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Don Schindler

Executive Reputation Coach & Digital Marketer

Category: training (page 3 of 9)

10 Photography Tips for Farmers and Foodies

I recently taught a couple of workshops on photography and videography for beginners to some of our communicators. It’s amazing how advanced technology allows us to produce good photography by just knowing some of the basics.

Now does this mean that you will never need a professional photographer – absolutely not! Professionals have thousands of hours of training and can see things that you and I would never catch. And I don’t claim to be an expert at this at all. I’m just passing along the basics that I’ve learned and that I believe will help you capture better photos while you are on the farm or at the restaurant/market.

Here are 10 tips that I’ve picked up on photography – I hope they help you out.

1. Lighting is everything.

You need good lighting. What makes good lighting? Indirect natural sunlight is awesome. Then after that sunlight. Gray days can be really good as well because they will make the shadows less harsh.

lighting-photography-tip

Photo courtesy of Jalal Hameed Bhatti via Flickr Creative Commons

 

 

Check out the natural light vs. the in-camera flash on food. It can make the food look unnatural or look like it’s floating in space. Look how much texture gets blown out because of the light source.

nature-light-photography-tip

Photo courtesy of The Serious Eats Team

I loved the article on “Beginner’s Guide to Food Photography” from The Serious Eats Team and I recommend you check it out.

2. Look at the background first and add depth if you can.

add-depth-photography-tip

Photo courtesy of Dennis Jarvis via Flickr Creative Commons

This photo is great because it has serious depth, but he’s also using diagonals to drive your eye to the beautiful trees in the slight right of the center of the photo. Instead of being right up on the buildings, it’s great to walk away and look at them from different angles to see the uniques shapes and lines the photograph is producing.

 

3. The Rule of Thirds helps your composition.

rule-of-thirds-photography-tip

The Rule of Thirds courtesy of The Serious Eats Team

The Rule of Thirds is laying out the composition or elements of your photograph along the intersecting lines of the nine boxes created by the grid. Where did you find a grid? Well with most phones and cameras, you can turn on the grid in the camera settings.  This will help you align the subject of your photograph along these lines.

 

4. The eye loves textures and patterns – getting close can help you see them.

close-textures-photography-tip

Photo courtesy of Geraint Rowland via Flickr Creative Commons

Focusing in on your subjects can produce some amazing shots especially with animals (that people normally don’t get too close to). I love the patterns of the fur and foreground grass in juxtaposition to the background signs. You can also see the Rule of Thirds here as well with the off set subject but the dominate eye almost in the center.

 

5. With food, you have control over how to dress it up and style it.

foodie-photography-tip

Photo courtesy of The Serious Eats Team

The Serious Eats Team does an amazing job of showcasing how they dress up this plate of chili. I would recommend going over and reading the entire article. What I took from the article was how much control you have over the food. It’s worth the time to invest to get a good shot of the food.

 

6. Use diagonal lines to guide the eyes.

use-diagonals-photography-tip

Photo courtesy of Berit Watkin via Flickr Creative Commons

The diagonals of this picture are fairly obvious just like the picture above but I would also take note of the gaze of the animals as well and you can see how their gaze with the diagonals drive the eye to the center of the picture.

 

7. Use natural frames to frame your subjects.

natural-frames-photography-tip

Photo courtesy of MFer Photography via Flickr Creative Commons

Here’s a great photo that uses a natural frame as well as symmetry and patterns. You can definitely see the subjects (close to Rule of Thirds) framed by the building’s doors and then off set by the lean-to shed on the right. Great composition here.

 

8. Symmetry is pleasing to the eye.

symmetry-photography-tip

Photo courtesy of George Thomas via Flickr Creative Commons

You can see with this photo that the building is almost dead center and looks symmetrical even with the missing boards. But one thing you probably didn’t notice is the natural framing – do you see the two birds at the top. Great composition.

 

9. Rules are meant to be broken.

change-the-rules-photography-tip

Photo courtesy of The Serious Eats Team

There was a rule a while back about plating food on blue plates because it would make the food pop! That’s not true. It really depends on the food itself and the angle of how you shoot it. Here is a great example of food being placed in a natural flowing way on plates that put emphasis on the food and how the eye is moving around them. And it’s also cheese! Yay, cheese! Great composition by The Serious Eats team.

 

10. Take lots of photos – you’ll make mistakes but that’s ok.

practice-photography-tip

Photos courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

When it comes to good photography, being intentional is very important with your shots but don’t kill yourself over one photo. Take lots and lots of them and sort through the ones you don’t like. That’s what is so awesome about today’s technology. Get lots of practices, definitely take a few classes if you have time and keep producing those amazing photos.

If you have tip you want to share, feel free to leave a comment or email me at don.schindler (at) gmail.

If you want to use my deck, you can download it from Slideshare.

 

 

 

Blowing Up: How to Expand Your Online Influence (Farmer Version)

I teach an advanced digital marketing and online influence class called “Blowing Up: How to Expand Your Online Influence”.

The deck below is part of this class. I’ll come back and fill in the text around the deck at a later time. I’m just trying to get it up for the farmers that attended.

 

What to do when a friend turns into a troll

mom-internet

She said she was going to tell your dad!

A friend of mine asked me what I would do when they came across someone hating on social media (not hating social media but being mean to someone online).

First, I hate that crap. There’s really no reason to not be decent to everyone. Even if they are being mean to you, take the high road or just laugh it off. Nothing upsets a troll more than if you just don’t care.

But I wanted to give my friend some practical advice.

So what do you do when you come across someone going off on another person online.

1. First thing first. Remember that you are not the decency police on the Internet. Unfortunately this type of thing happens and you can’t control the actions of others. If you insert yourself into the conversation in a you-can’t-do-that tone, you’ll likely get both of the people upset with you.

2. If you have a relationship with the person spewing the hatred, then feel free to reach out as a friend privately and speak to them about how others might see their attack or hate post. Is this something you want others to think when they think of you?

3. If you don’t know the person, check for a friend in common then you might want to ask them (not point it out) about the post in question. Something like “wow, I’ve never seen them post like this. Are they ok?”

4. If the attacks are personal and getting heated to the point where it could turn into something violent, then don’t hesitate to report the issue to the social network. But I see this as only a last resort.

Hope this helps.

Seven Steps On How To Build A Farm Website Yourself

death star website

Your website is the only thing you truly own.

Recently I’ve been asked a lot of questions about building your own website. Farmers have been asking me if they can do it.

The answer is, of course, you can.

Is it hard? Nope, not compared to back in the day (mid 90’s) when you had to handcode everything. Websites are much easier to build and there’s several companies that would love to do it for you like Wix or Square Space.

But if you want to DIY it. Here’s how I would go about it.

1. Get your content together first!

  • Get photos
  • Write the text
  • Make some videos

Honestly you would not believe how many people want to jump right into the website build without any content prepared. How do you know what you want to say?

When it comes to a print brochure, you never start the design without having the content. The content is crucial to the design. Websites are no different. Start with the content first!

What content is normal? I would see these as navigational items on a dairy farm website followed by what question it answers for the customer.

  • Milk Production – How is milk made?
  • Animal Care – How do cows live?
  • Our Community – What is it like where you live?
  • About Our Farm – What else is on your farm? How does it run?
  • Contact Us – How do I ask another question?
  • Journal/blog – How can I see what it is really like to live on a farm 24/7?

 

fair-oaks-website

Fair Oaks Call To Action – VISIT THE FARM

2. Think about what you want people to do or know about your farm.

This is your CALL TO ACTION. Make this the most important call out on the website. Think about these questions when you are putting it together.

  • Do you want people to reach out to you if they have questions?
  • Do you want people to visit the farm? Maybe take a tour?
  • Do you want people to sign up for an email list – you can give them updates on the farm, share recipes, tell them when BLANK is going on…
wordpress-logo

WordPress.com or WordPress.org are both good choices for small sites

3. Should you setup with wordpress.com vs. wordpress.org? Well, that depends.

First you need to ask yourself “why” you want to self host. Here’s a general list of pros and cons.

Pros
– you have almost full control
– you can add content pretty easily
– lots of people use wordpress so there’s a ton of help online
– lots of design templates to choose from

Cons
– can be complicated to set up
– there are monthly costs (domain and hosting)
– can be limiting down the road if you need more features
– there are always updates that you need to be installing

Why I initially went with wordpress.com?

  1. No cost
  2. No worries on set up
  3. Search engines love WP.com

Why I switched:

  1. I wanted more control over the plugins I could use.
  2. The costs are very small.
  3. I wanted to capture email addresses and have more control over the design.

Personally, if you are new to blogging or websites, I recommend wordpress.com. It’s a lot easier to set up and get going.

If you are looking for something even easier than wordpress – I recommend blogger or tumblr.

But if you really want to use wordpress.org and control your own website then I recommend using WP Beginner or WP Learner. Read through the beginning steps before starting.

If you select, wordpress.org you can buy your domain through them or buy it through another company like 1and1.com. These are not affiliate links – I just happen to use them.

You’ll also need hosting. You can buy that through several companies. The guides will explain all of this. There are many companies out there and I’ve used GoDaddy, Hostgator and Rackspace to name a few.

4. Selecting a good design template
Both wordpress.com and .org have great templates. There are several things that I’m looking for in a template.

  1. Mobile friendly/optimized. More people are reading with their portable devices and you don’t want to be a pain for them.
  2. Clean design focused on large photos/graphics. Don’t get something to clutter – the user’s eye won’t focus on the content you want them to.
  3. The ability to add right or left side widgets but not both. I like sharing widgets how to connect with me and capture email as well as show them what posts are popular.

5. Make time to write once a month or more.
Putting time on the calendar is the most important thing. Block the time it takes and spend the time it takes. Don’t underestimate the time because then you’ll blow it off. You are going to need a few hours for your first posts. After that it gets easier.

What topics should you write about? Well, that depends.
Everyone is going to tell you to write about your passion which I assume is your farm. I write about marketing and how to do it better. That keeps me going.

But if you want to attract an audience, which I’m pretty sure you want to do then you should be writing about what your customers want to know about farming.

Most farmers I know are awesome storytellers and you should incorporate that into your writing. If the topic is animal care, then don’t just bullet point the checklist you follow for cow health.

Write a story about how you accomplished the checklist or what went wrong and how you fixed it. Nobody wants talking points – they want to laugh, cry or think about what happened on the farm. And some days a picture can be all that is necessary to convey this.

What topics would I focus on?
Animal Care, dairy farming activities, struggles and successes, how the community plays a role in the farm, how you play a role in the community, what you feed your family, what you do for fun with the family, how you are improving your farm, your opinion on just about anything, what hobbies you have…remember most people are pretty far removed from the farm and they are intrigued with the lifestyle.

6. Set up Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools.
After you get the website up and running, it’s time to add some tools that will make your life easier.

Add Google Analytics – this will let you know what people are doing on the website. Where they are going, what they like, what they are sharing, where they are coming from.

Add Google Webmaster Tools – this will tell you how the website is performing in Google’s search engine eyes. Can they search it effectively? What keywords are people searching on and finding your website? What pages are broken? All sorts of great stuff and it’s free.

7. Getting exposure.
The final step is probably the toughest when it comes to having a website. How are people going to find it? While I have a few steps you can do, I’m definitely going to be writing a larger post about getting your website out there but in the meantime here’s a few tips.

  • Share your posts on social media as much as you can. I hate to bust your bubble but most people don’t see everything you post – in fact, it’s quite the opposite. So I would be oversharing as opposed to undersharing. And by social media, there is more than just Facebook out there. Use Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Reddit, etc… If you are serious about blogging, then you need to be serious about using social media for the exposure and interaction.
  • Share with the search engines. You can use pingomatic.com to post and it will ping the search engines to come check out your content. BTW, Google normally visits a site once a month until you get popular then they could visit a few times a day.
  • Share via email. When you are first starting out, it’s ok to spam the family until they get tired. Make sure to ask them to share as well. You never know who they are all connected with.

OK, well that’s basically it for the beginner level. If you have questions along the way, feel free to hit me up and I’ll try and answer them. You can leave a comment below or just email me using the links on the right hand side.

Good luck. Can’t wait to see your site!

Why you should be using Google Webmaster Tools and how to set it up? – Simple SEO

The best things is that Google will email you when your site is having issues. This is huge.

Google Webmaster Tools emailing me

Google warned me that I was having issues back in January with my domain.

How do you know when your website is having issues with the search engine? You don’t. Google needs to tell you.

But there’s also a ton more it does. I’m just going to give you a few highlights.

 

Search Queries Reports

Since Google Analytics doesn’t give up keywords people are using to search with when they discover your  website (only if they are logged in), Google Webmaster tools will provide these search queries regardless if they are logged in or not.

The only issue is that it’s not tied specifically to their visit. 🙁

But you will find a ton of information on your keywords and landing pages like impressions, clicks, click-thru-rates and rankings.

Google Search Queries

Search Queries will tell you what keywords people used to find your website

There’s a ton of information to be found here and here’s a great article from LunaMetrics explaining a lot more of it.

You’ll also want to connect your Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. It’s pretty easy to do. Just go to Acquisition -> Search Engine Optimization -> Landing Pages.

The only thing you need to worry about there is that only one account Google Webmaster Tools account can be connected to one Google Analytics account.

 

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