Top Ten Favourite Photography Resources

So for today’s #BLOGtober post I thought I’d try to be a bit more helpful and share some of the online photography resources I have come to rely on.  In no particular order, these are my top ten favourite resources:

1- Adobe Creative Cloud Adobe-Creative-Cloud

This one is pretty obvious and I’m not even close to using it to it’s full potential but without the wizardry of AdobeCC I’d struggle to process my RAW files as quickly as I do and they would take ages to be ready for my customers. There are other free editing software packages out there but I’ve not found anything that comes close to what you can do on Photoshop or Lightroom. I use Photoshop mostly and while I do minimal editing compared to what’s possible on this software, I also use it to design leaflets, fliers and social media posts.

What’s more, Adobe have some brilliant videos and tutorials to help you learn new techniques and get the best out of your subscription. I love it!

squijoo2 – Squijoo

Next up, it’s Squijoo.com. Yep, a crazy name but one you remember. I came across it via Facebook and I got a little addicted. Partly because I learned a lot very quickly using their templates and designs to smarten up my marketing.

They have just about everything you can think of – backdrops, overlays, business card designs, advertising boards and even logo designs. You can subscribe for less than £10 a month to download your templates. Follow them on Facebook to see their latest updates and things they have to offer. Plus they regularly ask for feedback and ideas so you have the chance to request designs.

creative live3 – Creative Live

Online photography tutorials and classes. Perfect for the travelling photographer who struggles to commit to be in the same place for an extended period of time.  The classes are well priced and if you’re lucky, the stream a lot of them for free at the time of the class. It is based in America so you need to be prepared for some late nights or early mornings if you want to catch these classes.

I’ve subscribed to a few of them and enjoyed them all. My wishlist for their courses continues to grow.

4 – Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers SWPP

This has been really helpful for me. As a UK photography business I was looking for advice and help to make sure my business was functioning properly and adhering to regulations. By being an SWPP member I uphold their code of conduct and rules.

I also benefit from their conferences, monthly competitions (of which I’ve won 3rd place in once already!) and I’m soon to tap in to their Mentoring Programme to keep pushing myself and my work.

5 – 500px 500px

I actually use 500px for my wildlife work more than my portrait work. This is mostly because the images on 500px can lead to sales and I don’t sell my portrait work to anyone other than the people in the photo (and with permission, their families).

The site itself is really useful for both inspiration and getting feedback on your work. There are regular competitions and photo “quests” to challenge you and I could spend hours looking through the incredible talent from around the world. Some of the images are mind-blowing.

6 – Phlearn – Free Tutorials phlearn

I love Phlearn! I’ve only used their free video tutorials for Photoshop but I’ve probably learned more through them than the photography class I took a few years ago. Simple and effective videos which are really well presented. I can’t wait to dig a little deeper and see what else they have to offer.  I know you can subscribe for more support but at the moment, I’m getting tonnes of help just from the basics since I don’t do a lot of image manipulation anyway.

mail chimp7 – Mail Chimp

E-marketing. It’s a MUST for businesses and something that I’ve yet to master. I started off quite well but it fell by the wayside and is something I will be resurrecting soon.

Mail Chimp makes emailing your customers so much easier! There’s a little bit of a learning curve at first but it’s by no means a steep one. Definitely worth having a look at the free plan to make your emails that bit more polished.

Pinterest-logo8 – Pinterest

If you’ve never used Pinterest, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? It’s an amazing resource for finding blogs, tutorials and inspiration.  I have different boards to help spark my creativity and share ideas with fellow entrepreneurs. A word of warning though – you can very easily get sucked in and before you know it, you’ve pinned thousands of ideas which you’ll never come back to. I used to spend hours on it when insomnia hit but now I’m better at regulating my time and I only go on it when I’m looking for something specific.

9 – Moo.com moo

Ok, I know I said I was sharing my favourite online resources but as far as marketing goes, I’ve loved Moo.com. The quality of the business cards and fliers is brilliant. I’ve also used them for products like gift vouchers and postcards. The reason? A little something they call Printfinity. The ability to print lots of different images in one order. This has been so helpful for starting out so I can sample projects and ideas instead of spending lots on hundreds of prints.

10 – 365project

And finally, the 365project.org. It’s really good for expanding your technical ability and a photo-a-day project will challenge most photographers to stay creative and keep moving. The community on 365project are generally great though be prepared, if you ask for honest feedback, you’ll get it!  There are challenges to take part in as you see fit and of course, there are the “Popular” and “Trending” pages which are always nice to be on. Definitely worth a look for both amateurs and professionals.

365

So there you have them! My favourite resources at the moment. I imagine this will change in the future but so far, these have been the most useful for me. Have I missed anything obvious? Can you recommend anything else? I’d love to know what you think! x

Lost Along the Way…

Back in December, I wrote a blog about the 12 Things I’ve Learned in 500 Days of Mei Photography.

Today, now at 818 Days of Mei Photography, I went back and read it again.

I’m really glad I did.

I wrote the blog as a way to help people in a similar stage of their businesses realise that they are not alone. All the worries, panics, fears and insecurities are normal and part of the journey.  Somewhere along the way, I forgot about it.

“It” being both my blog post and the information within it. I really need to learn to take my own advice.

In the last few months, this roller-coaster ride that is setting up and running your own business has felt a bit shaky. This is thanks to a variety of reasons but at lot of it is linked to the very first point -> lots of ideas + not enough time = lack of focus and a bit of a burnout.

Burnout is pretty severe sounding. It’s not as bad as all that but I am getting bogged down in worrying about all the things I’m trying to do and not really feeling good enough to do it all. And to be honest, I can’t do it all. At least not at the same time. Somewhere along the way I forgot that again and I’ve had to take a step back to refocus.

I’ve never been one to be short of ideas. And I’m the first to admit that not all my ideas are good ideas. So I have to learn to take time to think about what is useful and worthwhile before diving straight in.

Teal green writing on a white background which reads "A goal without a plan is just a wish" with the Mei Photography Logo

And that requires planning.

I love planning. The act of it that is. The charts, timelines, budgeting etc. I am one of those people who actually enjoy it. At least to a certain extent. But for some reason, when the excitement of a new idea or project takes hold, the planning stage goes out the window and I dive in at the details end. And then a few weeks/months/a.n.other amount of time later, I’m left with a lot of half finished projects which I didn’t have a clear end point and feeling like I’m treading water instead of achieving anything.

And no wonder. With no clear end point, how can I know if anything is finished? What am I trying to achieve with all these ideas? A greater good like #RealGirlsRealBeauty where the aim is to help people? To meet more people who might be future customers and make my business sustainable? To increase awareness of the work I’m doing? Or to improve my craft and upskill? Lots of ideas are great but if they quickly become useless without any point.

So here’s the thing, by the end of BLOGtober, the goal is to update and refresh my Business Plan and have clear outlines and priorities for these many ideas floating about in this creative but sometimes impulsive mind of mine!

Wish me luck… I’ll need it! x

 

 

 

 

Welcome to BLOGtober!

Blogging.

It’s hard.

It shouldn’t be. I have lots of ideas and stories to share with you. But I almost never do it. Mostly because of timing issues which really boils down to bad planning as far as blogs go. I tend to put them off and “plan” to come back to them.

So I’ve set myself a challenge and I’m going to post a-blog-a-day for the month of October.

BLOGtober, if you will.

(Stick with me, it gets better!)

I actually have three blogs, which only adds to the confusion. But I will post links to them all here at the very least as they are all relevant to my work and being a female entrepreneur who is trying to figure out what on Earth she is doing.

You can check them out here:

https://wildlifebyjo.wordpress.com/
http://www.jofoowildlifephotography.com/about/blog/
and of course, where you are now: https://www.meiphotography.co.uk/about/blog/

And, I do have a plan… or at least a start of one… and while this is a totally lame start, I’ve made it legit by adding a photo…

A black & white photo of my list of blog ideas for the month

Blog-tober plan

Honestly. it WILL get better…

12 things I’ve learned in 500 days of Mei Photography

500

FIVE

HUNDRED

The number of days since I started my own business.

That’s actually a lie.

It has now been 523 days since I started my own business.

I’d fully intended on posting this more than three weeks ago but, as I’m about to write about, things don’t always go to plan. However this next part is true – I can’t quite believe I’ve been self-employed for over 500 days. I’ve learned so much from my successes and my many, many failures! So as a little bit of revision for me and hopefully some helpful tips and advice or even just a chance for any small business owners to see that they aren’t alone, here are a few things I’ve learned…

1. So many ideas, so little time…

more focus WR

I started this business the way I start pretty much everything. Headfirst with a million ideas all jumbled about in a heady mix of excitement and nerves. I’m a planner, an organiser and I’m ambitious. My original idea was to combine my 3 loves: photography, dog training and conservation science communication. My Business Gateway Advisor’s head was spinning when I first rushed in with all my ideas. And my “elevator pitch”? At best garbled and had to be delivered on a trip up the Empire State Building to get through it all. The truth was, I knew what I wanted to do but I had no idea how to do it all.

Since then, I’ve become a bit more realistic. I couldn’t do everything all at once. No matter how much I tried or wanted to – it just wasn’t a feasible business strategy. To survive as a small business owner you have to be focused and work out how to make your idea make you money. It seems a bit basic but the reality is, if your business doesn’t make money, it won’t survive. Successful, sustainable businesses need money.

So I focused on photography in this first year with a little bit of conservation thrown in.  This made most sense for me. I love taking photos and capturing moments for people. I also love the art of it.  The creativity and ideas behind it. I’ve temporarily shelved a couple of my other ideas until life becomes a bit more stable – then I’ll throw another ball into the juggling mix.

2. Value what you dowhat you're worth WR

This has been a tough lesson. Especially when just starting out and working in a creative business. Creative work is personal. We do it because we believe it improves other people’s lives even in just the smallest way.  We do it because we want to make a difference.

Figuring out how much to charge has as much to do with confidence as it does maths.  You need to cover your costs, have good enough profit margins to be able to reinvest in the business but still be competitive and also be able to take a wage so you can, you know, live. Simple? Yes? Not quite.

It takes a lot to put yourself out there and this becomes more apparent when the product you’re selling is a creative one, it’s like an extension of yourself and the way you feel about yourself is reflected in your prices. Getting the price you deserve for your work starts with you. Know your worth and value your work, or no-one else will.