It’s enough to have to worry about actually creating your content for your blog and social media, right? Nevermind, having to deal with getting images to go along with it that’ll help you stand out and catch the attention of your potential clients! In this episode, Mallika Malhotra of MikiFoto + Co shares some actionable advice on how to set up a brand image bank so you never have to scramble to find another photo again!
Mallika Malhotra of MikiFoto + Co is a brand photographer, branding expert and author of The Brand Photography Playbook. After years of working in corporate advertising, she now helps women entrepreneurs master their story, show up as the face of their brand and create a business that makes customers totally swoon. It's her mission to empower women to stop hiding and to start emerging as leaders. She is a strong believer in getting out of your comfort zone, taking action and implementing ideas. Her friends and clients call her the brand energizer! When she's not taking pictures or building brands, she's at home with her three sons and husband, drinking coffee or red wine and dreaming about their next global adventure.
Key Takeaways from this Episode
What has your business journey looked like from when you first hung out that digital “come in, we’re open sign” to where you are today?
- I have been in business for over 11 years, which is crazy to me. And so my journey has taken lots of twists and turns and pivots. It hasn't been sort of a straight and narrow path. When I started my business, I was strictly a photographer, and I was a child and family photographer. I started the whole creative journey with my own kids, because they were young at the time. And I started using photography as a way for me to connect with my family that was living on the opposite coast. I was in California, and they were in New York. And I really used storytelling as a tool so that they could get to know my kids. And what I found with that was it kind of opened my eyes to this sort of new creative path, and really instilled in me this passion of like capturing all these milestones, the big and the small. And telling stories of my kids, as well as the other kids in the neighborhood, and other families. And all of a sudden, I had this little business, which was amazing, that I could do at home while I was raising my boys.
- And then, over time, I found that I started to get interested in more than just family and children portraiture. I was doing more networking events. I was meeting other women entrepreneurs, and I had this love for business that I wanted to explore a little bit more. So I started doing some head shots, and from there I wanted to find out more about these women in business than just taking like a one-dimensional portrait. I wanted to find out, you know, why they started their business. How were they different from everyone else. And it got me into trying to reveal that story in more storytelling imagery.
- And that's where brand photography sort of was born for me, because I wanted to dive a little bit deeper into these businesses, and show the many layers of their business through visuals. And it was just at the time also that I feel like, you know, social media and online marketing were starting to really grow. And so people needed images more than just a headshot. They had websites, you know. They had Instagram and Facebook, and they were launching newsletters and email campaigns. And so I was able to work with these women and help them create this bank of images so that their marketing would be much easier for themselves, and that they would show up as the face of their brand, and really connect with their audience.
- And now, 11 years later, I still do that brand photography, but I also do a lot of work in brand strategy, really helping my clients figuring out, you know, what they stand for, how they're different, and who they should be serving. And so, it's been a long journey to get to where I am now, and I no longer do any of those child and family portraits anymore.
In terms of legacy – what is the big mission you’re here to accomplish with your business?
- It's so much more than just the pretty pictures that I create for my clients. It's really about leadership and empowerment, and helping these women become the face of their brands. To really show up and be visible. I think, as women, sometimes we have this hard time of being seen, and it's so much easier to hide, to have a logo, or to have a website showing your portfolio, and not really put yourself out there. But I find that with my business, that is really the mission of what I want to do, is I want to help women to start playing bigger. To start being seen, and really emerge as leaders in their marketplace. So, like, as you said, they can inspire other people. And it becomes almost like domino effect, where all of us show up, and all of us serve with confidence, and share our message. Then other people see that it's okay for them to do it as well.
So, with brand photography, if you could distill it down to one thing, what do you think is the number one burning question that you get about brand photography? And what do you tell them?
- People are still sometimes unsure of what even is brand photography. They think it's a headshot, but they know it's not. It's a little bit more. And so, the stories of what they could be sharing is sort of a mystery to a lot of people, and I have to educate them on what those different stories that they can share to their audience, so that they can create the depth, the meaning for their brands and their business. So that they can resonate with their audience.
- So it's showing them that, you know, it's not just the headshot. It's also showing what your process is like, what your passion is like, where you get your inspiration from, where do you see the vision of your business in five years. And how do we demonstrate all of those ideas and themes in visuals so that when someone comes across you and your brand, they feel an instant connection, or a curiosity about what you do. And you stand out in their mind. And when it is their time in their journey, be it now or later, that they will come back to you because they remember you from all of these stories that you're putting out there.
So shifting gears to marketing – How do you stay motivated and inspired when it comes to content creation (especially after all this time)?
- It has been a long time. You know, I read a ton. My days, I wake up very early, and I have some time to myself to do a lot of reading business books, branding, marketing. And that helps me feel inspired. I also am a big proponent of networking, in-person networking. Getting outside of your office. Meeting people face to face. You know, getting some ideas, brainstorming together. And the last thing that really inspires me is listening, really listening to your audience and to your clients. Sometimes I'll hear certain fears that people have, or certain comments that are made in Facebook groups, and that will be the fuel for me to create content. To create a message and that, either it's an Instagram post, or a blog post, or something in my newsletter to sort of address some of those challenges that I hear my audience having.
How does content work in your business. What do you handle and do you have a team that helps? Fill us in!
- So, I actually now have someone on my team, which is so helpful. So that you don't have to do everything on your own. I work with a virtual assistant who happens to be an excellent writer. And we probably system together where I'll do batch days. So, I'll have a few days on my calendar where I will carve out two or three hours where it's all about creating content for that month. And I'll do this brain dump of different ideas based on the listening that I've been doing with my own clients, or an audience, just hear what they're challenged with. Some of the fears that they have. And I'll brain-dump content that I want to create for my weekly blog post, my monthly newsletter, and then daily I post on Instagram and on Facebook.
- And then I'll sort of work hand-in-hand with my VA, who will take those ideas, and together we'll look at kind of like what my marketing plan is. Like what's coming up, so that we make sure everyone stays strategic and can work towards really serving our audience, but also if there's a launch coming up, or you know, there's a program that I'll be talking about, or a challenge that I'm doing, everything fits smartly into the whole marketing puzzle for my brand. And she helps me sort of get that, execute that content and get it out there. It's very hard to do everything, and so it was the best investment I made is to hire a VA that can take my strategic ideas and then finesse them, and then actually push them out there.
Do you have a system, or a recommendation, or tips, for somebody who wants to maybe batch those brand photos as well that they can use on Instagram?
- Yes. I think when you're out and about, there is … You know, your phone that you have with you is so powerful. You don't always have to hire a professional. You don't always have to get that big dog camera out. Your phones are so powerful, and take beautiful pictures. Use it. Create a bank of images as you're walking day to day. Take pictures of things that catch your eye, that are in the colors of your brand, that resonate with your messaging. And start building that bank. So that, when the time comes that you need to post, you can go back to that bank and see what is appropriate for that time.
- I think a lot of people think if they take a picture of something, they have to post it immediately. And I always say you don't need to. Like of course if you want it to have that organic reach right now, and it resonates with what you're feeling right now, that's fine. But the best way is to create that bank as you go through life, as you go through your days of all of these images, so that you have something to rely on as you're producing content on that consistent day-to-day basis.
- And of course you can combine that with professional brand photos that you might also have in your bank, but it's so good to have not only the professional, but the authentic, day-to-day, almost DIY style photos. That people can really get a sense of who you are holistically.
How would you define a content empire as it relates to your own business and what you’ve built?
- I think a content empire is someone who is consistently generating strong content that resonates with their audience. That has influence, or inspires their audience, like really motivates them. You know, it is a combination of being a leader through inspiring, but also educating. I think what happens a lot is that people do not generate content on a consistent basis, so they are really good for one or two weeks, and then they fall off the face of the Earth, and you never hear them again. And consistency is so key in today's world.
- And I think, also, it's the diversity of content. You know, not relying on one platform, but trying to combine maybe having that email newsletter that you know that you own, the list, to having Instagram, a more visual platform. Or having a Facebook group where you have more intimate interaction with people that have signed up for it. So it's really trying to find that combination of different things, for you to really be able to connect with your audience.
Latest content or marketing tool discovery? Trello right now and Grammarly helps me a better writer
Most profound business course or program you’ve read? Glow up with Rachel Rodgers
What is one marketing trend that you're passing on for now? I think I'm passing on IGTV
2018 or 2019 planner of choice? I am a paper planner girl and I just have a very basic plain planner from Barnes and Nobles. People are shocked when they see it but I have the same one for the last five years.
Where would you invest $5,000 in your business today? I would love to hire an online business manager and it is time for me to get new brand photos for myself.