Business

These 4 Tools Help You If You Hate Blogging, but Need to Do It for Business

This post that I am writing right now, which you are reading at some point in the future, was blog post number 5 I wrote in one day. At this early point in writing the blog post I had written 3,433 words exactly. None of these blog posts were checked yet for spelling and grammar. I just wrote.

You’re probably thinking, okay yeah it’d take me all friggin’ day to write five blog posts too, but here’s the kicker. I started writing at 6:38 pm on this day. As I write these very words, it’s 8:07 pm. In one and a half hours, I had written four blog posts and a portion of this one.

Some people who read Photography Awesomesauce think I’m a writer. People tell me all the time they could never do what I do and blog as much as I do. I own four businesses, and I’m supposed to be writing eight blog posts a week. Three blogs for my wedding photography business (one of them video), two blogs for Rock Your Weird, one blog for Made in the Lab, and two a week for Photography Awesomesauce. That’s a lot of writing.

The truth is, the last few months it has completely overwhelmed me and I’ve failed at it most of the time, but I know the importance of blogging, and I need to do it. So I’ve vowed to keep up with it in 2017. I knew I needed to re-evaluate what I was doing and find some new solutions to be prolific. That’s what I wanted to share with you guys today.

I know a lot of wedding photographers who know they’re supposed to blog, but they don’t because they hate writing. You wouldn’t be a photographer if you loved to write. Some people post blogs with just photos and no words because the writing part is THAT overwhelming. I’m with you. I’m not an original writer, and I’m pretty sure the past grammar mistakes and spelling errors all across this website can be a testament to that. What can I say? I’m not perfect, and I’m okay with that.

I believe anyone can write, though. You don’t need to be the next JK Rowling or JRR Tolkien (boy was he a master of words) to write for your business. What matters in blogging is the opportunity to be found by a search engine and a post with just photos and no words is a lot less likely to be found, just ask my friend Fuse over at Get Found with Fuse. She’s the best for search engine optimization (SEO) that I know. You can also join her Facebook group too! Anyway, your blog posts need to have words. It’s hard to write about our clients though and weddings without it all sounding the same. So here are a few tips for you. Also, I’d highly recommend downloading the 101 Blog Post Ideas for Wedding Photographers. These are in the format of titles, so you have something to work with right away, that’s easy to outline, and it’s written content that can blow your blog right out of the water and help you get found by wedding clients!

Here are a few tips that have completely changed how successful I am at getting my blogging done regularly, that I wanted to share with you.

1. Turn off your computer notifications. One of the best parts about living in this technological age is how connected all of our devices are to us, but also to each other. My iphone sends texts to my Mac, and they interrupt me all day long. Then there’s the email notifications, the ones from Slack from my business partners and all the other things the computer thinks I want to interrupt me. If you have notifications coming in on your computer, TURN THEM OFF RIGHT NOW. I mean it! You can get so much more work done without them. I don’t mean only blogging either. Think about how much faster you can edit without all those distractions too.

2. Download the $10 app Writeroom. I know for sure it’s available for Mac, but I can’t speak to other systems. This app is just a plain text area to type. Writeroom is where I type all my blog posts. It doesn’t spell check as I go, underline anything and it fills the entire computer screen. So all I see is my blog post. No distractions!

3. When it’s time to blog I recommend doing it in a couple of differnet phases. The first step is just writing; the second phase is copying and pasting into your blog platform, and the third phase is fixing the grammar. The best thing I’ve ever done for my blogging and writing is just to sit down, open WriteRoom and just write. Don’t think about spelling, don’t think about grammar. Don’t hit that delete or backspace button at all. Just sit down and write as if you were having a conversation with your bestie and see what comes out. Once you’ve said all you need to say, then you can worry about formatting it as a blog post and fixing all the errors. Writing without distractions gives me so much clarity while writing and helps me be insanely more prolific. It takes the stress and anxiety out of worrying about saying just the right thing at the right time. This technique is a little bit like the infamous “morning pages” technique, except I do it digitally. There’s an idea with morning pages if you sit down and just write in a notebook with no technology you’ll write more. The only reason I do it digitally in Writeroom is that I can write a lot faster and writing everything by hand makes my hand hurt, and I don’t want to spend the transcribing it to my computer later.

4. Grammarly. Yes. That’s all…just kidding. Grammarly is one of the best ways I’ve spent my money lately in blogging and just general business stuff. It’s an app that corrects both your spelling and your grammar like a boss. It’s so good. I am pretty sure it’s vastly improved my writing skills without me even knowing it. You can use it for free, or, if you want to pay for a year, it’s not that expensive. The extra features in the paid version are useful for grammar. I use them all the time!

With that said now I’ve written 4,478 words officially and need to stop writing, pat myself on the back for writing five blog posts and get them copied over to WordPress, formatted and then checked with Grammarly. For the record, it’s 8:22 pm and I hope you’ve found some useful information in here!

5 Favorite Wedding Photography Events

Even though you can learn almost anything online, even I (at a website for online learning) think that in-person learning is incredibly important. Learning in-person is of particular importance for photographers. We spend the majority of our time working at home alone. Sure, maybe your kids are running around or watching Dora while you get things done. However, that’s no replacement for adult and peer interaction at work.

Everyone, even self-employed business owners, need the support of their peers to get through business. I don’t think I’d be here today without the backing of mine. We can rant to each other when things go wrong, talk about the latest industry news, and learn from each other’s experiences. Unfortunately, you can’t get that when you work at home, and you only see clients once or twice a week while you’re photographing them at a wedding.

That’s why learning in-person is so important. When you’re at a workshop, conference or event not only do you get that in-person learning experience where you can ask questions and hear the tone of the people teaching, but you also get to make friends. FRIENDS. They are integral to business. Every time I talk to a few of my “real life” friends who don’t own businesses we just can’t relate to work life. My work life is so different from someone who works for a corporation 9-5 or the government. Our perspectives are entirely different, and it is difficult for those friends to relate to what I’m doing in business. It’s not their fault; it just is the truth.

The best thing I’ve ever come away from a photography event with was friends. These are the people I can text and ask questions, share stories with (good and bad) and just learn together. We know we’re going through the same struggles and hopefully the same successes too. That’s why I wanted to share some of my favorite events with you.

1. The best event I’ve ever been to was The Blink Conference. It’s a small boutique experience. I’ve been to smaller conferences before, but nothing was as genuine as Blink. The people going to Blink are what makes it amazing. Not the speakers or the things you learn (which are also absolutely fantastic and worth it), but the people the best part. I’ve been part of communities before where I thought I was in the right place with the right people, but it all ended up being superficial. Blink is the kind of community where the connections you make are purposeful and creates a significant impact. I was just there in November for the first time, and I know I’ve already made friends for a lifetime. People who cry with you, celebrate with you and most importantly – believe in you. Just the other day one of them, Stacy Pierce (or as we like to call her, Stacy FIERCE) called me, and we ended up on the phone for a good 3 hours. It was the best 3 hours too. I met LaJune King there, who has a business called, Know YOUR Beautiful. No, that was not a grammar error. Her message is about helping women know what their beautiful is and owning it. What’s funny is that LaJune and I barely spoke, one day in a stairwell and yet she’s had a big impact on me since I left. I also met Feuza Reis at Blink. Who knew we’d be two peas in a pod? She’s encouraged me, taught me and already made a big difference in my life since Blink. I also met Denise Espinoza there. We spent the last evening laying on hammocks talking about our lives, our struggles (some pretty deep stuff) and we ended the night ordering pizza and dipping our toes in the hot tub. That’s a connection I won’t forget. I also hung out with the ladies from CG Pro Prints, drove around in a convertible in Palm Springs (where Blink took place in 2016) and ironically the Mission Impossible song was on the radio. Now that’s a coincidence!

 

They say you are a reflection of the five people you talk to the most and I know I’ve picked a few negative people to be in my circle in the past. So I hope these ladies and these connections at Blink will help me be a better version of myself. Blink is number one on my list of places to be and learn from because of these connections. I know you might be balking at the price, but know it’s worth every penny. The education was also priceless and inspired me to do some pretty big things lately, like putting on the Revive Summit! If you can’t afford Blink consider making the monthly payments, because you won’t regret a single penny you spend going there.

2. WPPI makes my list. Not because it’s in Vegas or because I think the conference itself is excellent, but because it’s a place most of your photographer friends will go, so it’s a great way to hang out and be with the people you’ve made connections with online, but in person. I can’t say I’ve been terribly impressed with the education I experienced in past years at WPPI, but there were several years I didn’t go to the platform classes or master classes. I know there has been turnover as well in who is teaching. What I’m saying is, don’t rely on my opinion for the education.

Aside from spending time with your industry friends at WPPI, the best part is the trade show. If you want to get ideas for the latest industry trends, be introduced to better companies and strategies for running your business behind the scenes, or check out products before you buy them, go to the trade show. The trade show is huge, and there is a lot to see, so I encourage you to spend more than one short day there. I can be very overwhelmed in loud, busy and visually stimulating situations, and I struggle walking through the trade show sometimes.

All of that aside, I recommend going. It’ll be a great place to hang out with friends and friends are where I learn the most about what to do and what not to do. Simple conversations talking about business with other people are where I learn most and WPPI is an excellent place to have those conversations and make connections with new friends.

3. Make friends in your local community with a local Facebook group. This option is hard, but with any luck and a little effort, you can become less competitive friends with other local photographers. In Denver, we’re lucky to have a group called the Denver Betties, full of lady photographers. We have a local get together, local events and the group is always busy with people asking questions and people answering them. I’ve made some awesome friends in this group, and it’s so convenient to have those industry friends close to home!

4. I can’t post this blog post without shouting out The $99 Workshop, hosted by yours truly. Yep, it’s $99. I worked pretty hard this past year to bring the price down because I believe in affordability and awesomesauce at the same time. Thanks to friends at Bliss Bridal Boutique in Denver, and a few sponsors you can come to Denver and pay a smaller price for an intimate workshop instead of a larger price on top of all the travel fees you pay as well. Every year I learn new things about blogging, social media, branding and business stuff and this workshop is all about conveying that information to you and helping you with your marketing. So I hope to see some of you there! The workshop is VERY limited for space, so once spots are full that’s it!

5. If going to something in-person is absolutely out of your budget I understand. I’ve been in that place too with business. Sometimes you need to prioritize your extra funds for other stuff. In that case, that’s why I started to build the Revive Summit, which is a free online 4-day event January 25-28th this month. You can learn from a huge variety of speakers and get exposed to some new stuff from our sponsors as well. Plus you have chances to win some things too! Even if you can go to some in-person events this year, Revive is something you won’t want to miss! Plus as soon as you register you get a free video from me with ten ways to boost your social media engagement in 2017!

If anyone plans on being at Revive, WPPI, Blink next year, or The $99 Workshop let me know and I’d love to see you!

How about more awesomesauce?

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10 Tips for Making Business Taxes Less Stressful

10 Tips for Making Business Taxes Less Stressful

10 Tips for Making Business Taxes Less StressfulEw! It’s tax time, every photographer’s least favorite business task. There are a few good tips for those of you gearing up to do your income taxes in the next few months, plus there’s a little, hidden coupon code for my “Legal Business Crap You Should Probably Know but are Too Afraid to Deal With” online video course. If you manage to make it through this entire article, I’m sure you will find it, and learn a few things too!

1. Use an Enrolled Agent (EA) to do your taxes. These people are certified directly by the IRS and have an immense tax knowledge. A CPA is certified through the state and does not specialize in income taxes. They’re perfect for payroll and personal accounting, but don’t have the experience an EA has with taxes. Many CPAs are also an EA and that’s great. If you want to ensure you’re hiring someone awesome who will do your income taxes correctly with as little risk as possible, hire the person who is an expert.
2. Don’t try to cut corners and find every little loophole. The best thing you can do is be as honest as possible when doing your taxes. Taking risks with your taxes is one way to add a lot of tax stress to your life.
3. If you’re one of those people, who knows you are going to owe for the upcoming year, but you’re worried you won’t have saved enough just take a deep breath. Instead of avoiding filing your taxes, or avoiding payment you can simply set up an installment plan with the IRS and pay off anything you owe over time. When you do the right thing, they can be a great place to be in debt. Their interest rates are low, and tax debt doesn’t show up on your credit report unless you stopped making payments and it went to collections, or you committed tax fraud. I’ve been in this place where I owed more than I had saved and it was very simple to set up a payment plan. I chose the amount to pay every month, and it was easy to pay off. They were even friendly with me on the phone. I didn’t have any major huge penalties because I didn’t let it sit there and stress. I was proactive and took the initiative to get it done.
4. Don’t use Turbotax or try to do your taxes yourself. Pay someone else to do your taxes. Trust me, it takes a lot of stress off your shoulders and can be pretty affordable. If you organize your expenses, invoices, and receipts, it takes a tax preparer less time to do your taxes, and therefore, it saves you money. Plus that fee to get your taxes done counts as an expense.
5. Use Freshbooks to track your expenses. I love this company’s app. I can take photos of receipts and add them right into my account for later. It makes expense tracking simple. If you have a lot of monthly subscriptions? It’s easy just to set up recurring payments that get added automatically. Plus, unlike Quickbooks, you don’t need any training to figure it out. It’s pretty easy and straightforward.


6. Most of us buy products online. I keep a folder for each year’s receipts for my business expenses. Then I can print them off if needed, but if I lost track of my accounting because wedding season becomes too busy, it’s easy just to go through my folder and add them to Freshbooks and be caught up.
7. Accept more credit cards. We all hate credit card processing fees, but they can be worth it. Credit and debit card income is easily traceable. Cash only businesses can be a bit risky. When you’re using a service like Paypal for all your transactions in business you get a 1099-K at the end of the year with all your reportable income. If you’ve only used one place to collect payments, it makes reporting your income a million times more simple.
8. Set aside one day every couple weeks to do your accounting and filing at home. If you’re keeping up on it regularly, you won’t feel as stressed when it’s time to do your taxes when they’re due. Imagine what life would be like if you didn’t have days where you’re on the floor of your office surrounded in paperwork.
9. If you just can’t keep up on your accounting at all on your own, it’s worth it to pay someone else to do it for you monthly.


10. Take the time to learn a little bit more about the basics of running a business regarding taxes, business types, registrations, licenses etc. Knowing just a little bit about these things can help alleviate the stress that often comes from not knowing or, not wanting to know because it seems so scary. I have a pre-enrollment for my class called, “Legal Crap You Should Probably Know, But Are Too Afraid to Deal With.” You can pre-enroll now, and the course will be released January 27th. Just for fun, I’m leaving a coupon code for pre-enrollment in that course right here in this blog post. You can take $20 off with the code: TAXESSUCK. There are only 20 coupon codes; which most likely will run out for anyone who gets to the end of this blog post. The class is online videos, so I promise it will be nowhere near as boring as it sounds. Plus the dogs will probably interrupt my video recording, which is always fun.

Hope this helps you head into the last bit of Winter or the future feeling better about your taxes, and I hope to see those of you who want to learn more in my online course!

I’m inviting all of you to come join me at the Revive Summit to come learn for free online! I’ll be speaking along with a ton of knowledgeable and talented creatives to help you revive your businesses for the coming year!

How about more awesomesauce?

Subscribe to get awesome free stuff and emails full of useful business information that you’ll probably ignore. Watch me fail miserably at Twitter. Repin stuff I pin on Pinterest because I said so. Love me on Facebook even though numbers don’t matter, and Facebook is dying. Join the Facebook group to see my shenanigans up close and personal.

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20 Things That Will Change Your Wedding Photography Business in 2017

Let’s talk 2017. It’s the third day of January and everyone is all, “OMG let’s be thinner” or “I vow to drink more water.” My social media news feeds are full of weight loss goals, detoxing and people are complaining about crowded gyms. Let’s get real, though. My resolution is to eat as much guacamole as I can because you never know where life will take you.

If avocados go extinct, I want to know that guacamole and I lived as loud as we possibly could. I also promised myself I would stop wearing all my old leggings with holes where my thigh gap could be. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, let’s talk about some actions you can start doing right this very second to give your wedding photography a damn good business makeover this year.

Here’s why you need to stop what you’re doing right now and start thinking about changing your business. The truth is, photographers (like all creatives) don’t have a background in business stuff. Sure, there’s the odd photographer here or there with a business-related degree or other experience. But most of us are just flailing around trying to fake it until we make it and figuring shit out along the way. I’m pretty sure as a collective group, most of us are in this because we like the photography part and the business stuff we should just chuck in the nearest dumpster and light a fire in it. It’s easy to give up when that stuff is so foreign and, truth be told, as boring as watching water boil.

My biggest challenge for you this year is to challenge yourself. If you want your wedding photography business to be bigger, shine brighter and pay the bills you have to hustle. You can’t just sit around doing the same thing you always do. I’ve met a lot of photographers who see things in their business that aren’t working, but they put them all inside their safety net, tuck that away in their pocket and let it weigh them down by carrying it day in and day out. Owning a business is a constant risk, friends. I get it. I really do. It might not seem like it in the words of this blog post, but I’m a ridiculously cautious person. So careful my mom frequently mentions how surprised she is that I’m even stepping out and owning not just one business, but four. I can’t say for sure, but if I had grown up, put a gigantic bubble around my house and never came out it probably wouldn’t have surprised her at all. I guess I’m just one of those people that thrives on the hustle at the end of the day. I can put my concerns aside because the challenge of hustling every day ultimately brings out the best in me. Right now, if you’re in your safety bubble all you have to do is pop it, and you’re out and exposed. Once you’re exposed, that’s where you can start challenging yourself to be the best business owner you can be.

Make it your motto to try new things this year. Try new marketing. Think about your business from a different perspective. Throw out the crap that’s not working and problem solve to replace it with a system that does work. One thing creatives are good at is problem-solving. Today I’m giving you 20 solutions for various business problems in our industry. If you’re brave enough to try something new this year, one of these things might just be the awesomesauce that turns your business around.

Let’s do this.

Disclaimer: I’ve thrown in some affiliate links in here. That means if you click something to purchase or sign up I may get a kickback. Since this blog is full of free awesome advice, it’s always super appreciated to get these little kickbacks if this helped you in any way.

  1. Let go of perfection. Life is not perfect. Your business is never going to be perfect. You are never going to be perfect. And that’s ok. The world needs less perfection. Messy is what makes us stronger and turns us into the best version of ourselves.
  2. Automate your client emails. It is impossible to keep up consistently with all your wedding clients sometimes. Before doing automated emails, I’m pretty sure not all my clients received the same customer service experience. Now my automated email system is filled with reminders, tips, and helpful info for all my clients as they go through the planning process. I use Pixifi to automate my emails. I highly recommend Pixifi. Their customer service is just so good. I also teach a class on automation (for my other business Rock Your Weird) that includes my email templates and a lot of other fun, excellent automation stuff.
  3. Create an annual marketing plan. Marketing works best well thought out and planned in advance. Sometimes we run late when it comes to planning a marketing opportunity, and we lose out on revenue by not being organized. Make a 2017 marketing plan with all the holidays, sales, and significant events you’re at to help point potential clients in your direction.
  4. Write goals for your business and give each goal 3 action steps you can do to make sure each of those things happens. Writing down clear goals is great, but you will get nowhere achieving them if you don’t have ideas for how to reach these goals also written down.
  5. Update your website portfolio. It’s easy to create a website and then forget about it. You should be updating it frequently with your new portfolio images.  Updating your site regularly helps keep it on Google’s search engine radar too!
  6. Rebrand! Don’t just create a new logo, though. Spend time building a brand people connect with on an emotional level, a brand with lots of personality! Rock Your Weird has blog posts on doing just that.
  7. Remember you don’t need to do business the way everyone else does. There are hundreds of ways to accomplish the same results when you’re a business owner. It’s up to you to create a business model that works for you.
  8. Be willing to break the rules. You’ve probably heard rules about adjusting your aperture based on how many people are in a photo. Or maybe you know rules about how many images you’re allowed to have on your website portfolio. Maybe there’s a rule about editing photos you follow. Break the rules and do what inspires you instead.
  9. Re-evaluate business expenses from last year and adjust your pricing to reflect your current finances accurately.
  10. Add your location to your website. It’s easy to forget to put where you’re at on your site. If you forgot, now is the time to take 5 minutes and add it so you can automatically increase your chances of booking.
  11. Start using Pinterest for marketing. Pinterest is where clients are at finding inspiration for their weddings. It’s the ideal place to find new wedding clients. If you’re not using it, you’re missing out. My friend, Fuse, has a business called Get Found with Fuse where she teaches SEO (search engine optimization) for creatives. She offers an excellent Pinterest SEO class to help you get found on Pinterest!
  12. Blog about tips that help your potential clients. Knowing what to blog about is hard, but the more resourceful you are for customers, the better your chances are of booking clients this way. Don’t know where to get started? You can download my 101 blog post ideas for wedding photographers for free! That’s enough blog post ideas to last you a couple of years if you post once a week!
  13. Automate your social media to create a consistent presence. Nothing is more freeing than knowing you’ve got your social media posting for you while you sit back and drink more wine and watch more Netflix. Plus all that free time means you can spend it accomplishing other marketing ideas.
  14. Reuse sneak peek images on social media. I spent years posting each photo I took of a client as a sneak peek and then never touching them again. I felt dumb when I realized I could keep posting them each year and gain new customers.
  15. Set business hours and keep them. Just do it this year. I need to do better at this.
  16. Create an editing workflow that helps you edit faster and get things done.
  17. If you’re one of those people who has a hard time being themselves in business, it’s time to take that wall down and practice being a little more vulnerable with your clients. Customers love honesty, authenticity, and vulnerability. However, it’s natural to act super formal in your business and forget to be yourself. The one truly unique thing you have going for you compared to other wedding photographers is your personality.
  18. Read Zombie Loyalists by Peter Shankman. Best business marketing book ever. If you want to know how to make your clients turn into walking talking billboards for you, this book will teach you just that.
  19. Find one editing style you like and stick with it. Consistency creates trust. Trust is everything in marketing.
  20. Only you get to define what success looks like for yourself. Figure out what success looks like for you and life your life according to your rules.

If just one of these 20 things stands out to you, do it. Remember to challenge yourself in business.

How about more awesomesauce?

Subscribe to get awesome free stuff and emails full of useful business information that you’ll probably ignore. Watch me fail miserably at Twitter. Repin stuff I pin on Pinterest because I said so. Love me on Facebook even though numbers don’t matter, and Facebook is dying. Join the Facebook group to see my shenanigans up close and personal.

 

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The Key to Lasting Relationships with High School Senior Clients

the key to lasting relationships with high school senior clients

 

“Some people care too much. I think it’s called love.” ― Winnie-the-Pooh

Building a lifelong relationship with teens start long before they step in front of your camera for their senior portrait session. Remember when I mentioned being involved in their sporting events and extracurricular activities? Here’s how to tie being authentic and involved into building a senior experience that lasts way after their ordering session.

Every one of my senior session sessions includes one key question. How can I make their session FUN? Yes, fun!

  1. Fashion forward
  2. Unforgettable (saying words of affirmation)

And N– never ending. I want to be their wedding, maternity, and portrait photographer for life.

So how do I do it:

Fashion forward: I make sure every client looks their best in outfits and styles that make them happy! I love building Pinterest boards to follow the latest trends in teen and senior fashion!

Unforgettable- Who doesn’t love to be appreciated and hear words of affirmation? One key ingredient is building their self-esteem. To do so, I incorporate both into my session. I always provide a little goody as a thank you for choosing my business and always reaffirm how beautiful and talented they are throughout their session.

Never-ending- I don’t stop photographing them after their ordering session! Prom – check I’ll be there, Graduation I’ll be there too, Graduation party, and their going away party. I become an intricate part of their life story and become a part of the family.

My goal is not just to be their photographer but their mentor and life-long photographer from high school graduation, college graduation, their marriage proposal, until the birth of their first child and beyond that to their ongoing family portraits. Maybe even until their children are seniors in high school.

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

-Francis of Assisi

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