How to build your own website – what to write

If you have been following this series so far, I hope you have found the information Maddy has been sharing useful. Today I am sharing the next steps in how to build your own website, looking at what to write on your WordPress site  and the pages you should have. Over to Maddy…

 

So, here’s how to install WordPress, how to choose a hosting provider and how to purchase your domain name, here’s how to set up your WordPress Maintenance page and how to create your menu.

But what next? You can consider what kind of content you’d like to provide. Here are the basic pages you should definitely have on your website as a photographer:

Homepage

This should feature the main navigation menu, have professional and high resolution images to display of your work, and introduce your business to the reader.

You should

  1. Introduce people to who you are and what you can offer them
  2. Add images and text
  3. Be visually interesting

You should also introduce other pages of your website through content whether it’s adding a slideshow that links to different parts of your website, whether it’s links in the text on your homepage, but we’ll talk about the best slideshow plugins in a later article.

About

Your readers want to know who you are, why you love what you do and what kind of photography you do. What can you offer them? Be clear and specific. Talk about your favourite things, what gets you going. Connect with who you want to talk to. Have a call to action – what do you want the reader to do now?

Contact

You need to add your contact details and a contact form that sends enquiries to your inbox. If the theme you’ve downloaded doesn’t have one already, then install the plugin “Contact form 7” (it’s free) and add a simple contact form.

Prices

How much do you charge? And what do customers get for that? Again, be clear and specific. Clients don’t like hidden fees. If you want to charge extra for travel or for longer hours, say so.

Gallery

Clients want to see your images, your work. Display the images in a gallery format or slideshow so clients can look through at their leisure.

Blog

Updating your website regularly means Google will get used to that fact and visit your site regularly. (We’ll talk more about that at a later stage).

You can create pages in WordPress by going to Pages in the left column, and selecting Add New. Depending on the theme you’ve chosen you’ll see various templates on the right hand side when you go into a new page. Use the documentation provided with the theme to let you know what they look like.

So go on, have a think about each page, map it out using a pen and paper.

If you get stuck, you may be interested in a DIY website consultation with me so drop me a line at hello@business-shine.co.uk

Madeleine Jones helps photographers and wedding suppliers with SEO, social media strategy, copywriting and WordPress website design. Her passion for what she does and her attention to detail along with her sense of fun forms a package that will make you wonder how you did things before she came along! Nicknamed a unicorn by some, a guru by others, she is always helpful and always smiling.

A big thanks again to Maddy for sharing her knowledge. I hope you are finding these posts on how to build your own website useful.

Thanks for popping by and do keep an eye out for more in this series

Fiona x

How to keep on top of it all

This is a massively relevant post to me right now. Learning the lessons so you know how to keep on top of it all when you have a bad day is so important. Yesterday I had a bad day. I was feeling overwhelmed with everything I had to do and it was all going wrong. You know the kind of day, we all have them.

Not only am I in the process of planning a new workshop (the awesome The art of getting published: creating styled shoots which I am SO excited about), but wedding season has well and truly hit, I have editing to do, emails to reply to, blogs to write, features for other blogs to write, sample albums to design for venues I’m recommended by, my next Love Your Camera workshop to arrange, a life to plan and small child to run to school and back and clubs and back, a husband to try to spend time with and oh…a million other things that need doing. Plus, the thing that sent me over the edge yesterday, I thought I had lost my regular childminder. The woman without whom we would be hopeless. The woman who enables me to do weddings, shoots and generally work on days when my husband is working (ie monday to friday)! I think you get the point. It was a bad day.

How strange then, that I woke this morning feeling amazing and ready to take on the world again. I went to bed last night, let all the events of the day go and told myself ‘tomorrow’s a new day, it will all work out’. This is all well and good, and that did help (I’m a big believer in thinking positively and being proactive). But the big reason that today is a better day was for a few things I did when I was having my ‘bad day’ that helped set me up right. The things I have learned to do, even when I have occasional dips, that will help me to keep on top of it all.

• Chat to someone, then let go. Don’t keep it bottled in, festering about something that is bothering you is never good. Talking to someone who you trust, who understands and who will give sensible advice (or just listen) is a great way to help when you are having a bad day. Sometimes you just need to have a rant, get it off your chest and then you can move on. Please, do this in private and only to someone you trust. Don’t go crazy sharing your bad day all over social media. It can very easily backfire. But do remember to move on. Your attitude and how you approach a day makes a huge difference to how you feel. Positivity breeds positivity and likewise with negativity.

• Make a plan. I’m a supremely organised kind of person and a bit of a control freak so I like to have a plan. When it all feels too much, work out what you need to do and break it down. Make a plan for your week or your month so you know what needs doing and when you are going to do it. Then stick to that plan! Here’s how to prioritise:

  1. Does it need to be done immediately? If it’s not massively urgent or isn’t something that will assist in other tasks you need to do then its not a priority and doesn’t need doing straight away.
  2. Do you actually need to do this? Sometimes we take on things to help others, or agree to do something out of the goodness of our hearts only to regret the decision later when it takes us away from the things we really need to do. In this case it’s fine to say no to something. It might be something you do out of habit. In which case look at why you are doing this. If it’s not helping with the other work you are doing or making you feel good about yourself then it’s time to let go.
  3. Break it down to smaller tasks. Smaller, quicker things to do will always seem less daunting to do than the large task that makes climbing Everest seem like a doddle! Can you do one small task every day or every week that will work towards the big task?
  4. Just get it done. Sometimes we put off tasks because they maybe aren’t as fun as something else to do, or we feel a bit daunted by it. If its something small, that will take you 10-15 minutes to do, just get it done. It will be a weight off your mind to get this sorted. Especially if its something you have been putting off.
  5. Focus on one thing. When you have a million things to do it can sometimes be tempting to try to do lots of things at the same time, just so you can feel like you are getting more done. This rarely works and you end up half doing lots of things and probably getting yourself in a bit of a tizzy. Set aside time to focus on one thing at a time. For example, I have days where I am just doing editing, days when I am just doing blogging and I set aside time to answer emails and do my social media posts.
  6. Have a goal & then congratulate yourself. For most of us having a goal to reach can be a really positive thing to aim for. Whatever you want to achieve, be it small or big, set yourself a goal and give yourself something to look forward to when you have done it.

• Learn to delegate. This is been my lifesaver. For many years I tried to do it all on my own and it is hard work. In fact, I would say it’s impossible in the long term if you want to run a successful business. There are many things you can pass on to someone else to help with. There are things that don’t require your personal attention, tasks that are time sucks or the things you least enjoy doing. From a business point of view that could be admin work, accounts, photo editing or album designing. But it’s just as easy to outsource some of the more domestic tasks such as cleaning your house or getting someone in to keep your garden looking tip top. Delegating tasks that you don’t need to do can give you more time to concentrate on the tasks you want to do.

• Give yourself some time. We all know exactly how this works. You are so busy doing all your work tasks that your social life or anything that is fun and none work related goes out of the window. When you are feeling overwhelmed with it all it can be a great idea to step back and give yourself some space. Plan an outing with friends, a date with your other half, a trip to the cinema or even just an evening to watch your favourite TV show. Making time for yourself outside of work will give you the escape you need to see things more clearly and help you feel less overwhelmed.

This is pretty much what I did yesterday. After a stressful start to the day I slowly worked through everything. I listed priorities, I delegated tasks that could be passed to someone else and I gave myself the evening off. I sat on the sofa with my husband and watched Better Call Saul. And yes, it definitely helped me get past a pretty horrible day. Today I started the day with a plan and I was back my usual positive, ‘lets get out there and make things happen’ attitude. I knew what I wanted to get done overall and I have my big tasks broken down into smaller ones that I will be doing over the next few weeks. Oh, and thankfully our childcare nightmare has been sorted. Phew!

Hope this helps and gives some tips on how to keep on top of it all. Remember, even the worst days are only fleeting and will pass. Be kind to yourself and make your own life easier by taking it a step at a time.

Thanks for popping by

Fiona x

 

 

How to build your own website – setting up pages & menus

After a great start to this series on how to build your own website, where Maddy explained how to start using WordPress to design and create your own website, she’s back today to explain the next step in setting up pages and menus. Over to Maddy…

Thank you for your kind words and emails about the first installment of how to design your own WordPress website . Today I’m going to follow up by laying out for exactly which pages you should definitely feature and which pages can be more optional.

Once you’ve got the WordPress theme installed, you can consider what kind of content you’d like to provide. Before you do that you should really set up a Maintenance page so that your developing website isn’t on public display.

Here’s how to install a Maintenance page:

This is redundant if your theme has a maintenance page already available so do check your theme documentation first.

Go to your WordPress admin panel.

Go to Plugins

Go to Add New

Search for WP Maintenance Mode

Install the plugin

Activate

Go to plugin Settings, and click Activate.

If available, add a sign up form so readers can sign up to get news of when the site Is launched. Also add your social media links if possible.

How to create a page in WordPress

Next, you need to set up your pages for your WordPress website.

You can create pages in WordPress by going to Pages in the left column, and selecting Add New. Depending on the theme you’ve chosen you’ll see various templates on the right hand side when you go into a new page. Use the documentation provided with the theme purchase to let you know what they look like.

Here are the basic pages you should definitely have on your website as a photographer:

  • About
  • Contact
  • Prices/Packages/Services
  • Gallery/Portfolio
  • Blog

Don’t add any content for now, just add the title to the page and create and save.

How to create your menu

Now you have your pages, next you need to create your navigational menu.

Go to Appearance > Menus

Select Manage Locations

Depending on your theme you can select menus according to where you’d like them to appear. Top Navigation is usually your main menu.

Again, depending on your theme you could have the option for a footer menu. This usually wouldn’t be the same as your top menu, but the other pages that you consider important call to action pages.

To edit your top menu, go to Edit Menus.

You’ll see the list of available pages on the left (if not, click “View All”) and then tick the ones you want to add to the menu and click “Add to Menu”.

Grey boxes will appear in a list on the right.

Click and drag the grey boxes into the order in which you wish the pages to appear.

If there’s any pages you want to add as dropdown under a main page, then simply click and drag the page so it’s slightly to the right and they’ll be subpages.

Click the blue button “Save Menu”

Go to the top left and click View Site

Admire your handiwork. Feel proud of yourself. Have a cup of tea.

Next time I’ll be talking about what to put on each of the pages and more!

If you have any questions please get in touch!

Madeleine Jones helps photographers and wedding suppliers with SEO, social media strategy, copywriting and WordPress website design. Her passion for what she does and her attention to detail along with her sense of fun forms a package that will make you wonder how you did things before she came along! Nicknamed a unicorn by some, a guru by others, she is always helpful and always smiling. You can see more about her on her website – http://www.madeleinejones.co/

 

A big thanks again to Maddy for sharing her knowledge. I hope you are finding these posts on how to build your own website useful.

Thanks for popping by and do keep an eye out for more in this series

Fiona x

What on earth do you write on your blog?

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Blank page!!! Agh! I understand, I really do. I have this scenario a lot. I sit there thinking, working ideas in my head. Should I write this? Should I write that? What about this? Will anyone be even slightly interested in reading about that? Or, worse case, I sit there and nothing comes to mind! This happens a fair bit too. I’m not one of those people who find writing comes quickly and naturally. I can write perfectly well and did well at school in English and History, writing essays and dissertations. I know how to spell, construct a sentence and use grammar correctly (most of the time anyway). But it isn’t my comfort zone or my natural way to impart information. I’m a talker. I can chat to anyone and will happily natter away for hours on end. Which is exactly why I am going to start vlogging this year as well as blogging. I think for me this will help get over that blank page nightmare.

However you start and whatever format you choose to use there are things I have learned to do that help me with blogging (and hopefully the same with vlogging when I start doing that!)

Ok, so here is the rundown of what I do when I am putting together a blog post. First up, I come up with the title. The thing I want to write about. This can come from any kind of idea or inspiration. It might be a shoot or wedding I want to share, it might be something I have been asked by a client, it might be something that is being talked about in the wider world. Whatever it is, that’s my starting point. I then do some research around the theme, Ill find references if I need them, links if that’s what I’m after or read around the topic if I am wanting to increase my knowledge.

Once I have done that I start making notes. If I’m at my computer I will make notes directly into the blog draft. If I’m out and about and have a moment of inspiration (which often happens when I’m least expecting it) I’ll make notes in Evernote, Trello or in the Notes app on my phone. The beauty of Evernote and Trello is that they sync to my ipad and my computer so they are very handy. To go off on a slight tangent, Ill give a quick run through about the software I have mentioned. Trello is a new discovery and acts as an online ‘to do’ list for me to keep track of what I need to do day to day. I do use other online systems for other parts of my business, but this one seems to work for me in terms of allowing me to get rid of the million post it notes and lists that littered my desk on a daily basis! Evernote has a little more to it, in that you can add images, links, maps etc to notes. This is very helpful when researching blog posts as well as other work projects and tasks.

From all the note taking and bullet points I have the bare bones of what I am wanting to write (or talk) about. I will then start selecting images, if that is what the blog post is about. Or I will select one or two that illustrate the point or add a visual point of interest to the post. Its then time to start properly writing and filling out the post. This is where I tend to just write what comes into my head without really structuring the post. I get all my thoughts and ideas down and then walk away for a while to clear my head. When I go back I can read through and edit so the post actually make sense! I have discovered that I write very much as I talk, so I do tend to chat on a bit. However, as the aim of the blog is to capture my voice I figure that’s OK.

Here are a few top tips to follow to help you come up with ideas and get writing those blog posts.

1. Write down titles or ideas as and when you get inspired.

If you are anything like me you wont always be ‘inspired’ with an idea at a set time on a particular day. Because of this I make a note of anything that I think would make a good blog post idea as and when they pop into my head. I use Evernote for making notes (this syncs between my computer and my iphone so makes it easy).

2. Think who you are writing for.

When you are writing you need to be yourself, but you also need to think about who you are writing for. For example, I have two blogs. One is this one, and one is attached to my photography website. While there might be some cross over I mostly assume that the majority of people reading my photography blog are brides, grooms and potential photography clients. I know I also have other wedding industry professionals and photographers reading the photography blog but the main people I write for are my potential and current clients. For this blog I am aiming more towards photographers who are needing a little guidance and other business owners who are looking for ideas and advice. Knowing who I am writing for helps me to come up with ideas for topics for blog posts.

3. Be true to yourself and what you care about.

There is no point planning to write about something that you have no interest in, know nothing about and don’t care about. If you do this it will come across in the writing. You wont be able to engage people as much as it will be really clear that you are half hearted about it. There is nothing more appealing than someone who is truly passionate about something. This really does come across in the words and the language that you use. All the posts I write for my blogs are things that I am interested in or interested in sharing. They are things that have a base in something I feel strongly about and care about. If I don’t have the passion and ideas I find it pretty much impossible to find something to write.

4. Don’t think about how many people are reading your blog.

When you first start writing a blog you have no idea if anyone will find you, let alone read what you are saying. That is fine. Basically don’t worry about how many people might or might not read your blog. So what if only one person reads what you say? You should still keep writing as if no one is reading it. If you share what you love, share what you care about, share information that is useful and interesting then people will find you. If you know who you are writing for and make information they want to read, they will find you. They will start telling their friends and your readership will grow. Just don’t worry about it! Write because you want to share whatever it is you are sharing.

5. Be consistent.

I really need to take heed to this lesson myself. I am definitely getting better. I have blogged more in the last 8 months than I did in the last 2 years (true!). But I am told time and time again by my lovely SEO guru Steve (UK Wedding SEO), and my right hand lady, Maddy (who wrote the great article about how to build a wordpress website), that the key to blogging is consistency. Even if you only blog once a month make sure you do blog once a month. Pick a day/date/time that works and stick to it. Eventually, once you are into the swing of things, you can increase how frequently you can blog, but just get the ball rolling for now. The reason this is a great habit to get in to is that regular blogging can do wonders for your websites SEO.

I hope this helps and gives a little guidance as to how I approach that dreaded blank page/new blog/what on earth do I write scenario! When you next blog do come and share. I always love to see what others are inspired by and want to share.

As always if you have any questions please do leave a comment below or email me on fiona@fionakellyphotography.com I’m always happy to hear from you and help if I can.

If you know someone who struggles with blogging do share this post with them.If you want to join the lovely little Facebook group I have set up to offer support, help and guidance look no further. Come and join the Glow Photography Training Group.

Thanks for popping by.

Fiona x

 

 

How to build a WordPress site – where do I start?

I have a special guest post to share today from my go to girl, Madeleine. I have worked with her for over a year now and I couldn’t imagine her not being an extended part of my team. She helps me and quite a few other photographers and wedding suppliers I know with SEO, social media strategy, copywriting and WordPress website design. Her passion for what she does and her attention to detail along with her sense of fun forms a package that will make you wonder how you did things before she came along! Nicknamed a unicorn by some, a guru by others, she is always helpful and always smiling. Without further ado…

How to build a WordPress site – where do I start?

First of all, I’m thrilled to be asked to write for so many photographers who are keen to learn how to build a WordPress website. I know it can be quite daunting, so rather than gorging on all the WordPress articles in the world, like I did a few years ago, you can read this one and receive all the information you need to know! I’m not going to advocate that you go to Wix or any site builder like that, simply because they have limited functionality. When it’s time for your business to grow and therefore your business website to do more, it’s a challenge to transfer over your content. Squarespace is a cool tool, but I do find it has limitations, and my heart is personally set on WordPress, so I’ll be talking to you about that today.

First up, there are two versions of WordPress. WordPress.com is the free version that has limited functionality (good for your couples to create wedding websites on actually) but not a professional site. The second version is WordPress.org where you pay for external hosting and you can make into an all singing all dancing website. Or, you know, one that shows off your photos beautifully and will make your couples want to book!

So, here’s how to start:

Sit down with a cuppa and get your notebook, a pen and your wallet out; you’ll need your card to pay for a couple of things.

Do you own a domain name?

Firstly you need to purchase your domain name.

I like to use http://www.namecheap.com (although there are others out there such as GoDaddy or 123reg) because it’s super simple and easy to use. Plus they have great live support.

So, to see if your desired domain is available, type your desired domain into the search bar.

If it’s available, there will be a number of options available to purchase it such as .com, .co.uk, and many others

The industry standard for commercial businesses is – .com or .co.uk

If that’s not available then .co is contemporary and trendy at the moment, or you could try a different combination, so you could add wedding photography to the domain or fineartphotography instead of just your name e.g. fionasweddingphotography.co.uk rather than fionakelly.co.uk

The domains are cheap to buy per year, but Google loves you and respects your site more if you buy for several years at a time, so if you’ve got the cash upgrade to purchase for 5 years, that is best.

Do you have a host?

Next, you need somewhere to host your website, your own corner of the internet on which to build your own home i.e. your website.

I recommend Siteground – I increasingly move clients to this space and many experts who have been around a lot longer than me recommend it too. They’re also brilliant at live support. Go for the basic package to begin with as you don’t need anything more. Logging into Siteground you’ll be asked to hook up your domain name with your hosting. They’ll walk you through this but they also have an online tutorial and even better, name cheap also have live chat now so if you do get stuck you can go back to them and ask for help there. If you want to go cheaper and also eco-friendly then I hear great things about EcoHost.

Now it’s time to install WordPress.

Assuming you’re using Siteground, go to cPanel and under Installers, select WordPress.

Here’s a full guide on how to install WordPress on Siteground – don’t be scared, it’s really not as complicated as it sounds. Like I say, Siteground are very helpful and will walk you through the process. (I don’t mean to make this sound like a Siteground sponsored post because it’s not, I just really like them)

Do you have a look in mind?

Once WordPress is installed, you need to choose a look. I imagine you may have heard of various themes you can purchase like ProPhoto and more. I would personally start off with something cheaper, ideally free as you’re starting out.

Here’s a great range of options: http://themeforest.net/tags/photography

Be sure to look for the following points

– Fully responsive (not just mobile friendly, like ProPhoto has two versions of your site, one for desktop and one for mobile)

– Great reviews

– Good support system

– Clean design

– How the theme lays out the images

Here are some more themes to look at:

https://colorlib.com/wp/photography-wordpress-themes/

http://enviragallery.com/best-free-photography-themes-for-wordpress/

http://www.nimbusthemes.com/free-photography-wordpress-themes/

http://athemes.com/collections/best-photography-wordpress-themes/

My advice to you – don’t get too hung up on this part. I know plenty of creatives get stuck on how the template looks, but actually further down the line you can work with a developer (or learn how to do it yourself) to create the look you really want. Also, please read the documentation that comes with any theme you purchase.

You can download your selected theme by doing this:

  • Log in WordPress admin.
  • Select the Appearance panel, then themes.
  • Select Add New.
  • Find the theme that you downloaded just now
  • Use Upload link in the top links row to upload a zipped copy of the theme.

Plenty to be getting on with there. In the next post I’ll be talking about which pages you should be considering on your website.

Huge thanks to Maddy for this great advice. I hope you find it useful. If you know anyone this will help please do share this with them and if you want to leave a comment I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks for popping by

Fiona x

 

how to keep your head in business

general blog images-0002It’s tough to run your own business. I know, I really do! Knowing how to keep your head in business when you are faced with a daily barrage of things you should be doing can be difficult. Your day to day life can be crazy; to do lists, signing up to the newest ‘must have’ social media account, doing the latest ‘must do’ course, not missing out on advertising here, not missing out on marketing there, your accounts, your insurance, your website, your blog and all the time trying SO HARD to develop your skills and improve at the ACTUAL thing you are doing as a business! No wonder half the time we run around like a headless chicken, worrying about too much and not achieving anything.

Time to stop, breathe and take a moment. First thing you need to do is congratulate yourself on getting to this point. For many people that idea to do something never goes any further than being a dream. You have done something and that’s amazing to start with. The fact that you are the kind of person to  act and follow those dreams and goals means that underneath it all you can cope.

When self doubt pops its head up, remember, we all get the uncertainty. It’s bubbling away under most of us a lot of the time. There are times when I question everything. When I wonder if I have made the right choices, if I can do the things I have committed myself to doing. I have self doubt the same as everyone else. But, no matter how many times this happens I know that I will make it work. I can’t not, because doing what I do is the only thing I want to do. For those of us who have chosen to furrow our own path and have our own business the alternative just doesn’t seem like an option anymore. Would you really choose to give up your own dream and your own goals to go back to a 9-5 job working for someone else?

The reason why we chose to take this route is because we weren’t satisfied with the 9-5. We didn’t want to settle for OK. We wanted to do something we loved, something that drove us, something we took pleasure in and enjoyed so much we couldn’t imagine NOT doing it. Yes, there will be tricky times. Yes, there will be times when you really do question whether your decision was right. But, you know what? The universe has a funny old way of making it work out. If you are open to change and embrace opportunity (no matter how scary it seems) something positive will always be found.

So how do you keep your head in business? How do you manage when it all seems too much? What do you do when you can’t see the end of your to do list or even know where to begin?

1. Remember what’s important.

Why did you start your business? What was it that drove you in the first place? Was it the need to create? To have financial freedom? To do something for yourself? Whatever that starting place was you need to remember it. This is the reason you started your own business. When it all seems a bit too much remember the why and remember what is important to you.

2. Listen to yourself

This is a big one! In a world full of information it is so easy to get overload. Being able to learn is the most wonderful thing in the world. I love to learn new things, to embrace knowledge. But when there is information everywhere how do we choose? So many people giving so much advice. Who do you listen to? Who do you follow? Where do you find the information you need? Agh! I find it too much sometimes and in the past often felt like I was drowning. It’s very easy to take on so much information that you then can’t do anything. You are paralysed by overload. Maybe you have gotten into the bad habit of signing up for so many courses that you do a lot of planning but never actually get round to doing any of the things you have learnt. This is where you need to listen to yourself. Go with your gut instinct and find the voices that most resonate with you. The ones that reflect the passions you have, the outlook you have. Find one or two places of knowledge and learning, commit to those and make sure you follow through and implement what you are learning.

3. Don’t be scared

If you want a business that will be a success (in whatever shape or form that is for you), then you will need to do things that will put you outside of your comfort zone. That’s a good thing! It might be you are worried about making a mistake or concerned that you aren’t good enough. It sounds crazy, but the idea of making your business a success might make you scared. With a successful business comes responsibility, to yourself, to your clients, to others you work with. These can all be daunting things. When the only other option is to not do it at all, then it isn’t really an option. There will always be times when you have to do things that worry you or make you anxious. You have to be brave, face those things and know that in order to make something worthwhile and positive you have to take a risk now and again. The rewards are definitely worth it.

4. Roll with the punches

You won’t always make the right decisions. You might sometimes mess up. You will probably do things that in hindsight you wish you hadn’t! This is all part of the ride. It’s the way you learn and the way you grow. I made daft decisions in the early days of my business. I spent money I shouldn’t have spent on things that did nothing for my business. I worked with clients who were lovely, but really not the right fit for me. But I learned! When something isn’t working, do something different. If something goes wrong, fix it as best you can and make sure it never happens again. We are all human, we are fallible and we learn as we go. Roll with the punches, take the great things and celebrate them. Take the bad things, learn from them and let them go.

5. Be invested

This doesn’t just mean financially. Be invested in your business. Be prepared to do what you need to do to make it work. You don’t necessarily have to give up your life to your business (although, this does often happen in the early days if you aren’t careful), but you need to commit yourself to it. If you aren’t invested it’s too easy to walk away. In that case, what’s the point? If you spend your time copying others and doing it half heartedly then just stop now. Your dream isn’t to be a second rate version of someone else, your dream is to have something that is yours…heart, soul and passion. If you really are serious about making your business work then you need to feel like you have devoted time, effort and your very being into it. When you commit that much (and then commit financially too) it would be very hard to quit. When it gets tough you need to have that investment in yourself more than ever. When you have a self doubt wobble and wonder if it’s all worth it. When you are trying to keep your head and it seems tricky, this commitment you have made will help drive you through.

 

So, there you go. A few ways to help you keep your head in business. Another really great way to help you when you feel overwhelmed and a lost is to set yourself some goals. This is not a case of adding more to an already busy workload. It gives you something to aim for, reminds you of where you want to be and helps with the tasks you need to do to get there.

Set your big goal, where you want to be ultimately. Then set a number of smaller goals that you can do over the next year to aim towards the big goal. Break those smaller goals down into monthly tasks. Each month choose one of those tasks to do. Slowly you will see yourself achieving the things you really want to that will get you towards your big goal. It’s always easier to do the small tasks one at a time than to try to think of the big goal!

Do share your thoughts. If you have any other questions leave a comment or get in touch on fiona@fionakellyphotography.com

Thanks for popping by

Fiona x

 

 

 

Love your camera / understanding aperture?

Some of you may have seen that I launched my LOVE YOUR CAMERA workshop recently. I’m so excited about this. It’s a workshop that will give straightforward advice and guidance, inspiration and direction to those who want to learn more about photography and get to grips with their camera.

I thought it would be great to build on the teaching by doing a series of blog posts that cover a few of the aspects we will be covering in the workshop. Things you will be learning and getting to put into practice.

UNDERSTANDING APERTURE

Aperture is one of the three parts that make up the exposure triangle. The other two being shutter speed and ISO. Aperture plays a big part in creating dimension in a photograph. It can bring the background into sharp focus or make it blurred.

What is aperture?

In it’s simplest term the aperture is the hole through which the light travels into the camera body and onto the sensor (or film). The larger the hole the more light comes in, the smaller the hole the less light comes in. Adjusting the aperture adjusts how much light is let in.

Choosing the aperture size.

The choice of aperture size has a big effect on an image. Not only does it change the amount of light entering the camera but it also has an effect on how much of the background is in focus. This is called Depth of Field and I’ll go into more detail on this in the next point.

In photography the aperture (or hole) is expressed in terms of f-stops. These are the way to describe the size of the aperture and how open or closed it is. Remember, open means a lot of light coming in, closed means less light coming in. Conversely a smaller f-stop number means a larger aperture and a larger f-stop number means a smaller aperture. It can be confusing, but something you just need to learn!

For example: f/2 is larger than f/4, which are both much larger than f11.

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What is depth of field?

Depth of field is directly affected by the aperture you use, but what is depth of field? It is the area of the image that appears sharp and in focus. When you use a small aperture (a larger f-number) more of the image will be sharp, when you use a large aperture (a smaller f-number) less of the image will be sharp.

The top image was shot at f/1.8. The bottom image was shot at f/5.6. You can see that the background is clearer in the bottom shot where the aperture is smaller.

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Here is another example of using a larger aperture. The girl in the photo is clearly in focus but the background is blurred and not in focus. This shot was taken at an aperture of f/2.8.

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What the numbers mean on a lens.

When you look at a lens you will see a number or a range of numbers that indicates the largest aperture that the lens will achieve. The smallest aperture a lens will go to is generally not noted as it isn’t as important. Most lenses will go to f/16, which is more than adequate for the majority of photography.

There are two types of lenses, zoom and prime (or fixed) lenses. Zoom lenses give you the flexibility to zoom in and out without the need to move closer or further away from the subject. Fixed or prime lenses only have one focal length. Due to the complexity of the optical design many consumer zoom lenses will have variable apertures.

On zoom lenses you might see a range of numbers, for example, f/3.5-f5.6 will be noted on the lens. This means the aperture is variable and changes as you zoom. To achieve the widest aperture you have to be at the widest zoom setting. As you zoom in the maximum aperture will change.

The more expensive, professional zoom lenses, on the other hand, typically have fixed apertures. For example, the Nikon 24-70mm lens has the same maximum aperture of f/2.8 at all focal lengths between 24mm and 70mm.

On a prime or fixed lens you will see just one number, for example, 1:1.8, in this case this means that the lens has a maximum aperture of f/1.8.

This ‘maximum’ aperture indicates the speed of the lens. What does this mean? Lens speed is the term that is used to explain how much light a lens will let in. For example, a lens that can go to f/1.4 or f/1.8 means it has a very large aperture, which means it will let much more light in than a lens that goes to f/4 so is a ‘faster’ lens.

Why do these numbers matter?

The number on the lens let you know how fast the lens is. Faster lenses work better in lower light situations, because they let in more light. It’s also worth remembering that the larger the aperture the better the ability to isolate the subject you are focusing on from the background.

If you have any questions do leave a comment or get in touch on fiona@fionakellyphotography.com

If you think you would like to join me at the LOVE YOUR CAMERA workshop to learn more about using your camera, then check out the details here.

Thanks for popping by

Fiona x

 

 

9 ways to build your photography business

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For many photographers wanting to create a legitimate business one of the hardest steps is going full time. Making photography the only job you do and committing 100% into making it work can be daunting when you start out. How do you start your photography business? How do you make it into something that works for you and pays?

I still remember starting this business. It took just over 2 years for me to build it to a point where I could stop doing  the Graphic Design work I was doing and commit fully to my photography business. Those were 2 very hectic, busy and full on years and at times I questioned everything. That’s normal! Starting a business is one of the most stressful things you can do and certainly isn’t for the faint hearted or for those who aren’t prepared for hard work and long hours.

There is no magic button to make it an immediate success, but there are things you can do to get you on the right path. You won’t be able to do all of these straight away but if you can make them a priority it will make a difference to your business.

1. Be sociable, make friends and network.

I wrote a post recently about the importance of networking. Its such huge step to building your business name and making connections with others in the your industry. It doesn’t have to be large intimidating groups, you can contact some local suppliers and ask if they want to meet for coffee. If you wait to be invited it isn’t going to happen. If no one knows you are there, they can’t ask you to join them! Get yourself on social media, get chatting, get connecting and start building your community and your network.

2. Don’t be afraid to take risks.

Ok. Easier said than done for many people, but being successful in business means you need to be bold. You need to be a little fearless. Not only do you need to show up for social get togethers but you need to keep pushing yourself creatively as well as on the business side of things. This can be setting up your own styled shoot…reach out to vendors you love and would love to work with. If you have a friend who has recently got married ask to do a shoot with them. Offer a free portrait session so you can practice working with people. Inquire about second shooting with someone you know or who’s work you admire. Submit your work to a magazine or a blog (scary I know, but it’s worth a shot). Maybe you sign up for a workshop that you would love to do even though you can’t quite afford it. Whatever it is you need to take the risks and not be afraid. You will need to do these things eventually so why not sooner than later.

3. Be professional

This is surprisingly simple to do and you do not need to spend a fortune to do it. Being professional from the word go is a mindset, not a budget. You don’t need an expensive website and this is definitely where the saying ‘less is more’ comes into its own. Keep things simple, tasteful and clean. Its the best way to not make mistakes that make you look less than the professional brand you are aiming for.  By all means add elements that reflect your personality, but until you can afford to do things properly by employing someone to help you create a great brand identity it’s safest to keep it simple. Look at how other brands present their work. It’s very easy to find great WordPress templates that don’t cost the earth and give you a professional looking web presence.

How you act and present yourself is equally as important. Be polite, be punctual, be honest. If you have only been in business for a year then tell people. You will only be setting yourself up for a fall if you claim to have more experience than you have and end up not being able to do a job properly. Dress in a way that reflects you and how you want to present yourself as a brand. This is not saying you have to wear a suit (I have never worn a suit in my life), but you do need to remember that what you wear will say something about who you are and what you do. Reply to enquiries swiftly and efficiently, if you take 3-4 days to reply to someone they will probably go elsewhere. Make sure your kit fits what you need it to do. If you have to hire a camera or lenses then do that until you can afford to buy them. I did this a lot in my first year or two of business. Make sure you know your kit, practice, learn and aim to improve with every shoot.

4. Be your own cheerleader

This can be a very hard thing to do. Self-promotion doesn’t come naturally to most. We struggle with self confidence, we worry our work isn’t good enough, we whisper ‘look at me’ from a corner and hope someone might notice. This isn’t going to do anything. You HAVE to start promoting your work. If you don’t no one else will! This is the essence of marketing. It’s not being big headed, it’s not being vein, it’s being a business owner who wants people to see what they produce and create a buzz about their work. Your website, your blog, your social media presence, other blogs and magazines are all ways you can and should be promoting yourself. Not only are these a great way to share what you do, but they are all FREE!

5. Keep learning

The world is your oyster when it comes to continual learning. Online training is a brilliant place to start. There are lots of resources that can help with your learning and filling in the gaps in your knowledge. Workshops offer wonderful opportunities to learn alongside other photographers (which is a lovely way to meet new friends too) and to learn from a person or people who you admire. Many photographers who have been established for a while offer workshops or mentoring. This can really help if you have gaps in your knowledge or just want a bit of a refresh and some new ideas. I still attend 1-2 workshops a year to learn from others and challenge myself creatively. You will never know everything and it’s important to not settle for OK. If you want to do well you have to keep learning. The day you stop learning and stop developing is the day your business stops growing.

6. Keep a check on where your strengths are

What do you really enjoy doing? What are you drawn to? What excites and inspires you? What’s getting people interacting most on social media? What are your clients most complementing you on? This will help you learn where your strength are and where you might look to specialise. If you love working with couples and get a kick out of capturing events then this might lead you more towards photographing weddings. If you are a baby whisperer and love to create beautiful images of newborns then you might be finding your niche with families and little ones. Finding the areas you thrive in will help you to develop your business. There’s nothing wrong with working across a few areas of photography but don’t do something just because you feel you should. Do something because you enjoy it, find it challenging and creative and a joy to do. This will be reflected in the work you produce.

7. Just do it!

An honesty moment here…just do it and don’t have a pity party if it doesn’t all go to plan first time round! There you go. When you look at the photographers who have busy businesses, who shoot wonderful things and seem to have a perfect life don’t for a second think that they woke up one day to all of that. They didn’t. They got there through hard work, long hours, trials and errors and lots of learning. For the first 2-3 years of my business I had a full time business/career as a Graphic Designer as well as starting the photography business. I also had a small child to look after and tried to have some sort of life with my husband. I worked 6-7 days a week most evenings. It wasn’t easy. I missed out on things, my work came first a lot of times, I didn’t have much money to spare, but that was what was needed at the time to keep the momentum going and build the business.

When you feel it’s getting on top of you keep remembering how wonderful it is to be in the position of running your own business. Try not to compare yourself to others. It can be a one way street to self doubt and a fast track to your own pity party. It’s easy to look at someone else and think ‘How do they have that? Why can’t I work there? What have they got that’s so great?’. The minute you start down that route you become so busy focussing on someone else that your own business is forgotten. You are failing to focus on your own strengths, the positive things you have to offer. If things aren’t working the way you want them to then sit down an look at why. What is it that’s missing? If you need to get someone to help then look at getting some 1-2-1 mentoring. Find where the gaps are and work out what you need to do to get yourself back on track.

8. Find your style

This is something that does come with time and with practice, but everyone has a natural style of shooting. Something that comes instinctively. This is what you need to harness. The only way this happens is by taking photos, a lot of photos! Try out different lenses, different angles, different ways of working with light. You will start to see patterns about how you approach an image. Things you like and things you don’t. If you want to learn how to replicate a certain techniques or style then research it and work out how its done. As your skills develop learn to trust your instincts.

9. Get the official bits right

This probably should have been higher in the list as its a pretty important point. When you set up in business you absolutely must make sure it’s done right. Here are a few things to look in to:

• Tax. Make sure you register the business and make sure you pay your tax! If you aren’t sure what you are doing get an accountant to help you.

• Business insurance. This is public & product liability and is a must if you want to work safely.

• Equipment insurance. Make sure you kit (whether owned or hired) is covered should anything go wrong.

• Contracts. For the benefit of you and your clients get a contract in place for every job you work on. Make sure you are covered.

I hope this has been useful and informative. Most of these are tips for the first year or two of business, but they are all things that will help to get you set up in the right way. If you have any other questions just leave a comment below or email me on fiona@fionakellyphotography.com.

JOIN MY FREE FACEBOOK GROUP HERE

Thanks for popping by

Fiona x

 

How to capture genuine emotions and natural portraits.

If I had a pound for every person who has told me that they hated having their photo taken I would be a very rich woman! For most people the idea of having their photo taken seems a really alien and uncomfortable experience. I put it down to years of being told to look at the camera and fake a smile. You must remember the horrendous school photos we were all subjected to every year. My son has them now too. All you see from the resulting pictures are forced smiles and stiff poses. All the way from childhood we are told to stand still, look at the camera and smile…’say cheese!’ No wonder people have bad memories of having their photo taken!

This is why I love to capture photos that tell a story. Images that don’t just have the person sitting still and looking at camera. Photographs that capture a little something of the person in them.

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Despite not enjoying having a photo taken, everyone reacts positively and loves photos that capture something of the essence of a moment. An image that shows the real person, not overly posed; a natural reaction.

Capturing that emotion is not straightforward, especially when someone is aware that they are being photographed. Its one thing managing to grab an amazing photo of someone laughing, smiling or even crying, when they aren’t aware that image is being taken. Quite something else when you have a rather camera shy person stood in front of you! This is when its up to you, as the photographer, to gain that persons trust and help them relax in front of the camera.

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Here are some great ways to get those great ‘natural reactions’ with just a little assistance.

1. Reach out to the person & put your camera down for a moment.

I know, the irony isn’t lost, but just think of how much of a wall that camera can be, especially to someone a bit uncomfortable about having a photo taken. Its a great black lump that stops your rather nervous model from seeing your eyes and connecting with you. I’m not suggesting packing the camera away, but lower it a bit every now and again. Have a conversation, ask questions and find out about what makes the person you are photographing tick. Once they trust you and have connected with you a little they will relax. Once they have relaxed you will start to see the real person, and while you are chatting you can start taking a few pictures. The conversation will make them more animated and you can begin to capture some real reactions and show their personality.

This works for couples too. If a couple is a little nervous then get chatting to them. Ask them questions, such as how they met, or what films they enjoy, what restaurants do they like. Anything to get them talking to you and talking to each other. Once they start chatting together you can almost step back and leave them to it. Just making the odd comment here and there will keep them interacting.

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2. Keep taking photos.


Once you have put the person at ease then take the time to take a few more photos than you think you might want or need. As with any new situation, most people take a little while to get into the swing of it so keep taking those shots. Make sure you try a few different angles and crops. Most people have a ‘good side’ or a pose or position that’s more flattering than others so try out some options. Don’t be afraid to give a little direction, after all they can’t see how they look through the camera.

I find a little light direction useful for couples too. Many people get stuck knowing where to put hands or how to stand. They overthink the whole thing and this is when it can all start looking too stiff and awkward. Asking a couple to hold hands, hug or lean against each other is easy and helps them feel safe because they are connecting together. I tend to find a spot with great light, where I want to take the photos, ask the couple to stand together or hug and then once they have relaxed step back a little and give them some space. I always start with photos from further away and then slowly get closer. This allows the people or person to ease themselves into the whole photo shoot. The last thing a nervous person needs is a camera up close and personal on the first shot, it takes a while and some trust to relax for close up portraits.

If things get stuck and you aren’t sure what to do next, go for a walk. Its my go to ‘let’s shake things up a bit’ shot. A bit of movement can help the person or couple relax and give you time to find a new spot or get some new ideas for the next photo.

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3. Have a bit of fun, and be a little silly.

You may find some people leap into the whole ‘photo shoot’ thing quicker than others. One way of figuring out the persons comfort level is to have a little fun and get them to play around with different expressions. Can they be a bit silly, serious, sad or cheeky? (Feel free to join in and help them get into the swing of it!).  For couples maybe you can ask them to play a game where they have to jump from spot to spot without bumping into each other? You could also try some word related games eg. ‘If Tom was an animal, what animal would he be?’. You will be amazed at the reactions and this always gets some laughs and discussions going!

This isn’t the be all or end all, as some people will immediately feel really self conscious, but at the very least they might start giggling at how silly they feel and you have immediately helped them relax and the ice is broken. You don’t need to stick with this for too long, especially if someones clearly not comfortable with it, but it can work well.

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4. What happens in between the ‘shots’ is the key.


These are the times when you can see the real person you are photographing. These moments are the ones that happen right after the shot that the person was waiting for. They relax, they stand or sit the way they would naturally and this can make for wonderful photos that reflect the true personality of your subject. What this means for the photographer is that you should be ready to shoot at all times. Be prepared, anticipate the unplanned and look for those perfect shots that capture your subjects natural reactions. When you are moving from one spot to the other, have your camera ready. Don’t put it away!

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5. Do a bit of homework before the shoot.

Its amazing how much you can find out about someone before the shoot by asking a few simple questions and chatting a little, even over email. The more you can find out before the easier it will be to get a feel for the person you are shooting and what makes them tick. It also means they will feel more comfortable with you as they will get to know you a bit through this process too. This can help you to work out what to say or do that will make them relax and allow you get those fab shots.

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When it comes down to it, there are no hard and fast rules. Nothing is going to guarantee that you get that killer shot that just truly sums up the person or people you are shooting, but you can certainly help things slightly. Be yourself, be friendly and chatty and above all be ready, prepared and constantly watch whats happening because you never know when that perfect shot is going to happen.

Hope you find this helpful. I would love to hear how you get on with your portraits.

JOIN MY FREE FACEBOOK GROUP HERE

Thanks for popping by

Fiona x

 

When to say ‘no’ in your business.

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It is the eternal struggle of the self employed person. Knowing when you really should say ‘no’ to something. You know the feeling…you have a few bookings, but not enough to fill the diary. You are a little worried that you might not get any more jobs and the enquiries aren’t coming in as fast as you hoped. Then when you do get an enquiry you are SO keen and eager you practically leap on the person and almost without really thinking about it properly, or working out if you are the right fit for the client (and they are the right fit for you) you take on the job. Slowly you start to come to the realisation that it’s not really the kind of job you want to do. Maybe you don’t see fully eye to eye with your client, or their ideas leave you a little cold. Maybe the money they are paying you is less than you wanted (or needed), or maybe you have a niggling feeling that they don’t really value the job you are doing.

Or the other thing that can happen when you don’t learn to say ‘no’ is that you take on too much. This is something I am very guilty of doing! Your are getting the enquiries and the bookings, your diary is full, your time disappears, you are working all hours and eventually you crash and burn. The first year I freelanced as a graphic designer I was busy, happily so. But because I wasn’t used to working for myself and not having a regular income I kept working and working with a slight panic that if I didn’t work I wouldn’t get paid. It was fine for a while, but you know what happened? At the end of that first year I crashed. I got so horrendously ill that I spent two weeks in bed. It was rubbish! It was also a huge lesson learned.

Rest assured, we have ALL been there. There are times for every business owner when we take on jobs that really aren’t the best fit for us. We take on jobs because we worry we won’t have enough work to cover the bills or keep the business going. We take on job because we feel we can’t say no, like we are going to disappoint someone if we do. We take on jobs because we love the thrill of working on something we love to do and figure ‘it will be fine, it’s just one more job, I’ll make the time for it’. When that happens all you end up doing is getting frustrated and exhausted. You don’t look forward to the job. Maybe you can’t put 100% effort into it because you are tired or you just can’t click with the client? Then you get frustrated because you know you aren’t doing the best you can do and you worry that the client isn’t going to be happy. It becomes a vicious circle and it’s not a happy place to be. This is the time you need to learn when to say ‘no’ in your business.

Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to a job if you are feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. If you can’t give your all then you aren’t giving the best you can and that isn’t fair to the person who is paying you for a service.

You owe it to yourself to keep fit and healthy so you can give each and every one of your clients 100% and the best experience you can offer. You owe it to your clients, as much as you do to yourself, to know when someone isn’t a good fit for your business. You want to work with people who excite you with their ideas. People who ‘get’ what you do. Someone who can’t wait to work with you and someone you know will love everything you do for them. These are the clients you want and the clients you deserve.

I still remember the first time I said ‘no’ to a client who had some to meet with me. Ok…I wasn’t quite that blunt, but I didn’t take on the job. From the first meeting I had a gut instinct that it wasn’t right. The things they talked about as being important to them didn’t resound with me as much as it should. It was scary and I questioned the decision a few times, but ultimately I knew it was the right thing to do. You HAVE to learn to trust your gut instinct in these situations. If it tells you something doesn’t feel right, it’s generally for a good reason. Don’t be afraid to turn a job down now and again. I’m not suggesting you sit their waiting for that one perfect client and not working at all! That would be business suicide. But you can learn to be a little more selective. Start working out who you want to work with. Who is your ideal client? What do they love? What is it that will make them a perfect fit for you and the style of work you do?

When you know who you want to work with you will learn when to say ‘no’ to those you aren’t right. Nothing beats that feeling of working with a client who you totally connect with. Who is a complete joy to meet with, talk to and create something amazing for.  Why would you want to work with people who you don’t get that feeling about when you could find people who do give you that?

Next time you have an enquiry, ask questions. Find out about them. What do they love? What’s important to them? Do their ideas sit with what you can provide in terms of style and approach? As a photographer, particularly a wedding photographer, it’s so important that you have a connection with your client. It’s a very personal job and being able to put someone at ease takes understanding and a level of trust that you will find hard to get if you haven’t truly connected.

I am by no means perfect at getting the balance right between work and life, but I now know the signs to look out for. I can recognise when I need to slow down a little. I know now when I have to say ‘no’ because I have taken on too much. I also know the people who I love to work with. When I meet with a couple to discuss their wedding I know pretty quickly whether we are a right fit for each other. If we aren’t then that’s ok. It’s much better that they find a photographer who they connect with and it’s better for me to find clients who totally trust me and love the way I work.

Why not make this a challenge for 2016? One step closer to having the kind of business you want, the kind of business you deserve. A step closer to working the way you would like to work and with the people you would like to work with.

Please do let me know how you get on. If you have any challenges or questions do ask.

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Thanks for popping by

Fiona x