Brand Yourself Consulting - Tami Enfield

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Updated: 1 hour 13 min ago

5 Steps to Taking a Good Photo

Wed, 07/19/2017 - 1:44pm

Hello All! Tasha here. As you may have read in my bio, I have been a professional photographer for nearly two decades and so naturally I was the one at Brand Yourself who was asked to write this blog post. “How do I take a good photo?” is the question I aim to answer here for you. However, the photographer in me is struggling with how to simplify this into a blog post versus a 6-month mentoring session. I believe there are SO many things that you can do to create a stunning print and I also believe that we are all consistently building and growing our skills no matter where we are in our photography journey. But this blog post is about the basics. The building blocks, if you will, on what to consider when taking a photo so you can begin to elevate the images you want to capture. We encourage you to take these concepts and build upon these over time – play, practice, analyze, and repeat. Though our mothers may have always said, “Practice makes perfect,” perfect doesn’t have to be perfection. Perfection is something left to be interpreted. Let your “perfect” be simply an expression of how you viewed the moment happening in front of you and captured it in a still image to cherish for a lifetime.

No one else can ever take the exact same photo as you just did… and that, my friends, IS perfect.

Enough with the small talk, let’s get to it! In our 27 years of combined photography experience, Tami and I don’t necessarily believe that you must have high-end equipment to take great photos.

We believe that if you can find the best light and choose the best exposure, you can take beautiful photos no matter where you go, no matter what camera you are holding in your hand, no matter who is your subject.

Whether you are a business owner wanting to take better photos for social media or a mom who wants to capture better images of her children, these steps can be applied to any photography shoot. Let’s chat through these basic steps.

Step 1) Find the light.

The difference between a really beautiful photo and an okay photo is the light! Ask yourself, “where is the main light source?” and then watch how that light lands on your subject. Try putting the light behind the subject for a natural glow, or straight on the subject (I would consider having your subject look down or to the side so he/she is not squinting with the sun in their face). You’ll notice how the colors in your images change when the light is directly behind your subject versus when the light is directly on the front of your subject. The colors and the sky are more vibrant when the light is direct. The light behind a subject gives a diffused and softer feel to the image. Neither is right or wrong and both produce beautiful results! My simple advice is to FIRST find the best light for your subject and THEN find the background you want to photograph on within that light. Most people will find their background first and the light may be harsh or spotty in that location which then takes away from a great photo. Here are a few examples of some images that I recently captured with 3 different types of lighting: behind/diffused, direct/straight on, and side/directional lighting.

*Flower design in these first two photos are by the amazing Ashley Fox Designs.* Step 2) Watch your background.

Like I said above, be sure to find your light first and then your background. Once you’ve found beautiful light (one simple tip: cloudy days or shady areas tend to be the easiest to photograph in because your light is nearly even on all sides of your subject), then you can position your subject for the photo. Here is where you want to watch for what photographers would call “mergers”. Mergers are items like telephone poles, red exit signs or other distracting elements that appear to be growing out of your subject’s head/body. You can move these mergers by moving yourself a little more to one side or by moving the camera a little up or down. Try it the next time you notice a distracting element in the background. And… you’re welcome… you won’t be able to look at your friends’ photos the same ever again, you’ll always be noticing mergers!

Step 3) Expose correctly.

When I mentored other photographers, I would find myself saying over and over, “pull back on your highlights.” This meant that when they were taking a picture, they were letting the highlights (the lightest parts) in the image lose all its detail. I would encourage them to take the picture a little darker next time so the details remain in the highlights. Here are two examples of images, one with overexposed highlights and another with correctly exposed highlights. Notice the difference? There is more depth and interest to a photo where the highlights are not all over exposed.

Step 4) Capture the fleeting moments!

You’ve learned a few technical tips, but don’t let this scare you from taking photos. They are little tips that you can start to train your eye to see. However, moments are fleeting and you can’t always stop the moment and reposition your subject. So, I would simply encourage you to just capture life when life is happening. The beautiful moments in life! When you have the time to look for the ideal light, watch for mergers, and adjust your exposure, then do so! But when you don’t, just simply capture the moment. You’ll be so happy you did!

Then after you have captured that beautiful moment, please don’t just keep it on your phone or computer, print that baby! The generations after you will thank you!

Step 5) Print. Print. Print.

Did I mention that you should probably print your photos? Well, let me repeat. Print your photos! I believe moments large and small should be printed – consider it just one back up of your photos (external hard drives are nice for another back up). Some of my favorite moments as a child and even now, as an adult, are browsing through old printed photos. We live in a technology-driven era and its wonderful! However, technology sometimes fails and then, sadly, it’s likely too late. Take it from the girl who lost the first 4 months of photos and videos from my son’s life that I had captured on my iPhone before it crashed and burned. Thankfully, I had a few professional photos taken and family members who shared what they had captured. But some of those sweet little moments that just he and I shared together are now only memories. I urge you to consider printing your photos so you, your children, and generations beyond will have them to look through! In our home, we have a few large canvases of different phases of our family life, we have smaller prints in frames and we love and use little printed books for all the images that we capture on our phones (even a photographer finds herself documenting her life on an iPhone). Whatever and however you choose to display your images, I hope you choose to print them!

If you are wanting or needing photos done for your family, we are more than happy to recommend some of our most favorite photographers in the area! Send us a message or give one of us a call. Whether it’s for photos or a business question, reach out to us, because more than anything, we love to support small local businesses and connect you with the businesses that will bring light and ease into your lives!

The post 5 Steps to Taking a Good Photo appeared first on Brand Yourself Consulting.

Categories: Businesses

Top 10 Things to Consider Before Running a Facebook Ad Campaign

Mon, 06/26/2017 - 4:29pm

Oh sure, anyone who is anyone with a business is running Facebook Ads these days but most are just “winging” it and paying for it… literally. Running an ad campaign on Facebook and/or Instagram (or other social media platforms) can be highly effective when you put a little time and effort into your planning. Below are a few tips for you to consider before you run your next ad campaign.

Every business has a unique ideal client. Today, let’s pretend that we are developing an ad campaign to get someone to shop at a local women’s clothing boutique. However, these steps can be fine-tuned to your business and ideal client, even in you are an online B2B retailer who ships products worldwide!

1)      Trust the process.

Your ideal client fast forwards through commercials. He quickly flips by the ads in his monthly magazine subscription. She is a bit distracted behind the wheel and doesn’t see the billboard with the expensive ad on it (thanks kids in the back seat!). But he DOES spend time on social media every day. In fact, there are 1.23 billion daily active users on Facebook and guess what?!… they chose to be there and actively engage!

2)      Know your ideal client.

You have the ability to target precise audiences on Facebook and Instagram. Knowing precisely who your ideal client is will help you effectively build an audience for your ads. Our example ad might focus their efforts on reaching women age 22-45 who like to shop at boutiques, have a household income of $50,000 or more, work full-time, have an interest in the latest fashion trends, and live within 25 miles of our store.

3)      Have a goal in mind.

Write down your goals followed by the steps your ideal customer would follow to get there. Now build your campaign with the end in mind. For our local boutique, our goal would be to get a customer in the door to purchase a trendy dress, jewelry and shoes for an upcoming wedding she will be attending. Let’s develop the process on how she might end up walking through the front door. First, they need to HEAR about you (Facebook ad, testimonial from a friend, or by driving by the shop). Next, they need to have an incentive or a reason to click on your ad (she has a wedding she is attending this weekend as a guest and needs a cute dress that all of her friends will want and she needs it ASAP). Your incentive may be 15% off your first purchase at the boutique. And lastly, you want to create urgency, so consider putting an expiration on the incentive. Other campaign examples you may want to consider are increasing “likes” to your page where you are actively posting and engaging with your followers, or boosting a post to your current fans and others like them in the area, having new customers download your app, or gaining attendees to an upcoming event you are hosting. Regardless, know your end goal and then build the campaign around this specific goal you have set. The interface for building your campaign will guide you through these steps.

4)      Set your budget and timeframe.

You can spend as little or as much as you want. The more you spend, the more your ad is placed in front of your custom audience. You can choose a daily amount to spend or an overall campaign amount. We typically set our budget for the entire campaign and choose our start and end time for the campaign. Facebook and Instagram both allow you to optimize the spending of your ads meaning that your ad may not be shown as often on a Monday early morning as it would on a Thursday afternoon or evening. Your budget can range from as little as $1 per day to thousands of dollars per day (our local boutique will likely not spend thousands per day but more like $10-$15 per day). A suggested place to start for a small business is to spend $300 run the ad for a month (average $10 a day). After watching your ad’s performance for 5 days and learning more about your audience, you may want to increase your budget so your ad is shown to your ideal client a few times over the course of your campaign. Your client may not see your ad the first time, so presenting it in front of her a few times will help increase your ad’s effectiveness.

5)      Split test multiple ads simultaneously.

You will want to create more than one ad to run at a time. We suggest split testing one change in your ad at a time. For example, our local boutique may run an ad to the same custom audience and offer the same discount, but split test a video ad against a carousel of 3 product images. After choosing what you will split test, run your campaign for a minimum of 5 days to watch the performance of each. After 5-7 days, take the ad that performed better and create another split test. This time, consider split testing your offer. Maybe you run an ad offering buy 2 get 1 free against the 15% off offer. Run this ad for 5 days and again watch its performance. Continue split testing over time so you can really hone in on what is working best for your business! Other examples of split testing may include (for the sake of time and space, know that there are hundreds of items that you can split test, we’ve listed just a handful of ideas here): location, age, gender, interests, those who recently visited your area, education, those who follow leaders in an industry, connections, and even behaviors. Some professional agencies, such as ours, are capable of split testing numerous ads at one time resulting in desired results more quickly as we can analyze as many as 100+ slight changes within your ads each week.

6)      Choose your photos and/or videos wisely.

Most ads do not need professional and highly staged photos or videos (this isn’t always the case… photographers or videographers might want to consider really pretty photos and Instagram ads perform better with stylized photos). Consider this, Facebook is a place where people go to often just take a mental break. They scroll through their newsfeed and images or videos that their friends posted from their smart phone catch their eye and they stop to comment. Stock-like photos and videos tend to trigger the response in their mind that says, “warning, advertisement!” and they scroll past quickly. Those images and videos that feel like real life tend to perform better in most circumstances. Try using your smart phone to capture your ad images or videos and split test them against other photos or videos that you may have had professionally taken and gauge which performs better. One thing to note, if you are placing text on an image or video, it cannot cover more than 20% of the image per Facebook guidelines.

7)      Write good ad copy.

Good images or videos will capture the attention of your ideal client. But good copy will encourage your customers to take action. Headlines are the most important part of the copy – spend some time creating attention-grabbing headlines. Also make sure to split test (as mentioned above) different headlines to see how each performs. For the rest of your ad copy, be sure to tell your custom audience why its important for them to take action. Ideas to help you build your copy include: Why should they buy from you? Why is it important for them to have your product? Why should they trust you? Why should they buy now versus later? Etc.

8)      Include a Call-to-Action.

This can be “Learn More”, “Sign Up”, “Like Page”, etc. Think about your end goal and choose your call-to-action accordingly. You don’t want to say “Shop Now” if you don’t have the ability to shop online. You might choose, “Sign Up” if you want your target customer to visit your landing page and sign up to receive your newsletters. This is another item that you can split test as you move along throughout your campaign.

9)      Choose your placement.

Do you want to run the ads in the newsfeed of Facebook or perhaps the right column, in a group, or in Messenger? Or maybe you want to have your ad only show on the Instagram newsfeed or even in Instagram stories. Developing the strategy for your ad campaign should cover where your ideal clients are spending their time so you can place the ads in in front of them. You also have other options like Audience Network which extends your ads beyond Facebook or Instagram to reach audiences on mobile apps and websites. You have the option to choose where to manually place your ads, or you can allow Facebook to choose for you based on where your ad will likely perform best. And once again, you can split test placement as an option! Our little local boutique may want to run ads everywhere that Facebook believes they will likely perform best and simultaneously split test against just Instagram newsfeed only.

10)      If feeling overwhelmed, hire a professional.

Hey, that’s us! If all of this is a little overwhelming to you, know that we are here to help. We can build, manage and run your entire ad campaign or we can sit and chat over a cup of coffee in the local coffee shop (or for those out of state, in each of our own offices, with a cup of joe in hand) to develop a strategy for you and your team to implement right away. Either way, we would love to help jump start a successful social media ad campaign for your business!

So. Many. Options. We get it, its overwhelming! However, its all of these options that make your ads so effective. There are 3 million advertisers on Facebook but most have no idea what they are doing! Following these simple steps and analyzing your data will help your ideal clients find you.

Be sure to follow us on social media to learn more tips and tricks to help increase business for your business (social buttons below).

The post Top 10 Things to Consider Before Running a Facebook Ad Campaign appeared first on Brand Yourself Consulting.

Categories: Businesses