Tag Archives: dear kat

When All You Want To Do Is Quit…

VladimirMartiStudioAlbaGalochaFashionGoneRogue_7

Dear Kat, How do you deal with those moments/ days/ weeks when all you want to do is give up? In the past month, so much stuff has happened that it’s been incredibly stressful and at times totally overwhelming. Some of it has been to do with my business. I won’t go into details but it’s had to involve lawyers. I’m actually really loving what I’m learning about the law, but the emotional side of things, and having to construct my own case, has been pretty stressful.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so close to giving it all up. I’ve been in tears almost every day at some point this past month. But then I think about how much I love my job and my customers, how hard I’ve worked at my business and the amazing reputation I’ve gradually and very carefully built up and that keeps me hanging in there for another day.

Apologies for the long ramble I just really want to ask how you would go about coping with all this stuff coming at you from every angle imaginable. I’m sure if I feel this way, other people must feel this way too.

VladimirMartiStudioAlbaGalochaFashionGoneRogue_5bis

Many people will tell you that situations such as yours are sent to test us but I call bullshit on that one. I don’t believe for one second that some divine influence is trying to see if we’re up to scratch, I think that things like this are just part and parcel of running your own business. Whether it’s a challenge related specifically to your business, or it’s something in your personal life that’s making it harder to concentrate on work, tough things happen to everyone.

People telling us to “stay positive” or “keep the faith” just feel like empty words. It won’t always be smooth sailing, sunbeams, rainbows and a truckload of orders; there will be times like this when it feels like the whole world is out to get you and it would just be easier to pack it all in. No matter how strong we are, unforeseen circumstances can leave us feeling lost, scared and vulnerable. It’s important to remember that you are not helpless though, far from it.

Firstly, dear emailer, you need to realise that the whole world is not out to get you. When we’re going through a testing time it’s very easy to get into a spiral of imagining the worst and dramatising the situation. Yes, this is rubbish but it doesn’t bear any reflection on everything you’ve achieved before. You have customers who love and appreciate what you do and a network of industry connections that you have worked hard to build up. They’re not going anywhere and everything you’ve ever built is not going to come crashing down overnight.

It’s also very easy at times like this to throw our hands in the air and exclaim “It’s all over! This is the end of the road, I can’t cope any more!” But you know what (tough love time coming…!) pull yourself together. You can do this. You are a strong, confident and capable woman who’s launched and made a success of running her own business. Many have tried and failed before you, you’re already a step ahead. Don’t you forget that.

VladimirMartiStudioAlbaGalochaFashionGoneRogue_2

Continue reading

Ask Me Anything…#3

disneyland (80)

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.

disneyland (106)

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.

Continue reading

Ask Me Anything…#2

disneyland (285)

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.

disneyland (253)

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.

disneyland (246)

Continue reading

Going into Business with Friends

pdx shoot (251)

I‘ve decided to go into business with three other girls who I met online and have since become great friends with. We all run our own businesses independently but this will be a collaboration between the four of us. I’m really excited about it because we all have different skills and I think we can all bring something different to the table.

I was wondering if you had any advice about going into business with friends (I know you’ve done it with Gala and Shauna with The Blogcademy and you all met online too!) The business idea was actually mine so I guess I’m the driving force behind it but obviously I can’t do it on my own.

My main question is how do we spilt the finances or decide who gets what? Do we split it evenly because that is the fair thing to do, even though each of us will have a different level of involvement and workload? We roughly know where everyone’s strengths lie and even though it will totally be a team effort, it was my idea. Some of the others are more driven towards the networking and exposure that this venture might bring rather than the money but at the same time, I don’t want it to ever become awkward with the potential of someone not pulling their weight because they aren’t getting paid.

On the flip side, if we split everything equally, I’m worried that it wouldn’t really be fair if one person ended up doing a lot more work but only took the same as everyone else. What do you guys do and how would you suggest we work this out so we can take it forward?

There is also bound to be an initial investment involved with the business so how do we go about sorting out who is going to cough up initially? Should it be me as the captain of the ship!? 

We know what we want to achieve we just can’t work out what the fairest way to split the income is and to make sure we don’t fall out in future. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated!

pdx shoot (88)

Launching The Blogcademy was a huge and steep learning curve for Gala, Shauna and me but sharing the success together has been the most satisfying thing ever. I mean, what’s the point of having it if you haven’t got someone to share it with?! It’s been far from smooth sailing, but I’m pleased to say that we are yet to have an argument (touch wood!) and our friendships have, if anything, only gotten stronger through working together.

It’s only been ten or so months since we launched the business but the amount we’ve learnt has been astounding! In fact I could talk about it all for days as there are so many things to consider. However I don’t want to overwhelm you, so instead, here are the four biggest lessons we’ve learnt along the way… and yes, how to deal with the finances is a big one!

Have a contract

This sounds all official and scary but it doesn’t have to be. In fact we didn’t even think about this until the night before our first class when we were sharing horror stories about mutual acquaintances that had fallen out when they went into business together! So we scribbled something down on a piece of paper and all signed it. I think it basically said “I won’t screw my friends over, steal all the money or try to sue for half the business if I decide to leave…” It probably wasn’t the most watertight contract but if the worst did happen in those early days it would have given the business (and us as individuals) some kind of protection.

Continue reading

The Ins and Outs of Sponsored Blog Posts

kat and gareth things and ink magazine 7

I‘ve been blogging for just over a year, I have a nice niche following, consistent stats and I make a decent amount of money each month from banner ads.

I’ve always said I wouldn’t do sponsored posts because I only ever wanted to write about things that I really believed in but I’m now starting to see that might have been a bit naive. However I’m totally lost and confused and every time I start to think about doing them I get really worried that I might be end up doing it wrong or something. How is best to manage it and how do I know what to charge?

Does having sponsored posts forfeit my right to write about things I like when I’m not getting paid? For example, how do I justify charging someone for a post when I might write about another company just because I want people to know about them? I would obviously only write about things I thought were good but it still feels confusing. 

I’m also really worried about putting off or upsetting my readers. Is there a knack to writing sponsored posts that people still enjoy? I’ve read some really bad ones where it all sounds really fake. How do you keep your sponsored posts interesting for your readers while still getting the message across?

And finally where do I draw the line? I’ve built great relationships with a lot of companies and often if people want to be featured I’ll get them to write up useful and informative copy so it’s still interesting for my readers but how do I know when something is in sponsored post territory and when it’s not? 

kat and gareth things and ink

Love them or loathe them sponsored posts have fast become a big part of blogging life. If you’ve worked your little blogger butt off and built a site that readers flock to regularly, soon enough brands, PRs and small businesses will start to approach you wanting a piece of the pie. If you have an engaged and loyal audience (this is key – bigger isn’t always better) they’ll see your blog as the perfect platform to promote their product or service.

When should a post be sponsored?

OK so first things first, how do you justify charging someone for post when you write about others for free? I’m not going to lie, this is a tricky one. You, and only you, can decide when charging for a post is right for your specific blog but you must do so before you start accepting any payments or it can all get very confusing very quickly.

As a general rule I’d probably say that if a company is approaching you for coverage then you are well within your rights to explain to them that there is a fee involved. However it is still your prerogative to occasionally write about things you’ve found or experienced that you really loved and think your readers will enjoy or benefit from. It is your blog after all and holding back on publishing things that you know will be popular just because you’re not getting paid is only going to hamper the success of your site.

You are right though, you do need to draw a line. I feel that if someone is coming to you for coverage they clearly value what you have to offer and therefore it needs to be a mutually beneficial relationship (i.e you have to get something out of the collaboration too). Again, only you can decide what that might be. Does an engaging guest post benefit you? Would you accept a sample or gift? Or do you only want cold, hard cash?

kat and gareth things and ink magazine 3

Continue reading

Unsupportive

PDX workshop (186)

I‘m a regular follower of your blog and whilst I love the amaze-balls photography and reading about real couples kick-ass big days, what I love most is the Green Room, or more specifically the attitude you have to your business, brand and beliefs. Because of that (and I don’t normally do this I swear!) I’m writing to you to ask for some words of wisdom.

I’m at the very beginning of setting up an online business as a virtual assistant/PA but I’m starting to crumble under the weight of everyone else’s opinions already which in turn is making me feel like I should just quit. 

I’m 29 and to date (deep breath) I’ve had 23 jobs… I’ve never been happy in anything I’ve done. I initially started out training to be a primary school teacher and did that for a year after realising it wasn’t for me and since then I’ve been lost. I floated into social work, vets, travel agents, office support, housing associations, youth workers, ambulance 999 call handler – you name it I’ve probably done it. I’m currently working as an office manager at a software company and honestly want to cry most days. My colleagues are lovely and the managers are OK –  I have definitely had worse – but I’m so unfulfilled and I hate to admit it but I feel like a bit of a failure.

Setting up on my own is all I’ve ever wanted to do and I know I have the fire in my belly that will spur me on. Ultimately I want freedom and I do believe I can have that by working for myself. True to form I’ve been through a lot of business ideas up to this point! Everything from running a pancake van to starting a theatre company for kids, but this idea of being a virtual PA is the first I’ve had where the passion to get it going hasn’t gone away quickly. 

My main issue is getting past the negative and ‘helpful’ comments from my friends and family that are actually really sarcastic and really hurtful. Everyone keeps saying that this idea is “just another one of my phases” and “it will pass” or they roll their eyes when I start to talk about my business ideas. My mother even said I have a “self-destruct button”. It makes me feel rotten rotten rotten, drains my self-confidence and makes me feel like maybe I actually don’t have what it takes to get the customers and make this work. I know that my mum is not saying it to be mean or nasty, but in this particular area of my life I really feel like my loved ones don’t understand me at all.

I’m finding it really hard to ignore what they are saying and draw positives from it to give me the strength to continue.  My two sisters (both younger than me) went down the very traditional path of school-university-qualified in something-successful careers-married-children. I am none of those things. I feel like such a failure. 

I’d be eternally grateful for any advice or help you could give me to assist in giving me my focus back! I understand you’re a busy lady, thanks a million squillions and I’ll understand if you can’t reply…

PDX workshop (155)

My heart literally ached when reading your email. I want to reach through my computer screen and give you the biggest hug ever. I’m sorry you feel so low and that your family and friends are being so rubbishly unsupportive right now.

Continue reading