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Badass Is The New Black (Season 3) Episode #8: Tried-And-True Tips For Less Stressful Content Creation With John Harder

branding photographer branding strategy content creation finding ideal clients marketing your brand standing out of the competition Mar 13, 2022
BNB 8 | Branding Photographer

You know that moment when you are desperately trying to find an image to share on social media and feeling stressed about what to post next? Today, branding photographer John Harder, Krissy Chin’s guest, has some tried-and-true tips to make content creation less stressful. He also shares a hack with how to find new ideal clients on social media in under an hour a week (You are going to be kicking yourself for not thinking of this GENIUS strategy before)! John also shares tips for capturing your personality in your photos that will be perfect for marketing your brand. Get ready to be inspired to STRIKE a POSE! 

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Tried-And-True Tips For Less Stressful Content Creation With John Harder

Branding Photographer

You know that moment when you're desperately trying to find an image to share on social media and you're feeling stressed about what to post next. My guest has some tried and true tips to make content creation a whole lot less stressful. He also shares a hack with how to find new ideal clients on social media in under an hour a week. You are going to be kicking yourself for not thinking of this genius strategy before. He's sharing tips on how to capture your personality in your photos that will be perfect for marketing your brand. Get ready to be inspired and strike a pose.

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Let’s welcome John Harder to the show. John is a branding photographer working with brands to showcase their business in a way that makes them stand out from their competition, which is exactly what I am all about. I’m helping you stand out in this noisy world so it only made sense that I brought John on the show to pick his brain and have him share some juicy content for us about branding and keep being consistent in your brands. I'm super excited to dive in. Thank you, John, for being here with us.

 Thank you for having me.

John, you're a multi-passionate entrepreneur. You're a brand photographer, you have your own podcast, and you launched a T-shirt brand. I'd love for you to share with the readers how you got here. Has this always been your dream?

It's been an interesting story arc, you could say. I would say it comes from my family. All of us are entrepreneurs in our own way. Both of my parents had their own businesses after they worked their 9:00 to 5:00 jobs, they had their own so it's probably hardwired into me, as far as the business aspect goes. Photography was my first venture out of all the things that you mentioned. In college, I didn't know what I wanted to do. I was sitting in the admissions looking at the book and didn't know what to pick. In the last semester of my last year, I picked a photography class and by the end of the semester, I was in love with it. I jumped in and that's been years of photography. The other things are like what you said, I love creativity, ideas and not everything always fits in one category. I try to let them live within their own right. That’s why I have a T-shirt company and a podcast. For me, they all work together, because they're all entrepreneurial and business-minded. That's where that comes from.

You said that the last semester of your last year was when you were like, “Let's try this photography class.” What was it that made you think of that or want to try it out?

I've always had a camera. I've always liked taking pictures. I always had a disposable camera, if you're old enough to know what those are. I took them on every vacation and everything. I always enjoyed it. I never thought it would be a profession. A friend of mine was teaching the class. She was the photographer for the school so she was teaching the class. I thought that I needed extra credit and it'd be fun. I use my point shoot camera. I didn't fall in love with it at the beginning not because I wasn't taking it seriously but I wasn't using everything to the best of my knowledge to be good at it. I was trying to meet the requirements. As soon as they gave me a professional camera to use, started playing with the settings and being more intentional with what I was shooting. I was like, “This could be a thing.” It went quickly from, “Maybe I'll do this as a hobby,” to, “Maybe I'll do this for a living.”

Has that been a personality? Maybe it's something that your family with the entrepreneurial background, the openness to explore different things. Has that always been a thing for you or was that newer?

Challenge yourself. Do something that wasn't for pay due.

For me, I would say yes. I've always wanted to explore things. As far as sticking with photography, I knew that was the thing when I didn't get tired of it. Yes, I've been interested in a lot of different things but it’s like, “I'll move on from it and find something new that I love.” Over the years, I was always waiting for the excitement to wear off and it never did. That’s why I stuck with it.

That resonates with me because I always imagine, “If I were in corporate, I'd be the one to start the project,” and be like, “Okay team. Go.” I always get sick of things. I was a nurse before. I would hop jobs, “Let's move to a different state. Let's move to a different floor. Let's move to a different type of patient that I'm working with.” I was always searching for something more. Once entrepreneurship started, it was like, “I'm not getting sick of this. This is fun and ongoing.” I love that’s what did it for you and you're like, “I'm not getting tired of this. This is fun for me or I'm loving learning more.” That was your sign to continue to build that brand and that business.

With entrepreneurship, it's hard, no matter what you choose. You have to put in the work, love what you do, be intentional, and know when you're not motivated that you still have to work. For me, I knew that on those depressing days are the days where I'm like, “I don't have clients. I don't know what my next shoot is.” I could still look at people's work or something and remember why I loved it in the first place, which to me was a sign. It's still worth going after if you still enjoy it.

That's powerful. Readers think about that. On the bad days, on the dark days, or on the days where you're like, “What am I doing? Why am I doing this?” It’s the ability to look back for you. Was it looking back at photographs of people that you've worked with and projects that you'd worked on? Was that what you would do? You would look at those and that would re-inspire you in terms of, “I remember what I did for them there and that refueled you.”

It was twofold. I would go to photographers that I had a lot of respect for and loved their work. I would look at new work of theirs or stuff that I hadn't seen. I'd look at it and think, “How did they do that? Why do I like it?” That was one thing that I did to keep that curiosity going. The other side of it was that I would challenge myself. Do something that wasn't for pay due, say shoot something that incorporates light or incorporates nature, or that tells the story. It’s something that I wasn't used to shooting or hadn't been in a long time, or I tried a technique that I hadn't tried before. That helps you. When you're doing the same thing over and over you, it either gets frustrating or boring, depending on the outcome. For me, I was like, “I'm going to try something new,” and it did, it would make me excited again to try new things. That's cool.

I love that you look to others, who were maybe at the point where you wanted to grow and use that for inspiration and not disappointment or discouragement. That's where a lot of people can get stopped up when they're feeling down and out. They're looking to these people that have pushed through the hard work and know their own hard days and gotten to this level of success that maybe you, as a reader, are wanting and instead of looking at that as, “I'm never going to get there,” they are doing something right, they got lucky, all this stuff. You looked at it and you were like, “That's inspiring to me. How did they do that?” You let it fuel your curiosity. I find that is a huge strength.

I will say it's the case with everyone that it happens. There's always going to be someone better than you. There's always going to be that person that has the thing that you want. That has happened and that's been the case. It's important to go in and be honest with yourself. Don't over-consume. Only look at one thing or go in with the intention of, “I'm going to do this for inspiration and not for comparison,” because you can go in with the wrong mindset and consume. No matter how good you are, there's always going to be someone better, your standards are going to change so you're going to look at new people. The potential for that feeling never goes away. I'm being intentional when you're looking at things, why are you looking at them?

I wrote that down. Go in with the mindset that you're looking at this for inspiration, not comparison. It’s so powerful. Let's move on from that. We're going to get into some tips for photography, showing up for your audience, and being consistent. Before we dive into that, I’d love to find out from different entrepreneurs, what is one system or process that you've implemented into the business that has made it a game-changer for you?

I tried a lot of different things as far as the online email systems and all of these things. I'm not wired that way. I'm more relational. I like talking to people and meeting new people. For me, if I can apply a process in that sense, that's going to be more effective for me. It's good to know what is effective for your personality type. I had a friend who was also a business coach. She suggested going on to Facebook. If you scroll down every once in a while, you'll pop up in your feed, it'll say suggested friends, which means that Facebook is going to pick people that they think you will want to be friends with based on your interest and your friends already and everything.

 

I went through there and I started looking at the suggested friends. I started to look at who they are friends with? What do they do? What's their business? What are their interests? I started searching for people that all of those things aligned with the thing that I wanted my customer to have and what they wanted from me. The more you do that, the more Facebook is going to suggest similar people to those people. You can trick the algorithm a little bit to play in your favor. I'm not a big Facebook guy for personal reasons so I thought, “Let's see if I can build my business with this.” I created a script to send them a message afterward to follow up with them. I'm a little cautious with scripts because you don't want it to make it too generic that they feel it's a sales pitch.

I wrote a script that I could manipulate and fill in stuff about them. I go look at their profile, look at what they're interested in and be like, “I noticed you did this,” and pick a reason why that connects with you. I have found that the more people that you reach out to the lower the percentages, but at least half the people who will respond to me, even if it doesn't go anywhere, as far as a business will like the fact that I reached out. People like being connected with and people like to know that someone's interested in what they're doing. It's led to me getting jobs that otherwise I wouldn't because you don't put yourself out there. People don't know what you do and they're not going to find you. Making those connections has been huge. For me making more connections, especially now we can't get out and meet people as much but you have a captive audience. They're always online.

How much time do you spend a week doing that?

It's not as time-intensive as people think. Honestly, I wouldn't even say I dedicate a specific time to it. I will every once a while get on there and I'll look and see and go through a few people. See if any of these people connect with what I'm looking for. I have that script saved in my notes. I'll copy and paste it into a message maybe a couple of hours later or the next day. In fact, I did that so I have some people that I need to message. You can spend less than an hour doing that and connecting with ten new people every day and that adds up.

Sale, it’s a numbers game. The more people you get in front of, the higher the chances are that you're going to get a client and all of that. I'm here thinking, “Could a VA do that? Can I automate that process?” Is that something that you do? Do you have a VA to do it? If you don't, do you think that you could train a VA well enough to take over that task and be like, “Do this 1 or 2 times an hour a week?”

I typically do it myself. I do have an intern that I sent him that script. The only thing is that it's going to look more personal if it comes from your personal account. You can create one for a VA if they have access to your Facebook account at least to make the connections. If they say, “This is going to go somewhere,” say, “This is someone that you need to be in touch with.” Otherwise, some people will say, “Hi, thanks, or I like it,” and move on. That’s fine. There's nothing wrong with that. You can definitely pass that on and or make it unique to them by saying, “I'm working with this person. I'm always looking for cool people for them to meet. I like what you're doing and thought I’d connect you guys.” For those genuine connections, people respond to that way more than a pitch.

I have a VA that will log in and do it. If people are trying to access this group, they answer questions and then I have certain responses that they get. She's logging in and doing those, but then when they respond, I'm able to then communicate if I have time and want to or find value in that. You certainly could. That it's cool. If you don't feel it's genuine or with your integrity that you want someone basically pretending to be you doing the work and I know some people don't like to do that but I do like what you recommended. Maybe it's a different account, Team John, Team Krissy, or whatever. They're reaching out and being honest, “I'm always looking for cool people to connect with. Your profile stopped me and I was excited about what I saw and you guys would connect. Can I connect you?” That's genuine, authentic, and gets a good response.

If you have that script like the script I wrote, they may be sending it on my behalf but it's still my words and my connection. They're being able to sift through who's interested in connecting.

I'm going to have to start doing it. I steal a lot of things from John.

Do things for inspiration, not for comparison, because you can go in with the wrong mindset and over-consume.

It’s my pleasure to pass them on.

John, I may have stolen your whole little platform that you use when people come to your podcast. You give him all the information and he’s like, “That's perfect. Steal it, make it your own, and do whatever.” He was happy. Let's get into some personal branding. First, I want to pick your brain a little bit about photography. I know this is huge with entrepreneurs out there who are either getting started, rebranding, venturing off doing new things, getting serious about their website, and how they offer things.

Photography is a big piece on that visual to get people to connect with you right away. One of my own personal questions that I have is, in a lot of our service base, we're building personal brands. Even if you're selling a product or service there's such a big part of you, which is why you picked that product or service that you want to showcase and the tribe that you want to attract. How do you as the photographer, the professional, on the other end, capture or recommend to other entrepreneurs? How do we capture our brand and personality in photos and how important is that for your website?

I will try to make a bigger picture concise, but the way I look at it is we want to talk about our business without selling it. You want to share it in a story form, especially for people that have a more personal business. If you're not working for a company or something like that and it’s only you, to make it personal to you people will connect with you more. When I look at that from a photo standpoint, let's say it's a product, how do you use your products? Do you have a testimony for that product? Personally, do you use it in a way that's unconventional? For all these different things, there's a story behind it. I reverse engineer that on how I'm going to shoot it. Do I use it in food? If so, set up something in the kitchen and use it there. Do I use it with my kids? Take a photo with your kids and talk about how you use that there. It depends on where you're at in your business.

For people that are new, or starting out, don't have a budget, they can do it themselves because the story is going to be what elevates those photos and gets people interested. If you're at the next level, and you want to elevate your brand, I recommend hiring a photographer. I'm not saying that because I'm one but I also do that for my own business. I have someone that shoots my photos. I show me working, what I shoot, how I shoot it, and all these different ways. That story behind it is going to make people interested.

It’s not saying, “I sell photos, I sell oils, I sell this.” Everybody sells that. They want to know why it's going to benefit them. That's how I approach it visually even, which seems backwards to a lot of people because they're thinking about photos. They're not thinking about the story behind the photos. If I don't know why I'm doing something, I don't know what to shoot. That goes for my business too. If I don't know what message I'm trying to send someone, I don't know what I'm going to shoot. It's getting clear on those things. That's from the story standpoint. I can go into more detail from the actual on what to shoot, but that's how I start the process.

When you're working with someone, let's say I can't come to you and I'm like, “I want to revamp the images on my website. I want you to take all those pictures.” Is there a process or something that you would take me through to discover what would make sense?

Yeah. I do two things. I have a Define Your Brand Worksheet. That’s a worksheet that I have people go through and it helps them and me if I'm working with them, get an idea of what their brand is. Sometimes people will think they know until they write it down. They're like, “I don't want to do that.” “I like what this is doing but I'm not doing any of that.” Why not? I have them go through this worksheet. What social media platforms do you follow and love that are in your industry? What websites connect with you? What photos inspire you and get you excited?

That’s where I start and that helps me if I'm working with them to know how to capture that. It also helps them get clearer on their vision. That’s where I start and go in with a checklist. It could be either because people have access to this from me even if they're not working for me, but a checklist of ideas of shots. It’s like me with the business partner, me with my family, me with my computer, if I work remotely, or my phone if I can do my business from my phone. They can start saying, “This makes sense for my business. I need photos of this because I can say I'm doing a Facebook Live or do you want to operate a business from your phone.” You can do that and they have a shot of them holding their phone. That’s where I start. It’s getting clear on your brand and getting clear on images that make sense for you.

 

Clarity on your brand and clarity on the intention of what the images are going to be used for. Is it your About You page? Is it a sales page for a course you have or a product you have? It’s getting a lot of clarity on that. Would you recommend that people put together a Pinterest board or something of a collection of photos that they like and that could be an easy pass on to say, “Here's a bunch of images or things that inspire me and I love the vibe of that?”

If someone's working with a photographer, I definitely want them to be realistic about it, though. It’s because something looks good, makes sense, and is appealing to someone's brand doesn't mean it's going to fit yours. I am clear. I do that a lot with people to use Pinterest boards, but I'm clear with this as inspiration, not a duplication. We're not going to recreate these photos. It doesn't mean that you can't. I have, in many circumstances tried to duplicate a photo with different people, and it doesn't work.

There's no rhyme or reason. It's someone who doesn't look the same, doing the same thing, or they don't have the same personality. It's important to be like, “I like the story they're telling or how they're using this product.” You can get ideas that way but still understanding that your brand is unique to you. I like that as a visual if that helps people, but also writing down and being specific on paper on what you want.

I was picturing, “I love this cute laughing girl.” You're trying to do the cute laughing face and it looks hideous. It’s not working.

Everybody's different and that's the beauty of it, though. That means every business is different. That means someone can be doing the same thing as you, but they don't do it like you. It’s the same thing with photography. Just because someone looks good doing one thing doesn't mean they look good, doing another thing and vice versa. That means each one of us is unique, which means each one of us is important, even if we're doing the same thing as someone else doing.

Part of my brand is being lively, fun, and not taking myself so seriously. When I'm in a photoshoot, I'm instructing the photographer, “The things in between,” the post positions of me holding my microphone, that's when you need to be on, “Take the pictures of me goofing off being funny because it translates a lot better for me than trying to be goofy or funny. That's when you're getting the real Krissy and that's what I want to portray. You're here to take the pictures of the in-between stuff and not the post stuff.” That is not something that I figured out through trial and error and what I've looked through what I like and don't like. It’s like, “I love this cute little random one that you took. Let's do more of that.”

That's smart that you recognize that because a lot of people don't know that. Hopefully, if a photographer is good at what they do, they know that. You can pose someone, but it's always going to look posed if they're posed. I usually will say something stupid or unfortunately, make them feel awkward. When they laugh at themselves, I’m like, “We're going to do a laughing shot,” and we make a stupid laugh and it makes them laugh. Those in-between moments are going to capture a person's real personality.

Great tips. If you're looking to upgrade your photography, if you've done your own images, and you're getting a professional photographer, those are great tips to lead you in the direction of having a good shoot. The last thing you want to do is to spend $00 to $500 or plus, on a branding shoot and you're like, “I hate all of these pictures. They don't portray me or my brand at all.” I love some of those tips. Send people in the right direction when they're going to invest the time and the money into photos. Photos are important for your brand so they're worth investing in for sure.

Absolutely.

People respond to genuine connections way more than a pitch.

Let's talk a little bit about showing up for your auto audience. I know that you're going to schedule content ahead and be consistent. That's something we all struggle with and I know there are times where we're good and we fall off the wagon. I'd love to hear some of your tips and tricks for being able to stay consistent and show up for your audience in a way that's authentic and good.

Going back a little bit, I look at two different things. I look at the photo and I look at the story. Telling the stories is to sell our business without feeling salesy and finding the photos that we can do that. I had someone tell me once, “Find the things in your life that are real things that you do every day.” For me, I love coffee so taking shots of coffee. Even though I'm a photographer, I want to incorporate, especially in social media, the things that are real to my life. It can be your workspace, or it could be what you do every day. To take pictures of these things I use a platform called Planoly. I know that there are several others out there that you can use that are scheduling apps. You upload all your photos, and for me, I will batch them in the sense that I will schedule them out because it can be a daunting task to be posting all the time. I know to a lot of people that it can feel like a second job and we already have a job.

A lot of people don't show up for the business because they're overwhelmed by it but the way that I look at it is to take a day and schedule a timeout. For me, I'm not always great at it, but I know what works for me and what causes me less stress. If you don't want every day to feel panics that you don't have something to post, then it's going to make sense that for once a week you would schedule it out for the week. In Planoly, you can write out a caption there. You can add your hashtags, location, everything, and you can have it auto-post for you. For an entire week, month, or however long you want to post those, you don't have to think about it and it's being uploaded.

That’s how I stay active. It’s planning ahead, having those photos, and scheduling out content. It’s the same thing with Facebook. If you're a big Facebook user, Facebook has a scheduling feature. Instead of hitting Post Now you can schedule things to post at a certain time. It makes it a little easier and it makes it feel like a task that you're doing for the day instead of the pressure that you have to do something every day. For those photos, if you're at a place where you want to elevate your business, look at doing a quarterly photoshoot so every season, you have a group of photos that you can post, plan those out and you will have that ahead of time. It'll feel like something that you're doing for your business versus a pressure that you have to do this and you're failing when you don't. It's how you approach it. That's how I show up for my audience every day.

I love the plan ahead. I heard you say that. Plan and go figure that app or platform is called Planoly. Planning ahead is such a great way to be consistent. That was like the podcast. I was drowning, trying to keep up with content and I was like, “I’ve got to figure out a new solution.” It was like, “Pause, plan ahead, and batch record so I can bring amazing content,” and it's a smooth ride. It might take a little bit to get in that groove of figuring it out when I do it and shifting how you've done it before to this new planning.

Maybe you're not a planner like me but it’s planning ahead. I love that. Schedule quarterly shoots. You're going to need new content. Get it all done in one and take multiple outfits. If you're not exactly sure what your content is because you don't have it planned out, do some different emotional phases. Let's do some happy, serious, and excited celebration. You’re going to launch something, you're going to have a sale or who knows. You can capture all that in one. I love that tip of making it a priority to plan ahead and batch create. If you are here to build a powerful brand and business but still live the life that you want, you need to have that freedom where you're not racing against deadlines because it’s death to the joy in your life.

For sure.

I love those tips. That was awesome. You've got a freebie for us. Do you want to tell us what the freebie is?

I have a couple. If you go to my Instagram, there's a link there and you can open it up. I have presets so if you're not a photographer and you don't know how to edit your photos, there's a couple on there that you can download to your phone and you can edit your photos that way. It also has the Define Your Brand Worksheet that you can go in and download that if it helps you get clear on your brand. You can download that there. My Instagram handle is @John_Harder and if you click on the link in my bio, it'll take you there.

 

What are there any big things that you're working on that are coming up or something that you're excited about in one of your brands now?

There are a couple of things that I'm working on. In my podcast as well, I'm always looking at interviewing people like you, people that have succeeded in driving their business and that are trying to make that happen. My podcast is Define Your Brand Podcast and that is people defining what their brand is to them so I'm constantly uploading those. As far as my personal business, I've been doing remote photoshoots, especially now.

It's been hard for some people to do that in person. If people don't need to be the face of their brand, they can hire me and say, “This is what I'm looking for. These are the types of stock images I'd like to post.” Especially for Instagram or their website, if they don't need to be the face of the brand, I can shoot that at my house, upload a gallery for them, and they can download it there for themselves. That’s what I'm doing with my photography business. I know we didn't talk about it much but I do have my T-shirt business where I've launched an affiliate program. If people want to share a link and earn some money, by sharing a link and a promo code for them, they're welcome to do that and I can send you the link for that website as well.

My audience knows affiliate marketing well. They get it. Why not? If you're sharing the things that you love, or the things that you think are cool and that inspire you, why not help put food on your table for that. We love it. I've got a little game if you're up to play. We're going to do it. It's super quick before we go. It's I'm like a Would You Rather, This or That or Rapid Fire. I'm going to list some things and you’ve got to tell me which one is more you. I'm not going to say tea or coffee anymore, because you said you're a coffee drinker so it is going to be something else, but you can always pick something else. I take tequila shots in the morning to wake me up, not a cup of coffee. Are you ready?

As ready as I'm going to be.

Books or podcasts?

Podcasts.

What's the podcast that you're listening to now?

I used to go to all business podcasts so Jasmine Star and James Wedmore have amazing podcasts but I also like funny ones to give me a break from the business so there's one called This Might Get Weird. There are some funny ones that give me a break.

Everybody is selling something. People want to know why it's going to benefit them.

Cool. I'm going to check out This Might Get Weird because I was looking at my podcast and I was like, “I'm so tired of consuming.” I want to check that one out for sure. A phone call or text messages? How do you prefer to communicate?

It’s a terrible answer but it depends on what needs to be communicated. If it's a fast answer, text me. If it's a long, “I don't need to be going back and forth via text,” I should pick up the phone and solve the problem.

You're not averse to phone calls even though having to text these days.

It's funny because it was to only text me. I don't want to call but if something needs to be solved and it’s taking too long, call me.

Phone calls are still effective in communication. Don't be afraid to pick up the phone.

Time management too.

Are you a movie guy or a TV series guy?

I'd say more movies.

Do you have a favorite movie?

 

I hate to be a nerd. I'm not a nerdy guy but I love Harry Potter. I grew up on all the Avenger movies and action.

Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?

Dark, 100%. Not 100% dark chocolate.

iPhone camera or fancy camera?

The camera that you have with you.

I love that you're not picking either of those. Last but not least, a big party or small gathering?

Small.

If I would had channeled you through this podcast, I would have pegged you for a small gathering guy.

I love people but I don't love small talk. I love getting to know people so the more people the less time you have to spend with them so small gatherings.

I love it. John, thank you for being here. We'll share all of Instagram, Facebook, and your podcast link. Until next time readers. Remember to channel your inner badass and take imperfect action every single day. Thanks, John.

Thank you.

 Important Links:

About John Harder 

About John Harder 

John is a branding photographer, working with brands to showcase their business in a way that makes them stand out from their competition.
 
Which is EXACTLY what I am all about. Helping you STAND OUT in this noisy world!

 

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