The Social Business


Social Media.

Most of you will agree it’s both a blessing and a curse, and I think from my friends list, I’d find more people who leaned towards curse. Maybe that’s our age more than anything. We’re just not prepared for the information overload that comes with being social online. There’s the pressure to read everything, share everything, comment and like/love/laugh/cry/frown/grimace angrily at everything. I know I spend a crazy amount of my time attached to a laptop, tablet or phone which allows me to check what’s happening in all corners of the world. It’s exhausting.

facebook faces

Many of my friends regularly take month-long breaks from social media and re-calibrate their lives and reactivity accordingly. Some have come off it altogether. At times I am a little jealous of them. It’s something that regularly crosses my mind as I find my reactivity peaking and my ability to process information waning.

However, my business and livelihood rely heavily on social media. More than 85% of my bookings and sales come through social media leads. Gradually more and more people are finding me via my website but the social aspect of business is incredibly important for success.

It’s not enough just to exist on social media, to truly make the best of it, I have to be engaging and interactive. Present most of the time. For the most part, I enjoy it but when my personal Facebook feed is full of politics, arguments and negativity, there are definitely times I wish I could switch off.

Facebook and Instagram (the two main social media outlets I use) don’t make things easy for us small business owners. Their set up means that sometimes my reach is only just into double figures. Which basically means that despite having over 670 followers, sometimes Facebook only shows ~3% of them my posts. It’s extremely frustrating and at times, disheartening.

One “helpful” way Facebook offer to solve this problem is to pay them to show your post to more people. It’s not a lot of money per post but it quickly adds up and businesses with my size of marketing budget see their money drain away really quickly. Facebook is a business itself and needs money to survive but this system has the biggest impact on small businesses.

All is not lost though. Another way around this issue is having followers like, comment on or share posts. This seemingly insignificant act instantly increases our reach and is a massive help. I’m so grateful for the people who regularly like and share my posts and leave their thoughts. Their feedback and response itself is valuable and helps me gauge how well I’m doing but it also means that their friends and family see my work too. This increases my chance of reaching new customers on Facebook and expanding my business. I know, that tiny split second when you click on one of my posts means so much more than you may have realised!

please help lrg

So how does a small business owner keep from losing the plot in today’s hectic online world? I’ve had some success with the following:

1.Scheduling my posts.

I can plan a month or more at a time and make sure I am posting everyday on Facebook to keep up regular interaction with my followers. It means I spend a couple of days planning my message for the month and actively scheduling the posts. This leaves me free to do my daily work without feeling the need to have my Facebook tab open. It’s too tempting to be reactive when it’s sitting right in front of you. Instead I try to plan in time during each day to check in and respond as necessary.

facebook schedule

2. Ignoring this guy…

facebook response

Yes that’s right, on any given Facebook page there’s a little sign that tells you how good the owner is at responding. We get rated by Facebook and given a “badge” if we fall within in the parameters that they deem worthy of honour. When it first arrived I felt really stressed out and kept trying to respond quickly to everything.  As it turns out, that’s just not practical and sometimes I have to live without the badge.

facebook response JFWP

And I quickly learned to live without it. My job means I can’t be at a computer all the time and that’s one of the reasons I decided to start this business. The freedom to get outside and be away from a computer screen. I shouldn’t let the powers that be at Facebook convince me to trade that for a little green marker.

3.  Set up your business hours.facebook hours

And more importantly, try to stick to them. I fail more often than I succeed at this. But I’ll keep trying. The important part is to communicate it clearly with my customers. I have a Facebook “Away message” which should be enough but I still find myself replying after the auto response has been issued. Social media makes us think we need to be reactive all the time and while some people expect an instant response, the majority of people understand that we can’t be online all the time.

There are many other marketing strategies for small businesses. Social Media is by no means the only option, but for my line of work, it’s important to be active online. However, for my sanity and ability to sleep at night, there’s a balance to be struck somewhere. I’m not quite there yet but I know I’ll figure it out.

Farewell 2014! Hello 2015! x

There are moments which mark your life. Moments when you realize nothing will ever be the same and time is divided into two parts – before this, and after this. – Fallen

This past year has been a big one for me.  I’ve been given the amazing opportunity to start up my own business doing what I love, taking photographs.  It’s been a dream of mine to own a small business and I’m so excited to be chasing after my dream.  So far it’s been challenging, exciting and demanding as I learn the ropes and just begin to understand all that’s involved.

The support has been amazing.  I’m blessed with a extraordinarily talented and generous group of family and friends who help make everything just that bit easier.  So it seems fitting that I end 2014 with a Thank You to everyone for their love and support.  I’ll try to remember everything but if I forget something let me know!

Thank you to…

  • My parents!  For always encouraging me and supporting my decision to leave my job and go out on this adventure and for helping me find the funds to add to my ever-growing photography kit.  Plus, they also have a growing collection of my work in their home.  I’m sure they’ll show it to you if you fancy a visit!
  • My talented friend Stephen who spent many, many hours working with me to design my logo.  I love it and get compliments on it all the time.  Thank you for your patience.
  • Jenny & Robert at Glasgow Science Centre who made it possible for me to have my first ever exhibition and kept it on display for a whole year.
  • Johanna, who has been a fan and supporter of my work for a couple of years now and even traveled to see my exhibition (it was lovely to finally meet you a couple of weeks ago!).
  • Louisa, who bought my first official print and made me believe that this might actually be something I can do.
  • Kim, who not only encouraged me to go for it after finding success and happiness in her own small business (Kimmycakesuk – check her out!) but also got me my first official portrait session booking with the lovely Peer Family.

Collage of images from family photo shoot

  • Katy, who has been working on her own business venture and cheering me on with mine, every step of the way.
  • Ian, Sharon, Katy, Morna & Yaz who booked me to return to GSC and capture photos of the events there.  I had a great time and was happy to be involved.  Exciting and engaging people with science will always be an important part of my life.
Scottish Water Event
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  • Everyone who has worked with me and given me honest feedback to help me figure out what works and what doesn’t.
  • Laura, who put in hours of work to build this website and also spent weeks teaching me how to edit it and structure it myself.  Your never-ending patience has been amazing while I struggle through all the jargon!
  • Craig, Sophie, Jo, Joanna, Johanna, Claire, Lynn, John and my parents for looking over my website and checking it made sense.
  • Fiona, Jennifer, Ian and Steven who have agreed to be part of a mini advisory board and offer their expertise and guidance in the future.
  • Claire and Mairi who bought various prints of my Squirrel photos – some of my favourite shots from the year and made me even more determined to move in to wildlife photography.

There is no gallery selected or the gallery was deleted.

  • Siobhan, for taking the time to look over my contracts and terms & conditions and made all the legal talk something I could actually follow!
  • Everyone who has liked my page, retweeted my images, commented on Facebook, 365project or 500px – it may seem a very small thing on your side but trust me, it means a lot to me.  Every little like and comment lifts my spirit and keeps me ploughing through the less glamorous side of being a small business owner (special nod to Jo B, Johanna and Sophie as they’ve been especially supportive in the world of social media!).
  • And last, but far from least, Ewan. My other half. My better half. He has been everything from a problem solver to a food provider; a shoulder massager to a copy editor; a tech adviser to my much needed comedy relief; my number one fan and the all important shoulder to cry on when I’ve been completely overwhelmed by the process.  I would not be here without you.

Thanks so much to you all.  You’ve all played a part in making a dream come true.  I cannot wait for the excitement and adventure in 2015 and I’m looking forward to my first run of bookings with my niece’s birthday party, the Mpiana family and a trip to see the Red Kites again.

Best wishes for you and yours in 2015! xx