How Your iPhone Can Help Your Work- Life Balance - A post by Katy Martin, TallPoppiesDesign.com

Technology is marvelous. I delight in getting different plug-ins and programs to play nicely together, so that clients can focus on their expertise. Constant connectivity is wonderful—it makes it easy for me to share pictures of my daughter with family in Australia or chat with a client in California or a vendor in Massachusetts.

Technology also makes it easy to never stop working.

After all, you can check email anywhere or text a response or even call in to a meeting while you’re driving. Our smart phones get blamed for disrupting our work-life balance, but if you use them right, they are tools to reach that balance.

My work with Mindful Life really made me see that I really needed to have strong boundaries to create the kind of balanced life I wanted. And I learned how to use my phone for my own good instead of against it.

Setting Weekend Boundaries for Better Balance

I don’t work weekends unless it’s at my instigation. I’m happy to occasionally work on projects on weekends if I have spare time, if I feel inspired, or if I want to get ahead. I do not allow clients and colleagues to set unreasonable demands and deadlines that require me to work weekends. I’m protecting my clients from the same burden.

I establish these expectations from the very beginning of my working relationships with new clients by outlining these personal and professional boundaries in my website design proposals. For example:

“A website project is a tango dance. Both of us need to be committed to this project. If you cannot contribute to the collaborative process at any time throughout the project, such as if questions go un-answered, and content is not shared with me, that’s usually ok, but when you pop back ready, willing and able, the schedule will adjust accordingly. A few days here and there could result in weeks variation as I coordinate and balance all client work.

We are both building and nurturing our beautiful little businesses, our loved ones, and our lifestyle. Now, I love a target deadline (I do! I thrive on them!) but this whole process needs to be a little flexible and comfortable so that we can all attend to our personal needs, and to take care of our loved ones. 

If you have a drop-dead deadline for the launch of a product, we will set our deadlines with some cushion. Our journey to lift-off will be smooth and carefree if we both commit to open and honest communication, and to expedite providing photos, imagery and text, respond to emails, and provide feedback quickly.”

But what happens when a client sends a frantic email on a Saturday morning? Or the files I’ve been waiting for upload Sunday afternoon? I’ve taken steps to stick with my boundaries—and my phone is my assistant.

4 Ways to Make Your Phone Enforce Boundaries

Here are four steps I’ve taken to keep my weekends work free:

1. Moved the email app from my home screen. By moving the email app from my home screen to the last screen of my iphone, I have to consciously seek it out to check it. It’s now a mindful action to check email and, although only milliseconds, I have time to consider whether I really want to check the email – or not.

2. Turned off email notifications on my phone. I have to consciously open the app and refresh the screen in order to download new emails. That means on a Saturday morning, I stop and think before I hit refresh, and I ask myself,  “How will I feel after I see my emails?” If I believe an email could trigger a stress response, then I usually justify waiting till another time.

3. Turned off other notifications. Similarly, for all other business apps (Basecamp, Slack, WooCommerce, MailChimp, and even Facebook) I have turned off notifications. No more little red flags unnecessarily begging for my attention.

4. Separated business mail from personal mail. Have you ever gone into your email on a Saturday to find the time for a party you know is in an evite, only to see a message from a client? It can be tempting to respond right away. Even if you don’t, you likely start thinking about what to say or what you’ll need to do. To avoid just such problems and to make it easier to leave my work email alone when I’m not working, I’ve set up a gmail app for business and a different mail app for personal use. If you’ve been using one email account for both, it may take a little doing to make a switch, but it’s well worth it in the gained life balance.

Greater Awareness = Less Wasted Time

In addition to holding my weekends sacred, I’ve learned to be more mindful of how I spend the time when I am working. That means, no more Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook rabbit holes wasting the whole day. It also means that I focus more because I’ve learned not to check my phone so much. And in both cases, I’ve got my iPhone set up to keep me on track.

I use one app to track how often I pick up my phone. Most of us don’t even realize how often we check those little devices in our pockets. The tracker makes your more mindful of what has become a bad habit. Like a challenge? Once you get a baseline of how often you’re checking, challenge yourself to check less frequently.

Moment is an iOS app that automatically tracks how much screen-time you have on your iPhone and iPad each day. If you’re using your phone too much, you can set daily limits on yourself and be notified when you go over. You can choose to force yourself off your device when you’re over your limit.

You can even track your family’s use from your own iPhone and set up time for your entire family to be screen-free using family dinner time. As the Moment tagline reads, “Put down your phone and get back to your life.”

Another great app to track how much you use your phone is Realizd. Realizd has a goal of “helping you reduce your screen time, address phone addiction and start a digital diet right now.” Again, by tracking, I realize just how much time I’m using (or wasting) in any area. Am I spending too much time choosing photos? Did I log on to Facebook to respond to a question in a group and end up scrolling for two hours? The first step in changing behavior is knowing what it is you’re doing.

These two apps have helped me decrease the time I spend checking my phone and staying on it.

If you’re blaming your phone for lack of balance in your life, it’s time to take a closer look.

Start tracking your use—and at the same time make changes to make it harder for you check email or apps mindlessly. They’re there if you need them, but make yourself work at it. Time away from work benefits every one of us. Technology gets blamed for turning us into 24-7 workers, but you can change that—and you can use your iPhone to do it.

Mindful Life has been a life changer for me. Find more mindfulness for yourself here. And I so enjoyed helping them make their site beautiful and fully functional for their growing business.

How to Make the Most of MailChimp with Gravity Forms... Free video tutorial series included.

I’m going to put this out there first: I LOVE Gravity Forms.

I use Gravity Forms to run my own business and incorporate them into the sites of all my clients.

There’s just so much you can do with Gravity, above and beyond what you might imagine. Obviously I can use it for my contact form or a detailed client questionnaires, but it does so much more than just boring ol’ forms.

Less Work with Gravity Forms

Here are just four creative ways to use Gravity Forms:

Surveys. Gravity forms are handy for surveys, which provide statistical data for tracking the transformation of course participants and whether they actually achieved the outcomes I desired for them.

Legal Document Signing. The premium pro version includes a signature field add-on. Using the Gravity Form’s notifications, I can email both my clients and myself a copy of the signed terms. Instead of having (and paying for) a separate service for signing, you can work with Gravity Forms.

Sync with Other Tools. Gravity Forms syncs with lots of tools (including MailChimp—we’ll get to that in a minute). I sync it with FreshBooks, my online accounting software. When clients agree to work with me, they fill out a new client contact details form, which sets up a new client in FreshBooks, so I don’t have to ask the client in a separate email for their mailing address etc. They take care of that small step which improves my accounting workflow speed and efficiency.

Attach Documents to a Form. Just as I use Gravity Form to pull client information into Freshbooks, I could do the same with contractors and ask them to submit a W9 form at the same time. Gravity Forms allows you to attach documents to forms, so I’d avoid having to madly chase down W-9s come tax time.

As an added bonus, all of these forms can be synced with MailChimp (Tired o MailChimp? Read why I’m a MailChimp super fan here). When forms are synced MailChimp, each time somebody submits a form, their profile in MailChimp can be updated so they are added to a unique group in your list. In turn, I can automatically trigger emails when they are added to these new groups using MailChimp’s automation tools. Responsive and easy peasy.

Gravity Forms + Mail Chimp = Match Made in Heaven

But Gravity Forms isn’t just for long forms. Gravity Forms and MailChimp play particularly nicely when it comes to lead capture forms.

1.  I can maintain one list in MailChimp. Again, my opt-in forms are synced with a list in MailChimp. You can sync with any list, but I maintain one list with lots of groups, rather than lots of lists. This means I am only paying for each subscriber once, and I don’t have to send multiple emails to multiple lists (because in MailChimp you can only email one list at a time). You can get pretty clever with directing subscribers to specific groups in your MailChimp list using Gravity Forms. If users answer one question “yes” you can send them to one group, or if they answer another question “blue” you can send another way.

2. I can segment subscribers into segments. In addition to using multiple groups in MailChimp, you can create Segments. MailChimp defines a Segment as “a collection of subscribers with common qualities.” So for example, you may have segments based on search results* in your list, such as: people who signed up to your list between certain dates, people who opened emails between certain dates, people from a specific group who signed up after a certain date … or people who belong to two groups. This last one is handy for working out conversions, for example, how many people signed up to my list via my Facebook campaign AND then bought the course I sold to them.

3. I can trigger MailChimp automation campaigns. One of the automation triggers in MailChimp automation (for paid users only, from $10/month) is “user added to group” so, again, I can funnel users who hit submit to specific groups and in turn trigger specific automated campaigns.

4. I can get clever with MailChimp automation campaigns. MailChimp automation can be based on user activity as well, so if someone is added to a group, which triggers a unique automated email, and then they DON’T open that email, I can trigger another email. I can also trigger a particular email if they DO open the first email.

5. I can skip the double opt-in. I’m actually a proponent of double opt-in, but some marketers believe that it can hinder opt-in rates. The more hoops you ask somebody to jump through to get on your list the more likely you are to lose them. There’s still a lot of debate about best practice on this one, but if you decide that a single opt-in is right for your business (or right sometimes), it’s easy to set up that way in Gravity Forms + MailChimp.

6. I can deliver opt-in gifts instantly. If you use the MailChimp embed code for your forms, you have to wait for people to double opt-in, before they get their freebie. In that short space of time they can lose interest. With Gravity Forms, as soon as someone hits submit, they can be re-directed to another page in your website which can house your downloadable PDF, ebook, audio file, or video! Or they can be redirected to a page containing your webinar details.

7. I can deliver different opt-in gifts. If you use the MailChimp embed code and the automatic opt-in emails that come with each list in MailChimp, you can only send one “Welcome” email containing your freebie per list. By now you know that I like to maintain just one list with lots of groups and segments, rather than lots of lists. Now, let’s say you want to send someone a gift if they land on one page on your site, and a different gift if they end up on another. When you use Gravity Forms, they can be automatically re-directed to any “thank you” page that you create in your website, which would house your unique downloadable files. And if you funnel people into groups, you can trigger automated emails when someone is added to a new group.

Sold! Now How Do I Do It?

If this all sounds great, but your head is starting to spin thinking about making it happen, relax. Let’s make this easy. To use Gravity Forms for your lead forms you need three things:

1. MailChimp account
2. Gravity Forms Pro installed in your WordPress site (at least $99 level)
3. MailChimp add-on installed and set-up on your site WordPress site

Once you have the three pieces in place:

1. In your MailChimp list, go to Manage Subscribers, Groups, and add a hidden Group.

screenshot-us10 admin mailchimp com 2016-06-02 12-53-41

2. Add a form in your WordPress site.
3. Add a page to put your form into (or add it to an existing page or post).
4. Add a “Thank you” page to direct people to after they hit submit.
5. Set-up your automation campaigns in MailChimp

Free Video Tutorials!

Need a little more direction? I have a series of 5 short videos to walk you through the process so that Gravity Forms and MailChimp start making your email marketing life easier!

Just fill out the form (yeah, Gravity Forms at work here) to get access to the videos.

How to Decide If You Should Create an Online Course. And then what steps to take next... Article by Katy Martin, TallPoppiesDesign.com

So you want to create an online course. Before you do, let me ask you one question.
Why?

Online courses can be a powerful part of your business and allow you to help lots of clients. But they aren’t for everybody. We may all dream of a course that creates a passive income while we sleep, but the reality is, there’s nothing passive about creating a remarkable course.

Many people come to me and want to open their heart and soul to share what they know, which is a lovely sentiment, but if you have 80% content and 20% (or even less) activity, that’s not a course. If that’s where you’re at, perhaps you’re better off thinking about an ebook or a podcast.

Think Outcomes Before You Create an Online Course

I don’t want to dash your dreams of creating an online course—I just want you to get it right. Before you pour countless hours, effort, and money into a course think about your desired outcome for your participants.

What transformation will your participants undergo?

Then think about how they will get to that outcome. Chances are it won’t be by “lecture” or simply reading your ideas as compelling as they may be. People learn by doing and trying out ideas.

In fact, a recent NPR article reveals how Nobel Laureate Carl Wieman is on a mission to revolutionize the way undergraduates are taught in the U.S. and beyond. The Stanford University physicist wants more professors to ditch the large lecture in favor of letting students wrestle with problems while an engaged teacher coaches them and tracks their progress. Wieman says the data show that these active learning practices can dramatically boost learning. Wieman questions, “why aren’t more professors in universities adopting them?”

I’m challenging you with the same question, “Why aren’t more online teachers adopting more active, participatory learning?”

"80% of a learner’s time should be spent learning by doing. Only 20% should be learning by consuming." Breanne Dyck

“80% of a learner’s time should be spent learning by doing. Only 20% should be learning by consuming.” Breanne Dyck

For your online course, you need to think online activities, workbooks, journals, checklists of steps to take. You might engage them in a group discussion or have them report back after doing a task or project.

And everything you do should lead back to those desired outcomes.

How Less Is More in an Online Course

Sometimes people make the mistake of believing that giving more content is equivalent to giving more value. That’s simply not true.

Imagine an online business course. Your coach gives you pages and pages to read about sales funnels and all the steps you need to take to create one. As you scroll and scroll, your eyes glaze over. Maybe, if you get to the end, you find a question or a task to do, but by that time you’re mentally over it.

Now imagine instead that you get a brief intro to a sales funnel—maybe a page or two including a clear graphic. That’s followed by a questionnaire to answer to help you brainstorm ideas. Once that’s done, you get a step-by-step checklist to create your initial opt-in. You’re encouraged to report your status to the class group for accountability and support as you move through the steps.

Less passive reading and watching. More doing.

In the second scenario, you come out of this class with a working product. That sounds like a good outcome.

“Yes, I agree. And I’m building a course!”

If you’ve thought about your “why” and the desired outcome for your participants, and decided that a course is the right route for your business, the next step is figuring out how to deliver the exercises and resources.

I have used, and extensively researched several learning management software systems (LMS). Lately, I recommend LearnDash to clients who use WordPress.

Unfortunately while most LMS’s promise simple plug-n-play software, it is rarely the case. They often also promise that they work seamlessly with your preferred ecommerce software, like Shopify or WooCommerce; or with your email newsletter provider, like MailChimp or ConvertKit. Unfortunately there is usually a lot of tech required to get them to talk fluently to one another!

Hey, that’s where I come in and help.

Ultimately I help clients find the right tools to build in the kinds of activities and involvement they want in their courses. I absolutely adore setting up the sales page, shopping cart, email, and course systems to work beautifully together so that you can spend more time creating fabulous courses, and less time tearing your hair out with tech and admin crap.

You focus on the content and type of interaction—I’ll help you make it happen.

You don’t necessarily need sophisticated, highly automated software. Perhaps all you need is your email newsletter tool, like MailChimp or ConvertKit so that you can regularly notify your participants of new exercises and resources. And then you can host your content on Google Docs or DropBox.

You don’t necessarily need meticulously designed PDF worksheets and professional videos – or videos at all!

In fact, since I’m mentioning that particular subject, researchers from MIT, edX and the University of Rochester wanted to know is if there was a certain type of video that would help combat the issue that the vast majority of online learners are content to passively consume content, and will never take action. Are some sorts of videos are more likely to engage students to watch it all the way through, and then do some post-video activities?

One of the most interesting points they made, in my opinion, was that the data showed that the students watched the informal videos for 2-3X longer than the ones shot with higher production value in the video studio!

Breanne Dyck has a tremendous break-down of the results in yet another excellent article here. Here are a few quick points from the findings:

  1. Shorter is better
  2. Show your face
  3. Don’t worry about talking slowly
  4. Treat lectures and tutorials differently
  5. Skip the studio

Again, my point is that you don’t necessarily need all the whiz-bang tools to wow your clients because ultimately, you should be focused on the transformation of your participants, and how you facilitate those outcomes. As Breanne says,

“A lot of people think that curriculum is the materials (content, videos, transcripts, etc.) that you provide. But curriculum actually has two parts:

  • Exercises: anything that your participants actively do in the program
  • Resources: anything that participants consume, in order to do the exercises

Did you catch the nuance there? The only resources that you need to include are those that are necessarily to complete the exercises. This will dramatically reduce the amount of content you need to produce, while dramatically increasing your effectiveness.

By now it might be obvious that I have huge respect for Breanne Dyck

I have been devouring Breanne’s blog for a couple of years now, and recently participated in her Master Class program on behalf of a client. Although I was applying her ideas to a specific client’s course, her teachings have become deeply ingrained in me. I am the product of a course that practices what it preaches.

And when clients come to me wanting a fabulous new website especially so they can launch course-after-course because they are bursting to share their wealth of invaluable knowledge, I too get excited with them, but I can’t help but hit the pause button and check-in with them about whether a course is the right medium to deliver their expertise, and if it is, together let’s step back and focus on their ideal participants, the trans-formative outcomes, and how we can simplify the content they deliver so it’s actionable, rather than expensive, time consuming – and perhaps un-tested – passive video, audio, or text transcripts!

Of course you want to work with a designer who can bring your wildest web dreams to life. But you also need an advocate who can help you with your digital and sales strategy, so that your business is successful and not just beautiful.

So, have you decided that online course is the way to go, but you’re wondering how to make it work for your participants, and on your website? Let’s talk and see what beautiful thing we can create together!

Let’s Talk!
Do You Need Really to Break Up with MailChimp? By Katy Martin at Tall Poppies Design (Wordpress Developer, Designer, and Digital Strategist)

You’ve had a good run with MailChimp, but you’re starting to get frustrated. You’re tired of having too many lists. You’re paying double for people because they’re on more than one list. You want to do things you just can’t do with MailChimp. Maybe it’s time to dump the chimp for the new guy in town, ConvertKit.

Tempting isn’t it? But before you jump, let’s think about this…

Should you break up with MailChimp?

Probably not.

I hear all the raves about ConvertKit. I’ll admit ConvertKit is intriguing, and those rave reviews are legitimate. But to move your list is a daunting task. It’s not something you do on a whim in a moment of frustration.

Just think about all the places your email client is embedded into your site. There is a lot to do if you change email newsletter providers. True, that alone isn’t reason enough to stick with a particular provider. In fact, I often shift my clients from Constant Contact, aweber, or Mad Mimi to MailChimp.

Bottom-line: If you’re making a change, make sure you have a plan (and a budget) to make the swap successfully.

And before you make a switch, ask this:
Are you are using MailChimp properly and to its full extent?
Not sure? Don’t make the break yet.

Get MailChimp to Do What You Want It to Do

Before you jump ship, let’s take another look at MailChimp. I’ll tell you up-front that MailChimp is my preferred email newsletter manager. One of my mentors, Tara Gentile, once said on Facebook: “There should be a name for a MailChimp super fan: Chimpie, Chimper, FreddieFiend?” Yup, that’s me.

Why? I love how easily we can integrate this software into every nook and cranny of your website, from your opt-in forms to your shopping cart to your course software. I love that we can easily track who is subscribing—when, where and how—and in turn, segment your list so that you can manually (or auto-magically) send highly targeted campaigns.

If you are not using your current email client to it’s fullest extent, or if you are remotely dissatisfied, switching to ConvertKit or any of the others isn’t the necessarily the solution to your problems.

I recommend starting afresh with MailChimp, and get to know it better.

On the other hand, have an account with Constant Contact, Mad Mimi, or another provider? You can transfer them over. *wink*

Bogged down with multiple lists? Shift to Groups and Segments.

Use a form builder like Gravity Forms in your WordPress website to deliver unique opt-ins instantly and funnel subscribers to Groups. Yes, you can use groups and segments to avoid paying twice (or more) for subscribers. I also use the WooChimp plugin to sync WooCommerce and MailChimp so that all purchasers are funneled to specific Groups in MailChimp.

And whenever I investigate new technology, such as a new learning management software (LMS) like LearnDash, Kajabi, or Teachable, I ask whether purchases made with these tools can also be tracked precisely and ideally funneled to specific groups. Many of these platforms promise to work with MailChimp, but when you get into the nitty gritty part of the set-up, it turns out they do sync, but they require you to create a new list for every product or course. Suddenly you have multiple lists, and multiple duplicate users on those lists, and now you’re paying multiple times for each user… ugh. Do your research.

Let me provide a quick run-down of how you can marry Gravity Forms and MailChimp:

  1. Login to MailChimp and go to your main list, and then Manage Subscribers, Groups. Add a new group, make sure it’s hidden, and then call it something like “Marketing Tracking.” Add a sub-group to it, such as “Website Opt-in.”
  2. In your website, install Gravity Forms and the MailChimp Add-on (from the Gravity Forms add-on menu)
  3. Add a new form! It can have First Name, Last Name and Email fields; or just an email field. They can be all compulsory fields… or not. Your call!
  4. Then go to the MailChimp settings for that form, and link it to your main list, and click the box to send all subscribers to that Group you just set up in MailChimp!

Now you can create campaigns in MailChimp (perhaps even auto-responders) that target that Group specifically; or several Groups in the one list; or even several groups for a certain date range, or who opened a certain email. The specificity is pretty amazing once you start experimenting!

{ Of course that is a very quick run-down and there is more set-up involved when you first get started with Gravity Forms, and you can actually control a lot more than just the fields and how it works with MailChimp. You can control what message or page the user is directed to once they hit “Submit.” For example, you can create a new page in your website and add a link to your opt-in gift so subscribers can instantly download it, and skip the whole MailChimp double-opt-in process. And since we mentioned “Submit” you can easily update the text on the buttons… I could go on forever about just how much you can do with Gravity Forms!

I’ll absolutely be keeping my eye on ConvertKit and exploring what it can do, but for now, I’m sticking with MailChimp until I have an extensive list of things it can’t do well (and right now, I have only one gripe, but that’s another email to come soon!).

What’s driving you bonkers about MailChimp? Feel free to email me, or chat about it on Facebook!

Free Video Tutorials!

Need a little more direction? I have a series of 5 short videos to walk you through how to use Gravity Forms for all your lead capture forms, and how to sync them with MailChimp so that you start making your email marketing life easier! Just fill out the form to get instant access to the videos.

4 Critical Things to Know Before Your Photoshoot

One of the things you need before you dive deep into the design phase of a new website is phenomenal photographs. Honestly, great photos can make a site. We live in a visual, connected world, and if you have a personal brand, people want to see you. Great photographs of you capture your spirit and style—and they make your site sparkle.

If you’ve been using the same head-shot for the last ten years, or if you have only one picture of yourself that you love, or you cropped your partner’s head out of a shot, it’s nigh time you go pro and hire a photographer.

Here are 3 things to know to help you get the most out of your photo shoot.

Know the Feel You Want Your Website to Project

Knowing what feel you want for your site will help you get photos that fit you site.

I’m not asking you to envisage your site design. That’s the web designer’s role. But if you know that you want your site to be bold and bright, what you wear for your photoshoot will need to reflect this. If you want potential customers or clients to feel calm when they work with you, your location and outfit should reflect that. If you’re not 100% sure, choose outfits that have neutral colors without too much pattern.

While your web designer will help choose and refine your site’s color palette, knowing the color families you want to work with will help you make good choices for your website photos. A great place to start is to peruse Pinterest and create an inspiration board either for your website, or even your photoshoot. Save color palettes you love so when the big photoshoot day comes, you can pick outfits to match. Save photos that you love of other peopleso you can be inspired how to pose – or inspire your photographer to direct your poses.

Great photographers can often guide you in what to wear for your shoot so that you can look great and create the feel you want. Better yet, wear a number of different outfits, and choose a few different locations so you have some variety to match the moods of a variety of marketing materials.

Feel comes into play if you need product shots too. When people see your hand-crafted salves do you want them to think homey or healthy? Should the shots exude warmth or do you want an edgy coolness? And while we’re on product shots, it is ideal to have high quality product shots on a white background no matter what.

Get a Wide Variety of Shots

One problem I see a lot is too many tightly cropped shots. Don’t think about getting just a “head shot.” You may want some tight shots focused on your face but ask your photographer to take portrait and landscape versions, close-up and at a distance so that your web designer can do the cropping, rather than the photographer.

The most common photographer’s mistake I see is too many portrait shots, and not enough landscape (horizontal) photos taken from a distance. There is a prevalent trend in website design to have long, narrow images that span the width of the screen. The ratio of height to width is much different from the standard 2 x 3 ratio of most photos.

Imagine holding a 7″ by 5″ photo in your hands and compare that to the width and depth of header photos on your favorite sites. Chances are you’d have to cut your 5″ by 7″ photo in half to give it the same proportions. Again, that’s the designer’s job to cut up (a.k.a crop) your photos. Make sure your photographer knows you need these wide shots with lots of space around you so that we can crop them to match the style dimensions of your site.

What You Need to Do Before You Get a Website Designed
See how Emily rocked the wide shot for her home page. If we needed a square or vertical image, we could crop it this photo to work, but it’s a lot tougher to go in the other direction.

Now don’t assume that because you’re thinking of a wider view that you need full body photos. Take a look at this image from Dana da Ponte’s site:

danadaponte-about

In this playful wide shot, we are close on Dana’s eyes. It’s an unusual treatment, but an intriguing one and it works with the space.

We used a more traditional wide shot here. Dana came to me with beautiful photos that captured her essence beautifully, and were adaptable to a variety of color palettes and design styles, and it made a difference in her site:

work-with-dana-da-ponte
Heather’s photographer captured a lot of fun and fabulous action shots of Heather so we ultimately created a montage so as not to miss the opportunity to show-off Heather’s effervescent personality.

contact-heather-k-terry

Be Real

Do you hate having your picture taken? A lot of people do. I do! Stiff shots showing that discomfort do you no favors. When choosing a photographer, look for one you feel comfortable with and one who “gets” what you are doing.

A good photographer will help you relax into you, the one you want to shine in your photos.

Understand Costs and Rights

A written agreement with a photographer as a must to help you anticipate costs, know what you can expect, and make sure you have the rights to use the photographs as you want to. Costs to consider are fees for the shoot, how many images you can expect from it, how much editing or retouching will be included, location fees . . .

Additional fees may include clothes, hair, and make up. Not everybody gets elaborate, but if you are having pictures done professionally, make the most of it. Hey, you can finally claim that hair appointment and mani + pedi as a tax deduction!

Rights are particularly important to define. You should have written permission to use the photographs in print and online. Photographers legally own copyright to their photos, so you need explicit permission to use them, which should be arranged as part of your initial agreement. Be sure to find out ahead of time whether you need to credit the photos each time you use them. Ideally, you don’t want to be in that situation.

Is it Absolutely Necessary to Arrange a Photoshoot?

The short answer is no. And it depends. On you, your brand, and what you are selling.

Your designer does not need to rely solely on photos provided by you – but in my opinion, original photos of you set the foundation for the absolute best websites.

That said, it is very possible to source delightful, evocative images from stock photo sites. (It makes my job of expressing your essence visually just that little bit more challenging!). Just look at Emily and Dana’s sites (links above) to see a variety of other photos that accompany their head-shots.

My favorite two sites to find photos are Stocksy and Creative Market. I recommend my new clients search these sites to find photos and create galleries or collections of images they love. I draw upon this for inspiration, and will ultimately burrow deep in the sites to find exemplary photos for my clients. We don’t purchase any photos until the designs are set in stone and we know that the chosen images will work well with the website’s dimensions.

Beautiful pictures and a beautiful website go hand in hand. If you’ve got your pictures and are ready to get your site designed, perhaps we’d be a match made in heaven. Let’s find out!