4 Photography Tips To Level Up Your Blog

By Gemma Peanut

As creatives, we can love our art so much that we may struggle to think of it as a business. 

It may even seem wrong to promote and sell it for monetary gain - but we all need to make a living and what better way than by doing what you are bonkers passionate about! 

That being said, I do cringe at the thought of bookkeeping and even invoicing clients which are all parts of working for yourself - but one area that I am more comfortable with these days, is marketing.

And the reason for this, is I think I’ve cracked the code...

3 years ago, I was crying myself to sleep, stressing my little heart out over what the heck I was going to do with my life.  A friend suggested that I start blogging as an outlet and a way of deciphering through all the confusion and so begun Gemma Peanut Gallery

As I continued to share my musings and adventures, I realised the power of imagery. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and I quickly learnt this first-hand by seeing the response on my blog to different images. It seemed that having great visuals was a easy win on the marketing side! This realisation fed my curiosity about learning how to take better photos and so began my foray into photography… 

Today, I am a professional shutterbug on a mission to help creative creatures become the boss of their cameras once and for all so that they can produce stunning imagery that shows off their art to the masses.

I’m going to share with you the photography tips that helped me level up my blog.

1/ MOVEMENT
The most compelling photos have movement OOZING out of them and because of this, they tell a story instead of just showing a static, frozen moment in time. The viewer is drawn in and invited to daydream about what’s going on in the image. 

My favourite cues to capture a sense of motion in photographs is to take a walk or to do a twirl which instantly injects playfulness and spirit. 

2/ IMAGE BANKING
Ever typed up the final word of your masterpiece, been super eager to hit “publish” and then realised you have no images to jazz it up and to use to share on Facebook? This is where image banking comes in real handy.

To key to creating a plentiful and versatile arsenal of photographs is to shoot for variety. Consider capturing a range of emotions from smiling straight to camera, to side-profiles staring off pensively, to candid and whimsical back shots. Shoot a scene with both portrait and landscape framing and both close-ups and wide-angle shots. 

3/ FLAT LAYS
Flat lays are so visually captivating when everything falls together effortlessly - but trust me, there is a lot of effort involved! You have to select and arrange the items in a way that expresses an idea or a theme and then you have to take the photo from the right angle, with the right framing and the right lighting. 

Never fear! There are some sure-fire ways to make your flat lay ultra-pinnable! Pick a tonal palette and stick to it to create instant harmony in your flat lay and choose a background that allows these colours to shine. Matte cardstock, hardwood floors and granite bench tops work wonders! 

Now for how many objects...I find that the magic number is 3. You can create so many balanced arrangements with just 3 items such as all 3 in a row, or peeking in from 3 of the corners leaving one corner intriguingly blank which leads me to…

4/ NEGATIVE SPACE
As with many things, less is more and photography is no different with the nifty technique of negative space. Negative space is simply the space surrounding the hero of your image - so picture your model against a big, blank wall or a pretty trinket against a patterned rug. Negative space makes your subject or object really pop!

And it’s also handy for blogging because you’ll be able to easily add in some text to form a header image or a quote perfect for Instagram. 

Photography is the ultimate marketing tool and its uses to give your blog that extra edge are endless! 

Gemma Peanut is a professional shutterbug and story teller. Armed with her camera, her untamed heart and a boundlessly messy imagination. If you’d like to keep on learning about photography, check out Photography 101 with Gemma Peanut where manual mode photography is broken down into human-speak across several beautifully presented video tutorials + the super-active and exclusive Shutterbug Club. 

Biz Mama // Maternity Photoshoot

Maternity Photoshoot

I don't often post too many deeply personal updates here on the blog - but with the impending arrival (any day now!) of our little bub I have a feeling that is all about to change. As I begin to shift and transform into the role of business woman and mother I find myself re-examining how best to forge this path for Blog Society and I'm excited about the prospect of change.

While I don't know exactly what this new direction will look like I do know that I will continue to be here to help support, guide and nurture other women along their own business journey, specifically as they navigate the marketing world.  I also am feeling called to be more personally present and to share more openly this journey as a new biz mama and the challenges that unfold over the coming months/year.  I've always been a fan of learning from each other and feel that sharing this new adventure is another way to dispel the often unrealistic expectations that women are held to.  

So to kick things off I wanted to share a little behind the scenes update on what's been happening in my world.  This pregnancy has been a joyful and gratitude filled 9 months, one that I'm personally sad to see go but at the same time am so excited for the chance to finally meet this little soul earth side.

We were so grateful to be able to capture this moment in time when Nikki from The Milk Teeth stopped by our house a few weeks back to snap some maternity photos.  I've always been one to feel extremely shy in front of the camera but Nikki had us completely at ease, laughing and having fun in the process.  Looking back now I am completely thrilled we decided to go for it as I couldn't be happier with how they turned out and the special moment in time they captured for us. We'll be able to share these photos with our little man in the future and I'm so thankful to Nikki for the opportunity. If you are in need of any family or lifestyle pics I can't recommend Nikki enough, she's top of her game and soooo fun to work with - I promise she'll have you laughing the entire time!

On a side note, thank you for all the kind words and notes of support about our pregnancy - it's been incredible to share this journey with all of you via social media and looking forward to more updates as soon as he arrives. In the meantime we'll continue to post killer content from around the globe to keep you inspired on your own business journey. 

xx Jac

Maternity Photoshoot 2
Jac+James 13 EDIT.jpg

How To Keep Your Business Thriving During The First 3 Months Of Motherhood

By Stephanie Skryzowski

If you’re a highly ambitious, Type A, make-it-happen entrepreneur, who’s passionate about growing your business, AND you’re about to have a baby, you must read this.

You are excited for your little one to arrive. You’ve probably meticulously planned his or her nursery (and of course you know the gender, because TYPE A!) and have all the little clothes hung neatly in the closet, arranged by size. You know where you’ll deliver and maybe even have some meals socked away in the freezer for after his or her arrival.

You are also a busy entrepreneur. You’re hustling daily (and you love it) and your business is growing, maybe faster than you’d anticipated. Your days are filled with client work, hosting webinars, and creating content for your audience. When you left your 9-5, you didn’t imagine it would all work out so well and you are energized and on fire (as much as can be for a pregnant woman).

Does this sound like you?

Then keep reading and let’s talk about what it’s like to be a new mom and an entrepreneur. I’ll give you a hint: it’s not at all like what you think it will be.

If anyone could do it all, it was me. The Queen of Efficiency and Productivity, I remember my husband remarking at my Master’s degree graduation celebration that he couldn’t believe I was even in grad school plus working full time plus commuting four hours a day because I just had it all together.

So naturally, I thought that having a baby would be similar. I’d give birth and be able to keep all of my client work going, hopping on the computer after a feeding or when the baby was sleeping. I knew I’d be tired, but it wouldn’t be that bad. I could do it all.

Turns out, even the Queen of Efficiency and Productivity needs help.

I am sharing my Five Proven Tactics to help you be fully present as a mom, which is critical in those first few weeks and months, AND continue to help your business (your first baby!) thrive.

1. Prepare financially in advance. You are your own boss and nobody is handing you any paid maternity leave, right?! As an entrepreneur you should be accustomed to saving in advance for business investments like a conference or a new computer, and maternity leave is no different. Figure out what your monthly number is then begin setting aside funds in advance. I had set aside three months’ worth of income, just in case all of my clients disappeared while I had the baby (they didn’t!) and it gave me a huge peace of mind. Voila! Paid maternity leave!

2. Tell your clients. I was super nervous about telling my clients that I was pregnant and would likely need to step away for a little while. What if they all left me and I was left with no job, no money, and no prospects? Turns out, that was ridiculous thinking. My amazing clients were not only understanding, but incredibly supportive (they even sent me thoughtful baby gifts!) and they managed to keep the lights on without me. You will feel a huge sense of relief once you tell your clients and come up with an agreement as to how long you’ll be unavailable and when you’ll dive into work again. 

3. Give yourself a maternity leave. I am serious about this. I know you love your business and will want to get back to feeling “normal”, and a true leave might feel hard. You don’t have to disconnect for a year but you must give yourself some space for a minimum of two weeks. I made the mistake of not putting an out of office message on so I felt obligated to answer emails. I even took a client call at just 7 days postpartum, where my mind was so foggy, it was almost an out-of-body experience. I looked back at my notes several weeks later and they were completely unintelligible, so I wonder how I sounded to the client! Trust me that your clients will wait (remember how long they took to finally sign your contract?!) and that you will feel much better after a break.

4. Ease in slowly. So maybe after two weeks you start answering emails, then another couple weeks you take sales calls, then a few weeks later dig into the actual heavier client work. I thought I’d have no problem handling bigger, strategic thinking type projects but I truly needed that time to let my brain begin to function normally after the hormone surge/drop and sleep deprivation.

5. Enlist help. It’s okay if sometimes that help comes in the form of car seat naps and a coffee shop. I can’t tell you how much work I got done in three hour increments while my daughter slept in her car seat. I felt like a normal human by getting dressed and out of the house, she got a solid nap (when she likely wouldn’t have slept at home anyway), and my client work got done. In fact, there was a point in time where we were frequenting Starbucks so much that her car seat began to take on the aroma of coffee beans. And, are you part of any neighborhood or community organization that uses a meal train? Get humble and SIGN YOURSELF UP. I felt weird about it at first (like, I can’t handle feeding myself?) but when that friendly woman showed up on my doorstep with a bag full of chili, artisan bread, and brownies, a smile, and then left, I couldn’t have been more grateful.

Being a mom and an entrepreneur isn’t easy. I landed myself back in the hospital at three days postpartum with an infection, and spending the night in the emergency room with your tiny newborn isn’t all that fun. But these tips will help you get through those first weeks, focusing on your baby and yourself, and give you the confidence that your business will be there as soon as you’re ready.

And I promise you that your clients won’t run away.

Happy Mom-ing, Boss Lady!

(Disclaimer: Every mom's birth and postpartum experience is different, and these tips are based on my experience alone. Sending lots of love and respect to all the new parents out there.)

Stephanie is the Owner of 100 Degrees Consulting, which provides financial leadership to help nonprofits and entrepreneurs change the world. Having spent nearly a decade in Afghanistan, Nepal, Malawi, and other far-flung locales, Stephanie has vast on-the-ground experience crunching the numbers to help organizations make better strategic decisions for their business. Stephanie brings energy and passion to all things in life. She loves her work as a CFO, running marathons (7 to date!), hiking, and traveling off the beaten path. She is a new mama and currently lives in the US with her husband, dog, and five-month-old daughter, Kyla.

Why Self-care Needs To Be In Your Business Plan

By Kit Cronk,

Self-care, mental health, treat yo self, me-time, chilling out …

We throw these buzz words around at each other when we’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and desperately need a break.

Unfortunately, the concept of self-care (my preferred buzz word) is too often used when talking about some reactionary, last minute decision to stop everything and give yourself some chill time.

Spoiler alert: This doesn’t actually WORK. Not in the long term, anyway.

Self-care is all about taking care of yourself (surprise!), which means you need a plan of attack. You don’t accept the responsibility of caring for something, like a pet, without planning when you’ll walk it, getting things ready to feed and house it, and being prepared to dedicate some time to the task!

Especially if you’re running a business, which usually means you are doing #allthethings, you cannot afford to push aside self-care for when you “have time” (ha!) or really need it.

Here are some truth bombs that you need to hear:

1. If you don’t take care of yourself, you WILL burn out. You’ll get physically ill, have a mental breakdown, or just loose the will to work. You’re no good to ANYONE if that happens!

Taking care of yourself NOW ensures that you’ll be able to keep going LATER. It’s an investment.

SIDE NOTE: I learnt this lesson the hard way, when I went overboard working crazy hours to meet some deadlines… At the end of it, my body was so run down that I didn’t recover to full health for six weeks. None of us can afford to be out of commission for that long! ESPECIALLY when you’re running / building a business!

2. It’s possible to burn out even if you LOVE your work. Busyness is still stress, even if you enjoy the tasks. Lack of sleep, exercise, human interaction, eating well, are all going to end up with you in a bad place.

3. Women aged 20 – 40 are suffering from more mental health issues than any other time in history. You’d be hard pressed to find ANYONE these days who doesn’t have anxiety / depression or know someone close to them who does. Self-care is one whopping big weapon in our arsenal to manage mental health.

4. It’s up to you. You are the only person who can take responsibility for your self care. It helps if you have people around you who’ll prod you when you look like you need a day off, but you are ultimately the only one who knows what’s going on in your head. Don’t wait for other people to give you permission to take time for yourself.

There are plenty of different ways to integrate self-care into your business life… I’m going to break down some ideas by “level” for beginners to experts! Pick a few and start implementing them THIS WEEK!

LEVEL 1: NO TIME FOR SELF CARE
You’re tired all the time and just want another day in the week. You’ve got a bajillion things going on and there’s no way you can just up and leave for the holiday you desperately need.

Never fear! There are super simple ways to start your self-care that will leave you feeling more refreshed.

GET. ENOUGH. SLEEP.
I can’t emphasise this enough! The very FIRST thing we all need to do is consistently get 7-8 hours sleep. If that means going to bed at 8pm and letting the washing go un-folded for a few days, that’s OK.

HYDRATE
Get yourself a water bottle and make sure you drink it all 3 times each day (or whatever the equivalent of 2 – 3 litres is). If you can manage it, try to have one less cup of coffee. It dehydrates you and makes your heart race.

UNSUBSCRIBE
Go on an unsubscribing rampage. Every email newsletter you don’t read, page that is clogging up your Facebook feed, and person whose constant selfies are driving you crazy on Instagram. You’d be surprised how much some digital “spring cleaning” can help your stress levels!

CELEBRATE
Pop some mini-champagne every time you get something done. Taking the time to congratulate ourselves and dwell on an achievement / success works wonders for your brain! Keep on filling your mind with positive reminders of what you’ve done – You can even keep a list somewhere you’ll see it regularly.

LEVEL 2: I COULD BE BETTER
You’re not constantly exhausted, yay! You might be getting by, but you know you could take better care of yourself. It’d be nice to feel like your brain doesn’t have too many tabs open.

TIME OFF
Plan a non-work day every week. Even if you’re side hustling, you can choose a night of the week that is purely to rest. Don’t even try to read blogs or just do one social media update. This is totally guilt-free time to NOT spend on your business.

FOOD SWAP
As a hot chips addict, I do not say this lightly. You need to look at what food you eat and consider if you can improve it. Swap out your 3pm chocolate bar for some crackers and cheese. It doesn’t have to be an all-out diet, but you can try some substituting a few things.

READ
Getting your head out of reality and diving into a good book will do wonders for your mental health. Research has found heaps of benefits to reading regularly – not the least of which is giving your brain a break from constant screen use. Try starting with a book every 2 weeks!

STRETCH
Set aside 10 minutes a day for stretching. Preferably away from your desk. Really focus on deep breathing and stretching SLOWLY. Your body will thank you for it, and there are plenty of youtube videos that will take you through a little set if you’re not sure what to do!

LEVEL 3: FEELING LIKE A TOTAL BOSS
Not that you’d brag about it, but you’re doing pretty well. Some days you don’t even NEED coffee, and you’re good at switching off your “work brain” when you need to. This is the big leagues now.

GET A HOBBY
Wait, what? Start doing ANOTHER thing? Yes. Find a fun hobby you can get stuck into. Personally, I love knitting. It really relaxes me and is a great little skill to have. Working on a creative project OUTSIDE of your business is a great way to keep your brain active, but still taking a break from the every day.

EXERCISE
We all knew this one was coming. Regular exercise is proven to have a positive effect on both the mind and body. It doesn’t have to be strenuous – You could do Pilates, go for a slow walk, or take a stretch class. Experts recommend 30 – 60min a day… But there’s no shame in starting smaller than that! It will get easier to increase and form a habit over time.

UNPLUG
Try to go totally technology free for a while. If you can manage it, do at least half a day each week or maybe a completely unplugged holiday for a few days! I promise you that all the latest news will still be on your Facebook feed when you get back to it.

TREAT YO SELF
Do you plan treats for yourself when you hit milestones? Maybe it’s a financial goal, you finished a project, finalised a collaboration, or just survived another quarter. Set a date and treat yourself. Go see a movie, get a facial (my personal favourite!), or schedule a weekend getaway!

Kit Cronk is a freelance graphic designer and letterer. Her retail line, Ruby & Pearl Press, is full of funny cards, cute stationery, and inspirational quotes. When this Brisbane girl isn’t working, you can usually find her watching re-runs of 90’s sitcoms or reading another fantasy novel with iced mocha in hand. Follow Kit’s work on Instagram or browse all the awesomeness on her website.

Image: Camille Styles

8 Reasons To Choose Squarespace Over Wordpress

By Rachel Gadiel

One question I hear all the time is how to choose the best platform for your website.

I’ve experimented with various platforms including Wordpress, however in recent years, I’ve become a Squarespace convert and now I host all of my websites with them.

It’s the platform I use for my clients’ websites and it’s the platform I recommend most often to anyone looking to create a beautiful, well-executed, mobile responsive website.

That’s not to say I wouldn’t recommend Wordpress - I believe Wordpress to be an incredibly powerful and robust platform - plus it can make for a lovely website, but at the end of the day it comes down to your specific needs; your skill set; and how hands-on you want to be with your site.

Many people opt for a Wordpress site simply because their designer or website developer recommend it; or because they see the insane number of plugins and programs that can be integrated.

However, in both of these scenarios you can end up finding yourself out-laying significant costs as your site evolves - simply because you don’t have the time or expertise needed to maintain the site and you end up needing to pay someone to help.

Ask any person who is starting a new business how much time they have to dedicate to learning code to configure their website and make changes - the answer is always: not a whole lot.

So today, I’m sharing 8 reasons why I recommend Squarespace as the best option for aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners to launch a web presence, with maximum impact.

 

1. Squarespace offers an all-in-one hosting and publishing solution.The most significant difference between Wordpress and Squarespace is that Squarespace offers an all in one web publishing solution, with all of their services including hosting and publishing bundled together.

Given this, it offers new business owners simplicity, ease of use and the convenience of having their website, hosting and publishing tools all safely housed in the one platform - which is a very attractive offering to time-poor entrepreneurs and business owners.

The biggest upside to this means that you don’t need to worry about having multiple providers when it comes to your domains and hosting.

The integration Squarespace provides with third party domain providers is brilliant, making it a seamless process to integrate your domain from providers like Google, GoDaddy and Blue Host.

Plus, it also offers the ability to connect multiple domains and then choose a primary domain and configure all other domains to point to your nominated primary domain.

It is important to note that your website code base ultimately belongs to Squarespace as it is hosted on their servers.

But, unless you have a very specific reason as to why your site requires self-hosting (for example, organizations like banks and telecommunications companies have unique security requirements), given the level of convenience Squarespace offers, the benefits are overwhelmingly compelling.

 

2. Simplicity and ease of use.The simplicity and ease of use of Squarespace is not just limited to their hosting and domain bundling - it extends to their entire publishing platform.

Not only is it easy to navigate your way around the various functions of the site, the seamless process it offers users to update images, copy, add pages, forms, newsletter integration, or audio files, make it an incredibly attractive option.

Users need zero coding experience to navigate their way around and the highly intuitive platform, making it a breeze to use.

 

3. Beautiful range of fully customizable designs.Given Squarespace is a closed source platform, the only designs available are the templates they create and offer to their customers.

I see this as a huge benefit as there are so many beautiful design options to choose from. In the majority of cases, users will be able to find a design that matches their requirements.

And if not, they can tweak the templates via the ‘content blocks’ Squarespace offers to suit their needs.

What I love about Squarespace is they are continually updating their range of designs and there are always new designs being added.

4. Seamless eCommerce integration.
Opening an online store has never been easier with Squarespace. All stores integrate with Stripe and incorporate the appropriate taxes rules for your region.

Inventory management, coupons, discounts, order confirmations and invoicing are all taken care of within the platform.

 

5. Your website can grow and evolve as your business does.This is probably one of the main reasons why I’d go for Squarespace over Wordpress. I remember when I had my Wordpress site and any time I wanted to add a new page, or change the layout of something, I’d spend hours trying to work out how to do it, eventually getting frustrated by it and ending up pay someone to help me.

It is natural for your business offerings and services to evolve and grow over time. It should not mean that you need to hire a developer each time you want to add a new feature or page to your site and Squarespace makes it super easy for you to do so.

 

6. All designs are mobile responsive.64% of americans own a smartphone which means there is a strong likelihood the people checking out your website will be doing so from their mobile device.

Add into the mix the latest Google SEO ranking factors meaning organic search results will now take into account how well your site has been optimized for a mobile-friendly experience.

Never before has it been more important for your website to look amazing and offer an exceptionally seamless user experience across all devices, including mobile, tablet and web.

All Squarespace designs are fully mobile responsive, which essentially means that regardless of what size or type of device you are using to view a website, the design will automagically render to fit your screen.

No more having to configure multiple design layouts to work across various browsers; no more ugly designs randomly showing up because the design doesn’t work on a specific screen - none of these are a concern with your Squarespace website.

Even better - there is even a nifty viewer in the content management system to switch between your design and how it will look on each platform.

7. Cover pages are a smart way to promote special offerings, launch products or services and encourage newsletter sign-ups.
I
 love the ability Squarespace offers to create and add cover pages to your site which can be used to your advantage in numerous ways.

From promoting features, special offers or even to as a way to grow your newsletter database, you can put cover pages to work in just about anyway you want.

It also means that if you are just starting out and building your site, you can put up a cover page on your domain and start generating buzz for your site launch, along with capturing email addresses at the same time.

And, if at any point need to update your site design, a cover page will allow you to seamlessly make the transition between your old and new website design.

 

8. Squarespace support and documentation.In case you need more convincing at this point, I think it’s worth mentioning the fantastic support Squarespace provides their customers. Any time I’ve needed support with my site, or even just to ask a question, I’ve been easily able to have a live chat with one of the friendly Squarespace team members who are always incredibly helpful!

There is also a huge archive of support documentation available so it’s super easy to find the information you need.

Their documentation is written in plain English - meaning you don’t need to understand complex coding or design language - it’s written in a super digestible and straightforward way that is easy to make sense of.

Still on the fence? Here are a few questions to consider when choosing the best platform for your new website:

  • What is the most important thing you need your website to do for your business?
  • What are the main functions you need your website to perform?
  • Are you happy to get your ‘hands dirty' and learn some basic (and potentially more advanced) HTML and CSS?

Nothing gets me more excited than helping ambitious women launch their businesses to the world with a strong brand that gets you noticed.

If you’re in the market for a new website, I’d love to chat more about how I can help create a gorgeous Squarespace website for you that will let your dream clients find you; connect with you; as well as positioning you as an expert in your field.