by Britney Gardner | Featured Contributor
I’ve written about crafting connection and branding your business to match your inner landscape. I’ve written about the ingredients of a great personal brand. I’ve written about inner beauty and being authentic to who you are. But I haven’t yet written about how to get there, how to really show that personal connection through a sterile, cold screen.
We’re in a digital age. As much as the photographer in me cannot stand the idea that most of my clients this year will never print their photos, never run their fingers over the texture of a fine art print, this is reality. And my clients need their photos online. They need an opening image that welcomes a viewer into their site, a bio image that shows a little personality, a funnel image that sells, sells, sells.
It always, always comes down to connection. Do you as a viewer see me as a presenter in a familiar way?
The biggest barriers to connection are perfection and emulation. I see emulation as the easiest to overcome and the pursuit of perfection as more difficult.
Small business owners – particularly women – tend to emulate their heroes when they aren’t sure of the next step. Knowing where you garner inspiration is different than copying another, and it’s between the two extremes I see most female solopreneurs around me. It’s okay to see someone else in your expertise space and think they’re doing a great job, even seeing a particular strategy they employ and thinking you want to do that, too. But it’s not okay to see a photo on your competitor’s website, buy a nearly identical outfit and try to mimic the same pose and put that photo in the same place on your website.
Real world example: My client Brenda showed me a few photos of Ellen as inspiration. One in particular was of Ellen in a tux in front of a gold background. It felt very Oscar-like. Brenda loves the style Ellen employs, but didn’t ask me to show her AS Ellen. This is a great example of inspiration rather than copying.
Another problem I see in the personal branding space is perfection. We’re human and we are NOT meant to be perfect! Yet so many of my clients think that every one of their photos needs to be perfect in all ways. “Oh, my collar is turned there, can’t use this one,” I’ve heard. It was a beautiful photo and showed great connection.
It’s often small details that draw the viewer in. Sometimes it might be a cool pair of earrings that first catches your eye and something as small as that. Feeling first, details second. These are business photos, not the Christmas card in which you need to make your college roommate frenemy jealous. And if you’re still feeling the need for perfection? Remember that no one photo can encompass everything about you. That’s why you have a collection of photos for your business.
My biggest reminder to anyone working on their personal brand? They are meant to attract the right clients to you. Everything else is superfluous.
What, you’re already past needing to copy others and always be perfect? Let’s take a quick minute to test that out and see if your current profile photo for social media passes all seven of these steps:
On a mission to change the world one woman at a time, Britney aids women in helping feel great about themselves through modern women’s portraits so they can take that confidence and apply it to every area of their lives. From not-so-corporate headshots that help in branding your business to beauty portraits for every woman, we all need to up our investment in ourselves.
And really, who says you can’t mix business with pleasure?
After leaving behind a genetics major at UCLA, Britney started her first photography business at the age of 20 and hasn’t looked back. In addition to helping women feel beautiful in all they do, Britney is wife to another photographer entrepreneur and mother to a toddler complete strangers label both as “cute” and a “go-getter that must keep you on your toes” in the same breath.