Exactly How I Create GIFs for My Blog and Social Media

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Y’know what I love? Attention-grabbing graphic design. And there’s nothing more fun than seeing a well-designed animated GIF grace my social feed. So whether you pronounce it like the peanut butter brand or like “gift” without the T, I’m sharing exactly how I create animated GIFs for my blog and social media content.

You’ll be creating engaging GIFs in no time, friend! I’m sharing how to make a 5-frame stylized GIF with the message, “like a boss” as a quick example of how easy GIF design can be. Once you’re comfortable with creating simple animations, I encourage you to get creative and come up with more intricate designs with complex animations!

What you’ll need:

• Photo editing or design program of your choice (I prefer Photoshop)
• Web browser of your choice  
• 20-30 minutes for design and prep

1. Create your design template in Photoshop

Most GIFs work great as a square, which you can repurpose across multiple social media channels. When creating your design template, keep resolution in mind - I typically size mine 2000px x 2000px.

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2. Add a colored background

Once you’ve determined your color palette, add a background fill to your template, as well as any textures you’d like to incorporate into your design.

3. Add text overlay

Choose a font that you love, and add in the first piece of your text overlay. In this instance, my first word will be “like.”

4. Save down Frame 1

Congrats, gal! You just completed the first frame of your soon-to-be-amazing GIF. Save down this first frame as a JPG or PNG.

5. Repeat steps 1-4

But this time, you’ll be inserting the word, “a,” in this instance.

6. Repeat steps 1-4, again

This time, you’ll be inserting the word “boss,” in this instance.

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7. Add some fun animation for emphasis!

Now’s the time to have some fun with a little dash of color of texture to add additional animation to your GIF. In this instance, I’ve changed the text color of "boss" to flash in and out. Save down this frame.

8. Save down your last frame without emphasis added

Last, save down a prior version of your last frame without the emphasis brushstroke as the final frame of your GIF. Now, it’s time to merge these into a real GIF file!

9. Visit gifcreator.me to make your GIF official

I love this site and how helpful it is in creating GIFs! The best part? It’s quick and free to use. Follow the site’s instructions step-by-step and upload each frame of your GIF in the order that you’d like for them to display. From there, adjust the speed of your GIF and whether or not you’d like for the animation to be on an infinite loop. Once complete, click “Create Animation.”

10. Congrats, you made a GIF!

...and isn’t it so fun to watch? Your GIF is ready to upload for your blog. But one more step if you’d like to use it on Facebook and Instagram…

11. Visit ezgif.com to convert your GIF file to an MP4

Unfortunately, Facebook and Instagram don’t yet allow for GIF files to animate when posted on their platforms. Thankfully, there’s an easy workaround for this! Upload your GIF HERE on ezgif.com (I know, the name is funny!), and easily convert the file to an MP4 video. Once you have your file, save it down and email to yourself as an attachment so that you can save down easily on mobile.

And there you have it - the quick 11 steps that I take to create fun animated GIFs for myself and my clients to use on their blogs, websites and social media feeds. I even created the header image for this post this way!

Tell me: how will using GIFs help you differentiate and step up your social media strategy? I’d love to know how in the comments below!

Why It's Time to Step Up Your Side Hustle

Why It's Time to Step Up Your Side Hustle

I can’t remember a time in my life when I haven’t had a side hustle to tend to. Looking back, my passion for having a service offering of my own to grow and mold began in early high school when I got my first DSLR camera. I started working with my peers on photoshoots and even earned some great summer money ($50 a shoot, hollaaa!) shooting senior portraits. In college, my freelance writing gigs took off, and then my first blog bloomed into something larger than I ever could have imagined.

And now I’m here. Running and growing my blog, design and social media offerings one client at a time. I’m 10 years deep in the side hustle game, and leaving my 9-to-5 only to plop down at my home desk to work on “my” work feels so natural.

But lately, I’ve been wrestling with the question of what’s next for me. Each passing day it seems like one of my fellow side-hustling comrades crosses the line from side hustle to full-time entrepreneurship (party time!), and I can’t help but wonder when my time will come.

Is the same true for you?

If I’ve learned one thing, it’s that there’s no time to wallow and wish - there’s only time to take action! Because as side hustlers, we know better than anyone that time is of the essence and we’ve got to spend it wisely if we really want our businesses to flourish.

If you’ve been struggling with how to take the next step in your side hustle after years of maintaining business as usual, this one’s for you, friend. I’ve made a list of these intentional steps not only to help you, but to also hold myself accountable - I’m following these steps, too!

Set up office hours, stat.

If you haven’t set office hours for your side hustle yet, I encourage you to take out your planner right now! Alright - got your pen in hand? I’d like for you to choose three business days that work best for you to fully, 100%, no-interruptions tend to your side hustle, and pencil in office hours for those days. For me, this looks like 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. And you know what? I get more accomplished for myself and for clients in those three hours each week than I ever did before I set up office hours. P.S. Sometimes office hours look like me sitting at my desk, and other times they look like me on the couch, working away with my pup on my lap. There’s no magic method: work where you’re most productive!

Do a check-up of your brand.

When’s the last time you polished up your logo or updated your website? Do you have a website? How about those pesky business cards? Who even is your brand’s target market anymore? It’s time to ask yourself these questions and invest where attention is needed. My recent rebrand opened my eyes to a ton of places where my side hustle was lacking in personality and uniqueness, and I was able to optimize those areas of my website and social media channels accordingly. A new logo, color palette and tone of voice can work wonders for your brand!

I know you’ve been avoiding contracts, but…

Or maybe that’s just me! Regardless, having contracts in place for your side hustle is key. I know - I too once believed that because my business was “just a side hustle,” I could avoid going through the work of setting up contracts with legally binding verbiage. But that’s just not true. One of the biggest steps that you can take to legitimize your business is by getting client contracts, a website disclaimer and proper business documentation (hello, LLC!) in place. Not only that, but it will end up protecting you in the long run. I recommend first researching creative contract formats to get familiar with the verbiage that you will need included in your contract, and checking out this helpful read from 99U on a few important creative provisions to include in your contracts. You’ll feel like a legal-ese pro in no time.

Get connected and serve others well.

This is the biggest one for me. It takes a village to build a business community, and if you’re not yet plugged into a mastermind or creative brainstorm group – why not? Now more than ever, we’re just clicks away from meeting new business friends thanks to Instagram pods, Facebook groups, online course groups and more. If you haven’t checked out my recent blog on the Facebook groups that creative entrepreneurs must join, you should check it out and choose one group to invest in. I challenge you to comment consistently for one week and see what magic happens for you! Serve others well by providing comments that add value and will help grow their business. I’m huge on giving more than receiving – it always comes full circle.

How are you going to commit to stepping up your side hustle? Comment below with the first step you’re going to take to step up your side hustle this week. I’m cheering you on!

A Creative Minute: Jacoby Andrick of Jacoby Photo + Design

Jacoby Andrick of Jacoby Photo + Design

First things first: I'm so excited to be kicking of my new blog series, A Creative Minute..., today! In the past I featured hundreds of amazing PR and media professionals on my former blog, and I'm so glad that I've found a way to incorporate these inspirational slices of life into my current blog now.

I didn't want to kick off this series with anyone else other than my St. Louis-based friend and incredible wedding photographer: Jacoby Andrick of Jacoby Photo + Design. I first met Jacoby around this time last year when my husband Paul and I got engaged and were on the hunt for an engagement photo photographer. We both knew that we wanted to work with someone who had a great eye for aesthetics and had a portfolio full of non-cookie cutter imagery. As soon as I stumbled upon Jacoby's Instagram feed, I knew that we had to work with her, and the rest is history!

I welcome you to learn more about Jacoby's journey as a business owner, photographer and creative below. For aspiring entrepreneurs and photographers alike, I know that Jacoby's advice will encourage you to take the next step in your creative endeavors.

Q: Share a bit of your story with us: what events in your life led to you pursuing a career in photography, and what recently brought you, your husband and your two adorable pups to St. Louis?

A: For me, there’s a lot of little moments before I realized that photography was the path I wanted to take. I remember getting my first Canon point-and-shoot camera when I was in middle school, and I’d get all of my girlfriends dressed up and make them model for me. I’d then spend hours editing photos with who-knows-what photo software and upload them to MySpace. Ha!

It wasn’t until my own senior photos that I thought to myself, “Wow, this thing that I love to do most is an actual career?” After that moment, I pursued photography and the entrepreneurial spirit when I was just in high school. Since then, I’ve traded in my point and shoot camera for a DSLR camera and an array of lenses and photo shoots with my friends to spending Saturdays with rad couples.

One year ago, life brought my husband Macklin (and our array of fur children!) and my photography business to St. Louis. After spending a couple of years in Nashville, the desire to be closer to our family and friends was weighing on my heart. Born and raised in Central Illinois, Nashville was far away from some of my favorite people in the world and many of my clients.

There’s a Chevy Chase quote that I love that says, “there’s a force in the universe that makes things happen. And all you have to do is get in touch with it, stop thinking, let things happen, and be the ball.” Let’s just say that the universe’s force was pulling me to St. Louis, I decided to be the ball, and it ended up being the best decision. Since moving here, we’ve bought a house, met friends, and have really seen my business take off.

Q: I always have to ask! What does your workday routine and workflow look like, and how do you manage to work productively from home while running your business?

A: Every morning when I sit down at my desk, and yes while sometimes wearing my pajamas, I get a piece of paper and write down all of my tasks that I want to accomplish for the day. The power of crossing things off a list keeps me motivated while working from home. No day ever really looks the same, and that’s why I love owning my business.

Working from home is something one has to get used to. It’s totally easy to stay in the pajamas, feel guilt if you’re not as productive as you feel you should be, and get lonely (my dogs and cat are my co-workers). After two years of working from home, I’ve found that regular exercise, getting fresh air, and having somewhere to go each day really helps productivity when it’s time to be a girlboss.

Q: One thing that I love about your business is the fact that you personalize every part of the client experience - even after the wedding is over. How did you formulate your own client experience, and how do you think this level of personalization has impacted your business?

A: I genuinely want to be connected with my clients before, during, and after their wedding day. I want to be more than just another wedding vendor — I truly want to be a friend. One of my love languages is gift giving, so it’s only natural that I want to spoil the heck out of my clients and make them feel special, as they should!

In my business, my motto is “treat those how you’d like to be treated.” As a recent bride myself, I saw firsthand how some vendors treat couples, and let’s just saw I wasn’t always impressed. The vendors I adore and refer are the ones that over delivered . I always strive to impress and exceed expectations for this very reason, even after the wedding day.

Personalization and over delivering in my client experience has helped me work with even more amazing people and stand out among the crowd of other wedding vendors.

Q: My husband Paul and I loved having you as a part of our New York City wedding! Although our wedding day put us all over the map in Manhattan, you did an incredible job keeping up with us. How much planning goes into ensuring that the weddings you shoot run smoothly and adhere to a schedule?

A: Being a wedding photographer is one part being organized and informed with how wedding days operate, and most importantly being able to fly by the seat of your pants. Especially during a destination wedding like New York City!

To ensure that wedding days run smoothly, weeks before the wedding you’ll find me obsessing over creating a timeline, scouting locations, and making sure family photos are in order. It’s also so important to educate clients on what to expect and how much time is needed for photos and when. Long story short, there is so much more that goes into photographing a wedding than just showing up with a camera.

There’s always minor bumps in wedding days, but it’s up to me to roll with the punches, figure it out for my clients, and rock it out.

Q: We're only in Q1 of 2017, but it's important to set big, intentional goals. What are a few of your biggest ambitions for Jacoby Photo + Design this year?

• I have a goal of booking 20 weddings for the year (currently at 18!), which will be my BIGGEST YEAR YET! A lot of hustle, sweat, and tears have got me here.

• Personalizing my client experience even more. Basically just giving my clients a lot of reasons to smile.

• I really love in-home sessions, whether they are engagement, newborn, or family photos. I would love to book more and make it my second specialty.

• Being more efficient with my workflow so I can enjoy even more time with my husband, family, and friends.

Q: What would your biggest piece of advice be for fellow women looking to break into and succeed in the photography business?

A: First off, never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle or end. Only compare your success to your own. That can be applied to so many creatives.

It won’t do you any good to be proud of your work one minute, see what others are doing the next, and then feel like you’re not good enough. You are good enough. You are improving with every shoot. Keep taking chances, keep learning, and keep putting yourself out there.

I have been at this for almost 7 years, and I still have so much to learn. It may take months or years, but eventually people will notice.

Want to reach out or learn more about Jacoby's work? Visit her website here, and keep up with her on Facebook and Instagram.

All photos courtesy of Jacoby Photo + Design.

Facebook Groups That Every Creative Should Be A Part Of

Facebook groups that every creative should be a part of 

When you’re working on your creative side hustle or full-time business, it’s easy to fall into believing the lie that you’re in this all alone. And on paper, it may seem that way: long hours spent at your desk brainstorming strategy; answering loads of email; and of course, keeping up with invoices and crunching those numbers!

I’ve recently pushed myself to be more intentional in building stronger personal relationships, both on and offline. Just when I was feeling like no one would understand the crazy ideas and creative concepts that drift through my mind on any given day, I stumbled upon a few Facebook groups that turned that all around.

Because who says you have to do it alone just because you’re a solopreneur? Keep reading for the creative Facebook groups that have completely transformed the way I engage with other creatives and share my services in the digital space!

Being Boss

One of the first creative Facebook groups that I found during my hunt was Being Boss - and it’s a winner! If you’re familiar with the namesake podcast, then you know that Being Boss isn’t for the faint of heart when it comes to rocking a creative business. I’ve found that the leaders and ladies of this group are incredibly diverse and insightful, and are incredibly quick and helping in doling out invaluable business advice. From Etsy sellers to web designers, every type of creative is represented in this group.

The Gram Gang

Growing your Instagram takes great content and a sound strategy - there’s so much more to it than posting filtered images! I joined The Gram Gang when I knew that I was ready to hone in on Instagram and build up my community on the platform, and this group has been so helpful in sharing advice on everything from the elements of a great Instagram profile to industry-specific hashtags to improve engagement. Did I mention that the group’s leader, Stephanie, is a total boss?

The Rising Tide Society

The largest of all of the Facebook groups I joined, The Rising Tide Society is another great creative resource that is full of diverse business owners. Count of daily updates from photographers, graphic designers, creative vendors and more. What’s even better? There might even be a local Rising Tide Society group that you can join - I’m also a member of the St. Louis local chapter Facebook group! Stay plugged into this group for local #TuesdaysTogether events that happen across the country once a month, where creatives gather to connect with their local community and chat about specific marketing topics as a team.

What creative Facebook groups are you a part of that I should know about? Leave your favorites in the comments below and tell me why!

How to Get Over Your Fear of Public Speaking (Like a Boss)

How to get over a fear of public speaking 

Last May, I received a totally unexpected, awesome opportunity: I was invited to speak on behalf of my company on an influencer marketing panel at the region’s largest marketing conference. Did I mention I was three months new at my job? What!

Just as readily as I accepted the invite, my panic sunk in: How many people were actually going to be there, again? When would I start to prepare for the big day? Was I truly qualified to even be speaking in front of an audience?

Needless to say, I was a bundle of nerves at the prospect of public speaking, and felt anything but calm, cool and collected.

I had a month to prepare for the panel and had to face a lot of doubts and uncomfortable truths about my confidence and abilities in the process. Needless to say, public speaking is a fear that you’ve got to get over if you want to succeed - whether you’re rocking it in the corporate world or building your creative business from the ground up.

I learned so much about self-esteem, commanding a crowd and leaning into your intuition during that hour on stage, and I can’t help but share it with you. Friend: if you’re scared of public speaking, trust me when I say that you’re not alone. Below are a few ways that I forced myself to overcome the anxieties that often come with speaking to a crowd - I hope that these truths bring you comfort and confidence.

Prepare, but don’t over-prepare.

I’m a person who doesn’t like surprises. I keep my to-do list with me constantly, and I always try to have the right words in place for meetings and presentations. So naturally, I wanted to prepare like crazy for this speaking engagement. I prepped a notesheet and went over it nightly. I had my talking points bulleted and my i’s dotted and t’s crossed. But when it came down to it, I came off more like a robot than a real person in my practice sessions.

A week before the panel, I stopped practicing and focused on running, yoga and self-care instead. When the big day came I was still nervous, but my responses while speaking were more authentic and reflective of my personality than they’d ever been while practicing. Sometimes, speaking on the fly is a good thing. Go with your gut and keep things conversational, all reminding yourself this honest-to-goodness truth: we’re all just people.

Slow and steady wins the race.

When I’m speaking in public, more often than not Ihavethesuddenurgetotalklikethis. My nerves instantaneously speed me up, and I pretty much sound like a sped-up, over-caffeinated version of myself - ha! Chances are, you can totally relate.

The next time you’re addressing a crowd, intentionally remind yourself to slooow down. Words that feel as if they’re super slow coming out of your mouth will likely sound perfect to your crowd, plus, you’ll have more time to collect your thoughts in the process.

Smile, laugh and let your personality shine.

A lot of times we clam up and are only caricatures of ourselves when we’re asked (or forced to!) address a crowd of more than a few people. We worry about what they’ll think of us, how they’ll judge us, and if we come across as likeable. This is normal, but the feel the fear and push toward being the most authentic version of yourself anyway. Inject personality into your speeches and presentations when you can, and it’s sure to leave a lasting impression on your audience.

Continually remind yourself that you're just human – and so is your audience. We all get butterflies and nervous feelings; you've got everything you need in you to channel that nervous energy into a stand-out, memorable speech.

Overcoming your fears and apprehensions with public speaking is doable. It takes time, a lot of thought and getting yourself into the right mindset, and not to mention practice - but in the end, being more comfortable with presenting yourself to others is worth it.

What are your fears when it comes to public speaking, and why? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!