH time on Facebook. Yes, connecting with other people in Facebook groups can be a great way to grow your business / make friends / build community… but it can also be a time suck. Personally, I wasn’t seeing the ROI from Facebook that I wanted, so I archived my own Facebook group and (accidentally) stopped being active in other people’s groups as well. Ya know what changed? Nothing. Most of my traffic / customers / clients come from Pinterest and Instagram so spending less time on Facebook has made no difference in my business other than having more time to spend on other things! Quick tip: You don’t need to be active on all the social media platforms – spend the majority of your time on the 1-2 platforms that have the highest ROI and don’t stress about the rest!
  3. Working with new clients – Yup. I had a lot of things happening over the summer (travel / moving / life / etc.) that made it hard to commit to custom photography projects in advance, so I decided to take a 2 month break from client work. I was slightly terrified at first (my client work made up roughly 1/3 of my total income as of May), but I had my biggest revenue months EVER without working with a single new custom photography client. This is the most surprising one for me because I honestly expected a dip in my revenue from making this decision, but I think removing client work from the equation gave more more time to focus on growing other income streams – and I didn’t hate it. I’m not giving up custom client work forever (for now!), but this revelation is definitely making me rethink how I structure my time and packages for the future! Quick tip: Sometimes you have to step away from one thing to move forward with something else. Don’t be afraid to change the way you do things in your business when they aren’t the best fit for the life you want to live.

Spending LESS time on all these things has led me to have more time to focus on other priorities like the Styled Stock Society and also to take advantage of other opportunities. Like…

So one more time…

You don’t have to do #allthethings to be successful.

4 Myths About Stock Photos (And What You Really Need to Know)

4 myths about stock photos - why styled stock photos can be a great affordable photography resource and what you need to know about using stock photos for your brand.

So I know stock photos sometimes get a bad reputation when it comes to using them as images for your business. But I know that 1) not everyone can afford custom images for their business 2) not everyone has the time to take their own photos and 3) even if people have the time, they’d rather spend it on other things (like binge-watching netflix, drinking wine, or actually spending time with their family)!

Stock photos can be great way to create a cohesive visual brand across your marketing channels, especially if you have a new business and want to make the most of your budget!

Unfortunately, not all stock photos are created equal. When you understand some of the myths and misconceptions around using stock photos, you can ensure that you choose the right kind for your business!

Myth #1 – Free Stock Photos Are All Bad

Free stock photos are easily accessible for a wide range of people. While that’s very convenient, it also means that A TON of people are using them. If you want to create a unique visual brand for your business, using free stock photos is probably not the best choice, but free stock photos aren’t necessarily all bad. There are plenty of websites that have free stock photos that could be a good fit for your business. It’s definitely going to take some digging and some research to find great free images… but it might be worth it to convey your brand in a more attractive way. (PS you can grab 10 free feminine stock photos RIGHT HERE!)

Myth #2 – Paid Stock Photos Are Expensive

Stock photos are actually available at a wide range of prices. They certainly don’t have to be free or wildly expensive. Websites like Creative Market and Etsy are full of beautiful stock photos at a reasonable price. They are also a number of sites that offer affordable stock photo memberships where you can download a certain number of stock photos every month. And if you’re looking for a stock photo membership where you have instant access to download an unlimited number of photos, there’s the Styled Stock Society – where you can get instant access to over 1,000 photos for less than $20/month.

GET FREE STOCK PHOTOS IN YOUR INBOX EACH MONTH

Myth #3 – You Don’t Have to Credit the Photographer

The terms of use associated with stock photos differs depending on the photographer and copyright owner. It’s really important to understand how you can and can’t use your stock photos when you’re using them for your business. Some sites come with licenses that allow you to use stock photos for both personal and commercial use, while sometimes they’re just for personal use. Sometimes you have to credit the photographer and other times you don’t. In fact, you may only be able to use images a certain number of times based on the photo license. It’s really important to understand the full terms of use when using stock photos for your business because you want to make sure that you’re using them legally.

(If you’re using my stock photos, credit is never required… but it’s always appreciated!)

Myth #4 – You Can’t Customize Stock Photos To Fit Your Brand

Depending on the terms of use of your stock photos, you may be able to customize them to fit your brand. You could add color overlays, filters, or text in your brand fonts. You might also be able to crop, rotate, or otherwise manipulate the orientation of a stock photo to make it look a little bit different. You might even be able to insert your own product images into stock photos! There are a few different ways you can customize stock photos to be a better fit for your brand – just make sure that the way you use your stock photos isn’t a violation of the terms of use.

Stock photos can be a great way for businesses with a limited budget to create a cohesive visual brand. Just remember that not all stock photos will work for you! It’s really important to find the right stock photos for you that not only represent your brand, but also come with the terms of use that are a good fit for your business.

Are you using stock photos for your business or blog?

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4 Tips for Better Product Photos on Instagram

Tips for better product photos on Instagram - how to attract potential buyers with high quality images and elevate your visual marketing with simple photography tips.

If you sell your products online, having high quality product photos is incredibly important. It’s the only way to convey the quality of your products because customers can’t actually touch or feel them before they make their purchase. The quality of your product photos directly affects the perceived quality of your products… so if you have low quality images, chances are people think your products are low quality as well!

When it comes to marketing your products on Instagram, just because someone sees your product photos doesn’t mean they’ll take the action to click through and buy it. In fact the most of the time / most of the people won’t. Ever. #truth

That’s why it’s SO important to have visually compelling images on Instagram in order to attract potential buyers to STOP and take a look instead of scrolling by. DIYing your product photography? Here are a few tips will help you capture better product photos for Instagram.

Lighting is Everything

Whether you’re using your iPhone or a DSLR camera, lighting is the most important thing when it comes to your product photos. I generally prefer using natural light when possible, but natural light can be a bit tricky since it isn’t something you always have control over. Start by finding the best natural light in your space. When you’re at home or in an office, the best natural is usually by the window or door. If you don’t have natural light in your space, you might need to go outside.

Pay attention to how the light changes throughout the day. You might want to avoid direct sunlight because it can create harsh shadows. If you don’t have access to natural light, you can obviously use studio lighting. There are a range of lighting options from basic and cheap to super professional (this is a great set for less than $200).

Background Basics

For easy and affordable white backgrounds, you can buy foam boards at a craft store or Amazon. These are a great hack for flat lays when you don’t have a white table or desk (and they are super cheap)! If you need a seamless background for any sort of vertical product shots where you don’t want to see the wall in the background, seamless photo backdrop paper is the best option. You can find a range of sizes and color options to fit your brand but if you really want your products to stand out I recommend using a neutral white or gray background for basic product photos. Savage Paper is the seamless backdrop paper that I use (it’s nice and thick!) and it comes in a ton of different colors and sizes to fit your space.

Styled and Lifestyle Combinations

One thing that gets a little confusing for people is the difference between styled and lifestyle images. Styled photos are products photos that you plan with intentionally placed props in order to highlight or “accessorize” your main product. This is what you might think of when you see food photography or desktop photos where things look almost too perfect. Lifestyle photos are photos that look more like they are taken of things happening naturally in everyday life. These might show your product actually being used by a person the way it would on a daily basis.

Having a combination of the two types of photos can be ideal for product based businesses. Lifestyle photos can be more relatable for your audience because when people see other people using / wearing products, they can envision the product in their own lives. On the other hand, styled photos can be a more focused and clean way of showcasing a product so that the focus is really on the product’s features. You may notice that your audience responds better to certain types of photos in comparison to others so pay attention to which photos get higher engagement as well as which ones drive more sales!

Consistent Style

Having a set of photography tools you use on a regular basis will streamline your product photography. Using consistent lighting, consistent editing, and consistent colors, and consistent props will help you create a consistent style that makes your brand more memorable. Consistency breeds credibility.

You want all of your product photos to have a cohesive look, and using consistent colors and props is an easy way to visually tie things together. I recommend having a “prop box” on hand with small items you can use to style with your products. I have an overflowing closet full of props for my various clients and customers, but even if you start with a few items that you use on a consistent basis, that will help to create a more consistent look to your images!

Are you ready to up-level your own product photos?

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