Business Savvy Archive

My definition of success as a creative business owner.

Shay is a product stylist who created styled stock photography and flatlays for creative business owners.

Per usual, I’m late to the game but when I saw the topic of yesterdays @risingtidesociety #TheRechargeChallenge it was a topic I’m SO STINKIN’ PASSIONATE about that I had to jump in! Better late than never!  This might seem like an odd picture to choose to represent what success looks like to me as a commercial photographer and styled stock photography shop owner. I almost chose a joy-filled picture of my family because that does, in a way, capture what success looks like for me but this picture captures what is happening beneath the surface that allows for the happy family photo.

For our family that is finding a way to make a business flourish and thrive within hard boundaries.

Wind me up and let me loose and I will attempt to take over the world. haha I LOVE owning a business, I love what I do, I love teaching others, I love working hard and seeing results BUT all of that, when not given hard boundaries, will wreck havoc on the elements of my life that are actually of much more valuable to me in the long run; A joy-filled home. A love & friendship filled marriage. Deep community and friendships. Radical generosity. Intentionality and connection with my children…So about 5 years ago when I was in the throws of trying to get a grasp of what being a business-owning mom of two would look like I sat down and defined what success was going to look like for me.  The idea being that no matter how much money the business was bringing in, it was ONLY a success – a win – worth still doing – if ALL of the following things were true. So here it is – My business is a success if:

  1. It is a financial blessing to my family and not a financial burden.  This means that it operates debt free and brings in additional income that our family can enjoy/give/save/spend.
  2. It is an emotional and physical blessing to our family and not an emotional or physical burden. The goal is that both me and the family thrive and that the business is not a constant drain on me emotionally, physically, creatively, and mentally.  If it is, then something needs to change.
  3. It is fun!  Not all the time, and not every day because nothing good comes without hard work and sometimes hard work is HARD but overall, the business needs to be fun and life-giving for me and if it isn’t than something needs to change.
  4. The business exists to serve our lives and not the other way around – we do not build our lives in such a way that everything serves the business (our schedule, availability, mental space etc). I run a big business in two days a week from 9-5 and with rare exceptions, neither Graham nor I pick up work or even open work e-mail on off days, nights, weekends or vacations.
  5. It is not only self-serving but others-serving. To me this means that it provides an avenue for generosity – not only financially but also with teaching, encouragement and truth.
  6. It can be shut down if needed.  This might sound like a silly measure of success in business but it is one that keeps my heart in the right place.  Success is when this work does not define me.  It is not my identity. I would not be crushed or fall apart if one day the whole thing ceased to exist.  I work as hard as I can to be excellent at it but all the while I hold it with an open hand knowing that it does not define me and I can let it go if I felt God asking me to.

So there you have it!  This is my definition of success as a business owner. I hope that it has been encouraging and helpful and, if nothing else, I hope that it has inspired you to define what success looks like for you!

I would love to hear some of your measures of success below!  What resonates with you? What are your deal breakers as a business owner?

New in the shop: Rise and Shine Styled Stock


Warning: you are going to go BANANAS over this new collection!

Sorry Friends, I had to. In all seriousness, we are so excited to launch another new collection this week! Trust us when we say this Sunny Breakfast Collection is just the thing to brighten up your morning and your brand!

We have several fun breakfast themed images that are infused with bright, cheery yellow, while still being minimalistic and clean in their styling. Making them perfect for a variety of brands and uses!

There are 9 images making up this collection, including a gorgeous vertical which is perfect for blogging and Pinterest, as well as two different image sets with and without tech screens. Add your digital content to one of the screen images, your products to one of the minimalist tabletop styling, add your custom text to the notebook image, and your print designs to the clipboard version! We have also included fun banana-only images in this collection which are perfect for making a fun shop announcement but would also be a perfect way to share a children’s product line!

We 100% think this new collection will take your morning to the next level!

Grab a cup of coffee and go take a peek!

Shay and the SC Team

Four things I learned at the Creative at Heart Conference that I’m changing immediately!

Last weekend I boarded a plane from Tampa to Denver to join a lineup of crazy talented creative industry leaders to speak on Finding Your Niche at the Creative at Heart Conference.  Any good conference will fill your head with knowledge but this one never fails to fill my heart as well.  I left with a notebook full of notes that needed to be processed and prioritized but four things stuck out to me that I knew that I would need to change immediately…

I taught about finding your niche at the  creative business conference.

(image credit @creativeatheartconference)

I though you might just be interested in hearing those four things. Am I right?

    1. Heather Crabtree, creator of Savvy Business Owners community, talked about workflow and the six biggest workflow mistakes we tend to make (I was guilty of more then one!) but the one that stuck out to me the most was Mistake #6 which was when you don’t end a project well.  You deliver the service, collect the invoice and it’s “so long!” This should be when we take the time to celebrate with our client, send a thank you, and here’s the big one…ask for feedback and get a testimonial!  This has implications for both the Stockshop and my commercial work but it’s something that needs to change NOW! Thanks Heather!

    2. Wedding photography couple Amy and Jordan Demos showed us how great businesses tell great stories.  I absolutely STINK at storytelling guys! I am just more of a facts kind of girl.  Save the flowery language, I’ll pass. BUT Jordan and Amy were so right in that the best brands create and foster an emotional connection between themselves and their clients and they do it through storytelling.  The big takeaway for me?  It’s not as hard as you (or I) think to be a storyteller.  Jordan and Amy’s advice is to simply try to drop them into a moment of the story instead of stating the facts.  I tried this recently on my personal Instagram feed and have already seen better engagement!  It’s hard for me but I’m trying to stretch my creative writing muscles and give it a try! You can too!
    3. Katelyn James (Sigh, I’m just going to go ahead and call her America’s Sweetheart because seriously, if you have ever met her in person she truly is!) helped us to understand the micro changes that can be made within our businesses that have macro results.  One of my lightbulb moments came toward the end of her talk when she was talking about the power of a simple thank you note.  Some of you may have been Stockshop fans long enough to remember that when I first opened the SC Stockshop back in 2013 I used to send hand written thank you notes at the end of each month to ALL of my customers!  I was able to do that for almost my whole first year of business but eventually there were too many orders monthly for us to keep up with and I had to resort to a more generic “thank you” in the download e-mail. Whomp Whomp. In passing, Katelyn mentioned that people who sell online digital products should find a way to send a personalized digital thank you card to online purchasers after a sale.  LIGHTBULB.  I have really missed the personal touch that the thank you note use to give me with my clients and I am already working on finding a way that I can send a custom personalized thank you card to every single person who makes a purchase in the shop starting soon!

    4. Finally, one of my favorite speakers every year is Natalie Franke, wedding photographer and co-founder of the Rising Tide Society.  A long time ago (ahm.) I was a psychology major in college and so her talk on “The Brain Behind The Business,” the role that neuroscience plays in purchasing behavior and business, just fascinates me! She talked about how the most successful brands find a way to engage all of their clients senses with their client experience. She gave us a fun assignment to try to engage all of the senses to describe our brand! I thought I would give it a try for the Stockshop brand.  I’m sort of embarrassed to even share this here but as an exercise of humility (haha!) here is my attempt:


“You carefully slip into your very first designer dress. The scent of orange blossom, citrus and gardenia fills the room as spritz your favorite scent onto your wrist and take in a deep breath.  When you arrive later that evening a gentleman in a black tie hands you a glass of champagne and motions you down the hallway.  One more deep breath and you enter the room to the sound of applause as all eyes turn toward you.  In that moment you feel like you CAN do this and you DO belong here. Thats what it feels like to dress your brand in SC Stockshop styled stock photography.”

So how did I do? (insert blushing face)  How would YOU engage all of the senses to describe your brand? What does your brand look like? Feel like? Smell like? Taste like? Sound like?

There were so many more takeaways from the Creative at Heart Conference in Denver but these are ones that I am working on right away and I think that they could be helpful for you as well!  Make sure that you check out the Creative at Heart website to find out when and where their next conference will be!

How does she do that?!

A lot of times we come across a situation where one of you will see a great post on Instagram or on someone’s website or blog where they mention using the Stockshop and it leaves you asking “How does she do that?!” or more importantly, “How can I do that too?”. We love when you guys email us to ask advice on how you can use the SC Stockshop in your own businesses, but we also thought it might be helpful to highlight some of these ways right here for you!
blogShay Cochrane_Marble Desktop_Styled Stock Photography_Styled Desktop34Today I want to spotlight our tech images and share several different ways you can incorporate our screen styled stock into your business and branding! These are all quotes and image usages from actual SC Stockshop customers who are happy to share all the ways they love working with our screen images! 

Our hope is that this sparks all sorts of ideas on how you can use our screen images to elevate your own brand! Take a peek below at what others had to say, and then grab your own tech image from the SC Stockshop and get to work!

2013 Shay Cochrane

“I love using Shay’s Styled Desktop Images to show off my monthly desktop wallpapers, ebook designs and website mockups – but using them to share your business mission statement is such a great and new idea! This image is the first thing you see when you get to my website and I love that it shares exactly what I do and who I work with – all while looking fantastic, too!” – Laura Kashner of Laura Kathryn Creative



Each month on the Lily and Val blog we offer a free hand-drawn desktop and iphone wallpaper download! SC Stockshop images are the perfect way to show them off! Have you ever tried to photograph a computer screen? It’s not easy and rarely looks nice. The same goes for ipad and iphone screens! SC Stockshop tech images are some of my favorites. They are so polished, pretty and simple to use.” – Valerie McKeehan, Lily & Val


Amy Ellid Photography

“I love how SC Stockshop images really make my feminine WordPress themes come to life. Having the beautifully styled desktops increase customer confidence as it helps my customers to visualize what their website will look like on their desktop. To enhance the experience, in my Customer Spotlight blog posts I like to feature my customer’s websites on styled stock images. This helps to make the image more realistic and gives the viewer an insight into the different ways just one of our themes can be used. Have you tried using styled stock photos to spark your business?”        – Kathie, Bluchic


HNoelle Brand Board Graphic

In an effort to build brand equity and share a consistent set of visuals across all my platforms, I love utilizing SC Stockshop images on my own Instagram account! But I don’t just stop at sharing quality visuals, as I work hard to integrate engaging captions and images that help tell a story. This image is a recent showcase of a custom logo for a client, which I paired with an image from my collaboration with SC Stockshop. The result is an image that meshes beautifully with my Instagram feed, all while showcasing client work in a professional, luxe way. From Instagram images, to blog graphics, to print collateral, SC Stockshop images serve as the perfect way to create visual consistency! Whenever I share images like this, I always see an increase in engagement from my audience. Whether it’s a comment on a beautiful prop or a compliment on the composition of the graphic as a whole, there’s no denying that people love a little SC Stockshop! And who can blame them? With expertly styled images like this, I can barely peel my eyes away. Knowing that Shay has my back when it comes to styling and photography high quality, luxe images so I can showcase my own work in style makes my life infinitely easier, y’all!” – Bonnie Bakhtiari, B is for Bonnie Design

How will you use your SC Stockshop screen images? We cannot wait to find out!

The SC Team

New in the shop: Styled Stock that will make you go heart-eyed!

Remember when we all were swooning over the new Happy Poppy Desk Collection? Well if you thought that was good, then wait until you see what just hit the shop today!

We have a whole new collection of loose poppy floral styled stock that is going to give you all the heart eyes! These florals are not just your typical Whole Foods find, friend! Trust me when I say these luxurious florals will bring your brand to the next level.

2013 Shay CochraneUse floral styled stock on your blog, to make announcements on social media, to create website buttons, in your newsletter, as your website header image, to promote products and more! Floral styled stock is the perfect addition to your already existing brand or it can be used as the anchor in which you build your brand around! The images are that versatile!

Out of the thousands of you reading this, only 10 of you will get to make these images their own. Do yourself a favor and be one of the 10 to grab these stunning styled poppy images today!

Head on over to the New Arrivals tab and claim your images!

The SC Team

Twitter Pinterest Instagram Contact