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How To Use The FREE Brand Photo Shoot Planner For Freelancers


Phew, long title! Okay, hi. I’ve got something awesome to share with you and it’s called the Brand Photo Shoot Planner for Freelancers.

As you can probably tell from the name, it’s a planner that you can use to plan out your brand photo shoots. What kind of shots to take? What props to use? All those go into the planner.

Background time! I was hired by a friend to plan out the social media content of her family’s brand. Of course, this involves a lot of photos (it’s a restaurant) and one day we thought it would be great to take branded photos.

She had hired photographers before, but this time we were going to do it on our own.

Since we both didn’t have experience conducting or even taking part in any branded photo shoots, I wanted to make sure that we weren’t going to waste time taking unusable photos.

And…. We definitely didn’t want to waste money! For each dish that we were going to ‘shoot’, the chef had to make it from scratch. And afterwards, we can’t exactly serve a paying customer that dish, can we?

(But I got to eat some of the dishes. So yay for me.)

So since time is money and money is money, we were extra cautious in planning so that we wouldn’t have to shoot the same dish twice.


What are branded photos and why do I need them?

What are branded photos?

Branded photos are photos that are intended to convey branding. For example, if it’s a luxury brand, the photos have the “luxury vibe” or identity that the brand wants to promote to its customers.

The photos are NOT random — they’re well-planned and designed to achieve the objective that the brand wants.

In other words, branded photos are a part of branding, just like the logo and packaging.

Why do I need branded photos as a freelancer?

Eventhough you’re a freelancer, you have a brand. It’s you. You’re the professional [insert title here].

By having branded photos that you can use to promote your services, you’re sending the right message to your potential clients.

Think about it: Someone recommends your services to their friend (aka your potential client). The potential client decides to check out your Instagram account to scope you out.

My question is: What will your potential client see when they look at your account? Are they getting the right “picture” of your capabilities as a professional freelancer?

Before you ask, I think that it’s good to share personal stuff now and again on your official freelancer account. It makes people recognize that you’re a relatable human being.

But even personal stuff / pictures have to have the right vibe…


What happens when you don’t have a Brand Photo Shoot Planner?

Easy peasy. You waste time and money.

Imagine two situations where time and money is wasted:


You hire a photographer to take your branded photos. You meet up at a nice cafe with a private room that you booked (can’t have the cafe customers photobombing your moment). You’re all dressed up and looking nice. The photographer arrives. You spend the next 1-2 hours looking at the camera, not looking at the camera, looking out the window, fake-laughing, and generally being awkward. When you get the photos — plenty of them, sure — they’re all photos of you just sitting around!

Guess how many of those photos you can use on social media? Less than 3! You can’t post 126 photos of yourself in a row. Totally not usable.

Unless your photographer is also a stylist / creative director / someone with experience in giving direction for the shots, your photo shoot won’t be productive.


You woke up early on Saturday morning, feeling well-rested. You’re thinking that it’d be great to take advantage of the natural light and take some good Instagram photos. You start to arrange a few things, a mug of coffee here, a few rose petals scattered there, and start shooting away! You start adding props in until in the end you’re not quite sure what it is you’re trying to shoot. After a few more minutes of fidgeting with the props (the coffee is getting cold), you call it a day.

If you have limited time (weekend time is a national commodity) why would you sweat for hours trying to make pictures look good when you’ll only get a few good ones?

I’ve been through Situation 2 more times than I could ever count. I’ll start my Saturday/Sunday with good intentions. Get some great photos for my business! And end up feeling discouraged because I’ve only gotten a few that I could REALLY use and write captions for on social media. 1 hour for 2-3 photos is not time well spent, in my opinion.

The only way to maximize the time and money that you will spend on taking branded photos is to PLAN AHEAD.

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” I know it’s corny, don’t judge me.

But so many things go into making great photos.

  • Great lighting.

  • Great subject matter.

  • Great props.

  • Great angles.

You need a plan to put together all these! If not, you’d have wasted time and money and you won’t be any closer to attracting the clients that you want.

So that’s where the Brand Photo Shoot Planner for Freelancers comes in.

Plan your photo shoot and look RIGHT for the job.

Stop wasting time and money and start impressing potential clients with the right kind of photos!

Get the free Brand Photo Shoot Planner for Freelancers in your inbox.

    I won't spam you. Pinky promise.

    How to use the Brand Photo Shoot Planner for Freelancers

    I’m gonna walk you through on how to use the Planner for your own photo shoot. You can get the file to use by entering your email address in the form above.


    Firstly, here’s an overview of the Brand Photo Shoot Planner. As you can see, I’m using a table in a .docx file because it’s the easiest way to edit the planner and have everything visible at a glance.

    2. Shot #

    The Shot # is how you organize the different shots you have using alphabets. It doesn’t represent each ‘click’ of the camera if that makes sense.

    It highly depends on the content and subject matter of the shot. Basically, if the shot is different from the previous shot and the change of shot requires some effort, then it needs to be its own Shot B, C and so on.

    In other words, change the scene = change the alphabet.


    Shot A - A photo of you wearing a red shirt and sitting down.

    Shot B - A photo of you wearing a blue shirt and standing in front of a door.

    To change from Shot A to Shot B, you’ll need to change your shirt, right? It’s a change of scene and there’s effort involved.

    So it’s helpful to categorize them under different alphabets so that your photo shoots are done in the most efficient order. You don’t want to keep changing between the red shirt and blue shirt when you can do each separately.

    2. Shot Description

    The Shot Description is where you describe the shot that you want. Like my example, it doesn’t have to be super specific.

    It’s also where I insert other people’s photos that have inspired me (hence, ‘Inspo’) or want to replicate in some way. It’s easier than having to check my phone or search through the Gallery everytime I want to take the shot.

    3. Framing/Styling

    The Styling/Framing is the description of the shots under the same alphabet that you HAVE to have.

    Maybe you want a close-up of the items in your flatlay to highlight each one. Or maybe you want a bird’s eye view of all items in your flatlay. Or both.

    OR…. Maybe you want your flatlay to have an empty space in the middle so that you can edit in text later.

    For all those shots you want, write then down! The more shots you plan ahead and write down, the more efficient and productive your photo shoot will be.

    Also, nothing sucks worse then when you’ve already changed the scene and realizing that you forgot to take a particular shot that you reeeeally, reeeeeeally need.

    Note: TOP-VIEW refers to the standard flatlay style where you take the photos directly on top of the items. SIDE-VIEW refers to when you take photos from any other side angle.

    4. Props

    The Props portion is really about what you want to feature in your photos.

    By planning ahead on the props, you’ll be able to….

    1. Choose items that convey the vibe or identity you want to present.

    2. Choose items that are relevant to the subject matter of your social media post.

    One of my favourite tips for choosing props is to choose items that are in your brand colours to really tie your “aesthetic” together on your social media feed.

    For example, if your brand colour is pink, you might want to show off your pink notebook in your flatlays. (I went into more detail about choosing props based on your brand colours in this post)

    Once you’ve figured out what props you want to use, you can collect them and put them together in a container BEFORE your photo shoot starts. No more running around like a chicken trying to find stuff.

    5. Notes

    The Notes are basically notes of the shots you want to take. Any extra info that you want to include goes here.

    In my example above, I’ve listed down the different eyeshadow palettes that I will feature in my flatlay. The idea is I’d prepare the flatlay and switch between the palettes when taking the shots.

    If you want to be super duper detailed and organized, you can list them in the Framing/Styling portion so that you can make sure to tick each one as done (in every frame possible).

    But unless you’re doing a product photo shoot where you HAVE to get photos of every product from EVERY angle, organizing the shots like my example would be more than enough!


    Tips for taking branded photos as a freelancer

    Hold ye horses! Here’s a few tips that have worked really well for me:

    1. Use Pinterest and Instagram to collect reference photos. If you’re scratching your head thinking about what shots to include, check out photos on Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration! It’s good for starting off your first few shots. After that, let your creativity take over.

    2. Save your reference photos in your laptop / phone / tablet for easy reach. During the actual photo shoot, you’d want to look at the reference photos constantly in order to replicate them. It’s easier to do that when all those photos are saved and ready.

    3. Think about where you want to use your branded photos. As a freelancer, you’ll be promoting your services to potential clients, and your branded photos are supposed to help you do that.

    4. Have a theme for each photo shoot session. It’s unlikely that you can cram all the photos you want in a single photo shoot session, so it’s better to focus on only a few shots under the same theme and get them right.

    Plan your photo shoot and look RIGHT for the job.

    Stop wasting time and money and start impressing potential clients with the right kind of photos!

    Get the free Brand Photo Shoot Planner for Freelancers in your inbox.

      I won't spam you. Pinky promise.

      The best thing about having great photos is that they become an asset to your brand or business. Not only can your potential clients become familiarised with you and your style, you’ll also be able to create the brand you want by leaving the right impressions.

      What kind of photos do you think is best to promote your services? Comment below!


      How to Use A Skill to Kickstart Your Brand: Products vs. Skills. (Part 1)


      I want to talk about the time when I thought I was a genius for wanting to sell hand-illustrated notebooks.

      Specifically, Game of Thrones illustrations.

      A little background info: At the time, I just finished the first couple of books and the first season of the TV series was about to come out.

      My geekiness convinced me that it would be great to buy blank notebooks (I bought 50 pieces BTW), draw sigils of the Houses on the covers and sell them.

      Just imagine a normal brown notebook with a three-headed dragon on the cover. I also had a lion one for Lannister and a wolf one for Stark. (Like I said, geek)

      So I had 3 notebooks ready, and objectively, I knew my illustrations were pretty decent. But guess what? Nobody bought my notebooks.

      (In the end, a friend took pity and bought all 3)

      To be honest, the lack of sales made me pasta-spiral into self-doubt for a few months. I thought that it was such a brilliant idea. And to have that idea -- my first business idea -- fail was a pretty disturbing thing.

      But a few months after, I had an epiphany. Why not sell personalized notebooks? I could draw people's names on the covers using hand-lettering.

      So I went with that. And the remaining 47 notebooks were all sold. I also restocked and sold about 100 more notebooks. :)


      Your product isn't supposed to be about you!

      If there's one thing I learned about my time selling notebooks, it's this:

      If your product is about you, instead of the people you're selling to, you're going to have a hard time selling. You're going to have a hard time making money. A brand that's not making money is pretty useless.

      Don't let your own preferences and desires completely influence the product you want to sell. In the end, you have to convince other people to buy, not convince yourself.

      So creating a profitable product isn't easy. Can a person just "stumble" upon a money-maker? No. There's no stumbling, only lots of research and upfront investment.


      Using a skill to kickstart your own brand

      If you're like me and you can't spend RM5,000 - RM10,000 to research and develop your own product, there's a simpler path to build your own brand.

      That simpler path is the Path of SKILL.

      This basically means that you focus on developing a skill, offering that skill as a service and ultimately become known as an expert in that skill.

      A little recap here:

      • The Game of Thrones illustrated notebooks = PRODUCT
      • Personalizing notebook covers using hand-lettering = SKILL

      You don't have to start your brand by releasing products that are expensive to produce and frankly, could be totally wrong for the market.

      "You don't need to have a product to start YOUR own brand. Use your skills instead!"

      Remember when my GoT notebooks were all about me and obviously, were never gonna make me much money?

      Offering a skill as a service is the OPPOSITE. A service is personalized to the customer's requirements. It's all about the customer.

      And you will find that customers love the personalization factor, just like I realized it when I started offering my hand-lettering services.

      It's also a great way to start making connections with customers AND money without you having to drop thousands of Ringgit on your suppliers.


      For example, it's easier and cheaper to be known for being able to bake really good cakes than to manufacture your own line of cake mixes. Right?

      It's easier to build a reputation of being an awesome MUA by taking on jobs than to research and manufacture your own make up products. Right?


      You can have your own product, eventually!

      Once you have experience in what the customers want and good reputation from being consistently awesome, it will be so much easier to create and sell your own products.

      So the Path of SKILL and the Path of PRODUCT will merge someday. It's just that the Path of SKILL is safer and more beginner-friendly.

      So find / identify a skill, practice it, and offer to do it for someone in exchange of money. You don't have to have a product to start building your brand.

      Next week, we're going to look at how you can find a skill you can make money from AND build a brand that you want at the same time. :)


      Want more newsletters on building your brand using a skill?

      Every Friday, I'll send you an email with tips on turning the skill(s) you have now into a brand you love.

      I won't send you spam. Pinky promise. Unsubscribe at any time.



      The Real Reason Why We Want to Be A Blogger, Vlogger, or Social Media Influencer


      Being a blogger is not a traditional career path. You don't find 8-year-old or 9-year-old kids saying that they want to be a blogger (though my 9 year old brother DID say he wanted to vlog)

      What we want is not actually the "blogger" title. What we want is the Dream Life, where you get to:

      • Do stuff you actually LOVE (where you have so much energy for)
      • Do crazy fun stuff
      • Be paid to do crazy fun stuff
      • Travel to nice places
      • Travel to nice places and talk about them and get paid some more
      • Receive free stuff from brands we drool over
      • Receive free stuff from brands we drool over and get paid to talk about them
      • Be all cool and fancy by collaborating with brands we drool over
      • Use creativity in our 'jobs' and not feel like a corporate zombie.

      And you can really apply this Dream Life goal to being a vlogger or social media influencer. (Vlogging + social media are types of marketing, just like blogging)

      You want to be a blogger / vlogger / influencer because those people that you follow get to live the Dream Life.

      Wanna know my dream situation? I wanna have a nice white office with wooden / bronze-y furniture, a big ass desktop and all the office supplies I could ever want (in my favourite colours). AKA a nice work environment.

      I want to be able to take my laptop, go to my favourite cafe (It's Franco @ Nu Sentral, btw) and alternate work and reading good books while having desserts. AKA work-life balance.

      I want to be able to take a break and travel to places like Japan and Morocco, soak in all the sights and experiences, and come home with tons of ideas. AKA the freedom to set my own schedule.

      So I don't specifically want to be a blogger. My blog is a means to achieving my Dream Life.

      I want to collaborate with Post-it (yes, I really do). But does Post-it want to collaborate with ME?

      Do they want to be associated with ME and MY blog? Will my blog (the look, the writing, the kind of content) accurately reflect their brand?

      Post-it can't give their stuff to every single person who loves them. They have to think if they want to be associated with that person first.

      Just like a corporation that doesn't want to be associated with a corrupt or publically offensive person. Brands have an IMAGE to preserve.

      So what I'm saying is:

      • If having a great blog is a path to collaborating with Post-it;
      • Then having great design is a path to having a great blog.

      Great design is not the ONLY path -- you've got to have a great blogging voice and content -- but it's the thing people SEE. It's kind of an instant make-or-break moment.

      So you don't learn graphic design for the sake of graphic design, you learn for the sake of your blog.

      Easy graphic design is really a skill worth investing in. Even if you choose to learn it from someone else (and not me), you WILL discover that it gives you a great confidence boost as a blogger.

      And when you get your momentum as a blogger, you can do so many things that you're passionate for. You'll be thinking I'M ON FIYYAHHHH every single day.

      What's your Dream Life? (Tell me, I'd love to know. Maybe you like Post-its too?)

      NOTE: This newsletter was sent when I was promoting my Design Workshop for Bloggers.

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      How to Get People to Remember Your Brand


      I'm just going to dive right into the important stuff here:

      You're not going to be remembered if there's nothing to remember you by.

      There must be something that connects your brand to people's memories. A TRIGGER of some sort. When they see the trigger, they remember you.

      The easiest and most cost-effective trigger? Colours.

      I'm going to show you a picture.


      The logo looks like McDonald's logo, so it must be McDonald's. No? Why not?

      Aha, the colours are all wrong. But how do you know they're wrong?

      They're wrong because McDonald's have been using the same RED and YELLOW colours for the past 60++ years.

      And you know this not because it's part of the constitutional law or even constant announcements made by McDonald's. You know this because you've been consistently seeing McDonald's using the same colours. From when you were a toddler until now.

      So how do you get people to remember your colours?

      It's simple. Just get in the habit of using your colours REPEATEDLY.

      Choose 2 colours and use them for everything. Every single thing that comes from your brand. Props, packaging, posters, Instagram posts... Everything!

      When you get down to it, consistency is just about having good habits. When you do something often enough, it becomes a part of you. It becomes part of your identity.

      So getting people to remember your brand can be as easy as you cultivating the good habit of using the same colours.

      In time, people will associate those colours with your brand. Everytime they see those colours, they'll instantly recognize your brand.

      WARNING: This strategy only works if you're consistently using the SAME colours! If you chose blue and yellow, you'll have to stick to those colours before people can start remembering you.

      But that doesn't mean that you absolutely can't use other colours. Just make sure that you're prioritizing blue and yellow when promoting your brand.

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      Are You Always "Under Construction"?


      Are you always under construction?

      Are you the kind of person who has:

      • Millions of draft blog posts
      • A gallery full of "not good enough" photos
      • A bunch of expensive tools bought but not used
      • A note app full of great ideas
      • Bookmarks and bookmarks of inspiration and research
      • An Instagram feed filled with people posting amazing work,

      But you don't post anything?

      Imagine going to a website, and instead of seeing that website, you get a page saying "Website under construction. Please visit us again later!".

      Are you that kind of person? Are you always saying "later"? Are you always not ready for people to see your work?

      I get it. You're a perfectionist. I'm a perfectionist too. But let's not congratulate ourselves for our high standards.

      Don't be proud of your high standards if you don't complete anything.

      If you wait for perfection, or correctness, or whatever it is that'll make you "ready" -- you will never complete anything.

      And unless you complete something -- a blog post, a Youtube video, an Instagram post -- you have no brand.

      If you do nothing, you don't have a brand.

      If you don't have a brand, you won't make money.

      If you can't make money with your brand, you'll be stuck in jobs or situations that you hate but can't escape from.

      Hit publish before you're ready.

      Post your work on social media even when you think it sucks.

      Finalize your work even when there are things on it you can improve.

      Swallow your fear of being wrong and fear of making mistakes and hit publish.

      Every day will be a struggle. Sometimes you'll have good days and it's easy to hit publish. Sometimes you'll have bad days and you'd rather throw it all away. Hit publish anyway.

      For some reason, my words aren't flowing well today. This newsletter was hard to write. But I hit publish. And now you're reading this newsletter in your inbox.

      Now it's your turn.

      Hit publish today and do better tomorrow.

      Like what you read?

      Get newsletters like this from me in your inbox every Friday. We'll talk about personal branding, passion and more. Here's what a subscriber has to say!

      "I've subscribed to your email newsletter for a few months already. I enjoy reading it a lot. Keep up the good work!" - @ninaark

      I won't send you spam. Pinky promise. Unsubscribe at any time.