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The Power of Brand Advocates (and being featured on The Today Show)

I’m sure you’ve heard that when it comes to marketing your brand or business, “stories sell.” We all recognize the power of a good story. The emotional connection, the ability for a potential client to recognize a piece of themselves in what you do, and what they want a piece of their world to look like.

But even more powerful than when a business/brand tells their own story… is when someone becomes an advocate and tells that story FOR YOU.

Because it’s one thing if YOU think you’re awesome at what you do… but it’s a whole next level when others start speaking highly of what you do, and spreading the word. Because now you’ve tapped into THEIR inner circle, and all the friends, family, followers, and others they have trust + connections with.

Brand Photographs for Hatchbacks Footwear (as photographed by The Suitcase Studio) featured on The Today Show.


Brand advocacy is the ultimate goal when it comes to marketing your business.

You WANT other people to shout your brand name from the rooftops… telling everyone they know + love about what you do. This is why business owners spend so much of their marketing dollars on branded merchandise like t-shirts, hats, pens, and more… because it’s an incredibly EASY way to share your brand… to get your name out there in front of more + more people. If someone is wearing a t-shirt with your name on it, it’s assumed that they like + trust your brand. They’ve become a brand advocate.

When someone becomes a brand advocate, you are directly tapping in to THEIR audience… friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances, online followers… spreading your brand’s story + message through them, in order to reach even more people. And since these people TRUST what that advocate has to say, they are that much more likely to like your brand, too.

But before you start thinking about stocking up on branded t-shirts and pens… know that there are OTHER ways to get your point across, without breaking the bank or feeling that you’re “buying” their love.

So let’s get back to the STORY part of things…

People are natural storytellers. When you get home after a long day + your spouse asks, “How was your day… anything interesting happen?” You’re NOT going to walk them through the mundane stuff. Instead, you share the stand-out stuff… like someone cutting you off in traffic, how you landed a new client, and an interesting article you read online and how it made you feel. These are stories from your day.

And in the online world, stories rule. Entertainment + connection is key.


Think about the last post you re-shared. Was it an inspiring quote, something that made you laugh out loud, or even an article you had a strong response to? If you had a positive response to something and shared a business’s or brand’s post tp your OWN Facebook timeline, Twitter profile, or Instagram profile, that’s BIG. Because in that moment you became a brand advocate, telling your own audience (who trusts you) that they should be interested in this business/brand, too. And this is how brand stories are spread… without the need for t-shirts or other tangibles.

Brand Photographs for Hatchbacks Footwear (as photographed by The Suitcase Studio) featured on The Today Show.

But here’s the thing… you need to provide people with something they CAN easily share out.

One way to do this is to have social posts that DO connect with your intended target audience, so that people WANT to share them on their own channels.

Another way to do this is to have a “brand kit” or “media kit” readily available to others… usually consisting of your logo(s), relevant brand information, and on-brand PHOTOS! Because there are soooooo many people that are WANTING to share your brand’s message… so it’s up to you to ensure they HAVE something to share.

With having on-brand photos available, you are providing that important visual piece of your story which can easily be shared.

Case in point:

A recent client of mine, Hatchbacks Footwear, was recently featured on THE TODAY SHOW.

But how? And WHY?

They were featured on The Today Show because ONE INFLUENTIAL PERSON connected with their brand story.

This ONE PERSON was deeply touched, and decided to make Hatchbacks Footwear a part of THEIR story, too. This one person just happens to be Patti + Ricky founder Alexandra Connell, who’s creating fashionable clothes for people of all abilities. And Hatchbacks Footwear… designed as a shoe with special flexibility and velcro straps to more easily fit over leg braces… fit right in to their special offerings.

Below is their story as seen on The Today Show, featuring Hatchbacks Footwear and a few other fantastic companies:

But WHAT does this have to do with Hatchbacks Footwear actually getting featured on The Today Show?

Because they had something visually pleasing (brand photos) ready to go!

During the actual interview with Alexandra Connell, not only do you see a few of their actual shoes sitting on the table with other items, but TWO BRAND PHOTOS are featured in the slideshow, as well.

(Woot Woot! Give me a moment to celebrate… because that’s MY WORK that just got seen on The Today Show!!!)

But back to the STORY here… because out of ALL the brands that were sitting on that table in the background, and still others that didn’t even make it there… Hatchbacks Footwear even made it to the freakin slideshow… BECAUSE they had these on-brand photos ready to go!

And THAT’S perhaps the biggest takeaway here…

You need to be READY for others to become brand advocates, and make it EASY for them share your awesomeness.

So if you’re on the fence about whether or not you need to invest in custom brand photography, take the above as a lesson… sometimes it just takes ONE influential person to get your story out there. Be prepared.


 

Interested in discovering YOUR story, and what it might look like in photographs? Check out the personal brand + business photography services I provide, and let’s find out together.

Why having BRAND PHOTOS are important (and how they helped a client on The Today Show). Photos by The Suitcase Studio - providing personal brand and business photography

Accounting Tips + Tools for Small Businesses

my favorite tips and tools to get better at small business accounting…

As a solopreneur, handling my own accounting used to give me nightmares…

Because until recently, I’ve never had the best relationship with money. I mean… I LIKE money, and always want more OF it, but like many other creatives, I just didn’t seem to be born with the “numbers” gene. Talks of accounting and balancing the books would make me break out in a sweat, and doing taxes each year often led to a mini mental breakdown.

But ignoring money matters doesn’t make them go away, and so I promised myself (and my business) that I’d get better.

And slowly but surely, I have.


So here are my top tips + tools for getting better at handling the accounting stuff for your small business, even if you’re not a “numbers” kinda person…

(or scroll to the bottom to get right to the discounts!)


TIP ONE for better business accounting: know EXACTLY where your money goes each month.

I used to live month to month, and would FREAK OUT when it came time to pay bills. This is especially scary if you’re like many small businesses where your income isn’t steady, and you suffer from “slow seasons.” (Ummmm… like the life of a PHOTOGRAPHER, anyone???)

But I discovered one of my favorite online tools called “You Need a Budget” (YNAB, for short), and have been doing a mega-happy-dance ever since!

Here’s why:

  1. I connected all my accounts where transactions occur… checking + savings accounts, PayPal, and even my credit cards.

  2. In the “budget” page, I created categories for how I ACTUALLY spend my money. I could get as DETAILED with this as I wanted, and add/hide categories, too! I put in all my PERSONAL stuff like rent, groceries, specific utilities, recurring stuff like Spotify + Hulu, etc. And I created other categories for all my BUSINESS stuff… like Client Orders, Client Costs, Taxes, and subscriptions like HoneyBook , etc.

  3. Once a week, I’d sit down and sync my YNAB account, to pull in all the new transactions. Then I’d go through and add a specific category to each one!

  4. Doing this consistently for a month gave me an accurate snapshot of where my money was ACTUALLY going!


TIP TWO for better business accounting: create a monthly BUDGET (and stick to it)!

While knowing how you’re ACTUALLY spending your money is the first step to better business accounting, the NEXT step is to create a custom BUDGET for yourself, and get better at actually sticking to it.

Because by seeing WHERE your money is going, you can see where you might be a bit frivolous + overspending… like, I realized I spent waaaaaay too much on eating out each month. And on the business side, I learned I wasn’t setting aside enough money for my taxes, which got REALLY scary when it was time to pay.

So I created a monthly budget, and have now gotten so much BETTER at it that I’m actually able to save for TWO MONTHS ahead of time… squirreling away some funds just in case of a slow season ahead!

Here’s how:

  1. I use YNAB for this part, too… Using my custom categories, I created a monthly budget so I know approximately how much money I need to set aside for each category each month. (Ex: I set aside the money I KNOW I’ll need to pay for recurring things such as rent, utilities, etc., and then I set aside an approximate amount for things like groceries, eating out, fun money, etc. Same thing with the BUSINESS stuff… not only will I set aside money for recurring payments, but I can also set aside money for things like airfare (if I’ve got a business trip coming up), Facebook ads, etc.

  2. Each week I sync YNAB with my accounts and categorize each transaction. Then I can see where I might have overspent, and move money around as necessary to cover overspending or budget for upcoming things. And any INCOMING money (which I categorize as “Client Orders”) is moved into the “To Be Budgeted” category.

  3. The goal is to give EVERY DOLLAR A PURPOSE. So I don’t leave ANYTHING hanging out in the “To Be Budgeted” category. instead, that money is moved to wherever its needed… I start with setting aside 30% of my profits to my “Taxes” category, any necessary funds to “Client Orders” where I KNOW I’ll need to purchase items for them such as prints, albums, etc., and then the rest of the money is added to the other categories as needed.

  4. The GOAL is that, by giving every dollar a purpose, I am much more careful about what I spend, where, and when. And by getting into this healthy monthly routine, I’ve been able to pay my bills without wondering WHERE the money is coming from that month… and start saving for future months, too!


TIP THREE for better business accounting: HAND IT OFF to a professional!

I realize that, as a small business owner or solopreneur, you wear MANY hats. And you have to try to keep your business costs to a minimum.

However… in some areas, it’s WORTH THE MONEY to pay someone ELSE to handle things for you.

I meeeean, if you’re running a small business… even as a solopreneur… you’re not actually EXPECTED to do everything yourself. And if you’re spending hours + hours each month handling your accounting/bookkeeping stuff, what’s it actually COSTING you? Those are hours that you could be spend working on client stuff instead (where you’re actually getting PAID).

Instead, put your time where your talents lie, and outsource the rest. (Pssst… business accounting costs can be a tax write-off, too… so it’s TOTALLY a win-win situation!

My recommended tool to hand off your small business accounting: Bench.co.

Because Bench is a company of ACTUAL bookkeepers, not just an online system. And you’re assigned someone to actually help you along the way.

Your Bench bookkeeping team imports bank statements, categorizes transactions, and prepares financial statements every month. And if you’ve got questions, they respond within one business day.

Then they give you monthly financial statements and expense overviews to keep you in control of your money.

And come tax time, you’ll receive a Year End Financial Package that has all the info you need to file your taxes. They’ll work directly with your CPA, or set you up with one they trust, to make sure your taxes are filed painlessly and on time.

(How’s THAT for breathing a deep sigh of relief????)

And it gets BETTER… because as an affiliate, I’ve got a special discount code for you to use!

Just CLICK HERE to start your free trial at Bench.co, and get 20% OFF the first 6 months when you sign up!


Wanna give my favorite small business accounting tools a try for yourself?

Click below to start your free trials:


How you know it's time to update your professional headshot... | Bend, Oregon

Your brand is growing, and business is soaring. You’re on Cloud 9 until you hear these words from your marketing person, web guru, or the PR person in charge of your next published article or speaking engagement:

“We’d like to include your professional headshot; please send it our way.”

And then… panic.

Because (a) you’re barely recognizable from the last round of professional photos that were taken over 5 years ago, and (b) you cringe at the thought of sending them the current Facebook profile pic of you wearing snow goggles and holding a cold brew.

Yikes! Now what?

Keep reading… because if you’re anywhere near Bend, Oregon… help is on the way!

The Suitcase Studio offers professional headshots in Bend, Oregon
The Suitcase Studio offers on-location professional headshots in Bend, Oregon.

How to know it’s time to UPDATE your professional headshot:


If you’re a professional (regardless of whether you’re in a corporate or creative field), you NEED a good headshot that’s representative of YOU.

Here’s when you know it’s time to UPDATE your headshot:

  • Your current headshot is over 3 years old. Just like the online dating world… you know that feeling you get when you see someone’s photo, then see THEM in real life, and think, “WOW… they look nothing alike?!” Yeah, let’s avoid that situation by making sure that your current headshot IS actually current, and a good representation of what you actually look like in real life.

  • Your current headshot is cropped from an image of a group of people. We’ve all been there. Someone snaps a group photo and you think… “WOW… that’s a GREAT shot of me.” The problem is that you’re not fooling anyone… we can all TELL that there were originally others in the photo. Think of it this way… you are meant to be showcased as a SOLO ARTIST, not trying to get attention as part of the backup band.

  • Your current headshot is fuzzy or pixelated. This often happens as a result of the above, or if you are using an image that is simply too small, or if you downloaded an image from Facebook. Remember, your headshot is representative of YOU, and if your current headshot is fuzzy/pixelated, it could come across as lazy or that you just don’t care… which doesn’t translate well to your business/brand if you’re trying to come across as professional and detail-oriented.

  • Your current headshot barely even shows your face. If you’re wearing sunglasses, a hat, goggles, scarf, or anything else like this that covers up most of your face… you’re defeating the purpose of even having a headshot. Don’t get me wrong… those fun, lifestyle shots definitely have a place in your business, but using one of those photos as your main headshot simply doesn’t work, as the point is to show your FACE so that you become instantly recognizable.

  • Your current headshot is a selfie. Heads up… selfies do NOT provide the most flattering angles, so be very aware of this. And know that we can also TELL it’s a selfie.

Update your professional headshot with The Suitcase Studio in Bend, Oregon
Whether you prefer a classic background or a natural one, The Suitcase Studio makes updating your professional headshot in Bend, Oregon a snap!

In a nutshell… if you’re using a non-professional picture as your headshot, it’s time to step in front of the camera to get something NEW.

WHY? Because…

when you’re investing in yourself and your brand, it’s easier for potential clients to invest in you + your services, too!


So… are you ready to update that professional headshot of yours? Check out my stress-free photography services for businesses + brands, and let’s get started!


Business + Branding Photos that tell a STORY | Redmond, Oregon

Did you know that one of my FAAAAAAVORITE things to photograph is behind-the-scenes pics for small businesses + brands???

Why?

Because there's so much HEART that goes into everything they do, which is absolutely impossible to convey through stock photos and a boring headshot.

Each business + brand has a STORY, and I like to tell it.

Case in point:
Meet David from Casa Repairs (based in Redmond, OR).

Specializing in home repairs and remodeling, David wanted to get some photos to SHOW clients what he does... instead of the typical "here I am standing in front of my work truck" as is most commonly seen in his industry.

So we borrowed a family friend's house and staged a few scenes to photograph what he specializes in: drywall repair and designer wall texturing, custom flooring, painting services, carpentry, and more.

And then we dug even deeper to get some photos to show off what makes HIM different from others out there... traveling with a stand-up saw and is able to cut pieces down to size immediately and on-site, is CLEAN and goes to great lengths to take care of the home he's working in, and being incredibly friendly and easy to work with!

Like I said before... there's no WAY you're gonna be able to convey all THAT through a basic headshot.

But through this lifestyle photo session, you’re actually able to SEE what he does, and connect with David and his business in a way that NO stock photo could ever do.

business and branding photography in bend oregon and surrounding areas

So… Wanna tell YOUR business + branding story better in 2019???

Get in touch for a Storybranding Photo Session of your own!

(Just fill out the form below to get started!)