February 22, 2018

How to find your voice & create a brand that speaks to YOUR clients // talking biz & MENTOR(ship)

mentor(ship). its a word we’ve all heard, and probably understand what is means. we’ve maybe even said “he/she was such a mentor to me” ….sometimes in a job you will be assigned a mentor, someone who will show you the ropes and walk you through your day so you don’t fail when you are left on your own. but when you are starting your own business, there is no new hire training modules let alone someone to greet you with a smile on your first day, introduce you to who you need to know, show you where to eat your lunch or all the latest tips on how to succeed.

i am a huge advocate for education, community, a lending a hand. I am also passionate about the fact that not everyone should teach, and not everyone is your teacher ( I’ll expand on this later)

this last weekend I had a mentor session with Marnie Cornell. she reached out to me & wanted to talk branding/voice & posing. it was perfect. we were able to meet for a bit before, then our couple arrived for the shooting portion. we talked through some tools I use, ways to direct & how to keep the shoot going even if you aren’t sure where you want to go next. it was a blast. our couple killed it & so did she. loved watching her take over & come out of her shell a bit.

when we sat down to dive into the second half, we discussed branding but more importantly “your voice”.

we talked about growing our brand & ways to communicate to our future client. she mentioned how she was struggling with keeping up with instagram because someone told her she needed to be posting 3 times a day. umm, ya. no. thats too much to manage. i am passionate about your voice and being true to who you are in person and online. there is a lot of talk lately on social media, and how to outsmart IG and the algorithm.

i am not a social media expert, i don’t have 20k followers, i don’t have a fancy swipe up feature but i have had steady growth over the last 2.5 years & here is what i think about some things //

INTENTIONAL POSTING // don’t just post to post. flooding the internet with content just for the sake of content leaves your audience (client) with nothing to grasp or connect to. we are so quick with our thumbs, i want to give content that slows their scroll not only in the image but also in what i have to say. i know we don’t all read the captions, but if you stopped them with your image then you have a better chance of also connecting with your words. also, the more you do connect the more they will want to come back to hear more from you. not every image needs to have some deep thought or caption, its ok to just say hi & check in from time to time. just limit your use of emojis & say more then “loved shooting these two” please. ūüėČ

SAY WHAT YOU WANT // i’m proud of my work & i want to share it with everyone but the purpose of posting from a recent shoot is not just to share that session. sneak peeks & building the anticipation for my clients is part of it, but every photo you share is also a way to connect with your future client. it may be someone new, someone who has followed you from a distance, the one you have yet to meet, the one watching, just waiting for the right time to book you. most of the time, i think first about what I want to say, and then find a photo to share. i think some of us get hung up on the reverse. you have this image you want to share and then sit at your caption screen wondering what to say that matches the photo. this is where we end up with “so fun, loved this shoot”

keep in mind that your “message” can be direct or subtle. in other words, i really enjoy shooting city weddings. something about the¬†juxtaposition of formal wedding attire, the glam of it all set among the grit, hustle and urine filled corners. (okay, that last part not so great). if i want to book more city weddings, i could post an image and say “love city weddings, book me”. its direct & to the point. it also leaves the viewer with no meat & its kind of lame. something better, start sharing more images from my past city weddings and speak more to why¬†I enjoy them. how¬†I felt at the end of the day & showing what¬†I can create from a blank wall that people pass by a million times a day. if you are being hired for work that leaves you wanting more, stop waiting for luck to find you. show what you want & say what you want. if you don’t have anything to show, go out there and produce it. (styled shoots, couple friend, second shooting, etc). Write how you speak. i can be a little brass & sarcastic from time to time in real conversation so that comes out in my captions. this is the same for your website & even emails. be real. be you.

KEEP IT REAL // i’m not a fan of robots, they freak me out. i also don’t like fake people. we wonder why our engagement is fading when we are commenting on a photo “nice” and it’s a post about how someone just lost their father. (yes, it happened) we want engagement but we are hiring robots to do it for us, or a quick copy and paste of the same comment over and over so people “see us”. we follow someone to only unfollow once we hit a certain number. don’t get sucked into the trap. i follow people I want to follow, so i engage with them because i genuinely care about what they are doing and what they post. i do clean up my feed every now and then because sometimes i do get follow happy, following brands & spending way too much money……

i comment what I feel about something, and sometimes praise hands is all that can come to my mind because its just that good & i am speechless. we are joining these “pods, ‘mafias’ ‘like trains’, etc” and ¬†saying things we don’t even feel or think. Ok, yes….you want to play devils advocate…I do think we need to encourage one another, sometimes you speak life to someone because its a nice thing to do and we all could use a little more love from time to time, but mean it! don’t give a compliment with strings attached. we don’t give to only get.

i could keep going…..but i want to go back to mentoring for a minute. i mentioned earlier not everyone should teach, and not everyone is your teacher.

there are people we admire for different reasons. it can be for their work, their branding, their way of doing business, or just who they are as a human. admiration from afar does not mean this person should / could/ be your mentor or teacher. when i chose who i wanted to work with, it was because i was inspired my their work but more then anything connected with them as a woman/artist & knew i wanted to spend the afternoon with them. i came in prepared with questions and an open mind to learn anything & everything. (small thought here…..no matter where you are in business we all can learn something. don’t come in/leave with an attitude when you “didn’t learn much” & all you did was sit there with your pencil in your hand in silence). ¬†you get out what you put in. i send out a¬†questionnaire to all my mentor session¬†clients before we even meet so that we are on the same page before we begin. there is SO MUCH to go through about this business. i want them to leave with hopefully all their questions answered & feeling equipped for the next step in their business wherever that is.

when you choose to invest in yourself & business. do it wisely. do your research. there are some awesome workshops, retreats, classes & teachers out there! please, don’t pick someone based on followers, client style, or how much money you think they make. have a conversation with them. see what they are all about & go from there.

keep going after it……you’re amazing.

NOW…..if you want to see some of the session from our posing portion, go take a little looksy here.




comments +

  1. Angelene says:

    Tiarra, your work is amazing. I have loved following your social media for a while because of how honest you AND your photographs are. Your intention is real and visible. I’m so happy we got to be a part of it! Thank you for that day and for re-connecting us!

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