Sitting Pretty

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Sitting Pretty

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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Getting Started With Blogging

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Getting Started With Blogging

So you have a blog.  Congratulations!  A blog is a useful tool that will help you establish your brand identity online.  But now that you have it, do you have a plan for how you are going to consistently post content to it? Do you know what you are going to write about and how often?

If the answer is no, or I am not sure, or yes, but I am not really doing it, we are going to help you.  Blogging might be enjoyable for you if you just write when the mood takes you, but if you need your blog to work hard for your business, you have to have a strategy for how often you will post and what you are going to write about.  To help you develop a strategy we will be sharing a series of tips with you over the coming weeks.  So let's get started.

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How much time do you have?  

My experience of working with people in their businesses as a Mentor has taught me that most of us underestimate the time tasks take and also have little idea of how much time we actually have available to us, to devote to the tasks we want to complete.  So for me the question of how much time do you have is one I encourage you to ask about any aspect of your business and things you want to commit to.  The easiest way to do this is sit down and write out what you do each day and how long it takes.  If you are not sure that you can do this accurately get yourself one of those diaries that have a day to a page and as you move through your day, record what you did when, so you can start to see where you have time available for new work, like blogging.  It might sound a bit laborious but it is honestly the most accurate way to determine what time you have available, or what time you can re-assign.

Having little time is not a reason not to blog by the way.  You just need to understand how much time you have to do it, so you can do it, consistently.

Consistently?

Once I might have asked, how often do you think you should post, or how often are your competitors posting, but with experience I have come to realise that what a dedicated audience wants, is quality and consistency. And what you want, is a dedicated audience.

If you have a favourite magazine that you buy every month you will know what I mean when I say, readers like to know when they are going to get your next hit of content.  So strive towards a regular posting habit, rather than going in with all guns blazes one week and then leaving your reader with nothing new to read for the next 3 weeks.  And be conservative. If you think you can post 3 times a week, maybe 4, commit to 2, strive for 3 and on those weeks when the planets align and you have something meaningful to say, give them 4.  Which brings me to the subject of quality.

Quality over Quantity 

Instead of pumping out a pretty ordinary post every day, consider how much time it will take you to produce quality content that actually helps your reader in some way. That is what your audience is after.  They won't return to your blog to read posts you have only published because they are jam-packed with keywords designed to drive readers to your blog. They want to be informed, inspired, entertained and challenged.

If you are new to the blogging game set yourself the task of writing the best blog post you can possibly write and time yourself doing it. Whilst you are at it, time yourself researching the topic, planning the outline of the post, finding the images you need and styling them so they send out just the right message to your readers.  Now go to your blog and set it all up and schedule it.  How long did that take?  Longer than you expect I bet.  But that is the time it takes and whilst you will get quicker as time goes on and when you have an Editorial Calendar in place (more on that in a future post), you should never get quicker because you cut corners, or lowered your standards.  Quality over Quantity  - Always!

Tip:  Don't be intimidated by the need to write quality content.  You will be writing about your area of expertise and with your target audience in mind. Trust that you know your stuff!

What Now

Once you know how long it takes you to write a good quality blog post and what time you have available to write those posts, you can determine how often you are going to post and on what days.  There is a lot of talk about what days are best to post to grab a reader's attention but opinions differ widely.  I recommend trying different days and times to find the right one for your audience.

In our next post we will share our tips for Planning your Blog content.

 

 

 

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Styled Images With A Touch Of Greenery

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Styled Images With A Touch Of Greenery

Since the year 2000 the Pantone Color Institute has given us a 'Color of the Year' each year and each time these colours have reflected the current cultural climate.  Towards the end of last year, Pantone declared Greenery to be the Color of the Year for 2017.  

“There’s a growing desire to reconnect with Nature and what is real and find ways to disconnect from technology. We need a break. We need to stop and breathe,” Laurie Pressman, the Pantone Color Institute’s vice president, told FORBES. “(Greenery) is about unity and community—connecting to oneself and others and a higher purpose, Nature.”

Greenery Styled Stock Photography

We couldn't love this colour and all shades of green more here at Styled Images.  Our own experience is that images featuring natural elements and greenery draw people to 'consume your content'.  And we agree that that the current love of the colour and even using actual greenery in styling, is related to people's desire to, reconnect .  And this is why we have filled our library with natural images and ones that celebrate 'green'.  

Using our Touch of Green images in your blog and social media posts, or on your website will encourage your audience to pause and take the time to really absorb the message you have for them.  

To download these images and more simply subscribe to the Styled Images Stock Library. We hope you enjoy this small selection of images featuring green, from the library.

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Easter Table Styling

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Easter Table Styling

A few days ago we styled a table inspired by Easter for the Australian Academy of Wedding & Event Planning.

The shoot was done to inspire students of the Academy for their Easter Styling Challenge. There is still time to get involved at the competition is open to anyone worldwide. We are excited to be apart of the competition by offering a prize pack of our Styled Stock images. Judging the submissions is the fabulously talented Louise of Styled by Louise & B.LOVED. Read more and get involved; http://www.weddingacademyglobal.com/…/lets-get-creative-ea…/

Below is a look at the table we styled this week. Inspired by Easter we choose to keep this simple and add in a few rustic touches (keeping it inline with our own style). Check out a few of the images below that we took.

Have a wonderful Easter!

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Ring Box Editorial Shoot - Part 3

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Ring Box Editorial Shoot - Part 3

 

The final part of our Ring Box Editorial Shoot we styled!

If you are looking for help showcasing your brand, your website or blog, in print and via social media, we can help you with creating a unique custom styled shoot for your business.  Whether you have an actual product, or a service to offer, consider collaborating with our creative team to find the right look for your Brand.  We create beautifully styled and photographed shoots highlighting your individual style.  

Our Branding package is ideal for businesses seeking to fill their website, blog and/or social media with the right content, but need some help bringing it all together.  Contact us for further information.

 

Vendors from this beautiful shoot: 

Photography: @justforlovephotography
Jewellery: @dadlanijewels by @privatejeweller
Stylist: @styled_images
Paper Goods: @theinkrefinery
Silk Ribbon: @songbirdsilk (for those applicable)
Confectionery: @nfconfectionery

 

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The Styled Images Library - How it Works

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The Styled Images Library - How it Works

When we launched the Styled Images Library we did so because we, as creative entrepreneurs starting out, had experienced the frustration of not having the right images to use in our social media and blog posts, or for our website.  Through our work with other budding entrepreneurs, we had also heard time and again this same frustration. So we decided to use our skills and experience as Stylists to build a library of images that others could use to make a strong visual impact with their brand.  

Styled Flatlay

You can read more about the story behind Styled Images here.

What you get for your membership

As a member of our library you will be able to freely choose images from any of our collections and enjoy regular updates to the library too.  All images are easily downloaded to your own computer and there are few restrictions on how you use them.  Importantly, there are so many ways you can use them creatively, to create your own unique images that send just the right message to your target audience.  You will find our terms of use here on the website and in this blog post, we give you tips for adding text and graphics to the images you download from our library.  This is just ones of the ways you can customise our images.

Each collection contains a series of images that all tell a similar story, which means they can be used together to help create a very strong look for your brand.  Or, use them separately to add interest to your social media and blog posts. You are only limited by your imagination.

We add new images to the library every 8 weeks and at all times you will find at least 200 images that you can download.  Images are archived regularly, so that you always have new and updated content available to you.  Read our FAQ's to find our more or contact us with any questions you have.

How much does it cost?

Our focus is on providing directional, on trend, high quality images that any creative entrepreneur can utilise to grow and establish their own unique brand. And right now, you can experience the Styled Images library at our special introductory rates of $150 for 6 months and $250 for 12 months. This small investment in your business will give you access to high quality images that will enable you to stand out in a highly competitive and visual market place.

Visit our website to join the library and get started on building your beautiful brand with our Styled Images.

 

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The Art of Re-Posting on Instagram

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The Art of Re-Posting on Instagram

There is a general belief, across all forms of social media, that it is ok to share someone else's work with your own followers, if you properly credit the owner of the image and I will be honest, I have done this too.  But it always feels wrong to me I will give you an example to explain why.

Let's say for example, you have a business and you have spent hours styling a beautiful image to show off your skills and send a very specific message about your brand, to your community.  You may have spent money on props to include in it. You may even have done a Photography course to ensure you can take a great photo for Instagram, or perhaps you are a Photographer and pictures are your business.  You have also carefully considered how the image works with the others on your page.  Now let's assume the image is amazing and it rightly attracts a lot of attention on Instagram.  You feel proud of your work and excited that your community is understanding more about what you and your business is all about.

But then, one day, you receive notification that you have been tagged by someone else on Instagram.  Of course, you check it out, only to find that another business has your image on their page.  You have never heard of this person and certainly never gave them permission to use your image.  

How would you feel?  

Of course you would feel slighted and you have every right to.  Why, when you were credited? Well this is the part that everyone refers to as being a grey area, but really it isn't; you can't share the images of others, regardless of how you came upon them or what Apps there are to make it possible for you to do so and even if you give them credit, without asking.  

I grant you, most people will never challenge someone for sharing their work and correctly crediting them.  In fact many people are flattered and see it as a way of getting their name out there.  But if challenged, you will always be in the wrong for having done it, because it infringes copyright law and its just not very nice.

Instead, we encourage you to value everyone's creative work and to ask for permission to share what you see.  If you find something you think your Followers should see, ask the person who owns the image if you can share it (and how they would like to be credited).  More often than not you will get a yes and in the process, you will have made a connection with someone whose work you admire and appreciate and they will appreciate you right back.  Remember though that even if you have permission you should not alter the image or give anyone the impression that it is your own.  

A note to our Library Members about using images; as a Styled Images Library member you are free to use and edit our images without crediting Styled Images.  They are yours to get creative with!  Read our full Terms of Use.

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Ring Box Editorial Shoot - Part 2

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Ring Box Editorial Shoot - Part 2


Excited to be sharing part 2 of a little shoot we did a couple weeks back with Kylie from Just for Love Photography for a Ring Box Editorial shoot. We loved being part of this shoot and having a chance to focus more on getting the perfect flat lay rather than styling models, venues and larger settings. 

With a focus on showcasing the gorgeous ring boxes from an up and coming business Amonie Ring Boxes we created several different looks which we will show you in the next few parts of this series. 

Vendors:  

Photography: @justforlovephotography
Jewellery: @dadlanijewels by @privatejeweller
Stylist: @styled_images
Paper Goods: @whiteinkdesignco
Confectionery: @nfconfectionery (for those applicable)
Paper Goods: @whiteinkdesignco
Confectionery: @nfconfectionery (for those applicable)

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Creating Your Brand Story

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Creating Your Brand Story

As soon as you start researching anything about branding, you will see the phrase, brand story, pop up.  Great phrase, but was does it mean exactly and why do you need one?  Here is a great definition that I think sums up the term beautifully;

"A brand story is a cohesive narrative that encompasses the facts and feelings that are created by your brand (or business, if you prefer). Unlike traditional advertising, which is about showing and telling about your brand, a story must inspire an emotional reaction. Things that can influence your brand include your product, price, history, quality, marketing, in-store experience, purpose, values, location and–most crucially–what other people say about you." Jane Pope -

I believe that a brand's story is what connects the brand with the consumer in an authentic way and that is where relationships are built and why as consumers we fall in love with certain brands; Apple for example.  The question is, how do you create one, especially when you are just starting out?

Creating a Brand Story in 3 Steps

  1. Write the story of your business so far; how it came to be, where you are right now and where you envisage your business being in 2,3, 5 years. Go deep into this so you can fully appreciate where you have come from and why, what achievements you have made so far and what challenges you are facing and where you intend heading.
  2. Now with what you have written before you, write a power statement that sums up why your business exists and what it stands for.  Don't be tempted to write something that just sounds great for the sake of it. This statement should reflect the story you wrote in step 1.  Seek to go deep and answer the question of why the business exists and what its purpose is, not just for you as the owner, or your employees, but the consumers you seek to serve.
  3. Now you are going to write your brand story. Essentially what you are going to do here is bring part one and two together in a one page document. You are going to tell the story of where you have come from and where you are going in a succinct way and include a paragraph or two on exactly what it is your business stands for and how you are making the world around you better through what you do.

Now you have a brand story, what do you do with it?  Your story can be used in any number of ways, but before you do anything with it, review all of the touch-points of your brand to ensure that at every point a consumer comes into contact with it (or employee for that matter), your brand story is reflected.  If this isn't the case, spend time on changing this.  This means reviewing your website and style of presentation, your services or products, how you promote yourself on social media and in email marketing, even how you answer the phone, or reply to customer enquiries and complaints.  

You should also ensure anyone working for your brand is familiar with your story and it should be part of your induction of new team members.  As an employer it is your responsibility to also ensure that your brand story flows down to your team and informs the culture of your workplace and how you treat your staff too.

If you need help telling your brand story or designing an online presence that reflects it, Styled Images offers a Custom Brand Styling Service.  Our Styled Image Library is also full of images you can use to help you tell your brand story online.  In adding graphics and text to our images we share our tips for designing unique images from our library images.

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