Sunday, March 30, 2014

{Grateful on Sunday} Last Week In Maui

One last week in Maui and then we move to Seattle. We've been gradually chucking our stuff into suitcases, cleaning cupboards, takin' care of business, and sending our last postcards to friends are the world. We are so excited to be in fresh crisp air, be cozy by the fire, have land that goes on and on and on, be surrounded by a beer culture (ok that's really Miggy's excitement haha), back with old photography friends (and that's my excitement haha), be near family again, and be able to do fun stuff like rock climbing, river rafting, etc... But for now, we're in Maui enjoying the sunshine and soaking it all in before we're flying away. This week I am grateful for.... 

delicious Wholefoods lunch-dates with Miggy,

blue sky & green trees, 

pretty pink flowers, 

fresh oranges,  

jumping on the 'Divergent' band wagon & reading the whole triology in hyperspeed,

a foot massage, 

date night with Miggy, 

watching the sunset, 

getting tasty treats from the chocolate/candy bar at Wholefoods before going to the movies to watch Divergent!!

lasagna noodles (they're my fav - morning after, cold with ketchup!!),


discovering a new beach!,

lists of books I want to read, 

stretching beneath a big blue sky, 

the tin roof on our house that makes the rain sound so beautiful, 

learning this funny fact, 

What are you grateful for this week?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

If it Ain't Fun, Get it Done - Facing Your Fears

Starting a business is SCARY. You have to do all these things that are way outside your comfort zone and if you don't do them, you don't make progress, you don't achieve your goals, you don't succeed.... you plateau, you stagnate, you worry, you procrastinate, you wither away and get exhausted by dreaming and never accomplishing. Achieving is invigorating. Not achieving is not only disappointing but absolutely draining. To feel like you're striving and striving but never thriving. So the only choice you have is to pull up your bootstraps and face the fear. Feel the fear, embrace the fear, and do it anyway. Not easy but it's your only choice if you want to make it. BUT I think it's totally OK to start slow and take baby steps, gradual progress. I think that jumping into the deep end and swimming in the fear is probably the most powerful to-the-point method. Sometimes 'jumping' is the most efficient way while 'wading' in is the most effective way. Today, I was so intimidated to JUMP that I figured my choice was either A) wade in or B) avoid all together and fail. So I waded into the pool of fear by contacting some people about my business idea. I started small but the key is that I started! I feel invigorated by the tiny insty bit of progress and a surge of new confidence has appeared that will help me contact more people and face bigger fears.

Feel the fear (embrace it) and do it anyway.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Trying So Hard to be Remarkable

When you're running your own photography business, it's up to you to make the decisions that will lead your business succeed or fail a miserable painful death. While in Maui, I've been studying lots of business books and brainstorming ways to apply their lessons to my own photography business. Sometimes I feel totally overwhelmed and my brain is stuffed with endless possibilities. Sometimes my brain feels totally empty and I feel kind of hopeless. I desperately want to come up with something that will take the world by storm and help my business succeed with flying colors. But I wonder if this desperation gets in my way because it creates a sense of urgency and comparison. Urgency that I have to this of it TODAY... before I go to sleep. Pressure doesn't seem to help me think straight. And then comparison with other people. Worried that I don't have that je ne sais quoi that makes people geniuses, leaders, and innovators. I think I'm afraid of wanting to be exceptional but realizing one day that I'm actually just ordinary. Isn't everyone afraid of being ordinary? Is that the whole thing behind why everyone want to be famous or wealthy or super-heros? I just really want to start a business and watch it grow into something that can make money and give me the lifestyle I want. It doesn't feel like a lot to ask but it seems to be asking so much of me in return.
In this video I mention: Purple Cow by Seth Godin

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Blogging Tips for Photographers 101 (Pt. 4): The Pretty Journal Syndrome

I started journaling when I was 12 years old - inspired by Bridget Jones’ Diary (of course). I remember standing in the back of our family room, watching the movie playing on the big TV on the wall. I was determined to start a journal the next day. My first journal was a black kind of leather skinny book. Looking back, I'm surprised I didn't get a red one, like Bridget's. ha!

It’s been over 12 years since I first picked up journaling, which means I’ve officially spent ½ of my life recording my life. So here’s a dozen years of journaling wisdom….

1) If your journal is pretty, you’re more inclined to write in it consistently (and enjoy the process). Thus, if you like how your blog looks, you’ll enjoy writing on it more. One of the big struggles that photographers seem to have is creating or designing a blog that they like. I know so many photographers that are resigned to the reality that they may never love how their blog looks. They've come to accept that sometimes the grass is always greener on another blog. Their never going to be in love with their own branding or blog design. 

My strategy for dealing with this has been simplicity. I figured I would never get sick of simplicity or regret a simple design. Things only get complicated when I start making the designs more complicated and colorful. For the time being, progress is more important than perfection. Simplicity is my mantra and greatest design guide.

2) If your journal is pretty, you’ll probably struggle to start writing on page #1 because you’re afraid to ruin it’s prettiness. Here’s your solution: take a pen and scribble all over that first page. Consider page 1 as your ‘Scribble Page’. It’s supposed to be messy (you can do it)… the perfection spell is broken and your handwriting on page two will automatically be looking prettier than whatever you did to page one. (Note: This is clearly a problem that only us control freak perfectionist suffer with lol)

If your blog looks pretty, you’ll be afraid to publish ‘ugly’ posts that don’t fit in perfectly with your branding. You’ll feel pressured to publish ‘perfect’ posts. I’m totally in this perfectionist boat with you. There have been days when I've spent 5 hours formatting a blog post so it looked ‘just so.’ Serious waste of my time and I feel guilty about it. It’s like a sick obsession or something.

The best solution I found on my own was to repeat constantly, “It’s GOOD ENOUGH. It’s GOOD ENOUGH.” I remind myself that the top priority is clicking publish and getting people to visit the blog. Sure, readers want it to look pretty but they don’t care if it’s PERFECT.
The best solution I learned from someone else.... "Progress not perfection."
You have to move away from the artist's desire to perfect the product and move toward the business person's mentality of making progress (even if it isn't pretty).
Good luck my perfectionist friends :D

Part 1: Challenges of Blogging for Photographers
Part 2: SEO
Part 3: 10 Ways to Come Up with Interesting Blog Content
Up next is Part 5: "But I Don't Like to Write" [Check Back in 2 Weeks!]

Monday, March 24, 2014

Niching & Pinterest Keeping Me Up at Night

It doesn't seem to matter how tired I am. If I have business on the brain, the nighttime hours just tick by...sleepless. I've been learning about niching recently and I've been inspired to challenge myself to explore deeper and deeper into a niche. How much can I specialize? and how much niching is too much? There seems to be a fine line. Sometimes when I feel frustrated that I can't take action and go out and take pictures, I mozy over to Pinterest and daydream about all the things I could do. Sometimes this is bad because it makes me compare myself to other people and it makes me feel like copying what others are doing. But sometimes it's good and it helps me figure out what I actually want to do. It helps me visualize the ideas in my head. It makes them more concrete and tangible. 

Do you stay up at night thinking about business?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

{Grateful on Sunday} Chocolate, Sunsets, Trees & Chocolate (and Chocolate)

My parents came to visit us in the first week of March. I was at work so I wasn't able to spend a ton of time with them but it was lovely to be able to show them around the island where we've been living for the past 6 months. I've been simultaneously counting down the days until we head back to Seattle and trying to soak in all the Hawaiian sunshine I can so I don't miss a moment of it. I'm so excited to see my grandma & Seattle friends. It's been a pretty lonely 6 months for me. Apart from the sweet girls I've met through work, I've been spending all my time alone at home (because Miggy works nights). It's been amazing 'me time' but I'm ready now to return to society haha. I've spent my evenings listening to audiobooks, walking down the beach park, lying under palm trees, devouring business books & podcasts, fiddling around with Excel spreadsheets and business plans, and flipping through Pinterest ha! Sometimes I'll rent a movie from Redbox at Safeway or use up some internet data on my phone to watch an episode of Grey's Anatomy or Glee or Revenge. Not having internet has been challenging at times (especially for blogging) but mainly, it's been a blessing. I love being forced to disconnect and do something else with my time. I've been reunited with my guitar and I'm practicing again - still pretty terrible but I just love plucking at the strings. I'm excited to be near my brother again too (in Seattle) because he's a rockstar and he'll be able to help me improve my guitar-skills. Hawaii has been a roller coaster and I've learned so many wonderful life lessons. I am so grateful for the entire time and everything that's happened here. 

Just this week alone, I am grateful for being able to dry our clothes on a clothesline as the warm trade-wind breezes blow the bedsheets around my body,

 the interesting little neighborhood we live in, 

the chocolate pick & mix at Whole Foods (and the little bit of courage it takes to try crazy flavors like this (which I totally didn't like).

salad bars — where I can make crazy combinations of every food available (even if they don't taste good together) so I can try everything,  

letting myself indulge in the chocolate bar every time I go to Wholefoods,  

 the pink flowers in the parking lot at work, 

 a job that lets me spend time at the beach,

savoring the last cookie from the special box my brother gave me at Christmas (and that every cookie made me think of him and smile),

the palm trees at Baldwin Beach, 

Maui sunsets, 

spending time with my parents in Maui, staying in a condo that had internet, walking on the beach with my dad and talking about business, and taking them to Stewarts Burgers where I ordered my favorite combo: Veggie Burger [with pickles & BBQ sauce] + Sweet Potato Fries + Coconut Milk Shake!

warm sand and warm sunshine, 

finding the motivation to make fresh green juice before going to work,

my lunch-time walks up into the Iao valley, 

being beneath trees,

finding plumerias on the ground before me everywhere I walk,

 the trade-winds that ruffle the leaves of the big tree outside our kitchen window,

realizing that trees look just like us (on the inside),

 treating myself to green juice (that someone else made for me),

did I mention the chocolate bar at Wholefoods?

listening to music on the beach while watching the sunset and an awesome kite surfer fly out of the water,

 new headphones that make listening to books & music SO MUCH BETTER!

What are you grateful for today?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I Don't Believe My Photography Business Will Ever Succeed

I wouldn't say I have 'self-doubt'. It's more of a heavy dose of reality. I'm feeling all the confidence and enthusiasm in the world as I start my business up again (after taking a 6 month sabbatical in Hawaii) BUT I'm also full of disbelief that it will ever take off and really succeed. I struggle to really imagine and believe any business I start really reaching the level of success I dream about. I worry that I'll spend my entire life striving after a successful business. I don't mind failures along the way but I worry that I'll never hit gold. At the same time, I'm not content to stay in a desk job and work for someone else. My entrepreneurial itch is too annoying to let me do anything other than pursue my own dreams but man this is hard and sometimes discouraging.

Watch me rambling on and on and on about this.... (ha!)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Shaving Your Head for Friendship & love

What a wonderfully inspiring video. I find it scary just watching these women shave off their hair. My hair is probably the part of my appearance that I'm most attached to. I love having long hair and I feel like it takes forever for my hair to grow. The idea of cutting it short feelings traumatic, let alone having it shaved off completely! Of course, the women in this video are completely right — hair is only a little part of you. What is really important is having your health. I suppose I wouldn't hesitate to shave off my hair in exchange for good health (if it ever came to that). I'm just so impressed with these women who didn't have to do this, but they DID. And the gesture they made for their friend is so beautiful. I hope I'd have the courage to follow through with this lovely idea if I were in their position. Enjoy this inspiring video of friendship.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Blogging Tips for Photographers 101 (Pt. 3): 10 Ways to Come Up with Interesting Blog Content

When it comes to blogging, the greatest struggle for photographers seems to be coming up with new (and interesting) content. You want to blog but you don’t know what to write about. NEWSFLASH! No one is expecting you to come up with genius blog ideas on your own. Your brain will run out of organic ideas fast so instead of bashing your forehead against your keyboard, it's time to start relying on outside sources. Stop trying to THINK of new ideas and start trying to FIND new ideas. Here are my favorite ways to find new blog content:

1. Ask other people for topics you can blog about. Ask family/friends to ask you questions about your business/art (both people in & out of your industry). What are they wondering? Even little things like "Why do you always do photo shoots in the morning?"
2. Be a sneaky duck and read through the comments on other people’s blogs. Find the questions people are asking and answer them yourself, sharing YOUR perspective/technique/opinion etc.. on your own blog IN YOUR OWN WORDS. *REMEMBER: You're answering a question...not stealing an answer.
3. Look for news & events in your industry & the wider world that inspire conversation.
What are people talking about on the radio this morning? Use Google alerts and have it send you updates whenever someone publishes news with keywords like “photography” or “portraits” etc… Comment on these articles, contribute to the global industry conversation.
4. Look for questions in social media groups
(like photographer's groups on Facebook) Answer the questions in a blog and post your blog link on the group page.
5. Keep a list of your own questions.
What do YOU want to learn about. Instead of waiting for someone else to blog about it, do the leg work, research, experiment, ask experts, share your findings on your blog. Now who's the expert!

6. Ask your own readers what they like most about your blog, what they’d like to see more of, and what they wish you would write about. It helps if you have contact with your audience through a newsletter and social media. I got ALL my inspiration for this blog series from my audience. I asked and you answered — thank you!! :D

7. Keep an ongoing list of topics you could blog about one day. Every single possible idea you have. Write it down. Even the stupid ones. You’re going to come up with lots of worthless junk but you’re panning for gold here = lots of stinkin' sand and just a couple nuggets of sparkle!

8. Respond to someone else's blog. Right about the same topic but improve upon it, add more info, do more research and go more in-depth. Don't be afraid to stir up some controversy - that's what makes things interesting. Don't be afraid to say, "I disagree..."

9. [My personal favorite] Eavesdrop on people. When you’re in a cafe, walking down the street, waiting in line at the supermarket, you’ll be surprised at all the crazy ideas their chit chat inspire. So many of my blog posts started as a random sentence I overheard at Starbucks.

10. State the facts, the cold hard truth.
Talk about what you’ve been doing, what's been on your mind (constantly), what you’re worrying about all day/night, what projects you’re working on this week, projects you dream about working on, what new workflow systems you’re developing, how you planned your last photo shoot, how you edit your photos, why you like your photos, how you found your last client etc… Stop trying to impress everyone with lofty content and come down to earth. Just state the facts of your life — the stuff that seems obvious and boring to you. People love it.

Do any of these tips help you?
What's your favorite tip for coming up with new blog content?

Check out other parts of this blog series:
Part 1: Challenges of Blogging for Photographers
Part 2: SEO
Part 4: The Pretty Journal Syndrome