Standing out on a small budget

Standing out on a small budget

The events of 2020 shaped the world in ways we never imagined, redefining the commercial landscape in unprecedented fashion. But while the initial impact of the pandemic presented numerous challenges for businesses, it also paved the way for a now thriving e-commerce industry, and in so doing levelled the playing field, enabling smaller enterprises to take to social media to promote their offerings.

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Social media represents a cost-effective solution for smaller brands looking to stand out, particularly given the surge in usership over the past year. Studies show that, on average, people are spending over 40% more time on social channels than they did a year ago, and that approximately 43% use these networks not only for pleasure, but to make key purchasing decisions.

Naturally, these numbers have also driven larger brands to the space in their droves, leaving smaller businesses unsure as to how to compete, particularly when it comes to visual communication. Social media channels like Facebook, Instagram and Tik Tok are largely driven by visually-driven content, with more aesthetically appealing feeds better able to stand out amongst the clutter. However, what many smaller businesses don’t realise is that it’s easier than you might think to create a professional looking feed – all you need are the correct tools. 

There’s plenty you can do with just a smartphone, good lighting and a compelling backdrop to start producing visual content that will uplift your social media pages. In fact, since the start of the pandemic, many bigger brands have had to resort to this approach in the wake of budget cuts, and realised in so doing that dynamic, impactful visual content needn't necessarily come with a high price tag.


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Thanks to the variety of filters and high-res cameras that now come part and parcel with most smartphones, as well as the endless variety of mobile photography editing apps available, anyone can now capture high quality images with the click of a button. However, creating favourable photography conditions that mimic a professional studio can be problematic, particularly for those with limited available space.


The result was a growing need to create real, portable and immediate solutions for up-and-coming enterprises who aren't necessarily able to afford regular professional photoshoots. Portable photography styling boards offer businesses both small and large the opportunity to recreate a studio environment, trading grungy floors and reflective countertops for custom-made tools specifically developed with the social media environment in mind. Available in a range of neutral and more creative designs, these handy and inexpensive photography backdrops are designed to empower businesses, enabling them to manage their brand image and content creation, whilst saving both time and money.

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The flat lay styling boards are optimal for businesses and also present an ideal solution for bloggers on a budget, as well as entrepreneurs and established influencers looking to capitalise on the immense potential of the digital environment in a post-pandemic landscape.

These kinds of services are becoming increasingly popular given the growing demand for immediate, impactful content, particularly in light of an ever-evolving global situation. As such, if brands - be they large or small - want to be perceived as relevant, they need to remain agile and adaptable and forego the traditional big-budget photoshoot in favour of more regular and smaller content shoots.

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While consumers have become more demanding in terms of immediacy, the pandemic has also made them more forgiving in a way. During last year's hard lockdown even the biggest brands were forced to improvise in unprecedented ways, and the ensuing content, whilst less polished, was actually more creative and impactful. 

As such, small businesses and budding entrepreneurs shouldn't underestimate their capacity to compete at a national and even international level solely based on budget concerns. While there is absolutely a place for professional photography, the value of which should never be undermined, it shouldn't represent a make-or-break factor for those looking to make their aesthetic mark on social media.

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Not everyone is a born photographer and the quality of a smartphone camera can't be compared to that of a more advanced professional version, but there are ways and means to enable entrepreneurs and small businesses alike to empower themselves by creating meaningful visual content from the comfort of their own home.

Flatlay Studio’s goal is to offer clients affordable alternatives, by providing them the tools they need to compete meaningfully and communicate profoundly, and ultimately to remind them that anything is possible.

Original opinion piece released to the press May 2021.

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