On Branding: 3 Reasons to Kick Fear to The Curb

January was wonderfully full of inspiring femmes, good friends, and women business owners. A really great bonus of surrounding yourself with people who are similarly aligned and ambitious is that you get to grow professionally and personally.

While chatting about content marketing and strategy, as I'm wont to do, one of my friends said she was nervous to offend other moms with her blog topics. There's a lot she wants to say to encourage women to do what works best for them in motherhood, and her followers ask her questions all the time that she's unsure about answering. This fear came up over and over again in conversations with other women I admire and respect, who are complete boss babes in their own right.

Here's my favorite mommy blogger with the cutest dang babyyyyy aka Camilla. Click to see more preciousness on IG.

Here's my favorite mommy blogger with the cutest dang babyyyyy aka Camilla. Click to see more preciousness on IG.

Let's break down how and why you should speak your mind:

1. "Those who matter don't mind, and those who mind don't matter."

The people who want to follow us on social and read our blogs probably aren't going to get offended by us speaking our truth. If they are, they're not our ideal client–and that's okay! An often misquoted saying, "Those who matter don't mind, and those who mind don't matter," is perfectly true when it comes to your personal choices, and to take it further, your branding. This was Bernard Baruch's response when asked how he chose the seating arrangements for his dinner parties. After much success in business, he became a presidential advisor. He had a bunch of jobs and got things done well. Worrying about how people would react to seating arrangements wasn't a concern of his. You need not worry about offending someone because you share how you live or work. It's not for everyone and that's perfectly fine. It doesn't mean you have to keep it to yourself

Sitting on top of a fireplace in a common area in my apartment in the middle of the day because I wanted to get this shot while working with a film photographer, and I didn't care who noticed. Thanks to Steven B. Photography for the photo.

Sitting on top of a fireplace in a common area in my apartment in the middle of the day because I wanted to get this shot while working with a film photographer, and I didn't care who noticed. Thanks to Steven B. Photography for the photo.

2. You Must Stand Out

What if we all wore the same clothes? Had the same hairstyle? Watched the same shows? It would be so boring! Niche accounts on Instagram perform incredibly well, and I've observed that they're the easiest to grow. Not everyone is going to give a hoot about fountain pens, but my friend John just started a blog as a passion project because he's been a collector for over 20 years. In less than 6 months, he's grown to have over 1,000 organic followers who are just as into fountain pens as he is! (I test drove some. It's really pretty cool.) Do not be concerned that what you create or put out isn't for everyone. It shouldn't be! Just like you don't serve everyone under the sun, your content doesn't have to be one-size-fits-all. By being super honest and getting real, you'll attract the people who want to go along with you on the ride. So strap in and carpool with people who are gonna be into the same epic road trip playlist. My preferred mix of post-punk and 90's hip hop isn't for everyone.

John is also a photographer, which is why all of his Fountain Pen Love is so beautifully showcased.

John is also a photographer, which is why all of his Fountain Pen Love is so beautifully showcased.


3. Authenticity Is Necessary

All good and functioning relationships are based on honesty. Social media is all about the relationship you have with people who opt into a connection with you. Sincerely sharing about your business and your views will help maintain clarity on why you do what you do and who you want to serve. It's okay to be selective. In fact, it's necessary so that you stand out! Don't be one of the herd. If you're just like everyone else, where's the value in following you? Additionally, when we make content that's true to who we are, it fuels us. Here's a post from when I had my very own a-ha moment via an excerpt from one of my Instagram posts:

I was all set to create some content for a beauty product. The more I used it, the more I disliked it. I also looked at the label and the list of ingredients freaked me out. Instead of going through with it due to obligation (I consider this potential partner/business owner a friend), I was honest about it not being my favorite. She wasn't mad. In the grand scheme of things, it did no damage, and I get to stay true to myself and only share things that I really like and think you may like, too.

I was all set to create some content for a beauty product. The more I used it, the more I disliked it. I also looked at the label and the list of ingredients freaked me out. Instead of going through with it due to obligation (I consider this potential partner/business owner a friend), I was honest about it not being my favorite. She wasn't mad. In the grand scheme of things, it did no damage, and I get to stay true to myself and only share things that I really like and think you may like, too.

When passion coincides with work, then you're living the dream. I give you permission to share your opinions. You're your own boss, after all. 

6 Social Media Management Rules for When There's Crisis In The World

It's heartbreaking. There's been another mass shooting and many have lost their lives in Las Vegas. Last night was the first time I've witnessed an ongoing terror attack that was livestreamed by everyday people. When LVPD tweeted to ask that eyewitnesses not share their locations or tactics, as that could cause more danger to law enforcement and victims, it was a startling realization for me—social media could be as damaging as it is helpful in times of crisis. I'm truly sorry for everyone affected by the terrorism on Sunday night. 


As more brands utilize social media marketing on a daily basis, it's important to adhere to some basic rules. We're responsible for what we share and when we post. The following are rules for brands and companies to adhere to in times of crisis:

1. Be Aware

You should be plugged into current events at all times. This is a necessity for any good social media manager, especially as it relates to Real Time Marketing opportunities. This is step 1. Know what's going on in the world.

2. Take A Time Out

If any of your scheduled posts aren't relevant, reschedule them. Pause. Layoff. No one is going to be working at full capacity in the wake of national terrorism. Not only that, but your brand will be perceived as inconsiderate for attempting to maintain "business as usual" on a day when many are grieving. The only exception to this rule is if your company is directly connected to the tragedy and you're being helpful.

3. Help

Is your organization in a position to help those affected? Whether it's providing access to medical care, or food, or shelter, by all means, utilize your social channels and assist if you can. Share hotlines and information that will mobilize your followers.

4. Be Real

If you're going to post something, make sure it's genuine and kind. Short and concise, a message of sympathy for the victims is what any good person would do. Your brand's social channels exist because people are managing it to communicate with other people. Be human and personal. 

5. Wait

There's an unspoken 24 hour rule that most with-it brands follow when it comes to their own branded messaging. After a short message of condolence, you probably don't need to say anything else. A lot of PR agencies will wait 48 hours before pitching again, out of respect for others. Use your own judgement to decide when exactly you get back on track. Do you really think it's going to be helpful if you proceed with your product launch, anyway? (Doubt it.)

6. Review & Revise

Did you post a goofy meme a few hours before the incident transpired? Well, it's probably in poor taste now. Were you going to announce a sweepstakes winner? They can wait a day or two. It's more than okay to delete any content that retrospectively seems tone deaf or to move your schedule around. Having empathy and being a brand that values people will have a lot more power for your long-term visibility than a happy contest winner.

What Not To Do

Do NOT co-opt any hashtags that are used in conjunction with a tragedy. Some people are searching those tags to find loved ones or sharing life-saving information. It's a really bad look to try and tap into that conversation for your own benefit. And Twitter does not forget. Also, it's just in poor taste.

This is Why Starting Over on Instagram Works

Guest Post By Ella Sophie



As a creative business owner, fostering connection with others aligned with your goals and mission is invaluable. Today's post is from someone who is both a colleague and a friend.

Ella is an incredibly talented artist who also traded the east coast for the west coast last year. Though I've guest blogged for her in the past, this is the first time I'm sharing someone else's writing on my site - and I'm excited to share her experiences with you.

Read to learn all about her Instagram evolution:

About a year ago, I moved to Oakland after 6 months of traveling. During that time, I took a break from running my business and never went on social media. I kept my phone turned all the way off, except when I would turn it on every couple of days to send a quick text to my family so they'd know I was still alive.

Well, all that traveling was awesome for me, but not so good for my social media and Instagram. My account had a couple thousand followers that I built up over years of being a photographer. But I didn’t really know who those people were, and most live in NY. My engagement was SO low when I started posting again that it felt pointless to share anything at all. After trying and failing for some time to revive my Instagram, I decided I had to bite the bullet and start over. 

This was right around the time that Angie started giving me pointers on how I should be using Instagram. I decided I would go at it with focus. I know that I want my audience to be primarily women. I want them to be local to the San Francisco Bay Area. And, I want them interested in the work I do around empowering women through photography. 

It's been 5 months since I started my new account @ellasophiephotographer. And all the tips I got, I’ve put into place. My following is just shy of 700 users. My demographics are exactly where I want them. With 75% being women, 90% being in my target age ranges, and over 40% being local to Oakland, San Francisco and the Bay Area. 


My engagement is healthy, with most posts getting around 100 likes, which may not seem like a huge number, but these are all people I want to be reaching. And it feels pretty damn good. Most importantly, I have gotten some awesome clients through Instagram since starting over. 

I’d call that a win. 

(Editor's Note: That's an engagement rate of 14%.

Most brands and larger accounts are lucky to have 1%. This is higher than average!)

So, what was this magical advice I got from Angie? The most important takeaway is that I need to know what it is that I want from the platform. What’s my end goal? Is it a self esteem boost? Visibility? Driving traffic to my site? Or getting new clients? This goal sometimes changes with specific posts. But I always know what it is that I’m trying to do, instead of haphazardly posting because I feel like I have to. 

Angie also talked to me about making sure my captions are authentic. I’m not the only photographer to make lame sounding sales pitches in their captions. She pointed that out for me, and pushed me to write from my heart. Now I share things about my life, or my feelings about the clients, or whatever it is that is true to me in that moment. 

Another important tip that I've learned is to know how I want my feed to look and feel. So now I pay attention to my grid. Often I plan posts in advance, with batching in mind, although I still like to be spontaneous with my posts sometimes. And with each post, I think about how I want my audience to feel, and what is the message that I’m putting out there? 

I hope that the photos I post inspire people to feel good about themselves. I want to show art, authentic badass women, and true love. Encourage people to make conscious decisions when it comes to fashion. And, I hope that when a woman looks through my feed, she sees the variety of people represented and realizes that she, too, is beautiful. - and that a photoshoot with me is exactly the right thing to do to celebrate one's unique strength. (Check out my session with Angie here.)



Instagram Posts: 3 Steps to Posting So You'll Never Be Stuck

Instagram is my jam - I help business owners, bloggers, and budding entrepreneurs understand how to use this channel as part of their core marketing strategy. Still, I sometimes get stuck and I'm not sure what to post. If you haven't batched in a while and find yourself here, repost an older piece of content.

1. Captions

After a one-on-one strategy consultation with me, clients are better equipped to manage their online presence. It's a lot of new information at once, and a whole new way of thinking about things. When I do my follow up calls, some of them struggle with writing copy for their amazing images. Here's the thing: your visual is the star of the show, and the copy is the supporting cast. Don't get too hung up on what you're writing. For the most part, it should be concise and succinct. There are 3 go-to captions:

  • Ask a question - this will engage your audience and make your social media account social again
  • Tell a joke. Some people are pun masters and I always appreciate a good dad joke.
  • Write a song lyric! Although, I sometimes feel really out of touch when I comment on a caption that's from a song I've never heard...

Austie is kinda the queen of song lyrics as captions. Maybe she actually credited the artist here because I so often am clueless and asking her questions in the comments...


2. Repurpose Your Content

This was my post from this past Tuesday. I'll make a habit of giving a Content Marketing Tip every Tuesday on Instagram, so be sure to leave me a comment or direct message if you have an issue or problem I can help you solve.

3. K.I.S.S.

Also known as, "keep it simple, s[illy]." (I interpreted that last word to be more positive than the traditional meaning, because name-calling isn't my ~thing~) My favorite quippy caption-generating machine is my friend Talena. This is a perfect example of keeping it simple. Her bright, perfectly laid work area says enough.

I hope these tips help you with your future posts! Let me know what else I can help explain or teach you.

Batching For Instagram: 2 Simple Steps

How Batching Content Creates Cohesive Online Aesthetic

In a community I helped create, a member recently asked how he can start integrating lifestyle posts into his Instagram feed without it looking "out of place." Most of his content consisted of self-portraits and selfies. While his self-love is something we can all aspire to have, and his posts are all above average as far as quality, he recognized the need to diversify his content.

Brandon Quay's Instagram has always been lit. This grid is from Fall 2016.

Brandon Quay's Instagram has always been lit. This grid is from Fall 2016.


Even the biggest influencers have to break up their posts with imagery outside of themselves. In a business sense, it allows people to promote products in a fresh way. In a visual sense, it creates a more relaxed grid that feels unique. From a creator's perspective, it seriously aids and relaxes the need for constant high-quality photography of one's best self.

Aimee Song's recent flatlay post showcases content created by another person. It fits her overall aesthetic and is a perfect example of how lifestyle photos can be incorporated into different feeds.

Back to our friend Brandon

Early January 2017, before our conversation. 

Early January 2017, before our conversation. 

The bat signal I heard reverberate throughout our online community: "I mean I don't mind that I look like I'm obsessed with myself (because I am) but sometimes I don't have pictures to post or look a hot ass mess and can't take pictures. It'd be nice if I could just throw up a picture of something from my day. HELP!"

I explained a bit about batching and suggested that his next trip to a cafe serve as an opportunity to create multiple posts to share on different days, with these simple steps:

  • Take 2 pics of yourself, maybe from different angles or with different background
  • One pic of a thing (plate of food, your drink, a plant, whatever)

When planning your grid, put 3 photos in a row in this order: you, thing, you.

For the next row: thing, you, thing.


  • To really get into it, take 6 photos of yourself and 6 photos of things. This can be a close up detail of your watch, shoes, notebook.

You now have enough images for your next grid and then some. By utilizing batching, you can worry less about lacking content to post. What's that saying about working smarter, not harder? This is an example of how you can do that with your content marketing strategy for the best Instagram marketing. Or, create a strategy for your social channels if you've never had one before. 

I wish all of my clients took my advice as well as Brandon.

Look at this glorious change! Brandon reached a new level of "slaysian" with his batching knowledge.

Look at this glorious change! Brandon reached a new level of "slaysian" with his batching knowledge.

I'm so impressed with the marked difference in his overall Instagram account. Brandon successfully took my suggestions and made incredible progress. As a stylist, his online presence is vital to his business. 

Even if you're not professionally using Instagram for marketing, a more cohesive account will yield more followers. And it's about time you started that blog you've been thinking about, isn't it? 

Instagram For Business @ Ink & Mortar

Mark your calendars Philadelphia! Learn how to Heighten your Social on October 6th and 9th. 

Pretty standard expression & pose by me. Photo by Lou.

Pretty standard expression & pose by me. Photo by Lou.


We've got a new course on Instagram For Business and we're launching it in partnership with Ink & Mortar. After helping countless business owners maximize their social presence, we now aim to help as many people as possible in the form of hands-on workshops.

Lucky for us, the award-winning company that designs some of Philadelphia's best known brands is also into teaching business owners necessary skills to excel. Recently, Ink & Mortar was recognized by Philadelphia Magazine with a Best of Philly award for their series of Personal Branding Classes. Pretty perfect for a partnership, huh?

Hardly a day goes by when I don't think of Sharon, founder and creative director of Ink & Mortar, in part because I see her packaging and logos all around San Francisco! It's an honor to join her and teach a class that's part of her ongoing series of professional development. 

Instagram is a big part of my life. It's how I keep in touch with some friends, document my travels, and get new clients. Teaching has always been a passion of mine and it delights me that I'm able to share educational content, on a topic I love, in a classroom setting. (Little known fact: I was a high school English teacher for some years.) 

Join us for a dynamic evening class on Thursday October 6th or an AM session on Sunday October 9th. This class is informative and collaborative in ways that webinars aren't. Come for a good time and leave with:

an optimized profile for your business

tools to create engaging content

a life-time community of fellow business owners

Looking forward to meeting you IRL and figuring out ways to creatively address your social struggles. The class is small and a special rate that is much lower than will be offered in the future. Sign up now and don't wait until it's too late!

Easily Connect MailChimp To Facebook

Email is not dead. 89% of marketers say it's their primary source of lead generation. If you're building your list, it's really important to capture your leads while they cruise social media.

MailChimp is really great with explaining step by step measures to make email automation accessible for everyone. Because there are still people who could use extra guidance, this blog is going to take you step by step through the process MailChimp has helpfully outlined here.

In order to integrate, your Facebook account must be active. Make sure your Facebook Page is set up. 

Tip: You want the same name on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter. It ensures that your fans will be able to locate you quickly, as they only have to remember one username.

1. Sign into MailChimp

2. Go to the upper right corner to select Account 

3. Choose Integrations from the horizontal list of options at the top of the screen

4. Facebook will be your second option. Click that section and a Login button will appear


5. Login and give Facebook the necessary permissions.

If you're like me, and you manage several pages, MailChimp will give you a drop down menu so you can select the page and specific list to integrate. You may have to sign into Facebook for this step. Give Facebook the okay in the 3 boxes which pop up.

6. Unless you change the copy, the tab on your Facebook Page will read "Email Signup."

I prefer action words whenever possible, so I opted to alter the text. If your newsletter is specific to promotions or announcements, let them know what they're signing up for! 

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 5.58.09 PM.png

7. Press Save and "preview on Facebook Page"

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 5.53.08 PM.png

The envelope with a rainbow shooting out is a default design. This is how the signup section will appear on your Facebook Page. There are different ways of changing the design, though that's for another blog.

It's quick and painless to gain more newsletter subscribers. Why wait any longer? Give it a go!

Social Media Leads To Great Opportunities

A quick glance at my LinkedIn profile illustrates the adventurous journey known as my professional life. I owe much of my recent success to authentically engaging individuals online, who quickly became friends offline.

One great example is Susan Tabor-Kleiman, a professional writer and business owner, and  I'm honored to say a friend of mine. LinkedIn is what brought us together - quite literally. She connected with a board member of Young Involved Philadelphia, was asked to give a presentation on optimizing LinkedIn profiles, which I helped to host at a former employer's. As usual, I live-tweeted take-aways and took pictures to post and share.

Susan's presentation was insightful and engaging. We've since kept in touch, and I've since seen her give similar presentations. I learn something new every time! Several weeks ago, she told me about an opportunity to speak to a group of professionals about social media. I'm happy to say that she introduced me to The Press Club of Delaware County.  

A varied group of professionals met last Saturday for a Social Media for Business Workshop at Open Connections, a thoughtfully designed facility dedicated to alternative education for children age 2-18. The entire campus is breathtaking and the room we occupied, comprised of sustainably sourced materials, was filled with representatives from several industries including  writers, photographers, young adult novelists, and more.

Partaking in the workshop was an inspiring way to spend my Saturday and share best practices while learning some applicable tips. Connecting with participants and my fellow panelists will certainly lead to more awesome developments, thanks to the ease of keeping in touch via social media.

The next time you meet someone at a networking event or workshop, don't be shy! Connect with them on your favorite social media platform. You may be surprised at how well you can cultivate a genuine relationship between seminars and conferences. 

7 Easy Steps To Add Social Media Icons To Your Gmail Signature

Last week, a client asked me to help with a task not quite in my scope of work.  I always try to help to the best of my ability, and it hit me that their request was something I overlooked on my own end - those little icons imbedded in blogs and email signatures are incredibly helpful pathways for others to learn more about you and your work.

Admittedly, I'm no designer. Photoshop and I are not friends and I have experienced sensations similar to math anxiety when others expect my creative self to know how to perform such tasks with ease. Guess what? It's actually really easy!

I'm not sure when Google made these changes to Gmail, but I sure do thank them. Follow these easy steps and you, too, can look super polished and more professional with every email sent.

1. Search for free designs that go with your aesthetic. I personally went with the black and white flat icons in png from the helpful crew at Designs Crazed. 24x24 seemed to be the best resolution and size for my brand.

2. Download the images! Make sure you save them somewhere handy, like your desktop.

3. Go to your gmail account and access your settings via the gear icon in the upper right corner of your screen. Scroll down, because luckily for you, the Signature section is on the first tab that opens up.

4. A line or two below your signature, select the option to "Insert Image" so you can access the icons relevant to you and your business. I selected Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as those are the platforms on which I am the most active.

5. Upload the images so they are on the same line and in the order that is right for you.

6. Hyperlink each icon to link directly to the corresponding social media platform. If you have an easy enough name, it's as easy as typing twitter.com/yourname

7. Send yourself a test email to make sure the links are active, and there you have it!

Give yourself 10 minutes and you can upgrade all of your future emails. You may have a bare link to your website, but if your company has its own logo, why not go the extra step and make that an active gateway to your business?

Consider each icon that leads to further information about you an invitation to others to engage with you on all of the social networking platforms that are vital to your marketing, branding, and consumer base.