I’ve Been Hiding a Dirty Little Secret from You

Y’all.  I have a confession to make.  I haven’t been entirely honest.  I’ve been hiding a dirty little secret from you.

All of the blog posts you’ve been seeing?  The social media postings?

I wasn’t posting them.

I have a secret.

More like a SECRET WEAPON!!!!

Did y’all start paying attention?  Move closer to your computer screen ready for some juicy drama about not being honest?  Are you bummed now that I don’t have crazy confessions?  Don’t be, because I’m about to change your freaking lives.  Stay close to that computer screen, and pay attention.

 

CoSchedule.com is My Blogging Bestie

CoSchedule has been dropping my blog posts like they’re hot, and they’ve also been all over my social media.  I set it up like that.  Our amazing client Sam at Hygge Wellness turned me on to this scandalously wonderful service.  I would never be able to do ALL THE THINGS without this.

Let me ask you a question, or a bajillion.

Do you have a business?

Do you want to blog, successfully?

Do you struggle with timing and scheduling?

Are you a visual person?

Have you felt like you need to hire someone to cover your social media accounts for your blog and/or business?

Do you need an editorial calendar to make your blog hopes & dreams come true?

Do you want your blogging journey to be EASIER?

Are you pressed for time?

You need CoSchedule, then.  It’s the solution to all of those questions, and then some.  I’m not even kidding, y’all.

CoSchedule from Garrett Moon on Vimeo.

 

How I Use CoSchedule

I won’t lie — the idea of learning how to use CoSchedule was so daunting at first, but I knew that once I did, I’d be thrilled with it.  There was something magical about the promise of having your blog posts be automated and have your social media posts scheduled to go.  I watched a series of videos to learn about CoSchedule, and then got to work.  One of the cool features about CoSchedule is that you can use your WordPress dashboard OR the CoSchedule website in order to draft, schedule, & publish your posts.  The integration is flawless.  I prefer to use it through WordPress, since I also manage a store on my website, too.

So, here’s the deal, y’all.

 

The Editorial Calendar

This handy tool lays out a calendar for you.  You can fill your calendar with blog posts scheduled to drop, social media posts scheduled to drop, events, promotion on social media independent of your blog-related postings, and tasks.  You can schedule things far in advance, too.  This is great, because as a blogger, you should have at least three months of posts or drafts in your queue so that you never run out of material and are always working ahead.  You can draft your post, schedule it, and then schedule your social media postings for the same blog post.  If you aren’t entirely certain you want to post it yet, you just save it as a draft within the CoSchedule app.

When I got started with CoSchedule, I had 40+ blog post drafts hanging out in WordPress.  I knew I could schedule them within WordPress, but it still left me with an icky task — social media.  Let’s face it — your posts, unless you’re a magician, won’t go anywhere unless you put them there, so social media is a must.  With a business to run, it seemed totally tedious to go to each of my social accounts to share a post.  It seemed even more tedious to re-share those things at a later date to keep my blog fresh in everyone’s mind.

Depending on your account type, you can add multiple authors to your account.  If you’re a larger company, or a blog/news website that has multiple writers, this is especially handy for assigning tasks and topics to your team.  You can modify the calendar and the labels to be different colors, too, to distinguish one person from another.

This is what my editorial calendar looks like these days — seriously, it’s so easy to schedule everything with this calendar.

 

The Drafts Bin

Once I learned about how to use CoSchedule, I realized all of my drafts were saved in my drafts bin.  All I needed to do was drag the draft onto my calendar.  Bam!!  It was there.  (Make sure, if you’ve saved as a draft, that you go in and actually click the “schedule” button.)  I also thought it was pretty nifty that I could draft posts around on my calendar, too.  Suddenly, this terrible feeling that I was unprepared to launch a blog lifted.  As I began scheduling my posts, I realized that I had A LOT more content than I expected.  I started moving all of these posts that were 99% done to my calendar and filling my drafts bin with more ideas.

 

Social Media

This.  THIS is the best thing, for real.  The folks at CoSchedule are amazing for doing this.  Not only can you schedule your post to be dropped on major social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram), but you can schedule MULTIPLE posts.  Based on some epic social media info, CoSchedule recommends that you schedule your social media posts to drop on the same day your blog post goes live, the next day for some social media, a week after the initial post, and then a month later to remind people that you posted about this thing.  The greatest thing is that ALL of the scheduling stuff is contained within this really easy to use set-up — accessed through both your calendar, AND through your draft if you scroll down.  Two ways to access it.  Genius.

It gets better, though.  They give you the option to post it in specific windows of time, OR to select the best/recommended time to post which will get you the most views and traffic.  Are you kidding?!

This is an example of what the social media scheduling looks like within the CoSchedule app on WordPress.

For Facebook, Twitter, & Pinterest, the post is automatic — not a single thing you have to do in order to make it happen once you schedule it.  For Instagram, CoSchedule has an awesome app that you can install on your mobile.  When you allow the push notifications, it’ll notify you that it’s time to post to Instagram and help you copy the image/info to share with your followers!  When I post to Instagram from the CoSchedule app, it doesn’t take me more than 30 seconds to a minute to get it done.  It’s basically foolproof.

Various levels of a CoSchedule subscription will grant you access to analytics associated with your blog & social media postings.  It’s also worth mentioning — even though I don’t use them — Google Plus, Tumblr, and LinkedIn are also networks that you can link up with your CoSchedule account.  You can also integrate your Buffer account, too.

 

The Verdict

I didn’t know how CoSchedule was going to pan out for me.  Admittedly, I’m usually a bit skeptical of companies and things that promise to make things easier, and I wouldn’t sit here and toot the CoSchedule horn if I didn’t mean it.  This will be one of the greatest investments you can make for your blog or your business.  Whenever I realized I needed to transfer my CoSchedule account from BeckMcCormick.com over to Autumn Lane Paperie, all I had to do was submit a message — the team at CoSchedule reached out to me within the hour, and had me totally transferred by the next day.  The transition was seamless, and the level of care they give their customers…stellar.

 

Bloggers

For a person that wants to blog, successfully, either by gaining a ton of readers or monetizing, you have to be consistent and let people know you’re there.  You could sponsor ads all day long on the various forms of social media, but your money is going to be far more well-spent developing a game plan by using CoSchedule.  Not only will you be able to schedule your posts and be motivated to fill in empty spots on your editorial calendar, but they take all of the heavy lifting out of the social media side of blogging.

 

Businesses

Your blog is a totally crucial part of your website, if you’re a business.  It makes your SEO game that much better.  It also improves your credibility and status — whether you’re active, inactive, etc.  The blog part of a business, though, always seems to fall by the wayside.  Either you don’t know what to blog about, don’t have enough time, or don’t see any results for the amount of time you put in.  This will help you.  Immensely.

 

Gift Yourself

If you don’t do this today, you’ll regret it.  I’m not even lying.  I’ve told so many of my friends & clients about CoSchedule since I learned about it.  It has given me a successful launch, and has also helped me be consistent with my postings and social messages.  I’m a visual person, too, so seeing the editorial calendar with my scheduled posts, social messages, and empty days has allowed me to plan better for the best chance of success for my blog.  Social media is MUCH less daunting with this blog than I expected it would be since I have CoSchedule on my side.  I barely even have to think about it.  It’s easier, and has been SUCH a time saver.  I can’t even begin to tell you the hours & hours of time CoSchedule has saved me.

Plugging CoSchedule on my blog?  You bet I am.

I bet you will be, too, when you sign up.

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The $2500 Cup of Coffee

The $2500 cup of coffee.  You read that correctly.  $2500.  Not $2.50, not $25.00, or even $250.00.  $2500.

Crazy, right?  You know what’s more crazy?  $2500 for a cup of coffee, and it wasn’t all that great.  I don’t think I’ll do that again.

 

An Expensive Cup of Coffee

My hubby and I decided one morning a while back, at his suggestion, to work in a local coffee shop.  We work so often…literally, seven days a week even though we don’t communicate with clients on all seven of those days.  We also don’t go out a lot.  We’re always trying to save money, because life with five kids isn’t cheap and we have bills to pay.  That morning, a cup of coffee that didn’t come from our coffee maker sounded fabulous.  I was totally on board, and packed my crap up so that we could go work in a local coffee shop.

I say “local coffee shop” because if I told you that we went to Starbucks, it would probably clue you in to the part of the story that I haven’t gotten to yet.

Oh, whoops!  Cat’s out out of the bag.

We went to Starbucks.  Yep.  Are you wondering about that $2500 cup of coffee yet?

Let’s just say, I wasn’t the one that enjoyed that $2500 cup of coffee.

 

Did you figure it out?

My MACBOOK enjoyed that $2500 cup of coffee.  My 45 day old MacBook drank up that cup of coffee.  (I’m considering repair fees in this, by the way.)

Jeff and I found a table to sit at, and we were getting our work stations set up for a few hours of work while we enjoyed breakfast and coffee.  And, oh crap, Jeff knocked over his cup of coffee.  Right into/onto my MacBook.  It was on.  And then, it wasn’t.  It shut off, almost instantly.  And I lost my shit.

We both tried to mop up the coffee with crappy little Starbucks napkins, and I felt all of the eyes around me just cutting into me…  Partially because I probably let a few expletives fly, and partially because they felt my pain but I was sort of embarrassed so I felt like they were just searing into me.  And my poor hubby who knocked the cup over, apologetic and seething all at once.  It was an awful, awful day.

 

So, um, what happened?

Once we’d established that the MacBook was not working and had, in fact, been flooded with caffeinated goodness, we talked very briefly (like literally 10 words) about what to do.  Apple Care doesn’t cover human whoopsies or water damage?  Well, crap.

I said we should leave immediately, because I was about to melt down…because I was.  Tears streamed down my face the entire drive home, and not a word was said.  Both of us had worked really hard to get the laptops we had, and in a split second, mine was just gone.  It was maddening, and frustrating, all at once…and I wanted to blame him so badly for spilling the coffee, but it was an accident.  Being a total jerk about it wouldn’t have solved anything, so, I said nothing.  I melted down, admittedly, once I got home about how much money we’d spent not so long ago on those machines, and now it was just gone.  And yes – this happened MONTHS ago — I needed that laptop to travel for the Christmas holidays.  (What can I say?  It took me a while to get over it.)

I felt sick.  Like, sick to the point that I didn’t want my salted caramel mocha anymore, didn’t eat my breakfast, or my lunch later on in the day because I just could. not. even.

Jeff went to the Apple store as soon as we got home.  Even though we both knew it wouldn’t be covered under Apple Care, he took my computer in anyway and had it sent in for repairs.  Over $700 worth of repairs, it pains me to say.

 

Then???

I melted down again.  Duh.  $800 instantly gone, to fix a really expensive accident.  Y’all get me, right??

Later on that day, I was able to sorta joke about it.  You know, like saying I was going to get a computer cover for my laptop the same way old ladies cover their couches in plastic.  I guess at the end of the day, what’s done is done, and what’s happened has happened.  Anyone with kids knows, accidents happen.  Similarly, anyone with a husband knows…accidents happen.  (Uh…sorry, Jeffrey.  Love you?)

You know what the worst part was?

It wasn’t even a good Starbucks drink.  It was just regular ol’ coffee.

I mean, who orders regular coffee when you can have a peppermint mocha or a salted caramel mocha??

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How to View ALL Fonts on Your Computer

Workmark.itFor as long as I’ve been designing, I’ve always wanted or needed a way to look at & compare fonts for branding projects that I’m working on.  I have yet to find the *perfect* way to do this, but I do have a way that is pretty damn cool!  It’s called Wordmark.it — check out how to view ALL fonts on your computer with this amazeballs tool.

Info you need to know!

So, clearly, there’s some sorta codey magic that goes on here.  I’m sure my hubby knows how it works, but to me…it’s like unicorns.  Here’s what you need to know.  You need to have Javascript and Adobe Flash — you must install Adobe Flash on your computer, and ensure that Javascript is enabled.  Otherwise, this fancy-schmancy tool won’t work for you.  If you don’t have either of those, it will tell you that it can’t work its magic.

And then??

Easy peasy.  Type the text you want to see in ALL of your fonts, and then scroll til you go cross-eyed!  You can view the fonts in black text with a white background, or white text with a black background.  There is also an option for all lowercase, mixed case, and uppercase.  Font size can be adjusted as well.

The coolest part?

You can make your own list.  Yes, that’s right!  You can click on the fonts as you go, then click “filter selected” in the upper right. It’ll nix all of the non-selected special fonts for you so you can view your top choices.  It makes it SUPER easy to compare a much smaller list, especially when you have literally thousands of fonts on your machine (if you’re like me).  That’s not it, though — you can share the list, too — on social media, via e-mail, or even a link that is generated for your selected fonts!

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How to Make a Photoshop Brush for Easy Watermarking

Hey Photoshop folks!  Photographers, I’m looking at you!  Do you know how to make a Photoshop brush?  It’s super simple, and one of the easiest ways to watermark your images.  Let me show you how to make a Photoshop Brush for easy watermarking!

I frequently get asked how to use the logo files that we provide — it’s pretty easy to do a File > Place Embedded type of thing with the .png files you receive, but wouldn’t it be badass to change up the color super easily on your logo?  Watch this!

 

How to Make a Photoshop Brush

 

  1. Open up Photoshop and then open one of your logo files.  I’d recommend using the .psd or the .png file.  It should look like the image below.

 

2. Next, follow the path Edit > Define Brush Preset.  Click that!

 

3. A dialogue box will pop up.  Click Ok — this will confirm that you want to add it to your brush presets.

 

4. Boom!  Your logo is now a brush preset.  You can access it by going to your brushes (letter B on your keyboard) and then scrolling to find it.

 

5. Now you can watermark your images with a Photoshop brush.  I sampled the pink from my hair on this one — the top watermark is at 100% opacity; the second is at 50%.  You can basically make this any color you want, at any opacity, so that you can easily watermark your images as subtly or as boldly as you’d like.  Remember that you can use the brackets on your keyboard to adjust the sizing up & down!

 

6. Happy watermarking!

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Brand Brag – Hockensmith Portraits

Hockensmith Portraits BrandboardIt’s always such a treat to work on brand where all of the moving pieces that make up a FULL brand come together — work spaces, work style, personalities…everything!  I worked with Morgan & Joey of Hockensmith Portraits in Fredricksburg, VA.  Morgan shared with me initially that they’d like to keep a pineapple in their logo, as it’s a sign of hospitality, but that they wanted to scale back on color.  Muted was the name of the game here, earthy and neutral.  I took a look at their work, which is beautiful…and their newly renovated spaces, and going over details, learned a bit more about Morgan and Joey, their business, & so on — the result was this brand!  It’s simple & minimalist, while still being elegant.  I invited Morgan to be a feature on our blog — read on!

Tell us a bit about how you got started with your business / blog / venture that we branded.

I really didn’t know what I wanted to do right out of high school, so I took a year off from school. That year for Christmas I asked for camera to hopefully take self portraits but I ended up taking photos of my friends. Soon enough people were offering to pay me for photos. So I worked on my craft and did photography part time until two years ago, when I decided to pursue it full time. By this point my husband Joey had joined the business to second shoot weddings with me and we had more than enough clientele to keep me busy. Seven years now looking back, it was a passionate career that I kind of fell into.

 

What products or services do you offer?

We offer fine art Senior portraits and wedding photography. We also offer mentoring for other photographers!

 

A few images from Hockensmith Portraits:

 

What’s the best advice you have for someone that is interested in doing something similar to you?

Teach yourself. I learned so much from being self taught just by trial and error. There are tons of workshops and hands on mentoring these days available (and affordable) for aspiring photographers. But do yourself a favor and get a business degree if you’re interested in owning your own photography business, it definitely is helpful.

 

Tell our readers a bit about the branding process!

Our old logo was bright, colorful and watercolor. Which matched four years ago when we originally decided to team up… but since has changed drastically. Our photos, our studio, our clothing and even our personalities (haha!) had a brand but we didn’t actually HAVE a brand. So I knew it was time to a change, towards something that would reflect us better. Beck made it really easy for me honestly, and I think the hardest part was deciding which pineapple we liked. We took the pineapple from our previous watercolor logo with us – we are history people and the pineapple is a symbol of hospitality.

 

What does the future hold for you?

Well we just renovated a historic loft in old town Fredericksburg around the beginning of the year. So with that, I’m hoping to expand into more get togethers and a more unique experience for our Seniors. We’re also hoping to travel as much as possible!

 

Want to book Hockensmith Portraits or inquire about their mentoring?  E-mail Morgan — Morgan.hockensmith@yahoo.com

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Conflict Resolution: Resolving Issues By Listening & Asking Questions

Conflict Resolution: Resolving Issues By Listening & Asking Questions

As a part of my Organizational Leadership graduate program, one of the things we learned about was conflict resolution.  It sounds daunting, doesn’t it?  It’s actually quite simple, though.  Simply put, conflict resolution is a method — an art, really! — of finding a suitable solution for two or more parties when there’s a disagreement.  Conflict resolution happens everywhere.  It could be in your family, at work, or between friends.

As a leader and business owner, you must be able to resolve conflict, or at least be unafraid of trying to.  In conflict, there are usually three different outcomes assuming there are only two parties.  Win-win, win-lose, or lose-lose.  Either both parties arrive at an acceptable solution, one party wins and the other loses, or both parties are too stubborn to come to an agreement and everyone loses.

One thing that has stuck out in my mind as we talked about conflict resolution was a video that we watched that perfectly illustrated these outcomes.  It’s called the Orange Quarrel, and it goes like this.

 

The Orange Quarrel

Two people are arguing over the last orange.  One person says they need it because they’re hungry; the other states they need it because they’re baking a cake and the orange is a required ingredient.  They eventually decide to split the orange in half so that there’s not a win-lose situation.  Both seem to be satisfied with this solution, but realize shortly thereafter that they’d been too stubborn to realize that although they both wanted the orange, there was a more suitable solution.  The person making the cake only needed the peel.  The person that was hungry only wanted the flesh to eat.  Now, the hungry person had only half an orange to eat, and the baker had only half of an orange peel.  Neither thought to ask what the other planned to do because they were too concerned with getting what they wanted.

 

Why Should I Care?

Conflict happens, every single day.  It happens in your family, it happens at work between employees or employees and their boss, and it happens between customers and workers.  As a business owner, you have a choice.  You can face conflict and learn best practices to resolve it and compromise, or you can ignore it.  Ignoring it generally makes the conflict worse.  Why?  Because the conflict itself doesn’t get resolved.  You, as the business owner, are looked to as a leader.  If you aren’t engaging your employees or clients when conflict arises, how do you think it’s perceived?

Probably as if you don’t care, right?  Think about it, and put yourself in your employees’ shoes.  If you had an issue and took it to your boss to resolve, and they did nothing but brush it aside because conflict is scary, how would you feel?

Ask Questions

Facing conflict and making an attempt to solve it, whether you’re an impartial third party or if you’re involved in the conflict, is as simple as starting to ask questions.  It’s important to pull yourself away from the he said-she said that so often occurs in the face of conflict.  Ask the hard questions about why, and ultimately what the preferred outcome is.  You should also ask, if the *other* person were to have their needs met, what would the effect be?  Often, when a person realizes what exactly is being asked for, and how it may or may not affect them, the conflict diffuses quickly.  Sometimes, the people in conflict with each other realize that they can both have what they want because the requests don’t have an effect on one another.

 

Listen

Asking questions won’t get you too far if you don’t actually listen to what is being said.  Listening requires you to address the individuals involved, it requires you to ask follow-up questions and acknowledge responses without becoming defensive and argumentative.  Want to get to the root of the problem?  Listen actively.  Do not interrupt, use eye contact, proper body language, and as you’re asking additional questions or commenting on something, restate what the person has told you.

 

So what?

Conflict is uncomfortable.  Let’s get that out of the way.  Not every conflict is going to be solved by simply asking questions & listening.  There is no magic solution to conflict, though asking questions and listening will go a long way toward solving issues.  If there was a magic solution, I probably wouldn’t let you in on a bit of what I learned during graduate school!  Asking questions and listening are the two top things that you could do in order to move toward a solution.

The third?  Be objective.  If you are the mediator in a conflict, objectivity is important.  Make the responsible decision to bring in someone that can be objective, if you find that you’re unable.  If you are in the midst of the conflict, objectivity may be a long shot, but consider the other person/group that is involved, too.  A bit of compassion, even for your opposer, can go a long way just as much as asking questions and listening does.

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How to Make Website & Design Magic Happen

Hello, my dear readers!!  Shout out to the designers checking out my blog, too!  I have a post that might help you — all of you — that are working on making this business thing happen with a brand and a website.  I wanted to provide you a few bits of information that you’ll find helpful.  Read it, and take note!  And designers, feel free to share this with your clients!  This post is about how to make website & design magic happen.

Are you ready?  Settled in?  GREAT!

So, let me tell you a little secret…

It’s really not magic.

There, I said it!  It’s not magic.  It’s a lot of hard work.  Branding & websites involve a lot of collaborative hard work.

 

Getting away from “You’re the expert!”

Did you notice I said collaborative up there in bold?  There’s a huge misconception that hiring a designer to handle your brand and/or website means that everything is going to be taken care of immediately. I frequently run into people that assume that because they’ve paid for a branding package or a website that their job is now done, and it’s on the designer to provide everything else.  There’s an assumption that we’ll make magic happen, and for lack of a better phrase, crap out something terrific. (Real talk.  Just saying.)

Unfortunately, my friends, that’s not how a good brand or website is going to come about.  If you’re going to use the expert line with us, let’s just turn it back on you.  We’re the experts on putting together appealing, great looking brands and websites; you’re the expert on your business that we’re branding.  That means, you’ll know your target audience, what will appeal to them, and what copy you’ll want to be on your website, what ideas you have for your logo and overall brand, and so on.

There are some companies that do everything for you.  Let’s get that out of the way.  The potential issue (which isn’t necessarily true in every case) is that you’ll wind up missing a huge part of your brand because of that — your brand’s personality.  Your brand isn’t *only* a logo, remember?  It consists of a color story, pattern or texture, other branded materials, and yes…even a personality!  It’s how you handle your communications, it’s how you interact with your clients, and how you tailor experiences.  If you give all of that up to someone else, your brand and your business is going to lack passionate, authentic ownership.  There will be disconnect.

 

We get it.  It’s frustrating.

We deal with a lot of the same struggles in our own businesses.  How do we word things?  What will we offer?  It’s not cake for us, either.  I do think that the advantage that we have, though, is that we understand that a good business takes time to develop.  We don’t have to like waiting or taking our time, but we know it’ll be worth it in the end.  That’s why we don’t rush branding orders for an additional fee, nor do we rush our website design.

We’ve had some instances at ALP where we’ve gone back and forth with clients over providing additional information — amplifying information — for logo and brand design to the point that they complain that doing the work is cumbersome.  We’ve even had an instance of a client refusing to provide website content, despite the fact that the changes they requested relied solely on the content they needed to provide.  Responses have been wishy-washy, or even downright nasty, with the added claim that we weren’t doing what they thought we were supposed to do.  Never mind that our product and service information detailed clearly what we did and did not do.  That’s frustrating for us, as much as it is for you, too.  I don’t want to make the process more complicated or frustrating, trust me!

 

So what?

You’re probably sitting there right now thinking, ok, so she’s saying that the brand process isn’t magic and that it’s frustrating sometimes…so what?  This is the part where I tell you how you can make it easier for yourself.  Yes, we are the experts, which is why you hired us, but you’re also the experts for your own business.  I want to collaborate.  That’s how some of the best things ever happened.  Collaboration.  I LOVE when someone comes to me and says, “I have this idea, but no clue how to execute!” and proceeds to dump details and imagery on me.  I have the tools and knowledge to make something super badass, but in order to do that, we have to work together.

Cooperate, collaborate, teamwork!

That’s what this is about, and how we put forth our best work and the brands that people absolutely fall head over heels in love with.

Making this happen, and making it easier for yourself is actually quite easy.  I simply want you to provide as much information as possible, and really take the time to consider the impact of your answers.  If I have questions, taking the time to answer them thoroughly will have the most positive result.  Rushing an answer, or just ignoring a question, probably won’t get you the result you’re looking for.

 

Designers

Designers, are you still with me?  Are you having these troubles?  The single greatest thing that has helped me is a questionnaire.  My questionnaire constantly receives revisions and fine-tuning based on the types of answers I’m receiving, so that I can hone it for my future clients.  My questionnaire for logo design has been 2o pages, and it’s been 3 pages.  I’m totally convinced that each designer will need a different questionnaire.  I’ve adjusted mine so frequently because my process is always being fine-tuned to better serve my clients and ensure that I’m providing the best possible service and finalized product.  I would suggest using a questionnaire if you don’t have one in place yet.

Use the questionnaire to figure out what your clients struggle with the most, and tailor it to that.  For example, at the outset, I used a very open-ended questionnaire that allowed my clients to detail, at length, what they wanted in a logo.  I thought it wouldn’t limit them or box them in by giving them the freedom to detail what they wanted.  It resulted in a lot of frustration and back & forth.  Why?  Because I’d immersed myself in my craft, and forgot that my clients don’t use the same lingo.  They also don’t consider specific aspects of the logo unless it’s pointed out to them, like color.  Now, I use a questionnaire that asks very specific questions about layout, color, font, and so on.

Additionally, you might want to consider chatting with your client about how to help you with feedback.  Feedback seems to be a difficult thing to tackle for many clients.  Feel free to point them to this blog post, about giving better feedback.  You can also make your own notes from this in order to form your own method of explaining what you need to fine-tune a logo!

 

Tie it all together

The long & short of it is that you, as a client, need to help make that magic happen.  It’s a bit more than waving a magic wand to get a cool brand, and we certainly don’t have *all* of the answers!  Thinking that a financial transaction is all it takes is a big mistake and places unrealistic expectations on the designer, AND the process.  As a designer, it’s my job to lead you down that magical path.  That’s why we have questionnaires, and why we ask so many questions.  Your answers help to illuminate that sparkly, magical path to a badass brand.  The creative process for branding — since it is quite personal (every business venture is) and really important — definitely requires a lot of teamwork.

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Brand Brag: Abra Said

I “met” Abra while I was in Florida, celebrating Christmas & New Years with my family.  Abra is a life coach, and exudes positive vibes & optimism.  Seriously, getting her e-mails was fun for me because I knew they’d be upbeat.  Abra’s brand was a lot of fun to work on — sort of one of those “dream” brands for me because she wasn’t afraid of color, a little glitz, and she just let me take the wheel and design something that would work for her!

 

Tell us a bit about how you got started with your business / blog / venture that we branded.

I have always loved a celebration of any kind! When I lost my mom, I found it really therapeutic to dive into making the most of any moment with friends and family and lots of champagne. My call to be a life coach came years ago, but the reminder that we cannot take life or time for granted definitely pushed me to take the leap.

 

What products or services do you offer?

I will offer life coaching, event planning services as well as some fun products that will help you make the most of any occasion or help to send a little love & celebration from far away!

 

What’s the best advice you have for someone that is interested in doing something similar to you?

Just do it! Don’t wait for the “right” moment or until you have everything perfect. Just say yes and the rest will absolutely fall into place!Abra Said Brandboard

 

Tell our readers a bit about the branding process!

Working with Beck was honestly such an amazing experience. I am someone with a lot of big ideas & my brain is always running a mile a minute. She was able to capture what I really had in mind and was incredibly kind and patient with me. I had the freedom to say what I loved and what I did not like as much. The questionnaires were super user friendly and really helped to even sort out my own thoughts on what I wanted to create. I know this brand is going to take my business to the next level, because if nothing else, it gives me something that I want to show off and tell people about. I am the type of person who wears my heart on my sleeve & the brand Beck helped me create, let’s people know what I’m about immediately!

 

What does the future hold for you?

I have no idea what the future holds but I know whatever it is, it will be full of love and fun and hopefully lots of reasons to celebrate!

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So, You Want to Blog? Part 4: A Second Plan

Now that you’ve got your idea for a badass blog, a plan for your ideas to be put into action, and a badass brand + website, you’re ready to launch, right?

WRONG.

You need a second plan!  This plan is about execution, and making your blog into a real life thing!

Since you’ve started gathering up ideas and putting together a plan, now would be an excellent time to actually start *writing* posts for your blog.  With the exception of a lifestyle or journal type blog that you might update with your daily life, writing and planning your posts is the way to go.  Why?  It ensures that you always have content scheduled.  If you have it on your schedule, you’re more likely to complete it.

There are a few things that you need to consider and make a decision about for your blog.

 

Post Frequency

You should decide how often you’re going to post, and stick with it.  Ideally, a post every single day would be fantastic, but it’s more than likely not feasible if you’re like me — I have a business to run, logos to design, and a family that I like to spend time with.  I’ve decided that I’ll be posting to my blog 1-2 times a week.  Occasionally, there might be a little more, but at a minimum, I need to post 1-2 times a week.  This is something that I can juggle and put into my schedule.

After doing a bit of reading and figuring out what would work for me, I decided that I needed to have three months of posts and/or ideas in my queue, ready to go.  This frees up the potential stress of wondering what to post and when to post it.  It also means that I have time to put together solid thoughts, not something that is rushed or less than stellar.

 

Post Type – Relevancy

If you’re planning on blogging about multiple topics like I am, you should consider the type of post you’re publishing, in addition to the schedule.  Because my blog is business and design-based, I know I should be posting legitimate content at least once in my 1-2 times a week for posting.  By legitimate content, I mean relevant content.  It wouldn’t make sense for the bulk of my posting to be about recipes I love.  If that’s the bulk of what I was posting, I should probably consider being a food blogger, not a businessmom blogger!

 

Sharing Plan of Attack

How do you plan to share your posts with the rest of the world?  Do you have social media accounts tied to your blog?  Are you considering sharing your posts on all of these?  How often?  Is your sharing plan of attack something you can keep up with?

I plan to share on a few platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.  I’m currently using CoSchedule to help with scheduling my social media posts and my blog posts.  A busy gal like me needs a helping hand!  There are a lot of services out there that may work for exactly what you need.  Similarly, you can always do it the “old fashioned” way — hop on social media and post when you’re ready to post!  I’m about five months in to my CoSchedule subscription, and I have to tell you — it’s pretty amazing.  I’ll be reviewing CoSchedule on my blog soon if you want a full rundown on what it’s been like.  If you’re pretty sure (like I was) that CoSchedule is the thing for you, you’re welcome to use my referral link here — get your CoSchedule now!

 

Now, Wait…

Ok, maybe “wait” isn’t exactly what you should do — keep at it, blogger!  Don’t be discouraged that the masses aren’t flocking to your blog, sharing posts, and making you the next hot thing.  As with many things, it takes time.  Keep writing diligently, stay active on social media, and start thinking about what’s next for you.  I’ll be with you every step of the way.  Stay tuned for the next So, You Want to Blog? post, and I’ll fill you in on what I did after I established a second plan.

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Spring Break + New Additions

Happy Tuesday, y’all!  We’ve returned from our spring break vacation & we have a few new additions to tell you about!

First, we want to thank you for your patience as we enjoyed some much needed family time!  We had a blast in Myrtle Beach — see?!

We rented a little cottage about a block from the beach.  Our days were spent relaxing, walking the beach, and watching the kids play in the waves.  We also got a little mini golf in, and frequented a little grocery/gift shop that the kids loved, called Boulineau’s.

Just like any other business owner, it’s often hard to get away from work, and it wasn’t really any different for us.  We’re making some amazing changes at ALP and vacation was what we needed to solidify some of those decisions!  We’re excited to announce that our gal, Lily, will be taking a more proactive role in custom orders.  She’s movin’ on up, and we’re so jazzed about it.  That means Barb is now our premade queen!

All of this shifting around is for a fabulous reason, too — I’ve been spending a little time diving into something that I’ve always wanted to do…  Font design!  While we were on vacation, I pushed out two new fonts — Spring Market, and Rose Bud.  These fonts are also available on Etsy, and on my Creative Market shop.  I’m pretty dang thrilled with the warm reception for these two!  I’ve got additional fonts in the works, including some cursive options!

Make sure you keep an eye out, whether it’s our website, Etsy, or Creative Market!

And finally, we’re in the process of adding about 40 new premades to our website!  You can find them on Etsy already, so feel free to drop by and check them out!

 

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