#learnsocial workshop| NJ Social Media Expert

Collaboration.

Workshop.

Social Media.

Lady Bosses (+ one Guy Boss).

All of my favorite things swirled into one fun event.....

Welcome to the Learn Social. Get Savvy. Find Success workshop. Last week, I partnered with marketing mavens - Betty Galvan and Rupa Kale - to teach a seminar on how to use social media to boost your brand online. This was our first collab and it was a huge success! It felt ahhhhmazing to work with these creative, smart women to deliver valuable content on blogging, Facebook and Instagram. These are the tools that we have used to grow our very own brands. 

10 small business owners attended with businesses in the fashion, fitness, health, wellness industries. Some were just launching and others have been in business for years. The mix of experience and expertises made for a lively, engaged discussion. 

Rupa, Betty and I shared our strategies for storytelling, ideal client profiling and content creation. The attendees learned the do's and don'ts of popular social media platforms while seeing concrete examples of other businesses doing it right. It was three hours of packed learning with tailored advice for each of the attendees own personal brands. 

Ipshita Gosh of Aangan Academy shared, "So glad I went to this workshop...your pillars for content writing is thought-provoking and pretty comprehensive. Now I have something to guide me as I start (fingers-crossed) to blog! You gals left us wanting more.

Rita Desnoyers-Garcia of Becoming Awake commented, "I learned a lot, made some wonderful connections and have nugget to digest for the months and years to come." 

This feedback made us so happy! Personally, I love this new role as mentor - teacher - advisor for entrepreneurs. I am excited to do more of these workshops in the future. We even have our next one planned for June 8th. If you would are ready to share your story online and up level your business, join us. We would LOVE to have you. 

New Instagram Algorithm - NJ Business Photographer

Have you heard the news? Instagram has announced a new algorithm of how posts are seen in our feeds. Whereas before posts would be revealed  in reverse chronological order, now Instagram is deciding what to show us based on the viewer's interests and relationships with the posters. Instagram is reordering our feeds to show us "moments we believe you will care about the most".

Everyone is up in arms about this and what it means for connecting with our audience. Will our images get lost? Will we lose engagement? Why does Instagram think they can decide what we want to see? There are a lot of unknowns but the one thing for sure is : Instagram is a business and can decide what they want to do with their platform. They made this decision because feeds were starting to get crowded making it tougher for people to keep up with the content they wanted to see.  

So now what do we do? I think the best way to cope with social media changes is to find strategies to continue engagement with your audience. What can we do on our end to still maintain our connections? Here are a few ideas that I plan to implement in my Instagram strategy:

  1. CONTENT. Continue to create and share meaningful, valuable content to your tribe. Keep taking beautiful photos. Keep offering useful tips and advice. Keep inspiring others with quotes and behind the scenes sneak peaks to your process. Keep sharing relevant information that builds connections with your peeps.
  2. HASHTAGS. The order of the feed may be changing but as of now, hashtags still have the power to categorize and search for posts. Make sure you are including hashtags in your captions so that your customer can find you. These hashtags need to be relevant to your target and your industry. 
  3. ENGAGEMENT. Keep being social. Comment. Like. Share. Tag. Ask Questions. Post challenges. Create contests. Keep encouraging a dialogue on Instagram and you will build a community.
  4. CALL TO ACTION. Ask your followers to connect with you through the "turn on post notifications" feature. This way they won't miss a single post. You may need to show them how to do this with a graphic like I did. Just click the three dots in the top right and when the drop down comes up, click "Turn on Post Notifications". 

5. EMAIL LIST. Use the one clickable link on your Instagram bio wisely. Ask your audience to opt into your newsletter sign up through that link. This way you can capture their email and continue your relationship with them outside of Instagram. 

This big news has taught me one big lesson. Instagram is a business and they can do whatever they want with their platform. We have seen this with Facebook and Twitter. As a business owner, I only have real control over the platforms that I own - my website, my blog and my email list. I need to continue to keep them relevant, updated and top of mind. 

I hope this blog post helps you navigate the recent changes. If you want to learn more social media strategies to build your business, join us for an upcoming workshop in New Jersey : Get Savvy. Learn Social. Find Success. I am collaborating with two other social media mavens to present 3 hours of hands on, valuable content on building your business through social media. You can find more details HERE. We would love to have you. In the meantime, find me on Insta!

Creating Impact in a Crowded Market | NJ Business Photographer

I often hear from my fellow entrepreneurs that they feel frustrated about the saturated marketplace that they work in. There are so many (insert your specialty - coaches, designers, photographers, stylists) that it is challenging to stand out. Everyone is pushing their products and services that it's easy to feel lost. We try to be everywhere from our websites to Facebook to blogging to Periscope to networking....it's truly exhausting! And is anyone even listening anyway?

How do you go from invisible to impact?

1. Share your EXPERTISE. Offer meaningful and valuable content to your audience that positions you as a leader and an authority. Don't just sell, sell and sell. Offer news, trends, case studies, advice, shared experience. Answer questions in Facebook groups. Raise your hand in networking events. If it's good information, your people will start listening.

2. Show off your CLIENTS. Feature your client/customer/partner on your social platforms. Tell your audience who they are, what they do and what transformation you created. Include a testimonial. People like to see results and hear a before and after story. It's not always about you, but them. This builds trust.

3. Tell your STORY. You only have a few seconds to win someone's attention. You need a strong narrative and compelling photos. You need to reveal your passion and your personality behind your brand . Storytelling, stand-out photographs will help you get noticed in a crowded market. It will also be the first step in building a connection.

Images are critical in today's visual world. 

We all should have at least 3-5 professional photographs for marketing purposes : from your Linkedin profile pic, blogging posts, website home page & about me photos, press kits, etc. This is our FIRST impression.

I realize how daunting and nerve wracking the photography process can be. I have created several packages to meet your needs and offer a seamless experience. I have worked with over a hundred women in business to help them go from invisible to impact.  If you need help with a headshot or website photos, but don't know where to start, I can assist you.

Business & Branding Photo Packages

Coming up on April 29th is our Style & Focus photography event. We do this event only twice a year and it has been a huge success. Hair, makeup, personal styling, mini photo shoot and three digital photos is all included in the $399 price. PLUS, you get to borrow dresses from the boutique, Dressed by Lori, in Millburn so you have the perfect outfit to tell your story. If you are a coach, blogger, author, speaker or creative professional, this is a great photo opportunity. We keep the event exclusive so only six spots are offered. Click HERE for more details and to sign up.

Past Style & Focus Clients

Past Style & Focus Clients

What do you think?

What has been the most successful tactic in standing out from the crowd? Do you agree that images are important for building brand confidence? Let me know your thoughts! 

Rising Stars | NJ Teen Photographer

"THE BEST OUTFIT A GIRL CAN WEAR IS

CONFIDENCE."

Isn't that all we want for our children, especially our young girls? Let them radiate with confidence! I loved photographing these sisters because not only were they beautiful but they were smart, interesting and passionate about the arts. It's refreshing to meet young adults who are doing their best and are on the right track. 

If you have a talented tween or teen who needs a headshot OR your daughter and her besties want to celebrate their friendship with a photo shoot OR you just want to slow down time and remember this milestone year, I would love to help you with your photo needs. This is my FAVORITE age group (10-16) and I love to see how photography can boost self esteem and self-expression. Let's connect! 

Show your business some LOVE | NJ Photographer & Branding Specialist

It's Valentines week! You probably have something romantic planned for your significant other and maybe some sweets for your children. But have you thought about how you can show your business some love? Your brand continually communicates the facts and emotions related to your products and services. It tells your story and builds relationships with your clients. It works hard for you everyday! 

It's time to show your business some TLC. Here are a few ways to show the love :

1) Revisit your why. Go back to the beginning of your business journey and remember why you even started it in the first place. What were you hoping to create? What was driving you? Write down this mission again and share this story with your audience. Let them fall in love with your passion. 

2) Become the face of your brand. Don't hide behind a logo or a sloppy profile pic. Use a professional photo. People will notice that you invested in yourself and as a result, they will invest in YOU. Show off your personality. Maybe even start doing video? Your business will thrive when you allow your audience to connect with you as a person. 

3) Celebrate your wins. Take time to look over your accomplishments and feel proud. You and your business worked hard for that success. Share your wins with others to inspire them. Your achievements may be just what others need to ignite their ideas.

4) Invest in yourself. Love your business by investing in your education and growth. Carve out time to read books, attend workshops and watch webinars. Consider hiring a coach or participating in a mastermind. This continued learning is how you become an expert in your industry. 

5) Refresh and update. Don't let your brand get stale and outdated. Be resilient and open to change. Dote on your business by regularly updating your website images, re-design your business card or introduce new products and services. Keep it exciting and people will notice. 

As we celebrate LOVE on February 14th, don't forget to also show some affection to your business. If you love it, it will love you back!


Visibility & Video Making | NJ Photographer & Branding Strategist

I often talk about becoming the “face of your business”. Putting yourself out there as a walking breathing billboard for your brand. Allowing your audience to see you, hear you and learn from you. Humanizing your brand with your story to create a connection and trust. 

It’s the way to grow business and reach a wider market. And if you’ve been online, you know video marketing is everywhere from CEOs to aspiring musicians to creative grandmas. Everyone seems to be doing it. But it’s not easy to take the leap! It’s down right terrifying at first, especially if you are not used to being in FRONT of the camera. 

One of my goals for 2016 was to incorporate a video series into my brand. I call it, “Get Inspired Fridays” and cover various topics from entrepreneurship, branding, photography and creativity. I am still a newbie but I am three videos in. I will tell you that it gets a little tiny bit easier with every recording.

If you are thinking about video, I say JUMP! Come join me in the video world and consider these three starting tips:

  1. Share what you know. We all have our areas of expertise. Make a list of things that you are an expert in and are passionate about. Write out questions that your clients, colleagues, friends or Facebook friends have asked that you know the answers too. This is your content. Keep an ongoing list.
  2. Start short and small. The most watched videos are the ones less then 4-5 minutes. You don’t need to give an encyclopedia answer. Keep it simple and digestible. Don’t forget to include a call to action at the end - “Come back next week!” or “Find me on Instagram @mikifotonj” or “Visit my blog for my recent article”.  
  3. Introduce yourself. Don’t forget to give a brief intro in every video of who you are, whatyou do and what the video will cover. Your following may grow so you need to make sure viewers know who you are.
  4. Find good light. I shoot my videos with my iPhone and have a crazy set up where I stack a bunch of books to get it eye level. I am always facing a big window (not too close) so the light source is opposite my face. The most flattering light is even and soft. Then I shoot in a horizontal orientation and in mirror mode so I can see myself. Not professional status by any means, but it works for now!
  5. Practice! Before you hit record, script it and practice your speech in a mirror. Numerous times. Feel comfortable with your words. If you find yourself stumbling, then maybe you don’t know the content as well as you should consider another topic. 
  6. Dismiss perfection. I give myself five tries to get the video done. That’s it! Then I pick the best one and post it. Don’t obsess with getting it done perfectly without any hiccups - it rarely happens. Focus on progress.

These are the steps that I follow for my video creation and here are two of my latest four videos. I am still a work in progress and welcome any feedback to do it better. So share your tips or tricks! And if you are interested in seeing more of my video growth, visit my Facebook Page or Youtube Channel.

It’s the first step that is the hardest! You already have a smart phone, so put on some lipstick, find some pretty light and get started. You can do this!

Crazy Eight | NJ Photographer

Celebrating my 8 year business birthday with a business card re-design by Arrow Creative Design. 

Celebrating my 8 year business birthday with a business card re-design by Arrow Creative Design

Eight years later….it’s hard to believe I began mikifoto in 2008. It feels like my business has been with me for a lifetime. But as I look back at my humble beginnings, I can see how much I have evolved and grown. From a Mom with a camera, I have built a dynamic business that now specializes in photography for life and business, visual storytelling, branding strategy and creative workshops. I am proud of what I have created, all while staying home to raise my sons. 

Who knew that 8 years ago when I picked up a camera to document my sons that I would become a passionate entrepreneur? I had no idea. But that is what is amazing about taking chances and following your passion. You can surprise yourself. You can reinvent yourself. You can grow.

As I reflect on my business birthday, I thought I would share eight lessons that I learned during this entrepreneurial journey.

  1. Dream big and allow yourself to evolve. You may have started your business in a certain role, but be open to change and say yes to opportunity. Over time, you build new skills and experiences that may take you to in a new direction. I began my career as a child photographer only taking pictures of families and kids. But I was given the chance to be a leader for a women’s entrepreneurial group and that role opened new doors for my business. I didn’t abandon my core business but was able to add another layer to my brand. Keep a journal of your business aspirations or create a vision board to help inspire you.
  2. Put your blinders on. We all work in saturated industries. Just in my area, there are hundreds of photographers! And now living in an online world, we are bombarded with what everyone else is doing. It’s easy to feel bad and not good enough when you see all the bright shiny offerings of your competition. I decided a few years ago to stop obsessing about what my competitors were doing and instead focus my energy on creating the best work, experience and content for my audience. Stop stalking your competitors and start serving your customers.
  3. Think out of the box. I have had good success creating events, services or programs that were fresh and new to the market. Do the research to understand what your customer needs and then brainstorm new and unique ways to meet them. I created my Get Gorgeous headshot event which includes hair, makeup, styling and photography because I learned my clients wanted the full experience to feel ready for the camera. Look at different industries for inspiration on ideas to implement!
  4. Collaborate. This has changed my whole business. Developing strategic partnerships with like minded small business owners has helped my brand flourish. By combining forces with personal stylists, clothing boutiques, hair and makeup talent, social media experts, etc - we work together to create a more robust experience for my clients. Plus, I can spread the word about my brand to my partner’s audience, boosting my exposure. Seek out businesses who share the same values, client profile and common goals. It is so fun to be part of a team! But before you create anything together, make sure to meet to hash out details and to determine everyone’s role. 
  5. Keep learning. Never stop educating yourself despite how old you get. Invest in a mentor, business coach, classes, conferences, books. You want to become the expert in whatever field you choose. My 2016 goal was to read more business books and I started a Lady Boss Book Club to keep me accountable. Challenge yourself. Invest in yourself. There are so many resources (some free like this) at our fingertips.
  6. Network. You need to connect with people and build relationships to grow your business. When I moved to NJ five years ago, I had no clients and no one knew what mikifoto was at all. I joined a women’s empowerment organization, BIG and this was a game changer. I finally found my tribe of women who were also passionate business owners. Find a business group, a Moms group, a mastermind, a local club. Or create your own! Surround yourself with others who inspire you and help you stay on track. 
  7. Schedule everything. It’s challenging to manage both family and business on one calendar. There never is enough time. I put everything down in my calendar from big picture strategic time to playdates and carpools. I also recommend waking up one hour early to give yourself that extra quiet time. This helps me stay focused and organized. And I make sure to set aside creative time every week as well as self care. If you don’t block it off in your planner, it’s never going to happen.
  8. Breathe. Take time to slow down. Reflect. Recharge. Take it all in - your dreams, your journey, your wins, your losses. Center yourself. And exhale!

There are so many more lessons that I have learned since I started mikifoto but since I am celebrating my 8th business birthday, 8 is enough!

Hope these takeaways help or inspire you. Owning your own business has been an amazing ride! Never easy to balance work and home, but always fulfilling to have the flexibility and creativity to build this business as I envision. Cheers to 8 years.


Frankie Goes to Hollywood | NJ Headshot Photographer

It is always refreshing to meet a confident teenager who has a passion for the arts. Francesca contacted me to take head shots for her aspiring career in acting, dance and music. Plus, she just got her braces off so she was ready to show off her new smile. 

We started her session with hair and makeup (all of my headshot packages include this service). Then we had some girl fun and picked out a few outfits. I work with the best creative talent in NJ and our goal is to always make you FEEL and look beautiful. It is always so fun to be treated like a model for the day.

This age group has always been my favorite. I love to see the boost of confidence that awakens during the session. I love to see the spark that lights up their eyes after seeing themselves through my camera. It's a remarkable experience. 

If you would like to learn more about head shots, best friend photo sessions or just photo fun, let's connect!