Vintage Furniture, 35°C Heat & Brand New Blogging BFFs

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I’ve been throwing the word ‘whirlwind’ around a lot lately, but goodness these past few weeks have really been one! I’ve strolled around the streets of Manhattan, danced with a disco ball, made custom lipsticks, got a crazy Japanese glitter manicure, found my perfect wrist candy, had a coughing fit live on the internet, hosted a lunch date with our past students, eaten a tub of popcorn larger than my head, posed on velvet couches on city block corners and got locked on a rooftop… and that was just in the first few days!

We did two Blogcademy classes on this trip and I’ll be blogging all about the Minneapolis adventures soon, but today it’s all about my favourite city in the whole wide world – New Yaaawk!

We held our class at the amazing Rent Patina in Brooklyn, the most glorious white walled loft space filled to the brim with vintage furniture, knick knacks and oddities. I’d never been over the bridge before (except when a taxi driver got lost one time but that’s a story for another day) so it was super fun to explore a brand new neighbourhood. As we walked in on day one we were overcome with awe and wonder at all the pretty things to look at!

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Business Bites: Working Like a Machine…

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Photography: Kitchen Konfidence

My feet have not touched the ground since I got home on Wednesday night… I literally feel like an old machine cranking back up to full speed… I’ll get there but it might take me a few days! I’m not going to lie though, I’m feeling quite overwhelmed and a little stressed out about everything I have on right now, but it’s all good, I’m just taking each day hour at a time! Sheesh maybe I need to write a blog post titled ‘How to get shit done in no time at all…’

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“Many marketers work overtime to confuse us about money. They take advantage of our misunderstanding of the time value of money, of our aversion to reading the fine print, of our childish need for instant gratification and most of all, our conflicted emotional connection to money,” Seth Godin

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Ask Me Anything…#3

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I hope you enjoyed last week’s Ask Me Anything post. It was a biggie but this one is just as beastly I’m afraid! I truly appreciate you all sending in all these questions and I hope my answers have been useful so far. Onwards…

I’m a blogger and really stumped as to how to get the best pictures for my blog. I’d love to share really beautiful photography alongside my posts but obviously I want to avoid copyright issues. How do I find beautiful photos and how do I know when it’s OK to use something?

This can be a tricky topic and one that instils the fear of God into a lot of bloggers, and quite rightly so, copyright is a scary subject! I’d like to start by saying that obviously I’m not a lawyer but this is just how I’ve done things so far and I don’t seem to have gone far wrong.

When I first started blogging I was super eager to share as much content as I could get my hands on. It literally never even crossed my mind that it wouldn’t be OK to share other people’s images. I was linking to the original source (which was sometimes the photographer, sometimes a third party site) and I figured they’ve already been posted online so surely that’s OK right? Wrong.

I lifted content from everywhere. This is something I bet many now-established bloggers will have done once upon a time but nobody ever talks about it – why? Because they now know it’s wrong and because it’s embarrassing. I would go to Flickr and find photos, I’d see weddings on other blogs that I liked and re-blog them, I’d find weddings on wedding photographer’s sites and post them without a second thought… and if Pinterest had been around then, I daresay I’d have been nicking stuff from there too.

Then one day I got called out. Another wedding blogger emailed me to tell me they knew what I was doing and that they were annoyed. Really annoyed. They knew some of the weddings I’d posted had originated from them as they had the exclusive right to publish those weddings… I was mortified.

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OK so onto your question. If you didn’t take a photograph you are not allowed to post it without express permission of the photographer. End of. But there are a few ways you can get imagery that is OK to publish. Firstly there are a bunch of places you can get photos with creative commons licences which basically means you can use them on (usually not for profit, although there are various options) blogs. Both Flickr and Wikipedia offer these kinds of images. Just make sure the usage of each image you want to post fits in with what you’re doing (some won’t let you use them if your making money from your blog for example). This is a great post listing the breakdown of creative commons licenses and includes some other ideas of places you can get photos that are OK to use.

I also discovered Unsplash recently, a tumblr site that allows photographers to share a set of images what can be re-blogged for free (in exchange for exposure, I assume). If you use these just be sure you are crediting and linking back to the photographer, it’s just good karma.

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Business Bites: Just Be True to Who You Are

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Photography: Via Elle Spain

As many of you probably already know, I’ve been over in my second home, New York City this week. Last weekend we taught a Blogcademy workshop to 30 incredible women in Brooklyn and yesterday we flew to Minneapolis to do this same again this weekend (if you’d like to come along we can totally squeeze you in by the way!)

The amazing but scary thing about teaching a workshop that travels all around the world is that every class is different – a different city, a different venue and a whole host of different students each time… But I never need to worry. The babes that come to our class are passionate, colourful and as Shauna, Gala and I said on the subway home on Sunday, just like us – like attracts like and all that! Oh we love them so but we adore them even more when they send testimonials like this one. Madelin you blew us away and I couldn’t help but share it here. Blush!

“The Blogcademy is fucking life-changing. I sold half of my wardrobe (no joke) in order to attend and I’d sell the other half and show up in nothing but my undies and black eyeliner ten times over: these women are legit. Their energy is through the roof. Their knowledge is powerful. Their commitment is palpable. And they will give you the necessary kick in the ass you need to own your identity, no matter how scary that might be. Between the sparkles, sea of hair colors, and resounding tribal spirit, I kept waiting for Jessie J to burst through the window on a Tarzan rope belting out ‘Just be true to who you are’. (I wouldn’t put it past these three. I believe them capable of anything). But all in all, whether you have to walk 500 miles, subsist on Ramen noodles for a month, or fly on a broomstick to get there…GO. Stop thinking about it. GO. I kid not when I say it will alter the course of your professional career and, by extension, your life”

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Ask Me Anything…#2

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People always say there are no original ideas. It’s true, everything is a rehash of this or an offshoot of that. I actually did this once before but my babe Emma Case posted this Q&A blog post the other day and I really enjoyed reading it so I wanted to shamelessly rip off the idea and do it again! Thanks to everyone on Facebook and Twitter who asked a question. In fact I got so many of them that I’m going to split this into two parts and do another post same time next week. If you have any yourself, be sure to pop them in the comments and I’ll try and include it as well!

Enjoy…

I have been messing about with tags on my blog but then someone said that they make no difference to SEO so I got confused and stopped. Are tags useful in blogs and if so, what for?

Ugh SEO, yawn! I’m no expert, but I’ll try my best to explain it… Basically anything and everything you put on your blog will, in some small way, add to your searchability. So, if you tagged every post with ‘vintage wedding photography’ the likelihood is that Google will start to index you for that term (alongside every other frigging wedding photographer in world who’s done the same).

The real function of tags is to index things within your blog and to provide a better user experience for your readers. For example, if you tagged a wedding with ‘vintage wedding’ and a reader enjoyed that post they can then click the tag to view other, similar content.

So in a nutshell yes and no… but mostly no. They’re not designed for SEO benefits but may well contribute to the overall ‘SEOness’ of your site.

The key thing to remember is that you’re blogging for your readers, not for Google, and everything you do on your site should enhance the experience for them. I keep my tags super simple as it can be very easy to go overboard (and, goodness, doesn’t that look spammy at the end of a post?!) and do more harm than good.

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I’m a photographer and would love to be a successful one. How do I get those more alternative clients when I’m starting out? I love everything that’s out of the ordinary and would like to make it my business…

There’s no quick answer to this one I’m afraid but authenticity is key. The holy grail is that the couples that book you do so because they connect with something about you (and hopefully it’s not just because you’re cheap when just starting out!) Really spend some time working on how you present yourself online. Use your personality and your quirks (alongside your amazing photography of course) to sell yourself.

Instead of saying “I really want to shoot alternative weddings” think, “I’d really like to shoot people I connect with”, because, really, that’s what it’s all about. We all present ourselves in very different ways online and some of the most successful photographers are the ones that have very distinct personalties. Look at Jonas Peterson, Jasmine Star, Emma Case… each of these guys have cornered a very specific demographic of client. Why? because they’re attracting couples that are just like them. There’s no point trying to do what they do though, you have to market yourself towards your ideal client.

Look at some of your favourite wedding photographers and see how they do this. What are they blogging about? What are they saying on social media? Where are they getting featured? What is it about them that their clients are connecting with? People with similar interests will naturally be drawn to you. If you try to be something you’re not it will always be completely obvious and will likely just put people off.

Wedding photographer Hannah Millard recently did a really specific and targeted Facebook ad campaign and the results were astounding. She stipulated that the ad was to be shown to engaged people in her desired area who had also ‘liked’ the Belle and Sebastian fan page. The ad graphic also mentioned that she was a fan. Weird right? No, it’s actually genius.

Firstly Facebook ads are priced on a sliding scale depending how many people see them, so by being super specific about her demographic it didn’t reach a huge number of people (maybe a few hundred) making it really affordable. Secondly the people who saw the ad were instantly drawn to it because alongside offering something they were looking for (a wedding photographer) it mentioned something they instantly connected with (a mutual appreciation of Belle and Sebastian). She booked seven weddings through this advert alone (and had a bunch more enquiries which she couldn’t do because she was already booked) and it cost her less than £100.

Obviously I’m not saying you should go and put a Belle and Sebastian targeted ad on Facebook right away. The reason this worked so well for Hannah was because she wasn’t trying to be all things to all people. She really drilled down, got super specific and spoke directly to the kind of client she wanted to work with.

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Live From New York City!

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The Blogcademy live is kicking off at 6pm (GMT). Sign up below for just $7 (that’s a measly £4.50!) and ask us all those blogging and business questions that have been plaguing you. We’ll also be chatting about  some of the trends and changes that we’re noticing in the blogosphere as well as revealing some of our own individual plans for our blogs.

If you can’t tune in tonight, don’t worry, your ticket will give you access to a recording which you can watch over and over again whenever you please.

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