What we think?

  • Kairi Kaljo

Updated: Sep 23

Us human, we are visual creatures. We act on what we see. We eat with our eyes, we buy clothes that look good on us. We just can’t help ourselves and often go for things that are well presented and look good. Images are there to make us choose and decide. They are there to make us warm to something or someone. Images are there to sell. Look at above for instance. Could you resist from having a slice of cake on the picture below?

Having a photo shoot is fun, you get to wear costumes and maybe have photos taken in different locations. You get to use props relevant to your industry and take some time out for yourself. Definitely an experience to invest in. Not comfortable in front of the camera? Yes, I know that feeling. I don’t really like photos of myself either. Just too much of a self-critic but let me tell you, a good photographer is there to make you feel at ease and if you don’t want your face all over your business, ask your friends to step in and be your models instead.

Branding Photoshoot

If you have decided to invest your money into professional photography, here are some tips on how to prepare.

1) Vision Board

Check out Pinterest for some personal branding photos and create a vision board to plan your own shoot. When you share it with your photographer, they will have a better understanding what type of shots you are looking for. Think who is your customer. Are they corporate customer and you are offering service to them? You are looking to create more sophisticated look with your photos. You want to come across smart, confident and expert in your field. Is your ideal customer a stay at home mum or a creative person? You want to come across approachable, easy going, friendly- someone they can warm to and in this case wearing a suit does not really work.

2) Get to know your photographer. Good photographer will make you feel at ease and will

guide you through the shoot. They will suggest poses and settings for your photos and if you are concerned about certain aspect of your appearance, they will take it into consideration when taking photos. It’s good to be honest and tell them when you prefer to have photos taken at certain angle and they will understand. At the end of the day, you are their customer and they want you to be happy with your photos.

3) Plan your props

When you offer a business service, your props include your mobile phone, notebook, tablet, laptop and a cup of coffee maybe. You want your photos to look professional and use props related to your every day work. When you are a baker, you surround yourself with baked goods, crockery, utensils and more. You want your client to see you in your natural environment. Write down a list of props you want to use for your shoot when planning for the day.

4) Plan your looks. Choose at least 3 outfits that make you feel confident and that look good on

you. Yet again think what services you offer and who your target audience is. If you offer professional services to businesses you may want to wear smart attire. If pencil skirts and heels is your thing and helping you feel powerful, why not glam up. If your clientele is “parents”, you may want to show more casual side of yourself and wear jeans and t-shirt etc. Think of colours that compliment your eyes.

But if you are no photographer yourself and you can’t afford one either, how is one supposed to access good looking images to make our website stand out or social media profile stay in the game? In most cases, that involves paying for high resolution stock images which you can download online.

Paid Photos

Most photo banks offer monthly or annual subscription which allow you to download a number of images each month. Those subscriptions can however be costly. Personally, I have used Adobe Stock photos before and they charge around $70 for 10 images a month. Fair enough if you are working on a project and can vouch the cost of images into your project costs but if this is a regular thing, you want to look at other options.

I have also previously used Dreamstime. Significantly cheaper option than Adobe and a good selection of images and you get 15 first images for free.

Thanks to a recommendation on a Virtually Yours VA networking site recently, I recently joined Ivorymix. They have a great selection of stock images suitable for blog, website or socials. Targeted for a female market, it comes with an annual subscription which allows you to download as many images as you like. As a downside, images may be a bit too feminine and if your client is a male, it may not fit your bill.

A new addition to the stock image source, is Canva. Canva now offers a variety of stock images as part of their premium subscription. Personally, I have found the selection of images a bit limited but it does not mean it would not suit you.

Free Photos

There are also some free stock images available but you need to realise that it’s likely you will come across same photos on someone else’s website and socials. Those photos are free and more people are likely to use them than those paid photos. Other than, no reason why you should not use those sources available. Let’s look at some of those sources below.

You can find a selection of free photos on Pexels. Great source of imagery if your budget does not stretch to paid images but the selection may be slightly limited. Second well known free source for stock images is Unsplash. Again, choice maybe a bit limited but otherwise great.

Just a note to yourself-free image sources often expect you to credit an author of the photo which is a nice a gesture considering you are not paying for the photo but in reality I don’t think many people really do.


Pinterest is great for visuals. It’s full of recipes, food photos, fashion, inspirational quotes, interior design, homewares etc. It is full of inspiration and I am proud owner of Pinterest account. Apparently it’s also a great source of organic traffic to your website when you use it well but about that some other time.

I can’t help but say I love it but Pinterest does not count as a free image bank.

Someone has put a lot of effort into creating those Pinterest boards and pins and if you just download images from Pinterest and post them on your socials without a valid credit to the author, it’s pretty much a theft of someone else’s work and can result in a legal matter.

Pinterest is a great place for sharing your ideas and using it as a source of inspiration but if you choose to post someone else’s images on your socials, please remember to include the author of the pin in your credits. Not sure who’s the owner of the image?

The owner of the picture is always marked on the right hand side of the picture (highlighted in yellow).

And, even when you save an image off someone’s board who is not the owner, you can still see the details of the original owner of the image so there is no real excuse why one could not credit the owner. You can simply follow the business on Facebook and/or Instagram and tag them in your post as a source of your image and save yourself from a letter threatening with a legal action. Voila!

In conclusion, if anything, dear to use more images as this is the first thing catching people’s eyes but remember - unless you are the owner of the photo, use a reputable stock imagery or express your admiration by sharing someone else’s photo by crediting the owner and letting them know you are inspired. It will work to your favour in an ever changing algorithm game.

  • Kairi Kaljo

Updated: Jul 19

With EOFY closing in, tax return becomes a topic once again in everyone’s minds.

Tax year in Australia starts on my birthday. That’s right, on July 1st, and finishes on June 30.

I must say, to date it’s been pretty exciting for me. In my 7 years in Australia, I have always got something back from a tax man. It may not be the case this year but hopefully with the help of a good tax agent, I see some pocket money going back into my account.

Living in the UK, tax return was not a common thing. Tax return was not obligatory if you were a paid employee. Obviously, this was different for those having their own business and working for themselves.

I am sure you already know that in order to maximise the return and minimise the tax you are liable for, you need to keep copies of all receipts/invoices related to any expenses

occurred during the current tax year. Remember, tax man can come knocking on your door asking for a proof of purchases any time he wants to look into more detail. Even better if you have worked out some sort of filing system or downloaded an app to record all your receipts. Check out your bank app on your mobile phone as nowadays bank apps have a functionality to scan receipts.

Now let’s see in more detail what type of expenses you can claim in your tax return

Self-employed and a small business owner

Regardless what business you are in, below is the list of things you can claim in definite.

· Mobile phone bill

· Internet bill

· Any subscriptions/professional memberships

· Any software expenses

· Equipment purchased including phone, computer, tablet, earphones, hard drive, camera, printer plus any equipment related to your field of business i.e tools and protective clothing, packaging, raw materials for production and more

· Stationary

· Training costs/conference fees

· Business travel costs (hotel and flights associated to any business trips)

· Books, collateral purchased for your business


· Any costs occurred using your mobile phone for work

· Costs occurred using your home internet for work

· Any software/hardware purchased required to do your work

· Protective clothing and footwear/uniform related costs including laundry and dry cleaning

· Professional memberships associated to your profession and trade certificates

· Training costs not covered by an employer

· Work travel costs (that does not include traveling to and from work but travel to conferences, training, work trips)

· Any collateral and books bought relevant to your job

· Bags such as laptop bag, handbag used for work

· Sunscreen for those working outdoors

· Sunglasses for those working outdoors

In financial year 2019/20, if you have been working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic, all working from home costs can also be calculated by multiplying hours you have worked from home between 1st March and 30th June with 80 cents (per hour) which will provide you with a figure for tax deductible work from home expenses. If you have been claiming either job keeper or job seeker payments, your accountant can assist you with more information on what needs to be included in your tax return.

Please note that this year employers are no longer required to issue end of year payment summary to its employees. Instead, employees will be able to view their tax and super information by logging into their MyGov account and accessing ATO online services.

When you log into your MyGov account, make sure ATO is linked to your MyGov profile. If not, you first need to follow the steps to link ATO services to your account. Please have your TFN handy when doing it. Also for verification purposes, ATO may ask you details from last year’s PAYG i.e gross salary, or your bank account number and/or super balance.

Once you have linked ATO services page to your MyGov account, you can view your employment details and tax details under “View My Income Statements”. Your accountant should also be able to access your tax information without you printing off any details, however in case you are visiting them first time, you may wish to print off your tax summary just in case.

Also, a thing to note before you now rush off to scheduling your tax appointment- Tax agents/accountants will be flat out come 1st July so you may wish to book in your appointment toward end of July or later, just to give them a bit of a breathing space.

In my working life I have met different types of managers. Those who support their staff and want only the best for their crew and those who have to have their fingers in each pie and control everything that goes on in the company. Needless to say, those who guide and lead their staff and trust them to get their work done, are the ones, who are always admired and remembered. They are the ones who inspire us on our journey throughout our careers. Those who want to know what you did every minute of the day are forgotten as soon as you walk out of the door or should I say run out of the door.

My recent experience with a micromanager saw me having a meeting with a manager in the morning where we discussed my task list and two hours after the meeting, she sent me a long email on what I needed to do. I mean, we just met two hours ago and went through a list of things and it probably took her half an hour to write that email and for me to answer so I really saw no point in that other than wanting to show who was in charge and make me doubt if I knew what I was doing. We had already discussed everything so the email was a bit excessive and waste of everyone’s time.

Every time I come face to face with a manager who is a micromanager, I wonder what has gone on in their lives to behave like that? The other question that pops into my mind - do they like to be controlled themselves?

[i]Micromanagement is a compulsive, behavioural disorder similar to other addictive patterns. People who micromanage, generally do so because they feel unsure and self-doubting. Micromanagers, like many addicts, are the last people to recognise that they are hooked on trolling others.

Often they fear competition from their colleagues and staff who are smart, talented and more knowledgeable and therefore hire people who they can model into someone who will only take direction from them. That gives micromanagers power and makes them feel more confident and in control of everything.

Micromanagers are known to wanting to see your detailed task lists and regular updates. They require every decision to be run past them and every document to be approved and they want to know where you are every minute of your working day. Micromanagers send frequent emails and hold many unnecessary meetings. They often take credit for anything positive that has come out of the team but blame individuals if things do not go so well. Micromanagers find hard to trust people deliver work on time and to their standards so they often interfere with the process and therefore create extra work that is really not necessary.

Many of us have worked with a micromanager at some point in our lives and know how damaging this can be for one’s productivity and morale. Staff want to be part of the company, they want to make contributions that they get credit for, they want to feel empowered and guided and have an opportunity to learn, not be afraid and question their own actions all the time. Under a micromanager, one can never succeed. Eventually one feels like a puppet whose strings are controlled and the need to cut themselves loose to find a workplace where they are valued and supported.

When I attend a job interview, one of my questions to the hiring manager is asking them to describe what kind of managers they are. Obviously, no one will tell me the truth but that does not stop me from trying. What I am looking for in a manager or even when I work with the manager as my client, is someone who hires talented and smart people. People who they trust will do a great job. And if they do not trust their staff is competent enough, they should not have them in their company. There is no need to hire staff you don’t trust and therefore need to control. Afterall, the business is always growing and if you have smart people who support you, your business will be thriving. If you hire people who need constant hand holding because you do not trust they are capable of performing their roles, you struggle to succeed as a manager.

Employees nowadays want a boss they can trust, someone who listens to them and praises them when they do well and provides guidance or gives subtle directions when they lose track. Great manager wants to see their staff go far and he/she helps them to get there. In return he/she knows the staff will have its back and work hard to meet the goals set for the company and the manager.

Do you have tendencies to control too much how your staff or your team is working? Do you have a problem letting things go and trusting people? Please do us all a favour and calm down. Keep your eye on your goals. Have weekly, monthly catch ups with your employees or your partners and communicate well what your expectations are. If your staff gets stuck, give them some of your time to provide them with solutions and guidance. When you get praised for doing a great job, share the win with your team, when you get blamed for not doing the good job, have a chat with your team and find a way to collegially improve things. Always be grateful and thank your staff and/or your partners. That way they feel rewarded and want to do even better. Be a leader to whom your staff look up to!

[i] http://homepages.se.edu/cvonbergen/files/2012/12/The-Micromanagement-Disease_Symptoms-Diagnosis-and-Cure.pdf

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