Hey guys, Lauren is here today with her monthly dose of freelance advice! If you have any specific freelancing question, send us an email and we will answer in a future post!
Have you been dangling on the fence about whether to leave your full-time design job to go freelance? Perhaps you find yourself staring out your window at work (or more likely your tiny, claustrophobic cubicle) and daydreaming of one day being your own boss. Or maybe you calculated what you are bringing home hourly at your current job and feel gypped. Leaving your full-time job (and regular paycheck) is a big decision; you are right to consider it carefully.
I’m going to break the decision down for you into three simple categories: experience, finances and personality.
Don’t underestimate the value of prior experience. In my opinion, you need to log some tough hours in the real world before starting your own business. Use your time wisely while you are working for someone else. Learn from your mistakes (cause you will make ‘em!) Take notes from your superiors. Enjoy the collaborative design process while you have the luxury of working in an environment with other creatives. Don’t jump ship before you have learned the ropes of the biz.
You may think that freelance will be more lucrative. And it can be. But most likely it won’t start out that way. It will take hard work to build up your clientele and earn a steady income. Before turning in your resignation, I implore you to SAVE, SAVE, SAVE. It is a good idea to have approximately 6 months worth of living expenses saved before making the official leap.
Personally, going freelance was less of a strategic career move and more of a quality-of-life decision. I had a goal of being able to quit my full-time job so that I could stay home to raise my kids. My freelance business has afforded me the ability to do just that. That being said, my husband and I started preparing financially a few years in advance. We were very purposeful in committing to a mortgage payment that we could pay with ONE income, not two. We watched our spending habits – we did not let ourselves become accustomed to living on two full incomes. Because of this preparation, it didn’t seem quite as difficult to give up that regular paycheck.
Not everyone is cut out to run their own business. Just because you are a strong designer does not mean that you will be an effective freelancer. Successful business owners share key personality traits; they tend to be organized, self-motivated, driven, goal-oriented, confident, passionate, budget-minded and self-reliant. Keep in mind that you will spend less time designing and more time running the business. This includes networking, pursuing new work, selling your services, meetings with clients, phone calls, invoicing, accounting, etc.
This advice is not meant to scare you or discourage you from pursuing a freelance career. If anything I want to adequately prepare you! Going freelance was one of the best decisions I ever made. I can’t tell you how great it is to finally call my own shots, make my own schedule and choose to take on projects that I am passionate about. I especially appreciate the relationships I have built with my clients.
If you are currently considering going freelance, do you have any specific questions? Or, if you are already working on a freelance basis, do you have any additional tips to share? Love to hear from you!
What could be better than having a list of email addresses for people who love your blog or readers that could be potential customers – a list of people who actually want to hear from you? Not much, right?
That’s why you should be gathering emails from people who visit your website.
Why It Works
Building your email list is important for your business because the more people who are truly interested in your services that you can reach with just one email, the more site visits, downloads and money you can potentially make.
Collecting email addresses and sending out an email newsletter has some wonderful benefits. For instance, each time you send an email to your list that contains links to your website, you’re boosting the potential for more site visits. If something in your newsletter looks interesting to the reader, they’ll click over to your site and there’s a good chance they’ll click through to other posts or pages, which boosts the chances that they’ll buy from you.
Email lists and newsletters also help your business because if you’re consistently showing up in someone’s inbox (in a good way, not a spammy way), you’ll stay top of mind to them. Then when they need a service or product you provide, they’ll instantly remember your helpful or fun emails.
How to Do It
Growing your list organically can take time but there are so many ways to gather email address from your readers. The most important thing to remember is to make is as easy as possible for them to sign up.
A few common places to add an email sign up form is in the sidebar or footer on every page of your site or directly underneath your header. These places work because they’re out of the way enough to not be irritating, but they’re prominent enough that people will notice them.
The best way to get people to sign up for your list is to offer an incentive, or opt-in offer, for sharing their email. Things like mini ebooks, discounts on services or access to an exclusive list work really well because the person signing up is getting something in return. Plus, people love free stuff!
Giveaways are also a great way to capture email addresses. Hosting a simple contest on your blog where all the reader has to do is enter their email address is a great way to grow your list quickly. Or if you’re hosting a live event, you can capture email addresses from attendees by having them sign up to win a prize.
Want some ideas on creating an opt in offer that people want? Here are three simple tactics:
Mini Ebook: Offer a downloadable ebook that will help your readers solve a problem. Give them design tips, create some fun worksheets or compile interviews you have done into a book.
Discount on Services: Offer a certain percentage off your services or products, throw in a service for free or offer free shipping from your shop. People love discounts.
Access to a ‘Faves’ List: Do you have a group of people you love to work with? Or a list of your favorite service providers? Take those lists and create a document with the names and contact information for each. This helps both you and the people on your favorites list and your readers will love to get an inside look at who you love to work with.
Do you collect emails for your website? Do you have a fun opt in offer? Share in the comments section!
The aperture you use when shooting photos determines the depth of field (area of focus) in your photos. Many newbie photographers get stuck on achieving blurry backgrounds (bokeh) without any consideration for whether the bokeh conveys the appropriate mood of the image.
I’m guilty of it too. When I first started shooting I’d choose the largest (smallest f stop) aperture my lens could handle. A smooth, blurry background is definitely appealing and one of the perks of shooting with a DSLR but it doesn’t work with every image.
Sometimes the background is an important element of your image. It might be used for framing your central subject or to add depth to the story you’re telling.
I shot the photo above with a small aperture (f 20). The background is pretty clear. Branches, more flowers, and a building can be seen in the distance. It’s an alright picture but the background elements are bit distracting in my opinion. They don’t add anything to the photo.
Of course there is no definitive answer to which aperture one should shoot at however I prefer the photo above which I shot at f 2.0 (large aperture). The flower is isolated from the busy background so the viewer’s eye is drawn to the layer of cold snow on the delicate flower. You might disagree. Perhaps you think the background flowers added to the unusual sight of a layer of snow in a blooming garden.
The key is to think about what image you want to make before shooting. Don’t forget to experiment too. Take the same shot using a variety of apertures and then compare them later once you’ve uploaded them to your computer. Keep in mind that the bokeh you will get while shooting depends on the lens you’re using, your distance relative to your subject matter, and other factors.
The most important thing is to choose the aperture that conveys the meaning of the image you intended to shoot. Unless of course all you care about is an in focus flower then you’re on easy street.
The photo above is a recent favorite. I like how the bokeh frames the red bud on the tree branch. I also have a soft spot for branches that appear to be creeping in to the frame from the far corners.
The photo above is cool too. I like the messy, snowy background. The pop of color on the tree branch looks pretty against the green leafy background. Once again the final decision comes down to what kind of mood I’m trying to illustrate with my image.
You started a blog and have great content, but no one knows that it exists! How are you making sure your content is found by potential readers? The answer: social media.
Why Social Media
Bloggers are discovering that investing time for online networking can be very beneficial for brand awareness and increasing traffic to their blog. As a blogger, it’s very important to stay connected, since readers want to feel like they know you. Social media is a great opportunity to let readers into your life in a more casual environment than on your blog. It’s also great for engaging your readers in real-time conversations. Your blog will always be a home base, but building up social media channels helps drive people back to your blog.
Give Potential Readers Options
There are many social networks out there, but you don’t need to join them all. You should, however, figure out which ones work best for you and have options available for your readers; not everyone follows blogs the same way. Facebook may not be your favorite social network, but it might be a favorite of a potential reader. Another reader may only follow blogs on Twitter. You want people to be able to follow you where they are comfortable.
Be Creative & Conversational
Being a little creative, when it comes to sharing your blog socially, can go a long way. Tailoring your introductions for each social network really makes a difference. While Twitter is used mostly for posting links, Pinterest is a very visual site, and Facebook works well for both text and images. It’s important not to forget the “social” in social media! Social media is so powerful because it allows you to interact – take advantage of that! In addition to posting your own content, share other relevant issues and ideas as well.
I recently put together a series on the Alt Summit blog all about growing your blog through social media. So if you’ve ever wanted to know how to use Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest to grow your readership, make sure you check them out. And leave a comment either here or on the actual posts themselves if you have any specific questions you want answered!
Starting a Facebook page for your blog opens you up to one of the largest audiences on the internet. Sharing content on Facebook is so easy and convenient, especially since your readers most likely already use Facebook. Read the full post on the Alt blog.
Twitter is a great way to promote your content, share your expertise, and connect with like-minded people. It is a fast and easy way to give quick updates to followers. Read the full post on the Alt blog.
Social media is getting more and more visual, and Pinterest is a great example of this. If you take a little time to make your blog Pinterest friendly, it can end up being your number one traffic source. Read the full post on the Alt blog.
If you are anything like me, you struggle with saying no. Walking away from a freelance project feels counter-intuitive and just wrong. How can you turn away from a new client and some extra cash in your pocket? But when building your business, the projects you say no to can be just as important as the projects you say yes to.
Consider asking yourself the following questions before taking on a new project:
Does the project match your skill set?
This may seem obvious, but do not take on jobs that are outside your area of expertise. If you are strictly a print designer, be up front with your client and don’t promise a complete web design overhaul. Don’t claim to be a “social media strategist” when your only experience to date has been creating your personal facebook page.
It is far better to form strategic alliances with other freelancers who have complementary skills. Are you a designer who struggles with html? Bring in a coding expert to help on your next job. You can pass along the cost to your client, and in turn, the coding expert just might bring you some design work from his/her clients. Do what you do best; strategically farm out the rest.
Will the finished project be something you are proud to show in your portfolio?
In an ideal world, your dream clients would come running to you with an ample budget and projects galore.
More often than not, the “dream client” doesn’t have the cash. For example, say an up-and-coming jewelry designer needs a brochure designed for her new collection. As soon as you hear of the project, your mind starts reeling with innovative ideas to showcase the jewelry; but the client can’t afford to pay your full hourly rate. Do you take the project? Time allowing, you may consider taking on the project to build your portfolio and attract new clients.
Conversely, if a client comes to you with a project that you would most likely NOT show in your portfolio, don’t turn it down right away. Consider if the compensation would make it worthwhile. Could the profit you earn be used to pay for a continuing education seminar or allow you to attend an upcoming conference?
Do you believe in the product or service you will be promoting?
In your freelance career, you will be approached by a client whose business model makes your insides crawl. Maybe it is a cigarette company and your grandmother just recently passed away from smoking-induced emphysema. Or perhaps a specialty gun store approaches you for help with their marketing, but you are anti-guns. I recommend walking away from these kinds of projects.
As much as you try to separate yourself from the product or service, you will have difficulty giving the client your best work when you oppose their fundamental business principles.
Don’t worry. Another project will come along with a cause you are passionate about.
Have you recently walked away from a freelance opportunity? What factors did you consider before turning it down? Love to hear your feedback!
Starting a blog always sounds like so much fun, right? And in the beginning, you’re so excited about posting, sharing and getting comments. But after the first few posts, you start to get a little lax – you either forget to post or feel like you’ve got nothing to write about. A month later, you’re not posting at all and you give up hope.
Sound familiar? Never again, my friend!
The key to starting a successful blog and keeping up with it is to 1) LOVE what you’re writing about and 2) have a plan of action.
Last month I shared with you why having a blog for your business is so important, and today I’m sharing with you how to come up with a ton of blog topics and a plan for how to actually get them written and scheduled – complete with a worksheet to get you started!
Coming Up with Content
First thing’s first – to blog consistently without the burnout, it’s important to love what you’re talking about. If you’re blogging for your business (and you’ve got a business that you love), you’ve already got a head start because you’ve already got lots of things to talk about.
To come up with content, start making a list on the worksheet (Coming Up with Blog Content Worksheet) of things you could write about when it comes to your business. If you use Pinterest often, take a look at the types of things you’re pinning and use those for inspiration. For example, if you’ve got an entire board dedicated to fonts and type, write that down as a topic you could write about. If you’re in love with layouts and have a ton of gorgeous spreads pinned, write that down too.
Another way to come up with topics is to think about the questions you get asked about your business. What questions are your customers asking? What do they need to know about your business? Turning those into blog posts creates awesome and sharable content for your readers, and it helps them get to know your business better.
Try to come up with a list of 15 to 20 topics to start with. Some of the topics may even turn into weekly features, like a weekly post about fun new fonts or a series on layout design – things like that make your topics go much further.
Actually Getting Posts Scheduled and Written
Now that you’ve got a list of topics, it’s time to get them written down on the calendar. Having a plan for your posts is so important because if you open your calendar and see what you’re going to be writing about, it’s so much easier to sit down and write than if you were going into it blindly.
It also helps with the roller coaster we go through with blogging – some days we want to post 46 times and other times we could go weeks without having anything to post.
Take out a blank calendar or open up your Google calendar. Start off by deciding how frequently you’d like to post. If you want to take your time and come up with well researched posts or share DIYs that take some time, start with posting once every week or every few weeks. If you’re more interested in sharing shorter posts, you can choose to post a few times each week. You can always change how often you post, but this will serve as a basis for getting them scheduled on your calendar.
Start writing your post topics down on your calendar according to how often you’ve decided to post. Think about different series or columns you could do, like a Music Monday or Font Friday. You can start with just jotting down the idea or an idea for a title; don’t worry about writing the post until later.
Schedule out all of your ideas and depending on how often you’re going to post, you’ll have enough content for a few months. Repeat this process each time you’re editorial calendar is looking a little bare, and keep a small notebook in your bag to jot post ideas in when they come to you.
When you’re in the mood to do some writing, take out your calendar and write a few posts. If you use WordPress as your blogging platform, you can schedule them to go live on a certain day at a certain time – this comes in handy on the days you feel like blogging but don’t want to post so much in one day. It’s also helpful when the holidays or vacation time rolls around – you can easily get your posts ready before your time off and schedule them to go live while you’re gone.
When you’re blogging about your passion, it’s much easier to stay consistent and grow your blog – you’ll beat the burnout and enjoy writing and sharing what you love.
Hey guys, I’m here today with a special post and giveaway from January’s featured sponsor, Jesse of NeuYear. I ordered their dry erase wall calendar from a Fab sale a while back and love it!
3 Steps to Planning & Accomplishing Your Goals
There is a reason why gyms and fitness centers see a huge uptick in memberships after the first of the year. Whether it’s wanting to lose those last few pounds, or a desire to live a more healthy lifestyle, “joining a gym” has become the quintessential New Year’s Resolution. The aspirations, however, don’t last very long. On average, most would-be fitness buffs back out of their commitment by March. Oops.
Resolutions, or goals, are powerful motivators–if you stick with them. Unfortunately, so many of us fail to set appropriate goals, or stick with them for such a short time, we never see the results. Books remain half-written, vacations never get planned, and new ideas die on the vine of mind, all because the goal-setting process gets short-circuited.
If you have ever felt the pain of a good goal gone bad, here is a three-step process you can follow to easily plan and accomplish virtually anything.
1. Pick Smart Goals
One of the most common reasons people or organizations fail at goals is because they aren’t smart. SMART goals look like this:
Specific. Smart goals have a specific end-game in mind. “Save the world,” and “cure cancer,” are all great goals, but they lack specificity. How do you want to save the world? “I want to reduce litter and pollution on the coastline by my house.” Awesome. What kind of cancer do you want to cure? “I want to help focus on children’s Leukemia at the Mayo Clinic in St. Paul, MN.” Now we’re talking. You need to have something to aim at. Being specific with your goals sharpens your sights and increases your chances at success.
Measurable. If your goal is to create buzz for an event, you’ll want to have a way to measure “buzz.” For instance, let’s say last year’s event drew 100 participants. A measurable goal would be, “We want to increase participation by 20 percent.” This, of course, gives you a number to measure your success with. Make it concrete. Quantify it. Make it measurable.
Attainable. Are you really going to lose 100 lbs. in 24 hours? Good grief, I hope not! Can you quadruple the size of your organization over night? Double your earnings with one tweet? The correct answer, barring an appearance on Oprah, is “no.” These goals are not attainable–they’re unrealistic and out of reach. Setting smart goals means that you keep your head in the clouds and your feet on the ground. Setting too high of a goal (i.e., unattainable) is a recipe for disappointment.
Relevant. Does your goal matter? Is it relevant to you, your organization, or business? The Guinness Book of World Records is filled with people doing extraordinary things…that don’t matter. Longest competitive handshake? Most chainsaws juggled at once? Longest time standing still? Interesting, but ultimately unhelpful to just about everyone. Make sure your goals are helpful and relevant to you and those around you.
Time-bound. Last but not least, your goals need to have an end date on them. Something like, “We’re going to complete the parking lot refinishing project by September 30, 2013.” We know what you want to accomplish and by when. Parkinson’s Law states that a task will expand to the time allotted to it. Giving yourself a timeframe eliminates procrastination and what I call “the weasel clause.” Put a time frame on your goals. Keep everyone accountable and informed.
2. How Do You Eat an Elephant?
Once you’ve got your SMART goals defined, it’s time to start taking action. I should warn you, the Land of Action is where goals go to die. I know, it’s heartbreaking and sad, but it’s reality and sometimes you need to tie Old Yeller up to the tree and, well, you know, end it. You’re going to be different, though. You’re going to move from goal creation to goal action. How? By eating the elephant, one bite at a time.
A friend of mine used to paint houses for a living. As you’d imagine, the task of covering 3,500 sq. ft. with latex paint, by yourself, was a bit daunting. But he did it each summer, sometimes knocking out a dozen houses in three months (for the record, that’s really fast). You don’t eat an elephant in one bite (figuratively speaking, of course) and you don’t paint a house in one brush stroke. The key to his productivity was taking one section at a time. First the west side, then the east side, followed by the south and then the north. The system worked by keeping his stress levels down and productivity up.
You’re going to approach your goals the same way. You may have some lofty aspirations for yourself or your organization. Let’s say you want to run a marathon. Even those unfamiliar to the world of running know you don’t just go and run 26.2 miles without training. Even if you’ve never laced up jogging shoes before, running a marathon is possible if you start early enough and pace yourself.
Walk one block. Then walk a mile. Now jog a mile. Then another. Gradually add tenths of a mile as you get more comfortable. Before you know it, you’re crossing the finish line with enough miles for a 25-minute car ride in the bag.
3. Practically Achieving Your Goals
Practically speaking, you’re going to need some help along the way. Setting goals and keeping a rhythm to achieve them is one thing, grinding through the day-to-day is another.
Here are some tools that will help in your quest for goal domination:
Pomodoro App. You’d be amazed at what you can accomplish in 25 minutes. That’s the driving concept behind the Pomodoro technique: focus for 25 minutes, take a five minute breather, repeat until the task is complete. It’s so simple, but this helpful timer keeps you on track when your mind wants to wander. Use it in an individual or team setting.
NeuYear Wall Calendar. Something near and dear to my heart is this full-wall calendar our team at NeuYear has created. It shows you the whole year at once, making it easier to layout long-term goals, set future deadlines, and quickly get a flow for the year. Added bonus? This beautifully-designed calendar has bigger squares so you can write more. Get 10% off when you use this link!
Basecamp. Out of the hundreds of project management software platforms out there, Basecamp remains one of the best. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles countless other platforms try and cram into their offering, but what it does have, it does well. Keep your entire team focused on the project-at-hand with message boards, file uploads, and document collaboration.
Like anything else in life, you get out of goal-planning what you put in. Give your goals the respect they deserve by making them SMART, actionable, and ensuring they make progress. How much different could your life be a year from now if you started on one of your goals today?
GIVEAWAY TIME! CLOSED
I wanted to share the NeuYear love, so Jesse was nice enough to offer THREE calendars to give away to three lucky readers! This calendar is seriously so awesome! It can be hung vertically or horizontally and gives you a view of the entire year. I am using mine for blog planning!
We’ve all been there. You’ve promised your client concepts for their logo design. And you are stuck looking at a blank white screen. You are in a state of creative paralysis.
With a little preparation and a proper game plan, you can avoid what I call white-screen-itus.
Here’s my 7-step process for designing logos:
1. Creative Brief
Before you ever start designing a logo, you must do some fact-finding. I suggest having your client complete a concise creative brief. This can be done in a face-to-face meeting or submitted as an online form. You may consider including the following questions:
Who is your target audience? Who are your closest competitors? What type of product or service do you offer? What is your unique selling proposition? What is the exact wording to be used in the logo? What is your company’s slogan or tagline? Are there any specific images or icons you’d like to incorporate into the logo? Are there any specific colors you may want to use? Are there any colors or imagery you would like to avoid? How do you want your target audience to respond to your corporate identity?
2. Research/Gather Inspiration
Research may sound boring, but this can actually be my favorite part. This is where I take some time to gather design inspiration. I also examine the branding of my client’s competitors (to make sure I properly differentiate my client from competing business) and study the logo examples that the client liked. Here are some of my favorite resources for identity inspiration:
I also make a point to notice things around me. I may be inspired by the typography on a Panera bag or the imagery and color palette in an Anthropologie catalog. Some designers find it helpful to compile their inspiration into a mood board.
I have a bad habit of racing to the computer before I am adequately prepared. I have found that I am much more successful and efficient if I first pull out my sketchbook and manually explore typographic layouts and symbols. I can quickly determine from a basic sketch whether a design is worth developing.
After sketching out LOTS of ideas, I can then pair down which designs I should bring to the computer to execute. It is a good idea to work on your designs in black and white initially, adding color later. I find that if I include color too early in the process, I can be attracted to a logo because of the color alone, not necessarily because it is the strongest design solution.
5. Step Away
This part is important. I prefer to work on a logo in small chunks of time – an hour here, a few hours there. I find that if I walk away from the computer, even for a few hours, I am able to return with fresh eyes and work with more efficiency.
6. Review and Refine
Now it’s time to look at your work with a more critical eye. Throw out the weaker logo designs. Take some time to refine your strongest concepts. Look closely at kearning, positioning, etc. Are there small variations or changes that may strengthen the design? Look back at your creative brief. Do your logo concepts communicate your client’s brand effectively?
When I deliver my logo concepts, I like to review them with the client. Sometimes this is done in-person. Other times on the phone. What is important is that you have an opportunity to discuss the variations in the logos, your thought process and ultimately how the different logo designs communicate your client’s brand. Pull out points from the original creative brief and explain how your logo designs achieve their objective. From here, you and your client can collaborate and decide what logo best represents the company’s brand. I have found that if I follow these 7 steps, I can minimize revisions. Happy Designer. Happy Client. It’s a win-win.
Hey guys, Ciera here. Thanks for an amazing post Lauren! This is the same process that I use for logo design but just wanted to chime in with one additional tip: When you deliver the first round of concepts, don’t include too many options. This tends to overwhelm and confuse the client. I think that three strong concepts is a good starting point. And don’t include a design that you are not happy with, this will always, without a doubt, be the version the client decides to choose, and that is always a bummer.
How about you? Do you have any logo design tips to add? What does your process look like?
When you start your business, you may think a website and Facebook page are sufficient enough for your online presence. The truth is – while you need both of those – blogging consistently will help grow your business much quicker. Here are three reasons why:
1. Blogging Helps with Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is important for a small businesses because the higher your site ranks when someone searches for you or your area of business, the more likely your site will be visited. Blogging helps with SEO because site links are a very important aspect of ranking. When you blog, you will most likely be sharing some links to other sites, and eventually people will be putting links to your blog on their site. The more links you have (without going overboard), the better chance you have of being ranked higher in search engines.
Blogging also helps with search engine optimization because you are writing about things related to your niche. You are also tagging your posts and giving them categories, and the more keywords related to your niche you have on your site or blog, the higher your site will be ranked in search engines.
2. Blogging Helps Grow Connections with Customers
When you’re reading through a website, you might be able to catch a little bit about the business owner’s personality or style but you can’t form much of a connection by reading their list of services.
When you add a blog to your website, you are sharing your life, your thoughts and your ideas with anyone who comes across your site. They get to know who you are and what your interests are which helps them form a connection with you. People don’t connect with static websites, they connect with feelings, emotions and experiences. Sharing yours on a blog will help you form better connections with your current and potential customers, which will lead to more sales in the long run.
3. Blogging Makes You an Expert in Your Field (Or Look Like One)
If someone sees your business name and Googles you, the more stuff that shows up in the results, the more professional and well known you look to them (if that stuff is good stuff). As I mentioned earlier, having a blog will help you increase your search ranking and results. People will more likely choose your business over someone in your niche who has very little results in a search listing because you look like the expert in your field.
Another way having a blog makes you look like an expert is the free content you’re providing to your potential customers. If you make jewelry and write blog posts about how to keep your jewelry organized, how to clean it and what the hottest jewelry trends for the season are, potential customers will most likely choose you over someone who just has a static website or Etsy shop. You’re giving them free advice, and people appreciate that.
So there you have it – three reasons why you should start a blog for your business. Next month I’ll show you how you can come up with a ton of ideas for blog posts and how to make sure they actually get scheduled and written.
I’ve been blogging for two and a half years. When I started I didn’t have a plan. I was sending random words and thoughts into the blogging abyss. There’s nothing wrong with that but if you have clearly defined goals and a desire to be a successful blogger planning is essential.
One important element of blogging I neglected was photography. At the time I wasn’t interested in doing much more than sharing funny stories about my life in Vermont. Once I reevaluated my writing and blogging goals I set out to improve my photography skills and increase the visual appeal of my site. It’s paid off tremendously.
One of my first blog photos. Yikes!
Incredible opportunities have come my way thanks to my blog photography. I’ve worked as a blog ambassador for a well-known photography forum and community, reviewed top of the line gear, and photographed a private event at a blog conference. Whatever your goals are if you’re using your blog as a platform to reach them - visual appeal is important.
Blog photography matters because it makes your reader slow down and pay closer attention to what you’re saying. A photo can be used to illustrate a point, tell a story, sell a product or all three. Think of a nice photo as a rest stop for your eyes. Taking a break and letting your eyes linger at a nice looking image gives you time to process the content you’ve read.
Think about the message you want your blog to convey and choose photos accordingly. My blog is about my life as an Ivy League MBA wife and inspiring women to document their children’s lives with photography. The photos one sees on my site are happy, fun, vibrant, pretty and sweet. That is how I see my life so those are the kinds of photos I share. Keep the rest of your visual branding in mind when making choices about which photos to post.
The art of photography is intimidating. There is a mountain of information to learn and at times it seems impossible to keep up. Start small and set goals for yourself. Think of where you want your blog to be a year from now and how improving your photography can help with that. Do you want to increase traffic? Build a larger community? Create content that is curated by top bloggers?
Make a plan and get shooting. Practice is the best teacher. I’ll be back next month with tips on how choosing the right aperture sets the mood of your photos and improves your photography.