Plan Your Ideal Week like a Performer

Plan Your Ideal Week like a Performer

This is me when my maiden name was Vickie Smith, when I was a jazz vocalist. Being performer has taught me a lot about planning my schedule for success…find out why.


Planning my ideal week ahead of time was a necessity when I was a jazz vocalist with regular bookings.  I had to not only get my own bookings, but also rehearse, preparing materials for the entire band, including directions and payroll, and doing all my PR.  And years later after I left the performing world and getting back to my grassroots, marketing, and am now have the greatest gift of all to perform to every day – my two year old son.  Some things haven’t changed, like having a very hectic schedule.  When your schedule is inconsisent like mine is, you have to grab every opportunity to bring your thoughts together. For me, that means planning out my week and each day before it begins.

No two days are the same with a two year old. There are his own daily activities that have to be planned out in addition to my own. If I wait until the last minute, I feel like I never get anything accomplished. There are also days when I feel it is a struggle to walk, but more on that in a bit.

I was listening to one of my favorite Podcasts with Amy Porterfield and Michael Hyatt as her guest, whose podcast also gets my head on straight when I feel out of focus. In episode 174, He talked about planning your ideal week based on categorizing different activities where you are in the performance, namely, front stage, back stage and off stage. There are different activities required at different stages of the process of getting you to a certain goal, whatever that goal may be. For me it is keeping content up on the web that I create so that I can continue to keep my brand alive.

My son is my top priority, but he other priority on my plate is getting my healthy back in order since his birth. It’s no secret that I have MS, diagnosed in 2007. My disease progressed somewhat after he was born, making walking just a little more difficult. Weight training 3 times a week and intense physical therapy twice a week keep me moving, in addition to my son. I don’t complain because I’m grateful that I can drive myself to get there and back and there is always someone in a worse circumstance than you that makes complaining about your own situation pretty silly.

My Previous Career as a Jazz Performer
For me, creating the ideal week was a winning concept because as a former performer, I can totally relate. I was a jazz vocalist with a regular band that I regularly booked, as well as sol gigs if I performed with tracks. The amount of work that went into each performance was ridiculously out of proportion with the amount of time I spent on stage performing in front of a live audience. There was way more time spent on the back end, with things like

– Rehearsing with my piano player to work out arrangements for the group.
– Rehearsing with all my musicians.
– Putting together a show and new set list.
– Booking new gigs
– Getting publicity

And the list goes on.

You can substitute any members on your team These are all the activities (at least the majority) that I had to take care of off stage. It is very much the same for a solopreneur. There are front stage, back stage and off stage things that you must take care of for your own show. Now it’s time to get my own show in order so I can produce content again like I used to. It’s just not that easy when your ear is always waiting for a little one to rouse from a nap, and I am not one to produce content while he is alongside me and I could be devoting my time to him. The first three years are very crucial for brain development, and I never want to look back and regret any time I didn’t spend with him in raising him to be an amazing performer in his own show.

There are new challenges to overcome every day,. Whether it’s with a very active and bright little boy who needs active mental and physical stimulation, or it’s a day where my leg and foot are just not cooperating with me no matter what I do.

So I’m off to plan out my ideal week thinking about life as a performance, and I thank Michael Hyatt and Amy Porterfield for helping me to keep my head on straight.

Question: Do you plan your day or week ahead? Do you have more items or less items on your off stage list? How do you find it best to keep your life organized?

4 Ways to Use Smartphone Video for your Business

4 Ways to Use Smartphone Video for Business

You’re probably already using your smartphone to capture still pictures of your world, but smartphone video is an even more powerful tool to evoke emotion and life from your smartphone.  In fact, it’s using the same smartphone camera, just a different mode – video.  And video will take your marketing and branding to a whole new level.

In Part 1 of this 3 part series, I showed you the 6 business photos your business needs.

Part 2 looked at how to take the perfect marketing selfie that you can use for marketing and promotional purposes.

In this final part of the series, I will share with you 4 very strong reasons that you need to get out of just camera mode on your phone and start cranking out some killer video on your smartphone.

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How to Create Perfect Marketing Selfie (for your business!)

If your business is in social media, why not include a marketing selfie every so often to show your customers the face behind the brand.  Especially if you are an entrepreneur, your personal brand is what’s going to attract your ideal clients.  Put a face to your business name with your visual marketing strategy online will be evergreen and last a lifetime.

The Marketing Selfie

The marketing selfie is a selfie that you take for promotional purposes, sometimes promoting another brand (llike an author whose book you stand behind). It’s a perfect opportunity to share your own personal brand (yourself) beyond every other marketing photo that you capture for your business brand.

The purpose of the marketing selfie is to give your viewers a glimpse into your personal tastes and activities. The human side of your business is what people need to see to be able to connect with you more than just the products and services your business offers.  RememberL People do business with PEOPLE, not businesses they have no connection with.

Here are ten tips to take the perfect marketing selfie with your smartphone.

  1. Timer

If you have a timer option on your smartphone, either the native camera app or in a pro camera app like Top Camera, you can take the selfie without having to hold it in your hand, causing camera shake. You can zoom in on the tiniest detail and it will be super sharp with no motion blur because the smartphone didn’t move at all. If you don’t have this feature available, have someone else take the shot for you.


  1. Stable Surface

Set your camera on a stable surface or use a tripod. You will find that you will get the most super-crisp photos using this method. Accessories like the gorillapod or quadriped will hold your camera at the exact location you want, more than the average selfie’s arm length. Using a tripod or stable surface to hold your camera, instead of your hand, will allow you to get more of yourself in the shot.


  1. Clean it up.

Remove anything from the area that distracts from the main focus of the shot – you.  Your smartphone camera captures as much information as it can see, pretty much everything in the frame. Make life easier and clean up your area.


Remove any wires that do not need to be visible on your desk, books not neatly in their place on a shelf, or a can of soda or even food in your shot. You are the subject matter so draw those eyeballs to you.


  1. Straight lines


Use the gridline tool (built into your camera app) and your screen to  preview what will be in the shot. Line up your background with the gridlines and make any necessary adjustments. Using straight lines to straighten out your image to make the difference between just an average selfie and a cut above the rest to really stand out.


  1. Promote others

A picture is worth a thousand words, and a thumbs up is a universal symbol for telling people that you approve of something. And if you are holding something in the frame of the shot when your thumb is up, it’s pretty obvious that you are approving of that item for others to see. The item could be a book whose author you endorse, a product that helps to improve your business activities, etc.


This type of endorsement photo is a GEM for social media, particularly because the person or people behind the object of your endorsement will want to let the world know, too, multiplying your efforts. Your smartphone photo will do the book author or whatever you are approving of a valuable service by giving them free marketing material they can use in social media. Priceless.

  1. Make your brand name visible

What would be worse than trying to show the world using your smartphone camera that you are proud of something, only you didn’t take ample time to properly compose your shot? The brand name you want to share with the world in your marketing selfie is cut off in a square crop (for Instagram), or it is not clearly visible. You have all the time you need and can take as many photos as you want to test your shot to eliminate any excuse for cutting out any part of the brand name. And if you want your own brand name visible in the shot, make sure that both are clearly visible.


  1. Ensure a square crop.

Particularly if you are going to share on Instagram, your photos will be cut in a square crop view. This means that when you take the shot, give yourself enough space in the edge of your frame to be able to have everything you want clearly visible within the square shot. You can test your photo to see how the cropping will look in Instagram, just don’t share it until you are happy with the end result. Make sure you not only leave enough space around the perimeter, but that you don’t cut a part of the brand name or maybe even your thumbs up!

8. Look for the most flattering lighting.

Chances are you are going to want to take a quick photo, and not have to hunt around with any additional lighting. Be resourceful and use the light you have to make sure that your face is well lit. If you don’t like what you see, move to another area or try a different angle, where the lighting may be more flattering.

9.  Good grooming goes a long way.

If you are holding something in your hands, make sure to inspect your nails and ensure that they are clean, neatly manicured and/or polished. If your hands will be visible in your shot, holding onto a product you are quite proud of, you don’t want them distracting your viewing audience. For females, you can even choose a nail polish color that complements the product, but just like you comb your hair and put on makeup before you walk out the door, don’t forget that your hands will be in the shot, too.


10.  Use your facial expressions.

A thumbs up will only go so far if your face doesn’t show that you mean it. People will see the subject matter you are promoting, your thumb, and your facial expression as the main story and purpose of the photo. Make them all count by showing a facial expression that shows you mean a thumbs-up approval. You should show jubilance, and even an open mouth if you want to show that you are super excited about something, not just the average “say cheese” smile. Show that you are really proud of the product in a way that cannot be hidden from view. Shout it to the world, and people will remember you.

I took this marketing selfie with my iPhone propped on my desk. The camera was very stable in this way, and I used a two-second timer to delay the photo to eliminate further camera shake and to get myself entirely in the frame without holding the camera. When I shot the first test shot, I didn’t like the angle that I was shooting at because the sun was shining through the window behind me. Because I looked in the camera and saw these multiple test shots, I chose a different angle in my office to take this photo. I decided to use my studio lighting to direct it to where it was most flattering on myself and on the book that I was holding to give a thumbs up to.


I took this selfie at Unique Photo. Notice the angle of my shot includes their complete logo as well as the owner. This shows my audience that I am committed to photography, and also a huge fan of Unique Photo in Fairfield, NJ.  I shared this photo in social media, with a little Wordswag bling thrown in (one of my favorite apps to spruve up photos.


Have you already been taking selfies for your brand?  What kinds of elements do you make sure to include in your smartphone photos?  Please shaare, and come visit my page on Facebook




If you have any questions you’d like me to answer, or tips, suggestions or other comments about this episode, you can post them in the comments section below.

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6 Business Photos You Must Have (that you can take with your smartphone!)

6 Business Photos You Must have that you can take with your Smartphone

Every business owner should jump on the opportunity to take the 6 categories of business photos they need to attract potential customers, and with a smartphone, there’s no excuse anymore.


Posts with visuals receive 94% more page visits and engagement than those without.  (Source:  If you don’t share photos of all your business has to offer with potential customers, you are surely missing the boat.  And you don’t have to be a professional photographer, either – using your smartphone will do just fine to get you started.

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Smartphone Mom Video Rockstar: 2017

Smartphone-Mom-Video-RockstarJust call me the comeback kid.  Smartphone video was a big reason for that.  2016 was quite an eventful year, as I transitioned into my son’s toddler phase.  In 2015, I watched him grow from infant to baby and this year it was all about his first steps, first words and other exciting firsts.   2017 will uncover even more developments, as he will turn two at the end of May.

Before I share how I became a rockstar with smartphone video, I need to explain a few things that happened along the way since 2015.

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