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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Looking Back, Moving Forward


Did you ever wish you could go back in time and experience things they way they used to be? The genius thing about living online is that you can – all your favourite blogs are there, archived forever. And they don’t just hang around for future humiliation (“OMG I can’t believe I wore/thought/said/wrote that?!”) Oh no, I really do think there’s a lot to be learnt from looking backwards at how other people have improved – particularly if you are struggling with how to to take your own blog to the next level.

Let me elaborate. Recently I wrote some tough love and advice for struggling bloggers, and one of the key points that people kept referring to was where I said,

“I think one of the biggest problems newer bloggers face these days is that they spend too much time looking at where they want to be, or looking sideways at what other bloggers are doing. By doing this not only will you constantly be comparing yourself and putting your own achievements down (I’m a big believer in celebrating the small things!) but you won’t be able to see the opportunities or ideas that are right in front of you.”

So I got thinking, instead of newer bloggers looking at each other, or at the more established blogs in their current form as a benchmark to success, maybe there could be some benefit to looking backwards at where these successful bloggers used to be. How about trying to analyse what they did to get from that point (where you are) to the point they are now (where, I assume, you want to be).

For my stalking research I looked at some of my favourites, both wedding and fashion/lifestyle blogs, starting about 2/3 years ago. I looked at stylemepretty.com, greenweddingshoes.com, galadarling.com and nubbytwiglet.com… and just for some added cringe factor I went right to the beginning of Rock n Roll Bride too. If you want to feel good about your own blog, go back to the first page of mine... oh boy I had no idea what I was doing! We’ve actually tidied the old posts up recently in terms of layout because when Gareth coded the new swanky pants gallery that we now use to display images, it screwed up the old posts something rotten!

(Note: if you want to go back in time on a blog, scroll to the bottom of the homepage and click ‘back’ or ‘older entries’ – or whatever it is you click to get onto page 2 – then at the end of the permalink change the number ’2′ to whichever page number you wish to visit. It will take trial and error (and will depend on how many entries they’ve had) as to which number will take you back to your desired date).

Although each of the blogs I looked at were very different in terms of what topics they covered or what style they preferred, there were some striking similarities to how they’ve progressed over the years.

Writing style

One of the first things I noticed was the change in writing style. For the most part, the earlier blog posts seemed full of new blogger excitement. Sure, the technicalities of the writing wasn’t always the best but the personality of each blogger came through in a totally endearing way. Everything they blogged was the best! thing! ever! Over time, particularly with the wedding blogs I looked at, this has been lost. Nowadays the bigger wedding blogs seem to be narrated by an anonymous voice. Unlike when I first started reading them, I now know very little about the blogger’s own personal tastes or even who the blogger is. In this way they’ve gone a lot more in the direction of how the wedding magazines publish content. While I don’t think this is necessarily a ‘bad’ thing in terms of how they run their businesses, I will personally always favour a blog in which the writer’s personality shines through. I want to know personal stuff (what they like, what they’ve been up to, what they’ve eaten for breakfast!) I want to invest interest in the blogger as well as the content of their blog.

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The Inspirations: I’m not Telling you it’s Gonna be Easy

Over the past 7 months I’ve interviewed some of the most amazing and incredible people. It’s been one hell of a trip! I’ve loved delving deeper into what makes these critters tick and sharing their wondrousness with you. I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride too. But from now on, I’m going to morph the Inspirations feature into sharing some of the most inspiring business/life realated tidbits that I find on my travels around the interwebz. I hope you enjoy them. I’d personally like to print every single one of these things out and stick them up around my office. Who’s with me?

As a side note, the Inspirations interview feature isn’t dead forever, and if there’s anyone you find inspiring that you’d like me to try and get on the blower, just let me know!

via: The Spotted Fox on etsy

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Dealing with Stress

Kate Moss by Terry Richardson

AARRRGRAAASSSTTTEEEERRRRRPHUUUDDGEEEEEE…

…is the noise my brain makes when it feels like it’s literally 2 seconds away from exploding with information overload. And yours?

We’ve all been there. There’s too much to do and there’s too little time to do it in. There’s someone calling you and there’s a zillion people emailing you. Your mental ‘to do’ list is longer than your arm and you don’t know where to start.

So save from allowing your brain to explode all over your computer screen, how do you deal with stress? If you Google ‘dealing with stress’ there are a million and one websites with lists of things you can do to combat those dreaded stressful episodes, however these are the things that work for me…

Get up early

I’m personally more productive in the morning. I write better. I’m more focused. I can breeze through emails much quicker. Once it gets to about 2pm I start to feel lethargic and my brain switches off. The afternoon time is when I do menial tasks like compiling invoices and proof reading – i.e. the stuff that doesn’t need me to be creative. There are also less distractions early in the morning (when twitter is less lively!) A strong cup of coffee and I’m usually good to go.

Also after a good night’s sleep I feel fresher and feel more ready to tackle my ‘to do’ list head on. I can party into the wee hours with the best of them, but nothing beats an early night followed by some early morning productivity. How very Rock n Roll!

Get organised

Buy yourself a beautiful notebook and obsessively write lists and any ideas that pop into your head in it (mine is neon pink and that helps, believe me). Allow yourself to not worry about remembering the things that you can jot down. Get yourself signed up to Google Calendar and/or grab yourself a wall planner and physically document the thinks you have to do. No one can remember everything they have to do so don’t stress yourself out trying!

Decide what works for you. I personally use my Google Calendar to keep track of my advertisers (ie when each advert needs to go up or come down) and to note dates and times of any meetings, events or appointments I have. The great thing about using a Google Calendar is you can access it online anywhere and you can set up email alerts to remind you of each thing you need to do and when. I’ve also got an app for it on my phone which means I get the alerts directly on my mobile as well as in my inbox. Great for when I’m out and about! I have mine set up to remind me 48 hours before I have to do something.

I also have a physical diary which sits in front of me… on my desk… all the time (see?). It’s a week-to-view diary and in it I note what blog posts I’m planning to publish and at what time of day. I then tick off when they’re scheduled which is super duper satisfyingly - always! In a different coloured pen I also note down anywhere I need to be that week so I don’t loose track.

Similarly keeping on top of your email (or anything that piles up quickly and needs constant attention) is VITAL. Set a certain time aside every day and just do it. No excuses! Sure, it’s not the most enjoyable part of running a business, but it’s an important one. Not only is it paramount to communicate with your clients/collegues for your sanity as well as theirs, but you don’t want to be known as someone who never replies to their emails do you?! I’m an over communicator – but I figure I’d rather be known for that than the other option! If you’d like to read more about how I keep on top of my inbox you can do so here.

Catherine McNeil in LaCrasia Buttoned Leather Opera Gloves

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Another Level

I often get asked how can someone take their wedding photography business to the next level? Today I am going to give you some examples of things I did that worked for me, and offer some pointers for the direction you could go in. These are from my perspective on the industry. Sadly I’m not going to give you a magic formula to success but can start by saying that sheer hard graft plays a large part.

What makes me qualified to talk about this? Well a few years ago I was maybe a lot like you. I was trundling along nicely and year on year the bookings came in. Yes, I was probably getting a little complacent…. If things were looking quiet I would take out an ad somewhere or submit to a magazine and boom, the phone was ringing again. But then things really slooooooowed down. My home life had been super busy… Hello two small blondes who are the best thing I have ever done but also the most demanding. Looking back I have no idea how I juggled things or got myself to any weddings at all but I did keep working. Then when the Winter kicked in and I had time to review the business, I was a little bit concerned that the next year’s diary wasn’t very booked up and being completely honest I wasn’t that excited about many of the weddings.

Make a Plan and Make Connections

It was definitely time for a change so I created an action plan (okay I wallowed about feeling sorry for myself first) but with the new year I felt a renewed energy and decided if nobody was going to wave a magic wand for me then I would have to fix things for myself. I started with a bit of customer research. I spoke to the clients that I already had to discover more about where they were getting their inspiration and their suppliers for their weddings. This is how I first heard of Rock n Roll Bride. I got in touch with Kat and though I totally cringe now reading back my initial email, it does show that the best approach is always a personal one. I’m not saying call someone up and ask to meet up and be BFFs forever… That is just creepy… but neither should you send an impersonal contact. Talk a bit about yourself and showcase some of your best work. Ideally what you need to do is form associations with people in your industry who are more powerful than you. Getting featured on Rock n Roll Bride lead to my business turning around and I was back on track getting the right clients for me.

At the time I didn’t know this but forming alliances with your peers is a sound business strategy and now I also believe it works the other way. If you believe in someone else’s talent who is newer than you that is also a good connection. If they have drive and ambition then they are only heading in a forward direction which is where you also want to be going. I used to know very few other photographers and now I know lots, and all of them slightly different in their experience, style and outlook. If I can’t shoot a wedding, I will always try to direct the couple to another photographer that I think they would like, and I even share a google calendar with some of them which I can check to see who’s free on a particular date. This of course comes back on me as well and I also receive some great referrals this way. But more than that, by connecting with lots of others doing the same thing as me but at differing levels, I get a bigger view of the industry in general.

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