6 Reasons Why Your Blog and Business Needs Quality Photos

| Monday, 9 November 2015

Quality pictures are a must for your blog and brand.

How many times have you landed on a website, blog or business, and clicked away a few seconds after the page loaded? What made you click away?

For me, it's usually visuals; pictures, colors, and design.

Unless I already know and respect the blogger or brand, I will rarely waste my valuable time if the content isn't well presented. If you don't have time to invest in me, then I don't have time to invest in you.

I will usually click away if:
  • photos are under or over exposed.
  • photos are tiny (or random sizes) and not justified with your text.
  • photos don't speak to me, as in; "eat me" or "buy me" or "make me". 
  • photos don't follow a consistent theme or design.
  • photos are blurry.

These are a few examples, but you get the idea.

Photography is a very important part of blogging and owning a creative business.

Photos convert.

Photos convert a passerby into a reader and a potential customer into a buyer. It's your best chance to stand out in an overly saturated online world.

Here are a few examples of gorgeous photography:

Tell me you're not converted.

Have you ever made an impulsive online purchase because the item looked so damn good in the pictures?

Or maybe you cancelled an order because the quality of the images on the site were so bad it made you feel like it was a scam.

Let me make this clear:

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

It sucks, but it's true.

In every aspect of our life and even more so online.

If I haven't convinced you already, here are 6 reasons why your blog and creative business needs attractive photos.

1. A picture is worth a thousand words.

Look at the first few pictures on your website right now. What feeling or words come to mind? Is that what you want your reader or customer to feel or think?

Let's be clear here, content is obviously very important; no words = no bueno. People don't come to your website for pretty pictures. They obviously come for content, or a product description.... but they'll never get to your amazing work until they go through that initial picture or graphic. 

2. You only have 7 Seconds to make a first impression.

Did you know that? Crazy right? So if content is the only important thing, how do you expect to make that 7 seconds cut? You better have some crazy first sentence!

Having quality pictures helps; A LOT. Sure, if you have no content, you won't retain readers or buyers after the 7 second mark, but if you can't keep them there long enough to read your content, then what's the point?

3. Pictures make your content and product shareable.

Um, hello. If you have no pictures (or none of quality) then how do you expect raving fans to share your awesome content?

Sure, there's twitter, but aren't we all more likely to click if it comes with a super enticing picture? ... and think of the power of Pinterest! You're totally missing out.

4. Quality pictures make you stand out.

If you're using stock photos that everyone else is using, then you're just another blogger.

Buuuuut, if you take the time to gather props that match your brand, and to style unique photos with items you love and use, then it becomes unique! It becomes YOUR brand.

People will start to recognize it through the way you style, shoot and edit your images. When they see your work on other platforms, they're more likely to click and return to your site because you've built trust...which brings me to #5.   

5. It helps build trust with your readers.

Let's be honest here, a brand looks way more legit when the photos look professional.

If you take the time and plan each one of your photos (or get them professionally made), new readers (and returning fans) are more likely to trust that you are an expert in what you do.

If your work looks like you just grabbed your camera and snapped some blurry photos without even trying, it's kind of a turnoff and makes your brand look very amateur.

Don't get me wrong, everyone loves seeing behind the scenes shots, and real videos of you, especially when trust is concerned, but when it comes to your regular content, you need to put in some effort because first impressions matter (see #2!).

6. Quality pictures will increase engagement on your blog and with your brand.

This one point alone pretty much sums up all the rest. People are much more likely to engage when beautiful, high quality visuals like pictures are involved.

Readers or customers will stick around and browse for your site for longer, they're more likely to buy, more likely to share, more likely to ask questions, more likely to believe you're an expert, and more likely to return!

If you need some help getting started with photography, you can check out my must-have photography kit for bloggers and you can download my 12 free stock photos below. Stay tuned for more!

What's your opinion on pictures on a blog or website? Does it affect how you interact with the brand? I'd love to know! Comment below to share your thoughts with us.

12 Easy Steps to a Tantrum Free Home (Toddler Edition)

| Thursday, 29 October 2015

12 Easy Steps to a Tantrum Free Home (Toddler Edition)

Imagine this: no more toddler tantrums, ever.

What would that feel like? Good? Good.
Would you believe me if I told you it's possible?
Psst. Here's a secret: it IS possible. Surprised? Let me explain...

I'm tired of people telling me I'm lucky to have such easy children, or to hear others tell me how hard they find parenting and how bad their kids are.

The truth is; I work hard every single day to nurture healthy behavior. I introspect on myself every single day and I research how I can help my children become the people I want them to be. Most important of all, I act towards my children the way I want them to act with others; that's what educating means.

Kids learn by example, they mimic you, the parent.

Everyone can have easy children. Everyone. You just need to be ready to put in a lot of time, a lot of patience, and a lot of self control. You, the parent.

If you are not patient with your child, he will not be patient with you. If you don't show him respect, he will not respect you. If you yell at him, he will yell at you. If you say no to him all the time, he will say no to you. If you don't value his opinion, he will never value yours. If you don't explain things to him, he will never open up to you. It's quite simple actually, if there's anything you want him to learn, you first have to show him, consistently. If you don't, they will not only be like that with you, but also with others (and it will continue on to adulthood).

So next time you go around saying bad things about your kids, or about how bad today's generation is turning out...I'd think twice before talking...what does it say about you?

Be respectful, understanding, and patient
with your child from the moment they are born,
not from the moment you think they are "old enough". 

What do you think the "terrible 2" phase is? Seriously, think about it. All toddlers hear from the moment they can move is "no, don't touch that", "no, don't go there", "no, this", "no, that". Is it really a surprise to you that when they learn to talk and realize they're their own person they say no? Stop saying no to your child for everything!

You have no control, you never have and you never will. Accept this now and save yourself years of pain and frustration. From the moment they are born, your child is his own person, with his own personality and his own likes and dislikes (he just hasn't learned them yet). You can't change who he is.

Just remember, kids are humans, and just like humans of any age, they need to be treated with love, respect (yes, respect) and understanding. They need to feel that their thoughts and opinions are valued and considered. They need physical contact and opportunities for growth without being held back all the time. They need to feel like they belong and have their basic needs met, like adequate sleep and food.

Don't do to your child
what you wouldn't want someone else
to do to you.

Love: Be patient when your child cries, embrace your child multiple times a day, give him food at regular times, play with him every day for at least an hour, allow his to help you with chores even if he makes it worse or it takes longer.

Respect: Do not yell at your child, do not grab their arm aggressively, do not humiliate him in public, listen when he communicates with you (be it actions or words).

Understanding: Take the time to figure out what your toddler wants or needs.

12 Easy Steps to a Tantrum Free Home (Toddler Edition). Tips and tricks on how to handle toddler tantrums (1-3 years old).

3 basic things you need to understand.

1. A child is not a robot.

This may sound ridiculous, but seriously, I can't even count how many times I've heard other parents say things like: "sit here and don't move" or "don't do that and be quiet" or "stop crying or you’ll be punished". When did a child (or any person for that matter) become a thing that is supposed to not move, not talk, and have no feelings? I don't get it.

2. You can't control your child.

Actually, you can't control anyone (except maybe yourself... OK wait, let's not be delusional, most of us can't even do that!). So why you think you can control your child is beyond me, especially when feelings are involved!

3. You're a guide, not a dictator.

I know everyone has a different parenting style, and that's totally fine with me. I'm not here to start a war, or to tell you to do things a certain way. But let's be real here, your child is not a soldier and he is most certainly not a prisoner of war. Your role is to be a guide in his life and to help him through his decisions and experiences, not to stop them from making mistakes and taking the wrong decision.

6 things you can do right now to reduce the possibility of a tantrum.

1. Spend quality time with your child.

The more quality time you spend with your child, the less likely he’ll try to get your attention by screaming, interrupting you while you speak, or rolling on the floor at the store. It’s a good idea to spend at least 1 hour with him daily (and no, watching TV together doesn’t count).

Take action: You can do things like read books together, roll in the grass, run after each other, do puzzles, draw, dance, play hide-and-seek, and if you have no idea what to do, follow his lead.

It's also important to note that everyone, children included, needs time alone. Over stimulation can lead to tantrums just as much as lack of interaction.

Take action: Encourage him to read a book, draw, or do a puzzle alone...and for god's sake, please turn off the TV and keep your iPhone or tablet as far from him as possible. You may think it's giving you a break, but in reality it's creating an addiction, depriving him of an important opportunity to learn patience, and stopping him from developing social intelligence.

2. Plan ahead.

If ever you plan on going out, make sure you explain to your child what to expect.

Case study: For example, when I go grocery shopping, I review the list with my son before leaving and I tell him what I'm going to need his help with. When we arrive, he's in charge of the list and reminding me if I forgot anything. He's also in charge of getting specific items and helping me put everything on the counter to pay. He's been doing that since he was 2 (maybe even a bit before). The fact that he knows what to expect and that he has tasks, keeps him busy and makes him feel valued. He knows there's no need to pull off a tantrum because he's already got everything he could need and he knows what to expect.

Similarly, it's good to plan outings around meals and nap times. Oh, and make sure you always have snacks on hand. That way, you're avoiding the "I'm exhausted and hungry" meltdowns.

3. Limit the times you say no.

Trust me; you don't need to say no to everything. Limit saying no only to dangerous, serious, or really-big situations. It will have a lot more impact and your child will be a lot less frustrated. If you use it regularly, don't be surprised if he learns to tune it out.

Case study: You know the terrible 2 phase where a toddler starts saying no to everything? Where do you think he gets it from? I actually tested that one out, instead of saying no to my children, I said "gently" instead and showed them, by grabbing their hand and helping them, what gently meant (when they would hit the glass table for example, or pulled on my hair). And you know what happened? They almost never said no during the not-so-terrible "terrible 2" phase and were amazingly compliant. Interesting don't you think?

Take action: Here are some examples of things you could say instead of no.
“That's mommy's favorite notebook, let's find you a coloring book instead.”
“You're so good to be able to take out all the pots and pans, now let's play clean up! Yay!”
“This table is made out of glass and can break, let's hit on the floor instead.”

I honestly don't understand why parents say "no" so fast. Is it because they can't be bothered to explain things? Is it because they need to feel powerful? Or is it because it's what everyone else does? I'm not sure, but what I do know is if you want your kids to listen when you say no, then say it less often, a lot less often.

4. Encourage independence.

Toddlers are more capable than we give them credit for. Check out this video and you'll see what I mean.

The more you let your toddler try new things and let him do what he wants to do, the less frustrated he's going to be and the more self confidence he'll have. If he fails, gets hurt, or breaks something, this gives you the perfect opportunity to show him that he can always try again, fix something when it's broken, or simply, that you’ll always be there to comfort him. It's better he learns about consequences at this age when they're insignificant, than later on in life when problems get a whole lot bigger, really fast. 

Take action: Instead of saying no to your child the next time he wants to do something you’re not sure he’s ready for, stand back and let him try (like doing the dishes, bringing a glass to the table, or going down the stairs alone). Don't do it for him and don't say anything other than offer help once. Only give help if he accepts. I know you might be scared, but try to control your emotions.

As a general rule of thumb, either follow your child’s lead or hint at things you’d like him to try. Never push, force or impose (you wouldn’t like it if someone did that to you, so don’t do it to him). This will show him that you trust, respect and have faith in him and it develops self esteem and self worth.

5. Give choices.

This is something super easy to do. Orange or banana? Toast or cereal? Walk or stroller? Shorts or pants? Puzzle or book?

Giving your child choices makes him feel valued and important. It's a great way to reduce possible tantrums. Let him participate in his daily activities.

6. Follow and respect a schedule for naps, meals and snacks.

No one is a happy camper if they're hungry or tired, not even adults, so don't expect your child to be. Yes, it's hard to follow a schedule if you have errands to run, or outings to go on, but if you want a compliant and happy child, then you need to schedule everything around naps and meals.

Yes, it's a pain, but they outcome is an easy child as opposed to an out of control toddler.

Skipping a nap once every couple of weeks is probably not a big deal, but just be conscious that you'll probably have to deal with a light tantrum. If it happens, there's nothing you can do. Comfort your child, hug him, and bring him into his room. You can simply tell him he can come down when he's ready to stop crying. If he comes down anyway, repeat the same thing.

Losing your temper will achieve absolutely nothing other than make the situation worse. Just be consistent and continue bringing him back to his room, DO NOT threaten him about bringing him to his room. Threats are not respectful (we talked about that before).

6 easy steps to help your child through a tantrum.

1. Stay calm.

This is probably the one most important thing you can do. No one has ever been able to control their emotions when the person they're talking to loses it. So don't expect your toddler, who doesn't even know what an emotion is, to be able to control his if you go bonkers.

This doesn't mean to pretend you're calm by talking softly while still boiling inside. Kids aren't stupid, they can see right through you, just like we can.

If you want any of these next tips to work, you have to be able to control your own emotions. So take a deep breath (or two). If you can't handle your own emotions, there's no point moving forward, you've already lost the battle. In that case, you better take a short break and come back to address the situation when you've cooled off.

This step is absolutely necessary. Your calmness will help your toddler regain his. 

2. Remind yourself that you have no control.

Repeat this to yourself: "I have no control." Starting with that mindset will naturally shift your approach. You might even feel vulnerable and automatically end up showing compassion, which brings us to....

3. Show empathy.

You must do this even if you you're late for work, or in a rush for an appointment. Especially so! Taking 2 minutes to go through this step is a total game changer, I promise.

Take action: Bend down to his level, take his hands in yours and ask him to look at you in the eyes. Do not continue talking until you have eye contact. Once you do, you must give no more than 3 short sentences; toddlers have a very short attention span.

You want to confirm how he feels by saying things like: "You don't want to go to daycare today do you? Would you rather stay home and play with mommy?" or "Are you sad?" or "Do you wish mommy didn't go so fast?"

Before you panic...saying these things does not mean you will do them! It just shows them you understand and it will help them immediately calm down.

This step is very important because it's the very first step in emotional intelligence; by being empathetic towards your child, you are showing him how to be empathetic and you are educating him. The more you do this, the more he will replicate the exact same thing with others and even you!

4. Provide comfort.

There's nothing like mommy or daddy's embrace. Physical contact does crazy wondrous magic. I swear.

Take action: At this point you can offer a cuddle and a kiss. If they don't want to, respect them (again, by respecting them, you are educating them on how to respect others). You can follow with your second sentence, something like this: "I love you." or "I'm here for you." or "Let's figure this out together." If he doesn't want to, don't push it and be respectful of his wishes.

5. Skip time-outs.

There is a lot of parenting advice that says to use time-outs or punishments to handle tantrums. To be completely honest with you, that's the absolute worst path to take.

There's a reason your toddler is acting out. Is he exhausted because he didn't nap? Maybe he's hungry because you forgot snack time. Have you played with him consistently in the past few days? Or maybe you've been in his face all weekend and he just can't take it anymore.

Whatever the reason, a tantrum happens because he has no other way to express his feelings and ignoring him or using threats of punishments only creates more intense negative feelings like anger, sadness and anxiety...It makes you more mad, and it makes it harder for him to control his feelings.

The best thing to do is to find alternatives because when you choose a time-out or a punishment, you are creating a disconnection with your child. He may stop crying the first few times because he wants to be with you (the true intention of the tantrum), but eventually he will resent you for it. This will create one of 2 things; a child with low self esteem that obeys at every threat, or a defiant child that doesn't give a sh*t and gives you a run for your money.

I don't know about you but neither of those options sound good to me. What I want is a child with a healthy level of self-esteem, a reasonable amount of respect and empathy for others, with the ability to openly communicate. By following all the steps I'm showing you today, this is very much a possibility!

6. Be firm + consistent.

Being firm doesn't mean raising your voice, or being verbally aggressive. It simply means to hold your end, respectfully. If your toddler comes out of his bed when it's time to sleep, simply bring him back to his bed and give him another hug and kiss. If he comes down again, repeat. Do this until he understands that no matter what, you will always bring him back to his bed. Yes, it will take time. Yes, you might be there for a while. Yes, you will need a lot of patience to remain calm, but he will understand eventually.

As for being consistent, it means always doing the same thing and expecting the same result, every single time. Like going to bed at the same time, and continuing to bring him back to his bed when he comes out, patiently, every single day. PATIENCE. That's all it takes.

When you're setting all those limits, it's going to take a lot of energy and time on your part. But once they're in place, the rest is easy. He will trust you and feel safer with you. He will look to you for advice and will communicate with you.

BONUS: By being firm and consistent when they're very little (even though it might be long and painful and you might pity your poor crying baby who doesn't want to go to sleep), you are building the foundation for a much easier child and teenager. If you're not consistent now, your child will constantly be testing you, to see if you'll change your mind. I don't know about you but I rather take the time now then have to deal with 20+ years of constantly being challenged.

Congratulations! You've graduated! 

You're probably thinking: doesn't all this take a lot of time and energy? Yep, in the beginning it will, more than if you were to use punishments.

Remember though, no pain no gain!

I won't lie to you, you'll feel overwhelmed in the beginning. Especially if you're starting with an older child (you'll have to make him unlearn what he already knows about you before you can teach him about the new you - which is why it's better to start at birth!)

But it will pay off, I promise! And a few months down the road, when everyone else is complaining about how much their toddlers (or kids) act out, you'll be having a mini party in your head. Literally.

Do you do any of the above methods? Does it help? I'd love to know how you handle tantrums or if you have any. Let me know in the comments below!

Must-have photography kit for bloggers

| Monday, 19 October 2015

Must-have photography kit for bloggers. Any camera you have, external hard drive, colorful props, backdrops and more! Find out more on xfallenmoon.com!

Photography is a deal breaker.

It either wows your visitors and turns them into raving and adoring fans, or, it scares them away, never to return.

Think about it, how often have you stumbled across a random blog with tiny pictures with bad lighting and immediately clicked away?

It's happened to me more than once!

On the other hand, there are many times when I've stumbled across blogs with a very simple design and little content but ended up bookmarking and returning simply because their photos were just so amazing.

Taking the time to create beautiful photos
for your blog or business
makes you stand out from the crowd.

It takes you from amateur to expert in the eyes of your readers.

I've come a long way in terms of photography since I first started my blog, and I really want to share my experience and secrets with all of you.

So today, I'm going to show you how to build your very own photography kit with some peaks at my creative process! Don't worry, there's more to come and I'll get into a lot more detail later on.

I've even been working behind the scenes on something very special which I know for a fact, will be a game changer for a lot of you; my very first e-course, Picture Perfect, a photography course for bloggers!

I'm seriously excited about it. It's going to be jam packed with super actionable content. In the mean time, I made some free stock photos for you guys. Enjoy!

Now that we've gotten that out in the open, let's make you a photography kit!

Must-have photography kit for bloggers. Any camera you have, external hard drive, colorful props, backdrops and more!

My must-have photography kit for bloggers:

  • Camera. This can be anything from your phone's built-in camera, to a point-and-shoot or a DSLR. My suggestion is to start with what you already have and experiment with lighting and composition before making a big investment. I personally started with a cheap point and shoot and now, I use the Canon Rebel t3i most of the time. When I need something more practical, I'll whip out my iPhone. 

  • Desk or table. You have to place your subject somewhere! :) The floor is cool too if that's how you roll.

  • Backdrops. A backdrop is something you put behind (or sometimes under) your subject in order to add interest to the picture (or in my case, to hide that mess in the background). You can use pretty much anything: a bed sheet, curtains, a magazine, a colorful board, faux fur... the list goes on. My all time favorites are DIY which I will be sharing with you soon!

  • Props. This is by far my favorite part about blog photography. Props are anything you can use to make your picture prettier. You can buy things if you like, but I usually just search my home for little items I can use. Things like my favorite notebook, a cute pencils, my go-to nail polish, or even the jewelry I'm wearing that day often make it on the list. It's a good idea to be consistent and stay true to your brand in terms of colors and related items. If you're a mechanics blogger, you wouldn't put nail polish in your photos now would you?  Have fun with it and experiment!

  • External Hard Drive. This is practically a go-to for your life. If you told me you didn't have one, I probably wouldn't believe you. I use this hard drive and love it. I keep a backup of everything from blog pictures to important personal documents on 2 different drives! I strongly suggest you do the same. You can never have too many backups.

Must-have photography kit for bloggers. Any camera you have, external hard drive, colorful props, backdrops!

My nice-to-have photography kit for bloggers:

  • Artificial lighting. Natural light is the bomb. The end. But, if you're like me, and you don't have access to day light, like, ever, then artificial lighting is your new best friend. There are a lot of options, even some DIYs, but my current favorite are my umbrella lights. They're surprisingly super affordable so you have no excuse to have poorly lit photos! You could also invest in a ring light (especially if you're filming videos) or a soft box. All are awesome options.

  • Lenses. Although there are lenses available for smart phones, and they do help take better pictures, like this XXXX for example, I don't own one and take pretty enough pictures without. Where I did decide to invest though, was in a prime lens for my DSLR. I use the 50mm f1.4 (there's the 50mm f1.8 which is also very good and a lot cheaper).

  • Tripod. I don't use my tripod a lot, but they're handy to have if you want to take a picture of yourself or if you're in a very low light situation with no artificial lighting and you want to set the shutter speed on slow mode. They're also fun to have for photo booth sessions at parties! Woot!

  • Remote. A remote is good to have if you're taking styled shots and you don't want to walk back and forth to your camera after moving a prop half an inch in your frame. You'll save a lot of time and frustration. Plus, you can use it for taking selfies and group pictures that include you. ;)

  • Photo editing software. Technically, if your photos come out perfect from your shoot, you don't need to edit them, but it's always nice to have the option, especially when you can use free ones like Paint.net. My go-to software is Photoshop which I bought a while back. Nowadays you can get if for a $10/month subscription.

Must-have photography kit for bloggers. Any camera you have, external hard drive, colorful props, backdrops and more!

When I first started connecting with other, more experienced bloggers, I always wondered why their pictures looked so nice. What I didn't know was that it's all an illusion, a setup if you will.

Professional bloggers actually plan and style their photos.  

It doesn't happen by accident, and it's not because their project and office are super cute and organized (although it could be). Even those pictures of yummy food with a mess of chocolate chips and flour... it's an illusion, the mess was totally planned.

Are you interested in more photography related articles? What would you like to know?

I've been working on a photography e-course and I'm curious to know what you guys are having trouble with when it comes to taking pictures for your website or your family. Is there anything you'd like me to address?

Let me know how can I help you become a photography superhero. I'd love to help you out.

DIY: Sugar skull candy bowl

| Monday, 12 October 2015

DIY: Make a sugar skull candy bowl to decorate your kitchen table or living room coffee table. A super fun and easy Halloween craft.

Yep, it's that time of year again!

I had so much fun making my Halloween apothecary last year that I've decided to get creative again this year.

Halloween is one of my favorite time of year to do crafts and decorate. There's just so much creative freedom. You can get as wild as you want and no one will blink twice.

I actually started this project last year but never got around to finishing it. You know how it goes right? You start a million projects on an inspiration wave, then you loose it and half of those projects get forgotten in a distant corner of the house for a few months...and sometimes more.

Does anyone else do that?

I've also been known to go into a craft store for a very specific thing and come back out 3 hours later with half the store in my bags. Oh, did I mention my very awesome and patient husband was waiting in the car the whole time?

Yea, he doesn't come anymore. 

Back to my project. So I saw this skull at the dollar store and I immediately thought it would be fun to turn it into a sugar skull to decorate my living room.

When I shared my idea with my husband, he mentioned it would be cool if it was a candy bowl. I swear, he's totally a creative inside. So off he went to drill. Awesome right?

So anyway, this super skull is chilling on my table right now, but I took out all of the candy because otherwise, my toddlers will at them all in a single sitting.

Have you created anything for Halloween? Are you making your own costume? What will you dress up as?

My boys and husband have asked to be the 3 musketeers so that's what my next project is going to be. If you're looking for me in the next 2 weeks, I'll either be raiding the dollar store or at my sewing machine.

See you all next week! :)


Plastic skull
Acrylic paints
Paint brush
Artificial flowers
Glue gun
Candy (!!)


1. Paint the entire skull white. I used spray paint but you can just as easily use a paint brush and acrylics. 
2. Cut a hole at the top to insert your candy. I asked my husband to do it with his hand drill, it took him about 2 minutes. 
3. Paint the eye sockets, nose hole and teeth outline in black. You can use any color you want at this point, have fun and be creative! 
4. Decorate with pretty patterns around the eyes, the forehead and chin. You can embellish with faux jewels or even glitter! 
5. Cut some artificial flowers and hot glue them around the head to form a flower crown. I glued them around the hole. 
6. Fill with candy and enjoy!

DIY: Make a sugar skull candy bowl to decorate your kitchen table or living room coffee table. A super fun and easy Halloween craft.

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