blogging advice

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. 

The 3 Step System for Re-Purposing Your Blogs For A Book

By Angela Meer

The other day I was helping my mom clean out her garage for an upcoming move. We were in the process of creating three piles from the contents of the garage: trash, recycle and keep. It was quite the task. There were dozens of boxes stacked higher than my head, old plastic containers that she had bought to preserve our memories as we began to grow up and move onto lives of our own.

One by one we began to look through these boxes. We found old trophies my brother had won in little league, pictures of me climbing the tree at our old house, but one thing in particular really caught my eye…my old notes from high school.

I grew up right before cell phones were a common sight in classrooms and my best friend and I would exchange intricately folded notes between class. Notes about boys and boredom and what we would do that weekend, but mostly about boys. I began to read the notes one-by- one, laughing at the contents and grinning at memories long forgotten. But something else appeared on those faded notes that no one expected to see there, least of all me.

Wisdom.

The non-jaded, altruistic, naïve and innocent wisdom that I often read was something to marvel at. Here I was, barely sixteen, waxing on about the state of the world and what I was going to do to fix it. I had pretty amazing ideas. I had really romantic thoughts. I had belief systems that, if I dug down deep enough, still existed in my thirty-something year old soul.

I came home with those notes and they began to act as a muse to my older self. I found myself writing the most beautiful things – things I eventually put in my book. The book writing world has really changed. And for bloggers, journal writers and note-keepers, like me, that’s really good news. With the rise of self-publishing, worldwide distribution and new categories designed to appeal to a wider audience, those of us who thought we had to write a novel-length book are now happily surprised.

One of Amazon’s readily consumed book categories is something called “short reads.” In this category they list books that come in under 45, 30 and even 15 minutes of read time. This means that bloggers could pull together 2-6 related blog posts and have a book on your hands. I work with bloggers all the time who say, “Oh I can write a short blog, but a book is too much.” When I point this great news out to them, we usually can get their book on Amazon within 30 days.

Our old blog posts, journal entries, and yes even high school notes, they can all be re-purposed to serve as a book, if you know the right steps for organizing them.

Here are my best tips for bloggers wanting to turn published author:

1. Look back at the blog posts that got you the most attention in the form of likes, shares and page views. Using this data will help you determine which topic or stories your readership wants you to expand upon. Use these blogs as the basis for the book topic.

2. Collect all the blog posts, journals or notes that relate to this topic. Begin to look for sequences, either in time or in action, to build the premise of your book. For example: if your blog post about raising a child with ADD got the most attention, consider utilizing old journal entries before you had a diagnosis for your child. Let those journal entries, with the emotional expedition and the raw concern, serve as a vehicle for getting your story onto paper. Then, in a time-based sequence, keep collecting anything you wrote about the journey from the beginning to the end. If your topic isn’t a story, but instructional in nature, begin to lay out the steps to your topic, but don’t forget to use stories sprinkled throughout.

3. Begin to tie these blog posts, journal entries and notes together in a cohesive fashion. Fill in the blanks where necessary. Eliminate and cut out topics and themes that don’t relate. Now that books are routinely shorter in size, bloggers can achieve author status with, sometimes, less than a day’s work. Don’t let the old book writing models prevent you from opening the door to the title of author. And don’t let the wisdom of yesteryears fall into old boxes in mom’s garage.

Once upon a time there was a girl who was loved but lived in a trailer park. She knew that someday she was supposed to give her gifts to a world that was rich, but not satisfied. Her body was broken by palsy, and a little crooked, and her parents couldn’t afford braces for her teeth. But because she was loved, she made it her mission to teach, to expand, to heal and to return love.

Angela Meer's story starts from a place of vulnerability, a place of joy, a place of death resulting in hope. Her work has appeared with MTV News, the Associated Press and has been tweeted on the New York Times Square billboard. She is the author of “Storytelling for Creative Entrepreneurs” and jokes that she is a wine-drinking, storytelling missionary to the masses. Just last week she submitted her thesis for a Master’s Degree in Writing. Angela lives in rural southern Oregon where she writes, teaches and wrestles with cats. Her husband feeds her coffee and props her eyelids open so they can engage with the outside world and be social…sometimes.

Using your time wisely

By Lucy Waring

Campaign #dontblogforfree

Time is a funny thing. You can’t see it nor can you touch it, however we do observe the passing of time. Some days drag minute by minute when others fly by in an instant. However fleeting it feels, time is our biggest commodity as bloggers. It is our arsenal for creating exciting content, conveying it by the written word, photography or through videos.

However, some brands still choose to undervalue this and take for granted our passion and determination to challenge ourselves daily and create a business. Too often do brands ask bloggers to review their services or products for little or no payment. Even if blogging isn't your full time job, why would you spend your precious free time promoting a business that doesn't recognize quality when they see it and compensate appropriately.

For me, blogging is a full time career choice. I love what I do and it fulfills my passions so I look forward to waking up each morning and the unexpected blessings it may bring to my day. However, through meeting companies who will happily compensate me for my hard work and time compared with many who won’t I have begun to feel that perhaps it is a question of education. After all, blogging is a young industry and therefore guidelines and market standards haven’t yet been set. Therefore, it is entirely at the discretion of the blogger whether they choose to charge for their services or not. It is this situation which has led to many full time bloggers, working hard to build their brand and make a living at the same time, being sold short when it comes to being compensated appropriately for the standard of work supplied.

I would love to spread the message of ‘don’t sell yourself short’ by blogging for free, if you are giving your time then reap the rewards. There is no rule to say that just because you enjoy what you do and look forward to each project that means you shouldn’t be paid for it. Every marketing or PR company gets paid for what they do so why not you? That is essentially what you are doing after all, marketing another person’s company.

Therefore, I would suggest we need to educate not only each other but the brands too, to understand that we are a business just like themselves and work long hours to create, edit, promote and style our blogs. Then hopefully through the passage of time, we will all gain the recognition we deserve.

Lucy Waring is a freelance writer and blogger based in Singapore. You can find her blogging at Lulabelle Lifestyle where she talks fashion and travel as well as revealing Singapore’s hidden gems. She also organizes #blogmeetsg networking events bringing boutique brands and bloggers together. To keep up to date with the latest blog posts and #blogmeetsg events you can follow her on Facebook. You can also follow the behind the scenes action on Instagram.

Photo Credit: Stockpic

20 bite-sized business lessons you need!

By Kate Toholka

The bloggers dream is to make a living from their blog, right? After almost three years of hard slogging, I’m finally at that place of personal and financial freedom. And what a joy it is. Along the way, I’ve realised that I have a wealth of lessons to share with others who aspire to go down a similar, online path. Here are 20 of these lessons for your entertainment:

1. You need to be clear on why you’re doing it in the first place. I’m willing to bet that it’s more than just making money. Be crystal clear on this and have this written somewhere visible – it makes it easier on those days you’d rather curl up in bed.

2. Know who you’re talking to. Wondering why no one is reading your blog or buying from you? The issue stems from not being clear on exactly who you are serving. Every time someone lands on your website, they are thinking ‘what’s in it for me?’ They will click away if you cannot articulately demonstrate that you can serve them.

3. Start with the end in mind. What are your long term goals? Where do you want to be in one year’s time? Start there then work your way backwards. It makes it easier to focus, be more efficient with your time and ensure your goals are being met.

4. Honour your time. Time is the greatest currency, health is the greatest wealth. There’s more to life than being an online business woman. Go on, spend some time living too.

5. Honour everyone’s time. Especially when it comes to emails, newsletters and asking to meet over a cuppa. 

6. Learn to say no. Know your work and life boundaries and make a commitment to stick to these. It’s ok to say no when it doesn’t feel right.

7. Have the courage to say yes. It’s also ok to say yes sometimes, even when you don’t know what the next step would be. If an opportunity is too good to pass up, say yes and figure it out later. 

8. Dress up. It’s easy to don the trackies because you’re safe in your home but try this: dress up in clothes that make you feel like a million dollars. And watch the ripple effect work its magic…

9. Practice makes progress. Not perfect, but progress. I follow the ‘fail fast’ motto – every time I try something new, regardless of how terrifying it can be at times, I know that I will gain a lesson despite the outcome. Let me put my grandma hat on and remind you that you never know if you don’t try, hey?

10. Take ‘implementation’ breaks. I see many, many bloggers spend lots of time in ‘learning’ phase. They join all the e-courses, ask all the questions, engage in all the Facebook groups, but then don’t actually implement anything they have learnt. Learning is important, but using it is what makes it valuable.

11. Strategy matters. Don’t release an ebook for the sake of releasing an ebook. Don’t spend thousands of dollars on an e-course when you haven’t even filled your coaching programs yet. Get your head around sales funnels and build one behind the scenes first. 

12. Focus. Focus. Focus.

13. Chase the money. Seriously, you want to do this full time right? Then it has to support your bank account too. There’s an art in chasing the money and sitting true to your authentic Why. Learn to master this dance. 

14. Share the real you. Don’t hide behind a persona. Be unapologetically you and share that with the world. Business is the art of serving people and we are trailblazers of the real, authentic online movement. Lead the way and lace everything you do online with elements of you. 

15. You are not your business. Yes, your business needs to be a reflection of who you are as a person (branding wise) but it isn’t a mirror-reflection of your entire being. You are a complex person with a beautiful unique history. You have many skills, only of which some you may use in your business. Even fewer that you would use in your marketing. Which brings me to the next point…

16. Niching is important. Too many times have I seen women held up by the notion of ‘but I’m so much more than that!’ Yes you are, but your business will not thrive if you try to be everything to everyone. Go with your key strength and start there. You can always branch out later down the track.

17. Mentors are vital. I can’t possibly fathom how I am here today, earning more than I was at my old job and happier than I have ever been, without the help of my business coach. Probably looking for a part time job and drowning my sorrows in wine I’d imagine.

18. Sometimes, you have to do things you don’t like. I get it, it doesn’t ‘feel’ right. Hate to break it to you but there are some very important, albeit ‘masculine’, things we need to do when we run a business. Hot tip: if you have to do it, make the process fun. I hate accounting and anything to do with numbers so I spoil myself rotten with delicious raw treats and pumping music to make the experience more enjoyable.

19. Growth hurts. I’ve come to embrace any resistance. It means I am expanding and growing. It’s temporary pain that I now welcome because I know that when I get through it, I’ll be better than I was before.

20. Breakdowns are really breakthroughs. Much like growing pains, but intensified to unbearable levels. The result? Bearable, quantum shifts that will below your mind.

Kate Toholka is a success coach for online entrepreneurs, #1 amazon bestselling author and creator of the happiness hub. After becoming disillusioned working in the mental health industry, Kate sought to use her unbridled passions for holistic living and psychology to empower women into their dream business and lives. She is known for her raw honesty and ability to help women to tap into their unlimited potential. Kate believes in the power of community, self-love, inspired action, the natural order and your phenomenal worth. Connect with Kate on her blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Photo Credits: Monika Berry

The New F-Word

F-Word

By Becky Ejupi 

So, can we talk about the F-word?

No, not that F-word.

The new F-word that’s recently been deemed even more offensive than the 4-letter one: FEMINISM. 

If you haven’t heard, there’s a current movement, backed by men and women alike, from politicians to celebrities to not-so-famous housewives, who have declared war on feminism. Even well educated, professional women have bought into this new anti-feminist strategy hook, line and sinker.

When I first read about it, I was appalled, perplexed, and completely flummoxed. Then I learned about the warped definition of feminism these people were using, and I’ll tell you what, it’s just wrong. It fuels hate-mongering and willful misunderstanding, and doesn’t even bear repeating here for fear of perpetuating the cycle of negativity.

Plain and simple, here’s the real definition of feminism: Men and women should be treated equally. That’s it.  Nothing more.  It’s not rocket science. There’s no man-bashing secret code. There’s no desire on the part of feminist women to dominate the world, kidnap all the men, and stash them in a penile penal colony in Borneo. Simply put, men and women are not superior or inferior to each other, and are entitled to equal political, legal, sexual, educational, economic, social status and cultural treatment, which, by the way, still isn’t happening in our country. Not by a long shot. As a matter of fact, there isn’t a single country in the world that can boast that it has achieved complete gender equality.

This is such a basic human rights concept, that it seems ludicrous to me that we continue discussing its merit in 2014. So, as politically incorrect as it might be these days, let me just say that I consider myself a feminist.  That does not mean I hate nor do I want to suppress men in any way.  I adore men and support them.  I live with three whom I love to the moon and back.  I have a lot of male friends and acquaintances as well, and I think they’re all swell.

I merely support gender equality.

Do some women and even men call themselves feminists and bash men? Yep, and they’re wrong to do it. Do some men and women buy into sexist ideals, ads, and rules that negate women’s dignity and quest for equality? Yep, and they’re wrong to do so too. “Okay, so what can we all do to actively support this equality?” you might ask.

Well, for starters you can:

  • Use your voice. Speak out. Don’t sit back quietly, thereby condoning misogyny. If you remain quiet, it will never go away.
  • Don’t bash men.
  • Teach your children that girls are just as worthy, in every way, as boys, and vice versa.
  • Make sure your kids know that demeaning or disrespecting someone due to his or her gender, or for any reason, frankly, is wrong. (“Quit crying like a little girl.” “Buck up and be a man.”  “Hey, Doll, can you bring us our check when you get a chance?” Sound familiar?)
  • Encourage your daughters and sons to be the best they can be regardless of gender stereotypes. (Girls can and should become engineers if that’s where their interests lie, and boys can and should become elementary school teachers if that’s their calling.)

We’re all equal. Stop the hate. Live with love in your heart. And give every human being every right that you claim for yourself.

You can find Becky blogging over at Pondermom or on Facebook

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