Solar eclipse 2015 viewed from Warwick

I’ve always been interested in astronomy – I did a module on it as part of my degree.  So this morning’s partial solar eclipse was a great excuse to take a break from my photo editing and take some photos for me.   The weather was kind (unlike my previous attempt to photograph an eclipse in Devon back in 1999 when we had solid cloud) so I’m really pleased with the results.

This one was at about 9.15am before it got to maximum at approximately 9.30am.

Solar Eclipse viewed from Warwick UK - 20 March 2015 | Linda Scannell Photography

Here’s the smile, upside down because we were projecting it on to white card using binoculars.

Binoculars projecting the solar eclipse on to white card | Linda Scannell Photography

For those of you interested in the camera gear, I used my Canon EOS 1D Mk IV as its 1.3x factor sensor gave my 200mm lens a boost, making it the equivalent of 260mm.

 

Canon EOS 1D Mk IV setup to photograph the eclipse | Warwick, UK | Linda Scannell Photography

This was just about the maximum coverage we got in Warwick – a Cheshire cat smile perfect for today’s International Day of Happiness :-)

Solar Eclipse viewed from Warwick UK - 20 March 2015 | Linda Scannell Photography

And now the moon’s started moving away from the sun again …

Solar Eclipse 2015 Warwick UK | Linda Scannell PhotographyI’ll finish off with a fine art photo.  The thin cloud was perfect for creating a bit more visual interest.Solar Eclipse viewed from Warwick UK - 20 March 2015 | Linda Scannell Photography

It was a wonderful experience – not quite as eerie as experiencing totality, but great nonetheless.  And it’s fired up my enthusiasm to see a total eclipse again, so planning for a 2017 trip to the USA to catch the next one starts now :-)

 

 

 

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6 ways to use video to increase your sales

I’m writing a presentation on “Maximising your use of video for business” for a local marketing company’s client event next month.  As a result, I’ve been brainstorming all the different uses for video – and there are lots! But there are some key types that stand out as ones that could quickly benefit most businesses.

So here are my top 6 ways to use video to increase your sales:

  1. About you – People buy people so putting you into your business is important and helps to make you stand out from your competitors.  One of the business groups I attend regularly has a “More about me” slot where one of the members gives a 10 minute talk on how they got where they are today. Their stories are always interesting and there’s usually lots of great stuff about who inspired them and challenges they’ve overcome. I’m sure their customers would be interested to hear their stories too. So tell your story, why you do what you do, what your values are – whatever you think your ideal customer will identify with.  E.g. A while back, I recorded this quick iPhone clip talking about how I got hooked on photography. As lots of my clients are keen amateur photographers, it was something they could relate to, and it’s often a conversation starter when we meet up.

  1. Client testimonials – Lots of people are cynical about written client testimonials they read on the web unless they know the people concerned.  But if you’ve got a real person speaking to camera that’s far more compelling than a bit of text on your website.  I confess I am rubbish at recording my own clients, but it is something I should really make an effort to do and I know it’s worked well for my video clients.
  2. Behind the scenes – What happens at one of your classes?  What do your offices look like?  Who are your support staff? How do you go about designing a bespoke item for a client? What do you do to prepare your wedding car before you set off to pick up the bride?  Potential customers will be interested to know more about how you approach your business – it helps to build trust and gives a greater understanding of why you work the way you do or why you charge more than someone else, for example. In my case, since I created my “Meet Linda” video talking about my approach to photographing weddings, I’ve had several couples decide to book me without even meeting me. I’ve also got a “Behind the scenes” video of a teen photoshoot to show what we get up to on a lifestyle session which has helped potential clients understand how a location shoot works.
  3. Tips, hints and how tos – Sharing your knowledge helps to establish your expertise.  And if you get regular queries about how to use your product,  a “How to” video that you can direct your clients to watch will help them and save you time explaining the same thing over and over again. I’m currently producing one that shows my business clients the best way to share their favourite photos from a shoot with their web designers, for example.
  4. Case studies – Show how your products or services helped someone, whether it’s giving them a more search engine friendly website or creating a beautiful dress that flatters them for their wedding day.  Pick something that your ideal client can relate to and it will help them to understand how you could help them.  This would be the perfect topic to combine with a customer testimonial.
  5. Sales tools – Moving images of  your products give potential buyers lots more information to help them decide what to buy.  E.g. Marks & Spencer have videos of many of their clothes so you can see how how they move when you move, something that’s hard to do with still photos alone. If you don’t sell products, think about the conversations you have with potential clients and the things they want to know before making a buying decision then see if you can make a video that will answer their questions.  (E.g. If you’re an estate agent, you might make a video showing the route to school if you’re selling a family house.) Even if you already cover issues in the Frequently Asked Questions section of your website, some people favour watching and listening over reading, so a video may be a more effective way of communicating with them.   I’ve started using video to show off  the different features in my albums.  It’s improved my clients’ understanding of what’s on offer and led to increased sales.

I hope that’s inspired you to think about what videos you could produce for your business.

If you’re put off by the idea that video creation expensive, the good news is it doesn’t have to be.

  • If you’ve got a limited budget, all of the ideas above are videos that you could create for yourself using just your smartphone.  If you want to know more, I offer workshops and consultancy sessions to get you started.  My next “Making business videos with  your iPhone” is on 17 March – all the details are here.
  • If you’d prefer a professional to make your video for you, get in touch to see if I can help you.

I’d love to know where you’ve successfully used video in your business so do leave a comment below.

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My “new” wedding photography website …

I’ve just had someone ask if I still did wedding photography, and it’s suddenly occurred to me that if you only visit this blog, it looks like I’ve not done any wedding photography for nearly a year – which isn’t the case!!   In fact, 2014 was my best year yet for weddings, with some award-winning stuff going on.

The reason that it’s not appeared here is last year I decided to create a website purely dedicated to my wedding clients.  When couples are focussed on such a major task as planning their weddings, they’re not that bothered by my other photography and training services.  All they’re concerned about is getting the best suppliers they can for what will hopefully be one of the best days of their lives.  So they need all my wedding photography information in one place.  Creating a separate website and blog allowed me to expand on the information I shared with brides and grooms, without boring those of you who are already married or couldn’t care less about weddings.

So if you are looking for a documentary wedding photographer to cover your wedding, then I would still love to talk to you.  Hop on over to my “new” website, www.lindascannellweddings.co.uk, and you’ll find lots of information about how I can help you as well as tips and hints to help you get the wedding photography you want.  Happy planning!

Wedding at Woodside Kenilworth

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On winning Theo Paphitis’s Small Business Sunday the first time I entered :-)

SBS Winner Badge - Linda Scannell PhotographyCan one little tweet make a positive difference to your business?  It can if you tweet former Dragon’s Den investor, Theo Paphitis, as part of his #SBS initiative to help small businesses.

SBS stands for Small Business Sunday.  If you run a small business in the UK, you can tweet him between 5pm and 7.30pm every Sunday telling him what you do.  On Monday, he goes through the hundreds of tweets he’s received and picks his six favourites to retweet to his 460,000 followers.

I found out about #SBS in a free Twitter marketing eBook from social media expert, Veronica Pullen.  Veronica won a while back and highly recommends it to other business owners because of the extra exposure and credibility it gives you.  So I thought I’d give it a try this year, and on Sunday 4 January, I tweeted

with a link to my “Photography for Busy Business People” course.

I know that businesses have to wait months or even years to get noticed by Theo so I put a repeating entry in my diary for Sunday evenings to remind me to enter #SBS again, then thought no more about it.

On Monday evening, I was editing some photos as usual, when my Twitter notifications started going mad.  Initially, I thought perhaps all the businesses who enter SBS tweet one another and that’s why I was getting a lot of activity.  But as I scrolled down the list of notifications, there were lots saying congratulations and right at the bottom of the list, there it was – a RETWEET FROM THEO.  As one of my friends said later, this was one occasion where OMG was an appropriate response!!  I was genuinely gobsmacked at being chosen on my first attempt.  Thank you so much Mr P!

I spent the rest of the evening responding to everyone’s messages, thanking Theo and drinking half a bottle of Prosecco (no more dry January for me!)  It was perfect timing too because there’s an annual event for all the SBS winners and this year’s was at the end of January at the ICC in Birmingham.

The winning retweet on my laptop screen

So that’s where I was last Friday.  And what a great event it was.  Lots of opportunity to network with my fellow winners (who all seem to be a fabulously positive bunch of people), a demo of the great new SBS winners website, an excellent question time session with a panel of inspiring entrepreneurs, including Theo of course.  And, for anyone who’d won this year, a photo opportunity with the man himself.  If it was appropriate to your business, you also got a chance to pitch to the buyers at Ryman’s, Robert Dyas and Red Letter Days. Plus the goodie bag that we all received was full of great bits and bobs from Ryman’s, Robert Dyas and the other sponsors – I don’t need to buy a new pen for a while ;-)  And all of it was absolutely free. How fantastic is that?

So has it made a difference to my business?  Well, it’s exactly a month since I won, and in that time my Twitter following has increased by nearly 20% and most of those new followers are in the target market for my business photography and videography courses.  My local search engine ranking has improved – I have been working on other things that might affect that but I’m pretty sure my profile on the #SBSWinners website has helped considerably.  And it’s been a topic of conversation at the regular networking meetings I go to, so it’s helped raise awareness locally of what I do.  It’s also given me a boost in confidence to get on with converting my popular “Photography for Busy Business People” workshop into an online format that I can share with businesses across the UK and abroad.  More news on that and some new dates for my other business workshops very soon.

So if you run a small business, I’d highly recommend that you take the trouble to enter.  It will only take you a minute or two to do but if you’re a winner, the rewards are worth it.  All the details on what you need to do are at www.theopaphitissbs.com

Linda Scannell accepts SBS certificate from Theo Paphitis | Business Awards

 

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Ladies 1st networking in Leamington Spa

I had the privilege of photographing the first Ladies 1st Network event of 2015 a couple of weeks ago.  Julie Richardson and Lisa Kennedy do a great job of putting on excellent, informative networking meetings for business women in Coventry and Warwickshire and it was good to catch up with some contacts that I haven’t seen for a while as well as meeting some new faces.

Ladies-networking-event-photography-Leamington-Spa_0001

Priscilla Morris from Loud & Clear shared lots of great tips and hints on using your voice to best effect as a business woman.  I’ve known Priscilla for several years now and her talks are always worth a listen.

Ladies-networking-event-photography-Leamington-Spa_0002

The venue is one of my favourites too – the Audley Binswood in Leamington Spa, which was my old sixth form college rather a long time ago. Some of you may remember it better as Leamington Boys College.  I’m utterly amazed at how it’s been completely transformed into a beautiful, high quality retirement complex.

Ladies-networking-event-photography-Leamington-Spa_0003

I’m looking forward to February’s meeting with member Emily Keal sharing her advice on getting the most from LinkedIn.  If you’d like to come along, you can find all the details and booking information here.

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