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 Don't let your brand get stale and outdated.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!

Camera Ready Tips | NJ Photographer

Oh the dreaded photo shoot! You know you need new professional images but you hate being in front of the camera. It is stressful and nerve wracking. Suddenly you wonder: What should I wear? How do I pose naturally? Can you hide my flaws? Do I have to be so visible?

As a photographer, I encounter this at every session and can completely empathize. It is hard to show up, put yourself out there and be confident. It can feel vulnerable and scary. How do you get over this hump?

Most importantly, make sure you work with someone who you trust, who understands you and the story you want to reveal. Your relationship with your photographer should help you feel comfortable to express your personality and style. He or she should direct you to move your body and pose in the most natural way. Your photo experience is a partnership and you should work together to get the best results. 

Also, to put your best face forward, you should take proper care of yourself prior to the photo shoot. There are a number of beauty and health tips that you can follow 7-10 days leading up to your session. I asked my gal pal, Claudia Petrilli, a health coach at Be Healthy Happy Whole, for her expertise on looking camera ready for your close up. Hope these easy tips help you feel more confident and prepared for your next photo shoot.

Get Noticed | NJ Business Brand Photographer

Your website is your virtual storefront. It's the starting point for your business. When prospects want to learn more about you, they will plug in your url and start clicking away. Put yourself in your customer's shoes and try to see and read what they experience for the first time. 

Immediately your visuals and copy need to capture their attention and ignite a connection to your brand. The most visited pages on your site are the home, the about me and contact us pages. These pages need to work extra hard to keep your prospects engaged and clicking to learn more in order to convert them into clients.

Home Page

Your welcome mat. This is the starting point. It's like the doorway into your online world. How does your viewer feel when they first visit? Are they engaged, provoked or appreciated? Your header photos need to be professional which means clear, crisp and creatively composed. Plus also eye catching, telling a compelling story of who you are and what you do. Good photos can inspire someone to connect and purchase so include 2-3 of your best images on your homepage. Your headline must grab their attention and resonate. Speak their language. Organized navigation will keep your viewers moving through the site. Keep it simple and easy. There is nothing worse then a broken link or clicking into nowhere. Also don't forget to include "call to actions" to help guide your readers on what to do and where to go. 

www.simplychicstyling.com

www.simplychicstyling.com

www.smartlyorganized.com

www.smartlyorganized.com

ABOUT ME

Your bio. Your resume. Your history. This is your opportunity to share who you are and what your business is all about. Include a photo that showcases your personality and you will be able to build a connection and trust. In my opinion, the about me page MUST include a photo of the face behind the brand. People want to know WHO they are doing business with. People also want to learn your WHY behind your work. Be sure to share your roots, your passions and how you are different from the others in your field.

www.themindfulfamily.com

www.themindfulfamily.com

www.simplychicstyling.com  

www.simplychicstyling.com

 

Contact Us

Your closing. This is your chance to start the relationship. This is the bridge to connecting with you directly to seek more information. It's also another great opportunity to include a photo as a friendly reminder of your personal brand. An image encourages viewers to submit their personal information because they actually see the face that they are sending it to. Make sure the instructions are crystal clear on how to make contact and how to reach you. Plus, test out all the links to make sure they are properly working. 

www.behealthyhappywhole.com

www.behealthyhappywhole.com

From my own website - www.mikifoto.com

From my own website - www.mikifoto.com

Now if you're struggling with your website and feel like you don't have compelling photos or copy to attract clients, then stress no more! I am super excited to be launching a new photo package called GET NOTICED for savvy women entrepreneurs who want their website to speak volumes about their brand. This package combines both brand photography (with me) and copywriting (with one of my creative partners) for your website. Let's update the images and text on your home, about me and contact me pages (or other places) so that clients and prospects connect with YOU and your story. 

If you are interested to learn more, please contact me at mallika@mikifoto.com. I would love to help you up level your website. More of my business and branding images can be found here.

PLUS, I am offering $100 off this package price for the first five women who book before March 31, 2016. Let's start off 2016 together making an impact on your business and personal brand!

5 Ways to Jumpstart Your Creativity | NJ Creative Entrepreneur

I believe I am a creative soul. Yet, I can’t draw well. I am not an expert painter or sculptor or maker. I struggle with putting words to paper. And I by no means can walk on to a stage and recite lines of poetry. I am creative because I have a desire to see the world in fresh ways. I have a million ideas - big and small - and take time to nourish them. I see connections between business, brands and people and try to design collaborations. I am creative because I continue to want to learn, grow and expand. 

Creativity is a way to express yourself. It doesn’t mean you have to be only skilled in the arts. Creativity can be found in cooking, home design, dance, medicine, branding, even parenting. It’s a process and an outlook. It’s being open to new things and experiences. It’s finding new inventive solutions. It’s taking action even if the process is risky, messy and not perfect. I believe we all have this creative bug deep inside us. But sometimes it gets lost. Or we just don’t have the time to attend to it.

If your hope is to tap into your creative self in 2016, here are a few easy ways that helped me amp up my creative mind:

1. Design a vision board. 

What’s a vision board? It’s a collage of images, pictures and words that reflect your dreams, aspirations and goals. The cutting and pasting process of designing your vision board is very creative and eye - opening. Plus it feels like being in kindergarten again! Just grab a stack of magazines, scissors, a glue stick and either an empty journal or a large poster board. Start the process by tear sheeting pages from the magazines of images and words that make you feel something. Don’t think too much about it! Just tear out anything that resonates with you, makes you smile or reminds you of a personal goal. Once you have a good stack of visuals, then start the design part. Look at the images that you picked and start pasting them on to the board. Follow your creative intuition. There is no wrong way to do this. Fill the board with your images. Once you get started, you will find your own rhythm and all the images will surprisingly make sense together. When the images are all pasted, voila! You are done. You created a vision board that expressed your mind and heart. Now that’s creative!

2) Sign up for a class in something entirely new.

Learn something new that you wouldn’t be able to do on your own. Maybe it’s a cooking class or piano or a new language…challenge yourself to do something outside of your comfort zone. It could be online or in-person (check out www.skillshare.com or www.creativelive.com for online classes). It doesn’t really matter, you just have to make a commitment and show up. I recently started a water color art class and my beginner mindset made me timid at first. But over time, the process of learning a new craft opened up my mind and encouraged me to take more chances with my work. It’s empowering to trust your inner creative.

3) Step away from the computer and move your body.

084A3037web.jpg

Staring at a computer screen for hours can suck up your creative spark. As a photographer, I spend too much time like this. What helps me clear my mind is exercise. It could be as simple as a walk around the block or an intense sweat dripping spin class. Just make sure to move your body everyday. Schedule an alarm on your phone reminding you to take a break. This movement will help you gain focus and clarity. It will inspire you to move from stuck to spark.

4) Read, escape.

Get lost in a story. Recharge your imagination through books. Whenever I finish a fiction novel or business book, I feel so alive with new feelings and new ideas. Books are an easy way to spark your creativity. Make time for it! I love turning pages of a real book but audible books are another alternative to keep reading (www.audible.com)

5) Explore. 

This is my favorite way to fill my inspiration tank and cure creative blocks. Travel to new destinations. Visit a museum. Listen to a new genre of music. Drive to a different neighborhood town. Shop at a new boutique. First time experiences heighten your senses. And this open mindset helps flourish and unleash your creative juices. 

So what are you going to do now to tap into your creativity? Make a promise to yourself to take action on one thing. Even a little thing. Once you do, you might feel inspired to try something else. Then before you know it, you may gain creative momentum in all areas of your life. Now that is living an amplified, full, fun life!


Word of The Year | NJ Photographer & Entrepreneur

Happy 2016! This time of year always fills me with new hope. It's a fresh start with (as of today) 361 days of endless possibilities. We are given the gift of a clean slate. A new chance to dream big, make changes, apply new habits and create a life that we want. 

I used to write a long list of resolutions. But only after a few weeks into the new year, I would fail to deliver and feel defeated and discouraged.  A few years back I found Susanna Conway's word of the year project. Instead of a list of rules, she encouraged choosing a word to act as a guiding light for the year. Your word becomes your intention, your promise and your compass for what you hope unravels during the next 12 months.

I loved this practice and chose "CREATE" in 2015. As I look back at the year, I can see that I did indeed create a lot from new workshops to photography packages to enrolling in a watercolor art class. 

This year I took the five day challenge to determine my word for 2016. I highly recommend it, especially if resolutions don't work for you. It will help you reflect and think openly on what you hope for the new year.

I am excited to share my word for 2016....

My hope is to continue to inspire others to share their stories through photography, branding and creativity to feel more confident and connected in life and business. I want my passion for storytelling to create IMPACT for people, for businesses, for the world. I want to spark new ways of thinking, more sharing and deeper connecting.  

I have no idea yet how this will all unravel. Of course, I have a million ideas floating in my head. But I am excited about the journey and this intention for 2016. 

Share your word of the year and how you found it! I would LOVE to know!