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5 Times You Should Hire A Professional Photographer

5 times you should hire a professional photographer for your business - when you're a small business owner or solopreneur you may be DIYing your brand or product photography but here's when you should hire a pro photographer!

Whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for a while, your visual brand is a key part of your online business. When someone comes to your website or finds you on social media or clicks a link to see your products, you want to make a good first impression. You can DIY your photography or use stock photos but if you truly want your brand to stand out with uniquely branded images, there are several times when you should definitely hire a pro!

5 Times You Should Hire a Professional Photographer

When You’re Launching A New Product Line

You’ve been working hard to build a new product line, and the worst thing that can happen is for you to invest a lot of time and money into creating the products… and then be stuck with inventory because no one buys it! Before you launch it, think about what’s going to get people really excited to actually buy the product. When you’re selling online, people can’t touch or try on your product. This makes your visual content that more important. A professional photographer can work with you to ensure that your products are captured in the most visually appealing way for a new product launch so you can focus on selling!

When You Want to Increase Your Sales

If you’re selling products online and no one is buying them, it may be because your products aren’t being showcased in a way that isn’t enticing to potential customers. Your basic product photo should be well-placed on a clean white background. If you’re background is dingy or chaotic, that’s going to distract potential customers from your products. You might also want to add other elements that help customers envision what it would look like to have your products in their place. Professional photographers can help you style your products in a way that will make people actually want to buy them more. This can make a huge difference in having people just scroll past your images on social media or stop and actually click through to shop because they think, “OMG I need this thing right now.”

One of my clients has a luxury tea brand. They were posting basic product photos on their social media account and they weren’t sure why people weren’t engaging with the photos. We discussed ways we could make the products more appealing to potential customers. We photographed the tea to show how it would fit into someone’s everyday life. This way people could actually see themselves incorporating the tea into their own lives. By incorporating lifestyle photography into their marketing, this company was able to grow their engagement on social media as well as grow their sales.

When You Want to Uplevel Your Business

Once you’ve been in business a while, you might want to increase your prices or start offering higher priced products. Having high-quality images is nonnegotiable if you are going to sell a high end products or services. If your photos are dim or amateurish, you’re going to have a really hard time convincing people that your products are high price item. To uplevel your business and sell on a higher end, you need high-quality images that feature your products in the best way.

One of my clients designs hand painted champagne flutes and wanted to sell her products at higher-end department stores. She knew she need to up level her photography to attract higher-end buyers, so she hired me to shoot a selection of her custom glassware for her marketing material. With her new professional photos she’s much more confident presenting her products to potential buyers!

FREE QUESTIONNAIRE: 8 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF BEFORE HIRING A PRO!

When DIYing Your Photos Takes Too Much Time

Even if you’re capable of doing your own photography, it’s probably not the best use of your time. When you’re a solopreneur you spend your time building products, posting on social media, business planning, accounting, and answering 5 million emails (OMG all the emails!) – but your time could be better spent focusing on what you are an expert at doing. So hire a professional photographer to take your photos. They will save you a lot of stress and time.

One of my clients is a graphic designer, web developer and busy mom. She found that she was spending a lot of time on her weekends taking photos for Instagram because that was the only time she had “free” … but she was was missing out on quality time with her family. Now that she outsources her social media photography to me, she actually gets to spending time with her family on the weekend!

When You’re the Face of Your Brand

When you need to be in your own photos, obviously it’s going to be harder to DIY (no selfies, please!) – sure you could try using a remote or a timer to do it yourself, but if you really want to be the face of the brand and have imagery that helps you connect with potential customers, hiring a professional photographer is going to make your life so much easier. A professional photographer will help to style your brand photos in a way that allows you to connect with your ideal audience. They can help you find the perfect locations for your personal brand photography and/or help you feel more comfortable in front of the camera. Bottom line: hiring a professional photographer makes your photos look more professional.

Are You Ready to Hire A Pro?

Are you on board with getting help from a professional photographer? Not only will it make your life easier, but your business will look a lot better too! To help you get started, I’ve put together a list of 8 questions you should ask yourself before you work with a professional photographer. Grab it NOW!

How to Optimize Your Images for SEO

How to optimize your images for SEO - tips on how to save, name, and upload images to maximize the SEO benefits for your blog or online business.

Having images on your website is a big deal.

Humans process images 60,000x faster than text.

As online business owners, we know that a picture is worth a thousand words.

We know we have to invest in high-quality images to help take our website and online presence to the next level… which is why we take spend time and money to find the perfect images to reflect our brand, right?

But when it comes to optimizing those images, we usually drop the ball.

 “According to Raven Tools, 78% of SEO issues are related to images.” — That’s a BIG percentage. 

Learning how to optimize your images for SEO is a win-win.

Search engine bots can’t “read” images, so if they can’t “read” an image, they have no way of knowing what the image…is an image of.

When you start optimizing your images for SEO, you make it easier for those search engine bots to know what your images are.

When they know what your images are, they can show them in Google Image search results, as well as help reinforce the overall topic of your content so Google can better show it to your ideal audience.

So how do we avoid being part of that percentage and start optimizing images to HELP our SEO instead of hurt it?

Here are 5 ways to optimize your images for SEO:

  1. Reduce the Size of Your Images:

If you’re uploading your high-resolution images to your website, you’re not only hurting your image SEO, you’re making your website slower.

When you upload a 3000 pixel wide image to your blog post, you’re making the browser work 2x harder. The browser has to first upload the original 3000 pixel wide image, THEN it has to re-load the image sized down to fit the area that it’s uploaded too.

So, for example, if the width of your website content is 800 pixels, your visitors browser has to load the 3000 pixel image AND the 800 pixel image. Now multiply that process by the number of images you have on that webpage…..see how that can turn into a pretty monstrous problem?

Before you upload ANY image to your website, double check to see what size you’re going to need. If it’s going to be in your main content area, maybe you only need it to be 600 pixels wide. If you’re uploading it to your sidebar, maybe you only need it to be 300 pixels wide.

  1. Use Descriptive File Names:

By default, WordPress and Squarespace use your image file name as the Title of your image when you upload it to your website. So instead of having to go back every-single-time you upload an image, to adjust the image title, get in the habit of naming your images descriptively.

Typical file names are a jumbled mix of letters and numbers, like “DSC00829.jpg”. If you don’t change that file name OR the image title when you upload that photo, you’re not giving search engine robots ANY indication of what that image is showing.

Google can’t “read” images so it uses the file name and other data to be able to tell what the image is all about.

Image titles use hyphens-in-between-the-words-to-tell-search-bots-where-spaces-are-supposed-to-be. So when you’re naming your images, use hyphens, not underscores_like_this.

If you don’t remember to save your image with a descriptive file name BEFORE you upload it to your website, make sure you’re changing the “Title” before you leave that image upload page.

  1. Run the Image Through an Optimizer:

Image optimizers strip the image of unnecessary information like camera details, metadata, color profiles, embedded thumbnails, etc . By doing this it decreases the size of your image, without affecting the quality of it.

You can use a WordPress plugin like WP Smush It to bulk compress or automatically compress images when you upload them to your website.

If you have a Mac, you can download this app that’s a super easy drag-and-drop: ImageOptim (this is the one I personally use).

Or you can take advantage of a free online image compressor like TinyPNG or Optimizilla.

  1. Add Unique ALT Text:

ALT stands for “Alternative Text”. This ALT text will appear on your website in place of the image if for some reason the image cannot be loaded. It helps explain the image in a text format. ALT text is insanely useful for search engine bots and people with screen readers to help them understand what your image is all about.

By default, WordPress will NOT include ALT text when you upload an image, so it’s your job to take the time and manually add this information.

Be as descriptive as possible and add in the keywords and key phrases for the page that the image is going to display on (since the image and content should be related, this shouldn’t pose an issue. More on that next!)

Google even admitted they put a higher SEO importance on ALT text (Google rarely admits to SEO rules and importance, so I’d take this one pretty seriously!)

Don’t keyword stuff… Google hates that, and it could end up flagging your content, instead of helping it. For example, if you’re writing a piece of content about a new pizza your restaurant is serving, you’ll want to add an image of the pizza and give it an ALT text like this: “new gluten free pepperoni pizza Buffalo BY by Mariahs Pizzeria” – It’s SUPER descriptive and even includes local keywords.

Don’t do this: “Gluten free pizza pepperoni pizza Buffalo NY best pizza pizza pizza pizza pizza”

Also, you don’t have to add hyphens to the ALT text.

  1. Make Sure Your Image is Relevant:

When you’re choosing images for your website or blog post, make sure they’re relevant to the content they’re sharing a page with. I mentioned in the introduction that you’ll up the odds of Google knowing what your page content is about if your using related images.

Being the most popular search engine on the internet, Google keeps it real.

They don’t want to show their user’s misguided or irrelevant information.

They want people to find solutions and answers to their problems as quickly, and accurately as possible.

If you’re using images and visuals to help emphasize the point of your content, Google loves that.. what they don’t love is random images and visuals that end up confusing users.

Search engine optimization can be quite tedious, especially when you’re getting started, but once you have the foundation of it down, all it takes is the right habits to keep it moving in the right direction.

Learn about the 7 Types of Content that Increase Website Traffic & Improve SEO.

 

About the Author:
Mariah Magazine is web designer and developer that focuses on helping clients improve their website and online presence. Since the internet world is such an elaborate tool, especially for online businesses, she specializes in helping people relate to their target audience and getting their website to work smarter, not harder.

Website: https://mariahmagazine.com

Find Mariah on Pinterest | YouTube | Instagram | LinkedIn

 

Easy Ways to Customize Stock Photos for Your Brand

How to customize styled stock photos for your brand - tips for customizing stock photos so they are more unique to your brand and stand out from the crowd. Try these 4 easy ways to customize your stock photos!

You probably already know that stock photos can make your life much easier by saving time and $$$, BUT it’s kind of annoying to know that you’re using the same photos as a bunch of other people, right? Luckily there are a few easy ways to “customize” your stock photos to make them look more unique to your brand!

OVERLAY TEXT

You’re probably using stock photos for your blog or social media and adding a text overlay is an easy way to make them look more intentional. You can overlay text for blog post titles, quotes, testimonials or any other promotional messaging for your brand.  Use your brand fonts and colors so that your images are easily recognizable – even if you are just using stock photos. For example, I use my own stock photos for most of the graphics you see on this blog, but since I’m using consistent fonts / styles for the text all of my blog post graphics have a similar look.

OVERLAY COLOR

Many styled stock photos have excess whitespace where text can easily be added, otherwise you can always add a colored overlay over all or part of the image so that your text stands out. Adding a colored overlay over a whole (or most of an) image is an easy way to make stock photos that aren’t entirely in your brand’s color palette work for you. Since the overlay “hides” most of the colors in the image, you can be a bit more flexible with the stock images you use in this way.

You can also add a colored overlay over only a small portion of an image where you want to add text or other branded elements. If you’re using neutral stock photos this is an easy way to infuse a bit of your brand’s personality into your graphics without distracting too much from the style of the images.

In the examples below you can see a few different ways I’ve customized styled stock photos for my brand – in the top left image I’ve added “hello” text on the gold clipboard using my brand font / color, in the top right I’ve overlaid a screenshot from my website on the laptop screen, in the bottom left image I’ve added a large color overlay at 50% opacity with text on top, and in the bottom right image I’ve added a smaller color overlay at 100% opacity with text on top. These are just a few ways you can add text or other brand elements to your stock photos to make them more unique to your business.

How to customize styled stock photos for your brand - easy tips for making the most out of your styled stock photos if you are a blogger or small business owner using stock photos for your website, blog or social media graphics!

OVERLAY YOUR PRODUCT IMAGES

If you sell physical or digital products, use your stock photos to showcase whatever you are selling. You can overlay product images on stock photos with excess white space or mockup style images with frames or tech elements where you can insert your work. I love the way The Spotted Olive used one of our stock photos to showcase these festive holiday gift tags on Instagram!

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CROP / ROTATE / FLIP THEM

Last but not least, instead of sharing stock photos “as is” – most high quality images can be cropped, rotated, and/or flipped for a more unique effect. This is also an easy way to get more bang for your buck since you can crop stock photos in multiple ways and use them multiple times!

In the example below, you’ll see one of the images from the Styled Stock Society (center image) and how it could be cropped / rotated to create 4 completely different images.

How to crop styled stock photos to maximize versatility - get more use out of styled stock photos by cropping them into multiple images!

TIPS FOR CUSTOMIZING STOCK PHOTOS FOR YOUR BRAND

If you’re customizing stock photos for your brand using any of these methods, it can be helpful to use certain tools to make the process as simple as possible! Personally I use Adobe Photoshop for most of my customizations but you can use free tools like Canva to add text or other branded elements as well.

  • Create templates – regardless of what tools you are using to customize your stock photos, setting up templates can save you a ton of time. Setting up templates makes it easy to just switch up your stock image and text instead of starting from scratch every time you want to customize something.
  • Be consistent – if you’re adding graphic elements, colored overlays, or filters to your stock photos, you should be consistent with the styles and colors. You want your images to be easily recognizable, so don’t change things up too often!

CUSTOM PHOTOS FOR YOUR BRAND

So those are a few ways to “customize” your stock photos so they are a better reflection of your brand. Stock photos are an affordable option for incorporating high quality visuals into your marketing (and I recommend them, especially if you have a limited marketing budget), but if you’re ready to elevate your brand with styled images that are completely unique to your business, I recommend investing in custom brand photography ;)

Prefer to DIY your own brand images?

Check out this post for the best resources for Instagram props and don’t miss the Shopbop Spring sale (ends April 14th at 11:59pm PT) to save up to 20% on orders under $500 or 25% on orders over $500 – just use code EVENT17 at checkout! (full details here)  I’ll be stocking up on home decor items and some pretty stationery!

How are you customizing stock photos for your brand?

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