Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

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Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

I will be the first to tell you that I couldn't survive in business without tools like Facebook and Instagram. They drive so much of my business activity and I love them for it. But, they also have the ability to completely ruin my day, if I let them.  Imagine this.  Your day is going well, or even just ok.  You are ticking off the jobs and feeling pretty good about where you are at.  Whilst making your morning coffee, you open up Instagram to have a look at what everyone else in the world of creative entrepreneurship is up to and wham!  Your day is ruined as you find yourself questioning everything.  You think that you might as well just give up now because everyone else is doing it better than you, looks better doing it than you and seems to have a lot more fun and achieve more success doing it than you.  Welcome to the world of self-comparison.

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Now I could write a post about how its possible life doesn't look as good for those people you are comparing yourself to as they want you to think and that they may be comparing themselves to others too; but what is the point of that? There isn't any, because anything that has you paying too much attention to what others are doing, is not going to help you one bit in your own business, or personal life. Self comparison takes your attention away from you and if you are going to succeed, you to need to be focused on what matters to you.  By comparing yourself negatively to others, you simply undermine your ability to get on with the business of being successful at being you.

Now even if that sounds logical, you and I know that knowing something isn't good for us, won't alone stop us from doing it. If you suffer from negative self comparison, here are some I use to remind me to embrace my self worth.

Choose How You Feel

This is a big concept to get your head around and I don't say it works for everyone and every situation, but if you can master it, it is the most simple way to feel good about a lot of things in your life, including your business.  All you need to do is give choosing how you feel a try.  Everyone of the people you look up to, could find someone doing it better, or being more successful at it than them.  Every one of them!  But people who are successful don't tend to do that, they are too busy being themselves to worry about what someone else is up to.  Choose to focus on you and choose to feel good about that. Even when you make a mistake, you can choose to look at it in a positive way, because the experience teaches you something.  It's all about perspective.

Remember You Are Unique

There is no one like you. There is no one who has had your experiences. There is no one who has your unique combination of gifts or faults, successes or failures.  There is no one who has had the same influences around them as you.  How can you compare yourself to someone who is not you?  You are unique, which means how you work towards your goals and what you achieve and when, is unique to you.

Know That You Have Limitations

And so does the person you are comparing yourself to.  When you compare yourself negatively to others, you are focusing too much on your weaknesses and not enough on your strengths. Everyone of us has limitations and weaknesses. Know them, embrace them and even work on them, but don't forget to also, play to your strengths.  If you are paying too much attention to what someone else is doing with their strengths, you fail to take advantage of your own.

Limit Social Media

If social media has ceased to bring you joy, or is having an effect on how you feel about yourself and your achievements, it is time to limit it.  Yes, if you are in business today, you will probably have to be on social media.  But, if it is stopping you from being able to focus on your own business, it is time to limit it.  A good way to do this initially could be to use a scheduling tool for social media like Edgar or Buffer. You will still need to be a 'good neighbour' on social media and like and comment on the posts of others, but having a scheduler will help you to be there less, which may be just what you need right now.

Do you have some ideas for things you can do to stop the negative comparison with others?  If so share them and your own experiences here with us in the comments.

 

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Creating Custom Brand Images For Your Website

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Creating Custom Brand Images For Your Website

We know so many of you are at the point of launching your own creative businesses and that one of the hardest parts of this can be finding the right images for your website.  This is made all the harder when you know that everything on the site has to do the job of telling your brand story.  The question is how do you achieve this, when you are just starting out and don't have a library full of images of your own?

In this video tutorial we are going to show you how you can create custom brand images for your website using styled stock images from our library.  Being able to do this will save you time and money because you don't have to outsource the job to someone else but more importantly being able to create your own custom brand images means you can be certain that everything you are putting out there, tells the story you want it to.

If you are not a member of the Styled Images Library as yet, you can find out more and sign up here.  

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Greenery & Foliage Images Now Available In The Library

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Greenery & Foliage Images Now Available In The Library

It is always a great day when we can announce the arrival of a new collection in the Styled Images library and I am very happy to say, today is one of those days. If you are a Styled Images Library Member, login to start using images from our new collection; Greenery & Foliage.  And make sure you tag us on Instagram when you use one of our images, so we can give you lots of social media love right back; @styled_images.  If you are not a member, it's time to sign up, so you can start accessing our collections.

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Foliage, tropical prints and the colour green are hot hot hot right now and we have been inspired by the trend when designing this new collection.  Included within it are images focused entirely on foliage, desk flat-lays and we have some summer inspired images in there too.  The images can be used to enhance your website, blog posts and social media accounts. But if you are planning a download/price guide or ebook for your customers, you are going to love these on-trend images as well.

Here is a little sneak peak at some of the images you will find in this new collection.  To receive a free image from the collection, sign up to receive our newsletter.

Using Stock Images

Here are some handy articles about how to use our images for your own branding.

How to use our images

Adding graphics and text to our images

 

 

 

 

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Choosing Fonts For Your Brand

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Choosing Fonts For Your Brand

Just like images and colours, different fonts evoke different emotions, which means they play a role in bringing a voice and personality to your brand. The right font can help to drive home your brand message, the wrong font, or combination of fonts, can work against it.

If you are just starting to think about your brand, or if you feel that you may need to re-brand, we have some tips to help you make the right font choices.

The first step is to consider what characteristics you want your brand to convey?  For example;

·         Fun

·         Serious

·         Edgy & Arty

·         Trustworthy?

To answer this question you need to have an understanding of who your target market/ideal customer is and what type of emotions you want them to experience when they interact with your brand.  Knowing this will help you to narrow your font choice down.

Font Categories

Fonts fall into categories or families and those categories are generally accepted as reflecting a type of personality, or style.  There are many categories when it comes to fonts but there are 4 main ones that are helpful for you to know more about

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  • Serif: Serif fonts have lines attached the ends of their letters (sometimes called feet). This family of fonts is generally thought to look more serious or traditional.  Examples: Times New Roman, Centaur, Baskerville and Garamond
     
  • Sans-Serif (without serif):  These fonts don’t have the extra lines (feet) on the ends of letters, which gives them a more modern and streamlined appearance.  Examples:  Helvetica, Avant Garde, Arial, and Geneva.
     
  • Script: Scripts are what we might think of as cursive or handwriting style fonts. They generally have connecting letters. Script fonts come in many different styles, from elegant, to fun and casual, to hand-drawn.  Examples:  Brush Script. French Script, Lucinda Calligraphy and Coronet. 
     
  • Decorative / Display: These fonts are all designed to get your attention.  They’re often more unusual than practical and should be used sparingly and for specific purposes. Examples:  Burford, Utopia, Carousel and Stencil.

Thinking about your brand and your ideal customer, do some research to find more fonts which fall into each category. You can also check out some of our favourites on Pinterest.

Putting Fonts To Work

Once you have an understanding of the fonts available to you, you need to consider what jobs you need your fonts to do? Where will they be displayed and what will you be using them for? For example;

·         Logo & Tagline

·         Headers

·         Body Text

·         Accents

Guidelines for choosing the right fonts for your brand

Whilst there are no hard and fast rules for choosing the right fonts for your brand, there are some guidelines you will find helpful to follow;

1.    Make your logo font distinct from the fonts you use for other purposes.  This will allow your logo to stand out from the information on your website and in your marketing materials.

2.    Create contrast when pairing fonts by mixing up font categories, weights and sizes.

3.    Give each font a job and be consistent in how you use them

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As I said earlier, there are no hard and fast rules that you have to follow when selecting and combining fonts but it is generally accepted that serif and sans serif fonts work well together.  Try a serif header with a sans serif body or vice versa.

Script and Decorative or Display fonts don’t work as well together because of their bold look. Instead, try contrasting a Script/Display or Decorative font with a Serif or Sans Serif font.

Resources

There are some great resources available to help you narrow down your fonts choices. We can’t recommend Pinterest enough for finding inspiration for everything, including Fonts. Our Typography board is a great place to start.  There are also a number of sites you can head to buy fonts and download fonts.  We like FontSquirrel and MyFonts, as both give you the option to try out your font choices.

If you need help designing your brand and choosing the right fonts, contact us to find out more about our Custom Brand Styling.

 

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Our new Online Store is Live!!

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Our new Online Store is Live!!

After lots of requests for a smaller selection of images, we are now offering individual stock images for sale. To celebrate the launch of the new store you can also get 20% off all images by using code '20%off' at checkout. 

This is perfect if you are only needing a handful of images to full up your website or social media accounts. You may even need the images for a brochure or printed material to help promote your business. You can read more about how to utilise our images in our FAQ's

We will be swapping out these images on a regular basis so if you see something you love don't forgot to snap it up. Once the images leave our store they will only be available in future for our members. 

We hope you all love the new selection of images available as much as we do! 

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Design Tools You Need

If you have an online presence, you need striking visuals to go with your content.  Images, like the ones you will find in the Styled Images library form part of the process of creating designer looking images, but there are a range of tools available to you so you can enhance your presence online like a pro.  

Edit Styled Stock Images with these handy tools

1.  Venngage - Infographics are an ideal way to communicate a lot with a little and in a very visual way.  Venngage gives you the ability to easily create your own Infographics.  There are hundreds of templates to choose from and using this software is as easy as dropping and dragging.  Best of all, you can get started for free.

2.  Font Candy - One of the best ways to make our Styled Images your own is to put your words on top of them.  Font Candy offers you more than 45 fonts and the ability to create captions and overlay them onto your own images.

3.  Assembly - Create icons, logos and scenes with Assembly. There are over 180 basic forms for you to play with an 'assemble' any way you choose.  You have to check this one out to fully understand how versatile it can be!

4.  Pantone Studio - A digital swatch book housing over 10,000 hues.  Colour match with your pictures, create colour palettes and share away.

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How to structure a blog post

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How to structure a blog post

Over the last several weeks we have been talking about Blogging here on the Styled Images Blog.  If you missed the previous articles you might like to read Getting Started With Blogging followed by Planning Your Blog Content. Today we are tackling another important Blog topic; how to structure a blog post. 

The first piece of advice I have for you when it comes to how to structure a blog post, is to read blog posts.  When I studied Creative Writing at University this was drummed into us by almost every Lecturer; writer’s read.  So, my advice to you as a Blogger, or future Blogger is; Blogger’s read.  Reading the posts of others and paying attention to the structure, sentence length and calls to action in the blog post, is a great way to learn more about the types of posts that appeal and the ones that have you skimming one or two lines in.

I also want to caution you against letting go of what makes you unique to your audience.  You do want your personality and expertise to flow through your posts; this is your ‘voice’. That personality is what engages Blog readers most.  Structure is just the framework within which you allow your voice to be communicated. Now let's take a closer look at the structure of a Blog post.

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5 Easy Steps To Better Blog Posts

The Headline

Your headline is the first thing readers see and its job is to encourage them to read on; which makes getting it right, very important.  I generally start with a working title and then keep editing it until I have a headline that I know is going to catch attention.   Think intriguing, punchy and compelling!

The Lead

This section will be 1-2 concise paragraphs which layout the who, what, where, when, why & how of your topic; the theme or argument of your post This section should contain your most important information and works well with a hook, quote or question.  For examples on how to write a good lead, read the first paragraph of newspaper and magazine articles.

Your writing is the instruction manual for assembling ideas in your reader’s mind.
— Glen Long

The Body

This section will be your meatiest section of the post.  Depending on the length of your post, it may be 2-4 paragraphs long and it is where you expand on your topic. Here you will lay out your argument and information which supports your headline and lead.  This section may include quotes, statistics, videos and even images. 

Images are a great inclusion in a blog post as they are eye-catching and help to make your post look more appealing and compelling to readers.  If you don’t have your own images to add to a blog post you can subscribe to a Library like Styled Images.

The Tail

This section is your conclusion and may include a summary of your personal thoughts on the topics and links to additional reading on the topic. This is a great place to add links to other blog posts from your own site that relate to the topic.

Calls to action

Almost everyone who blogs wants their reader to take another action from reading the post.  It might be for the reader to move on to read another blog post, as a way for you to encourage the reader to consider you an expert on your topic.  You may want your reader to sign up for your newsletter, so you can email them directly about special offers and keep them engaged with what you do.  Maybe you want them to head to your website to purchase a product or service. 

Whatever your goal when it comes to blogging, sprinkle your call to actions throughout the post, rather than leaving them to the end.  Head up to Introduction Body sections of this post to see the ways I have used calls to action in this post.

If you have suggestions on how to structure blog posts we would lover you to share your ideas with us in the comments.

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Tips for Managing Your Workload

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Tips for Managing Your Workload

Do you need some tips to help you organise your day better?  Here are some of the things I recommend your try.

Use a wall/desk calendar

I”m not at all the best with remembering dates. I’m the friend who forgets birthdays and special occasions constantly! Thank god for Facebook reminders.  I find having a giant wall calendar right next to my computer desk works best for me. If I get an email or phone call I can quickly refer to my wall calendar to check my availability. I pencil out every day on the calendar that I know I have something booked or need to leave a day free for work. Its also really helps me plan out my year, work out how many more clients I can take on and when I can take time of for holidays.

Invest in a great diary with a weekly and monthly view

I can’t go past my Kikki K diary. It is really amazing! Not only does it have a monthly and weekly view it also has tabs that can be personalised for anything. I have broken my calendar down into 7 parts – monthly calendar view, weekly calendar view, To Buy Lists, Work Meeting Notes, Planning, To Action lists and Project ideas to work on. The great thing about the Kikki K diary is that you can personalise them as much as you want. I also purchased the stickers so I can colour code my meetings. 

Use a project management system like – Basecamp

In recent months I have been finding it harder and harder to remember specific agenda items I need to go through with my clients. Although I keep email records and files for each client it is easy to overlook something important. I have recently started using an online project management system called Basecamp. Basecamp is great as it is really affordable and super easy to use. You can also set staff up with user names and add them to your projects. I use this program to keep an ongoing to do list for every client I’m currently working with. 

All clients get assigned an individual folder for all files/photos/contracts etc.

Who ever said paper free offices were a good thing in my opinion were wrong. I love to have inspirations boards and proposals printed out in colour in client files to go through with them at our meetings. There is really something nice about having a beautiful printed proposal in your hand. The downside is I spend a small fortune on ink cartridges! I find it so much easier to hand write notes and draw quick pictures than trying to make notes on my iPad through out my meetings. Sometimes I do however have to rely on my iPad for certain things. I also think its important to keep invoices and the original signed version of contracts in paper form.  For tax purposes in Australia it is of course required that you keep all invoices/receipts for a 5 year period.

Sync all calendars together

I switched to using a Mac desktop computer about 5 years ago now and although it took me a little while to learn everything I definitely couldn’t go back to my old PC. I love that I can work on my calendar and then take my iPad and iPhone with me and everything is synced. I already need to remember to update my wall and diary calenders with meetings I wouldn’t want to be updating my iPhone, iPad and Laptop every day too!

Keep a daily to do list

I have always kept a daily to do list and don’t think I could live my life without it. I  use it for both work and personal releated things I need to action. It’s great at the end of each day being able to go through a to do list and tick of everything thats been completed. It actually makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something.

 Organise your inbox 

I’m currently using Gmail, Mail and Outlook on my Mac computer to manage all my emails. I have broken my inbox down into a folder for everything so that once my emails have been actioned, I can file them under a relevant folder. I break down my folders with headings and subheadings. I also have a folder for each current client so I can easily keep track of all my client correspondence. Normally when I’m out of the office, I check my emails as soon as I receive them on my iPhone. Anything important gets actioned immediately and everything else gets flagged for me to action when I’m back in the office. Although I spend time working on my emails nearly every day and every weekend, I do try to keep everything in drafts to only send during work hours. I think if you start sending emails at 7pm on a Sunday night, clients will automatically assume that this is an ok time to be contacting you. I do my best to schedule time in my diary which I’ll dedicate to tackling my emails. 

I hope these above tips are helpful in managing your day to day workload. Wishing you all a wonderful week! 

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Sitting Pretty

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Sitting Pretty

New styled images for you to enjoy

Today I am excited to introduce you to some more images from the Styled Images Library. Remember, if you subscribe to Styled Images you have access to a library full of beautifully styled images, that you can use in your own blog and social media posts. 

The images I am sharing today are all inspired by beautiful work environments and are perfect for Wedding & Event Planners, Bloggers and creative entrepreneurs looking to inspire others when it comes to 'work'.

We will be releasing new images to the Library early next month and are currently planning our next Styled Shoot, where we will produce even more Styled Images for creative entrepreneurs like you.

Do you have some suggestions for images we should be adding to our library? We would love to hear from you.  Simply email us to share your suggestions, or find out more about how you can start using our images to make your business beautiful too.

 

 

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Planning Your Blog Content

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Planning Your Blog Content

Are you a Blogger, or someone with a business who is about to start 'blogging'? Great!  You are in the right place, because over the coming weeks we are sharing tips and inspiration based on our own experience of blogging, over many years. Getting Started with Blogging was the first post in the series. If you are new to blogging and haven't read that one as yet, take some time to do so and then return to this post.

Today we are diving into the 'nitty-gritty' of blogging; by helping you to plan for what you are going to write about.  When I first started blogging and for many years after, I essentially sat down in front of my computer, put my hands on the keyboard and started writing.  Sometimes this really worked for me and I wrote some ok content, but as I got busier and the Internet became crowded with content that appeals to the same target market I want to appeal to, I discovered that this approach leaves a lot to be desired in terms of creating quality blog posts that engage your audience.  It is also a stressful way to approach the job of blogging, because there will be days where you sit down with the time you have available to write and the ideas for what to write about, just don't come.  On these days, you will spend hours just working out what to write about and researching your topic, instead of actually writing and publishing your post. 

Without a plan you are essentially blogging at random and leaving a lot to chance in terms of whether your content will actually appeal to your readers.  A better way to manage 'blogging' is to plan your content.

First Things First

Before you dive into the job of creating a Content Plan for your blog you need to develop a clear idea of why you are blogging, who you are pitching content at and what type of information will most appeal to them.  If you can't answer those questions start by:

  • Defining your Blog's why - this is the reason your blog exists, or simply what you want to achieve via your blog.  If you can't describe it in a sentence or two, take some time now to brainstorm your why and write it into a neat paragraph.  
  • Setting some goals - write out some milestones and put time-frames around achieving them. Your goals might include, posting consistently 3 times a week, growing a loyal readership who regularly share your posts, turning blog readers into customers.
  • Get to know your audience - who are you writing for?  Your ideal audience is based on your ideal customer.  If you haven't given this much thought, take some time now to develop an outline of who your ideal reader is.  What do they want to learn? What inspires them?  What questions can you answer for them?
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Content

Now is the fun part.  Start brainstorming ideas for your posts.  I use a BIG blackboard and post it notes for this activity.  I like the post-it notes because I can move them around and as the ideas start coming, group them under themes.  A whiteboard, notebook, spreadsheet or table will work just as well too.

Having themes for days of the week you will blog is also very helpful (we talk about how often to blog in Getting Started With Blogging).  For example, if you are a Wedding Blogger you might have regular posts for; 'real weddings', 'trends' and planning tips.  Having themes to write to, that are based on what you know your audience likes to read, is a great strategy when it comes to planning content.  This Blogging series of posts is an example of a theme that we created as part of our Blog Plan.  Another approach is to have a focus for certain weeks of the year; for example, seasons, holidays or fashion weeks - what will work for you and your blog really comes down to who your audience is and what your goals with your blog are.

The Plan

Once I have my topics I create a Spreadsheet with the following columns:

  • Week - to help you keep track of the weeks of the year.
  • Date - this is the post date
  • Date written by - I schedule in my writing days to keep me on track and I tend to write several posts at once.  I use colours on my sheet to help me highlight posts I am going to write together on the one day.  You may find it helpful to create a second tab on your spreadsheet to group posts that will be written together.
  • Focus - what do I want this blog post to help me achieve?
  • Post Type - does it fall into a category or theme?
  • Blog Title - give it a name to help remind you what you had in mind when you came up with the topic.
  • Images - finding images for your blog posts can be incredibly time consuming. If you have an image in mind, make note of it here (this is where our library can come in handy!).
  • Research Notes - when brainstorming the topic did you research it?  If you found useful articles that you want to be able to refer to when you write your blog post, include details here for easy reference.

Creating a plan for your Blog content will take time, but once you have done it, it will save you much more time than it cost you and even more importantly, your plan will help you to write the type of content your readers want to read.  

How Far Should I Plan Ahead?

This really is up to you, but if you are new to blogging and/or planning blog content, I suggest planning no more than up to 3 months ahead and then reviewing how your posts were received before planning new content.  As part of your review process consider those goals you set for yourself and whether you are closer to achieving them than you were before you implemented your Plan.  If not, adjust, if you are, set new goals and keep going.

Have you created a Plan to help you manage your blog writing?  If you have some tips to share please leave them in the comments and of course, if you have questions about creating a plan, add them here too.  

Need images for your blog posts?  Visit the library.

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