The Inspirations: There will Always be People who don’t Like Peaches

Oh Dita you are so wise.

There will always be someone, somewhere who doesn’t agree with you or like what you do. But you know what? Screw ‘em! The best lesson I’ve learnt through running my business is that I can’t please everybody so I shouldn’t to waste my time trying. And, in all honestly, if people are annoyed enough to tell you that they don’t like what you’re doing then you’re probably doing something right. Hell raisers, game changers and trend setters unite!

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Image Use, Correct Crediting & The Minefield that is Image Copyright for Bloggers

I’m not sure why, but I’m feeling very reflective this week. Maybe it’s because in prepping for The Blogcademy (which sold out within a week by the way – wooo!) I’ve been thinking about what I knew and, more importantly, didn’t know when I started blogging. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. On one hand I’m sure every decision, journey and mistake I made got me to exactly where I am today, but on the other hand muddling along and hoping I was doing things right was a tough way to learn!

One of the main areas that I wish I’d known more about when I started blogging was when it was OK (and not OK) to share an image and how I should go about crediting said images.

Blogging wedding images

When I first launched my blog I was so eager to share as much content as I could get my hands on, which basically meant as many alternative weddings as I could physically find. I was so eager in fact that I broke the cardinal blogging rule – I lifted content from everywhere. This is something I bet many established wedding 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 an embarrassing thing to admit. 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 Christ, if Pinterest had been around then, I daresay I’d have been nicking stuff from there too. But surely I was doing nothing wrong? I was only saying nice things about everything I posted and I was linking back to the place that I found the images, and if I knew who they were, the photographer’s website too. There’s nothing wrong with that… right?

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… and while they were at it they also knew most of my other content was being lifted from one of their other blogger friend’s Flickr groups and from wedding photographer’s sites. The wedding blogging industry is (still) a relatively small one (it was even smaller back then!) and it’s not very difficult for a seasoned professional to spot when amateurs are doing this.

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Feel the Fear

When I first moved to London, my flatmate at the time had a book called Feel the Fear but do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers. Not really being one for self help books, I never got round to reading it but as it hung around the lounge, the title really spoke to me and it’s kinda hung around in my mind ever since. At the time I had pulled out of doing a degree in fashion and textiles after it had dawned on me that I wasn’t anywhere near as obsessed with fashion as my fellow foundation students who had got onto the same degree. They were going to college in Victorian Underwear and thick black tights while I was still channelling Neneh Cherry in a purple satin bomber jacket with a spiral perm (hey, it was twenty years ago!)

Although I had always done photography I was flummoxed by the sums… F-stop numbers going one way, shutter speed numbers go the other way… Who invented this stuff? Why wasn’t it just 1, 2, 3 or A, B, C? So I decided to try fashion styling as that was just putting clothes together for photo shoots, not designing them but it was still photography related. So how could I get work experience at that? I was obsessed with reading The Face magazine so I started there… I picked out my favourite shoots and the same couple of stylists’ names kept cropping up so I found out their phone numbers and got in touch. Our flat was in Chelsea but I am no trust fund babe – we were signing on and most weeks ran out of money to top up the key meter for the electricity. I was aware that I needed these people way more than they needed me and that is a vulnerable position to be in. It would have been easy to psyche myself out of making those phone calls, I was totally terrified but eventually I did and a stylist called Camilla Nickerson who sounded just lovely said that actually her assistant had pulled out of a shoot the following Friday and I could come along to help out.

I arrived at the studio after a sleepless night to a buzz of activity but everyone seemed very sweet. I got stuck in unwrapping the amazing clothes by Vivienne Westwood and John Galliano. Turned out that all the people at the shoot were friends – the make up artist was mates with the stylist, and the photographer’s girlfriend was the model along with her brother. Her name was Kate Moss and it was one of the first times she had been in a proper studio too. She was only a couple of years younger than me. I thought she looked like a beautiful alien and when she stepped on set she was mesmerising. As the shoot unfolded I realised that I had no clue what the stylist was doing. In this room full of stunning clothes, one of the shots turned out to be just Kate under a black satin sheet with nothing on but a narrow leather thong around her neck… Six months later me and every girl in London wouldn’t leave the house without the same necklace on. It quickly dawned on me that day that I was no fashion stylist but I carefully watched the photographer Mario Sorrenti and he didn’t seem to be doing anything that I couldn’t grasp. He was using the daylight and bouncing it round with poly boards and shooting on 35mm. Maybe this photography lark wasn’t so technical after all?

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Running a Business with a Full Time Job

Some of you may already be aware of my story. I’ve written about it many times before. Gareth has even shared his side of my journey from full time shopping TV producer to full time wedding blogger. While, looking back it may all seem very idealistic and easy, it was far from it. Trying to kick start a business whilst holding down a full time job is hard.

There were times when I didn’t sleep. There were times when I cried. There were times when I was constantly sick. There were times when I wondered why I was bothering at all. And there were times that I wanted to pack the whole thing in and resign myself to selling crap on the telly forever.

It was a struggle, but looking back it was so worthwhile and I’m immensely grateful for the experience it gave me. This is a total cliché but I truly believe that the harder you work at something, the more satisfying it is when you finally reach your goal. If you’re stuck in that place, I just want to give you a big hug and remind you that it will all be OK in the end. I also want to offer you some practical advice…

Have set working hours

It’s so easy to think you have to work all hours of the day (and night!) to get things done, but baby, that just isn’t true! If you try work too much then your productivity will be shot. You won’t be able to concentrate, you won’t be at your best and you won’t have time to process anything properly… and you know that thing called ‘a life’? The thing you’re probably striving to have a better one of by running your own business? Yeah you won’t have one of those either.

I’m obsessive about my work. I’m utterly head over heels in love with my job but I’m so strict with myself on the hours I do and don’t work. When you’re trying to juggle your business with a day job it can be really difficult to get the balance right so my advice to you would be to have set working hours… and stick to them. If say, you work 9-5 and you get home at 6, maybe have an hour set aside for family/’you’ time and then work 7-9? Two hours of productive work a day is better than 5 hours of stressful not-getting-anything-done work.

You also really need to sleep.

Have a strategy

To optimise the time you do have to work on your business, get yourself a strategy. Write down exactly the things you want to achieve in each working session and how you’re going to do it. You might think that taking time to document things would be a waste of time but it’s so not! I’d imagine the morning commute being a good opportunity to do this. Write checklists obsessively to get anything you possibly can out of your head so you can focus on each task one by one.

If you’re a photographer, spend some time really honing down your editing skills. Set time aside for learning and improving your technique so you can do things quickly and efficiently. Go to a workshop or do your own research on the most streamlined and efficient way to edit your images (as a side note, the part of The Photography Farm where Lisa shares her editing system is always my favourite. The look of sheer astonishment on the photographer’s faces when they realise they can process an entire wedding in a few hours is amazing!)

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The Power of Positivity: What’s the Nicest Thing That’s Been Said to you Recently?

Yesterday’s School of Rock was magical. We were a room full of girls (and er… Gareth – although I don’t think he minded at all!) chatting about business, blogging and everything in between. I left on a total high, feeling proud of the little space I was able to create and excited to have made a gaggle of new friends.

One of the topics at my workshops that always sparks the most debate and questions is that of dealing with online negativity. I don’t hold back when I’m asked about it. In fact I have very strong feelings on the matter and unashamedly honest about the whole thing.

But you know what, sometimes it’s so easy to focus on the bad things that happen and sweep the good stuff under the carpet. I mean, if I asked you what the last mean thing someone said to you was I’m sure you could recall it quickly, but if I asked about the last compliment or bit of praise you received, I bet it would be harder for you to remember right?

Which is why I’m a huge advocate for writing any positive messages down and saving any lovely emails or that tweets I get. In fact I have a whole folder on my computer where I stash all this loveliness. It’s the most positive, sparkly, rainbow-fueled folder of happiness ever! Then, when I’m having a down day, a quick read of a couple of those lovely things puts me right back on my positive track.

So today, I thought I’d share with you some of the lovely tweets I’ve received over the last few hours about yesterday’s School of Rock. I’m gonna keep riding that positive wave as long as I can!

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