Why I Changed My Business's Name

When I started this small business journey I just wanted to be a photographer. I didn’t have any particular direction I wanted to take it, as long as I had my eye behind a lens. And so Effie’s Photography was born.


Over the first 5 years of my business that is exactly what I was, a jack-of-all-trades photographer. Then in 2016 a new dream started to form, a dream to help brands grow their reach and recognition through simple, lifestyle images.


A year later, as I continued to dream, I launched a new side to my business; social media management. With this new service that I offered suddenly the name “Effie’s Photography” didn’t seem to tell the whole story.


So, with much thought and deliberation, I decided to begin the journey of changing my business’s name to just be MY name: Effie Gurmeza. Along with that came a brand refresh which I am so excited to share with you today as well!


I hope that going forward I can serve brands by growing their reach and recognition, not just through photography, but also through curating beautiful Instagram feeds and telling their stories on social media.

Without further ado, here is my new brand, created by Trish of The Mahoney Studio!


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She also created me some fun icons that represent my services; photography, social media management and social media consulting.

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I hope you will continue on this journey with me! Up next? My new website!

A Story About a Girl and Her Camera

People often ask me how my business came to be. Here’s the story:

Like many other photographers, from a young age I enjoyed capturing my life on film. It started with disposable cameras on family vacations and eventually a digital camera in my teens.  

In my senior year of high school I took a photography class. I realized during this class that I had an eye for photography. It came naturally to me and I enjoyed it, so I started to pursue it as a hobby. Soon friends noticed too and started asking me to take their senior pictures.

I decided to make it official in 2011, obtaining a business license under the name Effie’s Photography. From this point I dreamed and hustled on the side of many day jobs, jumping in between photographing high school seniors, families, weddings, real estate and food. You name it, I photographed it!

I continued in this jack-of-all-trades photography for several years, even teaching high school photography at the school I graduated from.

In January of 2016 I was able to quit my full time job. That spring I became a mom and in this time of transition in my personal life, I also came to realize that I enjoyed photographing products the most out of anything I had experienced.  

Since then I’ve slowly transitioned my business into solely brand photography. In the spring of 2017 I added social media management to the mix. It’s a good fit  with brand photography and I realized I had a knack for it too, so why not?

Now I am able to help local brands grow their reach and recognition through simple, lifestyle brand photography AND compelling Instagram feeds! I love being able to give life to brands and confidence to business owners through this unique combination of skills that I am honing in on.

It has been a long journey but I am confident that I have found my calling in this particular niche. I absolutely love what I do and I am excited to continue growing in my craft and bettering myself with each new client that comes my way!

The Most Effective Marketing Tactic

You probably had the idea years ago. You woke up thinking about it in the middle of the night. You spent every spare moment nurturing it. You spent countless hours working the ins and outs until you had a product that you are proud of.

Now it’s time to sell your product. How do you market it?

Did you know that people form their first impression of something within a mere 50 milliseconds? That’s one quick glance that you have to grab their attention.

You had better make those 50 milliseconds worth while!

In addition to (or maybe because of) this short time frame that viewers will spend forming their impression, studies show that people can only recall 20% of material they read, whereas they can recall 80% of what they see.

How does this translate to your marketing strategy?

Images will set the mood for your brand and they will make your potential customers feel a certain way about your product. The emotional connection that your images create will help people remember your brand, building trust and a relationship with them. Images will give your brand an identity that people will remember, thus giving you more brand awareness.

In short, compelling imagery is the number one way to make your brand stick out!

Here’s the thing, in our day and age, most of our shopping happens online (whether or not we are actually going to buy the product online or not, this is still where it starts). According to the #1 ecommerce website, Xcart, one of their retailers, “increased conversions 300% by simply having bigger, better product images."

Put yourself in the shoes of a shopper. You’re searching online for a product and you come across virtually the same product on two separate websites. One site has professional imagery and the other has D.I.Y. cell phone imagery. Which site are you more likely to buy from? I would venture to say that even if the D.I.Y. website charges less for their product, you will be more likely to pay more for the product from the more professional and polished seller. It all comes down to that image.

According to PRWD, “In user research [they] have observed that images are the first thing users look at to make a decision, not the price or product description, as many retailers assume. They browse through a product range or result page looking in detail at images they are attracted to and compare images to narrow down their choice.”

In addition, “They were drawn to the products which were ‘dressed’ and more of a lifestyle shot within the context of a room. They explained that they could imagine this product in their home when they saw it in context of a bedroom or a lounge with other furniture, as opposed to a standalone picture.”

This is the reason why my focus is on what I refer to as “lifestyle product photography.” I’m convinced that if people start picturing your product in their everyday lives that they will feel like they can’t live without it, thus going from potential customers to happy owners of your product.

The old saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” couldn’t be more true in today’s world of online marketing and social media!

So where does that leave you? You want to raise awareness for your brand and sell more so you can live the life you imagined, right?

I’m here to tell you how!

I am excited to announce a new subscription package for my product photography services! Here’s the deal, I know that a lot of you launch new products all the time. In addition, you probably struggle to stay on top of having seasonal images to share on your website and social media. So I am here to make it easier for you. I am now offering a quarterly (think seasonal) subscription for photos. This subscription will come with four photo session per year. Each photo session comes with 30 images. 

No more wondering how to market your product. No more worrying about how you’re going to get everything done. More time spent basking in your success!

All you have to do to take advantage of this amazing deal is contact me here. It's that simple!

Who's in?

Writing Compelling Captions for Instagram Pt. 2

Last week I wrote to you about telling a story with your Instagram captions. This week I’d like to share about some specific things I do to increase engagement on Instagram posts.

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1. First and foremost, keep it personal! This is basically what I wrote about last week with storytelling. Focus on telling a story like you would to a friend and building relationships, rather than just asking for your followers to buy something. It’s the “jab, jab, jab, right hook” method. Give, give, give, then sell.

2. Second and probably just as important, avoid statement posts. Nobody will know how to engage or respond if you post a picture of your kids at the park and write, “Fun in the sun!” Instead go back to my first point and tell a story about your park trip. Then take it a step further and ask a question at the end of your post. Make sure your question isn’t too broad and so easier for someone to have a gut response to.

For example, “It had been raining all day. The sun broke through the clouds and we literally dropped everything and hustled out to the park, including my coffee which I had hastily left on top of my car. You win some, you lose some 🤷 What do you always forget when you leave your house in a hurry?”

3. Another way to get engagement on your post is to ask your audience to “double-tap” or like your post. The most common way I utilize this strategy is to state my opinion on something and then ask my followers to “double-tap if you agree.” This is a simple but effective method to gaining likes on a post.


4. Mix it up! I am probably the worst at this, but studies show that you will have a more engaged audience if you mix up the length of your captions. It makes sense if you think about it. How often do you read a super long, paragraph type caption vs. a shorter, more to the point caption? Another thing to remember here is that after the first 87 characters of your caption the viewer has to click “read more,” so compose your caption for those first 87 characters to draw them in! And if you are like me and like to spill in your posts check out this handy way to break up your formatting for better readability!

Writing Compelling Captions for Instagram Pt. 1

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Do you remember how they teach you to write in school? They tell you to answer these questions: Who? What? Where? When?

I think when I entered the fast paced workforce of America I forgot how to write anything other than a short memo or quick email response. The sticky notes and smartphone keyboard version of life.

When I dove into the world of Instagram management a year ago I had to change the way I think. I had to go back to my school days and ask those important questions.

Who? What? Where? When?

This is the foundation of storytelling. And that’s exactly what I try to do with my Instagram captions. Tell a story. Not make a broad statement about the photo I’m posting. I tell a story about my life or business. I think of it as building new friendships with each of my followers. Giving them little windows into my life and work.

So what’s the story you are trying to tell? Who is the main character? What is the big idea, main point, thing they did or will do? Where/when did/will it happen?

10 Steps to Planning your Social Media Month

Last week I sent out a content calendar with ideas for what to post about on your social media for every day of the month of April. This week I wanted to follow up with these 10 steps I use to planning my social media month. Wait, you didn't get my email? You must not be part of my mailing list! Sign up here to get exclusive freebies not shared on my blog!

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Step 1: First of all, leading Instagram experts always suggest picking categories of things you will post about. The thing they can’t agree upon is how many. I’ve heard numbers from 5 to 12 most commonly. My opinion is that there is no magic number of categories, just pick what feels right for you. Categories span anything from talking about your kids to your clients and your morning coffee to the book you’re reading. Just make sure you can use each of these categories to point back to your business and why people should follow, book or buy from you! Once you have an idea of what these categories will be for you, you will be able to make your posting roadmap!

Step 2: Look at a social media holiday calendar. Social media holidays can be any major or lesser known, quirky holiday that instagrammers made popular via hashtag. For instance the third Sunday in July is my favorite: #nationalicecreamday, for obvious reasons! You can check out this social media holiday calendar for some other fun ideas!

Step 3: Now look at your own content calendar. Do you have any blog posts coming up that you want to promote? What about a sale or a special promotion?

Step 4: You will want to write all of the dates from steps 2 and 3 on a calendar for easy reference. I prefer to print one out and have a paper copy to scribble on, but you can use an online calendar for this if it is more your style.

Step 5: Now you can fill in the calendar with the other categories you have already decided to post about in step 1. Rotate them through so you know exactly how many posts you will need for the month in each category.

Step 6: Looking at your calendar you should now be able to visualize the photos you will need for the month. I like to make an organized shot checklist off the calendar at this point; and then start to plan what props I will need to gather for the photos. Don’t forget to think about your grid as you plan this. Make sure that the colors will flow nicely. This should be fairly easy to accomplish if you have a color scheme for your props and backgrounds (thinking back to your branding color scheme is helpful here).

Step 7: Now you can shoot your photos! I usually try to take a couple different arrangements or angles of each shot to make sure that when I put my feed together it is visually compelling. For instance I like to do a mixture of flatlay images and straight on perspectives.

A note here: while some brands are able to completely plan and stage photos ahead of time, some are more event based and time sensitive. You should still be able to plan ahead for these photos even if you have some time sensitive materials that you can not shoot ahead of time, just leave space on your calendar for it and make a note to grab the shot at the event!

Step 8: Cull, edit and organize your photos into your content calendar. My favorite planning software is currently Planoly but there are plenty of other options available too. Find the one that works best for you!

Step 9: Write your captions! It may sound daunting but you probably already know roughly what you need to say with each post after all that strategizing! (Stay tuned for more on writing captions next week!)

Step 10: Don’t forget to plan your hashtags strategically! Want to read more about hashtag planning? Read more here!







 

A Quick Start Guide to Tagging Your Product on Instagram

I recently asked what your biggest questions about Instagram are and one of the things you asked was how to tag products in your posts. Ask and you shall receive! Here is a quick start guide for how to tag products with the shopping feature on Instagram: 

 

1. First of all, make sure you have a business profile on Instagram. If you don't, just click on “Edit Profile” and then “Try Instagram Business Tools.”

 

2. Now make sure your Instagram page is linked to your business Facebook account/page. Go to settings, then linked accounts, then Facebook to accomplish this. 

 

3. Then you'll need to add a “shop” section on your Facebook page. See the “shop” tab on the left sidebar navigation on your page to do this.

 

4. Instagram will now review your account for access to the shopping feature and once you are approved they will notify you (usually within a couple of days). There should be an alert at the top of your profile page where you can click “get started” but if you don’t see it there you can go into your settings and click “product tagging” to get started!

What is Engagement Rate and Why Should I Care?

Okay, so what’s all this hype about engagement on Instagram?

Well, a while back Instagram changed how you see posts in your feed. Instead of showing posts in chronological order, they now evaluate what you want to see based on your previous likes and comments. This means in order to have your posts seen by your followers, you have to keep them engaged (liking and commenting) with your content.

In a previous post I gave you some tips on keeping your followers engaged. Now I’d like to talk about how to find out how well you are doing on that. Your engagement rate is a stat you can find to help you gauge how well you are doing. If you have a good engagement rate, then great, keep doing what you are doing! If you have a low rate, then let’s take a step back and re-read these tips and re-evaluate what and how you are posting.

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Wait, so what is a low engagement rate and what is a good one?

Most people agree that anything below a 1% engagement rate is low; between 1%-5% is a pretty average rate, between 5%-10% is looking good, and anything above that is excellent. Accounts with less followers actually have a better chance at these higher engagement rates so take this all with a grain of salt. And remember, any progress is good progress so don’t let a low rate get you down, just take it as a sign that you need to put in a little more TLC on your posts.

So how do you find your engagement rate?

It’s the total number of likes and comments on your post (engagement) divided by your total number of followers. Take that number and multiply it by 100 to get your engagement rate percentage. So (engagement/followers) x 100 = engagement rate %.

For example if my post has 155 likes and 15 comments that’s 170 engagements. Let’s say I have 2,000 followers. So I’ll divide 170 by 2,000 to get 0.085 and then multiply that by 100 to get my engagement rate of 8.5%.

Of course, you will want to pull multiple posts to check your engagement rate to get an average for your posts before jumping to any conclusions for your account. It is also helpful to keep track of which posts perform with the best engagement rates so that you can evaluate what type of posts your followers would like to see the most going forward.

What is "Lifestyle Product Photography?"

I often times throw around the phrase, "lifestyle product photography." So what do I mean when I use it?

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Here are some definitions according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Lifestyle: (n) "the typical way of life of an individual, group, or culture." 

Product: (n)  "something that is made or grown to be sold or used."

Photography: (n) "the art or process of producing images by the action of radiant energy and especially light on a sensitive surface (such as film or an optical sensor)."

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Okay, you probably already knew what those words mean. But what does it mean when I put them together?

It means that when I capture pictures of things that you want to sell, I show them in real life situations. Not on cut and paste, white backgrounds. I stage a scene, that your ideal customers might find themselves in and insert your product into it. Often times I add a human element as well, since your product is probably for humans. This means that if you product is a food item, I probably have my model start to dig into it for the photo. Or if it is a candle I light it before shooting. It means that I use simple everyday props to showcase your product. 

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Why do I embrace this philosophy behind my work? Because I believe that people will start picturing themselves using your product when they see photos of it in everyday scenes. My goal is that they actually won't be able to picture their everyday life without your product, or that your food will look so delicious and ready to eat that they will start craving it immediately!

Sure, if you request it I'll get you that standard shot that shows all the details of your product. The shot that is at the back of the carousel on your shopping cart page. But that's not really where you sell, is it? In this day and age you sell with a compelling Instagram feed or on Pinterest. Before your customers even open your website you are showing them how your product would seamlessly fit into their everyday lives through lifestyle product photography! 

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So lets set the mood, create an everyday scene where your product is being used and lets shoot! 

How to Format your Instagram Captions to Get Better Engagement

Are you a skim reader like me? When I scroll through Instagram, I’m usually too [busy/distracted/Insert how you feel here] to actually read through novel like captions. But something I’ve noticed, is that if these long paragraphs are broken up into little chunks (preferably with an emoji in between 😉), I can skim through them and get the important or interesting information quickly. So instead of passing them by, I am more likely to engage with the content.

That’s what we all want for our content, right? Engagement! So here is a little tip for you to increase yours. Break up those paragraphs!

But, Effie, you say, I’ve tried! Instagram just won’t let me format my posts the way I want!

Yeah, I know. Frustrating, right? I am a little embarrassed to admit that I was right there with ya until a couple weeks ago (I know, I’m supposed to be the expert, right? 🙈).

Anyway, the problem is that you achieve these line breaks differently depending on what type of phone you have, and all the tips I found were for iphones, not Androids (where are my other android users? ✋)

Okay, so here’s how you create a line break on Instagram for Android. It’s so simple I could NOT believe it. The key is making sure that you DON’T hit space after your punctuation, JUST use the return button on your keyboard. Weird, right? But at least it’s simple.

Oh, your an iphone user? Okay, for you it’s a little bit more complicated, but really not that bad. All you have to do is write your caption in a notes app and format it how you want, then copy and paste it into Instagram.

Now go re-format those Instagram captions! 💃

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