Life pulls us in all directions, doesn't it? It can be so unpredictable, especially for business owners & entrepreneurs. Anything we can do to make our business more predictable, for the people who invest their time in us, makes the experience more positive, right?
But I know blogging can be a time suck; I totally get it. Especially when you're first starting out.
To solve that problem, you can batch like-tasks (blogging & posting to social media, for example) & schedule ahead, so that throughout the days/weeks ahead, you don't have to think about it on the day-to-day. Who's got time to post live, anyway???
You've got enough on your plate already; don't add even more unnecessary stress to your day!
One of the scariest things about going out on your own is NOT having a contract.
I know this because I'm in an industry that should be using one and I'll be the first to admit that operating without one in my early days, was frying my nerves!
Depending on what you do or what your business does, you may not need one though. If you're selling products, for example, you shouldn't need a service contract with terms & conditions regarding what will and won't be done during the project.
If you're a service-based business, you should definitely have one! But where can you get one? Who can you trust?
(Psst. I've got an answer!)
You likely know what service you need, or at least have a vague idea, and maybe you even know who you want to provide that service for you & how you want it done, but maybe you have no idea how much (if any) work you’ll need to put in. We’ve all been there!
This works for pretty much anything in the service industry, right? From home renovations (choosing furnishings, and countertops, and appliances, and paint colors, etc.), to graphic design, which is what I do!
Whether you have or haven’t worked with a graphic designer like me before, I’d be willing to bet you’re not sure what to expect, especially in a remote work or freelance situation.
Because I find myself explaining these kinds of things frequently, I know that there are a lot of you out there who have no idea & that’s okay! To help you out, I figured I’d fill you in on a little bit of what I expect from my own clients during a large project (like Branding or Web design).
This legal stuff is pretty boring, so I'm going to make this as simple as I can so you don't fall asleep on me!
I've gotten a lot of questions about who needs to be compliant, and while I don't have all the answers (I'm certainly not an attorney, so I'm not giving you legal advice here), I do have some helpful info, suggestions, and resources to share with you that will help you figure it out.
On that note, here are 5 things you need to know about the General Data Protection Regulation that went into effect on May 25, 2018.
I've been a graphic designer since 2006. That's more than 10 years! This field is full of people who are both self-taught, and college educated; some who have the natural instincts and some who only know how to use the tech.
Because of the variety of designers out there, I see a lot of mistakes being made, either from a lack of innate skill or inexperience/knowledge.
But I'm definitely not here to bash anyone; just the opposite, actually. I'm here to help!
So here are some branding no-no's I see a lot, and some suggestions on what to do instead, to make your brand even better.
If you suspect your current branding falls into this category & want to know how to fix it, I've also included a MINI BRANDING AUDIT DISCOUNT CODE for you! Just purchase through my shop & apply the code at checkout, then I'll take a look and provide some personalized feedback to help get you out of the design-gutter.
So I opened my account nearly a year ago, and I've gotta say: I reeeeeally like Azlo!
So much so, that I actually just closed my other business bank account, and opted to go solo with Azlo. I got a gorgeous new card in the mail recently thanks to a new update, and I've learned about a lot more of their features.
They make small business banking so... easy. And that's the way it should be, right?!
As I grow & my business morphs into something more complex, who knows where I'll need to be banking, but for now I'm genuinely very happy with it.
My own Free Resource Library has evolved a lot over the last year. It was password protected for most of that time, and I never really felt right about that.
I don't know about you, but I like to see the resources before I decide to sign up & grab one; ya know?
So recently, I decided to open it up to everyone.
That meant no more password!
But how do those freebies still work as opt-ins, if the page isn't password protected anymore?
Well my friend, that's a great question!
I'm going to walk you through how to set up your own Free Resource Library on Squarespace right now, that will still work as opt-ins, but without the pesky password.
A few years ago, Anna came to me & asked for help designing a logo for the band. I took on the project, feeling both happy & excited to help her.
The thing is, Souljam is a very talented jam band, and designing their logo meant designing a little outside of my comfort zone.
For those of you who don't know exactly what that means, think (or lookup) Grateful Dead, Phish, Widespread Panic, Allman Brothers and have a listen. The band members in this genre are typically free-spirited hippies, lovers of music, & super talented. They produce songs that are long & wandering to take advantage of every available second to show off their mad skills & just feel free while they play.
While I do love the Billy Breathes Phish album and I've been to see Widespread Panic live once with my husband, generally that style of music is not my jam. I can appreciate the talent it takes to play it, but I don't personally love that style of music. I find myself listening to a Widespread Panic song that's 10+ minutes long, wondering when the hell it will end, because I can't tell what the structure of the song is (verse, chorus, verse, chorus, etc.).
So this project became a prime example of stepping into my client's shoes to get the design right. I knew enough about the style of music & what appeals to their listeners, to step in & give them a design that matched their musical souls.
I’ve got some BIG NEWS for you. Both Tailwind and Later have released the ability to auto-post to Instagram, and it’s coming soon to other schedulers as well, like Buffer. That means no more notifications like, “It’s time to post!”
Halleh-freakin-llujah. It’s about time!
If you’re anything like me, you’re lucky if you have time to set up and schedule posts for Instagram (or any other platform). You might not also have time to post it yourself at the time scheduled, for platforms that don’t allow automatic posting.
If you’re sitting over there, staring at the screen and thinking, ‘what–scheduled times? I just post it whenever I can! Why do scheduled times matter?’ or ‘How do you find the best time to post on Instagram and how do you implement that?’ Then I’m so glad you found this post, because I’m going to walk you through it!
I’m going to show you how to schedule auto-posts to Instagram, specifically with Tailwind and Later, because those are the two I’ve been using since they released this feature.
The first organization tool I ever heard about was Asana, and while I like what Asana can do, the way it worked just didn't mesh with how my brain functions. And as we all know, if we don't like how something works then we're probably not going to use it.
I wanted a more visual way to organize things. Then I was introduced to Trello, but I wasn't really sure what to do with it, or how I could use it. I set it aside to come back to later, and for months I completely forgot it existed.
Then finally, I ran across a mention of it in Think Creative Collective's Facebook group, or maybe it was their blurb about their online course for Trello during their podcast. No, I'm not an affiliate, but that super cheap course was worth. every. penny (& probably more).
Once I dug in, I found all sorts of fun ways to use Trello both for business & for home, so today I'm sharing 7 ways you can use Trello too!
If you've been following along for the last several months, then you probably already know I use Dubsado for my business. In fact, I'm kind of obsessed with it!
They introduce new features constantly, and on their to-do list is a calendar/scheduling feature like Calendly or Acuity. As of now, it's just in the planning stages though. Since it's not ready yet, I use Acuity because it integrates well with Squarespace and it has a lot of features, like the ability to take a payment when a client makes certain types of appointments.
Acuity has a free plan, but it allows limited customization among other limitations. At first that was fine, because I knew I wouldn't be using it longterm (since I plan to switch over to Dubsado's version as soon as they release it).
However, it has recently come to my attention that if you're a Squarespace user, you can upgrade to the Emerging Entrepreneur Acuity plan, FOR FREE.
That plan is valued at $15/month, allows more customization, and I'm going to show you how to get it FREE in today's quick blog post. #thankmelater
One of my goals for 2018 is to consistently plan & write several blog posts in advance and schedule them to post at regular times, so I stay ahead of the game and have more focused & consistent content for you.
So far I have to say, I've failed miserably! I've written 2 posts this year, including this one, and neither were written until the day I posted them. *sigh*
That's okay though.
"Life happened" and I'm rolling with it.
It's been a really tough & interesting few weeks for me and my husband. There's been some good and bad, and because I'm a more private person I had no intention (zero) of sharing any of it with you, until this morning when I sat down to write today's blog.
So I'm gonna get personal, and tell you what's going on. More importantly though, I'll also tell you what and how I'm finding the positive things in each situation.
I love to read, and because I don't have much time for my favorite hobby, I also love to listen to audiobooks. Gotta get my fix in somehow!
I don't love listening to self-help/nonfiction though, or at least I used to find the idea abhorrent. The idea of listening to someone talk on and on about how to "up your game," or become "more focused," ...blah, blah, blah... could have easily been a form of punishment for me.
That is, until I read a couple of business books (of my own free will, I might add!) this past fall. (I got sucked in, okay?!) They opened my eyes to a whole new genre which I can actually tolerate, as it turns out, and some of which I really (REALLY) enjoyed reading/listening to.
So, as with most things I get excited about, I dove in head first and created a list of books I want to read in this genre. And since I went to all that effort, I figured I should share the wealth of knowledge with you too!
Running a legit business means you're going to need a bank account for that business, and how you go about doing that is up to you. Many banks charge fees to even have the account, have a minimum amount you must deposit to open the account, or penalties if you dip below a certain amount month-to-month.
Sometimes small, local banks can offer better options, but with a smaller bank you also have some potential drawbacks. For example, my bank didn't have an app for years, which I found very inconvenient, even though I'm overall very happy with my choice of bank for my personal account.
Of course, some banks are worse than others, so you definitely should do your own research before opening an account. After all, I am not a financial advisor or an accountant, etc., and I am not giving you financial advice here.
So, what if you could avoid those monthly banking fees, transaction fees, money transfer fees, and still have some of the perks of using a larger banking company?
Today I'm going to present a feature list for a new company called Azlo, which does just that.
I admit it. I've never been a podcast listener, until recently.
To the point that podcasts weren't even on my radar; like they didn't exist at all. When I'd hear something like, "subscribe to my podcast," I'd roll my eyes and think 'pshhh, like I need something else to keep up with.'
Turns out I was wrong. I started listening to one, and I loved it so much that I went looking for more to add to my library, and I loved those too, so I went looking for even more. Now I have 20 different podcasts in my library, and I listen to all of them fairly regularly, some more often than others.
My husband even got into it, around the time I did, via the British History Podcast (more on that further down).
There's nothing to "keep up with" as it turns out, these podcasts are a little like books; you can pick them up and stop whenever you want. They're always available whenever you have free time to listen.
Today I'm listing my favorite business podcasts that every female entrepreneur (or small business owner) should be listening to + 1 extra (non-business related podcast) just for fun!
Last year my laptop was running a little slower than I wanted, so I backed up everything onto an external hard drive, uninstalled & removed all my software, and wiped my computer. Started over, fresh.
It was a lot of work, but that made things so much better. I reinstalled the operating system, put most of my files and software back onto my computer, and I was ready to move on.
I opened my internet browser and realized I had never backed up my bookmarks!! Who would remember to do that? I hope you would, but for whatever reason, I didn't even think about it, even though I tediously went through the entire contents of my laptop to make sure I had everything else, including old emails.
I had a few years worth of bookmarks saved, before I wiped my computer. I frantically logged into my Firefox account, and then Chrome... but they weren't there. I hadn't turned on the native backup so they'd be stored in my account. CRAP.
Months later, after building up important bookmarks again (and this time they are backed up) that major loss of info from before led me to also put my bookmarks in a new location. One that I can access anywhere, any time, from any device.
That's why I chose to use Trello to save my browser bookmarks.
PLUS: grab a copy of my Bookmarks Trello Board, and add it to your own Trello account! Includes all the lists, cards, links, and more!
Ever see a new business pop up, get let down when you see their branding and think 'what the...? Where did they get that done??'
Yep, happens to me all the time, and ya know what's definitely not socially acceptable? For a designer to contact that business and be all, "hey, I see you clearly need some serious help redesigning your logo; I can totes help with that!"
I'm sure 90% of those businesses have a reason for doing things the way they have, and that's fine if they're also fine with mediocrity, right?
Bad branding usually happens because...
If you're a business owner (big or small), an entrepreneur, a solopreneur, a freelancer, or just consider yourself someone with a side-hustle, you're probably trying to figure out all the ways to to drive traffic to your online home base: your website.
You probably already know there is thing platform called Pinterest, and everyone is on it, but what are they doing with it? How does it work? Where on earth do you start??
Maybe you have a brand new account and you don't know how to grow a following, or if you should even grow a following?! (Do followers even matter on Pinterest??)
Maybe you have an old account, but you aren't sure what to do with it, or how to make it work for you.
Whatever the case, if you're not utilizing Pinterest for Business, you're missing out on a huge traffic driver, second only to Google (for me). In fact, Google & Pinterest alternate between 1st and 2nd in the largest traffic driving sources for my own website.
So, on that note, let's talk about how to start using Pinterest for your business.