Extras

How to Stay on Top of Your Game: 3 Easy Tips for Creatives

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If you’re anything like me, chances are at some point you’ve fallen into a rut. Maybe you feel like your work just isn’t getting any better, and there’s too much competition, and you don’t even want to keep up anymore. I’ve been there…and back. Here’s what I’ve learned along that road:

PRACTICE MAKES BETTER

Yeah, yeah, we all know that 10,000 hours is supposed to make you an expert, but realistically, who actually has that much time at their disposal? Instead, I recommend practicing as much as you can without getting too crazy. I set a personal challenge to take one photo every single day. For the most part, I do pretty well (though there are some days I skip!). I feel so accomplished when I take the time to work on my skills, and that helps me avoid getting into a rut. When you’re not practicing on the reg, it becomes easier to let that inertia lead you so far down that you avoid your work. Keep at it, even when you don’t have clients or customers, and you’ll always be fresh and ready to go.

KEEP YOURSELF EDUCATED

Lots of fields, from doctors to hairdressers, require regular education. This way, they stay on top of best practices, and it’s why even if someone went to beauty school in the ’80s, she’s not going to give you a giant perm now. It’s no less important for creatives to make sure they keep learning. These days, thanks to YouTube, OpenCourseWare, and thousands of affordable e-courses, it’s so easy to stay on top of your game. I suggest setting aside an hour or two each week to learn something new. Every Friday, I queue up a module in SLR Lounge, and I take notes that I go back and review during the week to make sure I retained what I learned.

You never, ever want to fall into the trap of believing you already know everything there is to know about your field. I know an embarrassing number of photographers, for example, who brag about never shooting outside the golden hour because they think that’s the only time to get beautiful photos. In fact, they’re missing lots of opportunities because they don’t think they need to learn techniques for sub-par lighting scenarios. Don’t be like that. I don’t care how long you’ve been doing something—there’s always something new to learn.

GET A REPORT CARD

Ever thought about getting your work critiqued by your peers? Maybe you have, but the idea was too scary? I hate to say it, but the fastest way to get better at what you do is by having a peer (or better yet, someone whose work you admire) take a look at it. Often, they can spot things you’d never see in a million years, and you get immediate feedback that’s perfectly tailored to you. You don’t have to wait to stumble across some concept in a tutorial.

I joined Clickin Moms (I’m a dog mom; that counts!) a few months ago, and it has been a total game-changer for me as a photographer. I’ve improved more since I’ve started getting feedback than I have in the last year by myself. I learned how to avoid limb chops and green skin, and now I feel confident enough to critique others’ work.

When you’re ready, join a forum of professionals and see if they offer critiques. Or join a Meetup where you can workshop your ideas with your peers. Let other people help you!

 

When you want to stay on top of your game—no matter what you do—it’s so important to keep practicing, learning, and getting feedback. You’ll be amazed at the progress you make, so keep at it!

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Extras

Outfit Remix: Red Dress Revisited

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A while back, I did a remix post on this very dress.  I mentioned, then, that I wasn’t very satisfied with the ways I’ve styled it in the past.  However, after getting feedback from you (yes, you!), I started looking at this dress in a new way.  Here are two more ways I’ve styled it, both of which I really love.

Look 1

Taking your suggestions into account, I’ve kept it very simple here.  Just the dress, opaque tights, and black boots.  I like this one, but I do think I went a little too far in paring it down.  It needs a little more oomph, don’t you think?

Look 2

Which is why I love this version the most.  I think I struck a good balance between too many and too few accessories.  All the replacements have a little more personality–a scarf vs. a simple necklace, dotted tights vs. opaque ones, and (my favorite) Parisian-style ankle strap shoes vs. boots.

What do you think?  Which version is your favorite?

Extras

How to Deal with Brands that Take Advantage of Bloggers

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Not long ago, I wrote a post about a brand that offered to “collaborate” with me–but in a way that didn’t benefit me at all.  They wanted me to put together a post to promote their product, but they wouldn’t give me anything in return.  It’s not fair, and it’s so frustrating when this happens.  Us bloggers pour our hearts and souls into this work, and it’s not right for a company to try to take advantage of our drive and passion.

So what should you do when this happens?  Well, there are a few options.  Let’s dive in.

  1. Ignore it or say no.  If a brand reaches out to you with a collaboration proposal but doesn’t include any mention of compensation or a gift, there’s nothing wrong with deleting that email or responding with a polite “No.”  Write a template so you can have it readily available for this kind of thing.  All you need to say is something like, “Hi, Brand.  Thanks so much for reaching out.  Unfortunately, I don’t think this would be a good fit for me.”  Fluff it up however you want, but keep the sentiment the same.
  2. Explain how it’s unfair.  You can also choose to explain further about why you’re declining the brand’s collaboration.  This is the route I normally take because I want to inform brands that their practice harms bloggers.  Be tactful!  You never know when this brand could become a good partner, and you don’t want to burn any bridges.  If you go this route, you can say, “I’d love a chance to work with you, but since putting together this post requires a bit of work on my end, I would ask that I’m compensated in some way.”  It’s polite, but it’s assertive.
  3. Ask to get in touch with the sponsorship team.  Something I learned about the bra company (referenced in this post) is that their marketing department–the folks who sent the original collab proposal–is separate from their sponsorship department.  The marketing team may have no control over your compensation or freebies, so see if you can get in touch with the right people!  In this case, you can build off of step 2 and ask for some contacts on the brand’s sponsorship team.  You also might want to link to your media kit if you have one.

The only thing I’d strongly caution against is actually taking up the brand’s offer.  Doing so means you will be putting in hard work and getting absolutely no payout.

What do you guys think?  How do you respond to uncompensated collaboration proposals?

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Links a la Mode, February 23

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I’ve been featured on Independent Fashion Bloggers’ Links a la Mode again!  My post on how to get more comments on your next blog post was included with 8 others by some really talented bloggers.

If you’d like to get featured as well, here’s how it works: submit your post to the IFB Facebook page by Tuesday of each week.  The top posts will be chosen and rounded up on Thursday.  If you were picked, paste in the roundup on your blog (like I did below).  This means that not only are you featured on the IFB website, but you’re also featured on lots of other blogs!

Here’s this week’s list!

Links à la Mode, February 23rd

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Links a la Mode: February 2

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I’ve been featured on Independent Fashion Bloggers’ Links a la Mode again!  My post on how to curate your closet was included with 10 others by some really talented bloggers.

If you’d like to get featured as well, here’s how it works: submit your post to the IFB Facebook page by Tuesday of each week.  The top posts will be chosen and rounded up on Thursday.  If you were picked, paste in the roundup on your blog (like I did below).  This means that not only are you featured on the IFB website, but you’re also featured on lots of other blogs!

Here’s this week’s list!

Links à la Mode, February 2nd

Extras, Teach Me

Tutorial: Easy Double Twist Bun

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I was playing around with a version of this style that has braids instead of twists, but you guys!  I’m getting tired of braids!  I came up with something quicker that’s just as pretty, and I bet it’ll be perfect for that holiday that’s coming up in a couple of weeks…

2017-01-22-01.26.08-1.jpg.jpgStart by sectioning off the top half of your hair.  Leave it like that, throw it in a bun, whatever–just keep it out of the way.

Next, take a strand of hair from one side and start twisting it away from you.  As you twist, add more hair.  Stop when you get to the middle of the nape of your neck, and hold it in place with a bobby pin.  (I finally got blonde ones! So excited.)

2017-01-22-01.26.05-1.jpg.jpgDo the same on the other side.  This time, when you get to the middle, take the twists from both sides and pull them into a ponytail.

Repeat the last two steps on the top section of your hair.

2017-01-22-01.26.02-1.jpg.jpgFinally, gather up the top and bottom ponytails and twist them into a bun at the nape of your neck.  And that’s it!

What do you think?  Is this something you’d like to try?  Remember, you can mix it up by using braids instead of twists!

 

 

 

Extras, Outfits

Outfit: Just The Same But Brand New

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It seems like lots of bloggers have been taking breaks lately.  It makes sense–the holidays can leave you exhausted and yearning for some relaxation.  And it’s a whole new year, the perfect time to reflect on what you’re going to make of the next twelve months.

Like many of you, I spent a few weeks taking stock, which of course includes Mox and Socks.  Ever since I started this blog, something seemed off.  Not the photography; I’ve learned to become a decent photographer in the last two years.  Not the subject matter; I’m a good writer.  No, it was something more fundamental–the clothes.

We as style bloggers struggle more with the identity of our clothes than anyone else.  Our clothes mean more because we want them to mean more.  Sometimes it’s difficult to figure out what exactly we want to say, and I’ve had that problem for years.

I never really understood why I didn’t like most of my outfits.  I had all kinds of rules governing how I chose my clothes, and I thought those rules would make me happy.  When they didn’t, I started to copy other people, trying to capture whatever it was that made their outfits stand out.

It took me ages, but I learned some key points that helped me figure out what my style was.  A Clothes Horse’s outfits won’t look right on me because they’re not me.  But this outfit?  She’d never wear it, but it feels exactly right on my body.

In a few days, I’ll recap some of the things I learned in putting together a new wardrobe for myself.  I hope that if you’re having problems with the things in your closet, I can help.

I’ve collaborated with thredUP again, and that site has been invaluable in helping me rebuild and refine my closet.  They had all of the basics I needed plus lots of unusual statement pieces, like this beaded cardigan.  (Side note: that thing is so heavy that my back still hurts–worth it!)  thredUP is literally the only company I can think of that offers (by definition) ethically-sourced petite clothing, so I feel really good about adding to my closet with the things I’ve found there, plus I know they’re going to fit me.

If you’ve never shopped with thredUP before, I have a little goody for you.  You can get 50% off your first-time purchase on their selection of Free People clothing using the code FREEPEOPLE50.  It’s good for up to $50 off!  So go on, check it out!