Posts Categorized: Social media

How To Take Gorgeous, Sale-Making Product Photos

This guest post comes to us via Jessica Hammond, a photographer, writer, and lifelong equestrian. She loves demystifying photography, reading CanLit, and steeped tea with lavender honey. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook!

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetPicMonkey Collage

I’m an avid tea drinker. Prairie Berry loose leaf oolong, caramel roobios, blueberry pomegranate white, run-of-the-mill orange pekoe … You name it, I steep it with lavender honey. Being a photographer and a self-proclaimed tea geek, I’m easily enchanted by mugs, teacups, and ceramics to host my delicious nectar into a personalized drinking device. Sure, I own several plain white mugs, but I enjoy my tea the most when it’s steeping in something handcrafted and special. 

I’m not the only one who loves handmade cups and mugs. While I haven’t got a clue how to make them, I can spot a good one a mile away. As most Etsy shop owners know, that first impression is a key indicator on your sales, engagement, and overall shop’s success. For folks who are looking to amp up their game and reel in the real tea geeks, I’ve got 3 easy steps to achieve great product photography in your Etsy store!  

 1. Know your product, know your message
For now, we’ll stick with the tea drinker’s wet dream: the perfect ceramic. These are handmade items (a huge genre of shops on Etsy distinguish themselves as handcrafted or homemade) that have their own message. Photography is, whether we like to admit it or not, an artistic expression. Photography is also one of the biggest ways in which Etsy shop owners have to show off their impressive work. Poor photographs reflect poorly on the product, as well as the effort that has gone into them.

As the maker of mugs, you know your product like the back of your hand. Tea and coffee and the people who drink them are looking for warmth, looking for taste, and they’re looking for an addition to their interior style. They want to display their mugs proudly, along with their stash of looseleaf and herbal teas. They want to be photographed sipping away on their winter chai as its steam curls in the air. The message your photos need to convey, then, are something like warmth, and taste, and style. Things like comfort and intimacy could also play into your message.

2. Build your space
Not many of us have home studios, large umbrellas, and a range of external flashes. That’s okay. You’re a handcrafted tea cup creator, not a photo studio! Whether you’ve got a dSLR, a point-and-shoot, or an iPhone, couple that with your kitchen counter, floor, and a big window? You’re ready to take some photos, my friend.

One of the most important points to remember about product photography is to make it intentional. Whether you want your product to be isolated and on display, or surrounded by complimentary items, images, and symbols, is entirely up to you. But either way, you have to make that decision.

Start with a few test shots, focusing in on your product. Review the photos and see what’s distracting your eye — are there odd shapes or out-of-place colours in the background? Does the isolated tea cup look lonely and dejected all by itself, or regal and stylish? There’s no requirement stating you need to take The Perfect Shot the first time you do. Mug maker, remember?

 3. Set your scene
Don’t be afraid to get stylish. You don’t sell cookies and sugar cubes? That doesn’t mean you can’t include them in your photo! What goes better with tea than sugar, or honey from a label-free jar on a comb, or a splash of milk, or cookies?

Carefully placed piles of loose leaf tea would also compliment your tea cup nicely! When you figure out your message, and you decide what sort of space you need to build, pull together your elements. Maybe you want a collection of wildflowers in a clear jar on the table. Whatever you deem fit, make sure it adds to the scene. Great inspiration for setting the scene would be magazines like Kinfolk, stylist and blogger Beth Kirby, blogger Kelsey Brown, and blogger Sarah Kieffer.

If you’re an Etsy shop owner, you know that first impressions are a key indicator on your sales, engagement, and overall shop’s success. Because of this, you want to make sure you:

 1. Know your product and know your message. Picking keywords to describe your product will help you understand your message!

2. Build your space. Whatever you do, make your space intentional!

3. Set your scene. Once you know your message and you’ve built your space, set up your scene using the appropriate style!

Do any of you guys sell physical products?  How do you photograph them?  Share any tips in the comments!

How To Win Friends + Influence Buyers On Instagram

This guest post comes to us via Tara Swiger, Instagram-enthusiast.  She guides creative biz ladies to explore a sustainable business with workshops like Pay Yourself. She leads a Starship full of explorers + a Solo Mission for the brave. You can become an explorer of your own business with her (free) mini-course here. 


A quick definition: Instagram is a free photo-sharing app for your phone. It allows you to share photos with your Instagram followers and post them on your other social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and more). It’s kinda like Twitter, but with photos instead of words.

So why all the fuss? And can this fuss be useful, to you, a savvy (but busy!) business owner?

The magic of Instagram is that it feels personal. It allows you a peek into my world, through my eyes. Instead of approximating the beauty (or quirkiness) of what I’m looking at with words, I can quickly show you.

Is it for you?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, then it might be worth your time to start using Instagram:

  • Do you work with or create physical products? (a maker, crafter, or artist, or an online or local seller-of-goods)

  • Are you based in a location that clients and customers visit? (A shop, studio, spa, classroom)

  • Is travel a part of your brand or service?

  • Do you want to develop a personal relationship with your customers and clients, and give them a “behind-the-scenes” look into your life?

If you choose to use Instagram to reach your customers, remember to:

Be a person. Instagram is a personal medium, so unless you’re Macy’s or Starbucks, it makes sense to use it as a person, with a single point-of-view. (This doesn’t mean you have to share personal photos of kids or cats, but do use your name + photo.) Include your company name (and what it does!) in your profile + include a link to your website.

Take photos of the new. When new items come into your shop, take a picture to share. When you create a new product, take a picture of it. And when you go new places, take a picture.

Show the process. A stream that only shares finished products will get old fast, but your customers will love to see how you create what you sell. Show the successes, the failures, the drafts. Take photos of your workspace during every part of the process. Even if you don’t make a physical product, something about your day has a process (your 10th cup of coffee?) so share it!

Share the useful, entertaining, and educational.  Think about your role in your customers’ lives. Are you inspiring, educating or entertaining them? Use your Instagram feed to continue this message in photos, whether it’s images of your work, a great book, or the best local cupcake shop.

Make your client the star. With their permission, share photos of your happy customers - wearing your dresses, knitting with your yarn, or decorating with your pillows. Even if you don’t sell physical items, you can snap a photo of your thrilled client.

Do you use Instagram for your business? Share your best tips in the comments!

7 Ways To Work Around The Fact That Facebook Sucks Now


If you have a Facebook page for your blog or business you probably discovered a completely infuriating change in early December.  Instead of showing your updates to all (or most) of the people who have actively chosen to follow you, Mr. Zuckerberg and Co. now show your updates to about 10% of your followers.  And if you’d like everyone to see your stuff? Well, you’ll just have to pay up.  I did the math and I’d have to pay about $2,000 a month if I wanted my 3,700+ followers to see my posts!


So I’ve spent the last month experimenting with different ways to reach my readers since Facebook is now pretty much out of the question.   Here are seven things that I’ve tried - with some success.


1. Really commit to Twitter - and use the photo option
Twitter is much more egalitarian that Facebook and (fingers crossed) has not yet pulled any shifty algorithm changes, ala Facebook. You can connect directly with people,  friending the editor of that publication you like, rather than just liking the publication’s Facebook page.

Also!  Twitter has a relatively new option that allows you to add photos directly to your Twitter stream rather than linking to photos hosted elsewhere.  It makes a huuuuge difference in your traffic, especially if the thing you’re promoting is visually appealing.  If you want to be a level 10 tryhard, you can design images specifically for Twitter.   Here’s a super helpful post about how to optimize your images for Twitter Streams.  (P.S. Are we friends on Twitter?  We should be.)

2. Promote business-y stuff on LinkedIn
I know, I know.  You’re all “Uggggghhhhh. Who even uses LinkedIn?”  There are people there!  I swear!  A friend of mine got headhunted for a super cool editor job off of LinkedIn, so someone, somewhere is using it and reading it.  If you write about/consult about/work with business-y stuff, post your blog posts on your LinkedIn updates.  Can’t hurt, might help!

3. Share select stuff on your personal Facebook page
I usually limit my personal Facebook page to posting vacation photos and inviting people to stuff, but very occasionally, when I write something that I think other people might find useful, I’ll post it on the Yes and Yes Facebook page, and then ‘share’ it as Sarah Von Bargen.  Shares feed into the Facebook algorithm and show Facebook that your post is ‘worthwhile’ and then it’s more likely to be seen by others.

Use this method carefully.  Your ‘real’ Facebook friends will pretty quickly get annoyed if you’re constantly promoting your business when they’re just trying to chat with your about who’s bringing what to that baby shower.

4. Create an amazing newsletter opt in
You already know that you need an email newsletter, right?   It allows you to reach right into people’s inboxes and connect there, without the hubbub and distraction of the internet. Newsletters help you keep in touch with prospective clients, share important updates about your business, and build trust with your readers and followers.  AND Mark Zuckerberg can’t mess with your subscriber list!

One of the best ways to get newsletter subscribers is to create an irresistible opt-in - a free ebook that they get for signing up, a set of private videos, or access to tools and platforms that will help them.  When you sign up for my small business newsletter, you get my ebook 7 Tricks For A Polished + Impressive + Productive Online Life.  People who sign up for Yes and Yes’s newsletter get three (3!) ebooks: How To Charm Anyone. All The Time. Ever, Be Your Own Style Icon, and 29 Ways To Enjoy Winter.


5. Tell your Facebook people what’s going on
Use that ‘boost post’ option to tell everyone who follows you on Facebook about what’s going on. Let them know other ways they call follow/befriend you (newsletter, RSS feed, other social media platforms) and give them instructions on how to subscribe to your Facebook posts, if they really want to see your updates.  They can do that by hovering over the ‘liked’ button and choosing ‘get notifications’ from the drop down menu.

6. Dive into to a different social media platform
My personal policy for social media (and what I tell my clients) is “choose two, do them well.”  It’s better (and less overwhelming) to do two things well, rather than five things poorly.  If you’re not using them already, you could try out Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube, Vimeo or Vine.  I’m still sussing things out, but I might dip my toe back into Pinterest.  Or Youtube.

7. Occasionally suck it up and pay to promote
If you’ve spent years developing a following on Facebook, it’s a pity to let all that hard work go to waste and there will definitely be times (like launches) when you want to access everyone you can.  In those moments, just spent $20 so all of your followers (and maybe a few other people) will see your posts.  Track your incoming traffic to see if it was worth it and then lather, rinse, and repeat.

Have the Facebook changes affected you?  How are you working around them?

P.S. Want more super helpful advice like this?  Check out my Clever Sessions!  People love ’em - one client said “Honestly, I learned as much, if not more, in Sarah’s 90 minute Clever Session than I did in a two day blogging workshop that I paid $700 for. ”

photo (without text on top) by Ricky Lai

Why having a disjointed social media presence is hurting your blog or business

This guest post comes to us via the lovely and talented Bobbi of Ready To Blog.  She helps small businesses, creatives, and bloggers with branding, blogs, and web design. Forpetessake, her custom-designed Blogspot blogs start at $200!  You can follow her adventures on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram


Having confusing or slightly obscure internet handle was pretty much a right of passage for anyone who can remember the times when dial-up was king and AOL used to send you CDs packed with ‘1,000 FREE HOURS, FREE!’

But, with the rise of social media and the proliferation of personal and social brands, it has become necessary for people to be able to find you quickly and in a way that makes sense. Before, using an acronym of all of the sports you used to play followed by a string of numbers as your Twitter handle–I actually did this at one point–might have been fine, but now doing so will rightfully earn you a few side-eyes.

A common, and damaging, mistake that many companies and brands are making on social media has to do with both consistency and clarity. How many times have you seen this: On Twitter, your favorite store has a handle of @marysteacups. Awesome! You scoot over to Facebook so give them a ‘like’, but you find it almost impossible to locate their page. It’s not No sign of Mary’s Teacups when you do a search. When you finally (finally) locate the page, you find a messy URL with an indecipherable string of numbers tacked on to the end. It’s annoying, and it’s totally unnecessary to force your customers to chase you around the internet just to give you some love!

If you’re running social media for a company or for yourself, it’s crucial that you make the best case for yourself online, and that starts with getting your social media property in check. Why?

You’ll look more professional
Once you decide on a name, stick with it, and hoover up all the real-estate you can get your hands on. If you are your brand and you’re going with @firstname_lastname on Twitter, go with the same on Instagram. If you can snag (or something close), do it! There’s no reason to leave your potential customers or fans playing a guessing game to find you. Make it easy and make it obvious. (To set a vanity Facebook URL for a fan page, log in to your account and navigate here:

You’ll encourage people to engage with and share your content
It’s much easier to write, “Find me on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest at @brandname!” than it is to list three different handles. While it might not always be possible to get your desired usernames, you should get as close as possible and keep an eye on the handles you want in case they become available. When your handles reflect your brand in a concise and clear way, your viewers will have an incentive to not only check you out on your different platforms, but to engage with you on them as well.

You’ll protect your brand
You might not be Twitter-famous yet, but why risk having handles that can be closely associated with your brand snagged by someone who has nothing to do with your business? Having control of your name on different platforms means that you get to determine what’s done with the real estate. Even if that’s nothing, it’s important for you to control the content and messaging through as many of the channels at your disposal as possible.

So, how can you get your social media in order?

Start with your domain
If you’re currently blogging on a free platform like Blogger or, make the $10 investment and get yourself a custom dot com. If you’re feeling particularly thorough, look into securing the .net, .org, or other similar secondary domains as well! This is the first step to putting your best foot forward online and to avoid co-branding yourself with a third-party.

Bring your handles in line
If you currently Tweet from @firstname_lastname and Instagram from @highschoolnickname, start changing your handles to match your brand and each other! Whether that means that both are @firstname_lastname or @companyname is up to you, but make a choice and stick with it. It’s scary, I know! But the sooner you do it the better, and since you can switch your handles without losing your fans and followers, you’ll be glad you made the switch in the long run. Note: If you already have a following and don’t want anyone else to use your old username, swoop in behind yourself and secure your old handles with a new account. While it seems a bit strange to hold on to a handle that you’ll rarely use, you’ll want to have control over your old account to 1) prevent anyone else from pretending to be you and 2) direct any fans that may not check in with you regularly to your new handles.

That’s it!

An investment of 20 minutes is all it takes to get your house in order and begin to project a streamlined and professional front online.

Why Having A Personality On The Internet Will Help Your Business

This post is part of a blog tour inspired for Jump: Into your business, your life, your dream -  a must-have digital guide for new coaches & creatives. This all-inclusive eBook will teach you how to start a business, find your niche, brand like a pro, and make the jump with confidence. Find out more here.

Let your weirdo shine through! People hire people they like and how can we like you if we don't know anything about you?
If you’ve ever read my blog or if we’re friends on Twitter, you probably know:
I love - without irony - Ke$ha, Dolly Parton, Richard Simmons.
I think dressing my cat in costumes is hilarious.
I travel heaps and have been plotting a trip to Russia and Mongolia for a while now.
I would rather read National Geographic than Cosmo. Any day. Ever.

I’m sure there are people out there who would hide their love of cat costumes and ‘Die Young‘ under the proverbial bushel.  And maybe you feel like - despite my many happy clients - you can’t take me seriously because last year I wore a drop-crotch onesie, a single earring, and a faux-mo to a Ke$ha concert.  (I’m 34.)

And that’s totally okay.

While I don’t write a lot about my personal life or the intimate details of my relationships or family on the internet I very, VERY much believe in being who you are.  All the time. Online and off.

For me this means:
Occasionally being a hardass.  Being totally transparent about how much I charge and how I work.  Trying new things. Being open about my failures.  Liking what I like - unapologetically.

Why is it important to have a personality - on the internet AND in real life?

1. It will separate you from the crowd
There are about a million website designers/social media consultants/content strategists/life coaches and many of them deliver equally good products.  But inevitably, we hire people we like.  And you know who we like?  People we relate to.  I love working with Kim Lawler because she’s talented and prompt.  I also like working with her because her About page says “I think this is the place where I’m supposed to tell you that I’m a “web development ninja”, or a “jQuery wizard”… while both of these things might be true, I’m not a douchebag, so I won’t.”   There are heaps of lovely, mellow, green-juice drinking life coaches out there.  I will never hire any of them because I don’t particularly enjoy meditation or green juice.  I enjoy hip hop and coffee.

2. It will help you find your people
Success isn’t just about the people who hire you, it’s about the people you surround yourself with.  When you’re honest about who you are and what you’re about, you’ll attract similarly-minded people.  I’ve found amazing online and offline friendships with Winona, Kelly, Rachel, Alex, Marie and heaps more ladies - partially because we all love Dolly Parton and partially because who we are online is who we are offline.

3. It’s a million times easier than pretending to be something you’re not
A cautionary tale: a good friend of mine founded a successful accessory label when she was in her early twenties.  Said friend loves to drink, swear, tell dirty jokes, and generally be as awesome as humanly possible.  But her brand? It was all satin and buttoned-up sweater sets.  She felt like who she was wasn’t really ‘the right fit’ for her label so she spent yeaaaaars promoting and producing beautiful pieces that she, herself, probably wouldn’t use and going to cocktail parties in fancy dresses and making polite chit chat when she probably would have rather been at home watching The Walking Dead.

She also spent some time in therapy.

Lesson: it’s exhausting, time-consuming, unsustainable, and probably unhealthy to hide who you are on the internet.

So let that weirdo shine!  Tell us what you’re into, how you work, what you don’t like.  We’ll probably like you even more.

Who do you think lets their personality shine through online?  I think Ash Ambirge, Nicole Antoinette, and Smaggle do a great job with this.

4 Reasons to Use iPhone Photography On Your Website

Alison Chino wants to live in a world where the adventures are new every day, the soups feed a crowd, and the kids still play outside. Her travel musings, stories about expat life in Scotland and yummy recipes can be found at Or follow along on Twitter or Instagram.

I am going to let you in on a little secret. Sometimes people call me a photographer and I don’t even own a camera.
Except for the one that is in my phone.

Here are a few reasons I love using my phone to take pictures for my travel blog.

1. Small and Simple

I love taking pictures, and sometimes I think about getting a bigger camera, but the block for me is not purchasing the camera.  It’s the idea of carrying it around, and learning how to use complicated editing software. I would have to come up with a storage system for the bigger files that bigger cameras hold, and I would rather spend more time wandering the world than figuring that out.

2. Phone Editing Apps

Everyone has their own favorite photography apps, and there are new ones being made all the time that make the pictures on your phone look amazing.

For me, it’s like this:
Snapseed + VSCO Cam = Life Changed

The drama filter on Snapseed makes the textures on your photos pop, and will add light to a picture that is too dark.  It’s like magic!Also I love Instagram like a thirteen year old. Seriously.However, sometimes I want an Instagram filter on several photos for a blog post, but I don’t want to put them all on Instagram. In that case, you can turn off your data (or wifi on an iTouch) and Instagram all the photos you want.  They will come up in your feed as “failed” but they will save to your photos.  You then delete the failed photos and turn your data back on.  Voila!
I often run a picture through all three of these apps before I’m happy with it.
3. Pictures go straight to my blog via the WordPress App
One of the handiest parts of using my phone for all my pictures is that I can upload my photos to where they need to go through the apps on my phone.  When I had a camera, I had to store the pictures on my computer, resize them and then upload them to a website.

Now you can use the apps for WordPress or Etsy or wherever your website is hosted to upload your photos directly from your phone. So easy!

4. Work on the go.
Using my phone for photography means I am getting more work done when I am on the road.  If I take, edit and upload pictures while I’m traveling, when I get home I can open up my computer, sit down and just write. The pictures are already there.  All I have to do is use my journal to fill in the stories.I  have to say that I do have a huge appreciation for gorgeous DSLR photos.  We have our family photos done every year by a professional photographer and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.  But for every day blogging, I am finding that using my phone works beautifully!

Do you guys take the photos you use on your website?  Which apps and editing tools do you use?  I swear by Flickr Creative Commons + Picmonkey!