A lot of my clients have been getting new headshots (get it ladies!), and many of them have asked if I have any recommendations for what to ask the photographer for. And it just so happens I do.
For your personal headshots, do what ever makes you feel confident and happy but for use on your website we need to think bigger. No really, I mean we need bigger photos! A headshot is usually a square photo but if you want those large, banner-type photos on your site, a square headshot is not going to cut it.
Photos for hero images or banners
When you talk to your photog, ask for shots that are landscape and have a full background behind you. If you want to use them in the hero section at the top or as a background on anything we need more stuff behind you versus a close up. Vertical/portrait photos often don’t work well for websites because computer monitors are landscape. Portrait photos work well for lots of other applications (headshots, social media, etc.) but we need to make sure you walk out of your shoot with ALL the photos you need to shine online.
In my perfect world you’d walk away from your photo shoot with the following:
Landscape photos where you are at the left, right, and center of the shot. Sometimes we don’t want you right in the center, so options are nice.
A few different backgrounds. Some that have casual stuff behind you like a kitchen, office, living room, trees, etc. Some that are plain colors.
Shots where your full body is in the frame in addition to shots where just your torso is shown.
This picture of Mary Catalogna is a great example of a landscape picture that would work great as a hero image. It is zoomed out enough to show more of the background behind her. I’d love to have this shot also with Mary either to the left or right.
This picture of Wendy Garvin Mayo is beautiful but there isn’t enough background behind it to be use it as a full width hero image. The background is very complex, so I wouldn’t be able to redraw it or recreate parts to add to it. If Wendy’s photographer had stepped back, made Wendy a little smaller in the frame, and included more of the background this picture would be perfect.
Your photog is going frame your face or body in the way that is best for the shot, but it’s not always what’s best for our needs on your website. If they take any close headshots ask them to also take a few shots where your shoulders are both fully in the frame. We can always crop it smaller but what happens is I end up having to redraw shoulders because it looks weird if your shoulders are randomly cut off. It’s easier and looks much better if your head and shoulders are included in the original shot.
In my perfect world we’d have:
Different poses that include your whole head/hair and both your shoulders and arms.
Traditional headshots but also more casual and relaxed poses.
Standing or full body shots in addition to sitting poses. (We don’t often use the full body, but it gives me more to work with and then we can crop where it makes the most sense for the website.)
This picture of Cazandra Campos-McDonald is great because we have her full body AND it’s on a neutral/solid background. If I needed to turn this into a banner image, I can easily add on more of that solid beige color to make the photo work.
This picture of Lisa is great for a headshot but isn’t ideal for a website. Though she looks amazing, you can see her hair is out of the frame as well as one of her shoulders and both of her arms.
Remember! We can always take away from photos but it’s much harder and often impossible to add.
If you collected ANYTHING on your website the answer is a resounding YES.
✔ That means if you collect credit card info you’re a yes. ✔ If you have a very simple contact form you’re a yes. ✔ If your site collects cookies you’re a yes. ✔ Don’t know if your site collects cookies? You’re still probably a yes.
My business isn’t very big, do I still need one?
The laws they are a-changin’ and the rules are changing so rapidly it’s almost impossible to keep up. You know how you’re always getting those emails from companies saying their privacy policies have changed? Changing laws and best practices are the reasons for those emails. The CliffsNotes version is that each state has its own laws but that doesn’t mean you’re immune if your state doesn’t have one of these laws. You could still get sued by someone you work with who is in another state. Still following? Privacy Policies are legal documents that let people know what you plan to do with the information you collect on their websites and that means ANY information. The video below explains this really well.
Ok fine, I’ll just snag one for free on the internet.
I would advise against this. Sure, we all love free stuff but let’s be real, you get what you pay for. Free policies are not always legally sound, you may not know how to customize it for your business AND are you really going to stay on top of the rapidly changing laws? Probs not.
This seems like a lot of work for something that may never happen.
New logos are exciting. When you release your new logo your vision and your business start to come to life. You’ve got your jpegs and maybe a transparent gif. You can put your logo all over the internet and maybe even on some swag. But let me ask you this…could you blow your logo up and put it on a billboard?
If you received any files from your designer that end is these file extensions, you can have that billboard.
These are editable, vector-based file types. Editable being the key word. This means if you ever need to enlarge your logo to the size of your SUV for a car wrap, you can. If you don’t, no car wraps for you. Let me explain…
Here’s a brief lesson in file types
There are two main types of image files: vector and bitmap (pixels).
Vectors are scalable to any size and I mean ANY size. All text is vector-based. Line drawings, shapes, and many illustrations are vector-based items. You want a vector version of your logo so you can scale to any size and so you can edit the original file easily.
These are vector-based file types: pdf, eps, svg, ai.
A vector file can be exported to create a pixel-based file.
Bitmap is the old school term for pixels. Every digital photo has pixels, you’ve seen them when you try to blow up a picture and it gets all blurry and pixelated. You cannot scale a pixel-based image to any size. They have limitations on how big they can get and the images you take on your phone will NOT scale to a billboard. Or your car. Or to a poster. You can probably get a screen saver and be happy with the quality.
These are pixel-based file types: jpg, png, gif, tiff.
A pixel-based file CAN NOT be exported to create a vector-based file.
Ok cool info, but really why do I care about these file types?
You need them because one day when you go to a different/new designer you have the files that they need to create all the stuff you want. I have spent lots of time (and your money) recreating logos because my clients were never given the correct file types. The reality is that you will probably never need these editable file types, you don’t probably don’t even have software to open them, but your future designer will need them and it will make them super happy to have the right files from the start.
My logo protocol
I always produce logos as vector-based designs because it not only offers endless options for scalability, but it makes it incredibly easy to produce other file types, and edit the original work.
This is what I give most of my clients if I’ve created them a logo
Editable pdf, eps, svg, and ai files
jpegs in full color & black and white in approx 5 different sizes
gifs in full color & black and white with transparent backgrounds in approx 5 different sizes
pngs in full color & black and white with transparent backgrounds in approx 5 different sizes
logo in square file size
I give my clients between 20-30 different versions of their logo so that way they always have what they need and if they don’t, they can easily get it.
What if I don’t have editable files?
Your designer should be giving you a SLEW of logo files. So many that you’re overwhelmed because this means you’ll have everything you’ll ever need moving forward. If you have a designer that has not given you these file types, I highly recommend you email and ask them for editable versions of your logo in a pdf, eps, svg, and ai. And specify editable. I have received editable files that have jpegs pasted inside them. That doesn’t help me and delays the process.
Your designer should not have a problem with sharing these files with you unless you signed a contract stating that you don’t own your files. PS: Always own your files.
If your designer has fallen off the face of the earth and you have no way to get your original file, we can recreate it and solve this problem once and for all. If you’ve gotten into a bind with your logo, send me an email and we can get you on the right track.
I have signed up for SO many trials for various tools that are supposed to help me run my business. One of my proudest moments was when I realized I finally needed a CRM to help keep my clients and their projects organized. I honestly think I signed up for maybe 10 different CRM systems, testing them all for their features, usability, pricing, and interface design. In the end, I came out with Dubsado.
And I LOVE it.
I needed a CRM to help me keep my pipeline and my clients straight, but what I didn’t initially realize was how many other tools I was using for other aspects of my day-to-day business. I was using Calendly, MixMax, Freshbooks, Capsule and possibly a few others…but it was a lot to manage. Then in walks Dubsado and I now use ONE system to replace everything else. Literally everything.
Here is what I use Dubsado for:
Questionnaires and forms
Workflows (other automated things)
Client source tracking
This week they released more zaps for Zapier which is a 3rd party tool that integrates Dubsado into other tools, like Wave, Stripe, Mailchimp, Asana, ClickUp, ect. Since I’ve been using Dubsado they’ve added new features multiple times a month, which is unheard of.
I also have to give a bit shout out to their customer service team, which is outstanding. Their team is available through online chat and their responses are quick, thorough and are not dismissive. They really want you to understand the system. AND the best part is whenever you run into something that would be nice to have in the system, they write it down, pass it along and sincerely appreciate the suggestion. They listen, offer advice AND take action? I’m basically ready to date Dubsado at this point.
Right now, Dubsado is offering a sale price for their monthly and yearly rate AND if you use my affiliate link (https://www.dubsado.com/?c=qgsd) you’ll get an additional 20% off. Whhhhaaat?
If you happen to be from the future and find this blog post, you’re in luck! My link will always offer 20% off Dubsado rates. You’re welcome. Now go forth, organize and save yourself some time!
And by “website shit” I mean own your domain. Own your hosting. Own your themes and plugins. Own it all.
I cannot stress this enough. You, the business owner or individual, need to own all of your own digital assets. Regardless of whether you know what to do with your domain once you buy it or have a clue what a host is or does… make sure when you acquire these things, they are IN YOUR NAME.
In the last month, I’ve had two new clients with existing websites and social media sites… and with zero access because they do not own their own shit and their super “cool” (NOT COOL) former website person isn’t cooperating. This can literally happen to anyone, including you.
The topic of ownership of digital assets really fires me up because at the root of most of these issues… is someone who is being an asshole. Plain and simple. Protect yourself against assholes. I don’t care if you are working with your bestie, your Hunny, or your mommy – make sure no one gets to be an asshole about your hard work and your business.
Here are the top 5 reasons you need to own all your digital shit.
1. Because I said so, that’s why. Seriously, you NEED to own it.
If it is not currently in your name, you do not own it. This means even though your name is Jane Smith, you do not own JaneSmith.com unless it is registered to YOU.
Many times people who are not web savvy will hire someone to set up their website, social channels, etc. and just say “handle it!” The person they hire will purchase everything under their own accounts. This makes life for your web person much easier but as your business outgrows them, it will make your life MUCH harder to try to get your stuff back. Hard as in almost impossible if they choose to be… an asshole. And if it comes down to them not getting money anymore from you, it is a high probability that assholery will abound.
If you do not own your digital assets, I urge you to please talk to whoever does and try to get it transferred over. It is devastating to lose your domain and or access to your own channels. Also – super red flag if they give you push back.
2. Accidents happen
I hate to use this as a talking point…but it’s true. People die or have terrible things happen to them. That’s life whether we want to chat about it or not.
If you don’t own your digital accounts… they will die with them too. Or be in limbo if they are recovering from an accident. I’m sure you don’t want to be THAT asshole while someone is in the hospital, calling up and asking them to sign into a website because you locked yourself out and don’t have access to reset the password. Not a great look.
I know this sounds incredibly insensitive but your business is your livelihood and an unexpected tragedy should not take it down.
3. It gives you flexibility
Let me tell you a little story.
In 2006, I was a fresh-faced college grad ready to show my online portfolio to the world and get a job. Once I got that job… I promptly let my domain lapse and it’s pretty much lost forever.
$1,500 for JackieZimmerman.com? I’d rather change my name than succumb to domain squatting like that.
All of this is to say that while my priorities changed once I got that job, I really wish I still had that domain now for other purposes. You never know when things will shift, or new opportunities will come along. This is especially true if your domain is your name.
You’d be surprised how many of your “good ideas” for website names are already taken. So whether you are ready for it or not, I’d swoop on that name instead of risking some internet asshole trying to squeeze you later on.
4. You want to make changes
If your business name ever changes, or you are totally ready to evolve your business and you want people to see your cringy but genuine beginnings or maybe you want to merge your established shit with the business you’ve been dreaming about, it’s super helpful (read: critical) to direct the traffic from one business to your new site.
Guess what you sweet summer child? You need access to the domains to redirect them.
If you decide your website is too slow and want to change the host… you need access to your current host
If you decide your website needs to be redesigned… you need access to both!
Are you seeing a pattern here??
You cannot change ANYTHING about your site if you don’t have these logins
5. People Suck
The underlying theme here is that sometimes you trust someone to manage this information and these accounts for you and they do you dirty.
I do not understand designers and developers that withhold access to these things for petty reasons but alas, they do. Money, clout, personal issues – just jump onto a YouTube drama channel if you want to see how fast people can turn or how Petty LaBelle they can get.
They say not to mix family or friends with business, but a large number of people (especially entrepreneurs) do it. DNA and love don’t give immunity to assholery.
So to save yourself from some disgruntled former employee, or exploding family drama, put everything in your name from the start.
On most platforms, there are user role settings that allow you to create logins for other people but don’t allow them to take ownership. This is especially important on social channels.
Last year I made this post about Coschedule, the scheduler I use to post to social media. And I’m here to say…I’m still in love with this scheduler. I still love it for all the reasons I wrote below but after consistently using it for my business for a year, I’ve discovered a few more!
1. Coschedule has saved my butt during this pandemic because it keeps posting evergreen content for me. I have bee admittedly neglecting my social channels during this time because they are just one more thing right now on an endless to do list that got much longer during a global pandemic. I can’t really explain why the to do list keeps growing when every one else’s seems to be slowing, but having a bunch of posts put into ReQueue has made it so my channels are full of crickets. Sure, even I’m tired of some of the posts that keep poppin’ up but at least something is popping up. It’s definitely reminded me I need to add more to ReQueue.
2. Having templates for the most common types of posts/campaigns that I run has saved my butt for when I’ve forgotten about things that need to go out. This hasn’t happened on the Queen of GSD channels but I also run my social media for my advocacy through Coschedule and when I need to promote live chats or other online events, I already have the promotion scheduled saved, so all I have to do is load it up, change a few dates and hit publish. I have sincerely appreciated this feature a few times over the last few months when pandemic brain has let a few things slip. Also…you can run multiple brands through one account on Coschedule which is a massive perk for me. It helps justify the cost and keep everything organized under one login.
3. I believe Coschedule cares about small businesses in general but if you read my review before you saw that I got a dope discount for writing this review. I think Coschedule is incredibly affordable as it stands but offering 50% for a review is an unheard of, amazing deal. By updating this post, I get another year for 50% off. And here’s the thing…I would have updated and ranted about Coschedule ANYWAY. I never promote tools I don’t use personally and I think it would be easy for their company to offer a one and done promotion and it would be REALLY easy to cut those promotions during a global pandemic. But I think Coschedule doubles down on small businesses and keeps their promises.
So the main takeaways are that:
Coschedule has saved my butt so many times
Coschedule is so affordable and helpful you’d be silly not to give it a try.
Happy Anniversary Coschedule. Here’s to a lifetime of our shared love.
You know that feeling where you’re searching for something to meet your needs but you keep coming up unsuccessful? I know that’s some seriously existential shit but looking for what you need and not finding it is something we all encounter. My current, most frustrating searches include: finding my keys, the perfect burger, a dog that won’t shed, and a headband that will actually stay on my head. If I start searching for things to meet my needs in business there’s a good chance that I’ll never stop looking. One thing that we all need more of and can’t seem to find is time, which is not a revolutionary thought but when I’m looking at tools in business, I’m looking for what can save me time, or help me regain time. Or even turn back time..right, Cher?
I’m a total sucker for trying out new tools when I see them. I always want to know that the systems I’m using are the most efficient, cost-effective and frankly that they’re the coolest ones out there. A few years ago I was working for a company where I inherited their social channels. The system they were using was inefficient for the number of posts I needed to make and it wouldn’t connect with all the social platforms available. I started the hunt for the perfect social media management tool and I checked out all the big hitters in the space but they weren’t what I needed. They didn’t do EVERYTHING I was looking for. Until…I found the one. I’ve never been more geeked to sit on an info webinar as I was when I found Coschedule. Coschedule is so much more than a social media posting tool, its a complete management system for all things publishing/outreach/editorial. We’re not just talking social posting, but blog management, enews campaigns, marketing campaign tracking and then some. And then they said the one word that made me swoon even harder. Templates. In Coschedule you can make social posting templates, task list templates, templates for your templates. Templates = Time saved. Just call me T-Pain because I am in love with a scheduler. We used Coschedule at my former employer and each new feature was like a gift from the gods. I loved it so much but when I started my own company, I did what we all do…I looked for a great free solution. There are great free solutions out there, but none of them did EVERYTHING. So I headed to Coschedule, signed up for the free trial just to make sure it was as dope as I remember. And it is. I dragged my feet in order to save a few dollars but what I saved in dollars, I paid for in time. Don’t be like me. Using Coschedule again feels like home…which might be weird to you, but for me having a system that works so perfectly and meets all my needs is exactly what I’m looking for.
Why is CoSchedule the Bee’s Knees?
Let’s say you post a blog every month but then you schedule 2 posts leading up to the blog on 3 different channels and 2 posts when you launch it on 3 different channels and then you repost it a few months later. That’s almost 20 individual posts that you have to schedule each time. In Coschedule, you can create a template for this posting cadence and then just fill in the pictures and any additional copy. Magic, right? Here’s what I love most about Coschedule:
Social posting, blog scheduling and email campaigns in one place. A full blown editorial calendar
It’s very easy to copy/duplicate social posts
Seeing everything I have scheduled for the month in one glance AND it’s color coded
The Idea section, where you can list out blog/post ideas you have and set them on a back burner so you don’t forget
Analytics in one place
Blog management from inside Coschedule
Here’s a few pics of the interface in all its glory. There is a bit of a learning curve when using Coschedule but only because there isn’t anything else out there like it but once you learn it, you’re going to be just as smitten as I am. If you need help learning how to use Coschedule, they have great help documents or I can help you get it set up. They offer two free weeks to give it a try and don’t require a credit card, which just makes me like them even more. So check out Coschedule and thank me later.