Ask Me Anything: Blogging and Business Special!

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The Blogcademy Online launches this Thursday (eeek!) so to celebrate and get you all warmed up, I thought it would be fun to do another Q&A post. But to throw a cat among the pigeons, I decided to record myself talking through my responses, instead of just writing them!

In the audio I answer the following questions:

♥ What are your biggest turn off’s for a website?
♥ Who do you really admire in business?
♥ What should I do about my friend who’s copied my business idea?
♥ How do I get more interaction on my Facebook page?
♥ How can we get the word out about our new company?
♥ What advice do you have for someone who blogs as a hobby but wants to make it their full time job?
♥ How do you deal with haters or mean-spirited people?
♥ How do I stand out in a crowded market?
♥ I had a leg amputated last year, is there still space for me as a wedding photographer?
♥ How do I do market research for my new company?
♥ How did you start your career and how do you make your money?

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Seven New Year’s Resolutions to Ensure Career Happiness

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A new year is upon us so it’s the perfect time to clear the decks and start to make plans for progressing your business. The “new year, new me” mindset will only get you so far though. You have to set some goals and have some plans, but then you actually have to go out and make them happen too.

It is in no way easy to make radical life (or career) changes, but it certainly can be done. So here are seven resolutions you can make for yourself right now to help you completely dominate the year ahead.

1. Define what you really want

Have you ever sat down and asked yourself what you really want?! Forget the self-deprecating or society-friendly answers here. Stop being embarrassed, and don’t ever think “Well that’s never going to happen so what’s the point?” The first step in getting what you want is asking for it. You have to at least being brave enough to vocalise it.

It’s not uncommon to feel lost when it comes to career happiness. From an early age the education system force-feeds us the idea of what our lives should look like: Do well in school, go to uni, get a job, work your way up, get married, have a family… but what if you don’t want all that? What if you allowed yourself to consider what you really want. What if there was nothing holding you back? Then what would you do?

Look, if I’d told people that my teenage dream for my life was to marry Ronan Keating and be on the cover of a magazine, people would have laughed – or worse. I may not have married Ronan (its OK, I met someone way better!) but now, not only am I only the cover of a magazine, it’s MY magazine!!

Before you can make any plans or changes for 2015, you have to get crystal clear about what you really want out of your life and business. Stop being shy about it, it’s time to get honest, even if it’s just to yourself.

2. Set tangible goals

Let’s not sugar coat it, running your own business is bloody hard. It’s going to take a lot of work to get to where you want to be. So after defining what it is you really want, you next have to make a solid commitment to making it work. I’m not talking about some airy, fairy, “Yeah I’m gonna eat better this year” resolution, you need tangible – and most importantly – measurable goals to help you get there.

For example, instead of saying “This year I want to be more profitable”, set the goal of exactly how much money you want to make. That way, it’s much easier to a) know when you’re on, or off, track b) plot your trojectory to get there and c) find your way back to your pre-tedermind path if you happen to get off course.

3. Stop comparing yourself to others

Oh this is a big one because I KNOW every single one of you struggles with it. The reason I know that for sure is because I do too. Constantly.

But guess what? Comparing yourself to others is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. It’s futile, but worst still, it’s a guaranteed route to self-loathing. Make a promise to yourself to focus on your own stuff. Stop looking sideways at what your competitors are doing. And remember, someone else’s success does not constitute your failure.

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My Top Five Books To Help You Dominate With Your Online Business

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Madeline Kate Photography

I’m not a bookworm by any stretch of the imagination. You’re much more likely to find me with my head in a laptop that the latest bestseller. So when it comes to recommending business books, believe me when I say these really are the best of the best. Most books (business or otherwise) lose my attention after the first few chapters, but these five paperbacks are all amazing. You should definitely check them out!

WordPress For Beginners by Reeta Krishna

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If the technical jargon of setting up your WordPress blog or website makes you break out in a cold sweat, then you need this book! In fact I love it so much, we gave a copy to every student that came to The Blogcademy workshop this year! This paperback is a complete guide to WordPress that lays out in detail the exact steps needed to build a full-fledged website.

The book is divided into three sections – the essentials (from picking a domain name to web hosting and getting started), optimisation (SEO, back-end necessities and security) and design (adding graphics, changing the look of your site and fonts) – which break everything down into easy bite-sized steps.

Be Awesome at Online Business by Paul Jarvis

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I am a huge fan of Paul Jarvis’ no bullshit writing style, hence why I’m recommending not one, but TWO of his awesome self-published books in this line up.

If you have any online business (which basically means any business these days) then you simply have to read this one. It teaches you how to create and foster an engaged audience, and drive sales for your products or services. There are no get-rich-quick schemes or shady conversion tactics here, just proven advice about what it takes to build a sustainable and honest business.

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How to Make a Good First Impression Online

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They say that first impressions count, and no more-so is this apparent than online. While in person, we might put someone’s slightly chaotic nature down to being nervous, or actually find it quite charming and endearing, online we are used to everything being a bit more polished. If your online presence is a mess, people are much less forgiving.

Your website

When it comes to hooking new visitors in, the design and usability of your website are the most important things. Your design doesn’t have to be complicated or over the top, in fact I think it should be the opposite! A recognisable brand and visual consistency (with your colours and fonts) and a lot of white space is a great place to start.

How easy your website is to navigate is crucial too. Allegedly you have just 2.5 seconds to grab a new visitor’s attention. If they don’t like what they see, or don’t know what to do to get them to where they want to be, they are very likely to simply close the window. Make sure your navigation is crystal clear and your content easy to access.

A fun little test that we talk about at The Blogcademy is ‘the mum test’. Show your website to your mum (or someone else not in your industry) and see if they’re able to navigate easily to certain areas of your site. If your layout isn’t obvious, or there’s something there that doesn’t quite work, you’ll quickly be able to find out about it. It’s impossible to do this ourselves, as we look at our own websites everyday and know them like the back of our hands. Other people do not!

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Beating the Winter Business Blues

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It’s mid- November. If you’ve been in business a while, you’ll already know that this is the time of year where everything in the wedding industry slows down to a glacial pace. Brides and grooms tend to put their wedding planning to one side in favour of all things festive. The enquiries dry up, and that metaphorical tumble weed seems to blow past your website more often than you might be used to.

If you’re not expecting it, it can be a little disconcerting, but it’s all very normal and come January you’ll be overrun with enquiries as it’s when everything ramps up again x 1000! Not only are there lots of Christmas engagements, but those couples getting married in 2015 will wake up on January 1st thinking “Oh crap, we’re getting married this year, we better get serious with the wedding planning!”

Rather that sitting around, eagerly waiting for the January rush to hit, this is the perfect time of year for you to get your business is in the best possible shape.

Start a passion project

I recently wrote about the benefits of personal projects, and this time of year is the ideal time to do something about it. Organise a shoot, put on an event, and just have some fun!

Get those accounts in order

Groaaan! Boring, I know, but why not get a head start on next year’s taxes by cracking on with them now?

Give your home or office an (Autumn) clean

Spring cleaning is overrated. I am ALL about the Autumn clean. We’ve been de-cluttering our house massively over the past few weeks and it’s so blissful. Anything that isn’t beautiful or useful is being chucked (goodbye ugly DVDs that we never watch! Hello, white walls and new carpet!)

Out with the old in with the new, that’s what I say. A nice home and work environment makes everything a million times better.

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