The nerdy details… aka the good stuff
I ain’t in the habit of ‘blogging about blogging’. There’s loads of experienced and talented guys out there that can show and teach you, just like they taught me how to build and grow your website into a business (I’ve listed them below!).
Tide & Tree is about helping confused, overwhelmed, stressed, possibly introverted business owners or full-time workers achieve balance between work, life and play, grow confidence, and increase productivity in their day-to-day life mindfully. To help with your workload, Tide & Tree also provides high-quality, nature-inspired stock photography for your marketing and social media.
That being said, I often get asked how I’ve built the site into what it is (even though there is still a LONG way to go!) and what tools, resources and education I’ve had along the way. So what better than to stick it all in one place for your convenience!
There may be affiliate links in this page, which means I receive a small commission if you purchase anything through that link. There’s no cost to you, and I’d never leave you high and dry – everything I promote or suggest is because I love it myself! I’ve only listed stuff that has actually helped me. So if I’ve taken a course, read a book or used a tool or service that hasn’t helped me, I haven’t listed it!)
Website Management & Design
I use Flywheel to host this site. I highly recommend their hosting platform. Granted it’s slightly pricier than GoDaddy for instance, but my site has never gone down, it’s very quick considering the high number of visuals stored and displayed on the site, and the support is fantastic. I wouldn’t go anywhere else!
Plus you get a handy back-end account management area where you can create staging sites to test updates and new design ideas, and they back my site up daily. They also keep it safe and secure for me and my visitors. This means I don’t need to clog my WordPress site up with bulky plugins. Teamed with lightening fast speeds, what else do you need?!
Content Management System
It’s all about WordPress (.org). I’ve never used anything else. Yes there’s various other options such as Wix and Squarespace, but I’ve never even been tempted. WordPress is more than just a blog platform now, it’s a full content management system that allows me to create a powerful, highly visual e-commerce store and blog. Not to mention, you could get a plugin to do pretty much any feature your theme doesn’t already come with.
If you go with WordPress.com, you can start for free with a Wordress.com subdomain. You can upgrade your free plan and get your own domain along with loads of other options if you like. The benefit is they’ll host it for you and take care of the technical stuff. But if you’re serious about having a high-quality website, you’ll want some powerful hosting (see above), your own domain name and a WordPress.org account.
I use the awesome Flatsome WP theme which can be found amongst many other beautiful themes over at Envato. The Flatsome theme is brilliant as it’s pretty much a blank canvas for you to build your site from the ground up. It comes with what’s called a UX Builder, which helps you visually create your homepage, menus, sidebars, footers, headers and pages. It has demo’s, templates, and loads of cool elements to add to your design such as buttons, Instagram feeds and pretty social media icons.
The support is fantastic and honestly I never dreamed my site would look as good as it does. If you’re not wanting to spend too much time on it and you’re not overly fussed about it looking custom-built, then you may be best with an already designed theme where you can just change the branding, logo’s and colours etc. But if you want to really make your website look and feel like you and your brand, you’ll love this.
e-Commerce & The Shop
I use WooCommerce to run the stock photography shop and I love it. It comes with the Flatsome theme as a standard plugin but if your theme doesn’t have it you can get the basic plugin for free over at WordPress.com which can help you sell both digital and physical products both locally and internationally.
To further enhance, customise and elevate your store to the next level, there’s a variety of extension plugins to work alongside each other. I only ever get the extensions from the WooCommerce site so I know they’re either made by WooCommerce, or endorsed by WooCommerce. Some of my favourite extensions are the WooCommerce Amazon S3 Storage, WooCommerce Multi-Currency, WooCommerce Tab Manager and WooCommerce Smart Coupons.
I use PayPal to not only buy things for my business, but also as a way to accept payments on the site. It’s easy to set up, the fees are pretty standard and I know it’s safe and secure – plus it’s accepted worldwide these days and pretty much everyone has heard of it, so it’s reassuring for customers.
Even better, customers don’t need a PayPal account to pay with PayPal, it acts as a ‘gateway’ to securely process the payment into my account using the customers debit or credit card information, without them needing to sign up. You can also add different currencies to accept payments in!
And whenever I’ve needed support, they’ve been really quick at getting back to me.
Plus if you get the WooCommerce plugin, it comes with the Paypal Express Gateway option right away for you to configure!
Alongside PayPal I also use Stripe for my payments in the shop. I offer Stripe as well as it is considered just as safe, secure and popular as PayPal, and it gives my customers a choice.
Again, the fees are fairly standard, they’ve got great support and a brilliant account management area where you can get loads of stats and analytics on your sales.
It also accepts any currency (so you can set your shop up with WooCommerce to accept different currencies!) And with WooCommerce it automatically comes with the Stripe gateway option for you to configure!
Traffic & SEO
Yeah I really don’t know a lot about SEO, and I really need to up my game, as everywhere I look it’s recommending SEO education and strategy as a must for building your site. I researched heavily about the easiest way to improve the SEO on my site and used a few different WP plugins before landing on the highly (and I mean highly) recommended Yoast SEO plugin.
It’s easy to configure (even for me, who still knows barely anything about SEO), there’s loads of tutorials and information to help you (which I need to read more of) and it’s actually quite easy to use – plus the basic version is FREE!
Whenever I post I can make sure the keyword is relative and used (but not over-used), it even tells me how ‘readable’ my post is and how to make it better. And it manages my Google XMP Sitemap to help the site get indexed quicker in search results.
It also helps me configure how my posts, pages and media will show up when shared on social media, which is a major headache-remover. (Is that a word? Probably not.)
There’s a lot of email marketing solutions for you depending on the size of your business and your budget. I plan to look at ConvertKit in the future but for now Mailchimp is serving me very well.
It’s free up to 2000 mailing list members and 12000 emails. Which is more than enough to start you off when growing your business. Plus the premium packages starts at a very reasonable $10 a month.
There’s a great content management system that helps you design beautiful looking emails with loads of templates to get you started, and it’s brilliant at providing analytics on your email campaigns.
You can create a welcome email sequence for new subscribers, along with one off campaigns and automated emails to go out based on a variety of criteria.
Plus it’s been heavily ‘anti-spam’ since way before GDPR rules and always guides you in making sure your emails stand the best chance of landing in the inbox, and not in junk.
I’ve just started using Tailwind for Pinterest and I LOVE it. I was basically able to create a months worth of Pinterest content to auto-publish to a variety of my boards, my group boards and ‘Tailwind Tribes’ within about 15 minutes. Timesaver.
Tailwind tribes are these awesome communities niched down to various categories, full of eager Pinners who want amazing content (yours!). In return, (as your Pinterest grows better when sharing plenty of other peoples stuff), there’s loads of relative content for you to schedule.
It can schedule your pins to your own time-slots, random time-slots or optimised time-slots based on when your pins are most likely to be seen. There’s loads of awesome stats and analytics so you can see what’s popular and what isn’t, and there’s a brilliant desktop extension (similar to the Pin It extension) that let’s you schedule any content you find that you think your readers will love.
I pretty much upgraded the free Pinterest account right away and pay around $15 a month. As you can also add your Instagram account I may be doing that in future also…
For now I use Later for Instagram management and I honestly really do love it. The free package gives you 30 posts a month allowing me to post daily.
With Instagram rules changing, Later can now auto-publish for me, which allows me to schedule and sort my Instagram posts weeks in advance and let them run. I can always easily edit the caption and hashtags if I want to change it in the future, and I can change the time if needed.
I can also have it just notify me to post, in case I don’t wish it to auto-post. Handy if you’re waiting on certain information before posting.
It stores your media in there for you and it allows you to store and organise your hashtags into groups, so you can add only relevant hashtags to the posts.
You can manage this on both your desktop and in a handy app, and possibly the BEST feature is you get to preview your feed, so you can make sure it looks on brand and beautiful.
Powered by Creative Market
Before I even started selling stock photography on Creative Market I was shopping on there. It’s basically like Etsy but for digital resources, and the products available will suit any brand style, any business type and will make you look LEGIT. Plus it’s super affordable.
Need a logo? A WordPress website theme? Some illustrations or patterns? How about a lovely font? There’s literally, so many choices from thousands of super talented designers, artists, developers and photographers. You can even get some beautiful looking social media templates to speed up your content creation.
I swear by it, not only has it been an incredible place to sell my stock photos, but it’s also an amazing place to get all the other design stuff I ain’t so good at. Not to mention I’ve made some great connections on there and had some awesome collaborations out of it. Not too shabby….
Plus there’s 6 FREE goods released each week if you sign up!
As a photographer, it’s only natural I’d need Adobe in my work. I used to have both the Creative Cloud subscription (Photoshop and Lightroom) along with the Illustration plan, but since I was introduced to Canva (see below) I’ve cancelled the Illustration plan.
However I LOVE Adobe PS and LR, although I’m much more experienced in PS than LR. I wouldn’t edit my photography with anything else. I’m not the best to teach or show you how to use PS, but you can find loads of free tutorials over at the the Adobe website.
You can get started at around $12 / £10 a month for the CC plan. Well worth it to have all that professional editing equipment at your fingertips. Plus you can get the CC app and effortlessly transport your edited files to your phone in an instant (perfect for IG tile planning!).
Canva is the tool I use to create my Pinterest pins, blog, facebook and email graphics. There’s so many wonderful templates to start from, it’s such an easy drag-and-drop interface and no matter how limited my graphic design talents are, I ALWAYS end up with super professional looking designs.
For a small business with no budget to hire designers on retainer, this is PERFECT. I was originally using Adobe Illustrator, but without a ‘design-mind’ I was basically staring at a blank canvas for about 40 minutes before putting together a fancy box with some words in it. Seriously.
Now I look like I have super design skills (when I really don’t). I can also save my templates, which means each time I create a post, I can lay up the graphics for it in about 10 minutes. 10 MINUTES! This used to take me hours. There’s also a super-handy app to design on the go!
And you can start with a free plan. Yes please!
I came across Jenna Kutcher early on in my business through seeing other business owners recommend her courses and teachings. I instantly signed up and got a free course in building my email list – which was invaluable and taught me things that really helped me get more subscribers.
I then committed and purchased her Pinterest Lab course, which was a game-changer for me. I instantly went from a blank Pinterest page with no idea on what to do, to nearly 100 followers, constant impressions, clicks and engagement in like, a month. Now Pinterest is slowing becoming one of my biggest referrals of traffic to the site and my follower count grows daily.
Plus she introduced me to Tailwind and Tailwind tribes, which was a brilliant investment.
She gives so much free content out, and is a very real and open person. I highly recommend you check her out if you want to learn how to make your online business successful without compromising who you are.
Pat Flynn – Smart Passive Income
I actually used to pride myself in how much I thought I knew about the industry I was going into, so I was always skeptical about taking on new teachings – I mean, are they really going to teach me anything I don’t already know?
Er, yes. Enter Pat Flynn. This guy has helped me SO much in how to grow a sustainable, ethical and successful business. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not there yet, but the improvement in the ‘business’ side of my business has gone from strength to strength in the last few months, all down to Pats teachings of growing traffic, mailing list subscribers and introducing affiliate marketing and other income revenues – the right way.
Anyone who’s anyone in this industry has most likely come across Pat – he’s pretty big. If you haven’t yet checked out all the free content he puts out there, I heavily recommend you do – your business will thank you for it!
Other Stock Photographers
Because the Tide & Tree style just may not be right for your brand – and that’s ok!
Heart Takes The Wheel
Style: Bright, clean lines and colourful.
I LOVE Glady Ann’s photography style. She’s a very engaging person and you can most often find her hanging out in her IG Lives and stories. Plus she loves plants and coffee. What else do you need to know?!
Nordic Copper Design
Style: Nordic-inspired, minimal and clean lines
Being a visual merchandiser for a large department brand, the lovely Marianne brings her tips, tricks and insights into her beautiful stock photography daily. Not only that, but she helps me and others to understand basic concepts of styling through her generous teachings.