Planning your photography

Hello! And welcome to the final day of our course. I hope you are all feeling inspired and ready to keep working on your photography and your visual story telling.

It has been such a joy to see all your images in the Facebook Group and I'd love you to keep sharing them there for another two weeks.

Today I want to talk to you about planning your photography to help you fit it into your busy lives and also a few tips for social media and getting your maker stories out there.

Planning your images

One of the major changes I made to my Instagram stream was when I started to build a library of images that I could used when I needed to. At first I did this when I knew I was going to have a busy week but then I realised the value in doing it at least once a week. It enabled me to create beautiful images in great light and then share them through the week without any stress. It stopped me obsessing over Instagram all the time! That can be nice once in a while but when you're juggling four little children, a home and a business, it can all get a bit much!!

Now I like to pop into my Instagram stream a few times a day for a few minutes at a time but only focus on creating images for it about 3 times a week. I gather things that I want to use for these Instagram shoots. Sometimes I collect things together over the week. Sometimes I have ideas when I'm in the shower or out for a run. That's great but I wait to act on the ideas until I've got time and good light.

I start every week by making a list of the images I know I'm going to need to create that week for my social media and for my blog. I might also need to shoot something for a magazine or a guest blog post. All of these images get scheduled in to my week. This way I can make time for it and produce the best images I can in the best light.

For me I know that I need 7 flower images a week for my morning images. I then like to post 2-4 other images a day, so I need quite a big library to keep that going. But that's okay! I can still achieve that in about 1-2hrs a week. And that's more than worth it for the amount it helps my business to grow.

As Makers you might like to create a weekly list that looks a bit like this:

1. Something I have made
2. My workspace
3. A piece of work in progress
4. Something that has inspired me this week
5. A close up of some tools
6. Something else in my life that is not making but tells my audience a little bit about me.
7. A little hint of a new project

Taking images in the moment

It's great to build a stock of images and plan ahead but it's also wonderful to still take images in the moment. You might be walking through the park when the light is gorgeous, you might see a beautiful store front or you might go on an inspiring day trip. All of these things will make great content for your stream and it's lovely to post images in the moment too.

I am also really loving Instagram Stories for capturing the moment and telling little stories with images and short videos as I go about my day. If you haven't tried it yet my favourites to follow on Instagram Stories are The Future Kept, Lobster & Swan and Bright Bazaar.

Scheduling tools

As well as setting aside time to create your images you can also use tools to help you to manage your social media. Buffer, Hootsuite, Latergramme and the scheduling option within Facebook Pages are all brilliant.

I also use IFTT to automatically upload my Instagram images to a Pinterest board that's simply called 'My Instagram.'

Don't forget to join the party

But remember that this is social media. Simply scheduling everything will definitely get your content out there but it won't help you to really build a valuable community. You need to mingle, you need to join the party! So, make sure that you also schedule time into your day to pop in and say hello to people. Comment, like, share, retweet and find new people to follow.

My top ten tips

To finish here are my top ten tips for visual social media. Some of these we've already talked about but I think it's always good to have a list of things to remember when you are working on your visual social media each week.

1. Share great images

I know that might sound a very obvious thing to say to you on this course but sometimes it can be tempting to share an image that really isn't that great just because it's all that you can capture. This can happen at events, for example, where the lighting is really bad for photography or it's really busy. Think outside the box a little for times like this. If you can't capture a great image at the event can you take a photograph of your outfit before you go or of something you bring home from the event?

If you can't create a great image that you are proud of and that fits into your social media streams then don't share it. Perhaps share just words on Twitter instead.

2. Really think about what you are sharing and where you are sharing it

When I am thinking about my visual social media I am thinking what is the image I have to share and where should I be sharing it? Not all the images I want to share will be shared on Instagram. For example, I might go to a bloggers' dinner or a networking event and I take an image with some friends. It's a fun image, which will fit really well on my Facebook page but it's not pretty enough for my Instagram stream.

You could think of Facebook as behind the scenes but Instagram are your gallery for example.

Think about the way you want to use each of your channels and how you can use your images to create the feel you want for each one. I am still working on this one but I have set time aside to really think about what I am doing on each of my social media channels and how I want to create visual content for them over the next six months. I know it can be time consuming but I think it's really worth it. (More on this on point 5 below!)

3. Share the right size images for the right social media channel

This is really important and goes further than simply using square crop images on Instagram. When I am writing a blog post or covering an event, then I make sure I take images for all my social media channels. I want a Portrait image for Pinterestbecause Landscape images get visually lost in the Pinterest stream. I want a Square crop for Instagram. Portrait and Landscape images both seem to work on Facebook and Twitter but it is still worth thinking about them when you take your images. I posted a link to this Buffer article on the Facebook Group earlier in the week. It's great for getting exact sizes for each place and is update regularly.

4. Schedule your photography in the same way you schedule your blog posts. Stock up!

It is so easy to write a great blog post and then be stuck for an image. If you are a blogger then schedule your photography. If you know you have three posts going out in a week then make time to create the images for those posts. If you plan ahead you can make the most of good light..

It is also good to file great images for future use. For example a beautiful image of mountains or trees could be used in a blog post about emotions/thoughts/reflections.

In the same way that I try to schedule the photography I need for my blog I also stock up on images for my Instagram stream. I have weeks when I am way too busy to squeeze in creating anything but my daily image for Instagram but I post an average of 4 images a day, every day, so I stock up on things for later use! Posting on Instagram makes me happy, so on extra busy days that may be quite stressful uploading an image that I've already taken and edited keeps me feeling grounded, calm and connected to a community that makes me smile. And as a mother of four it certainly keeps me sane when my little ones are are little crazier than usual!

5. Don't simply click and share the same thing everywhere

It is oh so easy to upload an image to Instagram and then click "share on Twitter and Facebook." This is a great feature but be careful how you use it. If your audience is anything like me they will take a break and check Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and then get back to what they were doing. If you upload to all channels at the same time they will see your image 3 or 4 times at once, or they may miss it completely.

You can return to Instagram later in the day and share on Twitter or Facebook by pressing the three little dots underneath the comments section.

I also think it's great to share different images....perhaps on the same theme...across different social media channels. I don't always do this but I am working on it because I know that when I do make the effort it really works well.

I have also done an experiment over the past few days and instead of sharing my Instagram images directly onto Twitter through Instagram (as described above) I take a couple of extra minutes to actually upload it in Twitter. When you do this people see the image in their stream, rather than having to click on anything. Every time I have made the effort to do this people have favourited, RT'd and engaged with me...and I've got new followers each time too. Worth an extra minute of time I would say!

6. You don't have to share everything with everyone

Remember that you don't have to share everything with everyone. I regularly take cute photographs of my children that I love and want to share but I consciously don't want to over share images of my children. There is an incredibly fine line between my work and my life. I am my brand and there is no doubt that my children play their part in that brand, and they enjoy the part their play, but I am careful about how much I 'sell' that part. So, my lovely Dad gets lots of images of his adored Grandchildren on WhatsApp! I love to share but I don't need to share everything with everyone who follows me.

7. Think about the seasons

Images that capture the current season get lots of love on social media. People love being connected to the world around them and to nature, especially when they are stuck at their desks. It can inspire people to get outside or even to just take a moment to look out the window!

And these images work really well across all channels.

8. Don't overshare

Sometimes when you are at a beautiful event, visiting an amazing place or have just had a really good day of photography, it can be really easy to want to post loads of images all over your social media. I was at a workshop last week and I could have easily posted an image every 20 minutes onto Instagram because it was all so gorgeous and inspiring. But I held back. I did share some images and I possibly shared a couple too many but I spread out the images throughout the day and the following day. I mixed in some other things too.

I find it so irritating when people post several images one after the other into my Instagram stream. It can feel quite rude and you might lose followers but you will not impact on your followers but on the engagement with your audience. People may like one or two of the bunch but will then scroll past. You want people to stop and really look at your image, perhaps leave a comment and you definitely want them to like it.

So, just be careful when uploading images into your social media and take it at a nice steady pace. You can always post another image or two in a few days time, reflecting back on your trip or event.

And, if you have lots of images you want to share then spread them out (at a steady pace!) across your social media channels. This kind of thing encourages people to follow you on more than one channel too. Different content in different places is so important.

9. Have a conversation. Keep connecting

Posting beautiful images is all well and good but you still need to make sure you are keeping conversations going and keeping connected. Don't feel you have to say thank you or reply to every single comment if you get a lotbut please do make sure you reply to a good proportion of them. Social media works well if you are having conversations and engaging with your audience.

10. Keep balanced and switch off!

Keep a healthy work/life social media balance....even where pretty pictures are involved. Remember to live in the present and not just photograph it! I use Buffer all the time for scheduling Twitter. I use the scheduling facility on Facebook too. For Instagram you can use Latergramme. This doesn't upload the images for you but sends you a prompt to remind you which one to upload when. I don't personally use that but I think it's worth trying if you feel you need to be reminded when to post and want to feel in control and organised.

Most of all enjoy it. The more you enjoy, engage and embrace social media the greater your journey will be. xo

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