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A few years ago, I picked up a camera and completely transformed my business. I love all things tropical, a damn good podcast, and keeping my plants alive. My mission? To help others live visually.

I'm Tracy Dungo.

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Keep Your Brand Fresh: How To Do A Brand Review

Creating a brand for your business can be one of the most challenging aspects of building it. But it is also one of the most important. That’s because people don’t buy a product or service; they buy the story that’s attached to it. And that’s part of what your brand is.

It is your business’ personality. It is much more than a name, a logo, or a tagline. It is one of the most powerful ways you establish credibility, communicate your message, and stand apart from everyone else out there doing something similar.

I still remember when I started building my first brand. I thought that having a few product photos and an Instagram account would be enough — enough to sell, enough to appeal to customers, enough to attract partnerships. Having these things are certainly important parts of the bigger picture, though none of it will work in the way it’s supposed to if you are not strategic about it.

You already know that establishing your brand guidelines is the first move. But you also want to be sure you’re sticking to them over time and throughout your business journey.  A great way to do this is by doing a brand review.

Why Every Business Should Do A Routine Brand Review

I know you. You work hard to create a ton of amazing content that your audience really cares about. It’s not an easy thing to do. In fact, it takes a lot of time and energy. A brand review can help you determine what’s been working, what hasn’t, and what opportunities you might actually be missing out on that could move your brand forward.

It can also help with having a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses in your business. Now, even if you’re not a data nerd like I am, you have to admit that’s pretty cool to know how your content is doing especially after pouring your heart and soul into building this amazing business of yours.

So, how often should you be reviewing your brand? I recommend doing a brand review every 6 months, but at the very least, you should be checking in annually. The beginning of the year is a great time for it as well with the previous year still fresh in your mind, which can make it easier to evaluate.

Now that we’ve covered why a brand review is important and how often you should be doing one, let’s talk about the actual process. I’m including a link to my 5-page Brand Review Guide + Checklist (which you can download for free) if you want to grab that now and follow along as you make your way through the rest of this post.

 

Download the free 5-page Brand Review Guide + Checklist

Here’s how you go about auditing your brand.

1. Consolidate the Elements

Prepare to go on a screenshot spree! Collect and organize all of your brand materials to review in one place. You can use Dropbox or Google Drive or even create a new folder on your computer desktop. Consolidating everything will make it easier to review altogether and identify any outliers that need more consideration. Things you can include:

Branding

  • Logo
  • Icons
  • Textures or design accents
  • Typography
  • Photo Style
  • Color Scheme

Content

  • Messaging and tone
  • Page Titles
  • Blog Headlines

Marketing

  • Packaging
  • Newsletters
  • Business cards
  • Letterhead & envelopes
  • Invoices
  • Website screen shots
  • Pop-ups
  • Social headers
  • Blog Title Graphics

Separately, you’ll want to review your most popular posts on social media as well so you know which ones worked the best for your brand. Creating more posts like these will be a priority! You can use an app like Command to figure out your best performers.

Here is where you might run into trouble: don’t get too caught up on collecting every single thing (unless you find that helpful and can do this in an efficient manner!). This exercise should really be about honing in on how your brand has been communicating value to your audience across your different channels. That way, you can identify any gaps that may need re-aligning.

2. Examine & Plan

Okay, now that you’ve collected all of your brand materials and visual touch points, you’ll need to review each of these and note what’s been working and what hasn’t been. Go down the list. Review your brand voice, word choice, cohesion of titles, font choices, graphics, color palettes, etc. For things that wouldn’t be found in your style guide, check your analytics to properly measure the impact it’s had on your brand.

Make note of anything that doesn’t meet your brand guidelines. Figure out why these things went live in the first place and how to avoid it in the future. Also, be cognizant of the direction you have been heading in. Having this kind of awareness is how you will start to see gaps in your brand. Ask yourself questions like: Do you need to update your color scheme based on the kinds of lifestyle photos you’ve been posting? Do you have consistent visuals, but inconsistent wording and tone? Address questions like this before you move on, so you know what improvements need to be made.

3. Big Picture & Action Plan

By now, you should have a good idea of what not to do and what to do more of. Now it’s strategy time. Make a list of what improvements need to be made, how you will make them, and who can help you achieve your maximum brand potential. Prioritize each item then create an outline for deadlines and delegation — who will take care of what and when will they have it done by. Once you start updating things one by one, you can monitor your progress and results at your next brand review.

Takeaways

So there you have it, my friend– how to do a brand review in 3 simple steps! Remember, every brand is different so keep in mind that each one you do may look different as you refine your process. Just focus on adjusting what you need to and take it one step at a time.

Ready to dive in? Download my 5-page Brand Review Checklist now. This comprehensive guide will help keep you organized and minimize any overwhelm.

Download the free 5-page Brand Review Guide + Checklist

Have you ever done a brand review before and have other tips? Or will this be your first one? Sound off in the comments below!

Branding

How To Hide A Pinnable Image In Blog Posts

Want to get more shares on Pinterest for your content? Learn exactly how to hide a pinnable image in blog posts | unodostrae.com. #socialmedia #graphicdesign #entrepreneur #bloggers #seo #blogging101
Want to get more shares on Pinterest for your content? Learn exactly how to hide a pinnable image in blog posts | unodostrae.com. #socialmedia #graphicdesign #entrepreneur #bloggers #seo #blogging101

Of all the ways you can distribute and promote your content on, Pinterest has got to be one of my favorites. As soon as I shifted my mindset and stopped considering it social media, things changed entirely. Believe it or not, Pinterest is one of the largest search engines in the entire world. Just think about how powerful that is. The opportunity for discovery is huge! So if you have something you want to direct an audience to, you should absolutely be optimizing your content for Pinterest. Let’s talk about one of the easiest and most impactful things you can start doing now.

Knowing How To Hide A Pinnable Image In Blog Posts Is A Blogging Essential

When I sit down to write a blog post, I try to include at least three different pinnable images in the article. Is it completely necessary? Probably not. But I want to give my articles the best chance they have to make their way around the Pinterest circuit. When I first thought to do this, one of the problems I ran into was how to not clutter up my posts with these extra images. Adding regular photography to enhance my article is one thing. But adding a bunch of graphics designed to get readers to click on them is a whole other story.

So how did I get around it? With one of the smartest tricks in the digital marketing trade: hide a pinnable image in blog posts.

By the way, if you’ve never created a pinnable image for your blog posts before, download this checklist. It breaks down the essentials of a great pinnable graphic in easy, actionable steps:

How To Create A Title Image Checklist - Content Upgrade Button | unodostrae.com

By knowing how to hide a pinnable image in blog posts, you make your article more valuable (by optimizing it for Pinterest, one of the largest search engines in the world) without distracting your readers. And perhaps more importantly is what it can do for your digital marketing strategy. Let’s talk about the two biggest marketing reasons why you’d want to hide images in your blog posts.

1. Test different ad strategies to represent your post

Have you noticed that you are drawn to pins that look a certain way? It’s different for everybody. For me, I find myself re-pinning images that have brighter colors and bold text. Knowing that I personally respond to this style (in other words, I know that at the very least, it works even if just on me), I want to pin images with bright colors and bold fonts for my posts. But neither design element is a part of my core branding or aesthetic. So it looks pretty random and disconnected if I were to create graphics like this and include them in my articles.

So, as a solution, I hide them. I create additional pins with bright colors and bolder fonts (that still go with my brand colors of course!) and then hide them in my post. That way, whoever lands on my site sees imagery that is still consistent with my site’s style. But I know pins with a punchier personality are standing out on Pinterest and being shared with my ideal readers.

2. Test different variations of your title

Creating more than one pinnable title image for your blog post is a great way to test headlines. Let’s say you have a wellness lifestyle blog for busy 30-something professionals. You write a how-to article about meditation titled 5 Steps To Build A Meditation Habit. But then you ask your friend if she’s read your article yet and she responds, “I’m so sorry! Not yet, I’ve been so busy on this project at work. I barely have enough time to eat – I wish I had time to start a meditation practice! Ugh, I wish I could just pause life for a few moments each day to reset myself.”

You know your article could help her a ton. But you realize in that moment that upon reading the title, your friend immediately associated it with more work for her. If only the benefits of meditating came to her mind instead! You know she would drop everything for that kind of answer.

So, as a solution, create additional pins with different titles and then hide them in your post. The best part by using Pinterest analytics, you can test which titles work best for your content and then create more titles like that. So your three pins might look something like this:

  • 5 Steps To Build A Meditation Habit (to attract readers who are already in the market for a step-by-step plan to establish their practice)
  • Title #2: How To Practice Mindfulness And Reduce Anxiety (to attract readers who are looking for ways to achieve these results – your article shows them how they can via meditation)
  • Title #3: How to Meditate If You Have No Idea Where to Begin (to attract readers who want to meditate but might be overwhelmed on how to start)

How To Hide Multiple Images In A Blog Post

Follow these step-by-step directions to hide any image in your articles. I explain everything in the context of WordPress but these instructions will apply to other content management systems as well.

Step 1. Create your graphics

Use a high-quality vertical image and size it for Pinterest pins (my pin dimensions have been  736×1104). Include relevant text (your post title, website URL, opt-in incentives) so people have a reason to click on your pin over anybody else’s. If you need more help on this part, click here.

Step 2. Upload your image

Open the blog post you want to add your image to. Decide where in the article you want to insert your graphic and place your cursor there (I usually do it at the very top, others add it at the very bottom. Both positions make it easier to find later on). I always place my hidden images at the very top because they will then appear first when someone goes to pin your article). Click the Add Media button and upload your image to the Media Library. But don’t insert the image just yet.

Step 3. Update the image panel

In WordPress, to the right is a panel of image details. Before you add your image, update the title (so it matches your blog post- if you’re testing variations of your title, this should match whatever variation you have on your graphic). You’re also going to want to update the Alt Text field. When someone pins your image, this text is what auto-populates into the description. You can include your title again and write a brief description explaining what your blog post is about (making sure to include your keyword(s)). You will also want to scroll down to the bottom of the panel to adjust the image size. Make sure your image is set to Full Size.

Step 4. Insert your image

Look everything over one more time in your image panel and then go ahead and insert your image into the article. You should then see your image appear in your blog post.

Step 5. Switch to text view

In WordPress, there are two tabs – Visual and Text – at the top of your Text Editor box. It will likely default to the Visual tab. If so, switch over to the Text tab. This is where you will insert your code.

Step 6. Insert The Code

Now that you’re in the Text tab of the Text Editor box, locate your image. It should be relatively easy to find if you chose to place your image at the very top or bottom of your content (like we discussed in Step 2). Look for the blip of code that starts with “<img class=”

In a new line (so it’s easier to see what you’re adding), copy + paste the following Hidden Image Code into your text:

<div style=”display:none;”>PASTE YOUR IMAGE CODE HERE</div>

Now we’re going to replace the PASTE YOUR IMAGE CODE HERE with your actual image code with a simple cut + paste. To do this, highlight the entire Image Code of your pinnable graphic and then cut + paste it into the Hidden Image Code where it says “PASTE YOUR IMAGE CODE HERE.”

You should now be left with something that looks like this:

Step 7. Save Everything

Switch back to Visual View in the text editor. If done correctly, your image should now be gone (though you know it hasn’t been deleted, only hidden thanks to the Hidden Image Code). Save your settings by clicking the Update button.

Step 8. Test It

To see this all in action, go ahead and try pinning your article.  You can either utilize the Pin It button installed on your browser or directly pin your blog post via one of the images or using the social sharing buttons on your webiste. If you don’t have either set up, you can still test out the image by going directly to Pinterest and creating a new pin there. Once you go to pin the article, a couple of images should pop up for you to choose from – including your hidden pin image(s) which should be there! Click on it and make sure your Alt Text description is appearing the way you want it to be and pin away.

That’s it! You just learned how to hide a pinnable image in your blog posts. Incorporate this into your workflow and it will soon become second nature when updating your site. If you need help designing pinnable blog title images, download this simple one-sheeter that will break everything down for you in quick and easy steps.

How To Create A Title Image Checklist - Content Upgrade Button | unodostrae.com

If you want another set of eyes on your work, feel free to drop your blog post link in the comments so I can check it out!

Branding

Instagram Video Views: How They’re Helping Me Beat The Algorithm

Use Instagram video views to grow your account and traffic to your site | unodostrae.com
Using Instagram video views to beat the algorithm | unodostrae.com

If you asked me this time last year what analytics or stats you should care about to grow your business, Instagram video views was probably the last thing on my mind.

However, one thing that was on my list for last year was video – specifically, to create video content for my site. As a content creator and visual marketer, getting into video makes complete sense. Not just from a content creation standpoint, but from a teaching perspective as well. It’s much easier following along a video tutorial of how to edit a photo than it is to read a lengthy blog post. And yet, fast forward 12 months later, and I have only made two or three videos in the last year. Saying I achieved this goal would be very generous.

At the root of it all, video intimidates me (as it does for many other people). But since it’s something I really want to do more of this year, I’ve been on hyperdrive looking for motivation and non-negotiable reasons to stop overthinking things and just do it already. Needless to say, there’s a lot of reasons to begin right now.

For starters, it’s been predicted that video will account for 80% of all Internet traffic by 2019. Buffer actually ran a survey in 2016 that revealed how marketers see video changing:

As you can see, other marketers in the space know what’s up. They know video is going to be huge with 83% of them wanting to create more video content, and 42% wanting to create more live video specifically. In the words of Neil Patel,

You have a unique opportunity to take advantage of things like live video before some of your competitors do. Click To Tweet

If video content is on your list of 2018 goals, don’t get bogged down in research for the best camera for vlogging or what lav mic to use just yet. Trust me- that’s what I did in the beginning and I made zero progress thanks to a little thing called overwhelm.

You are here on my site so you’re likely already using the perfect platform to start your video content creation journey. Instagram makes it incredibly easy to learn how to master different kinds of video content marketing. You can post pre-recorded videos to your regular feed, post more transient footage to your IG Stories, or even live video record with Instagram Live. And since Facebook owns the social media platform, when you’re ready to go big with cross-promoting or sharing, all it takes is a tap of a button.

But the biggest reason why I think Instagram is a great place to start creating video content on is because of the stats. And that brings us back to Instagram video views. This is why you should care.

Decoding Instagram Video Views

Let’s say you’re on vacation in Maui witnessing one of the most magical sunsets you’ve ever seen. It’s the end of a long but full day of adventuring and exploring. You reach for your phone, tap on the Instagram app, and start recording a story. Then you share it with your followers.

Later that night, you re-watch your story again and check who has viewed your sunset video. You check it again later and the list has grown. But you notice something – the order of who has viewed your sunset video keeps changing slightly. You always assumed that everyone was listed in chronological order of when they viewed your video but you realize now that’s not the case.

When you post a video to your feed or stories, Instagram displays who has watched your content. For videos posted on your feed as normal posts, a “view” is counted when someone watches your video for 3 seconds or more and is shown underneath your post. But that number does not refer to Stories.

Instagram hasn’t officially stated how views are counted on stories, but we can make a good assumption they are counted immediately, similar to how Snapchat counts views. This is because stories (and snaps) can vary in length.

Make no mistake, Instagram does prioritize the list of people who watch your Stories or video posts. Like everything else the app does, it’s very much intentional. While the Facebook-owned photo sharing platform doesn’t communicate this, there is an exhaustive thread on Reddit where several users have come to the same conclusion backed by their own testing, experimenting, and experiences with the app.

For Instagram Stories, there are two main ways the app prioritizes the list of your viewers:

  1. To start, viewers are listed in reverse chronological order until more than 50 people have viewed your story.
  2. After your story is viewed by 50 people, Instagram then prioritizes who interacts with your Instagram account most.

Get that? So when you initially post your Story, viewers are listed by who first viewed your content. And the most recent view will be listed at the bottom (reverse chronological order). After your views reach 50+, then the order of viewers is determined by who racks up the most activity with your account. The ones at the top of the list are the accounts that interact most with your content in general. So if someone clicks on your profile, likes what you’re posting, and views your stories very often, he/she is most likely to be at the top of your viewers list.

So why do we care?

(By the way, jump to the bottom of this article for another fun fact. Hint: it’s very telling of who you are stalking!)

Instagram Video Views Are The Secret Sauce To More…Everything

There is so much opportunity here that people aren’t taking advantage of. It’s practically low-hanging fruit dangling right in front of your face. Think about it: our top-ranked story viewers are, at least partially, the people who view our profiles and photos the most, without necessarily engaging (i.e. liking or commenting) with the content. In other words, once we get 50+ views on our content, our stalkers rank highest on our list of Instagram video views.

These are the people who going out of their way to check your profile, engage with your content, and most importantly, seeking out anything new that you produce. Reward them with VIP perks. Make them an ambassador. Find out what’s resonating with them. Send them a quick message asking them what they’re enjoying or what they would like to see more of. (If you can’t wait to get started, go ahead and download my swipe copy now so you know exactly what to say when you reach out to these accounts!)

If any of these accounts are brands as well, what opportunities can you partner up or collaborate on together? If joining forces is too close for comfort (especially if any of those accounts are competitors. And hey, how flattering is that by the way? Your competitors are keeping tabs on your account!), keep your eye on them; whether or not you want to follow them is your choice. If you love their video content marketing strategies – to the point where it almost makes you jealous because what they are posting is so damn good – then that means they are successful and it’s smart to study them.

Connect with these valuable followers and turn them into raving fans because that’s free marketing and advertising for you. And doing so will help you outsmart Instagram’s algorithm – if you treat them well and provide a great experience in your interaction, they will be more than happy to spread the word. It only takes one person to tell their friends (who will tell their friends and so on and so forth). And I’m telling you- this will result in more real and targeted followers, increased traffic, and a growing community in the end.

Reaching out to people on Instagram can be intimidating but I promise you it’s easier than you think. If you’re worried that you’ll come across as weird, get over it right now. I’ve met a ton of people through Instagram that I consider dear friends today and I’m so glad we all connected.

To make things easy, I’m sharing my swipe copy (3 different ways to reach out on social media) for you to download and use. Feel free to tweak and create your own messaging so long as you start reaching out to these MVAs (most valuable accounts) and start the conversation today. It’s such an easy way to keep your brand moving in the right direction!

Another fun fact– when it comes to the stories that are displayed first on your feed (in the Stories section at the top of your screen) – these actually are the ones posted by people that you interact the most with (but not necessarily engage with).

Were you already using Instagram video views like this? Do you have any other social media tips that have been working for you recently? Let me know in the comments below, would love to hear them all!

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Social Media Tips

The Best Way To Get Instagram Followers (And It’s Not How Your Feed Looks)

The best way to get instagram followers or get more followers on instagram | unodostrae.com
The best way to get instagram followers from an insider | unodostrae.com

Let’s talk about what the best way to get Instagram followers is. I won’t go over hashtag strategies or tagging relevant brands in your posts. And I know you’ve been working hard to get your feed looking cohesive. In fact, I bet you have been doing “exactly” what everyone says is the best way to get Instagram followers and increase your engagement. And don’t get me wrong- there is no doubt that all of these things help to some degree and are important.

But have you ever thought what people who actually work at Instagram think is the most efficient and sustainable strategy in the long run (because – say it with me – it’s a marathon, not a sprint)? I’m talking about the people behind the algorithm; the ones who are privy to any social logic before the rest of us are forced to adapt to their updates. In other words, what is the game plan to outlast any Instagram algorithm or app update? Do you follow anyone who actually works there?

Eva Chen knows a thing or two about excelling at Instagram. She’s the social media platform’s Director of Fashion Partnerships with 806,000 followers (and counting). And she seems to have figured out the secret sauce to the million-dollar question: what is the best way to get Instagram followers?

The Best Way To Get Instagram Followers Is Simpler Than You Think

While celebrities and models do make an occasional appearance on her feed, people insist the glamourous parts are not why they follow her. In fact, her audience isn’t only comprised of lifestyle bloggers, fashion editors, or others that hail from the luxury fashion space. And you won’t find many fancy camera pictures or a specific color theme on her feed (both of which require a lot of time and effort by the way). No- instead, Chen puts her resources and efforts behind one thing and it’s a simple concept that works well. And I mean really well – to the tune of almost-a-million-followers.

In a recent masterclass at the London HQ of Facebook, she shared valuable insight into what you should be focusing on above all else to grow your account and attract the right kinds of followers.

 

Eva Chen - Instagram - best way to get instagram followers

If you want to get real instagram followers, Eva says have a voice, tell your story, and focus on creating more posts. Because 99.9% of your followers are consuming what your content is about in grid view (or what she refers to as the thumb-swiping feed – the view that someone sees when they initially click on your profile) vs the individual feed view (swiping through your feed post by post). So the more you create, the more they’ll relate. That is why, according to her, putting your resources and efforts behind creating more posts versus time spent on editing single posts will move the needle further with your following.

Uno Dos Trae - Weekly Content Planner - best way to get instagram followers - button

Focus On Storytelling In Your Feed and Stories

Creating content should be about what you can do that is different, not better. Click To Tweet

Before we continue, I do want to point out that quality still matters. With all things considered, there will still be people who will land on your feed and decide in two seconds if you’re worth following or not. If you want to share your message and tell your story clearly, then a series of blurry, low-quality images on your feed won’t help you reach those goals. It’s important to remember that what you put out there to share with the world is still a reflection of you and what you can offer.

But having a quality feed should be a given nowadays, especially with how far social media and tech have come. Anyone can take a nice picture now; it’s pretty much expected. And anyone can learn how to edit that photo to look a certain way. There are literally millions upon millions of nice photos and edited feeds out there. So the question then becomes, what is making yours standout from all of the other like-minded accounts on Instagram?

It’s You

You have lived a life that no one else has lived. We can all take a picture of the Statue of Liberty. But what have you done, been through, lived, seen, not seen…that you could perhaps put into your content so it actually reflects your unique perspective? If you can figure out how to put you into your photos and videos, that tactic will outlast any other strategy you read about when it comes to increasing your followers and engagement.

Of course, like most things, this is easier said than done. Finding your voice on social media can be incredibly frustrating – it’s something a lot of people get stuck on. But before you start to feel overwhelmed about creating more posts, let’s break it down.

How To Infuse Your Personality Into Your Content

  1. Choose 5 facets of your life that you can share with your audience right now. List them out and rotate through these 5 categories each week so that your feed is undeniably you and interesting. Not only will it help your audience connect, but it will also help you stay aligned so your feed doesn’t feel like it’s all over the place. Some examples could be pictures of your city, your kids, your creation process, your workspace. Choose a few that easily work into your current messaging and start sharing those. You don’t have to share all aspects of your life for people to start connecting with you.
  2. What kind of context are you giving your content? Making sure your voice is consistent across your feed and Stories matters. You don’t have to try and make people laugh all the time. But your captions or text in your Stories should resonate with you in some way. That sense of connection is important whether you have a business brand or a personal brand. If you’re promoting an offer, instead of being salesy or generic, write as though you’re talking to a friend. The more your captions “sound” like you, the more your followers will trust whatever it is you have to say. If this is something you’re struggling with, try this: record yourself giving context to your photo or video on your phone. Then transcribe it, edit for grammar, and add to your post. When we speak about something, it tends to be a bit more natural than figuring out what to write. This is an easy method that will help you capture that natural realness.
  3. Screw analysis paralysis. Don’t overthink it. Set your own boundaries – whatever you feel comfortable with sharing that aligns with your goals is what you should do. If you take an adorable photo of your kids and family is a big part of what you want your followers to know about you, then go for it. The next time you take an amazing picture of a palm tree and want to post it to your Stories, do it and share why. Posting your exact viewpoint of where you are is a big part of sharing your unique perspective. People love seeing things through your eyes.

Take Action

Next steps: Infuse your unique perspective into your content and keep posting. No need to make lofty, ambitious goals right now – start with something manageable and grow from there. Try posting once a day to your regular Instagram feed, and three times a day on your Stories.

The more you create, the more they’ll relate. Click To Tweet

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed right now, that’s okay! I’m sharing my weekly content planner to organize your Instagram posts and Stories at a glance. Fill it out for this week and then use an app like Planoly, Plann, or Later to automate your efforts and schedule everything ahead of time.

Uno Dos Trae - Weekly Content Planner - best way to get instagram followers - button

Also, one more thing to note- not everything you create every day will be good. Just trust the process. The underlying practice of putting stuff out there and making stuff every day will really refine your personal style. This, in turn, will make you and your content super memorable.

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Social Media Tips

Smartphone Pictures: 4 Simple Tips To Take Better Photos On Your Phone

Remember life before smartphone pictures? I was grabbing lunch with a friend recently on a gorgeous day in Williamsburg. We had just sat down at this place I had been wanting to try for awhile now. She was telling me about this new camera that she got – it was portable, had wifi, took DSLR-quality pictures. It was exactly what she was looking for to better her food account on Instagram. She was stoked…except that she had forgotten it that day and I could tell how bummed she was. When I asked her why she couldn’t just use her phone, she replied, “…because I got the camera so I could take pictures that are better than the ones I take on my phone.”

Having a smartphone means having a pretty good camera on you at all times. Documenting life has never been easier. Sharing in other peoples’ experiences is now incredibly accessible. And thanks to social media, something people strive for with their mobile devices is taking a photo that looks like it was taken with a professional camera. Many think it’s hard. Some even think impossible. But is it really either? Absolutely not, even for a complete newbie and I’ll tell you why. Let’s get to it.

4 Easy Tips For Better Smartphone Pictures - unodostrae.com

4 Simple Tips To Take Better Smartphone Pictures

1) Tap Your Screen

If you use an iPhone or an Android device, you can tap the screen anywhere to change the focus of the shot. This will also change the exposure level (the amount of light on a certain area) so you can properly highlight the spot you want to focus on – a handy way of brightening a darker area (or dimming a light one).

And if you’re an iPhone user, tap and hold to lock both the focus and exposure, so it stays fixed even if you move your phone. You can also tap, hold, and drag up or down to manually change the exposure level yourself. You’ll see a small sun icon showing the changes. This super helpful feature seems to always be overlooked, but it can help your smartphone pictures a lot.

2) Compose Your Photo

If you’re not familiar with the Rule Of Thirds, this could be a game changer for your smartphone pictures. It’s a basic principle in photography and the grounds for well-balanced and interesting shots (whether you choose to abide by it or break the rule altogether). Use the Rule Of Thirds as an easy guide to frame your shots correctly when taking your smartphone pictures. Almost all mobile cameras have a grid that is super helpful when aligning objects and elements in your shot along its lines or intersections. Other stylistic elements to play around with: leading lines, negative space, unexpected color…the list goes on and on.

3) Match Your Memory

Your photos should match how you remember them to be in your mind. Even as good as digital cameras are today, it’s still hard to capture exactly how something appears in real life without cleaning up the photo, retouching or enhancing it even slightly. In fact, you can bet that every photo you see has been edited to some degree. The great thing about mobile photography is the hundreds of editing apps that can help take your smartphone pictures to the next level. Some of my favorites include Snapseed, Color Story, and VSCO. Figure out your editing style and stick to it so your photos become recognizably yours. Want to keep track of the edits you make (and in which order) so your photos look consistent? Click the button below to get an easy-to-use tracker instantly

4 Easy Tips For Better Smartphone Pictures - unodostrae.com

The Smarter Edits Tracker helps you create better smartphone pictures

4) Tell A Story

I love this quote by Chase Jarvis. It explains exactly why some photos are more memorable than others. Whatever you’ve been through, what you have done, lived, seen, not seen…all of this contributes to your own unique perspective. And if you infuse this perspective into your photos consistently, that’s called personal style. Eventually this is something that will come second nature to you whenever you create. If this is something you’re still figuring out, the next time you take a smartphone picture ask yourself, focus less on “that thing over there” and more on what you can do that is different, not better, in your photo.

 

The Takeaways

Having a camera on your phone is a good thing! Use it. If you’re convinced that you need a big fancy DSLR to take nice photos, consider mastering your smartphone picture taking abilities first. Play around with light, different composition techniques, your editing style, and how to make your unique perspective come through in your photos. To get you started, I’m sharing my Smarter Edits Tracker, which I use to help me stay organized and consistent when editing my smartphone pictures.

The Smarter Edits Tracker helps you create better smartphone pictures

Mobile photography has emerged into a category all on its own. I’d love to hear other tips you have to make your smartphone pictures standout. Please share in the comments below!

 

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Photography

The 6 Changes I Made To Start Living My Best Life (and how you can too)

Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy. It’s certainly not for everyone and people’s reasons for pursuing their own line of work run the gamut. For me, I’m addicted to the good parts. I will work around the clock until I see results. But sometimes we fall out of our routines and into ruts from time to time. And it can really feel like you’re spinning your wheels no matter how hard you’re working.

Feeling seriously unproductive? Try these 6 life hacks and see a boost of productivity!

To establish something as “regular” in life requires discipline and time. And everyone attributes their productivity to something. Between meditation, daily affirmations, cold showers, working out – it’s hard to stick with something long enough to figure out what’s right for you. Everything isn’t meant to be sustainable. What works for one person might mean nothing to someone else.

Feeling unproductive? Read on for 6 ways to seriously boost your productivity.

I have tried to make so many rituals stick. Some of them were good for awhile. Others I just couldn’t connect with. No matter how long of a chance I gave them, they felt forced. While there are certain daily habits I have kept around, the changes that have had the most profound effect on my productivity have been holistic “tweaks.” And perhaps more than anything, these “life tweaks” have aligned my business goals with the kind of lifestyle I’m aiming for more than anything else.

Productivity tips perfect for entrepreneurs and solopreneurs

6 Ways To Improve Productivity At Work And Live Your Best Life

1. Start doing.

When I started my first business, I was so keen on learning everything as fast as I could, that I never learned any one thing really well. I suffered from shiny object syndrome. My inbox was inundated with offers of selling the “exact formula” for a six-figure business. I was joining webinars left and right. I always felt the need to sign up for this course and that course. I didn’t know what to focus on but I was willing to do whatever it took to grow my business. And it wasn’t until later that I realized all this “doing” was a waste because I lacked focus. As entrepreneurs, we tend to suffer from too much information and lack of implementation. This happens because before you can master and execute one thing, you’re already onto learning about something else.

How to fix this: Focus on one thing at a time. Learn it until you know it so well, you can teach an 8-year-old how to do it. Then DO IT. Stop overanalyzing and implement your learnings. Measure your results. Once you have that in place, move onto the next thing on your list. With a little bit of prioritization, you’ll find that there is time to learn it all.

Want more? Read this article by Ben Foley. He explains why most advice is bullshit, how to avoid suffering from course and webinar FOMO, and offers a system that will help you decrease overwhelm in your entrepreneurial life. Also, this.

2. Realign any inconsistencies.

One piece of advice that really changed things for me is to stop living incongruently. If you have big, Level 10 goals but are half-assing your daily efforts with Level 6 habits, you are living incongruently. Remember, your input really does determine your output. Your mindset, action, and habits must align with the kinds of accomplishments and results you want. And believe me- this isn’t an easy thing to do. It’s tough for us to admit that we’re not working hard enough or that we’re not doing enough when so much is at stake and you’re building something that you want your livelihood to depend on.

How to fix this: Be honest with yourself. If you feel like you haven’t been making the kind of progress you envisioned lately, see if you can identify why by finding any inconsistencies in your mindset, action, or habits.

Want more? Check out these productivity tips that changed this guy’s life. Sometimes all it takes is a new action plan to yield greater results.

3. Find your circle of influence.

Have you ever heard of the law of averages? It’s the theory that the result of any given situation will be the average of all outcomes. When it comes to relationships, those we spend the most time with actually have the greatest influence on us (whether we like it or not). From the way we think to our self-esteem to the choices we make. We’re actually more affected by our surroundings than we think. If you hang around a bunch of Debbie Downers all the time, that’s surely enough to affect your outlook and you’d probably be somewhat of a bummer yourself. If you surround yourself with very judgmental people, you’ll probably feel quick to judge others who live differently than you more times than not. This is because your circle of influence will somehow always rub off on you.

How to fix this: If you want to make $500k, then ask yourself why is everyone around you making $80k? Find the people who are living the kind of life you envision for yourself. Once you find them, get them in your life. Surround yourself with those kinds of people. Because after some time associating with them, their mindset, habits, perspective, work ethic – it will all greatly influence you and change the way you approach your own goals and outcome.

Want more? Richard Branson has some words to say on why you should associate with people you want to be like.

4. Adjust your lifestyle.

Start emulating the kind of life you want to be living. If you can feel it, you can do it. Redecorate your apartment or workspace. Invest in tech or gear that will benefit your business in the long run. Oftentimes, people have to feel good to be motivated. If you can feel yourself living the life you want, that emotion you attach to it will drive you to work hard enough to finally reach it one day.

How to fix this: Have you been holding out on upgrading certain parts of your business or brand? Whether it’s physical parts like your workspace or technology or less tangible pieces like branding or photography. If it’s a true priority and you have the budget to do so (but haven’t bit the bullet yet), it’s time to know your worth. Treat yourself and your business like you’ve already made it and you’ll take yourself one step closer to the life you were meant to live.

Want more? Read You Are Badass At Making Money by Jen Sincero, author of cult favorite You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life. I read her follow-up book in just 2 days and loved it. Her approach might not be for everyone but I enjoyed her writing and she was able to finally make stick many pieces of advice and thought processes I had come across but perhaps wasn’t fully sold on. Needless to say, I was after that book. Once I was able to sell myself on this new perspective, I started seeing the results I wanted to see. If you’re not ready to start a new a book, get going with this list of Sincero’s 10 mental tricks to achieve your own kind of wealth.

5. Find your WHY.

But don’t stop there. Clearly define it. If you really truly know your reasons for WHY you want to be your own boss, want a certain lifestyle, want to travel the world, etc., you’ll always want to keep working for it. You never lose sight of it and you won’t stop until you get there. Reasons come first, results come second.

How to fix this: Ask yourself, what are my top 5 reasons for changing the next 6 months of my life? Write these down and keep them somewhere visible so you see them every day. I have mine as my desktop wallpaper on my laptop. Download these free desktop wallpapers, update them with your reasons for changing the next 6 months of your life, and like daily affirmations read them aloud every day.   An easy way to always keep your goals in sight.

Free Goal-Setting Wallpaper Designs from unodostrae.com

Want more? Read Peter Voogd’s book Six Months To Six Figures. The title is a bit of a misnomer because it talks about so much more than that. After reading it, I chucked any 5-year and 10-year plans I was still clinging onto and shifted my mindset completely. Voogd also has a class on Creative Live where he talks more about finding your why that I highly recommend (create an account here and get $15 off).

6. Recognize that the limit does not exist.

Limiting beliefs are the worst. And we all have them. Even those people who have seemingly perfect lives and seem to have everything together. It doesn’t matter how you were raised or what kind of life you lived before, we’ve all had experiences that have shaped the way we view ourselves – what we think deserve, what we think we’re capable of doing. These limitations, however, aren’t real. We’ve subconsciously put them in place and have conditioned ourselves to abide by them whenever they creep up in various situations in life. Whether you realize it or not, we all have conscious and unconscious beliefs about ourselves that either drive us forward or hold us back from our potential to have and live the best life possible. Rid yourself of limiting beliefs. Take away your limitations.

How to fix this // Want more? This article shows you exactly how to eliminate your limiting beliefs. If you can’t read it now, save it, pin it, pocket it for later. I became a believer as soon as I tried it myself. And it’s a great exercise that everyone, entrepreneur or not, should do from time to time.

The Takeaways

It’s hard to sustain results consistently unless you have the right systems or rituals in place as well as the right mindset. Keeping your goals in sight so you see them daily is one of the most effective ways to keep momentum moving forward. You can use these customizable desktop wallpapers for your various devices, add whatever reminders, affirmations, mindset, quotes – whatever it is that keeps you hustling every day – so you have them front and center at all times. People like talking about finding success all the time, but few take action and do the work required. So make it your goal to be actionable so you can keep momentum up past a week or two.

Free Goal-Setting Wallpaper Designs from unodostrae.com

Do you have any other killer productivity tips? Share them with us by leaving a comment below! SaveSaveSaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave

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Business

11 Ways to Outsource Creative Services (Even if You Have a Creative Biz)

To outsource or not to outsource? That is the question.

Small biz quotes for every entrepreneur- Outsourcing doesn't have to be a taboo topic

As an entrepreneur, you know that you have the ability to get stuff done. After all, you created a business from the ground up. A lot of entrepreneurs wear every hat in the closet when it comes to their business. The creative hat, the financial hat, the marketing hat — the list goes on. But running a business like this can become draining and can even end up costing you money (not too mention your sanity) in the long run. So how do you keep things fresh in your business in a sustainable way?

The answer? Outsource. I know, it’s a scary word. Your business is your baby. You know exactly what it needs and you feel like you’re the only one who can do it right. It’s a huge leap to hand over even a tiny bit of control to someone else. But once you do it, you’re going to have even more time to work on the parts of your brand that you actually want to work on – the pieces that align with your strengths and interests. Developing projects that you’ve been putting on the back burner. Creating new content months in advance. Finding new ways to enhance your customer experience.

Outsourcing isn’t limited to the mundane tasks like payroll or taxes (even though those are important things to have covered). Creative outsourcing is just as important. Even if you run your own creative business, you can still benefit from outsourcing tasks that don’t directly tie back to the services you offer. And sometimes it’s better to have a fresh set of eyes and new perspective when you’re too closet to the details. Here’s a comprehensive list of things you can outsource for your business and how to find freelancers to make it all happen.

How to Outsource Creative Services

How to start outsourcing creative services and find the best creative freelancer out there.

1. Brand Strategy

Hiring a brand strategist is a smart play for any business owner. Oftentimes, many are so eager to launch and they build out parts of their brand in piecemeal. This creates many inconsistencies (and confusion for the customer) along the way. You can hire a brand strategist when you’re first developing your business or if you feel like your current branding has become a little stale. So whether it’s your strength or not, outsourcing this to a specialist is a surefire way to bring your brand vision to life while you work on growing other parts of your business.

2. Logo Design

When building a brand, logo design is one of the first things people attempt to DIY. You can spend time trying to master this with online tutorials and video how-to’s. But if design isn’t something that comes naturally to you, the many technicalities to learn (from design to software) could be better spent on your customers or clients. So save yourself the stress and consider hiring someone who specializes in gorgeous logo design to do this for you.

3. Photography

Stock photos are good. But custom branded photography is king. If branding is how you stand apart from the pack, original photos are worth investing in. They’re one of the most compelling ways you can craft engaging content for your marketing. If creating visual content sounds way too time consuming for you, hire a photographer to help you create imagery of your products, of your brand lifestyle, and even of yourself. The unique imagery will make your brand memorable and help you stand out.

4. Content Marketing

Marketing may seem like a pretty simple task but as brand owners, we all know it’s not that simple. For product-based businesses, creating compelling content is a way to get potential customers to land on your site even if they’re not in the market for your product. For service-based businesses, high-quality content can position you as an expert in your field. If writing isn’t your thing or you simply don’t have time to churn out the amount of articles you want, create an editorial team by hiring freelancers to you help out. It may take some planning (and editing) on your end but you’ll be happy you got the help.

5. Website Design

You don’t have to be a web designer to create a website nowadays. But you do need to know how to navigate the many platforms out there, like WordPress or Squarespace, in order to launch. And this can take a lot of time. But hiring someone else to do this, especially if you’re on a timeline, will free you up so you can focus on the core of your business. Similarly, if you’re looking to relaunch on another platform because you’ve outgrown the one you’re currently on, you can also hire a virtual assistant to handle migrating your content over.

6. Blog Posts

You may consider getting contributors or guest bloggers to write for your site. Especially if you aren’t keen on writing or even if you just find yourself experiencing a spell of writer’s block. There are websites you can sign up to find guest bloggers like MyGuestBlog.com or you can frequent Facebook communities to find opportunities as well. Finding someone to do this kind of work (and do a good job) can seem overwhelming especially if you’ve never done it before. Click on the button below to get a handy cheat sheet if you need some help finding the best Facebook groups to post in. If you encounter someone who’s great and who you think can provide valuable insight to your audience, then reach out to them!

 

How To Find A Freelancer Guide from unodostrae.com

7. Graphics

Programs like Canva make it super easy to create your own graphics. That is, if you have the time. If you want to really personalize graphics for your blog posts, your websites and your social media accounts, consider hiring a graphic designer. You can also hire a virtual assistant to create new templated graphics per your brand style. Again, this will save you those tedious hours on something you either 1) aren’t an expert in, or 2) would rather spend on another part of your brand.

8. Copywriting

Copywriting may seem like an easy task but it can be a serious burden for some. Writing out all of your website copy in a compelling and engaging way can take forever. Do you ever just stare at your computer screen willing your fingers to type out something perfectly catchy but nothing happens? From web copy to email templates to newsletter campaigns, hiring someone to wordsmith all of your ideas so that they are succinct and perfectly communicated is worth it. If you consider copywriting a time suck of an activity, taking it off the table will make a huge difference.

9. Social Media Management

Managing your social media presence can take a lot out of your day. Coming up with a pithy caption, editing your photos, scheduling everything out so that you stay active – it takes a lot of planning. And if you slack off even just a little bit, you’ll see the consequences. Finding a freelancer or digital agency to help you out with this can be a serious timesaver, particularly if they specialize in strategy and not just execution. Having someone dedicated to schedule all of your posts, join various groups and pods, and manage your content will make a huge difference.

10. Video Content

Not including the time it takes to shoot a video, you can easily spend an entire day editing one as well. Making sure every little thing lines up. Deciding which transition works best. What song you should use. It’s so easy to get lost in editing your content. Good thing there are freelance video editors who can take some of the workload off your plate. When you feel like you don’t have the time, or you just really hate the way your video is turning out after hours of staring at your computer screen, consider hiring one. Your videos will get done and in half the time it would have taken you to do it with 100% less of a headache.

11. Anything Else That You Absolutely Hate Doing

A word to the wise: if it’s a pain in the ass, stop doing it. It will take up too much of your time and it won’t bring you joy. And if you don’t enjoy doing it, it won’t be sustainable and could end up being a point of resentment later down the road. If the one thing you hate is actually crucial to your business, find someone else who is better at it than you are and outsource. You’ll be happier and your business will ultimately benefit.

Where to Find Freelancers

There are a bunch of different ways to find freelancers to satisfy your creative needs. The most reliable way is through referrals from your business friends or some of your most trusted online business communities. This way you can have a little more peace of mind that the relationship will go off without a hitch. There are also a bunch of different websites where freelancers go to find work. Try UpWork or similar websites to find who you’re looking for. And websites like these show you ratings of each freelancer so you can get a good idea of the type of work you’ll be receiving.

The Takeaways

You’ve spent a lot of time on your business, and you want to do everything you can to make it succeed. Sometimes what can help your business grow the most is reaching out for help from other professionals. Don’t feel like you can’t outsource creative services on top of your business services.

I’ve compiled additional tips and resources for you to leverage and start using today. Click below to download and see which Facebook groups to join and view a sample post that’ll get you a ton of responses.


How To Find A Freelancer Guide from unodostrae.com

 

If you need help with content creation or have visual and digital marketing needs, get in touch with us- we’d love to learn how we can work together.

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Business

One Stop Shop for Visual Marketing Resources

So, you’re an entrepreneur looking for visual marketing, branding and photography tips? The good news is you don’t have to look to far to find a plethora of amazing free resources on the Internet for small business owners and entrepreneurs. There are countless sites dedicated to these categories that are putting out new info everyday. But why spend hours upon hours scrolling and skimming to find the gems when I’ve compiled this shortlist of our favorite visual marketing, branding and photography resources?! You’ll definitely need to bookmark this and refer back along the way of your brand’s journey!

Visual marketing resources for entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Visual Marketing Resources

From social media marketing, to email campaigns to blog post graphics, visual marketing strategies stretch far and wide. Here are some of the best resources if you’re looking for inspiration, actionable tips or editing softwares.

Photography resources for entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Photography Resources

Your photos have the power to tell your brand’s story and even drive sales. A well designed and well thought out blog photo or social media post can have a major effect on your audience. Check out a couple of the best photography resources for shooting, editing, and designing the best pictures imaginable!

Branding resources for entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Branding Resources

And at the root of all your visual marketing tactics is your brand! It’s so important to figure out exactly what your brand values are, and how you want to portray that to your followers and customers. These resources will help you nail down those basics and then put those ideas into action.

Roundup

The Internet is filled with amazing resources for you to try out. Our resources roundup is meant to answer all your questions when it comes to visual marketing and hopefully even inspire some new ones. As an entrepreneur, it’s so important to keep learning and growing as your brand and business grows.

Online resources may give you all the answers you need. But in the case that you have anymore questions or you need help figuring out anything visual marketing related, get in touch or leave a comment below. For updates and other resources, sign up for our email list, here.

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Branding

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You know better brand visuals are within reach...if only you had a little organization and guidance. Check out my free resource library for the essential tools you need for a better looking brand.

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