Jess Worrall, Photographer

Jess Worrall is as genuine as they come. A hilarious lady (she insists she’s much funnier than her Kiwi husband), Jess is also an absolute legend behind the lens. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jess, as she not only managed to snap some pics of me that I quite fancied, she nailed shots of my then 17-month-old son, smiling and in FOCUS! Holy moly, that’s skill.

A former social worker, Jess now has a flourishing photography business and relishes in taking candid pictures of families, lovers and babies. A mother of two little ones, Jess is passionate about capturing families in the raw. She snaps the unique, connected, genuine moments between people, rather than opting for staged portraits.

Whether you're a parent, have your own business or just appreciate a good photo, I know you'll love reading about Jess. Enjoy!

 Image: Lecinda Ward

Image: Lecinda Ward

In the work you do, how important are the right words?

The right words are often more important than the image itself. When I was starting out as a photographer, I really thought I could hide behind photos and not worry too much about words. I was so wrong!

I learnt very quickly that just sharing images wasn’t enough to help me to stand out in a sea of talented photographers. I needed words to accompany my images. My dream clients needed to connect with me as a human and as the face behind the camera.

It’s still my biggest struggle as the right words don’t always come easily. Sometimes it takes me half an hour to write a one-sentence caption for an Instagram post. Finding and expressing yourself with words is crucial, no matter your business.

What gets you up in the morning?

My kids...at 6 am on the dot every.single.morning.

What led you to your current career choice?

I’ve always loved photography. At school, I always had a camera in my hand and took photos of my friends. When I was 19, I travelled overseas and my passion for travel photography really took off. I purchased a DSLR for a trip to Africa but didn’t really know how to use it. I kept it on auto the entire time but was still thrilled with the photos.

I always thought of photography as a hobby and never saw myself as technically strong enough to pursue it as a career. It was my ‘dream job’, one that I didn’t think would ever eventuate.

I was working full-time as a social worker until I had my daughter in 2014 and my son in 2016. When my son was almost 1, I was looking to return to social work but had difficulty sourcing part-time opportunities. When I really thought about it, the prospect of going back to a job that demanded so much of me emotionally, while I was still incredibly sleep deprived, didn’t thrill me!

Thanks to a very supportive and encouraging husband, I decided to try and make my dream job a reality. I began doing portfolio building shoots with friends, purchased a logo from Etsy, built a website and the next minute, I found myself in business!

What are the most effective ways you market your business?

I’ve largely been connecting organically with people via Facebook and Instagram. Local area Facebook groups have been really effective for referrals, with happy clients passing my name on to others. I had an incredible collaboration experience with Motherhood Melbourne last year and found that to be a great way of connecting with some amazing brands, small businesses and entrepreneurs (including you!). I’d love to invest some more time into my marketing this year.

How has the landscape of your industry changed since you began?

I’ve only been in the industry for a year, but I’ve been thrilled to discover how supportive the community is, both locally and worldwide. I wasn’t expecting so much emphasis on community over competition. In fact, I’d been worried that other local photographers would feel like I was stepping on their toes. That could not have been further from the truth, which I’m so grateful for.

What is the best piece of advice you could give to other freelancers/small business owners?

Don’t worry about what other people are doing and don’t compare yourself to others in your industry. It’s so easy to tell yourself you’re not good enough or your work isn’t worthy. The truth is though, everyone is at SUCH different stages, there’s no way you can truly compare yourself to anyone. I really believe if you’re passionate and committed to what you’re doing, you’ll grow your business and find your clients.

I’d also advise setting boundaries for yourself. For the first 10 months, I put every ounce of time and energy I had into my business and took on far more than I could actually manage. Eventually, I realised that saying ‘yes’ to every single enquiry was not good for business, my family or for me.

How do you best feed your creativity outside of your work?

Photography is definitely my biggest creative outlet, so I feel really fortunate to be able to do that for work. I absolutely push myself further creatively when photographing my own kids. Trying new techniques and ideas with them feels much safer than it does with paying clients.

To learn more about Jess Worrall Photography, visit her website.

If you’re a photographer who needs a hand with the wordy part, let a copywriter help!

 Image: Amy Rushbrook

Image: Amy Rushbrook

Holly Brunnbauer, Motherhood Melbourne

Unless you’ve spent the past year living under a rock, if you’re a fellow Melbourne mama, it’s likely today’s guest needs no introduction. But just in case, Holly, aka Chief Mama of Motherhood Melbourne, is a woman on a mission. Mum of two gorgeous boys, Holly was determined to create a ‘hood where mamas could go for connection, support and also to ‘let their mum buns down’. A community that valued honest and real conversation about the way parenting changes your life. The ups, the downs and everything in between.

Holly’s a huge fan of collaboration and you may have seen us hanging out together in last year’s MM #hoodmamaEDIT. Bringing like-minded individuals and businesses together for the good of everyone is at the core of things for this awesome lady. In fact, this week there’s another exciting collaboration taking place. Be sure to play along and follow both our Insta-stories tomorrow!

In the meantime, I know you'll be keen to hear from Holly, whether or not you’re a mama yourself. So pour that cuppa and enjoy!

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In the work you do, how important are the right words?

Words are my everyTHANG! I can’t flatlay to save my life and I’m certainly not having my pic taken in front of funky walls and appearing all nonchalant. So, it’s through words that I try to connect and find my peeps. Whether it’s an email, social media or a blog post – words allow me to show my personality or work through all the noise in my head.

What gets you up in the morning?

At the moment it’s my new bub and toddler. Whoever is the loudest gets my attention first. After my fam-bam, it’s the rad ladies I’ve met through Motherhood Melbourne. This gig fulfils me in a way that no other ‘job’ has. I am someone who needs to have a fire in my belly or I will move on pretty darn quick.    

What led you to your current career choice?

Motherhood Melbourne was never intended to run as a business. However, after a crazy social media pre-launch party, I woke up to lots of buzz (and a gazillion emails). I just knew it was going to be something spesh and that I needed to pull on my big girl pants and GO FOR IT. By day I create online learning at a not-for-profit and in between that and crazy kid life, I work on my other baby – Motherhood Melbourne.  

What are the most effective ways you market your business?

I have never paid for marketing. Instead I’ve been able to spread the word via social media, collabs and good old word of mouth. Don’t underestimate that last one. Mums talk – a lot! And there’s nothing stronger than a recommendation from a fellow mama pal.

Email is another goodie. Social media is always changing, but if someone trusts you enough to let you into their inbox, then they like you – a lot. It’s more intimate and allows the relationship to grow beyond social media.

Lastly (soz I get excited about all this marketing jazz), gorgeous photographer friend Jess Worrall (#shamelessfriendplug), reminded me last year about the importance of our websites. A website is something that we do own and have control over, so don’t underestimate the power of it. It’s so important to tweak it and ensure that it attracts and keeps the right people.

How has the landscape of your industry changed since you began?

I only started this adventure a year ago and there’s been a lot of changes. Social media algorithms are always bonkers so I try not to worry about them too much. Plus, influencer marketing seems to be rampant. Everyone is pimpin’ something or other. In terms of the whole ‘motherhood’ space, there seems to be a lot more people joining in – bloggers, brand reps, influencers and so on. But I think it’s a great thing if they’re adding value. The more support, the better, I say.

You love a collaboration – what’s been your favourite so far?

Defs the #hoodmamaEDIT – which was a celebration of all things Melbourne. Bloggers and businesses working together to showcase people and goods. It was a lot of work but I admit that I do find logistics quite sexy. Nothing thrills me more than a detailed project plan. However, the real joy has come from the after effects. Seeing the pics being used on websites, news sites, in magazines and social media. Also, getting the loveliest emails from people involved who said that it opened them up to connecting with others and provided further biz opportunities. Makes my heart SIIIIIING!

What is the best piece of advice you could give to other freelancers/small business owners/mamas who hustle?

Value yo’ self! Do not assume that someone is more successful or deserving of success because of some numbers on a social media app. Pfft…

Also, assume that people will want you to succeed. I reached out to 50 businesses to help me launch Motherhood Melbourne. None of them knew me and they all said YES! Because people are kind. Just ask because you never know where it may lead.  

That is all…mic drop.

Keen to join the 'hood or learn more? Go on, check it out!

Need copywriting support for your small biz, mama? I can help!

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5 Podcasts You Need to Check Out

I’ve been off the radar for the past week. Any spare moment in the car, out walking, around the house has been spent hooked up to the memoir Alone: A Love Story. Michelle Parise’s lilting voice has been in my ear, regaling me with her epic tale of heartbreak and the breakdown of her marriage after an infidelity. I’ve never listened to a podcast with such obsession. I’m four episodes from the end of the 20 episode marathon. And it’s very much been my kind of marathon. Here’s why you should give it a listen, along with 4 others that are my current faves.

Alone: A Love Story

For when you have time on your hands and want to be swept away by a great story

Set to a kick-ass soundtrack, the story of Michelle’s relationship and its subsequent breakdown is completely addictive. It moves seamlessly back and forth to reveal more and more details of her love story. It’s also brutally honest. Michelle holds nothing back when sharing intimate details of her relationship with The Husband, later The Ex-Husband and her subsequent lovers. The story is sometimes sad, sometimes funny, awkward, moving and brave.

Being Boss

For when you need a no bullshit business boost or someone to talk some sense into you

I feel like I talk about his podcast a lot. Partly, that’s because since I’ve discovered it, I’ve been keenly exploring the very extensive back catalogue. Even though Kathleen and Emily have been recording since January 2015, there’s no need to listen in order. I just pick and choose the episode topics that interest me the most. Over the years, they’ve hosted some pretty inspiring guests too, like Brene Brown who spoke about creative vulnerability, and Danetha Doe who chatted money, mindset and energy. I feel a strange synchronicity with this podcast, where new episodes often align with some element of business that’s been on my mind. Spooky.

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For when you're behind on current events and the stuff everyone’s talking about

Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales are funny. Really funny. Their conversation rambles, taking many twists and turns, but it’s always intelligent and entertaining. 30 minutes snappy episodes, where you get to eavesdrop on some highly engaging, witty chatting.

Making Oprah: The Inside Story of a TV Revolution

For when you’d love a bit of a history lesson and to celebrate your love of all things Oprah

I recently came across this fantastic WBEZ Chicago podcast Making Oprah. 30 years since Oprah debuted, it tracks her journey in a three-part series. It was fascinating to learn about the early days of the show, to hear from Oprah herself, rival Phil Donahue and a bunch of her former staffers. On my must-listen list is the latest WBEZ podcast Making Obama, a 6 part story of his climb from Chicago to national stage as US President. I can’t wait!

The Slow Home Podcast

For when you need to slow down, or when you feel disconnected

This podcast was recommended to me by a friend, who I consider to be fairly mindful and calm. I confess it took me a while to get around to it, but now I look forward to spending time with husband and wife Brooke and Ben as they talk topics such as, the joy of doing nothing, the importance of getting back into nature, presence over presents and many more. When I’m feeling a bit bogged down in ‘stuff’ or ‘busyness’, tuning into The Slow Home reminds me of the importance of slowing down and of reconnecting. Simple stuff, but somehow so hard to do sometimes.

Enjoy discovering a newbie or two from this list. There’s something there for whatever mood you find yourself in. I’d love to know some of your favourite podcasts, too.

Be in touch and tell me what I should listen to next!

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The Day I Survived Without My Laptop

If you were ever a ‘Sex and the City’ fan, you’ll no doubt remember when Carrie’s computer went to heaven and she spectacularly lost everything. Those were pre-cloud days, and she lived life on the edge, without backing up. Now, that was a huge technological fail. So, mine? Not in this league, but still enough to throw a spanner in the works.

I didn’t need to log on to Xero on Tuesday last week and, thankfully, I’m not an accountant. Xero - my reliable, trusty accounting software - was down for the day. Eeep! But just the following day, I went into panic mode as I realised with horror that my laptop had gone into work with my husband. I had inadvertently left it in the boot while doing childcare pick up and general toddler wrangling. After letting out plenty of initial frustration, I took stock.

I had three precious work hours ahead of me, courtesy of my little one’s grandma and grandpa, and I was not going to waste them. Here’s what I did, and what I suggest you try if ever you find yourself in the same boat.

1. Go old-school!

I put pen to paper, the old-fashioned way. With a newsletter due in the next 24 hours, I had no choice but to go old school. What did I discover? How much I love the feeling of my pen running along the page. The break from staring at a screen was also pretty refreshing. Sure, I had to skip formatting, links and image placement for now. But, I quickly finished a draft that would take very little time to type up later. Dare I say, perhaps the copy flowed even quicker by hand?!

2. Prioritise

I went in to my Trello app via my phone and got my priorities in order. Yes, it meant juggling a few things around, but it also meant I used my time productively. Funnily enough, it also gave me time to focus on the tasks I’d been avoiding…

3. Go big

...Such as big picture dreaming. I’ve long had ideas brewing that I rarely make time to ‘work on’, such is the daily grind. Today, rather than see them as big day-long tasks, I spent some bite-size chunks on the big picture and goal stuff. And, you know what? It didn’t take long to get some serious clarity.

So, am I glad I left my laptop in the boot of the car? Would I do it again? Not purposefully of course, but it’s great to know there are ways I can be productive without it.

Obviously, I'm back online now! So, if you've been meaning to get in touch, you can do that here. I'd love to see if we're a good fit.

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Sophie Walker, podcaster, Australian Birth Stories

If you’re anything like me, perhaps podcasts have only recently come on to your radar. But now that I’ve discovered them, there’s no looking back. Goodbye dull commute or aimless walk, hello opportunity for learning, laughing, mindfulness or anything in between. Check back here in a couple of weeks, when I’ll let you in on my current faves. In the meantime, here’s an up-close-and-personal with Sophie Walker, the woman behind one of them. In case you missed it, Australian Birth Stories was one of the hottest podcasts to drop last year!

Sophie lives in Melbourne with her husband and their two young boys. Holding a Master of Public Health, she was interested in babies and birth from a young age. While pregnant with Niko (4), she immersed herself in all things birth, dreaming of a drug-free, birth centre experience. Despite her plans to the contrary, Sophie had a 36-hour labour, complete with hospital transfer, induction, epidural, episiotomy, forceps and then a postpartum haemorrhage. Second time around, she researched like crazy to prepare for another attempt at an unmedicated birth centre birth. Juggling a toddler and a part-time job, podcasts were a good option as they could be listened to ‘on the go’.

After achieving a beautiful birth with Louis (2), Sophie was inspired to create the Australian Birth Stories podcast. It is an important collection of varied women’s birth stories from right across Australia. I’ve known Sophie for many years and have been so excited to watch her rise up the podcast ranks. She’s a warm, friendly and determined woman. Enjoy the read, and then be sure to check out the podcast for yourself.

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In the work you do, how important are the right words?

In my current line of work, they’re essential. It can be so easy to offend people when it comes to birth. I try to steer clear of terms like ‘natural birth’ if I can. There are many negative connotations with other words in my field, such as epidural and induction. It’s so important that I’m always mindful of how I come across when interviewing women and discussing birth.

What gets you up in the morning?

My 4 year-old and way too early. We tend to start the day at 6am. On a professional note, the emails and messages I get daily from women saying I helped and inspired them to have a great birth. This is something I never really considered when I first started the show.

What led you to your current career choice?

I studied and worked in public health for many years, most recently in cancer research. I have a Master of Public Health and love working and talking to people. An obsession with birth, women’s health and podcasts led me to try my hand at starting my own podcast.

What are the most effective ways you market your podcast?

Without the finance for a marketing budget, I’m currently relying on word of mouth and Instagram.

What have you learnt about the world of podcasting since you began Australian Birth Stories?

Consistency is the key. Oh, and editing takes 10 times longer than I ever plan for. Although I know podcasts are available on a global scale, I never expected to have weekly listeners in countries such as Romania, Spain and Pakistan. It’s mind-blowing. I’ve also learn that while it’s great to be regularly ranking in the top 5, nothing beats getting a personal email from someone saying how they used something they learnt from the podcast in their own labour.

What is the best piece of advice you could give to other podcasters?

Only begin if you can keep up with the schedule you have set for yourself. If you say you’ll be releasing a weekly show, have four shows ready to be released before you launch. In the early days, I found myself ringing around friends the day before the show was due to air as I had nothing to release for that week. Thankfully, I now have around 150 people on the waiting list, so a shortage of stories is no longer an issue!

When you’re not listening back to ABS episodes, what podcasts are your faves?

I love This American Life, Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People, and Ladies, We Need to Talk.

You can find Sophie and the Australian Birth Stories podcast here.

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