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Review: "Light & Airy Photography"

I’m wearing my comfy writer socks today. I should say I am wearing a pair of comfy writer socks, because my mom found me three or four pairs and surprised me with them throughout the past year. (She’s a good mom like that.)

Today’s review is of the company Light & Airy Photography. I took an introductory course to photography in college, but I never felt like I quite got the hang of taking artistic pictures. I picked up some helpful tips about cropping and placement, but I could tell my images did not match the quality of the communications majors in the class. (Of course, my family always knew that my brother got the photography genes. That talent skipped me, which was rather unfortunate for someone trying to diversify their writing qualifications.) When I found Light & Airy Photography’s 5 day email challenge on taking fabulous phone photos, I hoped their course could turn my poor little iPhone photos into magic.

The Pros

  • Days 1-4 have really good suggestions about the use of light, noticing the background, and adjusting the placement of the focal point to create clear, attractive photos. They also explain each suggestion in detail and show either before-and-after or compare-and-contrast photos so you can see what they mean.
  • While the photos all have a consistent feel and coloring, Caroline and Anna show how the principles they teach can be applied to a variety of environments and situations.
  • Day 5 had great step to step instructions on how to edit photos to get the light and airy feel they promote using Lightroom. While implementing the tips would definitely take some trial and error, the steps were clear, and they included screenshots so you could see exactly where they went for each step.
  • The email challenge is, of course, to promote a product, which in Light & Airy Photography’s case is a set of editing presets for Lightroom. However, their promotion is not flashy, pushy, or annoying.

The Cons

  • The cost of the Lightroom presets is very hard to find. I dug through the purchasing process up to putting in my credit card information before I could find the cost. As of today, the mobile presets (approximately 9 of them and two additional bonus packs) cost $47 before applying their holiday discount codes.
  • Some of the Light & Airy Photography tips go against what I learned in my college class. My professor focused a lot more on contrast and deep detail, while the Light & Airy Photography style almost blows out the highlights. However, their results are aesthetically appealing and consistent with current trends.
  • While the Light & Airy Photography style is very modern, the suggestions are not always easy to implement if you don’t live in a house full of whites and pale greys. They give suggestions for creating your own backdrops to get around that, but it does take concerted effort and rearranging.
  • The company sends out LOTS of promotional emails (at least one a day), but they do weave in other tips and promote the work of others in the Light & Airy community.

What I Tried

  • I followed the Light & Airy Photography suggestions to edit my sock picture. I did use Affinity Photo on my computer instead of Adobe Lightroom on my phone, (mainly because I wanted to play with my early Christmas present,) but I could generally translate the tips by comparing the colors and tones to the screenshots in the emails.
  •  When I am not editing my photos to be light and airy, the course still helped me understand how to use natural, even, and soft light in photos. I’m attempting to use lighter backgrounds, but our house was built in the mid-2000s and our furniture is newlywed-mish-mash-chic, so I sometimes struggle to get the background just right.

Initial Conclusion

If your work involves pictures in any way and you are not using stock photos, I highly recommend looking into the tips and presets that Light & Airy Photography has to share. They also have a really beautiful Instagram to follow if you enjoy looking at pretty pictures throughout your day.

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Review: Think Media

I blame, or thank, my college roommates for getting me to watch YouTube consistently. We didn’t want to pay for cable, but my suitemate had a GIANT tv given to her, and my roommate had an Amazon Fire stick, so we signed in to Netflix and YouTube and settled on the couch with our homework. My roommate got us hooked on Good Mythical Morning, which she watched every morning with her microwaved croissant, and I watched Jimmy Fallon reruns with my peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch.

Between my brother and my husband, I also got acquainted with several car channels. They weren’t my favorite to watch, but I started to pick up on recurring themes and styles that the most successful channels employed. Of course, with the stories of millionaire YouTube stars flooding in, the boys started studying how these channels made their money. So, we watched a couple hours of how-we-did-it talks and a great deal more hours of shows for “research.”

I have contemplated adding a YouTube component to my blogging efforts. There are a few common themes I noticed in studying self-help courses, but I don’t have enough content at this point to build up a consistent YouTube presence. However, other beginning entrepreneurs seem to have plenty of interest in the medium itself and in the success that older vloggers have had on the site. When I ran across Sean Cannell’s “Viral Video Checklist” on increasing subscribers and sales on YouTube, I figured I would sign up for the emails.

The Pros

  • Mr. Cannell provides quality content on how to leverage YouTube as a search engine, how to structure your videos to keep people engaged, and ideas for monetizing your channel outside of YouTube ads. I appreciated that he put so much detail in the free course and that he explored less traditional routes for monetization.
  • While the course came through email, it actually linked to several videos that you could watch and take notes on. Each video had an accompanying worksheet. The pages are helpful with lots of space to brainstorm and review the important points of each video well.
  • The follow up emails that Mr. Cannell sends after the initial week of promotion include quality information and articles. The emails also only come once or twice a week, making them far less annoying than other courses that send ads every day.

The Cons

  • In the first video, Mr. Cannell mentions that the year is 2017, so these free videos are not necessarily up to date. However, the techniques I learned in the videos are congruent with how the famous YouTube channels my family watches operate their sites, so I presume the techniques are still useful two years later.
  • The free videos are, of course, leading up to a pitch for the paid course sold in fourth video (but you could just skip watching it.) The paid course costs $697 or 5 payments of $147, so I recommend seriously contemplating how much you want to speed up your YouTube progress in comparison to the cost. The video says the course is a “limited time offer,” but it reopens periodically.

What I Tried

  • I don’t currently have a YouTube channel, so I couldn’t implement Mr. Cannell’s suggestions right away, but the videos did give me ideas for how to successfully add a visual component to my blog at a later time.

Initial Conclusion

Mr. Cannell’s checklist had lots of great ideas that were consistent with the style and techniques I see on the most popular, monetized sites that I watch on YouTube. If your medium of choice is YouTube, I recommend completing the checklist. However, the course costs a pretty chunk of change, so I personally would do as much analyzation of my competitor’s sites as I could before I used my credit card. That said, one of the groups I will be reviewing next week started their success with his course, so it may be worth completing if you are looking for rapid results and can rationalize the investment.

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Review: “Don’t Keep Your Day Job”

I sat on our couch and scrolled through Upwork one more time. Nothing. No jobs that appealed to me, nothing that utilized my knowledge and skills, nothing that was going to start bringing me worthwhile income. I only had 18 more “credits,” which equated with about 4 more tries to get hired, before I had to pay to apply for jobs, and I was starting to feel hopeless. I would have looked up jobs in my little town, but I already knew that Hardee’s and Dollar General were the only ones hiring, and I didn’t look forward to living in fast food grease or storeroom dust.

So, I prayed. “Lord, I have no clue what to do!” I don’t know where it came from, but my blog came to mind. Alright, so I would focus on my blog. But what on earth would I write about? I was no health and fitness guru – I barely convince myself to do one 25 minute yoga video every morning, and my brother will inform you that creating new recipes is not one of my strong suits after he ate my creations every weekend for a year in college. I was no finance wizard – I spent AP Macroeconomics in the floor next to my dad’s computer so I could ask him what all these crazy terms like “supply side economics” meant. (I’m pretty sure that’s the only economic term I somewhat retained.) In other words, I was useless at all the commonly recognized “money-making” niches.

That’s where Facebook came in. Somewhere between another “RIP Fall” meme and a picture of someone’s overseas adventure, I saw a personality quiz by Cathy Heller at Don’t Keep Your Day Job. “What is your creative archetype?” At this point, I thought, what could it hurt? So I took the quiz, put in my email, and waited for the results.

“Investigator!” The email exclaimed. “You’d love nothing more than to get paid to research and dissect this subject all day long.

That was pretty true. As the Facebook ads started pouring in, I decided to do a little investigating, and I thought Mrs. Heller’s creative site was a good place to start.

The Pros

  • Perhaps most importantly when it comes to these courses and communities, Mrs. Heller is incredibly positive and encouraging. It is easy to engage with her sweet and optimistic style of writing. On top of that, she has a slew of fascinating podcasts that I look forward to consuming in the next few weeks.
  • The archetypes are a really neat way of looking at personality and interests as inspiration. It also helped me figure out the appropriate media outlets that would be best for the content I wanted to create.
  • Since the course is by email, it doesn’t take a lot of time to digest. If nothing else, the quiz is definitely worth trying for the fun of it! In addition to being a fun thought exercise, the follow up emails are engaging and give even more free content. In the third email I received, Mrs. Heller did promote her latest book, but she incorporated the promotion so well into the rest of the content and encouragement that it felt very natural.

The Cons

  • The quiz was a bit obvious, although I did cheat in a way by reading through the comments before taking the quiz. I could see the different archetypes fairly easily in each quiz answer, and even in the first question I could tell what my archetype would be.
  • The course doesn’t have much life-changing content in terms of actionable steps. For example, in the first email I received, one of the quiz questions (“Which action most appeals to you,”) became the implementation suggestion later (“Get sponsors for your blog, podcast, or YouTube channel / video series.”) However, if you are interested in podcasts, she sends you a really great “Podcast Checklist” to help you get started.
All the color-coded notes…
My heart is happy!

What I tried

  • This quiz sparked the idea for reviewing self-help courses with my blog, so I have to give Mrs. Heller a great big THANK YOU for that!
  • I’m still debating whether or not to add a podcast or Youtube element to my blog, and her Podcast Checklist will be super helpful if I do!

Initial conclusion

After reading through the emails and perusing the content on Don’t Keep Your Day Job‘s Facebook page, I recommend completing the quiz and digging through the content on the site. It may not dramatically change your business, but it could spark an idea when you are stuck. At the very least, the encouragement and optimism in the emails and posts are a great pick-me-up when you’re feeling discouraged.

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So Many Facebook Ads…

The instant I made writing-focused social media accounts and posted the word “blog,” my Facebook and Instagram feeds have been inundated with personality quizzes, entrepreneurial advice, and get-rich-quick promises. It probably wouldn’t be so bad if I hadn’t clicked on this one seemingly harmless little ad to discover my creative archetype. The quiz was fairly simple, and since I had read through other people’s comments with their quiz results, I could figure out which archetype I was going to be within the first question. My instinct was correct.

Email from Cathy Heller with Don’t Keep Your Day Job

Investigator. Hmm. Now, what on earth could I do with that?

I finished reading the email, reopened the Facebook app, and BAM! Suddenly every third post on my feed was a self-help ad. “Join my Masterclass!” “Free webinar!” “Five Things You Need to Know FREE in Your Inbox, No Catch!”

Surely there couldn’t be that many consultants on the internet, right?

I was very, very wrong.

So I decided to use this little “investigator” talent of mine to figure out which of these webinars, email courses, and checklists are actually worth your time and which ones should really go in the Internet dump heap.

Even the cat wants to help…

Today, I declare myself your designated tester of boring self-help webinars. I’ve started testing five programs already today, and I can’t wait to share the results with you every week. Let me know if there are any freebies you want me to review, and connect with me on social media so we can discuss the pros and cons of each technique!

Thanks for reading, y’all! Have a happy Friday!