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


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!


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!


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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Business Bites: Motivation


Photography: Food for my Family

Over brunch in Soho yesterday morning, Gala and I started chatting about motivation. It’s funny because I always figured that I was motivated by money, after all isn’t that why we run our businesses? But she commented that since I’d arrived in New York, less than 24 hours previously, I’d spoken about two projects that I am currently working on. Of both I’d then gone on to say “yeah but I’m not really doing it for the money. I really enjoy it and think it will make me really stand out from the other wedding blogs…”

I’ve always been very competitive. I always want to be the one winning the award, the one being picked for the magazine feature, the one doing all the new and innovative projects. I think, sometimes, acknowledging our motivations can be quite difficult because the things that ultimately drive us might not be the things we really want people to know about us. They are our strengths but, if exposed, could also be seen as weaknesses.

I always knew this about myself but never really thought about it as being a motivation. I figured it was just the way I was, an irrelevant character trait if you will. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I also recently took The Fascination Advance test. It’s about $30 but if you’re having trouble determining your strengths and weaknesses or you want to find out how you can use your personality and motivations to propel what you do, its well worth the investment. My result initially quite surprised me but after this chat with Gala it’s all starting to fall into place a bit more.

So I ask you, what are you motivated by? At it’s core and in your gut, what drives you to do what you do? Is it money, competition, security, being a leader, spending more time with your family, helping others, creative expression, experiencing new things… something else?

Anyway, that’s just a little sommat sommat for you to mull over. If you feel so inclined I’d love to hear about your motivations the comments. Enjoy this week’s links and have a great weekend. The Blogcademy kicks off again tomorrow and I couldn’t be more excited!

♥ ‘Everyone is a photographer’: specialize or perish
Forget about marketing, concentrate on blogging
♥ What to do when you feel jealous of other business ladies
Photographers, are you struggling to set your rates? Read this…

“Whenever someone says they can’t afford us, we don’t believe that’s really what they mean. We present our value first, and if they don’t recognize that value, we gladly allow them to walk away.”

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Working with a Copywriter


With the next round of workshops just round the corner Gala, Shauna and I decided that a revamp was in order. We’re literally never satisfied and are always thinking of things that can be tweaked, improved or built upon with brand Blogcademy.

The original overview we had on the site, while good, lacked some… oomph. We were struggling to put the real essence of the workshop into words and needed help. The three of all are all pretty good writers but it can be really difficult to look at something objectively, especially if you’ve put so much love and effort into it already. So we called upon copywriter Ash of The Middle Finger Project.

When we got the rework back we were blown away. It had so much power, pizazz and …yeah… oomph! It covers all those things we were trying to say ourselves but couldn’t, and totally encapsulates what The Blogcademy is all about.

I can’t recommend working with a copywriter, and Ash in particular, enough. If you’re struggling to put your ideas into words, you’re cringing over writing your about page, or you need some fresh eyes to look over your website copy, they are invaluable. I’m so proud of this rework. It’s got me all fired up and I can’t wait to do the next workshop in New York this weekend!

Of course I figured you might be interested so the result is pasted below. I’d love to hear from you guys on this one too. Have you ever worked with a copywriter? What results did you see?


Calling all aspiring blog queens and small business owners. The heartfully headstrong, the radically rambunctious. The devilishly demure. The loud ones, the quiet ones, the sweet ones and the vixens. And every single up-and-coming BLOGGING BABE IN BETWEEN.

Whether you’ve been blogging for forever, or just getting started… THIS IS THE BLOGCADEMY.

Because blogging is no joke, and it’s time to take yours to the next level. It’s where three A-list bloggers, thirty A-list students, and the magic of in-person collaboration combine.

Enough fooling around.

It’s time to make a living with your blog.

And we’re coming to your city… TO SHOW YOU EXACTLY HOW.


Contrary to popular belief, blogs aren’t just online diaries for stylish mavens in six inch heels; they’re an essential tool for anyone who owns a business, wants a business, or wants to do business… Period.

Bloggers are the ultimate “it” girls: They sit front row at fashion week, they launch magazines to wild acclaim, and they are able to make a living in a way that leaves the 9-5 crowd for dead.

There’s just one little thing…

It takes strategy. Insight. Technique. And talent.

Because you might be the best at what you do, but if you aren’t the best at blogging about it… You don’t exist.

And that’s precisely why we’ve created The Blogcademy: to help every single hard-working wonder-woman get the recognition she wants — and the lifestyle she DESERVES. We’ve only got one go around at this thing called life. We might as well give it EVERYTHING WE’VE GOT — turquoise sequins and 80’s dance-offs very much included.

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