How I got the shot | Couple in the Woods

Name: Marquette Mower

Business Name: Marquette LaRee

Why did you take this photo? : Randi and Porter are a very expressive couple. We spent most of their engagement session laughing, running, spinning, and talking. While this is very much who they are, they also would have moments of quiet connection where they melted into each other. Those moments were sweet and intimate; I felt almost like an intruder being there as they would just melt together and connect. I knew I wanted one of these moments captured in a way that really focused on them and the love they have for each other.

Camera: Nikon D750

Lens: Sigma 85mm 1.4

All exif data: f/2.5, 1/125, ISO-320, no flash

Why did you use these settings? : With the thick stand of Aspens, I wanted them to take center stage in the photo. With their darker outfits I needed their surroundings to be light, and for the depth of field to be shallow so that the trees melted away behind them.

Thought process behind the photo: When we came on a fallen log, I knew this would get them up and out of the ferns and give a different perspective than we'd been getting. I had them hop up on the log and then I backed up the little hill behind me. From there I told them that we'd just done a lot of fun shots, but that for this set I wanted them to snuggle in, melt into each other, and connect. I'd seen them take moments like this earlier, so I knew I didn't want to coach them into something that wasn't them, and started with simple directions. They did just that. They leaned into each other and were home. With the framing, I grabbed a few full body shots, but the log and ferns ended up being distracting and took away from them and their emotion. So I went further up the hill, framed it to show just them and the trees, and got this shot. This held the emotion I was working for.

Editing of the photo: In Lightroom, I ended up cooling the temperature down a little, upping the overall exposure, and then darkening shadows to get this end result. I wanted it to be light, but not too airy.

How I got the shot | Couple in the Woods

I'm an orange obsessed, peanut butter craving, summer loving girl living in Northern Arizona with my husband and two kids. I am a wedding and anniversary photographer with a love for DIY/Backyard weddings! The three most important things in my life (beyond the obvious family, faith, and friends, because those trump all) would be warm blankets (I'm not a cold weather person!), hot cinnamon rolls, and flying pigs.

Instagram | Facebook 

4 uses for the Squarespace Summary Block

The Squarespace summary block is one of my favorite blocks of all time! It is just such a ridiculously useful little tool that can be used all over your site to expose your readers to more of your content. Don't hide all of your AMAZING content away somewhere, bring it front and center with the summary block!!

how do i use the squarespace summary block

1 | Bottom of blog posts

My absolute all time favorite use for summary blocks. When I used to blog on Wordpress (forever ago) there was a plugin that would do something similar and when I moved to Squarespace I thought I would never have that option again. I couldn't have been more wrong!

Some people might rag on the fact that the summary block posts that pull up aren't randomized, BUT to that I say, pish posh. You can select similar categories or tags to ensure RELEVANT content is shown at the end of the post which increases the potential for your blog reader to click on something else they might be more interested in. If you are here reading a post about Squarespace, then me showing you more content related to Squarespace really just makes your life that much easier!

If you are currently blogging on Squarespace and NOT utilizing summary blocks at the end of every post, I highly encourage you to start adding them (and heck, go back to older posts and add them in! Only takes a few minutes per post and the benefits likely outweigh that time investment! Do it!!) 

2 | Sidebar

Again, I love me some sidebar action on my main blog page (and all blog posts) because it is such a handy way to get other things in front of your readers, including summary blocks! I currently have one in my sidebar that includes a summary of Popular Posts. You can set this up however you like (through the featured button or a tag, or it could even be just a random selection of recent posts) but it gives your reader another option to see more of your content without having to scroll and scroll and scroll to search for it! 

Sidebars FTW!! 

3 | Archive Page

Another absolute favorite thing that I like to see on someone's website. A way to easily view tons of older posts or evergreen content in one place where I can quickly view my options and click where I please. 

I'm not even sure how you would make an archive page without using a summary block. Well, wait, I take that back, you could use one of Squarespace's archive blocks but honestly they stink. They are boring and oh, yeah, boring. 

I much prefer to see thumbnail images and the title so I can get a better handle on what the post is going to be about, plus its just FUNNER to see color and images etc...than just links and links of text. 

Here is an example of what the archive page looks like on my photography website for reference. 

4 | Home Page

Want to get people over to your blog and/or showcase your content in another way other than just "blog" in the navigation menu?

PUT A SUMMARY BLOCK ON YOUR HOME PAGE!

People like looking at home pages, give them something else to look at and visually direct them to other fun places on your site. I really really dislike getting to someones home page and having absolutely no idea what to do next. Sometimes even menu or navigation items are hard to find or not that intuitive. Make your website LESS about how awesome YOU are, and make it easier for your clients to navigate around. Maybe I'm old school but I think there is something to be said about concerning yourself with user experience more so than trying to impress them in a way that ends up being confusing for them. 

If you have a blog and want to get people there quicker, put a summary block of recent posts on your homepage or about me page. Pinky swear. 


Want a whole course on how to set up your Squarespace site and make it amazing without all the googling? Check out my Squarespace for Non-Techy Creatives course. It might be perfect for you! 

How I got the shot | Wedding on the beach

Name: deborah ryan

Business Name: deborahannphotography

Why did you take this photo? : Pam and Morgan so wanted their ceremony to be on the beach and it was set to be but it rained alot! So when the rain stopped for a little bit we all ran out to get the pics on the beach that we could.

Camera: Nikon D750

Lens: Nikkor 70-200 2.8

All exif data: F stop 2.8, ISO 320 Shutter Speed 4000

Why did you use these settings? : I had no light at all to use. The sky was dark and very grey and totally overcast. I knew that I would need a fast shutter speed because the sand was wet and they were very shaky trying to walk through it. I knew I could get alot of exposure in post so I was not worried at all. I chose no fill flash as I usually want to avoid that outdoors most of the time.

Thought process behind the photo: So here I wanted the ocean behind them and needed a bit of the rocks in the image to break up the solid horizon. Morgan is one who thinks he is suppose to always look to the photographer so I had to trick him a bit. I shouted to Pam that she needed to say something very personal that would make him laugh. Well it worked for sure, I love how candid this shot was by capturing his true emotion.

Editing of the photo:  So I knew when I shot this that alot of work would be needed to bring this image to life. With no natural light at all, the image was quite dull. Washed out really.
I used a preset that I created to enhance color, clarity, exposure and contrast. From there I tweaked alot of other things in lightroom, especially the lights and darks. I saturated the blues to get Morgan's grey suit to pop out. Pam had a great tan which really helped alot for her skin not disappearing. Morgan has very fair skin so I had to darken him a bit.

How I got the shot | Wedding on the beach | DeborahannPhotography

I am married to my best friend Jeff. We have two beautiful children both getting married within the next 7 months. Creating and capturing life's journey for my clients through my lens is such a gift to me!

Facebook | Instagram

Blog options in Squarespace

If you are interested at all in blogging or blogging in order to grow your business, how your blog displays on your website should be of much importance to you. Making sure your content is easy to read and easy to FIND on your site should be up there in the priority list somewhere next to "ensuring your clients have a good experience". 

I can't tell you how many times I've clicked on a blog post that I actually thought was pretty interesting, and I wanted to read through more of that author's content, but I literally can't find anything else on the site. 

  • No archive page
  • No category buttons
  • Just scrolling, scrolling, scrolling and clicking next in order to see what else they got. 

Nope. Especially in this day and age of endless distractions and shiny objects...no one got time for that. You gotta make it easy for people or they will click out in a heartbeat. 

Sometimes on Squarespace, making your blog super easy to organize isn't all that intuitive. People get stuck in "template mode" and don't think of ways to customize the template instead of just sticking with it as is out of the box. 

So today I'm going to go over a few different ways you can organize your blog on Squarespace to make it easier for potential readers to find relative information and read MORE of your posts.

You know, those things you spent all that time and effort on?

Yeah those! Let's get people an easy way to find them!

Squarespace blog options

Straight up scrolling feed

For the record, I don't recommend this. But it is an option. A lot of the templates come with the blog page set up this way. One full post after another...nothing on the sides, just an endless scroll of blog posts in order that they were posted.

SNOOZEFEST. 

This also makes it very difficult for people to find other content on your site without endlessly scrolling to the bottom and clicking on next. Maybe if you blog once a month or really don't care about your blog this might be an option, otherwise I think it is really not a viable option for anyone looking to have visitors stay engaged with their content. 

Blog Posts with Sidebar

BIG fan of this option. Both my photography website and this site are set up this way. I utilize this option mostly because this is how I personally prefer to read blog posts as long as there are options nearby for me to look around the site. 

If I am visiting someone's site for the first time (not by way of a specific blog post link) and click on their blog page, I want to see what their latest blog post is and then I want an option to see other content. Maybe I want to look at specific categories, maybe I want to see a full archive. 

Hopefully there will be links to other posts within the post or links at the bottom of the post to other relevant content (a summary block should be added to the end of every post you write!) 

Snippit of posts with Read More link (with or without sidebar)

This is also another great option as it truncates your posts to show just the thumbnail picture, the title and then an excerpt from the blog post with a read more link at the bottom.  This makes it easier for someone landing on your blog page to quickly look through a lot of different posts to determine what they want to read. 

Here is the squarespace tutorial on how to work with excerpts and description of how this works with various templates. 

Only one major drawback to this is based really on user experience. Think about how people are landing on your site. If you are sharing blog post links on social media and people are clicking on them, they are going to be taken to the full blog post, not to the blog page with the snippits. So unless you have another option on that blog post specifically that will either lead people back to the main blog page (like a sidebar) this option could just end up like your scrolling feed of neverending posts if your readers don't instinctively know what to do next. 

With a sidebar I like this option. Real Food Whole Life blog is set up this way so you can see an example. 

Summary block blog page

I do like this option as well and I know quite a few people who use it. Basically you put your "blog" in your unlinked section and then create a PAGE in your linked section and call that "blog" (or journal or whatever you like to call your blog). On that page you add a summary blog that pulls in your latest blog posts. This way when someone clicks Blog in your nav menu, they are taken to a page that has a variety of options they can click on. If they click on a post to read it and then want to see more than can simply click back on Blog in your nav menu to get taken back to that page with all of the options. 

The ONLY drawback to this is that summary blocks only allow 30 items. So if you are an avid blogger and years worth of evergreen content you want to make available to people, this might not be the best option for you. 

Here is an example of what this option looks like. 

One blog page linking to different category pages

This is similar to the above option but with a little bit of a workaround. In this option you can do the same, move your blog to your unlinked section and then add a page in your linked section called blog. On that page you can add images blocks for every category you have on your blog and then link those images to either pre-set up category pages or the category itself. 

If you link to the category itself, it will take the visitor to a scrolling feed of all blog posts listed in that category. 

A pre-set up category page can be a great option to showcase specific posts to visitors so they don't have to view posts about things they aren't interested in. For example, if a wedding client is looking to see all wedding blogs on one page, you can set up a page and include a summary block on that page that pulls in all of your wedding blog posts. That way when the visitor clicks on "weddings", it will take them to a page of all blog posts categorized weddings and then they can select from there. 


Now that you know how to set up your blog, you need some ideas right? Get my 100 (yes you read that right ONE HUNDRED) blogging ideas to help you grow your business! 

How I got the Shot | Central Park at Night

Name: Amy Rizzuto

Business Name: Amy Rizzuto Photography

Why did you take this photo? : It was the couple's wedding day! They didn't want to do a first look, and they got married at 7pm in December. I was excited and nervous to capture all night portraits but I am happy with the way they turned out.

Camera: Canon 5D Mark III

Lens: 35mm

All exif data: f-stop- 2.2 , ISO-3200, shutter speed- 1/100, flash power- 9

Why did you use these settings? : I wanted the photo to have a soft, romantic look, even though it was a night portrait. I raised my iso and lowered my shutter speed intentionally to allow for the ambient light under the terrace to still be present, rather than losing it with too strong of a flash. I also had the second speed light pretty far behind the couple so that the light would spread and illuminate the snow on the ground.

Thought process behind the photo: Jessika and Vincent had one of those magical weddings: a day filled with so much beauty and romance that my heart wanted to burst with happiness. The snow started that morning. As I watched it slowly cover New York City with a silky white blanket, I sent up a quick thank you. I had been praying for snow all week (I even considered making fake snow).

After Jessika and Vincent exchanged vows by candlelight in the Central Park Boathouse, we headed outside for some intimate portrait time. I had been visualizing a specific photo I wanted to capture all week; now it was just time to execute it. 

Placing the couple in front of the snow-dusted arches of Bethesda Terrace (I love the ambient light underneath this iconic location), I asked my second shooter, Mekina Saylor, to stand about 10 feet behind them with a Speedlight synced to the Speedlight on my camera. I wanted the backlight of the flash to illuminate the tiny flakes still falling from the sky. I clicked the shutter and was overwhelmed with joy at the result!"

Editing of the photo:  I wanted my editing to enhance the photo, not change the look of it. I brightened and warmed it a little, slightly increased the contrast, and did a some dodging and burning around the corners to bring the focus to the couple!

How I got the shot | Central park at night

Amy Rizzuto is an international wedding photographer who specializes in capturing the true spirit and authentic beauty of adventurous couples in love. She loves Jesus, sipping chocolate chai tea by the fire, and going on long runs. She also has a not so secret obsession with Harry Potter. Serving the greater NYC area and destinations worldwide.

Website | Instagram | Facebook 

Introvert is not a dirty word

Introvert. 

What sorts of things do you think of when you hear that word? I'm guessing things that come to mind are: 

  • Shy
  • Hermit
  • Doesn't like to talk
  • Never speaks up
  • Doesn't like people
  • Weirdly or suspiciously quiet

(Mostly because these are things that come to mind for me as well) 

When I discovered that I was an introvert and then proceeded to discover what that ACTUALLY meant, it was like a whole new world opened up for me. I finally understood that societies conventional thought about what an "introvert" was...

not actually accurate at all. 

Despite the research that has been out there for years including the popular MBTI test as well as groundbreaking popular books that address this subject at great detail like Quiet by Susan Cain, there is still a stigma around that word....introvert

Being a creative entrepreneur and an introvert, I have come to realize that we may face special challenges because of our disposition. And sadly, one of those challenges is feeling like its not OK to be an introvert. That somehow its wrong, its dirty...you shouldn't actually admit that you are one. 


I want to change that. 


what does it mean to be an introvert?

Although it would be naive for me to think that writing one blog post on this subject will cause a revolution or start a real, meaningful conversation on this subject, I am always of the opinion that every little bit helps. Introversion and what it means and how it affects small business owners will be something that I hopefully chat about a lot through this website and my social media channels. 

I want to help those who are introverts to understand that its OK to be one. I want them to understand more about what it means to have introverted tendencies to help them harness those tendencies in positive ways that will have a positive affect on their life. 

I want everyone (introverts and extroverts alike) to understand that neither is right or wrong, they are just different, and because of those differences you might need to approach situations in your life or business in different ways in order to get the best results. 

What does it mean to be an introvert? 

Introversion is more focused on energy levels and being inward focused as opposed to outwardly focused. Introverts are often highly introspective and prefer to think deeply before making decisions or even speaking. 

Introverts also tend to prefer quiet environments and often feel drained after lots of social interaction. 

From the Quiet Revolution website: 

  • Given the choice, you’ll devote your social energy to a small group of people you care about most, preferring a glass of wine with a close friend to a party full of strangers.
  • You think before you speak, have a more deliberate approach to risk, and enjoy solitude.
  • You feel energized when focusing deeply on a subject or activity that really interests you.
  • When you’re in overly stimulating environments (too loud, too crowded, etc.) you tend to feel overwhelmed.
  • You seek out environments of peace, sanctuary, and beauty; you have an active inner life and are at your best when you tap into its riches.

Am I an Introvert?

Check out the Quiet Revolution 10 question quiz HERE.

Also check out the 16Personalities quiz HERE. 

If you are also a photographer, check out my #Introvertographer quiz to find out if you might be an introverted photographer. 

I think I'm an Introvert, now what? 

Stick around!! I plan on offering more resources and discussion about what it means to be an introvert and also a photographer or small creative business owners. It can be challenging, but learning more about yourself and how you can better handle situations that arise in business based on your natural tendencies will only help you grow and become more successful at reaching your goals. I am excited you are here!


Want to learn some of my top tips and strategies for networking as an introvert? Check out my E-Book: Networking for Introverts: Using your natural tendencies to build connections and grow your business through networking 

(click the photo for more info!)

 
 

How I got the shot | Bride/Groom Veil

Name: Misty Christensen

Business Name: Misty C. Photography

Why did you take this photo?: We had just a short amount of time for bride and groom formals, and we were freezing!! It was a cold day, and the breeze made it colder, so I knew we had to get done quickly before my bride froze!

Camera: Nikon D750

Lens: Sigma 50 1.4 ART

All exif data: f/1.6, 1/1000, ISO 400

Why did you use these settings? : I didn't want quite as shallow of a depth of field as 1.4 would give me, but I didn't quite want to go to 1.8, so 1.6 it was.

Thought process behind the photo: I had been seeing some AMAZING shots of a bride and groom with the brides veil swooping in for composition purposes, but I wanted to do something a little different. I had them stand so she was faced away from him, and then used the veil to not only cause the viewers eye to go to them, but also to frame her face! First I started the shot with a 35, but wasn't getting it quite how I wanted to I switched to the 50 and BOOM! It happened.

Editing of the photo: I just edited it with my general preset in Lightroom-adjusting the shadows and highlights and tonal curve, nothing crazy. Made the greens more minty. Increased the luminance of the oranges just a little.

How I got the shot | Bride/Groom Veil

I'm a wedding photographer out of central Washington. I love elephants, adventures, my 2 year old, and my hubby. And I love summer time.

A beginners guide to all things Lightroom

I looooove me some Lightroom.

I know that there are some other photo editing softwares out there, but Lightroom has my heart. If you are a photographer or hobbyist who wants to learn how to use Lightroom but it feels massively overwhelming to you, then start here...I promise that once you understand the basics of how it works, you will be working in Lightroom with ease! 

getting started with Lightroom

Lightroom was made specifically for photographers who do mass editing and batch processing. Photoshop was really made for graphic designers who need to use multiple layers, so really its just not practical to take every single photo into PS unless you are doing major work on each photo. For some photographers who do extensive retouching this may make sense but for most family and wedding photographers, Lightroom is really the way to go. 

The Catalog

The day I really understood what a Lightroom catalog was and how it worked was the day that everything really started to make sense for me in Lightroom. 

The easiest way to describe what and how the catalog is sort of like trace paper. Even though the language "import" suggests that you are actually putting your image files "into" Lightroom, you aren't. Your files stay exactly where you had them and Lightroom just points to that location and then any edits you do essentially "traces" over those images to show you the end result. 

This is why if you move any images after importing into LR, it will give you that little ! error message. The link between the location and LR was broken when you moved the images so you need to re-link everything after you moved it. 

Why this is a good thing? 

Because its a non-destructive system. Your RAW file is on your hard drive, Lightroom builds a preview of that image to show you what the edits would look like and then when you export, a brand new shiny JPG file comes out. So you STILL have the RAW file AND an edited JPG to go with it. 

Step by Step

Below you will find five videos that will take you through how to get started using Lightroom. Its always easier to watch and follow along and get some practice under your belt when it comes to a new system. 

Video 1 - Introduction to Lightroom 

In this video I give a brief introduction to all things Lightroom and how all of the modules work. 

Video 2 - Organizing and Importing your photos into Lightroom 

In this video I show you my organization system for images and how to import images you want to edit into the LR catalog

Video 3 - Using Library module to categorize and cull your images

There are SO many ways to categorize your images in Lightroom. My process for categorizing has changed multiple times over the years based on the work I'm doing, but luckily LR is flexible and as long as you know your system, you can make it work. Culling is the process by which you narrow down your images to a final set that you will be delivering to the client. 

Video 4 - Using Develop Module to edit your images

There are thousands upon thousands of resources out there on the interwebs on editing photos. This is just a brief example of what sort of things you can actually do in LR to get your images finalized. 

Video 5 - Exporting your images 

When you are done with your images, you need a way to get them in a proper file format to get to your clients. You can do this through exporting, but there are lots of options for export. This video goes into my process for exporting files for clients. 


come hang out with me

How I got the shot | Rose Ring

Name: Monika de Myer

Business Name: Monika de Myer Photography 

Why did you take this photo?: This images was taken during of the engagement sessions I did this fall. It started to pour outside and we needed to find a place to take at least a few shots inside. We ended up going to Morristown Hyatt where I was able to take this detail shot of the ring.

Camera: Nikon D4

Lens: Micro Nikkor 105mm 1:2.8 GED

All exif data: f/4.0, 1/60 sec, ISO 1000, available light

Why did you use these settings?: My focus was on the detail of the stone and to blur out the background as much as possible.

Thought process behind the photo: I love the way the red flower filled the rest of the image and your eye is drawn to the stone.

Editing of the photo:  White balance adjustment + cleaning some of the dust that rested on the flower. I also sharpened the stone just a bit.

Diamond solitaire ring on a red rose

3 sentence bio about you/your business: My name is Monika and I am a photographer who specializes in weddings and lifestyle photography, as well as fashion and beauty.

Blogging consistently without wanting to rip your eyes out

I know, I know, that title may be a little cray cray, but I swear...when I hear people discuss their frustrations with keeping and maintaining consistency with blogging, it often times sounds like they are at their wits end! (Maybe not to the point of ripping their eyes out of their head, but you catch my drift!) 

Maintaining consistency can be a SUPER difficult thing to do. Life gets in the way. Ideas run out. Schedules collide. Emergencies happen. I've been blogging for almost six years and things like this have consistently happened to me. Funny, isn't it?

Things are consistently not consistent!

I've come up with some best practices for maintaining consistency within my own blogging. I've been strategically doing these things for over a year now and my blogging has reached a level it's never achieved in the past. 

I think it's important before we begin to mention that if you have goals to grow your blog and readership, I highly suggest working out a blog strategy first. It's hard to keep up with something if you don't really know WHY you are doing it or what goal you want to achieve by doing it!

how to blog consistently and grow your audience

KEEP A RUNNING LIST OF IDEAS SOMEWHERE THAT IS EASILY ACCESSIBLE

We all know it happens. The best ideas for blog post come to you while in the shower, or driving or in the middle of cooking dinner or when you have zero phone service or Wi-Fi. UGH. 

Whether it be keeping a pad of paper and a pen next to the shower or your bed, or utilizing voice notes on your phone while you are driving or having a resource that you can access on your phone and your computer (like Trello, Evernote or OneNote), have something! Think about where you usually are when you have your best ideas and make sure you have something to get them DOWN and out of your head when they strike. 

Once I get the idea OUT of my head I can relax and not worry about if I will forget it etc…because I know it is somewhere that I can go back and find and access later. And you will never have to sit down and crack open the computer and stare blankly at the screen because you have no idea what to write about. 

MAKE A SCHEDULE AND STICK WITH IT

Lots of research and studies have shown that consistent blogging is the best blogging. When readers are thrown off by your posting five posts one week and one post the next and then no posts for two months, it chips away at trust and reliability. Both of them are important for building a readership.

A common misconception related to consistency though is frequency. You don't have to blog a LOT in order to be consistent. Once a month is still consistent. 

Only want to blog once a week? Post on Monday's only. Want to blog four times a week? Decide which days work best for you and stick with it. When you have a consistent schedule, you rarely feel like you are constantly falling behind. 

I never blog post on the weekends. Like seriously, NEVER. That doesn't mean that sometimes I work on blog posts on the weekends, but I have given myself permission to only post 2-3 times a week and those days are always weekdays. I have totally flourished under this schedule and I no longer feel the pressure to post just to post. 

PRE WRITE AND SCHEDULE YOUR POSTS

Has this ever happened to you?

You have an hour blocked off to write a blog post. You've finished other tasks and have the laptop open and your fingers on the keys and then blammo!!! You are completely uninspired and/or find that you just have nothing to write about? Or maybe you are distracted by something that just happened and you simply can't find it within you to crank out a post right at that moment. Or maybe you are going on vacation and won't have time to get the posts done during that time away. 

This is where pre-planning and scheduling will absolutely be your biggest friend when it comes to consistent blogging. I try to make my blog calendar months in advance and write posts way ahead of time depending on what I'm talking about. This is obviously way easier to do when you aren't blogging about your day to day life, but there is likely still some content that you can pre-schedule in order to take a bit of the burden off. 

When I have a month's blog posts written and scheduled a month ahead of time, I find that it frees up my creativity and I'm able to think of more topics and have more time to flesh them out. I can write when I'm feeling inspired and I don't feel so much pressure to write when I'm not. I'm still blogging consistently, but the pressure of the deadline isn't looming in front of me so creativity has full reign to flourish. 

USE A RESOURCE 

....like Buffer, Hootsuite, Meet Edgar or Co-Schedule to schedule everything ahead of time. Utilizing resources like social media tools can take some of the blech out of blogging. If you have your posts all scheduled and written for the week, you can schedule them on social media as well. This way you can crank out everything all at once and in one sitting instead of constantly having to interrupt what you are doing in order to post things online.

Remember that blogging is the process of building a foundation. Just because you may not have  a lot of readers now, doesn't mean you won't in the future. I find reminding myself of this and it helps me to stay un-frustrated about "numbers" or a following. I am encouraged to stay consistent when I realize that every single post I click "publish" on is building a stronger and stronger foundation for the future. 

Blogging consistently as a photographer

DECIDE IF YOU WANT TO GO LONG OR SHORT WITH CONTENT

It’s a good idea to figure out if you want to be a long or short content blogger. This can all be part of your blogging strategy….check out this post to find out how to create one. 

If your goal is to create super helpful and detailed long form content blog posts, then be realistic about how often you post. You know each post will take you a certain number of hours to write, so depending on your schedule you may realistically only be able to post once a week. 

If you are more the short content type of blogger however, posting 4-5 times a week may be less of a time commitment and you may be able to keep up with that schedule. Think about this ahead of time or if things change, make adjustments as you go. 

BE AWARE OF YOUR CALENDAR

The calendar is one of the most important things for a small business owner, especially if you have children. Keep that calendar up to date and bump it up against your blogging calendar. If you know you are going to be out of town for an extended period of time or if you have responsibilities or a big project that will be occupying a large chunk of time coming up, factor that in and get some posts pre-scheduled. This will keep you from running into a week out of nowhere, where you have zero time to get a blog post out and then you are hard on yourself because you couldn't get it all done. Life happens to everyone, being as planned out as possible ahead of time reduces the stress and lets you keep to a steady and consistent schedule!

Looking for blogging ideas to keep you going? Join the In Crowd and get my free 100 blogging ideas for creatives looking to grow their business through blogging! Just click the button below!

How I got the shot | Fall Maternity

Name: Jessica Salazar

Business Name: Jessica LS Photography

Why did you take this photo? : This portrait was part of a maternity session this fall. Mom had wanted a portrait that included the fall colors, the love between her and her husband, and one that she would love to hang in her home. I chose this location based on the fall colors, the tall grasses, and rolling hills. Needless to say, mom LOVED the location!

Camera: Canon 6D

Lens: 50mm 1.8

All exif data: f 4.0, 1/320, ISO 1250 - Natural lighting

Why did you use these settings? : I really like to make sure my entire subject (people) are in full focus. Because I knew dad was on a slightly different plain from mom's face, I chose a slightly higher f-stop. The shutter speed was to make sure the leaves wouldn't be blurry from the slight breeze in the background. The ISO was set higher because is was only 1 hour before sunset and we were hidden inside a tree line.

Thought process behind the photo: I'm so used to including the entire body of my clients in the full frame, I wanted to try something different. I cropped the portrait just above their knees to make sure it didn't look like they had their legs cut off. Placing my subject in the lower right corner would make them the center of the portrait by using the rule of thirds. Getting closer to my subjects also allows me to capture their expression and she how much love these two have for each other and their new baby inside. Turns out this was my favorite from the session as well as theirs!

Editing of the photo:  Because the sun was going down fast, as it does during the fall hours, it was adding quite a bit more blue to the image. With mom wearing a white shirt, I knew I needed to fix that in post process. Once I adjusted the blues, I added a pop of color to the leaves, brightened the light around the couple, and added a light sky layout since the sky was blown out.

How I got the Shot - Fall Maternity

3 sentence bio about you/your business: Jessica Salazar with Jessica LS Photography captures newborns, children, and growing families in Woodbridge, VA. She captures portraits both in studio lighting as well as natural light in the beautiful outdoors. Her favorite portraits are captured outside during the golden hour. When she's not busy editing portraits for families she rounding up her own 3 kiddos and capturing their awesome personalities!

Facebook | Instagram  | Pinterest

How I got the shot | Groom Details

Name: Cinnamon Wolfe

Business Name: Cinnamon Wolfe Photography

Brief story behind the photo: This is a groom detail shot from a wedding I 2nd shot with a friend. We were at a venue in the Poconos and were capturing bride and groom details in the hotel room while everyone was still getting ready at the salon. 

Camera: Canon 5d Mark iii

Lens: Sigma Art 35 mm 1.4

All exif data:  2.2 | 1/400 | 800 - all natural light 

Why did you use these settings: : It was a very cloudy day and we were next to a big grove of trees so even though we were outside the light available was still pretty dim. I normally shoot my 35mm between 2.0 and 2.8 when shooting details so I chose my aperture first and then ISO and dialed in the correct shutter speed for proper exposure. I exposed for the couch since that was essentially the lightest portion of the image. 

Thought process behind the photo: This was at a wedding I 2nd shot for a friend of mine. It was dreary and rainy outside and the hotel rooms we were in had green walls and low light. I took a couch cushion out on the patio right outside the room because it was grey and had a nice texture. When the grooms shoes are black it can sometimes be hard to 1) not have glare 2) get appropriate contrast between the shoes and whatever the shoes are on. 
I shot the shoes, tie, cufflinks and rings all on the same cushion out on the patio. The cushion was on a chair and even though it was sprinkling, it didn't affect the shots.

Editing done on the photo: Minimal editing. I applied my standard import preset which tightens everything up and then I desaturated a little bit of the blues since they were reflecting in the black shoes. 

StroudsmoorPA-102.jpg

Cinnamon is a family and wedding photographer based out of Northern New Jersey. She loves her Army husband her goofy pups and all things navy and white striped. She has a passion for marriage and wants all of her couples to have the easiest and funnest wedding day possible. 

6 reasons why squarespace is totally legit

You are thinking about (or are right in the middle of) starting up your very first photography business (or other creative small business) and you KNOW you have to get a website up and running. You need a place for potential clients to check out your work, figure out what you offer and hopefully hire you and pay you buckets of money. 

There are tons of good options out there. Some are more intuitive than others. Some are more customizable. Some are more expensive. Some cater to certain types of businesses. We live in an age where the options really are endless which sometimes makes making a choice seemingly impossible. 

This is where I make a case for Squarespace. Hey that rhymes!! 

I've been using Squarespace for 4+ years and am still as in love with it now as I was then. I think it is the absolute perfect platform for new business owners who need to get something up fast that is professional, easier on the checkbook than a lot of other options, and is able to grow with your business. 

is squarespace a good web platform

1 | WYSIWYG

Hands down the best thing to happen to web platform design. What you see is what you get. 

Squarespace is a WYSIWYG platform. You can literally make changes and see exactly what is changing while you are changing it. You can see exactly what it will look like online and published while you are updating it. No behind the scenes tinkering and then hitting publish and hoping for the best. 

For business owners who care about their visual presentation (that should cover 100% of photographers) this is of utmost importance. You want to be able to put your site together in a way that attracts the clients you are looking to work with. A WYSIWYG platform is a must. 

2 | Cost

I wouldn't necessarily call Squarespace cheap, but I also wouldn't call it expensive. For what you get with the platform, I DO think it is a great VALUE.

Affordability means something different to everyone, so value is really the measure we are looking at. For beginners this could mean $12 a month and for more advanced business owners with more needs, you are looking at only slightly more than that. I know other platforms that are upward of $40 a month and I don't think that what you get necessarily translates in terms of value. 

For a professional website that communicates your business and is able to convert clients, Squarespace is the perfect solution. 

3 | Professional

I've said this again and again in the past and it is one of my favorite things about Squarespace....they save you from yourself. 

Given a blank slate and zero design experience, most business owners creating their own websites will make terrible design decisions. Squarespace has done the heavy lifting for you and design options are customizable but also there is structure provided. You can't really have 15 different fonts on a Squarespace site and I promise you, that is a good thing. 

The templates all have a professional "feel" to them which only serves to give your business more credibility. 

4 | SEO

I repeat, Squarespace is NOT bad for your SEO. I don't know how this rumor got started and why it is still out there, but nothing about Squarespace and the way the backend works will be detrimental to your SEO efforts. I am proof positive of this. I have made many, MANY strategic SEO decisions on my photography site regarding SEO and I have had fantastic results and show on page one of google for MANY of my desired search terms. 

SEO is a moving target for any website platform and there are plenty of things you can do on your site to increase your effectiveness. Squarespace also makes it easy for you in terms of sitemaps as they are prebuilt for you and all you have to do is submit them to Google. Easy peasy. 

5 | Easy template change

Another one of my favorite things about Squarespace (can I actually have this many favorite things?) is how easily you can change from one look to another. 

We all know that as you grow in your business, so does your understanding of how to communicate your work, what you offer might change and how you want to talk to your clients and customers might morph and change over the years as well. Squarespace makes it so easy for your website to grow and change along with your business. 

With essentially two clicks you can change the entire template of your site and even though you might have to move some stuff around and make some tweaks, you can change the whole look and feel of your site instantly. 

I have changed the template on my photography website three times since I started it and I never once wanted to pull my hair out or break down crying in frustration so I consider that a WIN! 

6 | Full bleed templates 

Full bleed definitely seems to be the up and coming trend in photography websites right now. Everyone wants to showcase their images wide and huge across the screen. 

While some opinions may differ on whether or not this is actually a good idea, Squarespace has plenty of templates that make this an easy reality for photographers. You can present your images in a variety of ways through header images or index pages to show of your work loud and proud. 

7 | (Bonus) Gallery options

VERY important especially for photographers out there. With Squarespace you have so many options for showcasing your images through galleries. 

You essentially have five different options for showing off a gallery of images and you can utilize all five throughout your site in different ways if you choose.

  • Wanna show a simple slideshow? No problem! 
  • Want to stack your images on top of each other? Easy!
  • Looking to create a whole gallery page and display that way? You got it! 

I love the fact that Squarespace gives you the ability to use galleries in this way. It makes customization so much easier and if you think outside of the "box" you can get really creative with different ways to showcase various things on your site! 

Alrighty! I hope I have at least convinced you that Squarespace is absolutely a viable option for small business owners and photographers when it comes to their website. I absolutely love the platform and I know you will too! 


Come hang out with me! 

The Squarespace Summary Block | Don't Blog without it!

 
Squarespace Summary Block.jpg
 

Even though the original intention of Squarespace was not to be a powerful blogging platform, they have listened and responded to their users which in turn has really stepped up their game when it comes to the blogging world. They might not be shutting down Wordpress anytime soon, but anyone looking to have a Squarespace website can be assured that many of the same features desired by many bloggers are readily available through Squarespace.  I have blogged with Wordpress in the past and in complete transparency, I enjoy blogging on Squarespace MORE than I ever did with Wordpress and feel that they are making a lot of beneficial changes to encourage more bloggers to use their platform. 

One of my favorite features of blogging through Squarespace is the Summary Block. Once I discovered this gem, it literally changed EVERYTHING about how I blog and made my end goal of allowing my readers to have simple access to anything and everything they might need more of a reality. 

How to use the Squarespace Summary Block  | blogging on squarespace

While there are many uses of a summary block, I am going to show you how I incorporate the Summary Block into every single blog post I write and tell you why I do it. I also have a VIDEO at the end of the post describing the process of how to create a summary block in case you would rather watch than read. 

I like to make it easy on ya! 

Most bloggers are highly interested in making sure their readers are not only reading their current post, but also have access to other articles posted in the past that might also be interesting or provide useful content to that reader. Bloggers are also highly interested in keeping readers on their site to decrease their bounce rate and ultimately do on their website whatever it is that website owner wants their reader to do (click on ads, sign up or buy something etc...) Pointing your reader directly to that content is usually the easiest way to do this, but it's not always the most intuitive or "pretty. 

You can add links throughout your post to indicate that if your reader clicks on that link they will be taken to an article that is related to what you are writing about. Like this. However, if the reader is really interested in your article, they may not want to click away right at that moment to go and read something else. By the time they have finished with your article, they may have forgotten to go back and click the link or they might be distracted by something else. 

I have seen some bloggers add links to the bottom of their posts as well linking specifically to other content related to that post and since its at the end, it makes it more likely for readers to click over to see the additional info. I like this strategy and oftentimes incorporate it myself on certain series posts etc...

You can also add content or links to past content through your sidebar which is a fantastic method to not only provide a link to more of what your reader might want, but you can often pretty it up with graphics etc...to make the information even more appealing. 

how do i use a squarespace summary block?

Another awesome way to show your readers older, relevant posts is to add a summary block to the end of every post you write on Squarespace. 

CATEGORIES AND TAGS

Before you do this, its important to note that you should have a relatively good system in place for categorizing and tagging your blog posts. The Summary block does NOT pull the information randomly (like some Wordpress plugins do), you have to tell the block what info to pull and you do that by choosing a Category or Tag or both. 

For example, for this post I have it set to the Squarespace category with tips chosen for the tag. If I choose that combination in the summary block then it will only pull the most recent posts with those exact same Categories and Tags. So if this is your first post using those choices, the block will pull up empty (because there is nothing for it to pull from.) So you might want to select a broader Category (that is still relevant) but has posts attached to it. 

HOW TO CREATE A SUMMARY BLOCK

When you have reached the end of your blog post, click the insert point which brings up your block options. 

How to use the Squarespace Summary Block  | blogging on squarespace

You can select any of the four items, but I like to choose the Carousel for its simplicity and aesthetic. 

Once selected you will have the option to update the various settings. 

How to use the Squarespace Summary Block  | blogging on squarespace

Select BLOG and then click on Layout. This is where you can change the style if you like and make other choices on how the info will be displayed. I choose Carousel, change the text to "Other posts you might like" , change the text size to Small, change the aspect ratio to 1:1 and choose 4 posts per row. I leave the text positioning and meta data as is. 

How to use the Squarespace Summary Block  | blogging on squarespace

Then click over to Display. I change the number of items to display to 4 (although you can leave it at more if you like, its totally up to you), I click off Excerpt and then I choose my Category and Tag Selections. 

How to use the Squarespace Summary Block  | blogging on squarespace

For this post I am choosing only the category "squarespace" which will show my most recent posts that I have categorized squarespace. The good news, is that in the future, when I create another post and assign the category squarespace, it will automatically update this block on this post without me having to do anything! I consider that a total win! 

As you can see its relatively easy to create a summary block at the end of every post. It makes your posts look more professional and gives your readers options to click on something else that might look interesting to them and stay on your website a little longer. 

I do wish there was an option for the posts to be rotating and not always the MOST recent. I've noticed that older posts have a tendency to get buried since the summaries are always showing the latest info. I also wish that you could choose multiple categories or tags when selecting just to mix up the content a little as well. 

I'm certain Squarespace will continue to build out its platform and offer solutions to these minor issues, but until then, the summary block is a fantastic addition for any blogger to use on a regular basis! 


Looking to design your own website on Squarespace and feel like you need a little help? I've got a course that might be just perfect for you! Click below for more info! 


30 "to do" steps before starting your photography business

It is easier than ever before to start a photography business. With the availability and relatively low price of DSLR cameras combined with the fact that taking photos (mostly with our phones) has become an intricate part of our everyday lives, the barriers for entry into the "business of photography" are relatively low.

The process of being interested in photography, buying a camera, learning the ins and outs of exposure, composition and subject matter is different for every single photographer out there. There is no one "right way" to go about any of it. We all have different journeys and not all of those journeys lead into businesses. 

This list is meant essentially for those who are learning photography or have already been doing photography for a while and are interested in turning it into an actual business that is profitable. 

I distinctly remember when I first started in my own journey and scoured the internet for resources on how to actually "start" this thing that was to be Cinnamon Wolfe Photography. I never really found an all inclusive resource with helpful tips all in one place.

That is the problem this list is meant to solve! 

 
 

HOW DO I START MY PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS? 

You don't necessarily have to do ALL of these before you actually CALL yourself a photography business. Some of these are important to do beforehand and some of them can be done within the first year of your business. 

****They also don't have to be done in any particular order. They are just things you should be conscious of as you move forward into your business.. 

I will say that some of these really SHOULD be done at least before you start accepting money or charging people money for your services. I think it's an important distinction to make when we get into the muddy waters of hobby vs. business. To help understand where I am coming from here is how I categorize things in my mind to help make sense of all this: 

HOBBY:

If you photograph for free or just for fun (no money is changing hands) your photography is a hobby

HOBBY/BUSINESS: 

If you photograph on the side or part time but you charge people money you really have transitioned into business although some will still refer to it as a "hobby". 

BUSINESS:

If you photograph for a living, you have totally transitioned out of hobby and have a business. 

Is it just me or is the word HOBBY looking really weird about now?

So what sorts of things need to happen before or during your transition into an actual business?

1 | Register for an EIN number

You can apply easily online HERE

2 | Register with your state/city

(check local requirements)

3 | Get set up to pay sales tax appropriately

(check local requirements)

4 | Open a business checking account

I can NOT stress enough how important this is. Separating all of your business expenses from your personal makes everything about a MILLION times easier when it comes time for taxes! Just get your booty to the bank and open up that business account. You will NOT regret it! 

5 |  Get Insurance

I recommend Hill & Usher Package Choice

6 | Understand exposure

Being able to understand how exposure works and shooting in manual is pretty important when you start taking peoples money. With most things in photography, your knowledge of this will grow and grow and grow, but once you represent yourself as a business it is important to understand the basics about what you do.  

Read: Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson

7 | Website

Some would argue that you don't NEED a website to run a photography business and I guess in some ways that's true, but this business is VISUAL. You need a way to show people easily what you do and the type of work you produce. The internet is ingrained in our daily lives and having a professional website should be a given for any business owner. Luckily, Squarespace makes it very easy for you to do just that. Sign up for their basic plan and viola! You have a simple, gorgeous way to represent your business! 

8 | Create a business facebook page

9 | Create a business instagram 

10 | Invoice/take payment

How will you be invoicing or taking payment from your clients? I recommend 17hats!

11 | Contract

This is non-negotiable. I know a lot of photographers brand new to business forgo the contract or think contracts are only for weddings. This could not be further from the truth. You need a place to spell out the basics: what your client can expect from you and how they can expect it to be done. It doesn't have to be intimidating and full of legal mumbo jumbo it needs to set expectations. SO many issues can be avoided by taking this one simple step. Its better for your client and its better for you! 17hats also makes sending contracts a BREEZE! 

12 | Business Plan

Drafting up a simple business plan doesn't have to be complicated when you are first starting out on the business side of things. Write out what you want to accomplish (financially, technically etc...) and then write out how you plan on accomplishing that. Start simple in order to not get overwhelmed. The plan can grow with your business!  

13 | Image Delivery

Once you have determined your business plan or model, you will need to determine how you will be delivering images to your client. Will you be simply handing over the digital files? If so, how will you do that? Will you be selling physical products? If so, what will you sell and for how much? I currently use Shootproof for my digital image transfer and I love it! 

14 | Products

What products will you be offering clients, if any? If you don't offer products, where will you suggest clients get their products from. While online storage is popular, images WILL be printed and as a photography business owner, you need to familiarize yourself with this aspect of the business in order to help advise clients 

15 | File system for images and back up

It didn't take me but a month to discover that now that I was taking photos all the time, I needed a better system for organizing them. Plan out an organization system that works for you sooner than later, I promise you will not regret this! 

You also need a plan for backing up those photos. Whether it be to external hard drives, the cloud or both, get a system in place as soon as possible. 

16 | Lightroom

Buy, install and learn how to use Lightroom. It will be your best friend. 

Related Post: Everything you need to know to get started in Lightroom. 

17 | Client Management System

How will you manage your clients and the workflow that goes into each one? Pen and paper? Notebook? Online system? Again 17hats for the win! 

18 | Lighting

You should have at minimum an understanding of how off camera flash works. You don't have to be an expert, but situations will come up where you might need it, and it's better to be prepared than to walk into a situation you are completely unprepared for. 

Start here for more info on getting started with OCF

19 | Workshop

I would highly recommend attending some sort of in person workshop/mentoring/coaching or training at some point in the first year or year and a half of your business. Online learning is fantastic, but one on one communication can't be topped! 

20 | Join local photography group

Rising Tide Society and Tuesdays Together would be a fantastic choice!

21 | Rent lenses 

It is VERY easy to fall into the "BUY ALL THE LENSES" trap! There are lots of places that you can rent lenses for the weekend to play with and see how you feel about them before you purchase. I've bought and sold a FEW lenses since I started and am not finally at the place where I feel like I have what works best for me. RENT first and save yourself some time and money! 

22 | Invest in backup camera body

This may not need to happen for 6mo to a year in, but it's good to start planning for the future as soon as possible. If you depend on your camera to make money and something happens to it (it's a piece of equipment...anything can happen!) then what is your plan? Having a backup is essential for a business owner! 

23 | Offer discounted portfolio sessions for friends and family for practice

When you offer discounted portfolio sessions you set yourself up for success by communicating to your clients that the rate they are receiving is discounted. At some point in the future when your experience and knowledge expand, so will your pricing and it won't be as much of a shock to the system. Starting off on the right foot with pricing can save you hours of headaches later! 

24 | Read The E-Myth by Michael Gerber

25 | Decide on your business name and get a logo

Your first logo WILL change, I can almost guarantee that. There is so much to learn regarding branding and ideal client (which will likely happen in years 2 and 3) that almost 99% of the time the logo will change. But you need to have something to start with, even if it's just your name in a font that you like. Try to create one in Canva or look for one on Etsy. 

26 | Learn as much about posing as possible

Posing quickly became one of the things I struggled with the most after I felt more relaxed about my camera settings. It doesn't matter who you are, when someone points a camera at you, everything changes! We automatically stiffen and look awkward because we just don't know what to do with ourselves. Making people comfortable in front of the camera and directing them is CHALLENGING. But it can be practiced and learned. 

Read: Picture Perfect Posing by Roberto Valenzuela

27 | Find another photographer in your area and trade for professional headshots

28 | Reach out to a few photographers you admire and ask to 2nd shoot

29 | Learn how to use Back button focus

Related Post: How to be BFF with BBF

30 | Continually write down and follow up on your goals every 3 months, 6 months and yearly

 

*** some of the above links ARE affiliate links, but I never recommend things I haven't personally used and loved!


Does blogging on Squarespace Suck? 6 reasons why it doesn't

Ok, ok, I know my title might be a little intense...but it got your attention right? Sometimes there is freedom in just saying what everyone is collectively thinking instead of dancing around the subject. Is Squarespace a bloggers nightmare? The answer may surprise you! 

Wordpress may be king of the blog-o-sphere and I have nothing against it, I think it's a fabulous platform for any website or blog, HOWEVER, if you prefer the Squarespace look and feel AND you still want to have an active, successful and GROWING blog...you CAN! 

I'll admit, when I first started on Squarespace I was kind of off-put by the alleged limitations of the blog functionality. I was used to Wordpress and felt slightly handcuffed by Squarespace. But the more I learned about the platform and all it had to offer, I realized that blogging on Squarespace is actually pretty awesome. Let's chat about why! 

ITS INCLUDED

The thing about Squarespace is that it's a website platform that is really all inclusive. No separate hosting, no buying your domain somewhere else, no linking a blog from a different platform. All of that just complicates things. Its kind of like the Apple of the website platform world. Sure you may not be able to add crazy customizations, but you know what? It WORKS.

Seamlessly.

You can build your website and then choose to include the blog or not. If you want to include it, you pretty much just put it in your nav bar and start blogging. Its all in one and the look and feel of your website stays the same and because its all tied together, your SEO increases. #Winning. 

BLOG SIDEBAR

If you have followed this blog for any amount of time, you KNOW I am a fan of the blog sidebar. This ONE tool gives you so much more opportunity to help your readers find information they want and keep them around your site longer. You can showcase yourself, your social media, a search function, popular posts, you name it...you can pretty much add in whatever you want and it simply enriches the experience of your reader. 

My number one pet peeve of blogs is when they don't have helpful sidebars. Not being able to find info on a blog or in the archive of that blog is an instant reason to click out and go on to something else. 

Although not all of Squarespace's templates include a sidebar functionality, a lot of them do. A list is included in the post linked below.

SUMMARY BLOCK

Again, another favorite feature. In Wordpress there are some plugins that you can add that will pop in related posts at the end of your blog posts and until I discovered the summary block, I thought that this was a serious limitation of Squarespace blogs. But once I discovered the ease of putting a summary block in at the end of your post and specifying what types of posts you want to show in that block, my world was ROCKED. 

Now I could show readers similar content that they might want to read right at the end of the post they got through. I could organize my archive page to look GOOD. Even though some may say that a huge limitation of the summary block is that it doesn't show random selections (it will pull in by most recently posted) that doesn't bother me so much. I'd rather have some control over what exactly is shown by using a robust category and tag system. 

Related Post: 4 Uses for the Squarespace Summary Block

DRAG AND DROP

The same reason I find Squarespace so user friendly overall, is one of the same reasons blogging on Squarespace is a breeze. Its a WYSIWYG system that you can "see" as you build. No complicated coding that you have to decipher. No windows that you write in and when you preview the screen it looks totally different from where you just were. 

You simply build the post and it looks just like it will live. 

You can see how your headers will look, how your images will show, any special elements that you add in like lines or graphs or videos or....? They all show right on the screen in the same way they will show once the post is live. 

Real life example: I have a friend who I worked with recently to switch her photography site over to Squarespace. She felt intimidated by the change and was really worried she wouldn't be able to seamlessly pick up how to use it. I built the site and then showed her the basics of how to build a blog post and within one week, she had written about 20+ blog posts!!! She never really even blogged before and now she is a blogging machine! The Squarespace system is simple and intuitive and even if you feel you are "technically challenged" you can still blog like the wind! 

SEO

Blogging in general will consistently help your site to be better optimized for search terms, but to go back to my last point, when blogging becomes more simple and less of a headache, you want to do it more!  

You can easily add descriptions to your images and galleries, you can add keyword rich URL's that are different from your actual title, you can utilize a header structure with your content to make sure your info is robust and organized and the list goes on and on...

Coming soon! ---> My ebook on DIY SEO for Squarespace! 

NO PLUGINS FREAKING OUT

Ok so if you have never used Wordpress, you will have no idea what I am talking about, but let me tell you when I used to blog on Wordpress I always felt like something was on the brink of breaking or completely wigging out on me. 

Since plugins are open source and created by all sorts of different people, they don't always play perfectly with the wordpress system. But the plugins are essentially what makes your site customized and lookin' good. You really can't operate without them. 

However, since most of the plug-ins are third party there are constant issues with them. They are being updated, or they have a bug, or something just doesn't work and you constantly get messages and error messages and they honestly are not that easy to understand unless you are a tech guru or Wordpress expert. Its stressful and time consuming if something actually breaks. 

With Squarespace that pretty much all disappears. Squarespace keeps an eye on the plugin market and makes updates based on the most popular. The updates are all in house so if something improves, it just benefits you instead of terrifying you that your website will be wonked out and you have no idea how to go about fixing it. 

Some people are so used to plugins and hate the idea of not being able to utilize them, but I am not one of those people. I love how robust the offerings of Squarespace are already and if you DO absolutely want something changed or altered, custom CSS is always an option!

So there you have it! Blogging on Squarespace does not have to limit you. Even though Squarespace wasn't created specifically for blogging, they have really done a lot of work to improve the blogging functionality within the system. I love it and I think you will too!!

How to create an Anti-Boring blog post in Squarespace

I'm quite sure it's no one's actual intention to create a boring blog post (on Squarespace or any other platform for that matter) but the unfortunate truth is that more times than not, bloggers have great ideas but their execution is poor. 

The popularity of blogs in the past 10 years and the crazy insane number of blogs out there (150 million plus!!!!) has led to some very interesting data and strategies. Gone are the days when you just type some of your thoughts down onto a webpage and click submit. 

There are many different strategies you can implement TODAY to make your blog posts more interesting and more readable which in turns will hopefully turn into more readers and more loyal readers. That should ultimately positively affect your bottom line. Who doesn't want that? 

 
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ADD IMAGES

The first and easiest ways to add interest to your blog post is by adding images. We are a very visual society and even though the main focus of any blog post is typically conveying some sort of message through written words, using images to add context, texture and interest to that story keeps your readers eyes moving and breaks up the monotony of reading rows and rows of text that seem to never end. 

Images also can convey very quickly what your blog post is about, a point you are trying to make or they can show your reader what you are talking about. Anyone else out there prefer cookbooks that include pictures instead of just recipes?

I'm raising my hand!!!

And I even go one step further and prefer watching videos or cooking shows so I can watch the entire process from start to finish. That is so much easier for me than reading a recipe and trying to figure it out. 

This is one of the reasons I started implementing videos into my blog posts. Sometimes it helps 100% to see the process being done rather than reading about it. Luckily technology is at a point that this is really simple to do! 

In Squarespace....

Use Image blocks or gallery blocks to add images throughout your post.

  • click on the insert point in your blog post where you want to insert the image
  • upload the image
  • add the description (don't forget this!! very important for SEO)
  • decide if you want to caption or not
  • add a link if necessary

BREAK IT UP

Utilize formatting. ALL DAY. No one likes to admit it, but we all SKIMM. The first thing I do when I open up an informative blog post is skim for the headers to get a general gist of the info that is being covered. THEN I can determine if its worth my time to actually go through and read ALL the words on the page. If I open up a blog post and it's one big blob of text without any breaks, headers, bullets etc....my desire to dig into the meat of the post crashes and burns almost instantly. 

When I worked in Human Resources, this was a key element we would talk to employees about when they submitted resumes for promotions. Don't list all of your skills and abilities or job duties in one giant paragraph. Bullet point everything so it makes it easier for the hiring manager to quickly see what you are all about. 

The same theory applies here. Make it easier for your readers to invest in your post. Most people who read blogs look at 10+ blog posts a day...don't let yours be one of the first to get clicked out of because of a hard to read format!

In Squarespace...

Utilize the formating functions in your text block. I typically use Heading 2 and Heading 3 for my posts. 

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WHITE SPACE BABY

Up until about two years ago, the concept of white space never really occurred to me before. Kind of makes sense being that I am not nor have I ever studied design, but white space and proper usage of that white space can be a huge draw to blog readers. 

  • Have you ever clicked on a site that had an all black background and white text?
  • Have you ever clicked on a site that had a patterned or textured background with text on top of it that was almost impossible to read?
  • Have you ever clicked on a site where everything seemed jumbled and out of sorts and on top of each other and too small or too large and on and on and on....? 

Proper utilization of white space in your blog posts can help your reader navigate the page, engage with the post and it's easy on the eyes. Squarespace has the added bonus of being ALL ABOUT great use of white space and you can take it even further by adding line blocks in your post or spacer blocks as well! 

In Squarespace....

Insert line blocks to create more white space and break up your post visually or add spacer blocks to create space in between elements of your post. 

SUMMARY BLOCKS

If you have followed my blog for any bit of time you are probably pretty familiar with my love affair with the Squarespace summary blocks. Despite the fact that it still doesn't allow things to pull in randomly, I think summary blocks are always a great addition to add at the end of EVERY blog post to let your readers have quick visibility to relevant and older content on your site. 

If someone clicks your post and skims the headings and doesn't see any info new or helpful to them BUT then gets to the end of your post and sees an older post that DOES have info that they are interested in then BOOM. You've kept a reader on your site longer than you would have if they hadn't had that quick visibility into your past content. 

Squarespace summary blocks FOR THE WIN. 

Just go check out this blog post....trust me. 

VIDEO

I have a feeling that video is kind of sort of maybe possibly the wave of the future. Have you seen a facebook newsfeed these days? Video after video after video. YouTube is HUGE. I wouldn't have been able to fix the washing machine without the beauty of five different 2 minute videos on youtube.

Don't get me wrong there are tons of people who still like to read and get their information that way, but there are just as many people who like to watch and learn and see someone else doing something. It's a powerful medium and one I'm glad I've tapped into. I hope to continue and take it even further in the future! 

In Squarespace....

It could NOT be easier to add a video to your post. Simply create your video and upload it to your host of choice (I use Vimeo) and then add a video block!  

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GRAPHS AND CHARTS

This is not something I've utilized in my posts simply because my subject matter doesn't typically necessitate a chart or a graph, but the data geek inside me loves that there is an option for this in SS and its so easy to do! I might have to make up a blog post just about some statistics just so I can utilize this feature. 

BORING BLOG POSTS VS. NON BORING BLOG POSTS

Don't let this be you!

In Squarespace....

Utilize the chart blocks feature and play around with all of the fun options! Its really easy to customize! 

INFOGRAPHICS

Also something I haven't used personally in my posts, mostly because I'm not a graphic designer and it would take me about a hundred years to actually put one together, but if you have the ability to create an infographic or can hire someone out to make some for you, I say go for it. Infographics are a great way to convey a lot of information in a concise way and they are HIGHLY pinnable. 

In Squarespace...

Just add an image block and upload your infographic! 

BIO

I've seen a lot of bloggers do this if there are more than one contributor to their blog or if they simply want to get their face and info on front of people who might be landing on the blog post without having seen the rest of the website. Its an easy and simple way to introduce the writer of the post to the audience in an aesthetically pleasing way. 

In Squarespace...

Simply add an image block with your headshot and then add a text block with the info and drag them next to each other. Viola! 


Cinnamon Wolfe is a wife, stepmom and pet mom who blogs like the wind and likes to take pictures in her backyard. 

 

Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest 


Is your website missing these 4 crucial things?

Although I've heard advice that ranges the spectrum on this, looking at other photographers and creatives websites can be a highly educational activity. Even though it can become overwhelming if you are not able to control the oh-my-gosh-that-is-the-coolest-idea-ever-and-I-have-to-implement-that-on-my-website-right-away impulse that often strikes when looking at others websites, getting inspiration from others or simply seeing how others organize their thoughts can be highly inspirational. 

I spend a lot of time on other peoples websites. In this ever increasing online world, I do my best not to waste time while online, but rather to learn something, to be inspired, and to connect. In any given week, I probably view 50+ new to me websites. Mostly it goes down a little something like this: 

  • I see a thread in a facebook group that interests me
  • I might comment or I might just read through all of the comments looking for info, opinions, questions etc...
  • Someone's comment sticks out to me for some specific reason and I click their name
  • 50% of the time I can access their business facebook page so I click on that

*This is an important time to mention how important it is to be able to access your business facebook page from your personal page. Depending on your settings, someone who is not your friend may not be able to see that information on your profile. I would HIGHLY suggest making that portion of your profile visible to anyone who clicks on your personal facebook page. A lot of people don't even know that sometimes people have NO WAY of finding their business page from their personal page! 

  • Once on the business page, I see if they have a website listed, if so, I click on over. 
  • I turn off the annoying music that starts playing (I love ya, but the music has got to go!) and then begin perusing their site

BLAMMO!

This is where I start to see problems. Problems that sometimes make me want to close out their website. Problems that prevent me from connecting with them. Problems that could lose them business. 

Don't let something minor get in the way of gaining a client! 

 
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Even though I already spend quite a bit of time checking out other creatives sites, I really started picking up on these three issues when I started looking for other photographers and creatives to connect with once in New Jersey. I was shocked at the level of unprofessional websites that I came across even from the first couple pages of search terms that I was googling.

This list is comprised of the most common things that were missing that prevented me from going further with a LOT of sites and also communicated more to me than I initially thought. 

1 | YOUR LOCATION

This is the number one thing I look for when looking at other creatives (photographers, designers, planners etc...) websites, and I would estimate that at least 50% of those people do not have this information easily accessible on their site. 

Where are you? Where do you do business? What area of the country to you serve? What cities? How am I supposed to know if I can hire you to take my families photos or my wedding photos if I don't even know if you are anywhere near me? 

In the majority of sites that I pulled up after googling "NJ wedding photographers" I clicked on their site and there was no reference anywhere to the fact that they were actually IN NJ. Maybe some of their blog posts had NJ locations listed, maybe they mentioned it someplace somewhere on their site, but I had no idea if they were actually located in NJ or NY or even PA for that matter. A lot of stuff is very close up here in the east coast and I (as a potential client) may not end up emailing or inquiring about services if I don't even know if you are local. 

You want to make things as easy as possible for potential clients when they are on your website. Don't make them panic to turn off crazy music that starts playing once your site loads (again....stop, pretty please with a cherry on top? ;-) ) and don't make them email you just to find out if you are even in the same part of the country as they are. 

This is also important for connecting with other creatives to partner and network with. When searching for other creatives in the wedding industry I had the absolute hardest time determining where people were located. While some in creative industries do most of their business online and can essentially serve their clients from anywhere in the country, I am still of the opinion it's important to at least state on one part of your website (your about me or contact page) where you are located for local connections and networking! 

As an added bonus, the more places you mention on your website where you are located improves your SEO. You have more opportunity to show in searches that include those terms. 

On my photography website I have very detailed and specific information regarding my location on every single page of my website, so a client is never even one click away from knowing where to find me! 

have your location on your website

2 | YOUR PICTURE

I'll be honest, I was on the fence about this one for a while, and I can understand some photographers hesitation about putting their own picture on their website. After all, you are in business to take other people's pictures right? Not focus on yourself, right? However, after visiting a few websites when I was shopping for something specific, it did not take long for me to wholeheartedly become a proponent and advocate for showing yourself as much as possible on every part of social media as possible for a few different reasons. 

It generates trust

You are a photographer. It should be a no brainer that you should have at least one picture of yourself on your website. I know a lot of photographers say they are photographers because they don't like being in front of the camera, but even if you don't like it you still have to, in a sense, practice what you preach! One of your main jobs is to make people feel comfortable in front of the lens and draw out their personalities in a way that makes them feel great. 

Trusting someone with your wedding, newborn, or family photos is a tough enough decision. Making them wait until the day of to even see what you look like, how you present yourself etc...is just not fair to them in my opinion. I have visited countless sites of photographers who have no photos of themselves anywhere (or they have the dreaded camera in front of their face photo) and little to no actual information about themselves either. If the only thing I am seeing on their website is images, they have no skin in the game. It could be a scam. It doesn't read professional to me. Click, website closed and on to the next one. 

As a bonus tip, make sure you photos across all social media platforms are branded and similar. If a client sees a professional photo of you on your website and then clicks over to Twitter and sees you and four of your friends at the latest T-Swift concert and then clicks your FB page and sees a photo of a person that looks nothing like the other photos (because you opted to make your fb profile picture a picture that you TOOK, not that is of you) and then they click your IG and see a photo of a baby, they are going to be confused! Make them branded and consistent. Make it easy for your potential clients to know what to expect! 

(This is an old photo collage from my various social media accounts)

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Helps you attract your ideal client

Whomever you have decided is that perfect client fit for you, your branded photos can help attract that type of client. If you are looking for spirited brides you might want to post a photo of your laughing and having a great time. If you are looking for more romantic, classic brides, you might want a photo of yourself in a flower crown in a field. If your aim is iconic, timeless and more reserved brides, you might want a black and white photo of yourself with a more reserved expression. If your ideal bride is quirky and alternative, maybe you want to show off your own quirky, alternative style in your photos. 

Whatever it is that you are looking to attract is likely an extension of who you are inherently even though there may be minor differences. Photos of yourself on your website and social media is one additional way you can work to attract your ideal client through consistent branded images. 

Provides a sense of comfort

I consider photography to be a very intimate thing. Stepping in front of a lens can be terrifying for some people and for most people it's at least a little awkward. Letting people "in" and letting them see you well before you meet up in person for whatever type of photo session you are doing makes the whole process more comfortable for them. They won't have to wonder how they will find you at the location. They won't have to worry about you being totally different from how you verbally represented yourself online. Comfortable clients equal happy clients who talk about you to their friends. If you haven't already added your photo do your website or social media....do it now! =) 

3 | A WAY TO FOLLOW YOUR BLOG

If you are a photographer who has decided to blog, by all means provide me a way to see your posts if I want to!

This is something that confuses me every time I run into it. I have happened across many different photography or educational blogs that have some fantastic material but short of just bookmarking their site and maybe remembering to go back and check in with it, there is no way for me to directly follow their blog from their blog.  This is a huge missed opportunity. 

If you are taking the time and effort to actually craft blog posts with great content, make it easy for people to access and share that information!

If I have to open up bloglovin, search around and hopefully find your blog, and then follow I just might not have the time or the energy in that moment to go through all those steps. If I had a simple sidebar button or opt in box on that page, my life has just become much easier and the probability that I will sign up has increased greatly! 

If you are blogging strictly for SEO purposes, maybe you aren't really interested in others following along with your blog posts, but I feel that is a rarity. There is so much content out there already, that if you aren't being smart about the way you craft and share your content then it will simply get lost in the madness of the internet. If any part of your blogging purpose involves creating content that helps people then by all means, help them by making it easy for them to sign up! 

This should be a good time to mention that you can sign up for these posts through the Bloglovin' button on my sidebar or you can also join the IN CROWD for more email goodies, info and strategy for your business! PLUS you get a free download of 100 blogging ideas. Yes, please! 

and last but not least....

4 | Your email address

PLEASE, please please include your actual email address SOMEWHERE on your site!!! Not every single person who visits your website needs to contact you through your contact form I promise! And if some people have to go through the rigamaroll (is that a word?) of filling out your contact form, they might just forgo contacting you all together. 

As associate editor for Red Oak Weddings I need to email vendors all the time and sometimes if they don't have an easy to find email address (because I just need to send them info, I don't need to fill out a huge form JUST to even get their email address) then they might actually just miss out on what I need to say b/c the process is too lengthy to get in touch with them. 

Put your email address somewhere on your site. In your footer, on your contact page, I don't care where...just do it!! 

Ok, rant over. Thanks for bearing with me. ;-) 


Want some more awesome tips designed specifically to help you get stuff done? Join the In Crowd! 

I can't write about myself! 5 simple steps to creating a killer about me page

Whats worse than getting a root canal? The majority of small creative business owners will tell you that writing their 'about me' page on their website pretty much ALWAYS wins in that battle. 

Why is it so challenging to write about ourselves? To describe what we do and why we do it as well as including a bit about our personality should be easy right? 

Wrong. So, so wrong. 

Some of it has to do with humility. We don't want to sound braggy or like we think we are the bees knees, but in reality that is in direct contradiction of having a website to promote your services. The whole point of the website is really to say "hey, you should hire ME and here is why!" Its very hard to do that without talking a little bit about why exactly you ARE the bees knees. 

Other times, we just don't feel like we are all that interesting or we try to hide behind the whole "it's about my client not about ME" nonsense. It is YOUR business, you are the one providing the service and YES your client does care about that. Don't you when choosing people to do work with? 

Despite all of the reasons why it's important, it can still be very challenging to put together an about me page that not only accurately portrays what you want to communicate but also attracts your ideal client. Here are some tips to get you started creating a KILLER about me page! 

 
 

INCLUDE YOUR PHOTO (OR TWO OR THREE)

Seriously YA'LL! GET your faces out from behind those cameras (yes I'm talking to those of you with the photos of you on your website in a mirror with a camera in front of your face) and get them on to your website. I don't care what you do or what profession you are in (stationery designers with those nice hand/arm shots...I'm lookin' at you!) your potential clients want to SEE you and know who they are working with. 

Seeing the face and the eyes of a person you are potentially about to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars with is a HUGE way to build trust. I would love to do some sort of informal study one day and put 100 brides and grooms in a room and show them websites of vendors with and without headshot photos included and see which they are more drawn too. I have a sneaky suspicion I can guess the results! 

Even better...include a few different photos on your about page. Show some photos of you being you or living your life. Every single image tells your potential client more and more about you and builds more and more trust. 

And a side note...try (if you can) to get branded headshots, professional quality and include them across ALL of your social media platforms. Talk about a confidence builder for your potential clients...if everywhere they go they see the same or a similar looking photo, it exudes professionalism and trustworthiness! 

BREAK IT DOWN

When really struggling to communicate what it is you do and why you do it, break it down in the form of questions and then answer those questions. 

  • What do you do? (be specific!) 
  • Why do you do it?
  • Who do you do it for?
  • What do you do when are are not doing it? 

Hello! My name is Cinnamon and I am a wedding photographer. I photograph seriously awesome couples who are joining their lives together as one, and I believe with my whole heart and soul that needs to be celebrated and captured. When I'm not behind the camera, you can find me cozied up on the couch next to my handsome husband and fluffy pups with my nose in a book and my hand wrapped around a coffee cup. 

^^^This is just one short example of answering those questions in a specific and honest way. You don't have to make your About Me page a novel staring you, you just have to clearly communicate enough about yourself so that visitors don't leave confused. 

WRITE FOR YOUR IDEAL CLIENT

Let's be honest, nine times out of ten our ideal client is very similar to us. And if they aren't, they would probably still be someone we would definitely want to be friends with. Small, creative businesses rarely cater to the general public nor should they try to appeal to EVERYONE with all sorts of conflicting needs and wants. If you try doing this, you will likely end up doing a disservice to not only them, but you too! Identifying your ideal client frees from that burden of trying to make everyone happy and lets you focus on the things that matter the most! 

So use words you would normally use in conversation. If you are more laid-back and care-free, and use a lot of humor when you talk with people, do the same on your about page. If you are more structured and precise, showcase that.....don't try to be something you're not...just be you. 

If your ideal client is more eclectic and unique, talk more about your eclectic and unique hobbies and interest. If your ideal client is adventurous and outdoorsy, talk more about your interests that involve the same. 

We are all dynamic individuals with MANY different interests, tastes, and hobbies that make our eyes sparkle and our hearts pitter patter. We don't have to tackle ALL THE THINGS on our about pages...we just need to share enough about the side of ourselves that will connect most with the type of client we want to attract! 

INCLUDE A LIST

This is probably the easiest and hardest thing to come up with, but it is SUCH a great way for someone to get to know you better in a really short period of time. 

Think about 5 things that make you special...unique...that make you...YOU, and then write them out in list form. 

Love going to the gym? Love chocolate? Do you walk your dogs every day without fail? What is your favorite drink? Are you always at the movie? Always got your nose in a book? Always shopping for new shoes? Always adventuring with your spouse or family? Always take a 10 min nap every day? Always get up at 5 in the morning? 

I hear people say it all the time...."nothing about me is interesting"...that could NOT be farther from the truth!!! YOU may not find it interesting, but other people may find it fascinating. Don't underestimate the power of the little details that people can connect with. 


I recently had a bride contact me for her wedding and in her email she specifically said, "I love how you mentioned diet coke on your website!" Seriously! Something small and seemingly insignificant creates connection. 


SEND THEM SOMEWHERE ELSE

Don't try to overload visitors with every story about your childhood when you were five and always had a camera in your hand. Don't include huge paragraphs of text going on and on about every little thing that inspires or drives you. Instead...put links to other places on your website (how about that dusty ol' blog?) where you talk about those things. 

If visitors to your site are already interested in what you are saying, they will likely click to see more instead of feeling like they are being bombarded with info off the bat. 

On my about page I have a couple of links to not only my camera gear, but also to the story of how Paul and I met and courted. This way if what I am saying is resonating with them, they have the ability to click deeper into my website and fall more and more in love with me and all I have to offer them! 

Want to learn more about me? Click HERE to check out my about page! (<---see what I did there?) ;-) 

Tell me about YOU!! Leave one (or more) fun fact about yourself in the comments!!

5 actionable ways to avoid the comparison trap

You've seen the quotes written in flowery or calligraphy-ied (is that a word) writing...splashed in watercolor in a beautiful IG feed...

At the heart of every single one of these encouraging and uplifting statements is a deep seeded truth : you have worth. You DO matter and what you have to say/create/provide is meaningful in some way. 

Comparison is ever present in all facets of life and obviously doesn't just exist in the photography or creative industry. I felt the same pull of unworthiness, never good enough-ness, someone is always doing it better than me-ness when I was in college, when I was in corporate america, heck just living everyday life with other people....it's just always there. 

I've given up trying to force myself to not fall into the comparison trap. Its human nature, it's GOING to happen. No matter how many times you post an uplifting saying on Instagram or read an encouraging blog post, no matter how many times the tears well up because you realize someone out there (who you didn't really realize struggles with it too) "gets" it, get's you...those feelings of inadequacy creep in when you least expect them. Or sometimes exactly when you expect them....during hour three of scrolling through facebook feeds of uber successful and talented (whomever) who is doing all the things YOU want to be doing but aren't for (whatever reason.) Maybe they've got 5 years on you. Maybe they don't have three kids in the house. Maybe staying 120lbs comes naturally to them. Maybe their husband joined in business with them. 

Maybe, just maybe, they are called for a different purpose than you are. Maybe, just maybe, someone is looking at you from afar and thinking...."I wish I had the courage to start MY own business..."

Let that sink in for a minute. 

When the comparison darkness begins its slow and meticulous creep into the window of your soul, you have to take action. Just wanting it to stop is not enough. You have to confront it head on. You have to look it in the eye and say, "not today....today is about doing at least one thing to move my business forward...and despite what everyone else is doing or accomplishing, I will move forward." 

Here are 5 actionable steps to get out of that slump and continue moving forward! 

How do I avoid comparing myself to others?

ENCOURAGE SOMEONE ELSE

This is one of the first things I do when I feel the comparison or "I'm not worthy" monster creeping around in my environment. I don't often feel jealousy or envy or anger towards others in my industry's success, but I do often feel discouraged. Comparing my current chapter to their finished novel. When those feeling strike, I make it a point to somehow, in someway, encourage someone else.

Liking a post on fb takes a millisecond. Retweeting something takes about a second. Double tapping a photo or taking a second to comment on an IG photo takes slightly longer but we still are in the seconds category. Despite all of our best efforts to not let social media be the end all be all gage for our self worth, a little social media love never hurt ANYONE.  There is SO MUCH information floating around out there, every day we are bombarded with content, content, content and oftentimes creating content ourselves. We put a lot of hard work into creating content that is helpful and having that recognized in some way shape or form means a lot! Be social. Provide feedback and encouragement. People notice. And taking the focus off of you, is always good for the soul. 

GET OFF OF SOCIAL MEDIA

I know this may seem counter-intuitive based on the above, but I am a firm believer in taking breaks or extended breaks from all thing social media. If you are feeling large amounts of discouragement about where you are in your journey and you are also spending inordinate amounts of time online or involved in social media, take a time out. Delete the apps off of your phone for a week. Take a weekend and don't check FB or IG at all for the whole weekend. Set social media guidelines for your workday (only allowed to look for one hour a day etc...). You will be surprised how much your spirits lift and your creativity flows when you are left to your OWN devices and imagination to complete your tasks or projects. 

TALK TO SOMEONE

Call a friend. Talk to your spouse. Ask a mentor or another creative out for lunch or coffee. As entrepreneurs, we often are isolated and lonely since the majority of us work on our own and not surrounded by people all day long (well, people who aren't begging you to go outside and play or make them a snack or tugging on your pant leg asking a million questions.) Often the isolated nature of jobs leads to increased frustration and discouragement, especially when we see others succeeding. Getting out of your head and back into the real world with real people who you know and see in person jolts you right out of that place. Make a habit of it.  

LIST YOUR GOALS AND FOCUS ON YOUR WHY

If you don't have a printed list of your goals (short term and long term) posted near your desk or workspace....do it! Having a visual reminder of where you want to go and what you want to accomplish can instantly help you to refocus and leave that comparison monster in the dust. When we begin to let comparison and feelings of discouragement control our lives, we are more focused on what OTHERS are doing or achieving rather than what WE are trying to achieve. No one meets their own goals by spending all their time thinking about other people's goals. That's just silly. 

List out all of your short term goals by month, 6 months and a year and then also list out your longer term goals for 5 + years. Make them SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely). I also recommend writing down your WHY (more about that HERE) and having that somewhere where you can see it as well during the day. Even though our WHY is often something that we are able to spout off at any moment, seeing the words written down has a tendency to refocus our brain to the task at hand. It grounds you and gives you a sense of purpose. If you have ever felt like giving up your business or journey completely, it is your WHY that will often bring you back from the brink of quitting and help you stay on your path! 

TAKE STOCK OF WHERE YOU HAVE BEEN 

This one is hard for me and often the last thing I resort to. It's easy when you have so many ideas about where you want to go, that you completely forget about where you've been. I've been in business for two years and the progress I've made is astounding! Small business owners and entrepreneurs are often times big dreamers and low on patience. They want to accomplish a LOT in a little bit of time. But in reality, life just doesn't work that way. It takes hard work, sweat equity and TIME to bring those dreams to life. 

When you look back to see where you've been and all of the lessons you've learned along the way, you can center yourself on the fact that you HAVE accomplished big things already, so if you keep doing what you are doing then you will likely continue to accomplish your goals. 

The comparison below is one that I consider often. This is Caitlin and she trusted me when I FIRST started taking pictures and continued to trust and encourage me along my journey. The photo on the left was about a month after I picked up a camera and the photo on the right was almost exactly two years later. Not only has my knowledge of the technical side of photography grown by leaps and bounds, but my business knowledge has as well. These photos represent all of that. I may have many, many BIG goals that I aim to achieve in the future and I do get frustrated that I'm not there yet, but these photos remind me that I have come so far and will continue to grow.