Monday, August 3, 2020

Why You Should Hire a Professional Photographer for ANY Startup / New Business, Big or Small

If you're reading this, you're probably looking for ways to grow and solidify your new business.
And I'm here to help.

Today I want to talk with you guys about the power of photography & social media for your business.

How many times have you heard someone say, "That restaurant is so cute, I saw it on insta!"?
I've heard it time and time again. And I've found myself searching for new photoshoot location,  coffee shops, restaurants, etc., and checking their socials immediately after. Instagram has been the deciding factor on where I choose to take my $$ on numerous occasions. Think about it - you hear about a new coffee shop, and how good their drinks are, and how cute the ambiance is. You check them out on Instagram - and you've fallen in love. You're already texting your girlfriends and planning a girl's day, with a stop to said Cafe on the intinerary.

Starting a new business with solid photography & social media can seriously boost your sales. It can hype up your grand opening & keep the hype going long after.

There are seriously some brands that have solely built their business through the power of social media. 

Let's talk about them.

Black Tap NYC - In 2016, Black Tap created the "crazy shake." Before this, they were a one location small business restaurant in Soho. The power of their marketing and photography when developing this new product took them LITERALLY worldwide. Don't believe me? Click here. Do believe me? Still click here, because you have to see this. Black Tap has since been featured on E! News, Food Network, People Magazine, FORBES!!! Buzzfeed, New York Times, and literally, hundreds more. They now have locations in DOWNTOWN DISNEY ANAHEIM, Las Vegas, 35th Street NYC, Midtown NYC, Soho, Singapore, Dubai, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.

All because of marketing and photography. 

I can't stress the importance of these things for your business enough. If you aren't going to invest in photography, invest in a decent camera, and acquire some basic photography skills yourself. It can literally take your business to the NEXT level. If you have no idea what you're doing on Instagram, I wrote a blog about it. Click here

In addition, for a limited time, I'm going to be offering 25% off brand photography & social media consultation sessions. To take advantage of this, just shoot me an email (rajottephoto@gmail.com) & mention this blog!

Whether it's a side hustle, full time gig, or a side hustle you want to become a full time gig - I can't wait to see your businesses grow!


Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Instagram Tips For Small Businesses & Creators

Hey guys! Long time no blog. Life has been crazy busy lately, and I kinda love it.

I've decided to get back in to it, and I've been getting questions from local businesses & other creators lately, so I figured I'd write a blog about it!

This isn't what I usually write about, but I want to start sharing some practical photography and business advice with you guys!

First things first: The Instagram Feed.

Your instagram feed is super important for growth. It doesn't need to be perfect, but if it's all over the place, and doesn't make sense, users are less likely to follow you. When a new user comes to your page, you want it to POP.

There are a few ways you can keep your feed looking cohesive and high quality. 

My #1 tip for this is investing in a good camera OR a good iPhone. 

Obviously if you're a photographer, you should already have a good camera, and an iPhone isn't going to cut it. But if your a baker, florist, etc, and iPhone could be just fine. For these types of businesses, you just need something that will produce a good quality image.

Once you've got some high quality photos to work with - find an editing style. 

There's a few ways you can do this. My favourite way is my Lightroom preset. You can find mine here! Basically, you want to have consistent tones in your photos. This is way more visually pleasing when you go to someone's page. There's thousands of Lightroom presets on Etsy, all different styles, and super cheap! When you purchase, you'll receive a link to download the preset, it's usually an image. There will be instructions in the email on how to use it, so I'll leave that to whoever you purchase from. And of course, if you purchase from me, feel free to shoot me a message with any questions.

Another way to do this is VSCO! if you search "VSCO themes" in Pinterest, you'll come up with a TON of different presets you can use. These ones are all free! I created a board with some of my favorites!  These work a little differently - they tell you how to create the edit. Basically, you go through each setting in the photo on VSCO and alter it the way the theme you choose tells you. After that, you can select the photo, click "copy edits" and apply it to as many photos as you want! 

After you've got that down - get yourself a feed planning app. My favourite right now is the Plann app.

The goal here is to break up your content - what I mean by 
that, is to make sure that what you're posting flows. If you post two photos of the same thing in a row, it doesn't always look the best. When you break up your content, it looks better on your feed. You can see some below examples to get an idea! The first image has 2 sunset photos in a row, 2 quotes in a row, etc. The second spaces similar photos out nicely.

Now that you've got your content down - let's talk posting & algorithm.
When you post your photo, you want to use all of Instagram's features. Include your location!
Use hashtags! You CAN use up to 30, but I don't recommend it. The more you use, the more spammy you look to Instagram. This can cause them to shadow ban your image. This means that no one searching those hashtags will see your image. I recommend using 5-7 relevant hashtags - 2 larger ones with 1-2 million posts, and the rest smaller ones with 50-500k. This way you are using some popular ones, and some smaller ones where your content won't get lost in a sea of other posts.

ALWAYS change up your hashtags. Keep a list of 30 hashtags you'll use on a regular basis, and keep track of which ones you used last. I wouldn't recommend using the same ones in the same week even. Instagram flags repeated hashtags as spammy behaviour, and could be why you aren't getting seen.

Another important thing is to make sure you aren't using banned hashtags. I included an example of what Instagram might show you if you search a banned hashtag. Some of these are permanently banned, because they encourage behaviour against IG's guidelines, (pornographic content, but you could have guessed not to use tags related to that.) and some get temporarily banned when someone uses it on an image that is against there guidelines. I just recommend searching the ones you plan on using before you post.

Another way you might get yourself shadow banned is following to unfollow. Just don't do it. Instagram has no tolerance for 3rd party apps that allow you to do this anymore, and you could lose your account permanently. And they WILL shadow ban you if they don't permanently ban you. In addition, don't do any spammy behaviours such as liking thousands of images an hour, etc. Engage authentically with the community, but don't go overboard. I recommend no more than 20-30 likes an hour and 5-10 comments per hour.

Once you've posted, engage with your followers. Go through your feed, like images, comment, etc. Reply to ALL the comments you receive, and the faster you reply the better. The first hour your image is live determines how many people Instagram is going to show your image too. AND, they count your replies as engagement, so it only helps you!

The most important thing to remember about Instagram, is that they encourage community. They want to see you supporting others. A great way to keep your engagement up is by regularly being supportive of others. I LOVE to share local businesses! Not only because they regularly engage with me, but because it means so much to them. Share them in your stories, tag them, comment on their posts, etc. If you aren't on Instagram to build a community, then you shouldn't be on Instagram.

That's all for today guys. Hope you guys learned something new! And of course I'm always here to answer any questions you have.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Don't Tell Me That He's Finished Yet

Time flies by so quickly. Especially as an adult, we're all so busy and waiting on the weekend. It's so easy to forget that we aren't living for this 9-5, busy life. We aren't living for our goals and our desires. Not for that promotion, finishing school, buying that house. But when you're working every day towards a goal, it's SO easy to forget: this is not my purpose.

Sure, these things are wonderful. God actually desires that we would have a good life. He wants us to work hard and always honor him in everything we do. But in working towards these goals, we often allow them to define us. And when things don't go as planned..it can feel like the whole world crashed down on you. Despite everything the bible says, it can feel like God got tired of you and walked straight out of your life. Like it's you against the world.

I recently came to a realization that I will be stuck in a very difficult living situation for a significant amount of time. Despite my best efforts, (or bEcAuse I livE in nEw yOrk #screwyoucostofliving)
it just isn't feasible for me to be out on my own. I was in way over my head. Everything felt forced, in my own strength, impossible. I've never felt more deflated.

So I wallowed, got angry with God, and basically decided I was on my own. If you've ever felt that way, you know how quickly your emotions can spiral out of control.

I actually started to be angry with the people around me, for no apparent reason. I would find myself annoyed at the thought of certain people. Picking them apart in my head when they weren't around, and they had no idea I was even upset. Over STUPID things. I was basically a ticking time bomb, waiting to explode on someone. I created a scenario in my head where it was literally me against the world.

I can't tell you that I had this divine realization and all of my hurt and anger was lifted like a weight off my shoulders. I can tell you that I have made the daily decision to to the following.

1. Change my attitude towards other.
When I find myself angry with someone, I think of 5 times they made me smile. Or qualities I love in them. Just positive things. This doesn't mean ignore toxic behaviour, if that friendship truly isn't right for you, but if you find yourself picking someone apart for no apparent reason, that's when you need to do the opposite.

2. Thank God for the way he WILL make.
Thing's didn't work out as planned. God said no. Or not now. Whatever the situation is, know that if you are living out the life God intended for you, there is no way that you will be stuck in the same place forever. Slow progress is progress, and when the time has come, he will take you where HE desires to take you. Despite it not being your original plan, it will be GOOD.
"So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work, so you will become mature and well developed, not deficient in any way. " James 1:4-23 MSG

3. Trusttrusttrusttrusttrust
No matter how hard it gets. Trust him with your life. STOP worrying about where you'll be 10 years from now. Start focusing on being the best version of yourself today. Be a good steward of what you've been given, even if you didn't want it. Plan, yes, but know where to draw the line between being responsible and obsessing. You can have your 50 year plan all you want. You can spend every second making sure that your life is carefully thought out. And if tomorrow doesn't come for you, you  wasted every second planning instead of living.

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