How to create GIFs in just a few easy clicks

Have you ever scrolled down social media and seen one of those funny photos with moving parts or text and wondered how they’re created?

Have you ever wished you could create images like the the one below,  with animated parts that catch your attention the minute they appear on your news feed?

 

In today’s blog post I tell you why you may want to create gifs for your promotions (they’re catchy! they attract attention easily! they’re fun!) and, more importantly, I’ll show you step by step, how to create them. It’s fast and easy, I promise.

And the best part? I’ll show you how to create them with and without Photoshop, so there are no excuses.

Ready to get started? Click play to learn how to do it.

 

 

And if you’re wondering how you can use Gifs in your marketing, here are some ideas:

  • Create announcements (like the one I created above)
  • Advertise promotions
  • Show product variations (for example, different colors of a t-shirt)
  • Show different products, like a mini portfolio
  • Show all products included in a bundle
  • Show step by step photos of a DIY or tutorial
  • Show different steps of recipe making
  • Show what makes your service special (example: everything you include in your packages when wrapping your product and how it looks when finished).

The possibilities are endless- let your imagination fly!

 

Now it’s your turn! Tell me in the comments below what gifs are you planning to create first.

And if you liked this video, please share it!

 

WANT MORE VIDEOS LIKE THESE?

I created a series of video tutorials to help you maximize the power of your marketing images. If you have run out of ideas on how to promote your business with photos, or lack the technical know how on how to implement some of them, this course is for you!

Check the full list of videos (23 in total!) in the link below (and take advantage of the special launch prize!)

7 important things we can learn from the Oscars

I love movies.

Since I was a little girl, I was fascinated by them…and not just what I saw but by how they were created. I loved watching behind the scenes, documentaries, and searched far and wide for backstage photos so I could imagine what it would feel like to be a part of that magical universe.

And I loved watching the Oscars.

The glamour, the show, the host’s humor, the perfectly choreographed dances, the stunning stage decor…everything seemed so magical, and who doesn’t love magic?

Since I live in Europe, watching the Oscars is out of the question because of the time difference, but I still enjoy checking the lists of winners when I wake up and, sometimes, I catch the final part on TV, if I wake up early enough. It’s my little ritual.

This year, we woke up to the news of the now infamous best movie blunder. I turned on my phone to check the list of winners on CNN, and I saw a big article announcing La La Land as the best movie, and a big red alert saying there had been a mistake and Moonlight was, in fact, the winner.

Twitter was on fire. And as the hours passed, we came to see the full video and to read several accounts of what had occurred and why it had been possible. Which lead me to this post, because so many lessons from what happened  are applicable to online business.

So let’s begin:

  • Work Unplugged

The main question everybody was asking as soon as the mistake was uncovered was “How on earth could this happen?” Oscars are highly rehearsed, and everything is known to be planned to the second, so how was it possible that a wrong winner was announced?

The answer? The most common type of distraction: Social media.

The media reported the accountant in charge of handing the card to Warren Beatty had been tweeting heavily from backstage minutes before doing so and was photographed focused on his phone.

If you’re an entrepreneur working from home, like I am, you’re no stranger to the lure of social media. And you also know that, in order to get things done efficiently and in time, you need to shut it all down when you work. This is a lesson I learned from productivity queen Mayi Carles in her wonderful Life is Messy Bootcamp, and one without which I wouldn’t be able to do anything at all.

When I shoot photos, write blog posts, or do any other type of creative work, my wifi is off, my phone is shut down and all extra tabs in my computer are closed. Working distracted is unproductive and leads to avoidable mistakes.

Whether the eyes of the world are in your work or not, do yourself a favor and get off social media when you’re working.

 

2. Good design is user friendly.

If you’ve seen the blunder video, you’ll have noticed how confused Warren Beaty looked when he opened the envelope. Everyone thought he was being funny, and creating suspense but, as he clarified later, he was confused by the text in the card and wondering whether what he had was right.

If you’ve seen the way the Oscar cards were designed, you may have noticed the category was written in tiny font at the bottom, and the name of the category was printed on gold over red in the back on the envelope.

Pretty? Maybe. But definitely hard to read.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Marbel Canseco is that design needs to be practical, strategic,  user friendly. If an older person without glasses and hell lot of pressure on them, at the end of a long night,and under stage lights can’t find important information quickly, or read text, there’s a problem. Take a look at this article to see how better design could have saved the Oscars.

The lesson here, I think, is not to assume that because we can understand something, everyone can. Not to presume that because we can find information in our website, others will be able to do so to. Take a look at your analytics to see if your visitors go where you want them to go. Ask your grandma to find your contact details in your site. Ask your dad to find how to book a call with you or hire your services. If they can’t do it, possibly neither will potential clients. A tweak here and there can save you tons of money.

Need more help? Marbel and I talked about this in this episode of Cult of Hybrid.

 

3. When in doubt, ask questions

When Moonlight was announced as winner, Warren Beatty took the microphone to explain what had happened. When he opened the envelope, he saw that the card said “Emma Stone, La La Land”, so he took a long pause, looked at Faye Dunaway and showed her the card. She gave it a quick read, and announced the wrong winner.

How many times have you been in a situation where you felt something was wrong but felt embarrassed to ask a question? How many times have you felt afraid to appear dumb, unprepared, and instead of raising your hand and bringing it up to the right person, you kept silent?

I know I have, many times. Stepping up, specially when under pressure, can be hard.

But what this teaches us, I believe, is that it’s better to follow our gut, and ask clarifications before things escalate. We can always smile and apologize afterwards. Make a joke. But it’s better to be safe than sorry.

And if it sounds too scary, this episode from Marie TV can help.

 

4. Own up to your mistakes

On Monday night, my husband and I sat down in our living room to see the Oscars ceremony re-run. When the Best Movie award arrived, we noticed that three persons had given their speeches before the mistake was corrected and the right winners were announced. We looked at each other and wondered aloud why it had taken so long…they could have been off the air before the problem was rectified.

The answer came later in the media: the accountants from PWC panicked and had to be pushed on the stage to verify and correct the mistake. And as a result, they’ve been banned from any future ceremonies.

We all make mistakes. Some may be minor, some are bigger. But the rule of thumb, and the most important thing to remember is that, when we do, we need to own up to them, make amends and rectify as soon as possible. Especially when others may be affected by them.

Whether it’s forgetting a meeting, delivering work that is not to the client’s expectations or failing to deliver on what you promise, the rule of thumb needs to be to apologize and make it right as soon as possible.

Do whatever it takes to make it right, because relationships are more important than anything else. Relationships move our businesses forward and a bad reputation can kill it really fast.

And if you’ve let people down, here’s Marie’s advice on how to come back.

 

5. Things can change at the last minute, so don’t lose hope. 

If you’ve been following awards season, you’ll know that La La Land had won pretty much everything until last Sunday. It was the big favorite, which is why no one was surprised when it was announced as the winner for best movie.

And yet, 7 minutes after the announcement, everything changed. 

This reminded me of something Denise Duffield Thomas always say in her Lucky Bitch Money Bootcamp: Stay in the room. Things may change at the last minute, but you have to be there, present, doing the work.

It reminded me of so many times in my life when I thought things weren’t going to get better, and yet they did. The solution came. The miracle happened.

Because miracles do happen. But we need to stay in the room to catch them when they do.

 

6. When the tide turns against you, be grateful & be graceful. When the tide turns in your favor, be grateful & be graceful.

When people realized who the real Oscar winner was, two beautiful things happened:

  1. The producer from La La Land took it upon himself to rectify the mistake as soon as possible, with the whole cast of La La Land honoring the winners and congratulating them both onstage and backstage. From the moment the mistake was realized, they didn’t make it about their hurt feelings: they made it all about honoring Moonlight.
  2. The Moonlight director celebrated beautifully, without bashing anyone for what had happened- even though he had every right to do so.

I have deep admiration for how they reacted because they achieved something that normally doesn’t come easy: the ability to put themselves and their hurt or anger aside and be there, gracefully, for what mattered most: making things right and celebrating art.

 

7. We all doubt ourselves , but that shouldn’t stop us from doing. 

The final lesson I took from this event came from a twitter interaction that derived from Barry Jenkins words when he received the Oscar : “This is proof that not even in my wildest dreams could this be possible. But to hell with dreams, this is real”.

Some people took this as a play on La La Land’s “This is for those who dream”, but he clarified the right meaning of his words:

 

His words reminded me of this episode of Marie TV and about so many conversations I’ve had with friends and colleagues.

His words reminded me of the importance of doing the work we crave doing, even if we don’t believe we’re good enough, even if we doubt anyone will ever like it, even if we want to hide under the bed when the time comes to put it out there.

His words reminded me that we all struggle to love ourselves fully and believe in ourselves, no matter how famous.

And that perhaps our job is not to wait until we overcome self doubt in order to create, but to create no matter what, knowing that doubts, and fear and self-doubt are just part of the road

.

 

 

Now I want to know: Did you watch the Oscars? What lessons did you take from it? 

PINK M

Want photos that look like you- and no one else?

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5 business lessons from 2016

Last year, as 2016 began, I took a leap of faith and told you my biggest mistakes of the previous year. The blog post, which would become the most visited one in my blog last year, and which landed me a place as Huffington Post blogger, was both an exercise in self-reflection, and in honesty towards you, my readers. And what started as semi-journaling, ended up  guiding many of my actions and decisions.

When it comes to life and business, though, lessons don’t end with the accomplishment of a goal, or the turning of a calendar’s page. A putting 2015 lessons in action required more than just awareness of what had previously gone wrong.

So, this January, as I dreamed and planned the next 12 months and took stock of what worked and didn’t, I started looking for patterns to write this post. And here they are: my 5 most important business lessons from 2015.

May my mistakes help you avoid pitfalls, may the solutions I’ve found inspire you to find your own. More than anything, may we continue to grow businesses and lives we enjoy living, no matter how winding the path or hard the road.

1. Alignment comes first

I could write a book on how the outcome of every single decision in my life could have been predicted by paying attention at whether it was coming from a place of alignment or not. Business decisions were no exception.

Every time  I made a decision from a place of fear, insecurity, or lack, it backfired and I ended up regretting it.

Every time I took on a client despite my gut telling me we weren’t the right fit for working together, it resulted in tears and exhaustion.

Every time I pushed myself to the limit of my resistance in the name of “hustle”, my creativity suffered.

Every time I pushed and pushed and pushed instead of allow, allow, allow the results I achieved were unsatisfactory.

Every time I rushed through important decisions, said YES when I should have said NO, and looked for answers outside of myself, either it all went to pieces, or I did.

What do I mean by alignment? That moment when words flow, we feel inspired to create our best work, ideal clients land at our feet as if by magic and we seem to glide through life, unstoppable, feeling in love with everything, and  blessed by the forces of the Universe.  Those moments of bliss, when we trust and know everything is alright.

Most of my life, I looked for alignment the wrong way: by pushing and working harder. By learning some new technique and practicing a new routine. Maybe I needed a new mantra, a different yoga routine, timing the moon cycles or following X ritual. The whole of it was mental, not intuitive, another item in my to do list…and lack of alignment another sign of my inadequacy.

I know, that there are plenty of people in the entrepreneur world who believe and say that hustling and pushing and hard work are the path to success. What I realized in 2016 is that this is not the only path, and even if it were, it’s definitely not mine.

In 2016, instead of adding another ease-seeking task to my to do list, I sought help to find a better way.  Last April, I started working with Kerry Rowett, from Awaken Kinesiology, to unblock what kept me moving at snail-pace (or feeling like it), and learn ways to quickly get back into alignment when like kicks me down. 

Kerry and I worked together, 1-1 for 6 months, and after our sessions were finished (because Kerry went into maternity leave), I signed up for her course, Align and Attract, so I could learn how to stay and get back into alignment on a consistent basis.

Every 15 days, Kerry and I met over skype and worked on my goals. She muscle tested blocks, we did EFT, and used a variety of other methods to clear them away. One by one, goals that seemed impossible became possible, doable, and things started to shift.

I honestly owe this process pretty much every breakthrough I had last year, and they were many: I doubled my revenue, I was hired to shoot abroad (case study coming soon), I was sought after for consulting services (which are not even advertised at the moment), I started outsourcing some areas of my work, I became clearer on where I want to go. I lost a crippling fear of the future that had been with me for so long, I only noticed it when, one November morning, I woke up and it was gone.

It was not easy, mind you. It was deep, core work. But by committing to it, and accepting I didn’t know how to do it alone, I committed to myself and to my business, and this consistent coming back to myself paid of.

I had at first wondered whether hiring Kerry had been the right decision. Whether perhaps I should have opted for a business coach, or a marketing coach or something more…tangible. By the end of our 6 months together, I realized why I had been guided to this instead: Beacause when we’re in alignment, the strategies, the tactics, the ideas, the specifics come to us, and the path ahead becomes clear. We become our business advisors.

When we’re able to shut all external voices and listen (really listen) to our inner guidance, everything else falls into place.

2. Keep planning simple and goals in check

I started 2016 like most years: over planning. But in 2016, I took it to the extreme.

Back in January (and don’t ask me why!) I found myself with 3 planners, 2 goal setting notebooks, a binder with printable rituals, a gratitude notebook, a journal, and a notebook for business ideas (the ones that strike in the middle of nowhere and seem so brilliant I just have to write down).

Needless to say, the “system” only ended up making me more overwhelmed. Filling up my to do list was so time consuming that it ended up being a dreadful- and excruciating- task in said list…and as you can imagine, one I ended up avoiding.

The obvious consequence of this was that important personal projects took the backseat, and never got done, while minutiae filled my days. I didn’t make time for what I truly wanted to do, because my priorities were scattered all over the place.  I felt, at times, like that famous scene from The Notebook:

[ I should make a pause here and make it clear that this, in and of itself, is a sign of lack of aligment. And speaking about alignment, as I type these words, this graphic came up in my instagram feed…talk about being aligned!]

This year, I simplified everything: I dreamed and set my goals with the Life + Biz Planners by Leonie Dawson (and I have 3 main goals for the year only).   For daily tasks, I have Danielle Laporte’s Desire Map Planner, daily edition. For everything else, I use a bullet journal (greatest invention ever!).

Leonie’s notebooks and Danielle’s planner are on my desk. Leonie’s, open on the main objectives for the year page (as a daily reminder of where I’m headed). Desire Map Planner stays put next to my computer. Bullet Journal comes with me everywhere.

Having just one little notebook that I can carry with me at all times, and where I can jot down all ideas, to dos, strategies, journaling prompts and check ups means I’ve already accomplished more in one month, with more ease, and without all nighters or working on weekends than in previous years.

Which brings me to the next point…

3. Reduce, reduce, reduce

There’s no point in simple planning if the list of goals is never ending or your project list overly ambitious. Which is what I did until this year…

At the beginning of 2016, I had too many big projects on the pipeline. Whenever I would start working in one, the others would get neglected and when I was fully booked with clients, many important things (like this blog) had to take a back seat.

The worst part was that I felt guilty for not accomplishing more, which in turn impacted my ability to work at peak performance levels (guilt and shame are not catalysts for action, in my case they cause paralysis). And my energy, scattered as it was, affected not just me, but those with whom I shared joint ventures.

By the middle of the year, it became obvious that I couldn’t continue like this, and that if I wanted to reach December 31st accomplishing my most important objectives, I needed to determine what those were, and let go of the rest.

And it was really hard to do so.

It’s easy to let go of what doesn’t work, or the things we don’t like. It’s freaking hard to let go of projects we love, with people I love and who may feel disappointed or even angry by our decision.

And yet, I found that, for me, it was necessary, not just for myself and my business, but also for the sake of those I was working with. Growing any business venture requires work, effort, commitment, focus, time and energy. My scattered energy was causing, not just my own projects to become stalled, but also my shared projects not to grow as fast as they could have. I was stretching myself to the limit and, to make it worse, I wasn’t being of use to anyone.

So I released them. I released everything that wasn’t a priority and decided to focus on just 3 goals: 1 financial goal, and 2 creative goals. That’s it. No more.

The logical consequence of which is …

4. Say NO

I’m a people pleaser, especially of those I love. This has brought me one too many headaches, and a good deal of overwhelm and exhaustion. I’ve always had a tendency of getting involved in way too many projects because I don’t want to disapoint others.

And because not disappointing others was so important, historically other people’s projects, ideas, and time took precedence over mine, until I exploded and ended up cutting everything off from my plate…only to start again a few months after.

Let’s call it my special blend of sabotage, as Denise frames it in her bootcamp.

The solution, I found, was not in reclaiming my time ex post facto, as I had been doing all these years, but in saying NO from the beginning, when less explanations are needed and there’s less chance of hurt feelings and broken friendships.

In view of my natural tendencies, though, I created a test for me to know when to say yes to something new. Want to use it too? Here it goes:

I ask myself the following questions and only move ahead if I feel, in my gut, a clear YES for all of them

1. Does this project make your heart sing? 

2. Do you know very well the person you’ll be JVing with? Would a contract be written, spelling out clearly from the beginning all responsibilities and other legal matters such as copyright? 

3. Does this project allow enough time for pursuing of your main business and personal goals? (No more than 15% of total time)

4. Have you waited 48hrs since the proposal? I’ve found this one is key because it kills the initial people pleasing impact.

But it’s not just projects I now say NO to. I also say NO to courses, for example, unless I’m planning to follow them and implement them within a month. I say NO to prospective clients that I feel wouldn’t be a good match. I say NO to food that doesn’t give me energy. I say NO to exercise routines that don’t make my body glee with joy.

And by saying NO more, I create space for what I truly want. For the opportunities that make my heart sing. For the work I adore doing. For the moments of idleness, play and recreation that feed my soul.

5.  Nurture thy creativity

In last year’s post, I mentioned one of 2015 big mistakes was that I had stopped creating.

In 2016, I wanted to break this cycle but forgot one crucial step: to nurture my creativity.

Because of points 2 to 4 above, my agenda was full to the core and I felt that all I did was work work work. And when I wasn’t working? I felt guilty for not working, because therewassomuchtodo. So I told myself I didn’t  have time to go on artist dates. That I should limit my reading to business-related books. That I should take advantage of house chores to listen to business podcasts. That maybe I should skip my daily walk in the park and catch up on work since early morning.

And do you know what happened? I became creatively blocked.

I spent full month looking at the blank page in my monitor, unable to write a single word of copy, a single blog post. I couldn’t come up with single photo project idea.

My soul was starved. I couldn’t create because I didn’t have where to create from.

And then came Outlander.

Some time in the middle of November, 4 different and unrelated persons recommended this epic, historical, sci-fi series to me. 4 persons within a week. On that same week, my whole Instagram feed burst with quotes from the books and photos from locations in Scotland. “You should see it”, a friend said, and I felt that the Universe was kind of screaming at me to do it.

So one night, I found episode 1 on Netflix and pressed play. One episode became 6, and I went to sleep at 4 am in the morning. I was so hooked I couldn’t stop watching. I loved everything: the dialogues, the costumes, the scenery,the music, the story, the magic. I binge watched two seasons in a weekend, the downloaded the 8 books in my kindle and read them all in 3 weeks.

And the more I read, the more I watched, the more I allowed myself to do something in my free time just for the joy of it, ideas started to come back. Photo projects began to pop up, fully fleshed in my mind’s eye, ready for me to sketch. Poems, blog posts and copy started to flow. Daily tasks became simpler and more joyful. And I realized creative time is not just made of the moments we produce, but also of the moments we consume the work set to inspire us.

This year, I’ve set aside in my calendar days to create and times to gather inspiration. And I’ve blocked them both in my calendar.

This year, I’m starting my mornings by reviewing my goals and aligning to them. I’m making time and space for what matters most, including iddle times to nurture my soul.

Your turn: What lessons did 2016 leave you? What are you committing to, in your business and life, in 2017?

PINK M

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Visibility and the great power of authentic photography

Visibility & Photography

A few weeks ago, I saw this article, and it got me thinking about something I’ve known since I started working as professional photographer, but had never written about, or communicated with anyone other than my own clients.

It got me thinking that photography is both affected by who we are, and affects our definition of self at the same time. 

Let me explain.

A good portrait captures the essence of who you are, and how you show up into the world.

It has your same energy, and is recognizable by those who know you. It says things about you that it would take paragraphs to express in words. It conveys who you are and how it feels to be in your presence.

A good portrait is authentic and because of that, it is powerful. It provides people with the most real and authentic vision of who you are, and it does so in seconds. It’s like a banner that says ” This is me, this is my energy, and this is what I bring to the World”.

A great portrait allows you to realize that the person you hope to be, is who you already are.

It allows you to see (actually see) that those qualities you dreamed of having are already inside of you. And by doing so, it helps you step into your power, and claim those qualities in your day to day life.

A great portrait helps you become more visible and lose fear because it shows you the light that is inside you.

I often tell my clients that my camera is my wand and its magic lies in its two mirrors: In one, it captures your idea of yourself, and with the other it reflects back at you who you really are, in all your greatness.

It’s not makeup, or pretty clothes -though those may help, for as long as you feel like you when you wear them.

It’s knowing, with all your heart, that who you are is enough.

This is particularly powerful when it comes to business portraits and business lifestyle photos. 

It’s virtually impossible to succeed at business when we don’t believe in what we do or in who we are. This is what you Sue Bryce calls  “The stink”: the energy of “I’m not good enough” that repels clients and customers away.

The truth is, most of us start feeling like a failure, and continue to struggle with these feelings every time we face a big upgrade.

Business, like life, is not linear and easy. We don’t get to a point where we can confidently say ” That’s it, I made it, now there’s no more struggle over anything”. Every time we master one aspect, a new challenge appears, and new phase we must move into, a new area where growth calls us to show up.

Business, to me, is the greatest journey of self discovery for exactly this reason: we never get it done, and in order to step up our game, and move to the next level, we need to go within and become the person we need to be to get there.

The thing is, sometimes we don’t realize we have it in us to move forward, until we see ourselves embodying those qualities in an image. 

The process of change and growth is, many times, a gradual one. We transform within, shedding old skin, but we’re so used to ourselves that we frequently don’t notice the transformation until the camera shows it to us.

The best part? It’s the same with product and business lifestyle photos. Great product and branding photos help you realize the greatness of your work- and show it to others with pride.

An amazing portrait helps you redefine your identity and those of other women who do what you do. 

What does a powerful woman look like? How does a leader look like in your eyes? When I say successful, what do you picture first? What do you think about when I say beautiful?

For centuries, success was defined by others. More precisely, by men. The yacht, the private plane, the big house with golden everything, the power suit, the power poses. Luxury and Power evoked very defined ideas in most of us, because that’s how power and luxury were portrayed in advertising, movies, and the photos of glossy magazines.

The more and more women enter the entrepreneurial world, the more these ideas start to be redefined.

Luxury, for some, is being able to retire their husband, travel the world, bring the kids to school. Crystals and not expensive handbags is what we buy with our money. The causes we help with our money, the conditions under which we employ people, the lifestyle we choose to have are not defined by Vogue or the Financial Times any longer.

Taking photos of yourself and your business in a way that portrays what success, business, power, luxury and aspiration look like to you is an act of courage, and even rebellion.

Your photos make a statement about  who you are, what you believe in, and also about what is possible. They help others like you feel less alone in wanting something different. It helps them see new possibilities that may seem closer to their hearts.

They help you define, by yourself, who you are.  Shatter stereotypes. Reclaim your truth.

And that is powerful. And revolutionary.

PINK M

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When you should hire a professional photographer

When is the right time to hire a professional photographer (2)

A few weeks ago, I wrote a controversial article. I told you when NOT to hire a professional photographer.

For days after I wrote it, I received emails thanking me for it, from previously overwhelmed entrepreneurs who now felt they could relax and focus on what mattered.

Most of those emails also asked a question. I know when NOT to hire someone, they said. But how do I know when to do so?

Ah.  

The missing piece, of course.

The moment that tips the scale and lets us know that the time has come, and that a photo-shoot is,not only an investment but even a necessity.

When does it occur? And how can you know? 

Here’s my take on it.

I believe the right time is marked by certain business timelines. At some point, not upgrading your visuals risks stalling your growth.

Can you have a successful business without professional photos or professional web design? Absolutely. Can you grow indefinitely without them? I believe not.

In the years since I’ve worked as professional photographer, I’ve come across certain situations that make hiring a professional photographer a must do. These are the ones I’ve listed below, and they’re based both on my observations and on conversations I’ve had with my clients.

Here they are:

1. When your time is better spent doing something else.

When you’re just starting out, DIYing is normal, advisable even. With no money to spend, and uncertainty over whether your product or service will take off, it’s wise to fiddle with foam boards, spend nights on youtube watching white balance tutorials, and climb on the kitchen table to get the perfect shot. A selfie taken with your phone or the laptop’s camera will do, for now. We’ve all been there.

But, as your business grows, and you start making money, your time becomes more and more valuable. The two hours you spent shooting that perfect salad and the morning your spent trying to make your home-made organic eye-mask jar looking like an ad by Chanel suddenly are costing your business money.

How can it cost you money, you ask? 

Because the time you spend in your business either makes you money or costs you some. 

If you didn’t have to take photos and edit them in Photoshop, how many more products could you create? How many more clients could you book? How many more sales funnels could you write? How many more Facebook ads could you tweak? How many more guest posts could you pitch? How many more social media posts could you schedule? 

Spending one month photographing your cookbook may mean that you neglect blogging, or get to publishing time without a sales and promotion calendar. It may mean less coaching clients, or not launching that course you had in the back burner for years. It may mean less money, and it may mean less growth.

Spending a weekend  photographing and photo-shopping your products so they’re ready to be listed on Monday may mean no time with your family, and being over tired, and therefore less effective at work the rest of the week.

And that is the best case scenario, which assumes you can get the same results as a professional.

This was the case for my client Mayi Carles. She hired me because she realized that her money was better spent in activities that brought money in, the ones she couldn’t delegate, the ones that make her brand unmistakable. A couple of times a year, she emails her printable products and mails the physical ones for me to style and shoot on the other side of the world. While I style, shoot and edit, she creates, makes sure all parts of her business run like a well-oiled machine and takes time off.

Find out how much your hour of work costs. Find out which activities make you the most money, then do those as a priority and delegate the rest when you can.

2. When you’re losing opportunities

Let’s be honest here: Sub-par photos will only take you so far. Why? Because visuals affect trust. 

If you don’t believe me, read this real life story by Derek Halpern, where he explains why he spent $25,000 on web design and some amazing portrait photos. In that blog post, he talks about how he submitted an article for a major mainstream publication but, when they checked his website, they thought he was a scam.

You may say, well that’s just because they didn’t know who he was. If they had contacted him, or spent more time on his site they would have known that he wasn’t a scam.

And all that would be true.

But people make split seconds decisions.

And people on high powered places are extremely busy and under no circumstances want to risk their reputation with someone who may not be trustworthy. Over and over again, I receive emails from my clients telling me how better photos helped them land press coverage and other opportunities that were closed to them before.

So, if the time has come for you to play in the big leagues, if you want to get your products on magazines and your recipes on select publications, start thinking about upping your game with professional photos too.

Help people realize as soon as they land on your website that your business is as professional you say it is. Help doors open for you easily.

3. When your current photos- though maybe pretty- are not doing the trick

Great commercial photos are not simply great looking. They help you direct the viewer’s attention where you want to, paint the right picture about your products or services, establish an emotional connection with your audience, position your brand and, ultimately, help you sell more.

In order to do this, professional photographers, like me,  study elements of design, visual persuasion, composition rules and theory of color, among others. We know how much blur to add to the background, how to play with lights and shadows to send a different message, even the psychological effect different portrait poses have on the viewer.

This is the true power of professional photography.

So if your photos are not converting into sign ups and money- consider hiring someone who can: 1) pin point what’s not working and 2) Create images with the wow factor your work deserves, images that pull in the right customers effortlessly. Images that make people CRAVE your creations.

My clients tell me it’s worth the investment. And they’re not the only ones that believe so.

4- When you’re getting your business professionally branded.

When our businesses start, most of us DIY everything and, as a consequence, our websites and visual presence sometimes end up being a mismatch of different styles.

My first logo was a blue and grey pennant banner with french script font that I had created in PicMonkey following an online tutorial,. My website’s background was  light blue with white polka dots digital scrapbook paper I’d bought on etsy. My blog photos looked  all different, as I experimented with different backgrounds, textures and styles. One recipe was girly, pink and romantic, the next one dark and moody. There was no cohesive style anywhere.

Maybe you can relate?

DIY design and DIY photos are normal when we begin…but if you’re upgrading your design, you should upgrade your photos too, or your website and social media presence will still look scattered and unprofessional.

Great images convey everything your brand is about in seconds. Use their power. 

Does this mean that you need a massive photo shoot with hundreds of images? No, of course not.

I’m all for incremental upgrades and I believe that,when you’re first upgrading,15 personalized, stylish and versatile images are the perfect starting point. This is why my GROW package includes exactly this amount, together with video tutorials to make the most of your investment.

Start small, and build from there. As you reap the rewards of your new branded look, and your business grows, you can add more photos or update them later on.

5- When you want to enter a luxury market.

If you’re read my previous blog post, you’ll know I don’t recommend stressing about visuals when you’re just starting out.

But there’s a caveat to that, and it’s when you’re targeting a luxury market.

Luxury products and services require luxurious visuals. Period. 

Amateur images just won’t do in a market where everything is taking care of to a T.

True luxury is about refinement, craftsmanship and elegance.

As Vincent Bastien put it: “Luxury is the expression of a taste, of a creative identity; luxury makes the bold statement “this is what I am,” not “that depends”– which is what positioning implies. It is identity that gives a brand that particularly powerful feeling of uniqueness, timelessness, and the necessary authenticity that helps give an impression of permanence. Chanel has an identity, but not a positioning. Identity is not divisible, it is not negotiable– it simply is. Luxury is superlative, and not comparative. It prefers to be faithful to an identity rather than be always worrying about where it stands in relation to a competitor.”

Photos of luxury products should reflect this identity, this uniqueness, this timelessness. They should FEEL like your brand, and they should certainly feel luxurious. They should create dreams, not merely show your product or services’s qualities.

If the photos you take can’t achieve this, it’s time to hire a professional.

6- When there’s a disconnect between your photos and your written voice.

This is a big one, and one that I see very often.

Have you taken the time to think about the way you sound, and be intentional about it? All great writers are very consistent in the qualities in their voice, but sometimes they forget that their photos speak too, and that what they say should match their words.

Is your voice funny? strategic? warm? perceptive? sharp? genuine? elitist?

What idea of yourself does someone get when they read your words? What idea do they get when they see your photos?

Someone who understands this very well is Denise Duffield-Thomas. She is very clear that her brand is fun, chill and summery. This is why she doesn’t whine, and she doesn’t complain about winter. She wants people who land on her website or on social media to get a chillionaire vibe, and she makes sure she’s consistent about it.

My brand, for example, is not funny or shocking, though I know very well they are great for calling attention. My brand is loving, warm, magical…posting images that shock would be immediately perceived as out of character and erode trust with my audience.

Sometimes it’s easy to find stock images, or create some that fully represent what you stand for. Some others, not so much.

If you’re at a point in your career where your written voice is defined but can’t find photos that match your uniqueness, it’s time to get custom photos. 

 

7- When you want the experience of your brand to be different

Visuals affect how others experience your brand. They convey emotions better than anything else and pull, powerfully, the right persons towards our work-or repel it.

Ramit Sethi speaks about the importance of providing your customers with an intentional brand experience in this video, where he explains why he regrets not taking care about it earlier. Watch from the minute 17 onwards).

Ask yourself: how do you want your customers to feel when they see your photos? Do your current photos match that experience?

If they don’t, it may be time get custom photos, designed with that purpose in mind.

8. When you want to push a product.

 

Do you want to promote one of your products above all others, and really make it the best seller it’s meant to be? Make sure you have great photos of it.

Ask Mark Hayes put it ” Good pictures answer questions and lead to more traffic and more sales”, but sometimes a full overhaul of all your images is not realistic.

This is when I advised my clients to focus on one product they want to make a best seller. If you can’t photograph your whole collection, photograph first a new product you want to launch with a bang, or in the one that people are already responding to the most, so you can promote them heavily, and they can convert as you desire. Then, move backwards, and photograph the rest.

This is what my clients, Panamanian company Life Blends did last year. They were launching a new line of clean eating meals and knew they needed great photos to promote it, because ” we eat with our eyes”, as they put it. Since it was a new venture and they didn’t know if it was going to take off, they started with 3 recipes.

The launch was so successful that they ran out of food to sell on the first day and, that month, they broke a sales record. That’s when they hired me to photograph the rest of the meals. You can read the rest of the case study here.

If you want a product or service to reach its full potential, get professionally taken custom images of it. Don’t be afraid to start slow, just make sure you get started.

 

9. When you hate doing it

I’m going to get all woo here and talk about how the energy of what we do affects its outcome. If you’ve been ready for a while you know I’m a hippie and this shouldn’t surprise you.If you’re new: welcome, I sage my studio before a shoot and play a singing bowl. Nice to meet you. 

Here’s the thing: If you hate taking photos for your business, and you hate editing and you hate the sub-par results you get, that energy of annoyance and frustration will permeate your images. This “deliberately introduces resistance into your experience” in the words of Abraham Hicks.

Either you find a way to start liking it, or you should delegate it to someone who adores shooting, editing and overall working on your photos, so that the energy of joy populates every part of your work.

If you’re in one of the above situations and would like to start upgrading your business images, here’s what I advise that you do:

1)Get a great portrait and a few lifestyle shots, so you have a wonderful photo of yourself to send to publications for guest posting, and with press releases. I am a big fan of  behind the scenes shots, that show your process and give people an insider’s pass into how you work.

2) Photograph your best sellers, or the products you most want to promote first. For example, if you’re launching a new line of earrings, make those photos your priority so they sell like hotcakes. If you provide services or info products, you could commission photos for a new course first, then move to making the rest of website and online presence stunning.

3) Photograph the rest of your collection so everything ties together.

Have you taken photos for your business before? How did the experience go? Tell me in the comments below! I’m listening.

PINK M

Want photos that look like you- and no one else?

Click here to book a call so we can discuss your needs 

 

How to select the best photos for your brand

How to select the best photos for your brand

Last year, when I was offering consulting calls about photography and visual strategy, I met with over 15 entrepreneurs who had the same question for me:

How do I choose the best brand photos for my business?

How do I know what will work?

 

I understood, back there and then, that this was a major source of anxiety for my fellow business women. And, since then, I’ve been on a mission to find a system that you could follow in order to make sure that the photos you’re selecting are the best ones for you and your business. And today, I want to share it with you.

We’ll go, one by one, through everything you need to consider, and I’ll explain you why each of those items is important. I even prepared a handy (and pretty) checklist for you to go through it every time you need new photos, which you can get right here (but wait, read until the end, so you can understand why every item is there)

Ready? Let’s begin!

1.Start with the basics

 

A. Decide where you’ll use the photos

This is really the first question you need to ask yourself because it will affect a lot of other decisions.

Will you use them in your website? In printed material? In social media? If you think you’ll only use them for one thing and in one place, I encourage you to read this post I wrote a while back, to spark your imagination. It’s better to know how photos will be used before investing, to make sure that you can end up doing everything you desire with them.

Here are some of the uses you may desire: web design, graphic design for web and social media (lead magnets, memes, ads, promo material), printed material, branding collaterals, office decor ( by printing them and framing them) and many more.

B. Determine which sizes you need. 

The next thing you need to pay attention to, once you’ve decided what you want the photos for, are the sizes you require. For example, if you’ll use the photo as full screen background, like I do in my home page,  you’ll need your image to have a minimum of 1920 px wide in order to look good. If you’ll be using it for Instagram, you’ll need it to have at least 1080 px on each side (Instagram uses a square format), and if you’re planning to use it for Facebook ads, adding text with an overlay, your images need to be 1200 px wide x 628 px high).

If your images are bigger (like any images you get from me, which are generally 5500px wide x 3500px high), it’s easy to reduce size in Photoshop or with free compressing tools (I have video tutorials for my clients to know how to do this). However, if your image is smaller than your required sizes, it will look awful and you’d better not use it.

C. Find out which resolution your photos need to have. 

This is another important aspect you need to consider, especially if you’re looking for photos in stock sites, like Getty Images, where price varies according to size and resolution. If you’ll only use your photos for web, a lower resolution will do, but if you’re planning to print your photos, make sure you purchase or commission images that have a resolution of 300 dpi.

D. Verify that the license authorizes the photo to be used as you need. 

As a smart business woman, you already know that you can’t lift images off the internet because, if you do, you risk having to pay a lot of money for the mistake. But that’s not all. You also need to make sure that you’re using photos according to the terms of their licenses. In other words, make sure that you get photos with a license authorizing you to use it in the ways you intend.

I’ll write more about the different types of licenses in my next post, but for now, make sure to read the license you’re given thoroughly before purchase. Contact the photographer, or agency if you have any doubts regarding what you can or  cannot do. If you’re using images from a free site, review and download a pdf copy of the license they provide. And if you’re using a creative commons license, make sure it’s one authorizing commercial use.

2. Go deeper

 

Once you know the basics, it’s time to dig deep. Remember: the objective is to get photos that actually work to assist your positioning, and bring in new customers, so “pretty” alone won’t do.

When you’re selecting photos for your business, there are 3 things you need to consider: who you are, who your ideal client is, and what your objectives are. I call this The Triad of Photos that sell

Take a look at the Triad’s graphic below. In the next paragraphs I’ll explain what each of those circles mean, what you need to do with each of them, and how their interaction affects your photos.

TRIAD OF PHOTOS

a. Decide what your objectives are. 

objectives

This is the aspect that’s  most often overlooked, yet it’s fundamental to consider it in order to get photos that actually work.

By objectives, I mean what you want to achieve with the photos you’re using. This has two dimensions:

  1.  What are you using your images for? What are the business goals your images will support? 

 

Are you looking to build awareness about your brand? Differentiate your business from the competition? Educate consumers or potential clients about how you work and what you can do for them? Grow your fan base?  Engage your biggest fans so they keep you on top of their minds? Introduce a new product? Support a Launch? Position yourself as a thought leader?

Knowing what’s the ultimate goal you want to achieve is key, not just for selecting or commissioning the right images, but also for evaluating whether they actually worked or not after you’ve been using them for a while

 

 

Let me give you a couple of examples: If you’re using photos to educate your customers about how your products work, allow them to see how they would fit their lifestyle, and show your product range, you could use a mix of the following:

  • Styled photos with your products in them (creating scenes to make your customers dream about the lifestyle they aspire to, and visualize themselves there),
  • Photos of your products in action, showing key aspects that make them different from others,
  • Product close ups,
  • Photos of your shop (if you have a physical store),
  • Photos of your working space with your products in it.

Want an example? See how one of my favorite stationery brands, kikki.k uses photos in her Instagram profile. 

kikki.k

 

If you’re trying to show your product range, create hype about new products, and create community around your creations, you may also:

  • Feature customer photos (and encourage your customers to tag you in them, maybe even creating a custom hashtag),
  • Share backstage photos, including photos of your creative process, and photos of products in the making, apart from the type of photos mentioned above

Need inspiration? Check how The Fifth Element Life uses photos in her Instagram profile, and check this case study of work I did for Art Joyeux. 

 

tfel

 

Think about what you want to achieve, and treat images as part of your content strategy to get you there.

Think about the written content you’ve planned, and ask yourself:  How can written and visual content interact and support each other so they both tell the same brand story? Which type of photos would help me reach my business objectives?

 

2. What practical objectives do you have for each photo?

In the question above we looked at photos as a compound, and I asked you to ponder whether every photo you choose or commission fits within your overall strategy, and supports your business objectives.

In this question, I’m asking you to look at each photo and ask yourself what effect you want that specific image to have on your audience.

Do you want people to pay attention to your words? Do you want them to feel shocked  Do you want to intrigue them? Do you want people to dream of a life they’ll love living (and you can help them achieve)? Do you want them to feel understood? Do you want your customers to relate to your personality and way of doing things?

Let me give you some examples:

  • Have you ever wondered why desk photos became so popular? It’s because they allow us to feel like we’re part of the life of the persons we’re doing business with, especially when there are hands in them. Purchasing items or services online may be very practical but we all crave personal connection, and we are more loyal to businesses we feel like friends. Real photos and videos, allow us to feel like we’re right there, creating with you. They allow us to feel that we’re doing business with real people, who care about their craft and their customers. If you want people to connect with you, and differentiate you in a crowded market, real photos are key.
  • If you want to show people how you work, so people can understand what goes into your craft, how special it is what you do, and so they can relate to your business,  you may choose backstage photos, lifestyle photos of your work space (or similar), the details you care about.
  • If you want to show the dream life your services help your customers achieve, your images will paint the picture of what’s possible, instead of showing their current reality.
  • If you want your audience to be subtly reminded of evergreen products to increase sales off season, you may add them in lifestyle scenes that you share in blog posts and social media, all along the year. You can read about how we did this with Mayi Carles here. 
  • If the purpose of your photo is solely to call attention to your words (for example for an ad), it’s better to select images of people looking or pointing at them.
  • If what you desire is for someone to pay attention, you may want to choose a face looking straight at the viewer.
  • If you want people to relate to your images, you may choose to show human presence without showing a face (eg: hands, legs, someone’s back).

Different photographic techniques, different lighting, different angles generate a different reaction in the viewer, so it’s important that you’re aware of the reaction you want to cause.

Before you go browsing for stock photos, or commission some to a professional, take some time to think about these two type of objectives and select 2 to 3 for each category. Your objectives should always guide your decisions.

Knowing what you want to achieve will make any search faster and more fruitful.

b. Determine what your brand is about, and the story you want to tell with your brand photos.

you1

You know what you want, now it’s time to connect your objectives with what makes your brand unique. It’s time to show some personality and character, and use your photos to tell a compelling story.

This is the YOU circle and it’s the key to having photos that people identify with you and you alone (even if they’re stock). But I need to offer one word of caution when it comes to this, if you have a personal brand: Remember that we bring who we are to our businesses, yet our businesses are not us. They have their own soul.

Why does this matter?  Because your photos need to focus in those aspects of your personality that are important for your customers, because their function is to reinforce your positioning.

Here’s how to do it.

 

1.Start with you

Ask yourself the following questions:

 

  • What qualities do you bring to your business, that make it unmistakable and unforgettable?

 

Are you detail oriented, fun, quirky, kind,loving, bossy, strong? Do you think strategically and have the ability to make the complicated, simple? Do you see the bigger picture with ease and can show someone the next steps? Are you cutting edge creative? Do you inspire transformation? Do you help others connect to a sense of peace and childhood innocence?

Make a list of the 5 most important qualities you bring to your business. The ones that make you different from everyone else you know. The ones your clients keep telling you were important for selecting you.

If you’re not sure which ones these are, ask! It’s always quite a revelation when this happens.

 

  • What do you want to be known for in your market?

 

I first heard this tip from Miss Monetization, Star Kechara and thought it was genius. How do you want others to think about you and your business? Are you the Spiritual Aromatherapist? The Rebel Chef? The Loving Jeweler? The Mystic Nerdy Photographer? (Wait, the last one is taken, that’s me 😉 ).

The point here is this: Be conscious about what you want to be known for and bring those qualities to your images.

 

  • What makes your services and products different from similar ones offered by others? Why should people choose you?

 

What makes your rings different from other gemstone rings? What makes your clean recipes different from those of other nutritionists? What makes your healing services special?

Let me give you a few examples:

  • When I started photographing Life is Messy Kitchen, we chose two words to guide the photography of the book: Lip-licking delicious, and Real. A key concept of the book was that clean eating didn’t have to taste like cardboard, so it was important that each recipe was shot in a way that made people WANT to cook healthy. We also wanted all photos to look real, as in possible to make without chef’s kitchen equipment. We wanted all recipes to be styled like beautiful and inspiring family scenes. We wanted people to desire cooking those recipes, and to feel confident that they would turn out as in the photos. We chose these words because we knew that delicious and doable was what made LIMK recipes different.

 

  • Derek Halpern mentions another interesting example in this blog post, where he talks about the genius photography of the MacBook Air. In it, he shows a photo of the original ad, where someone (a hand) is putting the laptop in a yellow envelope. Why does this matter? Because size is what made the Air different, he explains, and the photo allowed everyone to understand that quickly.

 

  • In my case, people chose me for two things: highly customized, holistic & strategic photos, and kind, do it all for you and make your life super easy service. The symbols in my website photos (though not immediately apparent) talk about this: the color pink, the rose quartz, the vescica piscis, the phoenix, the flower of life, the cookies, the cappuccino, the spiral, the heart. In future blog posts I’ll explain the symbolism behind every photo I take (nothing is random in my styling), but for now, think about your “special sauce” and make sure you’re crystal clear about it.

 

2. Think about the story your brand tells. Ask yourself: What story about your brand and the results your provide are your photos helping you communicate?

 

The people that make your audience want to know who you are as a human being, to see if they can trust you.They want to know whether other areas of your life re-affirm what you claim you can do in your business.

Let me give you an example from someone I admire greatly, Tara Gentile. Tara mentioned once that the reason she posts photos of her love of artisan-brewed beer and the food she prepares, is that it reinforces her image as a detail-oriented person. Whoever reads her work, and then follows her on social media, can get a clear picture of the personal qualities she brings to her job.

Tara lets people peek into her life, while giving a cohesive message of who she is and what she can do, at the same time.

You should do the same.

The perfect photos for your business need to make people think about you in the way you want them to. They need to help you tell a consistent and cohesive brand story. 

 

 

And remember: everything has a visual attached to it, because humans have thought with images since the beginning of time. Symbols and archetypes have always been our way to understand the world around us. So there’ll always be a way to put into photos the qualities you want your business to be known for (more on this in upcoming blogposts too).

 

 

Want to read more about why this matters? Check this blog post I wrote last year. 

c. Who’s your target audience? Who’s your ideal client? Who are you trying to reach?

ideal client

You already know that you should write content and copy with your clients in mind. It’s the same with photos.

As I’ve mentioned in this post, if your clients are nowhere to be found in your photos, they won’t engage or buy. Your photos need to appeal to those who 1) you can help with your work and 2) want to be helped by you and are ready to pay you to do so.

Demographics (age, gender, location, social status) and psycho-graphics (needs, feelings, problems, perception of self) influence how your audience responds to the photos you select, and what they’re attracted to.

Do you remember this post, where I told you why you should be careful with luxurious-looking stock photos if they’re not what your brand represents? In it, I told you about my client Laura, whose customers didn’t connect to aspirational photos, and preferred photos that looked more real, closer to their own lives. This is why knowing your audience matters so much.

Let me give you a few examples of what happens when you don’t create photos with your customers in mind:

1.What do you think about when I say the word WIZARD? I tested this with several people, in different groups and I found that Baby Boomers pictured Merlin, Generation Xers thought about Gandalf, and Millennials said Harry Potter almost immediately. Why? Because different generations were influenced by different literature, different TV shows, different music, even different brands and different ads. Here’s a mini poll I did on facebook, as an example

wizard

2. Do you think some TV shows are wide-known classics across generations? Think again. I recently found out that many teenagers have no idea, nor have they ever seen the 90s TV show Friends, which is a favorite of mine. If my audience was teenagers and I was talking about my “Rachel” Haircut, and showing photos of it, we wouldn’t connect. 

3. A creepier example is that of a failed Bloomingdale’s Christmas ad below.

Blomingdale

I have no idea who approved this ad, or frankly what they were thinking, but the implicit suggestion of adding a roofie, and of date rape back-lashed pretty fast. I’m not even going to get into how this looks like apology of crime to me…for the sake of keeping this on topic let’s just say that, at the very least, this is really bad customer research.

Choosing photos that our clients adore and are happy to share is a matter of care, connection and empathy. Getting to know your clients is about actually caring about making their lives better.

Remember:When you fake it, it shows. Don’t put a cupcake in your photos if you don’t like them and talk about how much you love them, just because your clients like them. Don’t be that person. 

In order to make sure you’re on the right track, ask yourself these questions:

1)Who do you love working with? 

Remember the time you worked with someone who inspired you to do your best work? Someone who loved the work you do, and appreciated everything you bring to your business?  It doesn’t matter if that person was not a client…maybe it was your boss when you still were in a 9-5, a teacher in high school or a colleague you really clicked with. What matters is that you remember how you felt, because as Mike Iamele teaches, that’s how you can call in the same energy.

Once you’ve connected to that energy, think: What do those that you love working with have in common? Is it the way they talk? The music they listen to? The brands they prefer? Or is it the way they’re feeling when they reach out to you for help?

Ask yourself:  How do your best clients live? Where are they in life? What do they like? What kind of life do they aspire to have? What makes them happy? What are their values?  If you’ve been in business for a while, answering these questions is a matter of talking with your favorite clients. If you are new to business,  you can read this blog post where I give you ideas on how to research this, and explain what to pay attention to, and listen to this episode of Cult of Hybrid.

Here are some more questions to guide you:  What do your best clients like? What causes do they support? What’s their spirituality? What books do they read? What movies do they adore? What do they watch on TV? What do they do in their free time? Who do they want to become? What are their hopes and dreams? Who do they identify with? Who do they follow? What quotes move them? What makes them cry? What makes them laugh? What do they need? How do they want to feel that they’re not currently feeling and why? What magazines do they read? What do they pin?

Make a list of their qualities, likes and dislikes, find the connection. Pay attention. 

I make it practice to connect regularly with my clients on social media. Ok, it’s easy because I love them, but it’s also always a joy to find the similarities between them, and the things in which we are similar. I call it understanding the flow of energy that connects us.

The more you know about the people you want to attract, the easier it is to gear your visual content to speak specifically to them. If you want your photos to generate all the Ohhhs and Ahhhs you work deserves, it’s important that they’re tailored to your market.

2) What do your customers need from you? What do they want from your products or services?

I mentioned above the importance of knowing your “secret sauce” when planning/selecting your photos, and this is similar, yet slightly different.

In this case, I’m asking you to consider your products and services from your client’s point of view. I’m asking you to make sure that you really understand your client’s motivations for buying from you. I’m asking you to make sure that you understand that what your clients truly want and the reasons why they want it are sometimes unsaid.

Take eating healthy for example. Do your clients want to eat healthy to prevent disease, to gain energy, or to lose weight? Are they driven by fear, frustration or tiredness? What would the ideal solution be for them?. Ask yourself these questions. Make sure that you know the answer.

Why does this matter? Because photographing the end result and the specific qualities that attract your customers to your products and services makes your photos more effective. You’re showing them what they need to see to commit. 

Ask your customers about these reasons. Observe how they use your products.  Then select or commission photos with your findings in mind.

3) What do you want your audience to feel when they see your photos?

Did you know that different camera angles, colors and photographic techniques cause different reactions? I’m not asking you to know how to use these techniques, study archetypal symbolism or learn about visual persuasion. That’s my job, don’t worry.

What I’m asking you to do is be aware of this fact, and be clear about what you intend others to feel when they see your photos.

Pick no more than 2 or 3 intended feelings, then do this exercise: Go to Pinterest and create one board for each of those feelings. When you find a photo that, for you, conveys that idea, put it in its board. After a while, review the board and observe the patterns: Do they have colors in common? Angles? Maybe a certain filter, mask or texture? This will help you gain clarity, and it will make searching or commissioning photos easier and faster.

Review the answers to all questions above and keep them handy. Download and print the worksheet, and get ready.

Now comes the fun part.

3. Connect the dots

 

You’re clear about the basics and your objectives.

You know who you are, what differentiates you, and the bigger story your brand tells.

You know exactly who you want to attract.

Here’s what to do next:

Grab a page,  and draw three big circles in it (You can also download the worksheet).

Based on the questions and prompts above, do the following:

  • In the first one, write everything related to your objectives.
  • In the second one, write everything related to you and your brand.
  • In the last one, write everything about your ideal clients.

 

Looking at these  independently, won’t tell you much, but here’s the secret: The magic happens in the connections. 

Let me show you:

 

A. The Engagement connection

Remember this post where I showed you this graphic?

 

14

In it, I told you that unless your ideal clients were present in your photos they wouldn’t engage and you wouldn’t sell.

This combination has the  “She really gets me! ” and the “OMG she’s like me!” effect. This is what happens when you post a photo of your Yoda action figure knowing your best clients are also Star Wars fans, a photo of your green smoothie knowing your audience cares about eating healthy like you do, or a photo of your cat sleeping on your keyboard, knowing your ideal clients are cat owners too.

When you create, select or commission photos that connect the core of who you are and, as stand for as a brand, with deep knowledge of your ideal clients and what you have in common, the results are powerful.

The result is true connection, engagement, identification.

When your photos resonate with your audience, they will comment on them, share them, and remember you more.

How to use it: Get the YOU list and the IDEAL CLIENT list and look for what you have in common. Start sharing images of those things on social media, and monitor reaction. Pay attention to what resonates and what doesn’t.

When to use it: All the time, especially when building an audience.

Risk: Only one, remember that just because people connect with you, it doesn’t mean they will buy from you (or subscribe to your list, or join your facebook  group). In order for them to do that, you need to be clear about your objectives too. This is what we’ll talk about next.

B.  The Sweet Spot

Sweet-Spot- Marcela- Macias-Photograhy-Cyprus-How-To-Select-Best-Photos-brand

This is where the real magic happens. I call it the ” She gets me and she has exactly what I need. I’ll talk about her to everyone” effect.

These are the photos that, not only help you connect, but also help you grow your business. The ones that help you expand your brand message, grow your email list, convert into sales.

These are the money making photos. 

These are the photos of your product, artfully placed in a desk scene that resonates with your customers and reminds them to buy. These are the before and after photos, showing the results your products provides. The photos of your crocheted baby toy, in the hands of a sleeping baby, telling a new mom that your creation will help her baby soothe herself at night. The photos of a lunch table full of diverse people, telling others your recipes are loved by everyone, and can help them create special moments with their loved ones.

How to use it: Take a look at the YOU, IDEAL CLIENT and OBJECTIVES lists, and find out:

1) what you (your brand) and your ideal client have in common, and

2) what your business provides that your ideal client needs.

Use these words as keywords when searching for photos. Give the info to a professional photographer when commissioning images.

When to use it: Always. This point of connection is particularly useful during a product launch, promotion of evergreen products or seasonal products outside of their peak season (example, promoting planners in June, or fitness/diet products in January).

Risk: None

 

And the other intersections?

They come with some warnings.

1.If you choose photos that only talk about YOU and are solely focused on your objectives, your visuals may not connect with your audience. This is what I call the “ME, ME, ME, Look at me, I’m so awesome” risk. I recommend that you avoid it, with one exception: when you are testing engagement, and seeing what resonates with your ideal clients.

At the beginning, when you’re getting to know who you want to work with, and attract your first fans and clients, you’ll need to test. And when you’re testing, you start with what you know best: YOU.

It is important, though, that you pay attention to what resonates with the right people, and as soon as you have a clear idea, switch to either engagement or sweet spot, for maximum impact.

2. If your only focus on the connection between ideal clients and objectives, you miss the chance to add personality to your business and you risk becoming forgettable.

 

So there you have it: the method I use for creating photos that engage and convert.

Now download the worksheet below and start using it to make sure your images help your business grow.

Questions? Doubts? Comment below, I’m here to help!

PINK M

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