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Transformations: 1 Year Later

Vivid & Brave and Transformations

Tomorrow, Vivid & Brave turns 1.

Back in July of 2013, Stephanie and I traveled to  Denver, Colorado to act as mentors at a workshop there. For awhile, we’d been talking about so many things – the future, how our transition from photography to coaching would go, what the best path to take would be. And it was on that trip that the seeds for Vivid & Brave were planted. We discussed endlessly, and wrote the outline of the 12 week program in the car, Stephanie at the wheel, me writing, as we drove up to Breckenridge after the workshop for a quick moment in the mountains – for some fresh air.

When you launch a company with someone who lives almost as far away from you as someone can get without leaving the continent, this is how it looks, the story taking place on multiple pins on the map. Our program was sketched out in Colorado, and written on Stephanie’s kitchen table in Calgary a month later. We got tattoos the day after launch day, in Okotoks, a town just south of Calgary, and came together in January in Houston to create a three hour workshop. Since we launched, we’ve been together in 9 cities, two countries. We’ve had the privilege of speaking to dozens of amazing people. We’ve written workshop slides over dinner in Galveston and hung out in the ER in South Carolina. It’s been an adventure.

When we first started, we knew one thing was for sure: we wanted to work with women in transition. Women who were experiencing changes in their lives, and who were searching for who they were, what their purpose was. We ourselves were there, in post transition worlds, on journeys to becoming more fully ourselves. We knew the women we wanted to work with were just like us: creative, deeply introspective, driven, passionate. They wanted to live the life we would find ourselves living – making our dreams come true, shifting and changing to find the best fit for the lives we wanted, denting the universe.

Our first year in business has been so many things: exhilarating, frustrating, inspiring. There were days we were ready to throw in the towel, where we weren’t sure where we were going, and days we were certain we just needed to keep moving forward, keep hustling. We built a vocabulary around our community, a manifesto, we sharpened our focus. Some times we fought. More than a few times we cried. We laughed really, really hard. We logged a whole lot of miles, on the ground, and in the air. We sent more than 22,000 Facebook messages to each other.

And we’ve gotten the honor of watching our clients unfold. Step into themselves. Refind what they thought they had lost. We’ve hugged a lot of people and given out a lot of buttons. We shared as much inspiration and advice and love as we could muster. We got to be part of people’s breakdowns and breakthroughs. We’ve done a lot of happy dances for our clients, who have become our friends. We’ve written more 100 journal prompts to help others open their hearts to their own personal clarity.

I’ve been putting off sharing this blog post. Because I know how it ends. It is with both a heavy heart and an eager one that I have to tell you all what’s next for Vivid & Brave, and for Stephanie and me.

I have made the decision to pursue other projects, and so I will be moving on from Vivid & Brave. You’ll be able to find me here, at, from now on, sharing content on the business of photography, blogging, and coaching people to build awesome businesses.

Stephanie will be continuing on with Vivid & Brave, with a brand new, 8 week, one on one version of the coaching program, more half day and full day workshops, and a deeper focus on the heart work of running a creative passion business.

It’s this change that demonstrates what we’ve known about Vivid & Brave since the day we realized it was something we both needed to do, in my Mini Cooper, winding through the Rocky Mountains. That you have to bring your passion and your purpose together into your work. That the best work – the most fulfilling work – is work that fills you with joy. And that it’s okay to give yourself the grace to realize there’s a better fit out there for you. We journeyed together, and now we’re ready to part ways, though we’re guaranteed to continue to log miles, and add pins to the map. We can’t really resist a Mini Cooper road trip. I hope you’ll stick around to see where both of us end up next.

(This post originally written by Stephanie, and of course shared with permission.)

Don’t Forget to Introduce Yourself! Day 8 – 30 Days to Awesomize Your Blog

Don't forget to introduce yourself to your readers! 30 Days to Awesomize Your BlogWhile some people opt for a very minimalist blog layout, streamlined with one column of text and images, most of us have a blog that has a sidebar off on one side.

Take advantage of that real estate on your blog!

It doesn’t have to be long and drawn out – matter of fact, it is best if you link to your about page for all of the in depth details about yourself. Make sure it is at the very top, before anything else. You are more important than the links to your social media accounts or your email list. Here are the things you want to be sure to include:

  • The lovely photograph of you that you took recently, the one that you’ve added to all of your social media accounts as well.
  • Let them know your name, because people connect with people over all else. They want to know who you are!
  • Tell your readers why they are here, in one sentence.
  • Make sure they know where you are located and how to contact you.
  • If you want to include a sentence or two to help them get to know you even better, share your why, your hobbies, the names of your pets, whatever the case may be – this is a great spot for it. Keep it short.
  • At the end you can include links to your social media profiles – just the active ones, please!

We will talk more about the About Me page soon. For now, these quick changes will help people connect with you, which is the whole mission of your blog.

I can already hear some of you saying how you’re boring, and your clients don’t want to know you – you just want to show off your work and be done with it. Or that you’re a terrible writer. Those voices? Well, I don’t agree with any of them.

If I walked in to your storefront and you didn’t even smile at me, and then you used a monotone voice to just tell me what you’re selling and who you’ve sold things to in the past, and then you walked without any interaction with me, do you think I’d have any interest in shopping at your store? HELLLLLLLLLL NO. I’d go down the block to find the next store (because on the internet, there is always a next store) and then they would greet me with a smile and a cup of cool ice tea, while asking me how my day was, sharing a personal story about themselves, maybe one about how they made something and what was the passion that fueled the creation? Oh goodness. I am ALL IN.

That is the power of blogging, my friends. Introduce yourself. Share your stories, the passion that drives you, the reason you’re a creative entrepreneur. You have the power to change the world.

This one is going to be a hard one for me too. I love to write, and even then it takes time. That is ok, we are in it together! 30 Days to Awesomize Your Blog – we got this! Be sure to join the email list if you haven’t already, so I can send you love notes to cheer you on in your Inbox!

Are You Making it Hard for People to Contact You? Day 7 – 30 Days to Awesomize Your Blog

Are you making it hard for people to contact you? 30 Days to Awesomize Your Blog from Business of AwesomeYay! You have people visiting your blog! Mission accomplished! Except … now they can’t figure out where you’re located at or how to contact you. So they leave and go find someone else.

Not exactly your goal, is it?

Look at your blog as if you’re a first time visitor wanting information. If you’re in a business where you work with your clients in person (that would be you, photographers!) make sure they can figure out where you ARE. I know, I know — you want to photograph in cool destinations all over the world so you chose to leave it off of your site. That way, it is like you are everywhere! Except, no. You’re not. You actually live in one location. People want to know that!

I photographed destination weddings in Mexico, Belize, England, and around the USA. All with the fact that I am located in Houston, Texas on my website. Some of my clients lived in Houston and chose to take me with them to their destination. Some lived in other locations and flew me in. It has always been easy to find on my website where I live.

If you are truly just an online based business – you’re designing graphics, you do business coaching, whatever the case may be – it is still a good idea to put your location on your site. It gives people another way to connect with you. Plus they can then try to figure out when your work hours are so they don’t call you at 7am in the morning if they live on the east coast and you’re on the west coast.

So now they have figured out where you live, but how easy is it for them to contact you? Do you have a contact form set up? What about an email address that is visible? Can I find your phone number?

If I was a member of the Oprah staff and wanted to feature your amazing awesomeness on the Oprah channel, could I even get in touch with you? Or would I have to send up rocket flares to hopefully get your attention?

People. Don’t make Oprah send up flares to reach you. Make it easy on her – and on everyone else who might want to work with you. <<Click to Tweet this!>>

Put a “Contact” option in your menu bar, and on that page add all the juicy contact info you can come up with!

30 Days to clean up my act and make my blogs all fresh, and I’m sharing the steps that I’m taking daily here! You can follow along using the #30DAB hashtag on social media, and be sure to sign up for the email list to get updated on the next step! Together, we will Awesomize the internet!

5 Simple Tips to Make Lazy Readers Stay on Your Blog. Day 6 – 30 Days to Awesomize Your Blog

5 Simple Tips to Keep Lazy Readers on Your Blog - 30 Days to Awesomize Your Blog from Business Of AwesomeI have to start today’s post with a brilliant quote that Jenika McDavitt of Psychology for Photographers shared from Seth Godin in her “From Portfolio to Profit Engine” book.

“The minute it’s not easy, lazy people will flee. And everyone is lazy sometimes.” – Seth Godin <<Tweet it!>>

Load up your blog. We need to look at some things, because we have to help the lazy people out. You want them to stay, you don’t want them to flee, right?

  • How fast does your website load? – People aren’t just lazy, they have no patience as well. You need your blog to load fast. Look at the graphics you have on your page – are you uploading high resolution images to your blog and then requiring it to resize them small? Do you have 40 buttons in the sidebar that are all loading from different sources (besides your server)? Does every blog post have 20 images, and the home page of your blog has 10 posts on it? You get the point – those images are slowing you down. Make them smaller and web-friendly and make your blog faster. Consider only loading 5 posts on your site, not 10. Speed it up!
  • Where do you want me to go? – Look at the navigation on your site. First of all, can you find it? Is there a menu bar on the top, or a menu on the sidebar? How do you go from post to post? How do you learn more about you? Can you find your pricing? How about to contact you? Whatever you want people to do next when they come to your site – make that thing EASY to find.
  • Can you read the fonts? – If I was on a 27″ monitor, would the fonts on your site be teeny-tiny small? How is the contrast to read? I know you love that super light blue font on a white background, and it matches your branding – but if you can’t read it, what good is it doing? (Believe it or not, people with visual impairments do read the internet!) Help people out. Bump up the contrast.
  • Scroll, scroll, scroll… – How long do you have to scroll just to find the very first blog post? Do you lose patience with all the scrolling?
  • Can you get more of this goodness? – Ok, they came, they saw, they want MORE. Yay! Is there a way that you can easily sign up for your email list? How hard is that to find? Do you send out emails with every new blog post? Once a month? Once a whenever-you-get-around-to-it?

Hopefully these quick little fixes will help you out when your readers have the lazies. They more you make it easy for them, the longer they will stick around!

Want to more about the psychology of building a website, and how to write better copy? Be sure to grab a copy of Jenika’s books! From Portfolio to Profit Engine: How to Build an Absolutely Irresistible Photography Website or Irresistible Words. Want them both? Pick up the bundle package!

Thank you for visiting the 30 Days to Awesomize Your Blog series! It is free to follow along here online, and you can sign up for the newsletter in my sidebar to be notified via email of the posts. You can also follow along the #30DAB hashtag on social media to learn more!

(Disclosure: Links in this post are affiliate links, but all opinions of these products are my own. Using these links helps cover the costs of keeping this blog up and running. Thank you!)

I Think I Recognize You? Brand YOU. Day 5 – 30 Days to Awesomize Your Blog

Brand YOU with the photographs on your website! 30 Days to Awesomize Your Blog - Business of AwesomeIf you walked in to a coffee shop to meet a new client, would they recognize you? Would they connect the person walking in the door with the one they had seen on your website? If I passed you in the hall at a conference after talking to you online for the past 6 months, would I know who you are? If I followed your blog and then connected with you on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram – would I see you there?

You need to have a photograph of you on your website. It is how your clients and your site visitors will connect with you. More importantly? That photo needs to look like YOU. Today.

Not you 10 years ago. Not you on your wedding day. Photographers, not you with a camera blocking most of your face. Not your kids, your dog, or your favorite flower. YOU. Right now. As you are.

Brand YOU with the same photograph on your blog & all of your social media accounts. Be recognizable! <<Click to Tweet!>>

Having the same avatar photo across all of your social media properties helps people on a subconscious level connect with you. Over and over, they are seeing your face. It is building brand recognition, and connection. Isn’t that what we all want, after all?

Your photo is also another place to represent your brand. Let’s take my photo for example – what can you guess about my branding just from seeing that? I am vivacious and adventurous. I am bold. A little loud. I stand out in the crowd. I’m perfectly ok with the fact that I have gray hair, or as I call it “sexy silver”. These things are also all cores of my photography brand – I want you to be authentic, see your beauty, and be confident about it. I want you to be a little daring and push your limits, exploring what just might happen if you step out of bounds.

If my photo had been edited to be very soft, I was wearing more muted clothing, I had on a more neutral lipstick and I wasn’t looking so directly at the camera – it would completely change the feeling that you have when you see my photograph.

My clothing choice for that photo and the lipstick was very intentional. I like to wear bold bright colors. I wear a lot of black clothing because I like the contrast with my hair, but I pair it with a bold scarf or necklace a lot of times. I am my brand. A walking embodiment of it, and it all starts when you connect with that photograph.

My husband deserves all the props for that photo, by the way. I had him take photos of me; I handed over my camera and directed from in front of the lens. At one point, he told me to wait a minute, he had an idea – and that was the one frame he took that I didn’t direct. He nailed it – he showed exactly what you see.

I get it. It is hard because you like to change your Facebook avatar weekly, but every time you do that? I have to look twice when I see your posts there. I’m missing the visual cue that quickly tells me it is you. If you use a different image on all of your web properties, that is what you’re doing to your clients. Each time, they have to ask themselves “is that the same person”? Help them make the connection more easily.

Your Homework Assignment – Brand YOU

Find a current photo that you love of yourself, or have a new one taken. Yes, get out the camera, hand it over, and have someone else take a new one of you if you need it. You can even take it with the phone. Whatever works for you. Your BIG GOAL is to make sure it is recognizable, and represents your brand well. Think about the colors you are wearing and if they coordinate with your branding. Think about how you want the photograph to feel – are you lighthearted and fun? Vivacious? Elegant & timeless? Cosmopolitan? Whatever fits YOU and what you want your brand to evoke, go for that feeling in the photograph.

Once you have your new picture, go post it EVERYWHERE. Make it your Gravatar, put it on Facebook, use it on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, wherever you are online. Change it on Skype. Any place you can put a photo, change it out. Brand yourself. When you post it, tag it with #BrandYou so we can all come see it!

Bonus Tip: add your photograph somehow on your business card if you can. Later on, it will be quick & easy for people to remember who you are if they see your face there. People tend to remember faces before they remember names!

When you’re all done, come back here and share your blog link – I want to visit so I can see your face!

If you want to read more on the psychology of how we connect with faces, this article on What’s In a Face on Psychology Today is fascinating.

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