Meeting Your Ideal Client in Person | Getting It Right

Many freelance writers know their ideal client and are great at communicating online. But what if you’re meeting in person?

Ideal Client

Meeting Your Ideal Client…In Person

The introvert in me thinks maybe I can get by without having to meet clients or prospects in person or speak on the phone. Because I’m pretty good at ruining things in person with my awkwardness and inability to conquer small talk.

However, the business owner in me knows I can’t always hide behind a screen. Getting out there and spending time with clients and other freelancers is an important part of growing my business.

And if I can’t meet for coffee, how will I ever gain the confidence to attend a trade show or event or speak at a large conference?

Here are a few tips for getting public engagement right the first time.

Make Your Presence Stand Out

No matter the event, investing in some branding is a worthwhile expense. If it’s a booth at a trade show, a branded area will help you stand out, plus you can use it again and again. Some popular items include custom printed marquees, pop-up stands and table banners.

When Meeting Your Ideal Client, Have Something to Say

I find small talk difficult. I feel awkward and unsure of myself. But then I figured out a secret trick: work out anecdotes ahead of time. And when someone asks me about what I do and who I serve? Well, I also have my elevator pitch memorized.

Consider Offering Freebies

They work on your website so why wouldn’t the work in person? One of my freelancing friends has branded pens that she hands out to colleagues and clients. I love it! There are many reasons to invest in promotional products for your business, and the right promotional products will both be useful and will create a lasting impression. But don’t go overboard with the swag. Stick to a budget you can afford and regularly evaluate their impact.

Show confidence

Confidence is key when it comes to meeting with members of the public. Help your team to develop confidence when making sales or providing services to help make the right impression on your customers. Providing training, creating scenarios, etc. can all help your employees improve their confidence when meeting the public to give the best impression of your company from that first interaction.

Making a meaningful connection with your ideal client and networking with other freelancers can help you grow your business. As a classic form of marketing, you shouldn’t underestimate the value of going out there and meeting people face to face. What’s next on your list of ways to improve your business?

Many freelance writers know their ideal client and are great at communicating online. But what if you're meeting in person?

5 Great Sites to Get Free Stock Photos

These days there are endless sites to get amazing free stock photos. There are so many sites offering royalty-free images there is no longer any reason to take any old image from the Internet and use it on your website.

Free Stock Photos

What are royalty-free images?

There’s a difference between free stock photos and royalty-free stock photos, although they can be one and the same. At times. A free stock image means you can use it free-of-charge. Royalty-free means you can use the image however you want but you may have to purchase it.

When you’re on a stock photo website, take a moment to review the terms and conditions. Sometimes you can download a free stock image but there are restrictions in how you can use it or you must credit the source and/or photographer. Some sites allow you to use an image once for free and require you to purchase a license to use it again or in another way. Some free stock image photo sites are also royalty-free and allow you to use the images for commercial use.

There are some great commercial use, royalty-free free stock photo websites out there. And that’s important to us because we’re writers, not photographers. We need the help! While I do purchase stock images and take my own photos from time to time, I mix in a good amount of free stock photos on my website and social media.

Places to Get Free Stock Photos

Pixabay

I’ve talked about Pixabay before and I still recommend it. It’s a great place to go for general images. The free stock photography site offers more than a million images and videos including illustrations and vector graphics. It’s worth checking out.

Unsplash

Unsplash is the hipster mecca of free stock photos. These beautiful, free photos are gifted by the world’s most generous community of photographers, according to the website. All photos are licensed under Creative Commons Zero, meaning you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash.

Gratisography

These quirky, creative, always free photos are toted as the world’s quirkiest collection of free high-resolution pictures. According to the website, these free stock photos are comprised of the world’s best, most creative images and are free of copyright restrictions.

Styled Stock

Self-described as feminine stock photography, this site offers free stock photos focused on fashion, lifestyle, food, floral, entrepreneur and beauty. These images are available to adapt and use them for commercial purposes without attributing the original author or source.

New Old Stock

This site curates old photos for personal and non-commercial use, at minimum. Links to the original image location are provided for users to check the licensing details for themselves. Most or all of the images available on this site are in the public domain, which means no permission is required to use these free stock photos at all.

These are a few of my go-to sites for free stock images and I hope you find great images from them.

But if we’re taking free stock photos, how do photographers get paid?

I wanted to address this objection because this freelance lifestyle isn’t easy. And, if you’re like me, you’re friends with professional photographers and you want to support them whenever possible.

And you may be wondering if taking free stock photos is a bit hypocritical since many photographers are freelance and we work so hard to not work for free.

When you use free stock photos you’re not stealing from the photographer. Many of them are trying to make a name for themselves and are gifting their images to the community as part of their long-term strategy. Once they gain a larger following they’re able to make money from their photography through bookings, selling images to their follows and fans, and many other income streams. They’ve decided by offering some things for free it will help them reach their career goals.

Much like offering free advice on blogs, I might add.

Here’s the bottom line: if you don’t feel comfortable using free stock photos then don’t. Take your own or purchase them. There are upsides to not using free stock photos. Not only will your conscience be clear, you’re images will be unique and customized if you take them yourself. If you purchase stock photos your images will likely higher quality and less “all over the Internet.” So there are there’s that.

These days there are endless sites to get amazing free stock photos. There are so many sites offering royalty-free images there is no longer any reason to take any old image from the Internet and use it on your website.

Once you have great photos, here’s how to make them even better.

What is a Flat Lay and How to Style One

What is a flat lay? I hear this all the time and up until a few months ago it was me asking the Internet. Here’s the quick answer: it’s a photograph shot from above, flat.

What is a flat lay and how to style one for Instagram

What is a Flat Lay and How to Style One

Although this term is kind of sort of new (the earliest reference I can find is 2015) the style is not. It just went by different names.

Other names for flat lay

  • Flatlay (OK, that’s just a different spelling)
  • Collage
  • Bird’s-eye view
  • Top shot
  • God’s-eye view
  • Knolling (from the 80s, and the original flat lay)

If you’re styling your photo using a light background, natural light, and shooting it from above…then you already know what a flay lay photo is. You just didn’t have the vocabulary.

So. That was easy. How do I style a flat lay?

What is a flat lay? It's when you take a photo from above, parallel to the styled objects you're shooting. It's a great way to do #bookstagrams and showcase your products in an interesting and engaging light. Try different props, backgrounds, and textures to tell a story and involve your audience.

Now you have to figure out what you’re going to take photos of. When figuring out what you want to showcase you also need to think about why. Why are you showing this to your audience? What makes it special? Why do you want them to see it? Whatever product or prop you land on, this becomes your “hero” or the focus of your composition.

But let’s break the flat lay down a bit using a personal example

I love taking flay lay photos of books and movies because it makes them so much more interesting. The book or movie is the hero—none of the props should take attention away from the hero!—and everything else adds to the story.

If you look at the above examples, you can see I’ve achieved the storytelling angle better in some than others using props, background, and composition. The more flat lays you do, the better you get at them (trust me). I shot these over a period of months using different techniques, camera angles, and lighting.

What is a flat lay? The simple answer is a photo taken from above. It used to be called knolling or bird's-eye view (borrowing from magazines and movies). Now it's used on Instagram and blgos to showcase products in an organized, clean, and engaging way. Showing knitting as a flat lay is a popular way to make your products stand out from the rest.

I also wanted to include my knitting flat lays so you can see a more minimalist approach. The easiest way to get consistent light and look is to shoot everything on the same day using similar props and the same background. I did this because I wanted a consistent look on my Instagram feed while showcasing my hand knit products.

Here are a few tips for styling and shooting flat lays

Use a light background. In most cases, a piece of cardboard or a sheet will work great. A flat surface is ideal.

Try and style your flat lay. This can be difficult if you’re not artistic or confident with what looks good. Here are a few questions to ask as you style: Is my hero product the focus? Do I like this composition? What will make this more interesting? What will my audience like? Take a few shots and then re-style your flat lay and take a few more shots. The more you tweak the better you’ll get at it.

If possible, use natural lighting. After MUCH trial and error I found a window in my house that lets in a consistent amount of natural light from day to day. I created a nice little setup with a card table by the window so I can take advantage of the great light.

Try to be parallel to your flat lay when shooting. This is where things get interesting. You’ll need to be above the shot in order to get it right. Try a stool, chair, step ladder, or whatever you need to get in the correct position. I use a combination of a chair and a tripod but I’m always trying to get my shots more parallel.

Remember to take lots of photos and to move your flat lay composition around a bit so when you get to the photo editing you have a few options. This may take a while at first but you will get better, I promise! If I can figure it out…then you’ll be just fine.

Pin for later

What is a flat lay? It is when you take a photo from above, parallel to the styled objects you are shooting. It is a great way to showcase your products in an interesting and engaging light. Try different props, backgrounds, and textures to tell a story and involve your audience.

More social media tricks and tips

Check out these posts on the blogging prompt “light”

How to Choose Fonts for Your Website

Why are fonts such a big deal? I know they are but I don’t “get” it. But I understand, at least, that it does matter. So I’m here to tell you fonts matter and I could try and tell you why but I’d only be plagiarizing because I don’t understand it. Can we just agree they are important and move on to figuring out how to choose fonts when you know they matter but you can’t tell what works and what doesn’t? This is also known as how to choose fonts for your website when you’re not a designer.

How to Choose Fonts for Your Website When You're Not a Designer

How to choose fonts for your website when you’re not a designer

OK so let’s just do this. When choosing fonts for your website choose it for readability over anything else. Ugh, no fun right? But think of it this way: website visitors are fickle. If they drop in and have to squint to read your words, they won’t bother. So choose function over form in this case.

But don’t think that means you can’t do something funky—it just needs to be legible.

There are four basic types to consider when you choose fonts.

Serif

These fonts have “feet” at the ends of their letters. These are known as more traditional fonts and it’s argued they’re easier to read in print.

Sans-Serif

These fonts don’t have “feet” at the ends of their letters and it’s argued they’r easier to read on pixel-based screens.

Script

These fonts are easy to recognize: cursive. These are interesting but can be difficult to read on a screen.

Decorative

These fonts are meant to grab attention and are not practical.

What I recommend when you choose fonts

When choosing fonts for your website try and stay with serif or sans-serif. Wondering what your options are? Check out Google Fonts. There are tons of options and they’re all web friendly. Pick out something you like in the safe zone and then, if you want, let’s move to the next step.

IF you want a secondary font, then you need to do something called font pairing. I find this part mind boggling, but others seem to understand it. If you know what you’re doing then go for it! But if you’re like me, wondering how to choose fonts for your website when you’re not a designer, stick to the basics. Serifs with other serifs. Sans-serifs with other sans-serifs.

There is an argument for having more than one font—it adds contrast.

Kind of interesting, right?

I have looked all over the Internet for helpful articles on pairing fonts for non-designers. One is for the visual learner—The Art of Combining Fonts, and the other is for ones who want a more scientific approach—Four Techniques for Combining Fonts.

People who are passionate about fonts will tell you they make you feel something and help form your brand personality. So let’s circle back to my original point: fonts are important. They are, trust me. Well, take my word for it. Well, just go with it.

Want to go deeper on branding? Check out Brand Your Blog A Step-by-Step Guide.

I'm here to tell you fonts matter and give you some quick tips on how to choose fonts for your website when you're not a designer.

Brand Your Blog A Step-by-Step Guide

Want to brand your blog? Here are the things you’ll need to think about, decide upon, and commit to if you want your branding to be solid. They’re not hard, but you do need to make some choices, which will affect your future. No pressure.

Brand Your Blog A Step-By-Step Guide

Brand Your Blog: A Step-By-Step Guide

I have blogged for a long time. I don’t know if any of you have followed for the entire journey (like…more than a decade) but if you have you may be aware of a few domain changes, a blog merge, a big old switch from Blogger to WordPress, and then a rebrand. This is where we are today. Post rebrand.

OK, so there are loads of reasons why I’ve made these decisions along the way. Some strategic, some necessary, some whims but the rebrand was the most important move I made. The reason? I needed to. I was a casual lifestyle blogger from start and I wanted to transition into a professional writer. My blog brand (or lack thereof) was holding me back. Was I doing anything wrong? No. But I needed to make a change.

Elements of a Brand

Branding is an interesting science mixed with art but there are consistent elements when you’re looking to brand your blog. These are all things you’ll need to think about, decide upon, and commit to if you want your branding to be solid.

  • Memorable name (not clever)
  • An easy-to-remember (and spell) URL
  • Tagline (what you do and who you serve)
  • Colour palette
  • Branded graphics (like a logo)
  • Consistent fonts and image use
  • Writing voice
  • Blog topics and keywords
  • Publishing schedule

When I knew I needed a rebrand I put it off for a while. I was overwhelmed. There were so many decisions to make and I didn’t know what the right choices were. Or even if there were right choices. I hummed and hawed over all the details and then I reached a decision: I needed help. So I got help. I hired a graphic designer who could help me bring my ideas to life. It was a huge relief to have some of the load off my shoulders and once that decision was made, the rebrand happened in a couple months.

Here’s what I outsourced: colour pallet, logo design, font choices, and template design. This allowed me to focus on the foundation of my brand and while I was still part of the process, the load wasn’t so heavy.

This may not be the right decision for you but it was the right one for me.

Why do you want to brand your blog?

A brand lets people know who you are and what you do. Readers new to your site will only stay if you make it easy. If they have to think then they’ll leave. If they’re confused they’ll leave. By having a clear brand, readers will know what to expect. If they like what you do, they’ll stick around. They may even subscribe to your email list.

You might not want to brand your blog. You might not have to—it depends what your blogging goals are. Do you have goals? Why are you blogging?

If you need help setting goals, here’s a good place to start.

And here are a few goal ideas.

  • Gain more website traffic
  • Gain more email subscribers
  • Meet and network with other bloggers/influencers
  • Earn revenue
  • Increase personal expertise
  • Increase platform

If it helps, here are a few of my goals.

  • First, I want people to think of me as a professional writer
  • I want my website to look and feel professional at a glance
  • By keeping a blog I will demonstrate my writing skills
  • I want my website and blog to get me freelance work.
  • Long term goals include growing my platform, getting an agent and publishing a book with a traditional publisher

No pressure, right?

What you need to know

Before you brand your blog there are some other things you need to know, unrelated to branding. However, if you don’t know these things then your branding efforts may be in vain.

  • Your target audience
  • What problem are you solving for your target audience?
  • Your blog’s focus (also called a niche…what do you write about?)
  • Your email opt-in (yes you need one)

I know this seems a bit out of order but I know people love jumping into the “fun” stuff first. You know, the logo and colour palette. So I covered them first. But I hope you understand making these larger, cornerstone decisions are what will allow your brand to communicate to your target audience in the way you intend.

How it has gone for me

Since my blog rebrand I have grown into the design. It didn’t fit me right away. I felt like it was too flashy and self-important. It took some getting used to it.

I also had to retrain myself to write about my five chosen topics. This was a huge restriction compared to my previous anything goes approach. So I went slow. And I stalled while battling self-doubt and insecurity.

And then I went for it. I made a plan, I set goals (and spoke them aloud) and I grew into my brand. Is it working? Well, I’m on the way. I’m sticking to the plan and I’m seeing some results. Do I have a book deal? Still working on it.

Want to brand your blog? Here are the things you'll need to think about, decide upon, and commit to if you want your branding to be solid.

Ready to brand your blog? Let me know if you have any questions, I’m happy to help.