From Branding

Your Own Brand of Happy

James Oppenheim Quote: Happiness

This month’s theme is Shoots + Roots…truly one of the best metaphors for a happy business + life if we ever heard one. It begs the question: how does YOUR garden grow?

If we had a nickle for every time we’ve heard someone say “follow your heart” and mean it, really mean it, right down to their toes, we’d be able to buy some vegan soft serve at our favorite bakery.

Sidenote: We’re not completely cynical. Folks often tell us to “follow our heart,” then quickly chase it with “but have a lot of money + a Plan B first.” Which is the exact moment the army of indies comes forth from our mind, fists pumping, voices united: “Don’t you know who we are!? We are creatives! We don’t need no stinkin’ Plan B!”

If we had a nickle for every time we’ve heard someone say ‘you have to [fill in the blank] to succeed,’ we’d be able to buy the bakery. The blank is usually filled with schooling, corporate ladders, and no mention of fun. (Unfortunately, no explanation is necessary here.)

Meh.

But, guess what!?

We only want the soft serve.

Lucille Ball Quote: Happy

For a long time, we were struggling with notion of more.

You see, we were told that in order to succeed, we had to want more, to ask for more, to crave more, to get more. More subscribers, more traffic, more ideas, more posts, more…

The problem was, we didn’t want more. We wanted enough, but we were told enough wasn’t enough. If we really meant it, it had to be more.

So we continued to listen to all of the voices because they really seemed to know what was going on. They really seemed to have success down to a science. They really seemed happy.

You know what?

They did. They do. They are.

Really.

However, it was their version of success that required more. Their happy is studded in diamonds + designer garb, exotic travel, and things we’ve never even heard of. Our happy wears flip-flops + hand-me-down sweaters, it craves time at home, and a slow pace. Both versions of success are equally important + valid.

All versions are.

Henry Miller Quote: Live

We all want happiness + success, but we need to define those terms for ourselves before we can start moving toward them. Before we can grow shoots + roots.

Why did it take us so long to realize that success means different things to different people?

The short answer is: we asked questions of everyone else + forgot to turn those questions inward. (Photosynthesize, folks! Photosynthesize!)

We are not suggesting that everyone was trying to misguide us. It was the opposite, in fact.

We were asking questions of the people we held as authorities on the matter, and they were giving us the answers they came up with after working on the equation for themselves. Their answers.

We neglected to first accept that we are the only people who can solve for the x in our lives + work.

It’s only fair to mention that finding your own brand of happy + moving toward it isn’t always easy. Following your heart takes guts…

Thankfully we all have hearts + guts.

That’s why we’re here. We’re not afraid to plant seeds + care for them, to touch a few bugs + worms, to pull out the weeds…to get our hands dirty in the garden.

Here’s to YOUR shoots + roots,
Matt + Darice :-)

Cultivate Your Business: Plan & Plant for Growth

Cultivate Your Business Part 1, Oh My! Handmade

I might have missed my calling as an editor. In the spring, the sight of my empty garden beds gives me the horticultural equivalent of writers’ block: So much space! So many plants to choose among, and yet none of them seem quite right! ~Susan Orlean

We all start with an empty plot, a vast field of potential that we could plant absolutely anything in. The sheer amount of possibilities that are available to us can be terrifying or incapacitating. Anyone who has ever stared blankly at an empty screen or a fresh sheet of paper has felt that overwhelming sense of having too many options and not knowing where to begin.

Any great work or garden starts with the seed of an idea but before we can plant we need to do the ground work of preparing the soil, charting the sun so we know what to plant where, and choosing the right seeds and tools to get the job done. You don’t have to plan things out to the tiniest detail but having an overview of what you hope to achieve, how you want to feel, and what the steps are to take you there helps keep overwhelm or inertia from keeping you staring blankly at your empty plot without ever sticking your shovel in the earth. 

So let’s explore how plotting and planning before we start our big works is the same for business or gardening! These pieces are ones we will come back to every year just like a gardener prepares the soil for new crops at the start of each season. The business of every day life sneaks up on us so easily if we don’t go back to the basics regularly we can get caught up in the daily grind and forget about our overall plan and the blueprint for cultivating the life we want. Remembering these basics can help us be more firmly rooted in what matters most to us and be confident we are growing in all the right ways.

Know Why You Are Cultivating

Why are you planting at all: Do you need a space for artistic expression, a business that will sustain your family, a creative practice that will keep you sane while you work at your day job, an outlet for your big ideas? 

OMHG didn’t start with a plan but I did have a larger overview of what needed to be cultivated in my life: creativity, community, compassion, collaboration. When the opportunity to buy the site appeared I leapt on it because it fit my keywords that Dyana Valentine helped me identify years later as my WHY. The more I focus on these core pieces the clearer my business planning becomes and has led slowly towards building the life I always wanted.   Even when that road seems ridiculously hard or Spring feels like it will never come I can check back in and remember all the choices I made created a foundation for stepping up to make my garden a true reflection of my why: community is everything.

Identify Your Gardening Style

What kind of a gardener are you: Will you plant your seeds in neatly tended little rows or in a messy riot of flowers and colour? Are you a diligent weeder who will stay on top of things every day or someone who will forget about weeding then do it all at once in a giant flurry of activity? 

I will never have a neatly tended garden with all my plants in smart little rows and my seedlings nicely labelled. I admire people who cultivate order and simplicity but am too undisciplined and in love with wildness. Until committing to OMHG I had a pattern of planting ideas and incubating them intensely, then moving on to the next new adventure. This made me a rather terrible gardener. Mastery is not a skill that comes naturally to me, I am more inclined to plant all the seeds and see what happens from the chaos, then to carefully plant a few and tenderly care for them. The trouble with this approach is that an over-planted creative garden just dies instead of thriving. Knowing my own weaknesses helps me spot trouble in advance, cultivate connections who are strong where I struggle & call myself on my own poor gardening practices before it becomes a huge issue. Almost every time things feel like they are falling apart can be traced to my seed scattering pattern and I can set myself back on the right track.

Map Your Land + Resources

What is the lay of your land? Do you know where the soggy/dry/barren bits are and where is prime soil for planting? What other gardens are already growing around you? 

Before you can make any meaningful impact on your landscape you need to map it for better & worse. There is no use planting your tender little seeds in the most acidic soil when you’ve got a rich patch of compost right in front of you or reinventing the wheel when there are a pile of resources to help get you started. Once you’ve mapped your surroundings and know what tools you have available you can choose to focus on your richest spots while nourishing the fallow places for future seasons. Hand in hand with this is knowing what else is around you-if you look at your niche/business market and there are a billion daisies don’t plant more daisies, plant a rose! Standing out among a field of similar flowers can be nearly impossible and you always have to fight for your minute in the sun. Being different is your USP (unique selling proposition). For OMHG figuring out the landscape I was building in helped me  intentionally not create a business like anyone else because it was based on input from our community. Doing things differently is a little (okay sometimes a lot!) scary but every day when you look at your garden you’ll know it was designed by your own hands.

Plan(t) for Success

How big is your ideal garden: Do you want to cultivate a small veggie patch for your family or are you planning a giant farm with hired help and a production facility? 

Once you’ve mapped things out you need to choose how much of the landscape you want to stake a claim on and how much time you can dedicate to your plans/plants. Are you willing to work from “can’t see to can’t see” (waking up before sunrise every single morning and working until after the sun goes down every night)? A farming empire requires that level of commitment and drive but if you want a sunny corner plot in a community garden that you can tend on evenings and weekends you need a completely different (but just as valuable) plan.

The plan for my life now does not include a giant business where I am travelling here + there and working like crazy without ever seeing my kids. I want a smaller more intentional garden that I can tend with my family. So when I turn down big opportunities I can do so confidently knowing that they just won’t fit in our little plot of land. I don’t want to be an administrator of a large company or oversee a team of staff if that means I won’t have time to sit in the sun while my girls hunt for fairies in the garden! Being patient and learning opportunities like Altitude Summit were not what I wanted to cultivate opened the door to creating our Maker’s Retreat-the kind of intimate people-powered gathering I’ve always wanted to see. Knowing what your ideal garden looks like and the scale you are willing to grow to will help you decide which are opportunities will help you bloom or make you grow too fast for your plan.

CultivateYourBusinessFoot

This is part 1 of my Cultivate Your Business series for our April theme-next week is all about finding hands to help you get those seeds in the ground!  I’d love to hear your thoughts on how knowing why we are cultivating, our gardening style, having a good map of the landscape + resources & planting for success can equal a solid foundation for thriving.

Share your thoughts on growing a business in the comments or submit to this month’s theme with your own stories of growing your shoots & roots!

{Tutorial} Getting to Know Your Camera

Getting to Know Your Camera, Rachel AlisonHello OMHG community! I’m Rachel Alison, and I work as a video professional doing branding, launches, trailers, and the like. 

Jessika had said that a post with tips for bloggers and entrepreneurs on how to make better online videos might be handy. To be honest, to break it down with any depth at all would require 3-4 posts at least. I thought instead it might be handy to start at the very beginning – getting to know your camera and configuring it for your personal shooting and editing style.

Getting to Know Some Basics About Your Camera



If you’re not very technical, or just haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about it, understanding your video camera might seem daunting. That’s okay though, we’re going to get past that fear! We live in the internet age, where simply Googling the make and model of your camera can bring up instruction manuals, reviews, and even sometimes samples of footage shot on the camera by people who have kindly uploaded to YouTube. 

For the purposes of this post, my example camera will be a little point and shoot I own that also takes video. It is the Canon PowerShot Elph 300 HS. I got it a few years back, so I am sure there are newer ones on the market that do better, but I figured this would be a good example as it’s a consumer camera around the $100-$150 mark.



Is it high def, or what?



One of the first things you want to know about the video capabilities of your camera is the resolution. Most digital cameras these days shoot high-definition video, but you want to check and make sure. In order to find out, I can look through the instruction manual that came with the camera, but what if I lost it? As I mentioned earlier, Google (or your preferred search engine) is your friend. 

If I put into Google “Canon PowerShot Elph 300HS instruction manual”, my search yields exactly the result I’m looking for – online text with directions on how to use the camera.

Getting to Know Your Camera, Rachel Alison

I click on “Specifications” and scroll down until I see a table that tells me what I want to know about the resolution specifications of this camera.

Getting to Know Your Camera, Rachel Alison

All right, wait a minute. I don’t see the word “resolution” anywhere near this table. How did I know these numbers were the numbers I’m looking for?

 Without getting too much into it (although you can do some further reading if you like here and here), when you are trying to find the resolution of your camera, you are looking for numbers that will look like #### x ###. Those numbers mean your camera can shoot “A” number of pixels (the first number) by “B” number of pixels (the second number.) We see by looking at the chart above that this particular camera can shoot up to 1920 x 1080, which means 1920 pixels wide and 1080 pixels high. 1920×1080 is often referred to as Full High Definition or FHD. The higher the number, the higher the resolution. 

(Sometimes, you might also see numbers combined with the letter “p” or “i”, such as 1080p. The “p” and “i” stand for progressive and interlaced. If you see that your camera specs include “1080p”, it means that it shoots HD progressive video.)

Halp, there are more numbers!

In the example instruction manual, we see that there are resolutions that go lower, depending on the shooting mode. What does all that mean? 

Below the boxes with resolution specs are numbers that look like this: ##fps



ScreenshotBB

FPS stands for “frames per second”. Frames per second is what it sounds like – how many still frames you see in one second of time. The higher amount of frames you get in a second, the higher amount of detail you will perceive. With a higher frame rate, the motion blur will be less blurry and the movements will seem more true to life. We see that this camera shoots Full High Definition, or 1920×1080 at 24 frames per second. If you want a higher frame rate, (for example, 30 fps) you sacrifice in resolution, by stepping down to 1280×720.
  When I am shooting with this camera, I am almost always shooting at 24fps.

I have two main reasons:

  1. I want full HD as much as possible.
  2. 24 fps is the frame rate that most major motion pictures are shot at, and therefore my personal movies will seem less cheap and “homemade”.

Wait, what? Why would a lesser frame rate, 24fps compared to 30fps, look better? The truth is – it doesn’t look better. We have, thanks to the film industry, been conditioned over the years to accept that 24fps is the “norm”. When we see a higher frame rate, we often subconsciously associate it with cheap home movies or soap operas. If you want to understand more about the psychology of frames per second and what effect it has on your viewer, I’ve written about it on my blog. 

The Cliff’s Notes version is, I only shoot a higher frame rate if I’m going to be shooting something that has lots of fast motion, like cars driving by or animals running. (And to be honest, if I’m shooting something like that, I’m using a better camera than my little Canon Elph.) However, for most blogging-use like video of people talking, shots of buildings, or of products, 24fps is perfectly fine. The viewer is used to the amount of motion blur you get at 24fps, and will accept most video you shoot at that frame rate as being “correct”.

 But don’t take my word for it. If your video camera shoots multiple frame rates, use the one that seems most visually appealing for you. Just because I always default to full HD at 24fps doesn’t mean that you have to. Shoot some test footage. Using this example camera, you could shoot first at 1920×1080 at 24fps, and then do the same shot at 1280×720 at 30fps. Load the footage onto your computer, and choose what you like best. That should be your default shooting mode.

You will also notice that this particular camera has a slow motion feature where it shoots at a high frame rate.

Getting to Know Your Camera, Rachel Alison

This is more for funsies, as the slow motion capabilities of this camera are pretty limited. I mean, it can get fairly fast, up to 240fps, but look at that resolution. 320×240 is really tiny. I personally wouldn’t use this camera to shoot any slow motion video for my website because it wouldn’t look very good. (But it can be fun to play with for personal stuff!)

There are other, more expensive cameras out in the world that can shoot higher frame rates at good resolutions. If you are lucky enough to have one, go to town!

Is there anything else I should know before I get started?



There is always more to know, but one more basic thing you might want to investigate is the type of container format your camera will store the video files as. Many cameras offer you a choice, and you want to choose one that is good for you. It will also come in handy knowing this information once you are at the editing phase.

 For this camera, I scrolled up on the instructional manual (still on the “Specifications” page), and found the file type.

Getting to Know Your Camera, Rachel Alison

We see under “Image Storage” that when in video mode, it stores the files as .mov. We also see that we don’t get a choice in the matter with this camera. If your camera offers you choices, see what differences they make. (The instruction manual often will tell you.) Does one file type shoot in a higher resolution? Is one file type incompatible with the type of computer you have, or the editing software you’re using? The answers to these questions often will dictate what file type you will decide to shoot in. 

But this is just a basic point-and-shoot camera, and all we get is .mov. This is good for our purposes, though, because .mov’s work almost universally with whatever computer and editing software you might be using. Some cameras still shoot in proprietary formats, which then require only using whatever software came with the camera to edit it, or going through lengthy conversion processes. Yuck.

Are we done yet?

There are many things to learn about setting up a camera to fit your needs, and often the more expensive the camera is, the more complex it can be to get it how you want it. This is before the nitty gritty of learning things like white balance, depth of field, lighting, audio, etc. For the sake of this blog post, I’m using a consumer grade point-and-shoot precisely because it’s so simplified. You may not get to do any fancy focus pulls, but you also don’t have to worry so much about set up and shooting with the right settings.

 The purpose of my post here is to give you the super basics of how to shoot video for your website or blog. Of course there are many other factors to consider, depending on the camera and how in depth you want to get. But for just starting out, knowing the resolution, the frames per second, and file type(s) of your camera is pretty darn good. 

Also, if you’ve ever tried to shoot video and upload it, you might notice that sometimes it doesn’t work right. Weird lines suddenly appear out of nowhere or Vimeo won’t accept it or (this has happened to me) the entire video is suddenly cobalt blue! At times like these, you might need to sharpen your Google Fu skills and look to the wisdom of the internet to figure out how to remedy the problem(s). Knowing the key things about your camera that we went over today will not only help you shoot better video, but can help with troubleshooting.

Getting to Know Your Camera, Rachel Alison
Having said all of that (phew!) I believe the most important thing to remember is – don’t be afraid of being “wrong”! Go out and shoot everything. Try different settings. Make glorious mistakes. Make serendipitous errors. The joy of living in the digital age is we no longer have to worry about the expense of shooting “test” film. Load up that SD or Compact Flash card with footage, dump it all on your computer, and do it again! Pretty soon, whether it be shots of your family, your products, or something else entirely, you will have more interesting video to put up on your website. 

Have fun!

 

MEET RACHEL

Video specialist Rachel Alison is based in Los Angeles and helps entrepreneurs tell their stories. She originally began as a professional editor, and has since expanded her offerings to include video branding.  You can find her on her website, Twitter, or right here in the OMHG Marketplace In her free time, Rachel likes wine and Doctor Who.