The case for morning yoga classes...

At Hamptons Creative Media, we have slowly morphed into a company primarily specializing in wellness-centered digital design, PR, and social media. The majority of our clients taken on between 2016 and late 2018 have been yoga teachers and studios, Ayurvedic healers, acupuncturists, wellness centers, etc. Who knew that website design services could have niche? We’ve been immersed in the world of yoga, healing, and self-care. Often, this has included waking up at 7:00am to get to the 8:00am class - for work reasons and for personal reasons. Recently, my favorite studio, Yoga Shanti Tribeca, has added even more morning yoga options to their schedule, like Shanti Wake Up. I am also a fan of the tried-and-true 8:00am classes at Yoga Shanti Sag Harbor (they never fail to help me start the day off right). So, what’s the big deal with morning classes?! Well, continue reading below for three reasons they are a “can’t miss” in your repertoire.

1) Seeing the sunrise!

Getting up early can be tough (especially when it’s still dark outside), but there is something really awe-inspiring about starting a yoga class basically in the dark, and slowly seeing the sun rise…filling the studio with sunlight – it kind of gives sun salutations a whole new meaning! Plus, technically, according to ancient texts, yogis are supposed to practice between 4:00am and 6:00am for this very reason! Even if you are not physically watching the sun rise, seeing the rays in that early-morning state can really have a positive effect on your mood, and just FEELS GOOD.

2) Healthy habit forming.

Yoga encourages us to make decisions that will cultivate a better, healthier lifestyle: physically, mentally, and emotionally. When we practice yoga in the morning, we are more likely to make healthier decisions throughout our day! Physically, we might make wiser food choices, go to bed earlier, get enough sleep, be more mindful of our posture, and just simply breathe a little deeper. Mentally and emotionally, we might be inspired to let go of negative thoughts towards others, let go of road rage, forgive, sort through issues in a calmer state of mind, and have a more positive outlook. If you practice setting an intention during yoga class, you might find yourself going about your day with that intention in mind – enabling you to truly live a more mindful lifestyle!

3) Increase in productivity, release in tension.

Any time we start our day earlier, we have the opportunity to get more done, and when we get a lot of tasks accomplished, how do we tend to feel about ourselves? Great! (And usually less stressed). Sleeping late can feel good in the moment, but when we get our day started sooner, we are able to accomplish so much more, and feel successful, satisfied, and like we have everything under control. During a yoga class, you not only release tension in your body, but often times, we can release emotional and mental distress, too! We always leave a yoga class feeling better than when we came. This feeling can really stay with you and keep you in a positive, energetic mindset for hours afterwards. Imagine how your day would be if you started it with yoga. You’d have so much more time to enjoy that high. Not only that, but imagine how much better your body would feel throughout the day, by releasing stress first thing.

You can sign up for classes at Yoga Shanti Tribeca or Yoga Shanti Sag Harbor here. This is not a sponsored post.

Emma DeVitoComment
Commonly made mistakes in the world of small businesses websites

It’s becoming hard to ignore the fact that websites present small businesses with enormous benefits. As people become more connected to the digital world, a brick and mortar store isn’t the only option anymore. Even owners of the smallest local businesses are realizing that creating a website is more effective and trackable in terms of opportunities and results.

In a 2017 survey, 92% of small businesses said that they will have a website ready by 2018. Unfortunately, creating a website (or even delegating the creation of one) can still be intimidating. Many small business owners don't have tech backgrounds, and there are a lot of mistakes to be made.

Here, we will delve into three key components that small business owners sometimes overlook when creating websites - and focus on how to get it all right.

1) CONTACT INFORMATION

Maybe you offer just a few shoppable items, or maybe you’re selling a service instead of tangible products. In these cases, putting up a shopping cart may not be appropriate. In this case, it’s important for your customers to be able to reach you instantly.

In this case, it is important to make your business number prominent on your website, or create a contact form that’s suitable for your target audience. In my experience - this means easily accessible and less time-consuming. We don’t want to scare anybody away before they can even click a “send” button on their first contact attempt.

2) ABOUT PAGE

Often, the creation of your website's About Page is an afterthought - thrown together from the website's theme with few changes. But, on the internet, establishing trust is the name of the game. To truly make a good and lasting impression among potential customers, you’ll need to make sure that you can convey your values and passions through this page right away. Often, it is one of the first places a customer is looking - this especially applies to small businesses.

The goal is to charm your way into your audience’s hearts by highlighting how you started, or by defining what problems do you are looking to solve. Answer questions like, “What makes my brand stand out?” or “What’s there to gain by working with us?” Give your customers the confidence that you are a real person, and that you continuously strive to provide them with only the best products or services.

About pages can trigger EMOTIONS. One of the top ways marketing really works. These emotions that can inspire website visitors to support your small business. Don’t succumb to the common practice of filling yours with jargon and meaningless filler text commonly seen on some sites - although it sounds smart, it is too impersonal and can be alienating.

3) MOBILE-FRIENDLINESS

Lately, big companies like Google are dedicating a lot of their efforts towards “Evangelizing and forcing a change of mindset from desktop to mobile.” Even small business owners can take cues like this from the big leagues. If you’re a business owner, you should expect that visitors will be using a multitude of different devices to visit your site. Therefore, it’s crucial to make sure that your website is designed to be accessible on any screen size, and on a variety of platforms. DON’T be part of the alarming statistic that only 30% of small business websites are mobile-friendly!

Oftentimes, this comes with choosing the right website designer. An experienced and thoughtful designer will consider all of this when creating your site - and will place a huge value on making sure it is all mobile-friendly.

Your website designer should make sure your site is adaptive. The Adaptive approach uses multiple page layouts then chooses what to display depending on the size or width of your screen. Adaptive design snaps your content into a defined environment or layout.

People are more likely to stay longer if they see that you’ve placed a premium on user experience. When you get potential customers to stay longer on your site, statistically, there’s a bigger chance of convincing them to purchase something from you!

IN CONCLUSION

While creating a website for your small business might be easier today due to the wide availability of tools and services that you can get for cheap (or sometimes even free), this doesn’t mean that you should neglect the fundamentals that make a website fit your business goals, optimize the customer experience, and in the end, promote SALES. Better website, better ROI - this is why it’s important not to sacrifice when creating yours. As customers’ attention spans get shorter, it will be harder for you to convince them to make a purchase. Carefully constructing various elements on your website will pay off, and it will make you stand out from the rest.

Love,

Emma

Emma DeVitoComment
Social media and mindfulness - can they get along?

Whether it’s a minor inconvenience like a parking ticket, or a major setback in your finances (like a huge hospital bill or a new car), or in your relationship (finding out Mr. or Ms. Right was just Mr. or Ms. Right Now), one thing is for sure: the way you react to your external circumstances can make or break you as an entrepreneur, business owner, or freelancer. So, I started meditating when I realized that life doesn’t always go the way you want it to. It lead to me realize a few years ago that attitude impacts everything. It directs your mind, your behavior, and most importantly, the energy you put out there in every aspect of your life.

If you want to master one of the most underrated secrets of “how to be successful in life”, take a look at your energy and your attitude. I believe energy is contagious, and I think about what I want people to “catch” from me. This doesn’t mean I am telling you to hide your emotions, or to push down negative feelings. The path to positivity is often dealing with, and moving through, what you are truly feeling - which means accepting all parts of your emotional spectrum. What I’m suggesting is to become aware of how much power you have inside of you that you may not be currently accessing, and take responsibility for the impact your reactionary attitude has on the quality of your life, and on other humans.

This is exactly why I meditate. I sit still every day, before I make plans, before I say yes when I mean no, before I head into a full day of calls with clients and staring at a computer screen. I work in morning meetings after I take time to clear my energy and get myself in check. Meditating made me mindful, and being mindful made me feel kind of like superwoman.

Meditation helped me achieve clarity: on what I wanted, who I wanted it with, and where I wanted to have less hustle (or more). It silenced the white noise between my ears.

Meditation, or mindfulness, has been on the rise these past few years, becoming popular in both personal life and the workplace. Have you heard about JP Morgan and Eileen Fisher hosting meditation conferences (and speeches from famous yogis like Colleen Saidman Yee), or the Hyatt hosting mediation rooms for corporate travelers?

But, what is mindfulness? It is the practice of staying in the moment, focusing on breath (pranayama), and using “mind over matter” and gentle mental nudges to regulate our thoughts. Studies have shown that mindfulness has the ability to literally rewire our brains and our interactions with the world. (Did you guys hear that? It literally changes brains).

Here are a few ways that having strong Meditation Game can help you conquer a negative mindset, and make your spirit contagiously happy.

Improve Your Focus: Odds are you are going to check your email at least once while reading this post. (I know I’ve checked my Instagram(s) while writing this.) Mindfulness helps with attention-spans and therefore helps with our ability to focus. The goal of mindfulness is to stay in the present - and when we do, our minds are less likely to roam. Mindfulness affects the area of the brain known for self-regulation. With more self-regulation, we are able to stay in a task longer and avoid meaningless time-consuming habits, like checking our emails every. Other. Second.

Become a Better Listener: Can you hear me now? Like its capability to increase focus, mindfulness can help us to become better listeners. Have you ever been in a conversation with someone, but eventually your own thoughts are louder than his words? We’ve all been culprits. Because mindfulness helps keep us in the moment, we can better pay attention to the flow of information.

Embrace Criticism: We all love criticism, right? Mmmm…Wrong. Accepting negative criticism is a hard thing for most of us to do. This is definitely my Achilles heel. But, mindfulness can help us take criticism and digest it more effectively. Negative feedback can cause a flight or fight reaction that can shut down parts of the brain. But through the practice of mindfulness, we can slow down our brain, keep in the present, and therefore reduce our anxiety right as it is beginning to brew. Mindfulness can help us take in information pause - giving us chance to consider what is being said, and comprehend it with a level head.

Maintain Relationships: Welp, hippocampus means “sea monster” in Greek. But besides it being a mythological creature, the hippocampus is also the part of the brain that helps with self-awareness and compassion. These are both qualities that are fundamental in building and maintaining relationships. Mindfulness increases the function of the hippocampus, therefore allowing us to be more empathetic - and when we are more empathetic, we are more likely to be effective team players.

Do you practice mindfulness? How has it improved your life?

Love,

Emma

Emma DeVitoComment
How to snap jaw-dropping Instagram photos

If you want to improve your social presence, the first order of business is usually stepping up your Instagram game. According to Forbes, Instagram is the top social network for engagement, and has been for a while now. Continue reading  to learn how to take better photos and curate an enviable feed. These tricks of the trade are accessible to everyone - not just professional photographers (with thousands of dollars of photo equipment) and an MBA in Photoshop. Here are a few foolproof tips to start implementing today, that can make a huge difference. Get your content to look great - ASAP. Grab your iPhone and put these tools to the test! 

TIP #1 - FIND AN INSTA-WORTHY BACKGROUND

The type of background you choose is sometimes just as important as the subject of your shot, and it shouldn’t ever take away from what you want to share. I suggest a simple, clean background: a flat wall, marble or wood, a bedspread, or an outfit detail. 

TIP #2 - LIGHTING IS EVERYTHING

The best kind of light to capture your subject in a flattering way (whether it's a person or an object) is natural light. Natural, even lighting can totally change your photo, and it helps you capture clear and focused shots. Set up near the window and try not to cast a shadow over your subject. 

TIP #3 - CLEAN YOUR LENS!

You probably already know this, but it's easy to forget. We rarely keep notice how much our phones are being touched. Dirt, dust, oils, or lotions can easily be smudged onto the lens and end up the culprit for blurry photos. Be sure to wipe off the lens with a soft cloth. You can also invest in a high-quality clip-on lens for your phone for pretty cheap. Here's my favorite on Amazon Prime for less than twenty bucks.

TIP #4 - UTILIZE SQUARE MODE

Instagram photos display in square mode, so capturing your work in square mode will help you to include everything you want featured in your feed, and will also help you visualize what your picture will truly look like as it scrolls across your followers feeds and as they browse your page. Additionally, cropping a photo from the original to a much smaller image can sometimes make it look blurry or pixelated - and if you're already shooting in square, no cropping is necessary.

TIP #5 - DON’T TAKE YOUR PHOTOS WITH THE INSTAGRAM APP

When you snap your photo you want have options, so using your phone's camera (not the Instagram app's) is the best way to ensure you’re able to take more than one picture.

TIP #6 - USE A STEADY HAND

The smallest movement can create a super blurry shot, which can prevent your work from standing out. Try your best to have a steady hand. You can even use the "Burst" method to take a bunch of photos at once and choose the best one. If you don't know about Burst, type it into the YouTube search bar for a How-To. I usually take at least fifteen photos of a subject and then choose my favorite. Sounds like a lot, but you can always delete the extras later!

TIP #7 - INVEST IN A GOOD EDITING APP

When I say "invest", I'm not telling you to scour the App Store for the most expensive one. I mean invest your time - learn the ins and outs of your app of choice and practice all of the tools and modes it has to offer! Watch a few YouTube videos and become comfortable in your process. A little brightening, saturation or contrast changes, cropping, and sharpening can make a "blah" photo look totally amazing. A couple of my personal favorite photo editing apps are Aviary and VSCO.

Happy snapping! 

Love,

Emma

Emma DeVitoComment
Tricks to master Instagram’s new feature: Stories
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First of all, what the heck are they?

Instagram stories are up to 10 second videos or 4 second images strung together to create personal narratives that last for a 24-hour period (kind of like Snapchat stories). Apply filters, edit details, and, unlike normal Instagram photos, add text and/or drawings to images. So what's the big deal?

With Insta-stories, we can become more intimate with our followers and deliver a more "organic" or "candid" peek into our lives. More importantly, from an engagement standpoint, stories can track and list viewers - making it easier to see who is really paying attention to your social presence.

Stories can also add a little extra oomph to your regular posts. They can help boost your impressions, too. Located at the top of the Instagram feed, stories increase your visibility (and create more clicks) - something all brands and public figures want! Check out my 5 tips below to help keep your followers coming back for more.

TIP #1 - VARYING CONTENT

The truth is that followers do not want to see the same thing again and again. Variety is the spice of life - especially on social media. Imagine if your favorite TV series had the same story every episode. Not. Cool. The same goes for your Instagram stories. 

TIP #2 - ALTERNATE IMAGES AND VIDEOS

Stories don’t have to be only video - try adding in still images for emphasis of a point, or to make something easily readable. But make it interesting - incorporate color or moving emojis to grab attention (without covering up important text). Alternating mediums keeps viewers interested, informed, and entertained. Filmmakers often use establishing shots among action and dialogue, and so should your Instagram story. A beautiful still image or a simple colored background with text are both a great way to introduce your story. Use text to explain what's happening, add instructions to a craft project, or prompt a user to “swipe up”. This is important! By prompting users to swipe up, you can add access to things like web links, promo codes, or services.

TIP #3 - ADD TEXT

Adding some text can create some drama in your stories. Want to draw attention to a detail in your video? Add an arrow or use a circle. Need to share a quote? Add colorful text. Text is a great promotional tool. With text, you can draw attention to a particular product or provide an URL to purchase it.

TIP #4 - CRAFT A COHESIVE STORY

Yes, your content should vary day to day, but each story should stick to a specific theme. This helps add clarity to the overall identity of your business, brand, or narrative. Just like novels, Instagram stories should have a beginning, middle, and end. Viewers like and appreciate simplicity and a traceable plot, so don’t leave out the conclusion of your story. If you are sharing Valentine's Day crafts, don’t suddenly switch to a different image about interior design - stick with your theme for that day. Your story is a great way to offer more instruction and go further than a still image. It can also expand your narrative to include background info or add a touch of personality. A cohesive story is great for step-by-step tutorials or product test drives.

TIP #5 - TAKE YOUR FOLLOWERS BEHIND-THE-SCENES

Ever wonder what it’s like to be backstage at a concert? Or on set at your fave movie? Stories can be used as the perfect opportunity can take your followers behind the velvet curtain. Peeks BTS are a great way to engage viewers. "Exclusive" content is  exciting and can also make your viewers feel extra special. Indoor cycling company Peloton does an excellent job using behind-the-scenes stories. In addition to advertising their products, Peloton often brings followers into their photo-shoots, or captures instructors hanging with each other on a day-to-day basis. 

Love,

Emma

Emma DeVitoComment