Perspective & Dealing with Mid-Season Burn Out

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It’s the height of summer and wedding season is in full swing. Everywhere I look my wedding industry friends are lamenting about how busy they are, how tired they feel, and just how much they’re really looking forward to winter… and a well deserved lie in! Whatever industry you’re in, there are likely to be particular times of year that are much busier than others. So how do you survive, no thrive, when you feel in completely over your head?

I could give you plenty of tips for getting through a busy period – saying no more often, taking a day off, giving yourself rewards, being an excellent list writer – but really there’s just one thing you need in order to power through. Perspective.

Most of us run our own businesses because we’re passionate about what we do. We love our work, we cherish our clients and it’s immensely satisfying overall. Well, it is when you take the time to look back at what you’ve achieved. When you’re in the thick of it, it can be very difficult to see the wood for the trees. It’s hard to remember why you do it at all sometimes, especially when you’re rushing about from place to place, client to client, deadline to deadline.

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On Overcommitting and Why I Haven’t Written My Book Yet

why i havent written my book yet

I thought that if I said it out loud, it would force me to actually go through with it. I started this year with one big goal: to write a book. A massive undertaking at the best of times, but with a schedule like mine? Madness. Yet I reasoned that I could definitely get it done. I thrive on being busy.

But as the year zipped by a frighting speed, there was one thing that became very obvious: I was seriously putting off writing the damn thing.

Sleep on the plane, or bash out a few chapters? Work on blog posts, or draft an outline? Produce more Home School videos, or work on content ideas?

As more and more time past it become very clear to me that I was procrastinating. Big time.

The idea of writing a book started to feel like an albatross hanging around my neck. I wish I’d never told anyone, it was now all everybody seemed to ask me about. Each time they did the burden and guilt that I hadn’t even really started got heavier and heavier. “How’s the book coming along?” they’d innocently enquire. I’d blush bright crimson and mumble something about “being just so very, very busy right now.”

Which is true, I have been swamped this year, but if I’m being 100% honest with myself, that’s not why I haven’t written it. If I really wanted to do it I would have found the time. The fact that I haven’t speaks volumes.

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Live Your Own Truth

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Iris Apfel, American businesswoman, interior designer, and fashion icon is a pretty amazing woman. At the ripe old age of 93, she still consults and lectures about style and fashion, and she continues to rock the same inimitable style that she became so well known for.

I might have said it to you a million times before, but looking at someone like Iris only reinforces my belief that you need to wholeheartedly be yourself. Standing out in a crowd is awesome, but in life (no matter how you choose to present yourself) you’re always going to come across people who are threatened, intimidated, offended or annoyed by you. You need to keep prancing along doing your own thing anyway. If you don’t, you’ll end up being a carbon copy of everyone else and just as bitter as the rest of them.

I’d rather people disliked me for who I actually am, than have them dim my sparkly light because it might – GASP! – offend their boring sensibilities. I already know my style, opinions and choices are going to annoy some people, so I might as well just be myself and enjoy life on my own terms regardless!

Iris Apfel

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I Ruined My Friend’s Wedding

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Kate Moss for Vogue, April 2012

Dear Kat
I fucked up (to put it mildly!) and I need your help… advice… anything. I’m an aspiring wedding planner. I’m just out of university and when a friend asked me to help her plan her wedding I was thrilled, honoured and terrified all at the same time. I’ve always wanted to go into events and even though I’ve never planned anything as big as a wedding (and I told my friend this) I was super excited to be involved.

I worked my arse off in the run up and on the day, and I feel like I did a pretty good job considering it was my first go. BUT there were some things that didn’t go perfectly and now my friend is pissed and blaming me. For example the flowers were delivered late, the cake started to sag before it was cut and she hated the hair and make up artist I booked (even though she agreed to her, and had a trial, beforehand).

I appreciate her feedback on how I could have done things differently. After all this was my first wedding and I know I have a LOT to learn. But I can’t help but be massively crushed. Not only is my friendship effectively ruined but I feel like I never want to try and plan another wedding again!

I don’t know if you can help me or if you can say anything to really help me feel better, but do you happen to have any advice on how to deal with this? We all have to start somewhere, right?
Sarah Jane

Aww Sarah Jane I am so sorry this was your first planning experience. Being involved in someone’s wedding is a huge deal and a massive amount of pressure. From reading your email I am convinced that you did the very best you could despite your inexperience.

While you can’t change what’s already happened, the first thing you need to do is apologise, even if you feel you did the best you could at the time. While the flowers being a bit late, the cake being a bit saggy and her not liking the person who did her face might seem like pretty minor misdemeanors, you do need to look at it from her point of view. Yes, she is your friend, but in this situation she was first and foremost your client. And the customer is always right.

Ask her if there’s anything you can do to make it up to her, and go out of your way to do anything that she might ask you. Think of something nice you can do for her to show how very sorry you are. How about a canvas print of one of her favourite wedding images? Try your very best to build those bridges.

kate moss for vogue

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What If You Fall Out Of Love With Your Brand?

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It’s not you it’s me”, I thought. “I’ve changed, I’ve moved on. It’s nothing you did, we are just not in the same place anymore. I still love you but I’m just not in love with you anymore. You will always be a part of me but I need to try something new”.

It all started when I was trying to redesign my PDF that I send to clients when they enquire. I just couldn’t pull together something that I was truly excited about. I didn’t think it was the images but laying them out with my current logo and fonts just seemed to lose their impact. I stressed about it for two days and then it hit me… I had quite simply fallen out of love with my brand.

I started to flirt with different fonts and suddenly I felt excited again… It was definitely time for a change. But where to start and where to draw the line? For me, this would be no easy decision. I have three companies all under the same brand and each one is now pretty established in their own fields. This wasn’t going to be a case of bodging together a different header and calling Moo for new business cards. My new found freedom suddenly felt quite overwhelming.

I had a stab at a new logo myself and sent it over to Kat, thinking I had done a fairly good job. Being the good friend that she is, she immediately came back and told me it was a bit crap, and that while I could cobble something half decent together myself, that doesn’t always mean that I should… oh! She said it was time to get a professional in and she was so right. If this kind of thing isn’t your forte then more help than ever is at hand. Unlike last time I rebranded, there are now specialist photographers’ brand experts and so I got straight onto Skype with the amazing Melissa Love who frequently joins us on our workshops at Photography Farm. She gets pretty booked up so I know I was lucky that she could fit me in.

Now my major problem was that I didn’t really know what I wanted. Luckily as far as Melissa is concerned I didn’t need to. As a photographer my heart does sink if anyone ever comes to me with a huge list of set shots that they want… ‘Bride looking in mirror putting in earrings’, ‘best man pinning on grooms buttonhole’, ‘giant fake dinosaur chasing wedding guests’ (you get the idea) I much prefer to photograph the narrative as I see it on the day and if any of those things happen when I’m around then I will record them ~ although I might be a little surprised at the last one! I don’t want to force a moment and it’s the same with your designer. You need to trust them and the process they will guide you through to divine and define your brand.

devin photos rebrand

With Melissa, the first step is to start a Pinterest board. “Approach it with your mind open'”, she said “look for images, fonts and designs that you like because of their style, texture or colour”. Sounded easy enough so I got to pinning… The more I pinned the more inconsistent it looked to me but Melissa is fantastic at seeing the story. It’s like she can read the tea leaves of my brand cup.

We then had a merry journey around the wonderful world of fonts. It’s a bit mad for a while, everywhere you look all you see is fonts and I was constantly trying to surmise what a company’s fonts expressed about them. However my advice with all of this is don’t overthink it. A good designer will breathe energy into fonts and bring out things that you would never see… Same as a good photographer is drawn to composition and light.

Then we came to colour… My Pinterest was mostly black/grey/white and again I was finding it hard to commit to any one colour beyond those tones. I felt like I was looking at all of Tinder at once and trying to find my ideal man. So instead of being over analytical, I just looked at what I was wearing that day. My favourite neon peach belt… Melissa has an amazing app on her phone called Kuler from Adobe that scans items and comes up with the digital version of the colour. So now we were rocking.

A lot of my pins also featured halftones, where an image is made up of dots. I guess that overall, I wanted an editorial feel but not in the high end fashion magazine sense. I’m way more grungy than that. I started to see my brand more like a lookbook for my work with an influence from the magazines that I read. I loved The Face when it was still around plus Love magazine, I-D, Dazed & Confused so it made sense to channel some of those elements into the new brand.

devin photos rebrand1

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It’s A Blog Eat Blog World Out There: Best Practices for Blogging Success

its a blog eat blog world out there

Someone tweeted me last week that I should write a post titled “It’s a blog eat blog world out there”. It made me chuckle so that’s exactly what I’ve done. I hope it’s helpful as well as just slightly amusing though!

Here are my thoughts on what makes a successful blog:

Be yourself

The famous Oscar Wilde quote “Be yourself, everyone else is taken” is a cliché but it’s so true. You’ll never make your site a success if you’re following in someone else’s shadow. Don’t try to be the next (insert blogger name here), strive to be the first YOU!

You might think you have nothing new to offer, but that’s total crap! Remember, no one else has lived your life or had your exact experiences. What you might think is the mundane everyday, will be wildly exciting and different to someone living on the other side of the world.

Stop putting yourself down. You are amazing and you have something of value to offer.

Practice your writing

The more you do something, the better you get at it. So, if writing isn’t your strongest skill, practice, practice and practice some more!

Read a lot. Get your writing inspiration from a variety of sources, not just other blogs in your niche. Read books, read magazines, read journals… keep reading, keep writing, keep learning.

If you go back and look at my very first blog post you’ll see just how far I’ve come. Oh cringe!

Present things differently

But blogging doesn’t just have to be about long form writing. Look at places like The Oatmeal, Buzzfeed and all those YouTube beauty bloggers. They use comics, listicles and videos to connect with their audience and get their points across. Mix things up a little!

be yourself everyone else is already taken

Include great images

If you look at your favourite blogs, I’d imagine that most of them also include amazing imagery. Whether you’re taking your own, using stock photos or asking photographers if you can use their work, always accompany your posts with at least one gorgeous shot to draw people in and pretty up the page.

Push yourself

It can be very easy to get stuck in a blogging rut. The old, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mantra. But if you’re bored, or not pushing yourself, your readers will be bored too. Diane Vreeland once said “Give them what they never knew they wanted” and never is this more true than in blogging. Don’t always go with what’s expected.

Push yourself to post something different and a little bit scary once in a while. It will keep you on your toes and keep things interesting for everybody.

Have an opinion

Don’t always take the easy path. If you believe in something, stand up for it. Occasionally say things that you know might ruffle some feathers. While I don’t believe you should be controversial for the sake of it, if there is something you really want to get across, DO IT!

Yes, you might piss some people off, but great blogs are polarising. They attract and repel people in equal measure.

Teach people something

The golden rule of successful blogging is to post things that help other people. While you might look at a lot of fashion or lifestyle bloggers and want to emulate what they do, it’s the hardest niche to really get any traction with.

Bloggers that get famous by simply posting their outfit photos or sharing things about their everyday life are few and far between. They are definitely the exception not the rule.

If you can teach people something and help them in some way, then they are more likely to find you in the first place and keep coming back.

What is it that you know that other people don’t? It doesn’t have to be complicated, and actually it is often the simplest things that prove the most popular. Did you do a great DIY project recently? Discover a new way to style your hair? Learn a new trick with your camera? Share it!

give them what they never knew they wanted

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