How to Price Your Work

If you cringe when you hear terms like “cost of doing business” and “cash flow” and “bookkeeping”, you are a  completely normal creative entrepreneur.  If you scramble at the end of every tax year to scrounge up enough information to make it through the paperwork, you might be a completely stressed creative entrepreneur.  If you have no idea what to charge for your services and cringe whenever you put words to that number, we’re pretty sure your world will be rocked by this fifteen minute video course.

PLUS, click here to access the FREE download we have for you. Hint: it’s an accounting tool that will help you remove the emotion from your pricing and allow you to confidently share your prices without fear.

Take Better Instagram Photos

How to Take Better Instagram Photos

Have you ever looked at someone’s Instagram feed and bemoaned your inability to take such beautiful photos on your cell phone?

Have you ever thought about buying a “real camera” just for your Instagram feed but aren’t sure you know enough about a camera to reap the benefit of it?

Have you ever wished you had more photography skill so that you could showcase your product and life in a more beautiful way?

Welcome. I’m so glad you’re here.

Tools for Better Instagram Photos

You don’t need a fancy camera in order to take better Instagram photos. In fact, the best camera is going to be the one in your hand; whether that’s a DSLR or an iPhone, a camera is useless unless you’re using.

While I did take all these photos with my DSLR (I’m a photographer, after all): each of the photos being taken will be used on a real-life Instagram feed. Yes, that’s right: you don’t need a fancy camera in order to have excellent photos for your feed.

The easiest way to take better Instagram photos is to learn to use your cell phone camera. Remember: you’re smarter than your camera so the more you control the camera and tell it what you want to photograph, the better your photos will be.

(Pro Tip: Tap on the screen to indicate where to focus and then most cameras, even those a few years old will let you adjust your the brightness of your image! )

Lighting for Better Instagram Photos

The best photos will be taken with natural, diffused light.  Sounds intimidating? It’s not. Take your photos in front of a large window (or sliding glass door) with all other lights turned off and you’ll be able to easily create that soft, effortless light that makes for an excellent photo.

Example: these two photos were taken in exactly the same place and with automatic settings.  The photo on the left is using my sliding glass door as my light source with all living room lights off,  the photo on the right has the living room lights turned on.
Same scenario in the photo below: one photo is yellowed, shadowed, and unflattering.  The other is evenly lit without distracting shadows or yellowing.  One photo has overhead lights on, the other has only the diffused natural light.

  • Remove distractions for better Instagram photos

 

Only photograph what you want your viewer to see and don’t let your photo distract the viewer from seeing your art.

Change angles to avoid cluttering objects, move unnecessary objects out of the photo, photograph on a solid backdrop.

The easiest way to eliminate distractions? Create a white box! Buy a couple pieces of styrofoam poster board at your local craft store ($2-3 each) and use that as your background. I prop up my poster board pieces on a chair in front of the sliding door for soft light and three-way white space.

Here you can see all these tips in use:

1 – In front of the window
2 – On a whiteboard backdrop
3 – All distracting elements eliminated

    

Final thought: even if you don’t have a set of white poster board, moving 45 degrees and turning off the overhead lights can make a world of a difference.

How to Take Better Instagram Photos

If you’d like customized help, contact us for a Instagram mentoring session! Chelsea is an excited student who’s Instagram game is wildly improved: “The  [instagram] training has given me confidence that I can post consistently and build my brand effectively on social media.”  

If you want confidence online, reach out and let us help!

Don’t Let Social Media Rule Your Life

Do you feel like social media is a life-sucking, time-wasting, all-consuming beast? Do you spend hours scrolling Facebook wondering “how is this helping my business?” Do you wonder why you aren’t growing as fast as that other brand? Do you post regularly on Instagram and then see no benefit to your business?

Social media might feel like it’s ruling your life, but it doesn’t have to. In fact, the power of social media is most effective when it is an extension of who you are and not a definition of what you do.

 

To use social media well for your business and to see results immediately, try implementing these tips.

1. Ask yourself honestly: “Why am I on social media?”

Some people consume social media while others use social media to accomplish their goals. Yes, scrolling Facebook is a mindless pastime and a nice mid-afternoon break, but it doesn’t usually help you gain traction or business success.

Choose to spend time on social media with purpose. Maybe that means setting a timeline for yourself to avoid over-consuming. Maybe that means only getting on social media to strategically post what you’ve created. Maybe that means focusing on conversation via social media and not just mass distribution of content.

Each time you open a social media application, know why you’re there.

2. Give yourself an actionable, measurable goal.

Do you want to grow followers? Set a target number, start creating strategic content, and take time to interact on potential followers’ accounts. Track your progress and adjust your strategies as necessary.

Do you want to attract clients to your business? Identify your target audience, strategize how you want them to think of your business, and start building content that will inspire them to move from passive followers to active clients.

By implementing measurable, actionable goals and tracking progress religiously, you’ll be able to see movement even when it’s slight. Plus, by carefully watching your momentum you’ll be able to tweak your strategy quickly when you see areas you could improve.

3. Social media starts in real-life.

Social media should be the virtual extension of the real-life world you are crafting. Apply the same principles to your virtual life as you would to your real-life. Welcome people professionally, answer comments and questions promptly, create an online world that mimics your real-life location.

Creating an online presence that showcases your business’ ideals and personality effectively will help ensure that you representing yourself in a way that will attract your real-life client well.

Don’t let social media rule your life. As you spend time online with purpose, it will no longer be a mind-sucking time-warp and will instead allow you to flourish toward your goals.

A well-planned social media strategy will help answer how much effort you need to be putting in online, but will also eliminate the creative-block and posting-panic of last-minute social media posts. Need help creating a social media strategy? We are here for you. Email for more information on a personalized social media strategy.

How to Switch to a Business Instagram Profile

If you’re on Instagram representing a brand or experience or business, then you should switch to a business Instagram account. The End.

Full disclosure, though: I was a nonconformist. Despite implementing a social media strategy on my account, I waited over a year before switching my personal account to a business account. In a series of logical-to-me reasons, I delayed the switch and I regret it.

Switching to an Instagram business account was a simple, seamless process and the benefits have been numerous.

Instagram Business Profiles Means Easier Contact

By having a business account, my prospective clients can call or email me directly from my profile. (If I had a physical location for clients, they could also easily access directions!)  The added touch point means my new client can email me directly from Instagram without all the clicks to get from Instagram to my website to my contact page to the form.

Instagram Business Analytics Are Awesome

I’m not sure how I managed without Instagram Business Analytics.  By switching to an Instagram Business profile, I know how many times my images have been viewed (not just how many times they’ve been “liked”!), a snapshot of who my followers are (men or women? Age range? location?) and which of my posts have been seen the most!  If no other benefit existed, this is why I would recommend switching to Instagram Business.

Create and manage promotions on Instagram

Instagram’s main reason to switch you to a Business Profile is, of course, your newfound ability to create and manage promotions within your profile. By paying for extra visibility, you are able to reach more potential customers through the promotions option.

Auto-Posting is Now an Option

The newest benefit (and possibly the only reason you’ll ever need!) of a Business Profile is the brand-new ability to schedule auto-posting to Instagram from platforms such as Hootsuite and Tailwind.  Batching your instagram post has never been easier!  Businesses and social media managers everywhere have been dreaming of this option and now that it’s here, switching to a Business profile is even more beneficial. Imagine not having to manually post ever again!

How to Switch to an Instagram Business Profile

The actual switch is remarkably easy: visit your profile on the App, click “Edit Profile” and then “Try Instagram Business Tools”.

Truly, it’s that simple.   Instagram will walk you through a few options and a brief tutorial and then you’re done, ready to see analytics and manage promotions and auto-post!

When you made the switch to Instagram Business Profile, what benefit did you notice the most?

Create a Reliable Social Media Marketing Strategy in 5 Steps

Creating a social media marketing strategy isn’t as tough as it sounds

However, social media marketing can be overwhelming. The more experts and gurus you listen to, the more steps there seems to be to reach the social media success train. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Here’s your five step social media strategy, aka what to focus on when you don’t have time to be social.

Five Step Social Media Strategy

    1. Decide on your objectives

Your options are endless here, but the key is choosing a goal. What are your social media goals? Why are you posting? You need something to keep you focused on the big picture so you keep moving towards your writing/business targets.

A few objectives ideas: build your online profile, build brand visibility, networking, reach new clients/readers, stay connected with current clients/readers, launch products/books/services.

Remember: choose one and work on that first. Once you feel like you’ve mastered that objective move on to another, then another.

    1. Choose your social networks

We know. You don’t have to be everywhere. However. You do need to be online. It’s where the marketplace is. So you must choose where to spend your social time/energy. There is a lot of advice out there for which networks have the biggest payoff but you will need to decide for yourself what works. A couple questions to consider when choosing your social networks: Where are you most comfortable online? Where are your customers most comfortable online?

Remember: choose one social network and work on that first. Once you feel like you’ve mastered that social network move on to another, then another.

    1. Complete your social media profiles

Not only complete, but optimize. How? Read our post on optimizing your social media profiles.

Looking for the quick fix? Here are the main points.

      • Choose a professional/standout profile picture and cover photo
      • Make it easy for people to know who you are/what you do
      • Link to your website
      • Include keywords about your services
      • Be clear on your location/contact info

Remember: The most important thing when optimizing your social profiles is consistency across platforms. Each network has its own rules for how long your bio can be, what sort of profile image works, and where your website link goes, but if you can keep more or less consistent then you’re on the right track.

    1. Interact with your audience

The point of social media is to be social. And we know, you don’t have time to be social. Do you have 15 minutes? Spend 15 minutes a day checking into your two or three chosen social networks and leave comments, reply to comments, and lend your expertise whenever convenient. This will expedite your brand building like nothing else will.

Remember: You’re not on social media to sell. You’re here to be social. Offer value, compliments, and help. Sales will follow.

    1. Build your promotion strategy

All along we’ve been talking about how you DON’T sell on social media. But you do need promotion. There is a difference.

In most cases, clients/readers need to know, like, and trust you before they’ll hire you/buy your book. In a virtual world, how do you make this happen? You need a strategy for converting warm leads into customers and retaining existing customers.

If you can stay in touch in a consistent, helpful, positive way, people who visit your website or connect with you on social will get to know you and will develop trust in you and your brand.

You’ll need to figure out a few things you can do to make people feel special, noticed, and important. Here are some ideas.

Passive ways to stay in touch

      • Posting regular blog/website content
      • Posting regular social content
      • Share real-life tips and tricks from behind the scenes of your business
      • Commenting on/liking/sharing others’ posts on social media

Active ways to stay in touch

      • Build an engaged email list and connect consistently
      • Send handwritten notes or cards
      • Live streaming—doesn’t get much more personal than that!
      • Initiate communication
      • Send an article you think your contact would appreciate (personal touch)
      • Become a connector—in helping your connections cross-promote or develop business otherwise (even if it’s without you) you will build so much good will
      • Share gratitude and compliments—recognize others, say thank you, give sincere, public displays of affection

Remember: choose one and work on that first. Once you feel like you’ve mastered that strategy move on to another, then another.

There, of course, is more. But you don’t have to do it all today. If you’re feeling like you don’t have time to be on social media or you’re overwhelmed with where to start, then please implement this five step social media strategy. It WILL help you! And if you are just plain stuck then we can help. All you have to do is get in touch.

Timesaving Social Media Management Apps

Have you ever sat on your phone, guilt-ridden as you realize how little you’ve been posting and interacting on Instagram but uninspired and with nothing to post?  Have you ever received the “Your fans haven’t heard from you in awhile” notification on Facebook and facepalmed, realizing you’ve forgotten to update yet another form of social media?  Do you struggle with what to say and how to say it?

You need a social media strategy.

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the amount of work involved in building a social media presence? Have you ever wondered how the successful social media marketers can always be so inspired and so beautiful at so many times during the week?

You need an app for that.

Over the years of learning social media, I have learned (the hard way!) that my social media success requires strategy alongside specific goals and that I can best avoid social media burn-out by consistently utilizing planning apps.

Having these social media apps firmly in my toolkit have allowed me to implement my social media strategy with efficiency and success.

 

Recur Post

  • What it is: RecurPost allows you to create a repository of cornerstone content that will publish on Facebook and Twitter on a schedule you define.
  • Who should use it: anyone with a breadth of content that is both timeless and timely.
  • Why I like it: RecurPost allows me to maintain a steady stream of updates and information on Facebook without manually posting or manually scheduling.
  • Where to find it: RecurPost.com
  • How to work it: My initial setup wasn’t as seamlessly easy as I would have hoped for, but because of the learning curve it’s a solid five-out-of-ten on a scale of intuitive-ity. I find RecurPost very intuitive once you know what you’re doing, but not very intuitive to start. After you’ve connected your social platforms, you’ll create a library of content and then a coordinating schedule. Recurpost will pull a piece from the assigned Library at the set interval on the Calendar. You will have multiple libraries and you will have multiple schedule entries.

 

Later

  • What it is: a visual scheduler for Instagram — plan your photos, content, and hashtags on the computer and then receive a push notification on your phone when it’s time to copy from the app and publish.
  • Who should use it: anyone using Instagram for more than spontaneous selfies. If you have a business that relies on social media for marketing, create an Instagram plan from your social media strategy and then use a scheduling app like Later.
  • Why I like it: I sit down for a couple of hours each month to write my Instagram posts (on a bigger keyboard than my phone, hallelujah!), schedule the photos, and build the hashtags. When it’s time to post on Instagram, I paste the content I already wrote into Instagram and maually publish. It’s revolutionized my ability to be consistently present on Instagram without needing daily inspiration.
  • Where to find it: Later.com
  • How to work it: Upload photos to your account, drag to the date and time you want to see it published, write your caption, add some hashtags, done. Load the app to your phone and wait to be notified!  

Instagram scheduling apps abound! See also  https://unum.la/ and http://planoly.com if Later isn’t quite right for you.

Hootsuite

  • What it is:  I have primarily used Hootsuite for curating and scheduling Twitter content, but the platform allows for so much more — analytics, team management, training.
  • Who should use it: If you’re on social media and if you want to create content in batches for publication later, Hootsuite is for you. The free version is remarkable, and the paid versions just add more excellence into the mix.
  • Why I like it: I have created “streams” on my Dashboard to be able to quickly and easily follow hashtags and help in my Twitter content curation.  
  • Where to find it: hootsuite.com
  • How to work it: It’s one of the more intuitive apps out there, in my opinion. After connecting a social media platform, download the app or the browser extension for quick composition of posts during Internet browsing.

 

IFTTT

  • What it is: Despite its bulky name,  IFTTT is a tool that I have used for an uncountable number of uses.  IFTTT lets your apps talk to one another.  Need to schedule Facebook content via Google Calendar? It lets you.  Want to push a certain hashtag into a specific Facebook album? It lets you. Want to save new photos you’re tagged in on Facebook into Google Photos? It lets you.
  • Who should use it: If you’re tired of your apps not communicating, this platform will thrill your soul.  If you’re focusing on one social media platform and want to post that content natively onto another platform, this allows it.  Basically, for streamlined living, this is it.
  • Why I like it: Many IFTTT are already created for me, but I also love that I can create my own recipe and personalize the platform even more.
  • Where to find it: ifttt.com
  • How to work it: It’s a remarkable intuitive platform, just requires a little logical thinking to formulaically communicate to the computer what you want it to do.

 

Tailwind

  • What it is: A planner and content curator for Pinterest (with new features for Instagram scheduling now available, too.)
  • Who should use it: If you want to drive traffic from Pinterest to your site, a Pinterest content scheduler like this one will allow you to create content in batches and schedule to post at peak traffic times.
  • Why I like it: It’s an app that is easy to use and a powerful tool. The free trial is perfect for testing not only the platform but also your social media strategy.  
  • Where to find it: tailwindapp.com
  • How to work it: Not only did I find tailwind intuitive, but their email training is exceptionally thorough!

I have also tested Boardbooster.com for Pinterest scheduling. Each has its benefits, but Tailwind is my personal preference.

 

VSCOCam

  • What it is:  A photo editing phone app, VSCO allows for editing photos for social media with a bit more flourish than your native camera app. 
  • Who should use it: If you’re taking photos for social media on your phone, you should be using VSCOCam to process. 
  • Why I like it:  I love the control VSCOCam gives me over my phone photos. As a photographer, most of my editing is done via Lightroom but when I want to share photos taken on my phone, they always go through VSCO. 
  • Where to find it: vsco.co, Google Play, the App Store 
  • How to work it: Open a photo. Edit photo. Upload to social media.

 

Quuu

  • What it is: Quuu is a curated-content service, serving the best articles from around the web to your social media platforms. 
  • Who should use it: Anyone trying to build a platform by sharing helpful tools and tips, which includes curated content. 
  • Why I like it: I spend a lot of time searching for sharable content. After a few days of seeing what Quuu served up for me…I can see they’re finding the same if not better content than I can in a fraction of the time. It’s creepy-cool. 
  • Where to find it: https://app.quuu.co/ 
  • How to work it: Connect the social media platforms you want to push curated content to, choose your categories, and select your posting frequency. The free account allows up to two posts per day. Once everything’s connected you’re done, Quuu does the rest.

 

Hashtagger

  • What it is: A phone app that provides hashtag suggestions based on any search hashtag, and (for the geeks among us) showcases relevance in percentages. 
  • Who should use it: Twitter or Instagram users who want to include powerful hashtags. 
  • Why I like it: If I search the “big idea” hashtag (#wedding), the app gives me related hashtags that will help me expand my reach. 
  • Where to find it: Hashtagger  on Google Play and Apple Store  
  • How to work it: enter a hashtag, watch it work.

As with anything in life, social media success is both what you know, who you know, and how you use the tools. Which social media management app is your favourite?

If your social media game changes because of one of these apps, I’d love to know!

Five Tips for Optimizing Your Social Media Profiles

When you’re just getting started using social media for business it’s difficult to know what to do. How do you balance business with personal? How often can you talk about your business without annoying friends and family? How do you even use social media for business?

If you’re wondering how established businesses generate leads they’ll tell you it’s by presenting an authentic brand personality and developing relationships with their customers. Even if you’re just starting out this is possible for you too, the trick is letting people know you exist so they think of you when an opportunity comes up.

The best way to let people know you’re in business is by saying it. It’s easy to look at your social media profiles as places where friends and family connect with you, so there’s no reason to talk about your business (don’t they already know what you do?) but what better place to find new customers than your friends and family list?

And don’t assume they’re aware of what you do or even understand it. Do you know the details of your entire network? I don’t. Take assumption out of the picture and optimize your social profiles for your freelance writing business. Lay it out for them so it’s easy for them to think of you the next time they’re in need of your product or service.

Another reason to optimize your social media profiles is because your reach is wide on social. A potential customer is more likely to run across you on Twitter or LinkedIn before ever seeing your website. You want to ensure you tell any potential customer who you are, what you do, and why they should do business with you.

Five tips for optimizing your social media profiles

    1. Choose a professional/standout profile picture and cover photo

Your profile photo should be high quality, square, reflect your brand, stand out in news feeds, and be a picture of you.

Your cover photo (on applicable platforms) should be high quality and represent the core values of your brand.

The more consistent your images are across platforms, the better.

    1. Make it easy for people to know who you are/what you do

If you want to capture leads from your social profiles then use your full name or business name. Nothing cute here. A great social media bio explains who you are and what you do, shares your personality, and targets your niche audience with keywords. Think of it as an amped-up elevator pitch.

    1. Link to your website

Some gurus teach linking to your professional Facebook page and if that’s where you prefer doing business I won’t stop you. But don’t leave the URL section blank. Think about it this way, where do you want your prospective clients to go? Send them there. I want them to go to my website so I can showcase the best of my work on a property I own and control.

    1. Include keywords about your services

If someone is searching on Twitter for someone like you, what will they search for? Make sure those words show up in your profile in a non-spammy way. Avoid buzz words, use terms your ideal client would use, be concise, and mention the benefits of what you do.

    1. Be clear on your location/contact info

If you work from home you may not want your address listed for the world to see, but how about your city or region? Adding your location helps potential clients discover you. And what about your contact details? Make it easy for people to get in touch, but only share what you’re comfortable with. Adding a phone number may be too much, but what about your work email address? If you want people to contact you with work, tell them how to reach you.

Now get out there and be social!