Chatbooks - The Greatest Invention Ever!

While trying to pass the time and not fall asleep nursing Noah the other night, I stumbled upon the company Chatbooks.  Chatbooks is an app that organizes all your Instagram photos into little albums and then prints them out in the cutest 6x6 books.  It was the simplest thing to do.  All I needed to do was login on Instagram through their site and all my photos and captions were there.  They nicely put them into albums of 60 photos.  I could not believe that I had 6 books already filled up.  I went through and corrected some typos I had in my Instagram photo captions, but after that all I did was order them.   I was never so excited to get something in the mail. Chatbooks_0360

The best part is they automatically send me my new book when it gets full and hits 60 photos.  I am just about done with Volume 7 ;)  It is so neat that my Instagram in printed form...it is now on my coffee table in something tangible.   I think I have flipped through these little guys like 100 times since getting them in the mail yesterday.  Especially when you have kids, it is so fun to look back at my photos I posted a year ago and watching Charlie grow through each post.

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At only $8 a book it was really a no brainer.  I even have my grandparents on a subscription since they don't have access to Instagram or a computer.  Every time I receive my new book, they get the same copy as well.

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It makes me want to Instagram more life events and things I want to remember since I am not just posting on Instagram now, I am making an album too! :)

If you want to try them out here is a coupon code for a free book: L2GHC2EX

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#RealLife

About a year ago I did a post on how Instagram can make people's lives look so "perfect".  I posted these happy and smiling photos of me, Charlie and Jake playing in the backyard, but the reality was...That was the hardest week we had in a long time.  It is so easy to compare your life to another's on Social Media just because you think it may look "perfect", but really...we have no idea. Juggling life with a newborn and a two year old has been tough.  It is so rewarding and feels so complete, but as Jake said the other day at lunch to me "Being a parent is seriously the hardest job on the planet."  It sure is.  But there is nothing that makes us happier on this planet.

Jake and I are in the middle of a massive launch of a super awesome program meant to make the business lives of photographers and other creatives a piece of cake, called DUBSADO.  We are creating it because we are the business owners who seriously don't have time to do "busy office work" all day.  We need as much free time as possible to brainstorm about making our businesses better and most importantly being with family.  But in building this program, it has been a true test of patience.  It is so easy to get "lost" in the Instagram posts of other creatives who seem to have all day of uninterrupted work, great coffee breaks at the local coffee shop, and office spaces that are so clean and perfect that it is no wonder their creative juices are flowing.  Again, I have to stop and tell myself that I have NO IDEA.  We all have struggles.  We are all human.  But it is those hard things that make us and our businesses even stronger.  Heck, Jake and I would not have even come up with the idea of this program if things were easy for us... since this program is meant to make the business lives of creatives easier :)

I can post the typical mock up desk photo of my current "perfect" work station right now with the muffin and tea in the corner that I sip on while I work...

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...but what you don't see is what is behind me.  The sleeping newborn who finally went down after waking up every hour last night.  The two year old who took out just about every toy he can find and threw them everywhere.  The husband next to me who is frantically trying to get emails answered before that two year old remembers he wants to go swimming.  But that is all perfect to me because I have a precious little boy who just loves to sleep (during the day).  A two year old that has such an excitement for life that is just contagious.  And a husband that would do anything and everything for his family.  I would say that is pretty much perfect.

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Refreshed and Organized

I am not a fan of New Years resolutions.  Call me crazy, I know, sounds depressing, but let me explain...  I feel like I just can't say this year I will work out more, or this year I will be more organized.  For me, there needs to be more depth and meaning to it for me to actually pull it off.  Instead, I like to take a look at my past year and see what worked and what didn't.  What was successful and what was hands-down something that absolutely needs to change in the next year and years to come.  This goes for both personal and business sides of things. Here are my top 3 goals for the year:

1.  SPENDING & SAVING I am always checking my credit card statements and bank transactions for anything suspicious, but I am not consciously aware of HOW I am spending my money.  I want to be able to keep track of our spendings more and be able to see where we might be able to saving more.  I have started using Mint.com to help keep track of this better, and will hopefully make prepping for taxes next year a lot easier!  Anyone looking to manage their finances should definitely check that site out... Best of all, it is free too!

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2.  ORGANIZATION I would call myself a very organized person.  I like things neat and tidy.  You can pretty much walk into my house at any given time and it will be nice and clean.  Different story though if you walk into my office or look my calendar.  You would be totally lost and confused.  My desk would look like I am busy but my calendar would say otherwise.  I have forgotten so many meetings and things I had to do because I was trying to remember too many things.  I am a visual person too so if it is not written down...it doesn't exist.  So to help with that, my amazing best friend bought me the Day Designer Planner.  I feel like a school girl excited about her new school supplies.  I think I have brought it with me to bed every night so I can plan out my next day!  This planner is the best.  So simple and very straightforward.  Now whenever a to-do list item pops into my head I can write it down instead of trying to remember all these things.  Being able to think more clearly has been so refreshing.  My brain surely cannot remember EVERYTHING I have to do!

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3.  Say NO!  In the business world, for me, it is VERY hard to say no.  I feel so honored that clients are coming to me, how can I say no to them?  But simply, I need to respect my family and myself first.  That just meaning saying no to any shoot inquiring on a family day or a day where I know it would cause stress on my family and I.  That unnecessary stress is not good for anyone and doesn't help my creative process either.  Allowing myself to have those "NO" days allows for more creative spark on my working days too.  Don't worry though, I'll never flat out say NO! to you.  We'll just find the next closest time we are both available! ;)

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New Wedding Albums!

I am so excited to finally offer heirloom wedding albums to all my brides.  Included in all my wedding packages now is a 12 x 12 leather, lay flat album, thick paged album.  Looking at wedding photos on the computer is just not the same as holding it in your hand and sharing them with friends and family.  Perfect coffee table books!  I think each album I have ordered I have looked through about 100 times.  The quality of these albums is just what I have been searching for!  Got to love the smell of leather!  Brides have the option to add pages, pick their favorites to put in the album AND order parent albums for parents and grandparents. Wedding-Albums_0159 Wedding-Albums_0160 Wedding-Albums_0161 Wedding-Albums_0162

These lay flat pages are just seamless.  It really makes the spreads flow!

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This is the PARENT ALBUM.  It is almost the exact same except it is 6x6 and the cover doesn't have a photo.  But the pages are just as thick and the quality is just as amazing!

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And this is what Charlie was doing while I was hurrying to take these photos 5 minutes before we had to leave for Church!

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New Store Item - Canvas Prints

I am so excited to launch a new little part to Becca Liz Photo and that is CANVASES!  Lately, I have just fallen in love with taking those images from your computer and putting them in print.  There is just something about having that photo in your hands or on your walls. I ordered some for my family from my lab, and I just LOVE the quality of the canvas.  I have seen others that are flimsy and really cheaply put together even though the price tag was not cheap.  Heck, Shutterfly's canvases are pricy and I have never really loved the quality of their prints.

Now with photo shoots and weddings, all Becca Liz clients can order these canvases as gifts for family or for just your own walls!

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They are about an inch in thickness.

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And come ready to be hung!

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Wooden Photo Box

Ever since I printed this year's Christmas cards, I have been determined to put more of my photos in print.  They look 100% more beautiful on paper than they do on a computer.   There is just something about holding a photo in your hand and not staring at a computer screen.  I have been looking into some creative ways to store those prints, and I came across the idea of a wooden photo box!  I fell in love with the idea, so I ordered one for my nephew for his birthday...I was thrilled with how it turned out.  I am now going to be doing this way more often and now extending it to any Becca Liz clients wanting to put their photos in print.

The top of the box has a photo printed into the wood.  It is neat because you can actually see the wood grain in the photo.

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The box is roughly 4x4.

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The wrapping is perfect for a gift!

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But, when I unwrapped it, the quality of the photos were just so rich looking!

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I ordered 10 mounted prints, which means they are "glued" to very think paper...this made it perfect for the little picture holders it came with!  There is another option for 50 prints on regular photo paper.  The quality is still just as amazing as these!

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I was so happy with my little wooden photo box.  Yes, printing your photos does cost money rather than leaving them on the computer, but the quality you get with a great company is amazing!  If ANY of you Becca Liz Photography clients would love prints, canvases (post coming on that soon), or anything, shoot me over an email [email protected] to get more details!  I would be happy to put the memories we captured in print!  Tangible photos are way more fun to look at!

Promoting a Business On Instagram Quickly and Effortlessly

How-to-promote-your-business-on-instagram-1 I honestly think it's a blessing and a burden to have our lives integrated with social media. If you have followed my blog at all over the past year and a half you would know that nothing makes me more upset than friends hanging out and checking their Instagram.

That said, don't get me wrong, there is a time and a place for people to enjoy their social networks. There is so much value in the different avenues of networks in terms of enjoyment, but even more important is the leverage they can provide you as a business owner.

I get a lot of questions from people that don't use Instagram. They wonder what the point is of this service. Why would you just want to post pictures and nothing else beyond a few words?

It's actually the specific nature of Instagram that makes it so valuable. Because you're not filtering through so many different types of media, you don't get overwhelmed. It's easy to explore yet simple to get back to your feed. At the end of the day I often find myself looking through my entire feed to get to where I left off. That's exactly where the value lies in Instagram: "users are much more likely to see your content." unlike Facebook.

How to Achieve Instagram Success

1.  Pretty and Engaging Content:  Take photos that are nice to look at.  People are naturally attracted to nicer photos.   These photos also should be something people find it worth double tapping.  Although, your meal may be great, it is not too engaging to take a photo of your amazingly delicious burger and fries.  You want to make people smile, laugh, comment on, feel inspired, relate to, and LOVE the photo.

2.  Find a balance of Business and Personal:  Too many selfies can be a turn off.  Too much all business can be boring.  Finding that perfect balance is so important.  People are noisy!  ;)  We love seeing glimpses into other peoples homes, lives, and workplaces.  Sharing what your personal life is like is fun for people to see.  Then, sharing business photos allow your followers to recognize what you do!   I really like 2:1 ratio.  For every two personal, I will share a business one.  There are times when that obviously changes, but I find it a good framework to follow!

3. Post frequently but not too much:  Have you ever unfollowed someone because they post too much?  I sure have!  I think that posting once a day is enough to get the exposure.   I know some weeks may be more or less, but having a goal to how much you plan to post is great!

4.  Sharing Through Instagram: The easiest way for a user to share an image in Instagram is for them to "tag" one of their friends in it. That says, "Hey Bob, check this image out." Bob will come to that image and possibly like it, may he will check out the other images in that feed, maybe he will hit the follow button on that account, and maybe he'll click on to your website and become a client.  This version of sharing is very important. When you post content that relates to a lot of people whether through being inspiring, or pretty, useful or interesting, people will send their votes to your picture through tags.

5.  Hashtags: I am so bad at these, but when I do have hashtags, I get way more likes on a post than one without.  Hashtags are the thing that connect you to other people with the same interests.  #weddingphotographer connects me to all other wedding photographers!  I love it.  But it also allows people to find you and your photos!  Create your own hashtag as well that people can find you with.  A VERY new one I have is #blpbrides.  It puts all my brides under one "album".   No one else has this hashtag so all the photos there are mine!

6.  Liking Photos:  Like photos other than the people you are following!  Like pictures based on relevant hashtags to show other people in your niche that you exist. Without this simple gesture they may never had heard of you.

7.  My BIG Secret: Well, here it is and it's something that has really saved me so much time in building a following on Instagram, painlessly.  I don't have time at all to like lots of photos, but I really wanted to get some exposure for my Instagram account since it is my business one as well. Being the programmer that my husband is, he decided to make a program that would do it automatically on pictures with hashtags that I would normally like.  It just likes it FOR me!  #weddingplanner and a ton a wedding planners follow my account because I liked all their photos.  #weddingphotographer and like minded professionals follow me because I liked all their photos.   You get the point!  It's SUCH a timesaver!!!  We used it on my account for a month before it officially launched as RoboLike.com and has gained me over 700 really cool people that now follow my Instagram.   These followers RoboLike helps me get are real people that share the same interests as me! It's been so much fun engaging a larger crowd that interacts... it keeps me motivated.  You should give it a try if you are trying to build your following!

That's all for now, if you have any other Instagram tips or trips I would love to hear!

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New Site, New Name & Free Starbucks!

Friends, today is the day...The day I have waited a very long time for.  Since deciding I wanted to become a photographer, I have striven to create a brand that reflected me.  So after months of searching for inspiration and finding what in the world I would look like if I were a website..I think I pretty much figured it out.  Today I am launching my brand new site. Becca Liz Photography! I am kinda sad to leave my old name behind since that is what I started my business with back in 2008.  But I know I wanted to have something that was more personable.  When people hire me, they are not hiring a studio...they are getting ME, Becca Liz.  A real person who cares about each photo and everyone in it.  In fact, there is meaning behind the name too.  To my grandfather, I am always Becca Liz!  This makes it even more special to me.

Jake and I did everything on our own.  From logos to branding...It was a feat.  It is hard doing everything yourself, but I definitely appreciate my site a lot more to know that took A LOT of love to make it look like it does.  In fact, the logo came about by just one pen.  Yes, a PEN!  I loved the way this pen wrote.  So I started doodling.  Then the doodles became a sketch of the website, then that sketch became my site complete with the logo!  After four months of trying to come up with a logo it took one pen and 10 minutes...

A special thank you to my husband Jake for doing everything you see on this new site.  From the site itself to most of the photos of me, everything...  He is amazing and everything I had pictured in my head came across beautifully the way he did it.

Here is to a new chapter of life and business, Becca Liz Photography - Weddings, Headshots and Families.  I cannot wait to capture the stories that have yet to be told!  To kick off new site with a celebration, I am giving away TWO $25 Starbucks Gift Cards!  Who doesn't love a good ole' Starbucks?!  Go ahead and enter to win!

 

Starbucks Card Winners: Diane and Mandy! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Wedding Photography - Styled Shoot

My heart and my mind has never felt so full.  This past Sunday I made the journey to Virginia to attend a 2 day intensive workshop, by Katelyn James, on the ins and outs of building a successful wedding photography business.  Let's just say, it was the most beneficial and best investment I could have ever done for my business. I have followed Katelyn's blog for sometime now, and I fell in love with her work and her personal life stories.  I found myself relating to everything!  When I met her for the first time this week, after blog-stalking her for about a year and a half, I can say she is one of the most genuine and real people I have ever met. With such a loving heart, she jammed packed those two days with 24 hours of instruction and hands on experience.  I am so thankful to her and her husband for opening up their home and giving other photographers the tools and knowledge we need to live our dream jobs!

Here are some sneak peaks of the styled shoot we did in front of her garage doors!!!  Can you believe garage doors can look this amazing?!?  The entire shoot will be coming later after it has been submitted and approved for publication.  Can't wait to share more then!

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Styling and Florals: Amanda Veronee  Paper floral decor: Sweet Pear Paper Furniture rents: Paisley & Jade Hair and Make Up: Emily Hudspeth

Off to Virginia

I feel like a little kid going to the first day of school with new books, new supplies, fresh pencils...Yesterday, I took off to Virginia for a 2 day intensive Wedding Photography Workshop by an amazing photographer I have been following for some time now, Katelyn James. This is the first time I have travelled all by myself.  I will miss Charlie and Jake so much!  But I am looking forward to learning how to grow my business even more.  There is so much that I have yet to learn.  In a creative profession, that is the way it always will be.  I will never be done learning, and that is totally okay with me.  That just means my work will just keep getting better and better!  Can't wait to share photos from the trip!

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