December 31, 2009

The New Year Is Almost Here!

I feel like I've been slacking lately with my posts. I'm looking forward to a very productive 2010 for my business. I plan on doing a lot of tweaking to my business model in January and February - finalizing my pricing based off of the Easy As Pie Guide, working in some new products and simplyfing the choices for my clients, making some small adjustments to my senior rep program. One of the most exciting things is working on an online client site - I'll be going paperless. I can't wait to share the online site with you guys once it's up and running!!

I'm counting down to February, I'll be attending the OneLight Workshop with Zack Arias. I am sooo excited that Zack is coming to Columbus, I won't even have to take a road trip for this workshop. I've heard many rave reviews of the OneLight Workshop and I'm pretty sure my mind will be exploding with information after spending the day with him. If you haven't heard of Zack, be sure to check out his OneLight website and also his website. He's an amazing photographer.

If you missed out on the Joy of Marketing Web Summit earlier this week, don't worry, for 8 hours on New Year's Day they'll be re-broadcasting for free!! Check it out over at from noon till 8pm central time on January 1, 2010 to learn some great marketing ideas from Sarah Petty and her photography friends!

I hope everyone has had a safe and wonderful holiday season!! Check back to the blog often, I'll be keeping you all posted with the cool new products that I'm trying out again this year!!

Full Disclosure: commission on Joy of Marketing sold via my link.

December 07, 2009

Camera Bags That Make My Life Easy!

Wow - I didn't realize it had been over a month since I've last posted!! I wanted to share my two favorite camera bags with my readers.

First is the Shootsac by Jessica Claire — I just love this bag!! I got my first Shootsac about a year and a half ago. It stayed in my storage closet for a few weeks before I decided to brave it for a session. I must say this bag rocked it for me!! I can throw quite a bit in this handy bag - lenses, memory cards, keys, my blackberry, a flash and if I'm not carrying too much, a bottled water. This great bag conforms to me when I'm running and crawling around for a session. I typically leave on the entire time! Shootsacs are made of neoprene (the material used in making wetsuits) and is super light. I just throw my must have gear in and I'm good to go for a session. The bag offers 6 pockets that are pretty roomy, I can even fit my 70-200 lens in there easily. A nice, long adjustable strap that I wear across my chest like a messenger bag and I'm set! And to make it ultra customizable, you can order from a large selection of different replaceable covers that Velcro in. Different styles and colors help to make the Shootsac customizable to your brand and sense of style.

Jessica also recently came out with the HipSlip - it's a Shootsac for your laptop! I don't currently own one because I have yet to cave to buying my own laptop. I know, sometimes it's like I live in the stone ages!!

The other bag I just can't live without is from ThinkTank and it's the Airport AirStream. I initially purchased this bag for my trip to Chicago for the Unleashed Pet Photography Workshop. I was in search of a small carry-on bag that would safely and comfortably hold my gear, yet wasn't screaming photo bag. After a lot of searching and reading reviews I thought that the AirStream would work for me. It was just small enough to fit as a carry-on for a regional jet flight, yet would hold a body, 70-200 lens plus some additional lenses and flashes. When I first got my AirStream I couldn't believe the quality, in the last 2-3 years I've had over 5 different camera bags, but I definitely noticed the better quality in this bag. This bag includes TSA combination locks, cables & locks to secure to a fixed object, an area for that laptop I still don't own and sturdy wheels for when I'm running across the airport. This bag came with a ton of Velcro inserts to adjust the available space to fit the needs of my gear, which was definitely a bonus. After my trip to Chicago, I got rid of my previous camera bag and now the ThinkTank AirStream is my daily bag for carrying my equipment from session to session.

I love the combination of the AirSteam to carry everything and the Shootsac to carry just what I need on each session. Talk about the best of both worlds! These are definitely two highly recommended bags for your money!

Full Disclosure: Commission earned on sale of ShootSac via my link.

October 28, 2009

Pricing Your Photography — Easy As Pie? Well Yes, It Can Be!

I've been in business for one year and I'm on my third round of pricing. Yes, third. Guess what, for 2010, I'm revamping once again! I thought I was happy with my pricing, but I'm falling short on selling those specialty items like large like canvases and session albums. I do great in print sales, it just I struggle with those other item. And my sales are all over the place from low to high, and boy oh boy, who doesn't want most sales to be on the high side! I'm never sure if my prices are too high or too low. After talking with Bev Hollis at Unleashed |fine pet photography workshop, I knew that the most current version of my pricing still wasn't exactly right. Bev suggested I check out Easy As Pie Cookbook by Alicia Caine. I proceeded to do a bit of research to see if Easy As Pie would be worth it. So, I finally clicked the buy button.

I will tell you that some of what I've read in the Easy As Pie Cookbook isn't brand new news to me. It's similar to other pricing information I've read on forums while re-working my pricing. But, what Alicia does is explains exactly how to determine your costs for you to increase those sales. She offers a step-by-step process on how to find those prices that will work for your business. She even suggests a different pricing for those just starting out vs. more seasoned professionals. I especially love the sections on pricing those specialty items including storyboards, session albums and those dreaded digital files. Once you get all of your a la carte pricing figured out, then you get to jump into pricing your collections to drive your customers to purchasing what you want to sell them.

While I have not signed up for The Pantry from Alicia, it's next on my list. I'm so excited to start working on my 2010 pricing!! Be sure to check out Easy As Pie if you have your own pricing issues and just don't know where to start!

Want to hear from Alicia before you buy? Check out her interview with Totally Rad from July 2009 here!

UPDATE! Thanks to Alicia - she just sent me a discount code for $20 off cookbook+pastry school purchase!! Be sure to use code NCBlog20 for your discount!!

October 18, 2009

More New Stuff from WordSmith!

Darn that Joyce, she's done it again. Yesterday I got the {what to wear} seniors guide and also the WordSmith's senior pricing menu (template). As usual, these are both stellar guides!! I had been using a mix of stuff to make up my current senior what to wear. While it was slightly informative, I've still had issues with a few of my seniors this year just not getting it when I tried to tell them how to dress for their sessions. The WordSmith guide is a total life saver for me!! There are two versions, one for the guys and one for the girls. Joyce hits all the key points with dressing for your figure, adding accessories and a clean face instead of clumpy make-up. Super easy to read and to customize for your business, this guide is a total winner!! I can't wait to combine this with my other senior pieces for 2010 and get my seniors dressing their best. Don't forget when their clothes are a bust it really does hurt the end result.

I haven't had the change to dive into the senior pricing menu (template) from WordSmith, but at a quick glance of it, it's exactly what I need. I'm currently re-working my pricing for 2010, and this template gives me a clean, easy to read and informative way to convey all the pricing info to my clients. I'll probably also use it for my non-senior session. I tend to overkill with my pricing lists, so this will keep me in-check with not over doing it!

Head on over to WordSmith asap to get a great deal on both these products. Joyce is running a sale on both through Tuesday, October 20th. After that these pieces won't be on sale again till 2010.

Full Disclosure: Samples received from WordSmith

October 12, 2009

Are You Tweeting?

I recently signed up for a Twitter account. Not that it's helping tons with finding new clients, but I love it for connecting with other photographers and various vendors that I use. I've been painfully trying to find my clients on it, but no such luck. Maybe Ohio folks aren't as hip to Twitter as some other areas. I did put my Twitter badge on my photography blog, for my clients that stop by the blog who want to find me on Twitter. If you're on there - be sure to follow me - @DanielleNeil. If you're not on there, you should be! It's a great way to get updates from vendors, follow your favorite photographers and of course chat with current friends. See you on Twitter!

Speed Up Your Lightroom Workflow!

I've had Adobe Lightroom since it came out but never really knew how to use it. I typically just made some minor Raw adjustments and then worked on my images in Photoshop. I recently purchased the Kubota Raw Workflow for Lightroom V2. This video had been SO helpful!! I downloaded the video and immediately started watching. I've already cut my working time in almost half after learning Kevin Kubota's tips and tricks. I know have all my images organized and easy to find. I've learned tons of new tips to edit my images in Lightroom without even taking the images into Photoshop unless I want to add some artistic effects. If you're struggling on how to use Lightroom I highly suggest watching the video!

October 09, 2009

MCP Actions Blog It Boards Giveaway!

What a great giveaway! Awhile back Scarlett Lillian was interviewed on the MCP Actions blog. Jodi of MCP Actions decided to do a giveaway for Scarlett's readers (which, I'm a HUGE Scarlett follower). So head over to Scarlett's blog for more info on how to win yourself the Magic Blog It Board actions! And while you're there, be sure to check out Scarlett's work, if you're not familiar with her she is an AMAZING photographer!!

Scarlett Lillian Photo Journal // Jacksonville, FL Wedding & Fashion Photographer: Contest contest contest! Win free MCP Photoshop Actions!

September 24, 2009

Copyright Protection - Please sign this letter!

This pertains to any photographer, designers, painter, or other artist reading. Please follow this link and sign the letter. The Copyright Alliance will be gathering signatures and delivering it to President Obama to help protect artists' rights!

September 21, 2009

Unleashed Workshop

I just got back from the Unleashed | Fine Art Pet Photography Workshop and it was SO much fun! I met a ton of great photographers and learned a lot about pet photography. If you have the chance to attend the Dallas (April 2010) or the D.C./Virginia (September 2010) workshops I highly suggest it! Bev, Barbara and Teresa have a wealth of information to share and love sharing it with the attendees. They send you off with tons of information to help you get the pet side of your photography business up and running. Not only did we have time to learn about how they each run their businesses (all very differently) but we also had the chance to work both in-studio and on-location with adorable, furry, four-legged models!

Definitely check out the Unleashed website to learn more about taking your business to the next level with custom pet photography! And for those of you who are PPA members - Bev, Barabara and Teresa are featured in the current issue of the magazine!

September 15, 2009

16 Hours of FREE Education for Photographers

Yep - I said FREE. I love that word! On September 28-29, Sarah Petty's Joy of Marketing is offering a two day free telesummit! Be sure to register soon as September 28th is right around the corner. If you are like me and have a day job or sessions schedule for those two days, for $99 you can download recordings of the events and PDF notes to follow. But if you have the time open, you can listen to it all for FREE!!!

There will be SO much going on - you can see the entire list of presenters on the website but a few include. Rod Evans - Facebook Marketing Not Just for Seniors, Kevin Kubota - The Year of the Relationship, Jen Hillenga - Essential Elements of Design, Dane Sanders - The big Picture of marketing Your Photography Business, and much, much more! Be sure to register for this FREE event soon! And even if you can't participate in all of it, some is better than nothing.

Full Disclosure: Commission earned on Joy of Marketing sales via my link.

September 08, 2009

Images for a Cure

Have you heard about Images for a Cure? If not - you must check them out!

As artisans and creators, we may labor under the ideal that our work can effect change in our world - that what we do personally and creatively contributes to the betterment of humankind. But what if it were more than an ideal or seemingly elusive goal? What if you were given an opportunity to positively effect change through partnering with an organization that is already pursuing that goal? And all it would take was a click of the shutter..

This fall, countless photographers and creators are coming together for one purpose: a cure. On October 11, 2009 – a collection of photographers are donating their time and session fees to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. BCRF is actively searching for a cure for breast cancer in our lifetime - and your creativity and willingness to help is going to contribute to the cause.

You don't have to labor under the ideal anymore - you can make a difference. You can effect change in our world by doing what you do best - by utilizing your creativity, building relationships, and creating images...Images for a Cure.

September 02, 2009

Check Out the NEW Jamie Schultz Designs

I always love looking at other designers' work. Its fun to see the variety of templates and designs that are offered to photographers. From simple to modern to antique, I think there are designs available for every type of photographer and their clients. While I do check out others' work, I typically don't buy from other designers since I have such a strong graphic design background and my own style to offer my clients. But for those of you who aren't designers or just don't have the time, be sure to check out all the resources out there from other designers, and there sure are plenty!!

Back in January, when I closed my template store, I posted this short list of designers I would recommend to others. And Jamie of course, made that list. I've always been a fan of Jamie's work. She has such clean, fun designs. For those of you not familiar with Jamie, she's not only a designer but also a photographer. Jamie's site got a makeover from Kim over at If you're looking for some new album, card or marketing templates, head over to check out Jamie's work.

August 30, 2009

Mpix Pro Custom CD Cases!

I have to admit - I use WHCC for almost everything - prints, gallery wraps, cards, you name it. My prints are ALWAYS spot on! I've tried other vendors, some have been good, others have been blah with horrible colors from most.

I calibrate my monitor with the x-rite eye-one. Rarely do I have color issues with WHCC when I've properly calibrated before editing my images.

When I saw that
Mpix Pro was offering custom CD cases, I decided to try them out. I'm going to be honest, I had ordered sample prints from
Miller's in the past (Mpix's parent company) and I was not happy with the colors in both my corrected and uncorrected images I sent in. So I was very surprised when my test prints from Mpix Pro came back spot on. I decided to try out the custom CD cases for my digital collections. I just got in a CD case for a recent client order and I LOVE it! The best part is that you can design a custom cover for ever client order. Once I placed my order, I had my snazzy new case in about two days ... I love the quick turnaround too! To the left is a horrible photo I took with my Blackberry, but it gives you an idea of what the finished product looks like.

I'm trying out some new products from additional vendors right now. When those come in I'll let you know what I think!

August 19, 2009

How Good Is Your Insurance Coverage? Are You Really Protected?

I read an article from Art of the Image. A photographer had ALL of his equipment stolen after a wedding. That's $20,000 of equipment So do you have insurance coverage for your equipment? I do, there's no way I could buy all new equipment and not go into debt. Take a look at the article and if in doubt, give a call to your insurance company and make sure you really are covered!

August 18, 2009

The Savvy Photographer

I just found The Savvy Photographer this morning. What a great site!! It offers a ton of inspiration for those of us that work with kids. I've seen some great images, fab ideas for displays and even weekly giveaways!

Be sure to check them out if you're needing a little inspiration!!

August 12, 2009

Unleashed Follow-Up

I just wanted to follow-up on the Unleashed workshop I talked about the other week. They are sold-out for the Chicago workshop that I am attending!

If you missed out on getting in on the Chicago workshop, be sure to check out their website about the workshop in Dallas April 18-20, 2010! There is also a third workshop planned for the DC area in 2010, but no dates have been posted yet.

August 07, 2009

Professional Photographers of America

I just renewed my PPA membership and realized that I haven't talked about them. A membership to the Professional Photographers of America is a huge benefit to photographers! For the first two years as a PPA member, y ou can sign up as an "Aspiring Member" for $194 per year. Or you can also sign up as a Professional Active Member for $323 a year. It is a great investment in your business, that's for sure.

The inital reason I signed up for PPA was to get the discounted Business Liablility and Equipment Insurance. PPA helps to get a great group rate on these plans. The best part about their equipment insurance is that you cover what you want and the amount of equipment you cover determines your yearly rate. I checked with my homeowners plan, and they were about $400 more a year for both equipment and liablility than the plan I got through PPA!

Some of the other benefits of a PPA membership include discounts to various products and services, subscription to Professional Photographer Magazine, an online resources area that includes sample forms and contracts, and much, much more. PPA also has a full-time copyright staff. The staff works with members when any copyright infringements come up. That in itself is a huge bonus!

I haven't even tapped into half the resources that PPA offers members, but definately check them out to see how they can help build your business!!


I absolutely LOVE PhotoVision Video Seminars. I'm not even sure how I found out about these DVDs, but they rock! The annual subscription fee is $149 (but if you're a PPA member is much, much less and there might be other discounts out there too) and well worth the money.

DVDs are sent bi-monthy to you for a year. Each DVD has six two-hour videos with various photographers giving you tips and showing you how they work. Everything from workflow to lighting to sales is covered in these DVDs. I've found that the senior and portrait work have been the biggest asset to me. Just being able to watch these fabulous photographers work on location with clients will give all kinds of new ideas. And a great thing about them is that the target all aspects of professional photography including portrait, commercial and event photography. I signed up late in 2008 and have been so busy that I'm not even through the entire year yet! The 2009 cd includes lessons from Sarah Petty, Lori Nordstrom, Parker Pfister and a ton more!

These are great DVDs for those just starting out and seasoned professions!

July 23, 2009

Unleashed | fine art pet photography workshop

I'm SO excited about Unleashed | fine art pet photography workshop! I just signed up for the September workshop in Chicago. Unleashed is a 2 1/2 day workshop put together by 3 wonderful photographers - Barbara Breitsameter, Teresa Berg and Bev Hollis.

Sit, Stay & Learn is the motto for this great weekend. This workshop is hands on and we'll actually have four legged friends to modeling for us! The number of attendees is limited so the gals can do personalized learning in break out sessions, talk about marketing and business practices and a lot more. For anyone even thinking about adding pet photography to their services, this workshop is a must!!

The cost is only $695 OR if you register before August 1st, you save $100 and it's only $595. Be sure to check out the Unleashed site for more information at and hopefully I'll get to see a few of you there!

July 11, 2009

Photoshop Actions I Can't Live Without

There's some things you just can't live without. Totally Rad Actions are one of them for me. I invested in TRA before I even started my business. And when TRA 2 came out, I was quick to pickup that set as well. TRA has really changed my workflow. I typically have 4 of the actions that I use on a standard image. I've created keyboard shortcuts for those actions and can whip through an image pretty fast. When I have time, I like to play around with the different actions to come up with new effects for photos. I do believe that you can always over photoshop an image - so typically don't use the actions at 100%. I also believe in getting it right in camera and not trying to fix the exposure in photoshop!

If you are thinking about picking up TRA, be sure to visit the website and click ont he Try Em tab - you can download a few actions to try before you buy. And be sure to check out the new
TRA Recipe site. Photographers have uploaded their images, along with their TRA recipes. Great combos to try out on your own images.

Below is a before and after of a photo that I used these actions on to give you an idea of before and after!

June 26, 2009

Little Whimsy Update

Just saw the below info in my email and wanted to pass along the sale with everyone!! Great way to stock up on studio samples if you don't have any yet! Check out the post below this one if you haven't read the info about Little Whimsy!

It's time to stock up for summer with our shop more and save sale! Starting Saturday June 27, 2009 through July 4, 2009, the more you spend the more you save.

Orders of $50-$99.99 enter code savemore10 to save an additional 10%.
Orders of $100-$149.99 enter code savemore15 to save an additional 15%.
Orders of $150+ enter code savemore20 to save an additional 20%

Coupons must be redeemed at time of sale, not valid on prior purchases. Coupon may be used more than once, but valid for the promotional value of each individual purchase. This offer can be combined with professional discounts.

June 20, 2009

Photo Jewelry & Gifts

I've been meaning to talk about Little Whimsy for awhile now, but I keep getting sidetracked. As I'm getting ready to run out the door right now, I thought I'd quickly share with you guys.

I came across Little Whimsy for a group buy from one of the forums I was on. Last fall I decided to order a few sample pieces to offer my clients. Her work is AMAZING!! I have a few different items to offer my clients - the mother of pearl pendants, they keychains, bookmarks, maple ornaments and magnets. All of which everyone loves!! She does offer a wholesale account for photographers which includes a discount on the items, which I feel are priced very reasonably to start with. Great customer service and the processing times are quick considering the work that is put into each piece.

I don't do much of a markup on my gifts, jewelry and cards for my clients. Why? Well, I feel like they are marketing pieces for me. When a client sends out my cards, I always have my logo and website on the back of the card - which means it's making its way into the hands of potential new clients and how many folks that receive those cards are sharing them with others? As for the jewelry and gifts, what mom or grandmother isn't going to showcase their cool new piece with a beautiful photo of their little one? Those items become another marketing tool as well. Keep that in mind when you are pricing out your speciality items!

May 26, 2009

Follow Up on Facebook Advertising

I wanted to follow up on the post from February about my Facebook advertising. Well, I'm glad I didn't spend big bucks on it. It did work out slightly for me. I had a lot of hits on my ad - so I was pretty excited. My ad was strictly for Senior Reps, I wasn't looking to book any regular sessions since I still needed to build my senior portfolio. I spent almost all of my $100 advertising credit - I think it was about $95. I had 4 girls contact me (no guys) and 2 apply to be reps. Both girls were selected (two different schools) but only one followed through. And we just did her session 2 weeks ago. It turned out great and she doesn't even have her proof book or rep cards yet and she's already sending folks my way.

My low turnout could have been from my lack of senior images on my site. Or the fact that I was advertising to Juniors in February and March to be reps and it wasn't even close to the end of the school year. I'm glad I did it and it was free - I did get one rep and that might be all I need to get the senior side of my business off the ground.

I plan on doing some additional senior advertising on Facebook mid-summer when the kids will really be looking to get there photos done. Especially since I have built up some additional senior images since my last round of advertising. And I just created a Facebook Fan Page for my business.

If you're thinking about doing it - just be careful that you watch what you spend. I can see that it could easily snowball into some big bucks!

Have you advertised on Facebook? Let me know how it's gone for you in the comment section below!

Great Posing Books!

A quick share on two posing books that I really like. The first is 500 Poses for Photographing Women: A Visual Sourcebook for Portrait Photographers it's a great inspiration right before going out on a session. The book is divided up into chapters based on the type of pose - head and shoulders, full length, seated, etc. Not much to read in this one - more for inspiration. There is a brief section in the back that has the basic tips for those just starting out.

The other is Mark Theil's Ultimate Posing Guide. Mark is actually located pretty close to me in Central Ohio. This book has been highly recommended on many photography forums that I've been on. With so many rave reviews, I decided to pick it up. It's been really helpful. Mark's book also has tips and tons of images. Mark's book also focuses on female posing.

Now ... if I could just find a book on posing guys, that would rock! Both books are a must have for your collection. They've been great in getting inspired right before some recent senior sessions!

May 07, 2009

{how to sell} guide - great handbook for achieving you're online sales goals!

I picked up the {how to sell} guide from Joyce Smith over at Wordsmith the other week but just had the chance to read it yesterday. Amazing! This is a great product for those photographers who do online sales only. Joyce has taken her proven method of online sales and come up with an easy to read and easy to understand workflow for you to implement in your own business. My readers probably know how much I love Joyce's products. I also own the {what to write} and {what to wear} guides, and adore both of them.
Joyce goes through each step of her workflow from booking the client session to the final sale. With a ton of great tips on how to make the sale work for you. She also offers access to both a PhotoCart (which I use) and a PickPic Gallery so you can see exactly how she's set-up her online sales.

If for whatever reason you have to do online sales and cannot do in-person sales - this guide is for you. As always, I highly suggest Joyce's products, they are well worth the money to help you start achiving more money in your sales!

Full Disclosure: Samples received from WordSmith.

April 24, 2009

I LOVE a Good Hat for Kid Sessions!

I have to admit - I'm addicted to hats and petti skirts for sessions. The kids get to play dress-up and I (hopefully) get great images of them in the process. Last year I stumbled across Kim's site - From My Heart to Your Head. She had a great promo going on at the time - she was clearing out some of her hats and was offering a "hat pack" at a really good price. I got a ton of hats for what I would have normally paid for 2 or 3 on etsy. It was such a great deal!

Over the weekend I had a few out of town session and made sure to pack all my hats for the trip. And I'm so glad I did! The image above is my absolute favorite from all my sessions, teddy bear, petti skirt and hat - what a great combo!

I emailed Kim earlier in the week and she said she'd love to offer a discount to my readers. Please be sure to check out her blog and get yourself some hats for your sessions! Get 10% off your purchase when you mention the Neil Creative Blog when you place your order.

April 15, 2009

{What to Wear} Guide is on sale for a short time!

I just saw on Joyce's site that she's offering a sale on the {What to Wear} Guide! Haven't heard about the guide? Check my review on it here. Regular price is $75 - the current sale is for $60. She doesn't have a finish date for the sale except that when she releases the {How to Sell} Guide the sale will be over. On a side note, I also have the {What to Write} Guide and LOVE it! I'll do a review on that in a few weeks. But get over to wordsmith now to get the {What to Wear} Guide at a great price!!!

Full Disclosure: Samples received from WordSmith

April 09, 2009

Tots 2 Teens Seminar

Wanted to share a quick post about the seminar I went to last night - Tots 2 Teens by Sandy Puc'. I attended last year's Babies and Bellies tour and couldn't wait for this year's Tots 2 Teens. It was great! I actually found it a lot more informative than last year's seminar. Sandy reviewed posing, sales, marketing and working with children in general. I found it extremely useful and can't wait to get out and use some of the new ideas Sandy shared on my next child session. I believe the tour is down to its last month, ending the begining of May. But if it's coming to your town be sure to check it out! It's only $79 for 5+ hours of education - and I bet if you do a google search you'll be able to find a few discount codes hanging out on the internet!

2010 will be the Family tour - and I can't wait!! I'm sure each year these seminars will continue to get better and better.

April 06, 2009

Portfoliositez - Great Web Templates for Photogs!

I love the gals over at Portfoliositez - they made getting a web site up and running a total breeze for me! I've been with them for about 6 months and can't stop spreading the love about them.

I only have had 2 issues with my site, one being that music wouldn't upload and the other was that my logo was super small, when I sent it a support ticket they did a follow up email in less than 8 hours saying they would look into it and then had it fixed in less than a day. I told them it wasn't important as my site wasn't ready to go live, but they fixed up my issues asap. And checked in with me 2 times after the fix to make sure everything OK!

I've read a lot of bad things about other web site providers (I won't name names) and their customer service - but I must say Portfoliositez goes above and beyond to help their clients get their sites up and keeping them running!!

I was checking out their blog the other day and see that they now offer a "Andy" a blogsite! I'm kinda jealous and think I may need to look into that a little more. Although I am still in love with my template - Dorothea V2.

You can purchase your template only if you have your own hosting or you can host with them, not a bad deal! I'm not going to go into all the details of their sites but here are some of the features depending on the template that you select - unlimited galleries, videos, proofing areas, shopping cart, mini client sites, email database, ability to add music and customize colors. I could go on and on ... but I'll leave that up to you to see what they have that fits your needs.

Full Disclosure: commission on sale via my link.

April 03, 2009

Senior Photographer? Check out Senior Solutions!

I was contacted by Natalie of Senior Solutions last year for an interview about my template site. I had seen her Senior Solutions and thought it was pretty interesting, but at that point, I didn't have a need since I wasn't shooting seniors yet. Well, I had my first senior in November and LOVED the session. I decided that I really wanted to target seniors for 2010 but had no idea where to start. So I decided to re-visit Natalie's site and pickup Senior Solutions. This guide is great to help get you jump started on starting a senior side to your business. The guide is downloadable and is a great reference that lives on my desktop! A few things the guide covers is
  • Spokesmodels - how to get them, what to offer them and Natalie's program as an example.
  • A MySpace tutorial for those of you who aren't on there already - it's a great resource to build your senior network.
  • Marketing ideas that Natalie has implemented in her business.
  • Products to offer your senior clients.
  • Natalie's contracts and what to wear for senior session documents.
  • Sample images that Natalie has taken to help get ideas for your posing.
  • And a great bonus is some templates to help get your senior branding and marketing in place!
Natalie has offered a deal for all my blog readers - Senior Solutions is typically $75, my readers can get a cool $15 off!! Want the deal? Just send $60.00 to via PayPal and put Neil Creative in the subject line. Natalie will email you the guide within 24-48 hours and you can get cracking on building your Senior business!!

And be sure to check out Senior Solutions site often, she has interviews and tips for photographers!

March 29, 2009

MachForms - Build Your Own Online Forms

I've got to admit - I wasn't too sure how I was going to like Appnitro MachForms. A lot of other photographers on the various forums I'm on were raving about them and for only $39, I figured I'd check it out. I've been pleasantly surprised by the results.MarchForm is a self-hosted HTML form program that helps you to easily create online forms for your clients.

I have to admit, I was beyond confused about how to intall MachForm myself. So, I emailed them to set it up for me, which is FREE (my fave word) when you buy the product. You just fill out their online installation request form and they promise setup will be done in 2 business days of less. Once installation was complete the fun began in setting up my online forms. The interface lets you select what type of form field you'd like to add from single line text to multiple choice to address information. In less than 15 minutes I had my first form created. Then, you just click on the embed code button, get your HTML code and paste that into the page you want the form to show up on!

I keep my forms on my Wordpress, ProPhoto blog. The great part about having the forms on my Wordpress blog is that I can keep them password protected, so only the clients I give the password to can access them. I currently have forms for Senior Spokesmodels and also Pre-Senior Session Interviews. I plan on adding more forms in the future, I just haven't gotten around to them. You can set-up your forms so that they are emailed to you when completed by your clients.

There are a lot more options on the MachForms - so check out their website if you're looking for easy and green forms for your clients!

February 23, 2009

Thinking About Facebook Advertising?

Can you believe it - three posts in 1 day, I'm trying to get caught up, since I've been slacking lately!

I'm currently trying to build up my Senior sessions and get my hands on a few senior reps. Kinda hard since most of my friends are in their 20's and 30's and if they have kids they are still little. I had pondered Facebook advertising but wasn't sure if it was worth the money or not after reading mixed reviews.

I decided to give it a shot after getting $100 in FREE Facebook advertising. I know, I didn't believe it at first either, but it's true, it's free. It's through the Visa Small Business Network. If you have (or create) a Facebook account and sign up for the Visa Network, they give you a $100 advertising credit. I believe the expiration date to use the credits is 5/6/09, so sign up soon!

I'm not going to get into all the details of how to advertise on Facebook and I'm holding off to share my results, as I want to have a month in before I make a decision to continue on. But if you've been thinking about it, this is the cheapest way to try it out!! Here's the link to the Visa Small Business Network page - which includes instructions on how to sign up and receive your credit!

Good luck advertising, I'd love to hear your results and I'll be sharing mine in April!

Great Forum —

I LOVE the forum! I'm on it at least once a day, more like 20-30 times a day! I joined about a year ago and it was well worth the money. I have learned SO much from the folks on this forum. Everyone is so open and honest about how their run their businesses and talk about their successes and sometimes failures.

I've been on other forums and well, some of them are just down right nasty. I can take constructive criticism with the best of them, but when people are just mean, why would I want to hang out with them? Not the case with ProPhotogs, yes, there is CC and Hard CC that is given out, but it's nothing mean and spiteful like other forums.

I have learned SO much from others just starting out and seasoned professionals. From lighting to equipment issues, folks sharing actions, textures and templates and other members post wonderful reviews of products they've used. The biggest thing I've taken away from this group is pricing. I didn't know how I should price myself, there are tons of posts on pricing including worksheets created by others to help you determine what you need to charge to examples of how others have priced themselves.

ProPhotogs is not just for beginers, there are a lot of seasoned pros on the site as well. I think with most forums, you get back what you put in. Ask questions, share results and when you ask for hard CC - know that you might not like what you hear, but others are trying to help you! Stop over and check them out!

Love Lovebugs

I figured a good follow-up to the PhotoCart post would be one about Heather from Lovebugs Photography Designs I found Heather on one of the forums I'm on. She's always had great info on more of the technical stuff some of us stumble with. When I purchased my PhotoCart, I hired Heather to help make it pretty and give me a jump start on getting my pricing up and running.

Heather can pimp your PhotoCart, pretty up your wordpress blog or dress up your splash page! Heather was great to work with - and she had a quick turnaround on getting my PhotoCart all fixed up for me when I just didn't have time to figure it out! I'm not the only one that loves Heather's services, I've seen a lot of positive comments about her on the forums from others who have needed her techinal help. Be sure to check her out if you need help dolling up some of your website add-ons!

February 04, 2009

Photo Cart - The Photographer's Shopping Cart

My website template included a gallery with shopping cart, but it just wasn't cutting it for me with what I needed to do. I purchased Photo Cart from Tim at PicturesPro a few months ago to help me with my online sales. Since I work a full time job and only shoot on the weekends I needed an online shopping cart that would be easy for both myself and clients to access with me limited to do in-person sales. I wasn't thrilled with the site demo they offer on their site, but because of rave reviews from other photographers, I decided to give it a chance.

Photo Cart has a lot of options which can be slightly overwhelming when you first start working in it. Here's a list of a few options that I've implemented on my Photo Cart site:
  • Create numerous pricing groups - a la carte and collections as well as various price options for different groups (seniors vs families vs weddings).
  • Upgrades on items - for example there is a flat fee for 8x10s but if the want to upgraded to linen texture it shows the additional dollar amount.
  • Set print credits for certain clients.
  • Early bird discounts for those that order within a certain time frame.
  • Previews are available in B&W, Sepia and Selenium within the program, no more converting images in PhotoShop to upload!
  • Watermarking
  • Customize the look of your proofing area.
  • Public and private galleries, private require a password.
  • Set expiration dates for your galleries.
  • A great bonus for me being — in Ohio, each county is a different sales tax, I've uploaded the tax rates for each county and when the client inserts their zip code it calculates the tax based on their home zip!!
  • When my clients are finished shopping it redirects them to PayPal - but it is also set-up for other payment options as well. There are a ton more features that I'm not mentioning too!
The best part about Photo Cart that unlike other online shopping carts, it's a one time fee. No monthly fees cutting into your profits! You set Photo Cart up on the back of your website too. Photo Cart is $279 and an additional $30 if you'd like Tim to install it. I attempted to install it myself, but I was having a hard time with it, so I emailed Tim and went with the install option, he had me up and running in a few days.

After researching a few of the online proofing options out there, I felt that Photo Cart was the most cost effective option for what I needed. There is an online support forum and community so when I'm unsure of something, I access it for more info or to ask a question. If you're looking for a better shopping cart for your online sales I highly suggest checking this one out!

January 16, 2009

Biz Books - Keep Track of All Your Business Accounting

Biz Books is available from TK Business & Design. It has been one of my best purchases by far. I went from a messy train wreck of paper work to a very organized accounting system. Tennille (TK) has come up with everything in this detailed reporting for your business. Biz Books is a spreadsheet that you can use in Excel, OpenOffice and NeoOffice (OpenOffice and NeoOffice are both free software programs if you don't own Excel). Tennille has included areas for all of your income and expenses and has an awsome Profit/Loss statement that calculates all your info.

I think Biz Books is a great investment and I'm not sure how I functioned without it. I just saw on the TK blog that there is currently a sale going on along with some price drops. Here's the link to the blog post to check out what deals you can get!!

January 14, 2009


Here's a share some helpful resources for fonts. "Free" fonts can be bad news. A lot of the "free" fonts are actually ripped off from a real font. That means the original artist is losing money when you download a free font. As Photographers we want people to respect copyrights on our phtoography, please remember that when buying or sharing fonts ... they come from artists too!!

A lot of the fonts I used on my templates were available from Font Garden. These are fun handwritten fonts at an unbelievable price! Be sure to check them out! Plus if you're looking to get your own handwriting turned into a font, this is the place to check out!

I used fonts from LetterHead Fonts and Font Diner for many of my logos. Not as inexpensive as Font Garden, but a lot of unique choices. There are tons of places out there to buy fonts, I wanted to share my 3 favorites.

Can't figure out what font someone else is using? Be sure to try out Identifont it's a great resource when you just aren't sure where the font came from. Once you find your font or a similar one, it will give you a listing of where to buy the font from.

Full Disclosure: commission on Font Garden Fonts sold via link.

January 12, 2009

Still Looking for Templates?

I've listed a few fellow designers that also do template and/or logo design. I'm still receiving a lot of hits on this site from photographers looking for templates and I want to let you know who I know of. If you have someone to add to this list, please leave it in the comment section for others looking!

Please note - I have not used any of these designers myself since I am a designer too. So I can't say who has fabulous products and who doesn't - just some links to help you in your search!

My Lil Creations
Uniquely You Designs
Jamie Schultz Designs
Designs By Taz
Eva Talley Creative
Danella Miller
My Doodlebug Designs
Lovebugs Photography Designs

January 05, 2009

ProPhoto Theme Version 2!

In November I had posted about ProPhoto Theme and how much I loved it. Well, Jared has just recently upgraded the theme to version 2. To be honest, I wasn't sure if it was worth the money to upgrade. I decided to go for it and I absolutely love version 2!! There are a lot of great additions to the new theme. Much more user friendly than version 1. If you're going to blog about your photography then without a doubt ProPhoto Theme blogging is the way to go!

I'll leave it up to Jared to explain the ins and outs — just click on the image below and it will take you to his site and a quick video overview of the product.

Don't forget
to use DANNE232B at checkout for an extra $10 off your new ProPhoto Theme purchase!

Full Disclosure: commission on ProPhoto Themes sold via coupon code.