Lauren Fair Website 2015

Hip hip! Today is a day to smile … I woke up this morning to see that Lauren Fair Photography has introduced their newly updated website. Lauren, Tim and I first worked together in 2012. While their site has worked for them since then, it was just time to take an intentional look at it. They loved the overall structure, but we went through with a fine-toothed comb to ask: “Does that element still make sense?” … “Is this conveying our brand message?” … “Are these words and photos still relevant?” — If the answer was no to any question, we got rid of it, and updated it!

Lauren and Tim absolutely love to travel. With this refresh, we wanted to bring in subtle nods towards their passion. We updated the background map to feel a little fresher and brighter, added some compass/arrow elements, and map icons.

My biggest mission was making their message loud and clear. Their old site worked — it was lovely, but it was a little cluttered. Now, navigation is simplified, and each page is completely clear.

LF-Philo

I absolutely love their new travel section. I told you, they really DO travel! It’s a wonderful place where they share about their hearts, and why they love traveling … then, you get to adventure through photos from their travels.

LF-Travel

They have received some of the best “raves” I’ve ever read. To me, it was important to highlight the parts of each review that really speaks to their overall experience. We put the reviews on a timed delay so the visitor can see the most important piece first, and really get pulled in.

LF-Love

If you have a few minutes, and want to see some serious eye candy, go check out the new Lauren Fair Photography website. Such a joy!

Digital-Love

Hi lovelies. I wanted to pop in to share a little bit about the products and services that make my workflow more efficient.

Some of you know, I still use paper to-do lists. I love the satisfaction of physically crossing off a list. Sometimes, I even put items on my list just to cross them off. It’s the little things, friends!

When one of the amazing people at FreshBooks approached me about sharing some tips & apps I use to manage my workflow, I knew this would be awesome. With a neverending to-do list, and a lot of hats to manage, having some consistency is key. Here are my favorite ways that technology allows to me run my business more efficiently!

FRESHBOOKS // Hands Down, the best decision I’ve made for my business. FreshBooks is cloud accounting … it makes everything so easy!  I use FB to keep track of client information, create invoices, collect payments, and record all of my expenses. I absolutely love that I can share my reports with my tax accountant with one click (she really loves this feature). It’s easy to keep track of the “big picture” with their wonderful profit & loss reports, and managing expenses is super-easy. Since using FB, I no longer scramble at tax time … I just record all year, and it’s all there. They also have amazing time tracking features, which are great for solo entrepreneurs and people working with teams.

DROPBOX // Gone are the days of, “Did you receive those files?” … With Dropbox, I can share files with my clients, instantly, and not worry about file size getting caught in spam filters! I share most proofs via email, but all final files are delivered via Dropbox, where my clients can collaborate, download files, and comment. It’s a breeze! I especially love that I can unsync certain folders on my computer, ensuring that I have just the files I need.

LITTLEIPSUM // This is a tiny app, but it helps a ton. I first learned about this app from my pal, Vanessa. LittleIpsum works like a tiny plugin that sits on your menu bar. Whenever I’m building sites, or doing content mockups, I can choose a certain amount of Latin text (1 word up to 4 paragraphs), which then copies to my clipboard. It’s amazing and fast!

ADOBE CREATIVE CLOUD // Oh mama! I was so excited when the first version of CC was released. No more purchasing a suite for thousands of dollars, only to see an upgraded version the next year. I love that I can pay a monthly price to get the latest version of all Adobe suite products. As a designer and photographer, I use Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, Bridge, and Lightroom EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. It’s worth the investment over and over.

DRIBBBLE // I use Dribbble like a notebook of sorts. Rejected concepts get as much love as the approved ones, and I love that I can share them somewhere. The community is amazing; full of wonderful designers!

INSTAGRAM // I’m a photographer and a designer … I love both so much!! I love that Instagram has become a platform that I can connect with my clients, potential clients, and my friends. I love sharing little insights about the studio, and by using hashtags, I can connect to a larger community of people sharing my passion! Are you on IG? Follow me!! I would love to connect.

JOTFORM // While Freshbooks is absolutely amazing, it still doesn’t allow me to send documents for my clients to sign. This is where JotForm comes into play! They have a plugin, which allows your clients to sign documents with their mouse (making it a legal signature). JotForm is also wonderful for client questionnaires. My favorite part? It’s free to use! How awesome is that?

Lastly, for all hosting, domain and email needs, I use Namecheap.com. Their customer service is out of this world (in fact, I’m live chatting with them right now). Their pricing is super competitive, and I’ve never had a single issue with their services. When you run your own business, one mark of “professional” is using an email address on your own domain. Namecheap makes this easy & affordable.

While I was approached to write a post about digital tools, all thoughts are my own. Some of this post contains affiliate links! 
  • Vanessa - Love this! I wanna try out JotForm for questionnaires! That’s the one thing missing in my process that I’d love to streamline. Thanks for this! 😉ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer | Earl Grey Creative - Thanks for this amazing list! Definitely going to refer back to this. Your entire site is so beautiful! :)ReplyCancel

01-Logo

When my heart imagines the creative that meshes perfectly with my style, Monica is the first person who pops into my head. When Monica first approached me, she was growing her business and ready for a brand identity that represented her beautiful style. Working with her is easy … it’s like a breath of fresh air. She creates a warm, inviting environment for her clients, which allows them to open their hearts. Her images are a direct reflection her amazing artistic vision.

Working together, we created a custom script logo for her, and paired it with classic, light typefaces that would be used to tell her brand’s story. Her client experience is rounded out with letterpress stationery … Sending handwritten notes are like the icing on the cupcake. I thought I’d drop in to share my favorite pieces of her project. I hope you love her work as much as I do. Visit her new Showit website here!

02-Element03-Letterpress-Stationery05-Showit-Site04-Fonts08-Element06-Monica-Mae-Photography09-Showit-Site07-Envelopes10-Monica-Mae-Photography11-Letterpress-Stationery12-Showit-Site13-Monica-Mae-Photography

All stationery photographs by Three Fifteen Design

All portrait & wedding photography by Monica Mae Photography

… but I can help you hone in on your target market, develop a brand strategy to attract your perfect client, and create an identity convey your brand’s message.

Most inquiries that come across my (virtual) desk say something like this, “I need a better brand! I basically don’t have one!!” — And, I usually respond with the same idea:

You do have a brand. YOU are your brand. You have a client experience, and it’s either top notch, or needs some major work. There’s not much gray area when it comes to creating advocates out of your clients.

Small

In 2015, my client experience has gone through a bit of an evolution. You see, I am determined to ensure my clients understand the difference between a brand and a brand identity. To understand the difference between a business that never gets momentum and a business that shines!

I can’t make your brand … that’s your job! What are you doing to stand out from your peers? What are you doing to create advocates out of your clients? Does your current site convey your brand’s message, or is it like the other sites in your industry? How are you using feedback to tailor your client experience to your ideal clients? And, most importantly, how are you making sure you are feeling inspired and driven?

Once you take a look at these aspects of your brand, it’s easy to see where you can put in a little more work, and where you’re shining. I’d love to hear how you’ve taken charge of your client experience, and what kind of brand you have!!

07 Stationery

Within a few seconds, anyone landing on your site will know whether they want to stick around. Within a few seconds of that realization, they’ll know if they want to spend their money on your products or services. When diving into the website content piece with my clients, I’ve found myself getting more and more picky about the work they are showing.

Open your website/blog right now. What does the first image say to a potential client?

I want to use one of my recent clients as an example. Ryan and Jill of With Love & Embers specialize in photographs that are overwhelmingly emotional (in the best way possible), while giving each photo a true sense of place. It’s like you can just feel everything about that moment. When choosing photos to showcase on their site, they completely nailed it. Every ounce of every photograph is speaking to their client experience.

I’ve had clients who describe their work as moody, emotional, and personal … But, when clicking on their site, the first image is of a colorful wedding bouquet, a bright photo with laughter, or a flower girl dancing during a reception. While those photographs might be beautiful, they don’t speak to their brand keywords, at all. And, when your goal is (or should be) to attract your ideal clients, how can you expect to do so when you’re showing work that doesn’t speak to your brand experience?

For me, I had to totally change the way I was presenting my projects. I used to break down each project into posts for the design board, the logos, the stationery, the website, etc. But, I realized I was getting tons of inquiries for individual pieces. Why weren’t people wanting to book me for a complete brand identity project? It’s because I wasn’t showing them complete projects. Now days, I show final suites, and present the visual pieces of their complete client experience. I tell you this to show you that I recognized this with my own business, and it goes beyond photographers. We all have to curate our sites to maximize effectiveness.

Want to be sure your images are capturing your perfect client?

  • Revise your galleries & photos — If it’s been more than 6 months since you’ve updated the galleries on your site, it’s been too long.
  • When revising, start with a list of descriptors. — Be picky! Pick 5 words that describe your brand experience or your work. If a photo doesn’t match, don’t show it.
  • If you don’t want to do it, don’t show it! — If you’re a “wedding photographer that occasionally photographs families, but really only wants to photograph weddings”, take the family gallery off of your site!
  • Use social media to microblog — Facebook and Instagram are perfect places to highlight your favorite 1 or 2 photos from a session. The description is a place to tell your audience why that photo fits with your brand. I love how Rosey Red Photography does this.
  • Pare it down — Yeah, less is more. 10 amazing images that subscribe to your brand’s message are stronger than 50 mediocre images.

Just starting with these simple steps can help you get closer to always booking/selling to your ideal market. Have you done this? Tell me how your business benefited in the comment section below. And, if you’re like me, and have a hard time narrowing down your favorite work, tell me what the hardest part is for you.