6 silly myths about being an entrepreneur

Blog_post_2017_33.png

Whether you are just beginning your self-employment journey full-time or you’ve been playing this game for a while, it’s safe to say that you have definitely come across friends and family who (while we love them dearly) automatically assume that your career is all sunshine and flowers. They imagine us sitting in coffee shops everyday, having time during the day to clean our house and run errands, choosing some days to just not work at all and taking vacation whenever our little hearts desire!

And, while being an entrepreneur can have its dreamy aspects (after all, isn’t that why you became one?) — and by dreamy, I mean freedom that we can create for ourselves that we don’t necessarily get working in an office for someone else — we also know that it’s more work and stress than most can imagine. We love what we do and we work hard so that one day we can work less and delegate our work to other systems and platforms that we eventually put in place. We also charge what we want, with the intention of providing more value to our clients and in turn, making more money. But, we also hustle and put in more than 40 hours a week most weeks. If any of the following false assumptions have been made about you, raise your hand! And, let your anger and frustration go — because as entrepreneurs, we also know that you just can’t fully understand how this whole “running a business” thing works unless you’re actually doing it.

1) “You have so much more free time now…”
That’s funny. While I’m the boss and no one is sitting here, watching me, telling me that I can’t do something, I still have the self-discipline needed when working alone and respect for my business and clients to put in the right amount of hours everyday, to get the job done. If I’m not working, I’m not making money. Period. You can still find me Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to at least 5 p.m., sitting at my computer. Whether I’m in my home office or posted up on the couch, trust me, I’m getting sh*t done. 

2) “You don’t really work…”
Let me repeat my very valid point from #1. If I’m not working, I’m not making money. As a designer, I’m a service provider. I’m not at the point in my business where I’m making all of my profit from selling e-courses or digital products. I crank out monthly projects for clients on retainer and I create visual brands for my other clients. I have to put money every week into my bank account. I am physically at my computer, playing the role of designer + business owner. So, if I’m not working on a client project at any given moment, I am most definitely answering an email, writing my next blog post, crafting the next email to my list, engaging in Facebook groups being of service, invoicing, tracking expenses, emailing my accountant about taxes, updating my website or on a call with a client. Shall I go on?  

3) “You must have financial backing…”
Not true at all. While some business owners absolutely have family members who might be helping them, larger companies have investors, or they started with a large savings account — it’s not like that for most. Most of us are regular people with regular banking accounts that aren’t busting at the seams and we started with a small amount in them. Because many businesses like mine can be run online, I honestly don’t have a ton of out-of-pocket expenses each month. My money is spent on some printing, buying fonts, paying monthly subscriptions for my design and accounting software or association memberships. It’s different for makers who sell physical products and deal with more overhead, but still, don’t let someone tell you that you need a lot of money to start a business. It CERTAINLY HELPS, but it’s not necessary. You can jump in, do a few important things really well and start generating income fairly quickly. It all depends on what you’re selling, how you’re selling it and to whom you’re selling it. Anything is possible! Just work really hard.

4) “You have to do it all yourself…”
This is so far from the truth. Yes, as an entrepreneur starting out, you’re going to be wearing a lot of hats. Most days, I’m a designer, a secretary, an accountant, (and trust me, I’m terrible at math!) a social media assistant and a writer. But, design is what I’m REALLY good at and meant to do. When you can get to a point in your business where you can afford to delegate and outsource, do it! Hire a virtual assistant (VA) to handle your email, blogging and social media management. Hire a copywriter to write your blogs and website/sales copy. Hire an accountant or bookkeeping pro to handle all of your financials. Don’t feel that you have to do it all. You will get burned out and there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, client work and business management-wise. Do what you want to do and do it well. Leave the rest to someone else that you trust to do a good job! 

5) “You don’t have to answer to anyone…”
True, I’m my own boss, but I do have people to answer to. A lot of people. My clients depend on me day in and day out to handle precious and important parts of their business. When they email or call, I answer. When they need something designed, I do it. They’re my bread and butter and what keep my business afloat. Without my clients, I don’t make money. I respect them too much to not answer them.

6) “It’s so easy, anyone can do it!”
Sure, being an entrepreneur is not the worst thing in the world. If you’re one, you chose to be one. And, don’t get me wrong, we are so lucky. We get to be our own bosses, do what we love and can give ourselves the freedom and flexibility that we don’t always get with working for someone else. However, this game is not for everyone to play. If someone chooses to start a business because they think it’s going to be fun and easy, they are dead wrong. You have to have self-discipline and know how to wear many hats. You have to be professional, keep clients happy and keep money in the bank. There are countless aspects of being a business owner that I love, but there are many parts that are far from dreamy. It’s all about finding a balance with it. As I always say, this game is not meant for just anyone to play. And, if it is “so easy” – then everyone would be doing it! Just like they would be movie stars, singers and professional athletes.   


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
How has 2017 been treating you and your business? Are you ready for 2018? Do you have a logo, website and more that you absolutely love…or…not so much? If you’re not a design professional, branding might be something that you don’t love to do for your business or you simply don’t have time for, so let someone else take over! Sign-up below to receive the link to download my new and free PDF tool “Branding 101: What it is, what it isn’t and why you need it” — right now! This quick and simple guide will walk you through why it’s important to establish consistent and memorable branding within your biz — and if you can DIY some of it or if you should hire that professional. If you have any questions after going through it, let’s connect and chat some more!

The Absolute BEST Way to Grow Your List

Blog_post_2017_32.png

What’s the key to a profitable business?

Is it your website? Your sparkling, beautifully formed freebie offers and products? The overarching concepts finely woven into each of your incredibly well-thought-out blog posts?

Well... not exactly.

Although the secret sauce certainly includes a combo of everything above, there’s one crucial focal point many growing entrepreneurs push aside:

Your audience. Your peeps. Your list.

Why Your People Are So Darn Important

Your mailing list subscribers are the foundation of your business. Having a crew of raving fans who adore you and everything you’ve got cooking is what will help you leap to the next level.

But getting the attention of those folks (not to mention convincing them to subscribe!) is easier said than done. You’ve got to find them, nab their interest, and tell them exactly why they should dig what you do. And it’s daunting for a newbie!

Through trial and error on your own, this process of discovery can take months - even years. But luckily, there’s an incredible program out there that beautifully demystifies the process, and will help you find more loyal subscribers in less time than you can imagine.

Introducing: Jenny Shih’s Get Your First 1000 Subscribers

This is the step-by-step program that will take you from fledgling business to profitable enterprise. Whatever your list size – 0, 20, or 200 – Jenny’s program walks you through the exact steps you must take to grow it to 1000 and beyond.

Why 1000 subscribers? Because that’s the foundation of a profitable business. When you hit 1000, everything falls into place. More people find you. More clients hire you. And you sell more products. Basically, you start making money doing what you love.

And the best part? It’s easier than you think.

Click HERE to learn more about the program and how it can help you find build a business doing what you love.

P.S. The links contained in this email are affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase I will earn a commission. However, I only promote programs I fully believe in, and am sharing this with you because I got results and want you to get results, too. 

6 signs that it's time for a rebrand

Blog_post_2017_31.png

When is it time for a total rebrand? This can be a tough question for any entrepreneur — especially when you might be busy and perfectly successful, but you’re noticing that some of what used to work before just isn’t cutting it anymore.

Before you consider an entire rebrand, consider the signs below and if you’ve been experiencing the majority of them. If you’re not experiencing them so much, but you feel like your brand could at least use a little refreshing (without the time and investment spent in a rebrand, check out this post first.) If not, keep reading!

1. Your logo is dated

When you don’t love your logo anymore or want to show it off, it’s time to change things up. Maybe this is an identity that you used to like and has worked for years, but it doesn’t work anymore — and that’s OK. Creating a new face for your brand will set the tone for everything else — your colors, fonts, textures, patterns, social media graphics, photography and more — that will all work together well, be memorable and people will know and recognize that it’s you.

2. You’re not consistently using specific color palettes and typography

Speaking of colors and fonts, does anything seem to match anymore? Are you using different templates, photography and graphics that just aren’t cohesive or represent your brand? Do you feel like everything is all over the place? A rebrand will establish you with not only a new logo, but also a new color palette (primary and maybe even secondary ones) and at least 2-3 (no more than that, though) fonts to use for everything — throughout print and digital platforms.  

3. Your website is also dated and hard to navigate

Like your logo, if your website is outdated, visitors won’t want to stick around for very long or even know you, what you offer or what they’re even looking at. Is your site mobile-friendly and responsive? Do you use opt-ins to capture emails for your subscription list and to reach prospective clients? Do you blog? Do you give visitors a quick and easy way to contact you? Do you use photography or generic stock photos that anyone can see anywhere? Outside of a Facebook page, a website is absolutely necessary to have because it’s your business’s online home. Even if Facebook or other social media channels disappear tomorrow, you will still have your website (and email list!)  

4. You can’t explain what your business does or who your ideal client is  

You’ve been everything to everyone. What services do you offer? Who do you enjoy working with the most? If your branding is all over the place, less than ideal people will want to hire you for services that you don’t want to offer anymore or even like doing. You won’t attract those you want to. But, if you have a brand that really speaks to what you’re about, who you serve and the specific services that you offer, you will filter out (for the most part) those who aren’t going to be a good fit for you.  

5. Your mission statement and values aren’t clear anymore

These are elements that should be in place and solidified even before you have visuals created. If these aren’t clear, then not much about your brand is. Who are you? What do you do? Who do you serve? What do you want to be known for? Once you can answer these, you’re more likely to have visual branding that complements your messaging and makes you stand out even more, especially in a saturated online market.

6. Your business model or strategy has changed

Like your mission and values statements, if your business plans and strategies for running your business and getting clients changes or is non-existent, it impacts your entire brand in a huge way. Be clear on where you hang out, where you want to be seen, who you want to attract, how you want to work with clients, how you plan to deliver services and products (and get paid) and more. Again, once that is reestablished, your new visual branding will more easily be created and implemented.


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
I got a question for ya. How is your branding looking? Do you have a logo, website and more that you absolutely love…or…not so much? If you’re not a design professional, branding might be something that you don’t love to do for your business or you simply don’t have time for, so let someone else take over! Sign-up below to receive the link to download my new and free PDF tool “Branding 101: What it is, what it isn’t and why you need it” — right now! This quick and simple guide will walk you through why it’s important to establish consistent and memorable branding within your biz — and if you can DIY some of it or if you should hire that professional. If you have any questions after going through it, let’s connect and chat some more!

3 changes that you should make to grow your business

Blog_post_2017_30.png

As entrepreneurs, we all (have or will) reach milestones at different times of owning our businesses where we need to take a step back, get a clear mind, see what is working, what isn’t and what next steps we need to take in order to grow and scale, so that we can keep being successful and around for a long time.

You’ll often hear that what you did 3-5 years ago, or even a year ago, won’t always continue to work and that what got you here today won’t get you there tomorrow. This doesn’t mean that you should abandon tried and true practices and strategies that work for your biz, it just means that you need to keep an open mind and experiment with trial and error, in order to change (and therefore grow) in good ways. I’ve listed tips below that you might not need to implement in your business just yet, especially if you’ve only been officially flying solo for a year or two, but maybe another year from now, it will be time to consider trying them. If you’ve been at this game for anywhere from 3-5 years and you know that it’s time to spread your wings a little more, then try the ones that feel right to you and leave a comment at the end of this post to let me know your thoughts and results!

1. Increase your prices or change your offerings

As stated above, this isn’t something to necessarily do in the beginning stages of business. But, after you’ve been working for a while and you see what services or products that you like to sell or offer, that you sell a lot of and whom you like selling them to, you’ll see what you would like to continue doing in the future. And, don’t fear that the clients won’t come when it comes time to niche down on your specific offers and/or raise the prices a bit. The right clients will always pay and see (and get) the value that you offer. When you offer only a few select services with a more premium price tag attached, you can actually work less, work with only the right clients and obviously, make more money.

2. Build a team to help you

This is a tough one and a crossroad that I’ve actually come to in my business this summer. Growing your team is one of the biggest and most crucial ways that you grow your business. It has to be done eventually. For me, I like being a “one-woman shop” and my clients know that when they’re communicating and working with me, they’re 100% getting me. And, that’s great! I love the close relationship that I have with each client. However, I also know that you have to scale your business if you’re going to take on more clients, do more premium work and make more money. You literally can’t do everything and shouldn’t have to. This can even include just hiring a VA, bookkeeper, social media strategist, designer, or another assistant of some kind. It doesn’t matter if it’s one person or a few. Simply put, outsource the work that you don’t have time for or enjoy, so that you can focus your energy on what you do best, no matter what that is. I know that if I hire an assistant to handle my client onboarding process, social media and blog posting and to update my website, or if I hire a junior designer to help me with some client projects from time to time, I’ll be able to work directly with my clients even more and have more time to design, which is what I enjoy the most. At the end of the day, you’ll also be able to see more clearly, service your clients better and in turn, make more time for yourself to do the work that brings you more money. It’s really a smart investment to make in your biz. And, if you don’t want to be responsible for actual employees, just consider hiring contractors. 

3. Niche down on a specific market/client base

Don’t be everything to everyone. Focus on servicing those who you most enjoy working with and who need it the most. The ones who will always pay your prices and get the most value from what you do — and never doubt or question it. In the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey, it’s easy to say “yes!” to everyone and take on any job or client that comes your way. With time, you’ll see that it’s much easier to focus on a specific group to work with — whether that’s a certain demographic, market or just someone who shares the same values as you. For me, I like to work with any small business owner who understands what this journey is like — but especially creative females, because I can relate the most to them. It’s up to you who you want to work with! 


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
I got a question for ya. How is your branding looking? Do you have a logo, website and more that you absolutely love…or…not so much? If you’re not a design professional, branding might be something that you don’t love to do for your business or you simply don’t have time for, so let someone else take over! Sign-up below to receive the link to download my new and free PDF tool “Branding 101: What it is, what it isn’t and why you need it” — right now! This quick and simple guide will walk you through why it’s important to establish consistent and memorable branding within your biz — and if you can DIY some of it or if you should hire that professional. If you have any questions after going through it, let’s connect and chat some more!

4 simple signs that you need a break from your work and to recharge

Blog_post_2017_29.png

I don’t know about you, but the last couple of weeks have been a crazy whirlwind of work, not enough hours in the day and stress. While those of us who are business owners absolutely live for and love our businesses (that’s a sign alone that we are meant to go on this entrepreneurial journey, as it’s not for everyone) more than a lot of things, sometimes, it’s OK to stop and realize when we need to take a break.

Rather than experience burnout, resulting in not doing our jobs well or taking care of clients the way that we should, it’s best to step away from the work. And, I don’t mean that you necessarily need to take off and go vacation somewhere (although, who wouldn’t love to just drop and go to the beach?) I just mean that it’s OK to give yourself a “mental health day” (or two) just to sleep, not think so much, recharge and then come back fresh and re-motivated later in the week. As long as you have met your prior deadlines, can be in a position to move work around and your clients know that you’re out of pocket for just a bit – you should feel no guilt. Just know when and how to prioritize, how to not leave people hanging and wondering where you (and their work) are and keep in mind that you are your own boss now. With this role comes the beauty and flexibility that you don’t always get working for someone else. You can give yourself a day and not have to run it through a corporate ladder of approvals. Just know when the necessary time to do so is. The following steps should help you see the signs…

1) You’re lacking motivation.

I always know when I’m super into working, cranking out good work and can’t wait for more to come in — when I’m truly happy, excited and motivated. Most of the time, I feel this way. But, of course I am human and there are times that work is the last thing that I want to do, I have a to-do list so long that I can’t even see straight and I secretly wish for no emails to hit my inbox — because I am mentally maxed out and my brain has no more capacity for new clients, ideas and projects. When you’re feeling like this, take it as a not-so-good sign that you’re working too much.

2) You’re only working and not doing other things part of your normal routine.   

This is a huge red flag for me. I have always been organized and used to a certain routine. While I also like to be spontaneous and flexible, I like to know what work that I have to do each morning when I wake up, any meetings that I need to attend or calls that I need to hop on and be productive enough that I can end my day by 5 p.m. I have many other things going on in my life, even though any entrepreneur knows that running a business full-time takes up a crazy amount of your day. It’s all about balance. I have a husband now that I need and want to spend time with (that doesn’t involve my iPhone or Macbook Pro) and I have a horse that requires a lot of time and hard work to be maintained each day. I also have other hobbies and friends and I know firsthand that you absolutely have to have a life outside of work. When you find yourself literally ONLY working, it’s time to take a step back, prioritize and get back to a routine that involves time away from the computer and Internet. Unplug!   

 3) You’re not getting enough sleep.  

This might be the biggest sign that I look for when I am overworking. Recently, I've gone to bed at 1 and even 2 a.m. at times. That is completely crazy and unnecessary — and I realize this. I’ve had a lot of client projects to knock out lately, but I know that it’s only temporary and I will get back to my normal routine next week. The older I get, I have to get at least 9 hours of sleep each night, or else I struggle to wake up in the morning. When I find myself crawling into bed and not even remembering it the next day, because I conked out immediately, I know that it’s also time to take a serious break.  

4) You’re forgetting simple things and making silly mistakes.

Finally, this is a BIG one. I am often a perfectionist. Not only in the way that I manage my daily work and clients, but also in the way that I talk to people, answer emails, cross things off my to-do list, respond to friends’ texts and more. When I forget to get back to someone about something important, when I forget a client job altogether (it happens!) and have to be reminded — and I find myself spelling things wrong — I know that it’s definitely time for a break. Look for the little things that you often knock out of the park each day without any thought or try. When you’re slacking, struggling to cover your basic bases and making small mistakes — look for the big ol’ flashing sign that screams “YOU’RE TIRED! TAKE A BREAK!” 

If branding is something that you don’t love to do for your business or you simply don’t have time for, let a professional take over! Sign-up below to receive the link to download my new and free PDF tool “Branding 101: What it is, what it isn’t and why you need it” — right now! This quick and simple guide will walk you through why it’s important to establish consistent and memorable branding within your biz — and if you can DIY some of it or if you should hire that professional. If you have any questions after going through it, let’s connect and chat some more! 

4 steps to help you believe in yourself and your business

Blog_post_2017_28.png

It’s something that is constantly following us around, knocking on our doors, pounding in our heads, fluttering in our hearts — and not in a good way. Self-doubt. I define self-doubt as a state of mind that can truly make or break your business because it can mentally drain you in so many negative ways and leave you feeling everything but confident.

Notice that I called it a state of mind, though. It’s an emotion, feeling and sense as well and although it’s much easier said than done — you CAN control it. You can change it. You can make it so that you never have to feel it or sense it ever again (or at least that often.) Although for some it’s a daily struggle and for others it’s a creeping, but, fleeting moment that finds its way in even just once or twice a year, it’s something that every business owner has to face and deal with at one point or another. Today, I want to talk about how to do just that – deal with it – and kick it to the curb because I promise you, it has NO place anywhere near you or your business.

Self-doubt is defined, as a lack of confidence in one’s self or one’s abilities. Yep, that sounds about right. So how do we alter our mindset, our perspective and make it go away? I don’t know that we can make it go away entirely forever, but we can control it so that it doesn’t affect our daily routines or suck up the precious and limited time that we’re given each day to get work done. Think of it like a break-up. When you finally recognize that you are no longer in a healthy relationship with someone, whether it’s friendship or love, you have to take the right steps to remove the negativity from your life — something that literally does not bring you joy or serve you anymore. When you do this, you make room for the positive. In the case of self-doubt, you make room for a stronger mind, better work ethic and more confidence. Here are a few steps to help you along the way:

1) Really think about why you run a business and love what you do

Of course these businesses are our livelihoods and we need them to make money to pay bills, but just remember where you started and how you much you have grown. You’re not doing it for just the fame or to just make an insane amount of money (hopefully that does happen for you!) but you first and foremost do it to help others and it makes you truly happy. You will instantly feel proud of yourself and confident again when you see how far you’ve come, maybe in even just 6 months or a year or ten years. Even if you’re not noticing it on a daily basis, you are constantly improving your biz and people do see it and will want to hire you.

2) Find the RIGHT audience or client base

It’s easy to get discouraged with a lack of sales or even client inquiries — because we all know that the worst sound in the world is hearing crickets. Are you putting yourself in front of the right people, though? The dream clients for you will be the ones who see the value in your work and will pay the price for it. Even if you think you’re charging too much and people won’t buy from you, “those people” who will never buy from you are not your people! You MUST, MUST, MUST position yourself as the expert that you are, who deserves to charge what you want, in front of the people who will love what you have to offer. You may not see or hear them right now, but they ARE out there. Trust that.

3) Avoid burnout – step away from the work for a bit

Something else that works for me is to take a day or two off when you’re feeling low. You’re not going to be producing your best and highest quality of work for your current clients, which is not fair to them or you. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and not know what to do next – and when this happens – just stop. Literally. Stay out of the office for a day or a week (however long you need) and recharge your mind. Get outside, eat well, exercise, participate in a hobby that you enjoy, read a book and find some balance. When we step away from everything that is bogging us down at the moment, we can find some clarity and gain fresh perspective. Again, this will help with discovering some new confidence and excitement when you go back to work. And, to go back to Step #2, if you’re doing work for the RIGHT clients, you will naturally enjoy the work more, be happier and in turn, feel great about what you’re doing overall!    

4) Remember that you ARE worth it

Whenever I think that I’m charging too much for my services or that no one is going to buy from me, I also remember that I have put way too much schooling, post-college continuing education/professional development opportunities and money into myself and my business to not be charging enough. I am a PROFESSIONAL. I’m no longer a college student or someone who has picked up design as a fun hobby to do on the side just for friends and family. I also keep in mind that I have many expenses around running my biz, including my accounting and design software, which costs me a certain amount each month to maintain. Aside from your time, you also have a lot of money invested in your business and that should be considered when you’re figuring out proper amounts to charge clients.    

Once you’re confident in yourself and your business, it might be time to take another step forward and make one of the most important and necessary investments – branding. Have you thought about a new logo or website to help you look more legit to your customers? Branding is one of the biggest secrets to a business attracting followers and paying clients — and achieving overall success. Sign-up below to receive the link to download my new and free PDF tool “Branding 101: What it is, what it isn’t and why you need it” — right now! This quick and simple guide will walk you through why it’s important to establish consistent and memorable branding within your biz — and ultimately help you to decide if you can DIY it all or if you need to hire a professional (like me!) If you have any questions after going through it, let’s connect and chat some more! 

7 perks of having a Squarespace website

Squarespace is an increasingly popular platform for building websites and I’ve been using it to build online homes for my clients’ businesses for the last 3-4 years. What is the appeal of it and the attraction to it? Too many to name, in my professional opinion. It’s the perfect drag and drop builder for getting a site up and running that still looks sophisticated and functions well. Below, I’m naming just a few perks to choosing it for your next website development and hosting project. 

1. Sleek and professional templates – no coding required!

Squarespace is known for its gorgeous templates. Just recently, they added several new ones to choose from. When it comes to templates, you might think that they’re generic and anyone else with a Squarespace account can have a site that looks like yours. However, you can customize a template in so many ways that it still looks unique. The template just gives you a skeleton to work from. You can move and adjust elements. And, if you know some code or you’re working with a designer who does, you can still inject HTML and CSS when and where you need to for an even more customized user experience. I often add dropdown menus or fixed navigation to my client sites (if they don’t come with the template to start) for a couple of additional bells and whistles that make the site more professional.

2. G-Suite and MailChimp are seamlessly integrated  

If you wish to use professional email from Google (like, name@name.com) and you purchase a business account, you can setup G-Suite free for the first year. After that, it’s a mere $5/month or $50/year if paid for upfront. You can add individual users within your Squarespace account and send emails to those accounts that walk them through the G-Suite dashboard setup. Also, if you use MailChimp for your email subscription platform, you can connect to it directly — via email sign-up forms on your site that connect to specific lists that you have setup within your MailChimp account.

3. Domain can be free for the first year

If you purchase your domain through Squarespace (with a paid annual business plan) it is actually free for the first year and then renews for a certain fee (usually $20) the following year, which is a nice bonus. Even if you have your domain through a third party like GoDaddy, you can still connect the site to the domain easily — it only takes a few seconds!

4. Easy to manage and update down the road  

My favorite thing about Squarespace (and the reason why I build my client sites on this platform) is its ease of updating after I’ve designed it. For many of my clients, I don’t necessarily continue to manage their sites for them after they are launched. But, at the end of our time of working together, I do walk them through (via a video conference and screen sharing) the back-end of their site. They learn how to change colors, fonts, insert or replace photos, add elements (like content blocks) or move them around, add blog posts and more — the basics that they’ll need to know in order to keep their website current. The drag and drop functionality is easy to figure out, as Squarespace is fairly intuitive and user-friendly. My clients can “learn as they go” and not be overwhelmed by the back-end of a site that is confusing and hard to navigate.  

5. Everything is already built-in for you

To add to the ease of managing a site once it’s finished, it’s good to know that Squarespace is an all-inclusive platform. Everything that you could possibly need for starting a site and getting it up and running is already built-in for you — things like analytics, some SEO, the SSL certificate, eCommerce and more are all features that you don’t have to worry about integrating yourself or through third-party apps.

6. Sites are responsive

Another great feature of Squarespace sites is the fact that they’re automatically mobile-friendly and responsive, meaning that they will scale to fit any size screen that they’re viewed on without any extra work from you!

7. Support is helpful  

Although there isn’t a phone number to call, the online support from Squarespace’s team is really great. I come across issues (often involving unique features or HTML code that I need to integrate into a template) and can always troubleshoot and find an answer using their “support” site. Rarely have I been stuck on something for very long, without being able to figure it out.


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
I got a question for ya. How is your branding looking? Do you have a logo, website and more that you absolutely love…or…not so much? If you’re not a design professional, branding might be something that you don’t love to do for your business or you simply don’t have time for, so let someone else take over! Sign-up below to receive the link to download my new and free PDF tool “Branding 101: What it is, what it isn’t and why you need it” — right now! This quick and simple guide will walk you through why it’s important to establish consistent and memorable branding within your biz — and if you can DIY some of it or if you should hire that professional. If you have any questions after going through it, let’s connect and chat some more!

2 big reasons why you should package your services

I’ve covered the topic of working within retainers (if you’re a service provider, this means getting paid a one-time flat fee by your client each month in exchange for a set number of hours or completed projects) and the benefits for both the client and designer (or any service provider.) In a very similar way, packaging your services can also be beneficial to you and your clients.

When I say package your services, I don’t necessarily mean working within a retainer model, but simply offering more than one completed project at a time to your clients. For example, I offer brand packages to small businesses that either need a visual identity created from scratch or who want to rebrand in a new and fresh way. Instead of creating just a logo for them, I also design and develop a website and other branded materials to get them up and running. This can include a bundle of social media graphics, brochures, postcards, Facebook ads, display signage and more. When a client purchases the package, they understand all of the print + digital bits and pieces that come with it and that it’s an investment, like anything else in their business. It will serve them not only right now, but also in the long run. A professional identity will make “all of their things” look cohesive and legitimate, whether someone comes across their site, a business card, an ad, a video, a blog post or a social media account. When finished pieces are packaged, it improves a client’s brand and allows you to help them grow and scale their business. Below are 2 big reasons why packaging services to your client is especially beneficial…

1. You provide more overall value to your clients.

The saying stands true in this case, “you get more bang for your buck.” Yes, it’s more work to execute multiple projects instead of just one, but in turn, you’re creating more strategies, platforms and/or materials for your client, which equals more value. The longer that you work with someone, you become a trusted expert for him or her. They know that you can handle more than one thing and as weeks, months or even years go by, you’re building a more long-term relationship and partnership with them. You will end up being hired for more work and your clients will refer you to others. You get to also show off that you have more than one skillset. Within my all-inclusive packages, my client gets to see their brand literally come to life one step at a time — from the form of a static logo, to an interactive website, to other tangible products.

2. You can charge higher rates and make more money.  

Because you’re creating multiple things for the same client, you obviously get to generate more income. You can price higher flat fees, because your packages are so valuable and consist of multiple items. In the long run, you will make more money than just developing one-off pieces because packages naturally are more costly (but worth it!) and investments — and you become more an extension/team member of your client’s brand. You’ll continue to be a go-to pro for them to hire over and over again. I would personally rather have 3 or 4 solid client relationships who give me work that I enjoy year-round (and who pay well) — instead of 30 different clients who only use me one time and don’t see an investment in my work or who don’t pay me on time.   


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
I got a question for ya. How is your branding looking? Do you have a logo, website and more that you absolutely love…or…not so much? If you’re not a design professional, branding might be something that you don’t love to do for your business or you simply don’t have time for, so let someone else take over! Sign-up below to receive the link to download my new and free PDF tool “Branding 101: What it is, what it isn’t and why you need it” — right now! This quick and simple guide will walk you through why it’s important to establish consistent and memorable branding within your biz — and if you can DIY some of it or if you should hire that professional. If you have any questions after going through it, let’s connect and chat some more!

3 benefits of working within retainers

As a designer, I still do some “one-off” work (AKA individual projects) for a few select clients that I really enjoy working with. However, I transitioned my business model last year to working with other long-term clients “on retainer.” I learned how to budget time and work within this kind of style thanks to my agency background. If you’re not sure what a “retainer” is, it’s simply a way for a designer (or any creative professional or service provider) to offer either a set number of hours or completed projects to a client for a one-time/set fee each month in return.

Now, retainers aren’t always a good fit for every client/designer relationship. It is definitely a smart idea for established brands that need regular and consistent work created each month. But, if you own a business that is starting from scratch and has some foundational materials to get you up and running, you might not need 20-40 hours of work completed each month right away. Regardless, I’ve outlined below the 3 biggest benefits (I’ve experienced) for designers and their clients alike, if a retainer partnership is developed.

1. Expectations are more easily met.

Using retainer models gives a client ongoing access to a trusted designer and the consistency in the designer’s schedule allows them to provide better service to the client. By purchasing the designer’s time upfront, the client receives a preferred retainer rate and gets more bang for their buck. This style of working with a designer will help a business owner to plan ahead, have less stress with tracking and paying multiple invoices and they will know exactly what they’re getting each month! Both the client and designer can be on the same page and know what work is coming down the pipeline. As a result, there is better organization and deadlines are clear. This keeps (negative) surprises from happening and there is a more efficient workflow for both parties.

2. For a designer, there is less “chasing work” and wondering where your next client or paycheck is coming from.

This was my biggest reason for transitioning to working within retainers. I don’t have to create a proposal or provide an estimate/quote for each individual project, I don’t have to send multiple invoices and I get paid a lot quicker and at the same time each month. This obviously allows me to have a more solid source of income. Rather than quoting and designing 5 different jobs for a client that might altogether total $900-1,000 at the end of the month, I can count on a guaranteed $1500-2000 a month and maybe even end up doing less work — and getting that $1500-2000 amount in one lump sum, not 5 separate payments or checks. If I have a slower month when I don’t book as many branding jobs, I know that I at least have 2-3 retainers that guarantee me with work. And, that’s certainly reassuring!   

3. More long-term relationships are developed and higher-premium work is produced.     

For a client, the biggest benefit is that they have a trusted partner and aren’t just working with a random contractor they found online, who doesn’t quite know their brand or style. This allows growth for both businesses. The client can scale their business and better plan for the year and the designer can execute better work because they know exactly what the client needs and when. I personally like to review what’s coming up for the month with my clients and outline 3-4 larger projects that they know for sure need to be completed, so that I can make notes and plan my schedule accordingly.


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
I got a question for ya. How is your branding looking? Do you have a logo, website and more that you absolutely love…or…not so much? If you’re not a design professional, branding might be something that you don’t love to do for your business or you simply don’t have time for, so let someone else take over! Sign-up below to receive the link to download my new and free PDF tool “Branding 101: What it is, what it isn’t and why you need it” — right now! This quick and simple guide will walk you through why it’s important to establish consistent and memorable branding within your biz — and if you can DIY some of it or if you should hire that professional. If you have any questions after going through it, let’s connect and chat some more!

“Like attracts like” — 3 reasons why professional branding will help you find the right clients

I was talking to a friend just last week who is getting ready to launch her new business. We were talking about branding and how she wants it to look “high premium” because her services won’t be cheap.

I told her: “like attracts like.” Have you ever heard of that phrase? Probably so. We are what we attract — what we put out into the universe is often what we get back. In running a business and developing the visual side of its brand, it’s important to remember that not everyone is supposed to be or will be your ideal client. You need to have a niche market/target demographic/specific style that you serve, so that you only attract and serve those types of people. If you offer a service or sell a product with a fancy steakhouse price tag, you don’t want to attract someone who is only looking to buy a cheeseburger at McDonald’s and not spend more than $5.

The more that your values align with your client’s, the more that they understand that what you have to offer is worth every penny and the more that you will attract the right kinds of buyers. The money won’t matter — they will believe in and need so much of what you can give them, that they won’t bat an eyelash at the price. And, they will happily refer you to other (hopefully) like-minded folks needing the same things.   

1. You will look more professional.  

Not only will you look the part of an expert, prospective clients will also look at you in the same way. When you have professional branding in place and look just a little “fancy” — you will also attract others who are sophisticated. If I am seeking a certain professional to work with, whether it’s a copywriter, business coach, etc., I’m going to look at their logo, website, social media, the way they speak, the way they write, the type of content that they put out and more. If everything is really sleek and professional and I genuinely connect with and like what I see, I’m going to reach out to chat with them about what they can do for me. If their branding isn’t cohesive, they don’t show consistency in any ways, they seem scattered or don’t speak or appear confident, they’re not going to impress me for a second and I will pass.

2. You will feel more professional.   

Plain and simple, when you LOOK more professional, you FEEL more professional. Many of us “work from home” entrepreneurs are definitely in tank tops and yoga pants most days, but when we do get dressed up, have our makeup on and hair done, don’t we just automatically walk with a little extra pep in our step? I know that I do. I feel better about myself and the confidence shows. It does for anyone! When you have a logo, website, photography and content that you’re proud of and want to show off to the world, people will see the pride and joy that you take in your work.

3. The right people will trust and believe in you.    

If you look high premium, feel high premium and have high premium prices to match, you will attract high-premium clients. This is because people who trust what you’re saying, doing and have to offer them (and believe in your brand) will buy from you without questioning it. They realize and see the importance in what you offer and that it will benefit them. They will pay you what you want and on time, because you would do the same if you were investing in a service to scale and grow your business, right? I have come to find that when I immediately connect with a prospective client, they like everything that I’m saying and agree with it, I don’t even have to work at the actual sale of my services. The conversation and process is fun and effortless. They already like me, trust me and know that I can do a great job for them. Then, when I say the cost and that I require a 50% deposit to begin the work and the final 50% due at completion of the project, they say: “Send me the contract and invoice!” Not every client is perfect and like this every time, but the more that you exude professionalism, class, expert thoughts/content, strong visuals and more (thanks to great branding) — the more likely that you will attract the same back. 


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
I got a question for ya. How is your branding looking? Do you have a logo, website and more that you absolutely love…or…not so much? If you’re not a design professional, branding might be something that you don’t love to do for your business or you simply don’t have time for, so let someone else take over! Sign-up below to receive the link to download my new and free PDF tool “Branding 101: What it is, what it isn’t and why you need it” — right now! This quick and simple guide will walk you through why it’s important to establish consistent and memorable branding within your biz — and if you can DIY some of it or if you should hire that professional. If you have any questions after going through it, let’s connect and chat some more!

4 ways to refresh your brand

Refresh vs. Rebrand – a never-ending debate in the life of a small business owner!

How do you know when it’s time to add some spark back into your visual identity or wipe the slate clean and start from scratch all over again?

Sometimes, we can get ahead of ourselves. It’s easy to want a new logo or website when we stare at these major components of our brand day in and day out. I get it, we tire of them. I feel the same way about my own print + digital materials.

However, the point of branding is to establish consistency. You need a cohesive look and feel to everything that represents and expresses you, so that people become familiar with and trust you. On the flip side, sometimes a logo can become outdated and after years of looking a certain way, it’s OK to take the leap and go through a full rebrand. However, before you step off that ledge, think to yourself – what if I just refreshed my brand in a few small and easy steps? You might be surprised at the simple ways that you can enhance it and add extensions – to make it feel new – but without the time and expense of executing an entire facelift.

1. Add a font to your typography collection.

I don’t recommend using five different typefaces throughout your branding, but if you have one or two that you consistently use (and hopefully they’re a serif and sans serif combo) it’s OK to add in a third option. Maybe this is a script, handwritten or more “fun” font that you use for some headlines, quotes, social media graphics, highlighted blocks of text, etc. Something to add additional interest or flair to your content and design.

2. Add a color to your palette.  

In a very similar and really easy way, introduce a new color to your existing swatches. I believe that you can have 4-5 different colors working together for your brand (unlike fonts, I cap those off at 3 max) and it can be fun to add one more to the mix. Even if you don’t add something super vivid and different, it could be as simple as a neutral option like a grey, ivory or beige. This can also add a sophisticated touch to your branded materials. And, here is what I have to say about choosing the right combination of colors.

 3. Introduce elements like a secondary logo mark/icon, textures or patterns.

Adding some visual elements that can be used throughout your website, social media graphics and print stationery can be a great way to bring a new dynamic to your branding, without doing an entire overhaul. No matter how great your logo is, you do have to look at it every single day. You probably think of ways that you would tweak it or what you want your next one to look like. Instead of going that far, though, why not add a secondary version of your logo to be used for special occasions? Many businesses use icons and monograms as simplified versions of their logo, when they don’t want or need to use the original version. These smaller marks can absolutely be consistent with your brand and use elements, fonts and colors from your logo, but in a new and unique way. You can create some icons to be sprinkled throughout your website, to help break-up page sections or represent your services or social media handles — that still match your brand. You can also introduce some nice textures and patterns as extensions to your color palette, to add more visual interest to your graphics. I especially like this step because it allows you to add some new elements to your brand, without doing a full-blown rebrand.

4. Invest in brand photography.  

This is a step that I took myself in my business this year and it’s such a game changer! If you’re using the same stock photos over and over again or you don’t have any actual photos of yourself and your working space, now is the time to invest in a professional photographer! At the beginning of the year, I found a photographer whose style I really liked on Facebook and who was located in my city. We met at a local studio/co-working space that is a renovated warehouse and spent the morning capturing headshots and shots of me working with my “tools” – like my laptop, iPad, sketchbook and journal. We incorporated two outfit changes and some different backgrounds — and they turned out perfect, exactly as I envisioned. She gave me around 100 to keep, so I use them regularly on my website, in blog graphics and social media graphics. I feel so much more professional with them — and, I like posting them knowing that nobody else in the world as the exact same shots. I highly recommend investing in unique photos, rather than the same stock photos that everyone else on the Internet is using. **Sidenote, you can also go to a craft store like Hobby Lobby, buy up some paper textures to use as backgrounds, office supplies and fun props — and style your own photo shoot of flat lays to freshen up your blog and Instagram feed. Again, this way, you’re at least using your own photos!**


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
I got a question for ya. How is your branding looking? Do you have a logo, website and more that you absolutely love…or…not so much? If you’re not a design professional, branding might be something that you don’t love to do for your business or you simply don’t have time for, so let someone else take over! Sign-up below to receive the link to download my new and free PDF tool “Branding 101: What it is, what it isn’t and why you need it” — right now! This quick and simple guide will walk you through why it’s important to establish consistent and memorable branding within your biz — and if you can DIY some of it or if you should hire that professional. If you have any questions after going through it, let’s connect and chat some more!

5 ways to invest in yourself as an entrepreneur

Never stop learning.

These might be three little words, but they can have such a big impact on the mindset of an entrepreneur.

When you work from home, it’s very easy to fall into the same routine day in and day out, go days without leaving the house, not always have face-to-face interaction with others — and you can’t always talk shop or bounce ideas off of the co-workers that come with working in a traditional “day job” office. For these reasons, it’s extremely important to keep an open mind, stay relevant in your field, be aware of new trends, proficient in programs and keep growing every single day. If not, you will more easily hit walls, fall into slumps, lack motivation and education — and simply not be the best professional that you can (and should) be for your clients (and yourself.)

The best thing that you can do for your business is to invest in yourself — without you, you have no business. You simply can’t afford to stifle your mind or abilities. If you invest in yourself each year, you will see your business continually moving in new and better directions, you’ll be able to put smart strategies in place and you’ll be able to build a team (however big or small) so that you can focus on doing more of what you’re best at and love. Below are a few ways that you can keep evolving as an entrepreneur and in turn, keep your business blossoming and on the cutting edge.

1. Read books, blogs and follow your favorite entrepreneurs online.

This can be tough, as it’s easy to follow and engage with countless, amazing fellow entrepreneurs who have ridiculously huge online followings and whom you aspire to be like. It’s easy to click through 20 different emails from each one each day, read their blog posts, watch webinars and Facebook Lives (and more) — which can literally take all day and then you never get any work done — but, try to stick with following just 3-4 of your favorites. With that, see what advice they give, learn about their strategies and business models and how they structure their programs or services. There is nothing wrong with watching what others do, absorbing bits and pieces — and then doing what’s right for you and putting your own spin on things. We are all in this online business world together and there is room for everyone. If you’re going to learn from someone, it might as well be someone who is successful. You are whom you surround yourself with. Make sure that who and what you’re following has a positive impact on you and your mindset.   

2. Join a local association and make connections.

It’s easy to stay in front of a computer screen and engage with others via emails, texts and Facebook comments, but don’t forget the power of face-to-face and real, human connection. I won’t use the word “network” as that makes some people feel uncomfortable or like they’re at a stuffy corporate event. Try joining a local organization that is either relatable to your industry or just business in general. Some groups might require yearly memberships, but some are free. Attend monthly gatherings — they can be really fun! They might be happy hours or listening to interesting speakers — who you can also learn from. You can make connections to other area business owners whose services you might need (or who you might be able to serve) and again, it’s just plain healthy to get out and learn how to communicate with others in a non-digital way!  

 3. Attend a conference or seminar.

This is one of my favorite ways to learn and mostly, get really pumped up and motivated! I have attended a handful of conferences the last few years and loved each one. I feel so refreshed and inspired after listening to respected industry experts and other creative entrepreneurs. And of course, these events are a perfect way to meet others who do what you do (or something similar) and to talk shop and make some new contacts/friends. Many times, these conferences provide opportunities for attendees to meet the speakers before or after they talk, or at a cocktail hour or dinner event later in the day. Take advantage of those times and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself, exchange business cards and ask additional questions or get advice.

4. Participate in continuing education and professional development opportunities.

Again, I can’t stress it enough. Never think that you know enough. Never stop learning. Years after college or just working in general, it’s easy to do what’s comfortable and in the ways that you’ve always done things. New styles and trends are always emerging in every field, as well as new techniques and software. In order to stay modern and relevant, you should try to attend classes or workshops that will keep you sharp. Or, take a class in something totally new and different to you. Anything that involves getting away from your workspace or office and puts you back in a studio or classroom, making you think or feel challenged, is positive and healthy!

5. Hire a business coach or join a mastermind group.  

You might not quite be ready to invest in a business coach and that’s OK. It’s still something that you should keep in mind and definitely consider doing at some point, though. I hired a business coach over a year ago to teach me ways to package my services, charge higher-premium prices, grow my online following and in turn, make more money on a monthly basis. With the coaching program, I also got connected to a fabulous mastermind group of five other female small business owners. Although the coaching is over, I still meet with the mastermind monthly and hope to for a long time! These are both good next steps to take in a business when you’re ready to grow and scale — and simply play bigger, make yourself known as an expert and get hired more. It’s one of the biggest and best investments that you can make in yourself. Even if you don’t think that you feel ready, when will you be? If you find the right coach or program and you feel in your gut/heart that you need to hire them in order to change your business (and in turn, your life) you will find a way to afford it. Plus, you will (hopefully) see a big ROI down the road.  


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
I got a question for ya. How is your branding looking? Do you have a logo, website and more that you absolutely love…or…not so much? If you’re not a design professional, branding might be something that you don’t love to do for your business or you simply don’t have time for, so let someone else take over! Sign-up below to receive the link to download my new and free PDF tool “Branding 101: What it is, what it isn’t and why you need it” — right now! This quick and simple guide will walk you through why it’s important to establish consistent and memorable branding within your biz — and if you can DIY some of it or if you should hire that professional. If you have any questions after going through it, let’s connect and chat some more!

QUICK TIP: How many fonts do you need for your brand?

One of the most popular questions that I get from entrepreneurs who are ready to brand their businesses is, “how many fonts do I need?” While you may use a different and unique typeface just for your logo (which is perfectly normal and fine) — you do need to establish at least a couple of typefaces to be consistently used on all of your print and web materials. Your typography selections are just as crucial to your brand as your color palette. They play a huge role in contributing to the overall look and feel of your identity — and it’s important to get them right.

You really shouldn’t use more than (3) typefaces on a regular basis. When more than three are used and not consistently, it makes your brand look confusing, not sophisticated and not professional. Plan to just stick with a classic serif (for example, think “Garamond”) as well as a clean and modern sans serif (again, think “Gotham.”) The third exception is a script/handwritten typeface, which can be used in special instances. Read below to find the definition of each one. Above all else, always remember to keep it simple!

1. Serif

A serif typeface has little lines (or strokes) added as embellishments at the ends of characters. Times New Roman is a generic example. These are good to use when reading large blocks of text (like you often see in books) and are great for professional and traditional purposes.

2. Sans serif

A sans serif typeface doesn’t have the serif strokes coming off its characters. Arial and Helvetica are common examples. This style of font has a cleaner, more modern look and feel.

 3. Script  

Finally, a script typeface is, as you might guess, “script-y.” It’s meant to look like cursive handwriting, or on a fancier level, even calligraphy. It’s meant to not be overused, but is great for accenting pullout or highlighted words in a headline or quote. I like to use one to complement my pair of serif and sans serif fonts in a brand to give designs a personal, classy and sophisticated touch.


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
I got a question for ya. How is your branding looking? Do you have a logo, website and more that you absolutely love…or…not so much? If you’re not a design professional, branding might be something that you don’t love to do for your business or you simply don’t have time for, so let someone else take over! Sign-up below to receive the link to download my new and free PDF tool “Branding 101: What it is, what it isn’t and why you need it” — right now! This quick and simple guide will walk you through why it’s important to establish consistent and memorable branding within your biz — and if you can DIY some of it or if you should hire that professional. If you have any questions after going through it, let’s connect and chat some more!

4 ways to create consistency in your business

With so many ideas in our minds, goals that we want to set and actual work that we need to do, it can be overwhelming to keep showing up everyday, growing our businesses in the ways that they need to. Today, I’m covering 4 ways to create consistency— so that you can hold yourself accountable and be the professional that you need to be (and that your business deserves!)

These tips will help you to stay on track with “all of the things” that you need to do — so that your potential dream clients can find and follow you (and know that you mean business!)

1. Decide what you need to accomplish.

Sounds simple enough, but sometimes, you really just need to sit down and figure out what you not only want (but need) to do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Talk to friends, family, business besties, masterminds, whoever you can. Write down all of the different tasks that you have in your business. These can be business development and client-related ones. Go back and decide on a set number of realistic projects (and reach ones) that you will start taking action towards completing. What do you need to do in your own business and what clients do you need to serve (or products that you need to create) daily, weekly, monthly? Make sure that these are all items that will truly make an impact and help you grow your business.  

2. Decide on timeframes.

Once you’ve decided on the tasks at hand, put deadlines on them. I keep a running list of daily “to-dos” on a digital sticky note on my laptop’s desktop. I also keep a day or time that I need to have them done by and sent off to a client — or be prepared for scheduling. Sometimes, the most important and effective thing that you can do is giving yourself an actual timeline/deadline — and then stick to it. Again, these can be daily, weekly or monthly. Some tasks are going to be recurring or short term and others are going to be in the queue for later down the road. Either way, they ALL need to get done at some point. This is where you specifically decide on those times.

 3. Setup your systems.  

Now that you know literally what you need to do and when those things need to be done, setup the systems that will make it all happen! For me, my tasks are split between two categories: business development (my own marketing) and client work. Business development includes weekly blogging, emailing my list, posting to social media and engaging in Facebook groups. My client work is my monthly load of money-making projects — my bread and butter and what I consider my priorities. I use a couple of different platforms like Asana and Dubsado to setup my jobs, keep track of client/project notes, deadlines and more. I also keep an “old-fashioned” pretty planner that I write in and use to keep track of my calendar (along with my Google calendar/iPhone, of course.) These systems enable me to know what I need to get done now and what I have coming up and need to prepare for. I also use Dubsado for sending client contracts and FreshBooks for generating and delivering invoices. When it comes to my own business work, I write my blog posts ahead of time and then schedule them within Squarespace. I also create and upload my weekly graphics that go out in Buffer, a social media-scheduling app. Of course, I dabble in a mix of other areas to keep things running, but these platforms are the main ones that I use. I’ve described them here so that you can see how important it is to use different tools and programs to track, create, schedule and more. I’m in these platforms daily because they keep me accountable — and I can see everything that I have going on in my business at any given moment. I have things that need done daily, weekly and monthly — and my systems help me to get them done, which allows me to keep showing up and being visible in front of my audiences (clients and prospects.)

4. Commit and…DO IT!  

For real, just do it. You know what you need to do, when you need to do it and how you’re going to get it all done with the systems that you put in place. Do whatever works for you — not everyone else. Whatever you need to do each day in your own business and for your client base, DO IT. Whatever you need to do each week, each month, each quarter and each year — DO IT. We can write things down, think about them, track them and stay organized/conscious of our time, but if we are not physically “doing the things” no one else is, either. (Unless you’ve hired a team, of course!) Regardless of what you’re responsible for (or any helpful assistants) — just take each task seriously and work until it’s crossed off of your list! The more that you show up consistently, the more professional that you will look in general — and the more seriously that you will be taken! 


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
I got a question for ya. How is your branding looking? Do you have a logo, website and more that you absolutely love…or…not so much? If you’re not a design professional, branding might be something that you don’t love to do for your business or you simply don’t have time for, so let someone else take over! Sign-up below to receive the link to download my new and free PDF tool “Branding 101: What it is, what it isn’t and why you need it” — right now! This quick and simple guide will walk you through why it’s important to establish consistent and memorable branding within your biz — and if you can DIY some of it or if you should hire that professional. If you have any questions after going through it, let’s connect and chat some more!

3 simple places where inspiration can be found

“Creativity doesn’t wait for that perfect moment. It fashions its own perfect moments out of ordinary ones.”

–Bruce Garrabrandt (author/colored pencil artist)

Whether you’re a graphic designer trying to find visual solutions for your current project, a chef perfecting your next unique and delicious recipe, a writer crafting your next award-winning story, a teacher decorating your classroom door or a bridesmaid trying to plan your best friend’s wedding shower, it’s happened to us all — the dreaded “creative block.” When you hit this annoying wall and you can’t seem to find a way over or around it, what do you do and where do you turn? While I’m still (and will always be) guilty of stalking Pinterest boards and my favorite online designers that I admire — I’ve also learned to go back to some old school and simple ways of finding the best kinds of inspiration and creative boosts that I need to get back to the drawing board and actually be productive!

1) Step away from the work.

Sometimes the best thing that will benefit your work is actually taking a day off (or at least a few hours.) And, if you need an even longer amount of time, take a vacation! When you walk away from something for a little while and actually stop thinking so much, that little invisible light bulb above your head magically goes on and the methods, processes and results that you’ve been longing to find and execute all of a sudden just come to you. It’s really that simple. And, it’s also known as one of the greatest feelings in the world. 

2) NOT looking at what others are doing.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the virtual comparison game. You know the one — just like in real life — when you find yourself looking at what “everybody else” is doing, instead of focusing on what YOU need to do for yourself. It’s easy to get sucked into that black hole of the Internet, not feel good enough or as confident as you should — which doesn’t end up getting you anywhere. Instead of following everyone on your Instagram feed, choose just 2-3 individuals or businesses that you admire and take what bits and pieces of inspiration that you need from time to time — but NOT ALL of the time. The less time you spend worrying about everyone else, the more time that you will have to create something really special, genuine and unique. In turn, others will be admiring the great work that YOU put out into the world — and they will draw their own inspiration from it.   

3) Everyday things.

There truly is so much beauty in the world, but we often get too caught up in our digital platforms — living and working behind screens that keep us from getting outside and breathing in some fresh air — and keeping us from really “taking it all in.” Similar to stepping away from the work, it’s important to observe nature and the environment, animals, people and conversations happening around us. With a clear mind and through real life experiences, we can better understand and appreciate colors, sights, sounds, textures, smells and stories that can be more easily translated into a design, onto paper, a canvas, or party plan. Take a walk or go for a run — activity away from your desk is just plain healthy, anyway.

Creative blocks can really keep you from scheming up something amazing, but only if you let them. If you take even just a small amount of time, step away from what you’re struggling with, don’t spend time comparing yourself or your work to others and observe the everyday world around you, you’ll allow your mind to be opened up and stimulated “non-digitally.”   

And, if you still can’t seem to shake a creative block when it comes to your next big idea or business, maybe I can help

3 reasons why your brand is more than just your visuals

It’s sometimes easy to forget that your brand is more than just your logo. It’s more than the way that your website looks and functions, it’s more than the feel of your business card in your hand. It’s more than the words that you say, the strategy that you stand behind and the stories that you tell. It’s more than just the vision that you have for yourself (and your visuals.) It’s ALL of those things. All of them working together, as a team, to give you an overall and cohesive identity — one that your clients remember and makes them feel something. Your brand isn’t just an identity, though, either — it’s an expression.

Today, I want to hit on just (3) reasons why your brand goes beyond the design that you invest in or create (and that’s the honest truth coming from me, a designer.)

1. Your brand is an experience.

Your clients (and prospects) should have the same experience every single time that they come into contact with it. All of your materials, tangible and non-tangible, print and digital, in-person and online — should be cohesive and consistent. Whether someone looks at your business card, browses your website, reads your social media posts or the content that you put out, meets with you via video conference or over a coffee chat, etc., they should know that it’s you, each time. They should feel something and be able to see how genuine and authentic you are and what value you bring to the table, with the services that you provide.

2. Your brand reflects what others think of you.

If your brand is professional, legitimate and polished, people will feel the same way about it (and you.) They will take you seriously and more confidently hire you, if they truly like and trust you. If they are digging what you’re about, who you are, what you offer and see that you can serve them (all with the help of the different aspects of your brand that they experience, see point #1 above) — they will undoubtedly want to work with you. I want to hire someone that I feel is not only professional, talented and experienced — but who I can also relate to. As humans, I’m sure that most of us feel that way, as well.

3-reasons-brand.png

 3. Your brand includes your vision, mission, strategy and content — not just design.  

These “non-visual” elements should come first, even before design and your logo is created. When you get super clear on who you are, what you do, what you want to be known for, who you want to serve and how you’re going to serve them, it will be much easier to decide on things like color palettes, typography, style elements, website function/development, printed/in-hand materials, social media platforms and more. When you have brand clarity, by knowing yourself and your craft really well and the words, strategies and systems that will attract paying clients in place, the “fun and pretty” aspects of your brand will come to life more quickly because they will simply complement and express the other aspects that you’ve already established.


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
I got a question for ya. How is your branding looking? Do you have a logo, website and more that you absolutely love…or…not so much? If you’re not a design professional, branding might be something that you don’t love to do for your business or you simply don’t have time for, so let someone else take over! Sign-up below to receive the link to download my new and free PDF tool “Branding 101: What it is, what it isn’t and why you need it” — right now! This quick and simple guide will walk you through why it’s important to establish consistent and memorable branding within your biz — and if you can DIY some of it or if you should hire that professional. If you have any questions after going through it, let’s connect and chat some more!

The differences between 4 major file formats

When you’re not a designer or working with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator on a daily basis, it can be difficult to differentiate between various file formats. Which ones are best for print or digital platforms? Which ones have a higher resolution and which ones tend to be lower? In what format should your logo be formatted?

Today, I’m giving you a quick and simple breakdown of the best practices and applications for four major and popular file types. I took these as an excerpt from a guest blog post that I wrote a few months ago, which you can find here. There are several other formats to consider as well, but these are the ones that I tend to come across and work with the most. Comment below if you find my tips helpful or if you need any information regarding a different one!   

1. EPS (Encapsulated PostScript)

You’ve probably heard the word vector thrown around quite a bit. A designer loves to work with vector files because they’re scalable. You can literally enlarge them to fit any size or format in the world and they won’t lose quality. It’s the perfect file format for logos and illustrations. (Word of advice—when sending your logo to a designer, send them a vector file.) An EPS can contain both graphics and text.

2. JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)

This file can be printed (think photos) but should be used primarily for the web. It will be pixelated when you try to enlarge it too much, and it will always print with a white box background behind it if placed against anything other than white. Some quality is lost when it’s saved because it’s compressed.

4-file-formats.png

3. PNG (Portable Network Graphics)

This file type can be printed, but it should also be used more for web purposes. I prefer to use these over JPEGs, as they tend to have a little higher quality and transparent background (meaning you can place them against any background and they’ll translate clearly against it). It’s now the most popular lossless image compression format used.

4. PDF (Portable Document Format)

This is a universal file type that everyone knows and uses. High-res PDF files are standard for printing, but they can also be viewed digitally. They, too, will have a transparent background, when you’re using the PDF format of a logo.


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
I got a question for ya. How is your branding looking? Do you have a logo, website and more that you absolutely love…or…not so much? If you’re not a design professional, branding might be something that you don’t love to do for your business or you simply don’t have time for, so let someone else take over! Sign-up below to receive the link to download my new and free PDF tool “Branding 101: What it is, what it isn’t and why you need it” — right now! This quick and simple guide will walk you through why it’s important to establish consistent and memorable branding within your biz — and if you can DIY some of it or if you should hire that professional. If you have any questions after going through it, let’s connect and chat some more!

5 ways to win the race (in business)

Living outside of Louisville, Kentucky now means that I have developed an even greater love for horse racing. I grew up with quarter horses and barrel racing (and of course still extensively compete) but thoroughbred racing is a totally different industry and animal. My younger brother works for an elite and high-caliber training operation that just had horses (for their owners) run in the Kentucky Derby this past weekend — which is an incredible feat by itself. Coming from a lifelong horse background, having family directly involved and now living within 20 minutes of the mecca itself, Churchill Downs — gives me an even greater connection to it all. And, trust me when I say that attending the Derby is something that should be on everyone’s bucket list. You have to experience it at least once in your life.

With my connection to racing horses in general, whether it’s thoroughbreds racing on the track or quarter horses racing around a cloverleaf pattern in an arena, I find that there are actually a lot of similarities between it and running a business. Sounds weird, right? Read on and see what I’m talking about. 

1. Have a strong team in place.

There is an endless amount of time, money, meticulous care and maintenance that goes into managing these valuable, high-class equine athletes. From those who wrap legs, walk, groom and clean stalls to the foremen who manage the track shed rows, to the trainers who prep them for races, there are a lot of individuals responsible for keeping these horses going on a daily basis. Even if you’re a solopreneur, you still need a support system. Whether you hire a VA to handle administrative or marketing tasks, a coach to help you get your business to the next level, or you even just find inspiration and help from Facebook groups, everyone needs somebody in their corner, pushing them to be better, stronger and stay motivated — so that they can always come out on top. Nobody can do it alone.

2. Don’t worry about the competition.

Horse trainers absolutely observe and take notice of the other horses that their horse will be up against in its next race — but they don’t over-stress about them. At the end of the day, they know that their horse still has to show up on race day and run their race. There are many other variables that effect how a horse will perform (the weather, the track, how they break from the gate and even how they recover post-race) — much like in business. As entrepreneurs, we have too many things to worry about on a daily basis that are within our control (how we manage our time, how we get new clients and more) and worrying about others who do the same thing as us shouldn’t be one of them. Focus on yourself and moving forward, instead of looking at who is coming up behind you.

 3. Setup a game-day strategy.   

Although horses have minds of their own and trainers can do everything in their power to prep them to win, sometimes they just don’t run well. However, if a strong strategy is put into place, a horse is at least somewhat setup for better success. This might mean training them at a center that they like (keeping them happy), putting them on a healthier diet or entering them in a race that they’ll excel in and not one that they won’t. The same goes for business. You have to know what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and for who you’re doing it, in order to attract the right kinds of clients and do work that matters. We have to be smart about how we spend our time, have the proper workflow systems in place and plan actionable goals that will let us reach our goals. It’s all about doing a lot of the “little things” well— that lead to bigger results. 

4. Realize that success doesn’t come overnight.

This one is a hard pill to swallow for most. When we put so much of ourselves, energy and money into something, we want to see results right away. And, that comes from a good place — we are passionate about what we do. Whether it’s watching a horse run its first race, or you’re about to launch something for the first time in your business, it’s great if you see some success, but don’t be too disheartened if you don’t. Good things are in store — you sometimes just have to be a little patient. When you work hard, in horse racing or business, it will payoff. It might not happen tomorrow, but there will be a bigger reward for you down the road — and it will make all of your hard work worth it. Just keep swimming! (Or, running, in this case.)

5. Enjoy the ride.

Sometimes, you never know what life is going to throw at you. A horse can be healthy and racing’s next superstar today — and sustain a career-ending injury tomorrow. Unfortunately, even if you’re your own boss, things out of your control can still happen and cause you to change course in your own business. You can lose a major client or you can get sick. Regardless, although you can plan and be as strategic as possible, life happens. With that said, celebrate the good days and shake off the bad days. Even if you’re sitting atop the world’s fastest horse and you’re scared to death and uncertain of what will happen — you’ve still got to enjoy the ride.   


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
I got a question for ya. How is your branding looking? Do you have a logo, website and more that you absolutely love…or…not so much? If you’re not a design professional, branding might be something that you don’t love to do for your business or you simply don’t have time for, so let someone else take over! Sign-up below to receive the link to download my new and free PDF tool “Branding 101: What it is, what it isn’t and why you need it” — right now! This quick and simple guide will walk you through why it’s important to establish consistent and memorable branding within your biz — and if you can DIY some of it or if you should hire that professional. If you have any questions after going through it, let’s connect and chat some more!

4 simple ways to get clients

It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting to freelance on the side, you’ve moved your business into the full-time spectrum or you’ve been a business owner for a few years. As entrepreneurs, it’s smart to always be open to new client-getting activities. It’s ideal to get to the point where you can be booked out months in advance and even the simplest of strategies can help.

1. Tell family and friends (who will tell their friends…)

Word of mouth referrals are the best. I’ve had them from the time that I started freelancing and now, as a full-time business owner, I still do work for some of those original referrals. Referrals lead to more referrals. As soon as you get connected to someone and do a great job, they will hire you for more work OR at least tell others about you. It’s a sweet cycle — as one of my former bosses used to say, “good work begets more good work.” To break it down even more, you can just send short and sweet emails to let people know what you’re up to and what work you’re available for. Ask that if they wouldn’t mind, to please forward your info onto someone who might need it. You will be surprised at the positive responses! And, you’re not losing out on anything by taking 5 minutes to write and send an email. You never know whose inbox it might get forwarded to!

2. Check Craigslist, local job boards, LinkedIn + setup profiles on freelance sites

You never know what opportunity can lead to the next. I once got a job through LinkedIn because I had a profile setup and it fit the description of what a local agency was looking for at the time. That original email led to a phone call, which led to an in-person interview. The rest is history. As crazy as it sounds, I’ve even searched Craigslist for design postings, as long as they seemed legit. If you’re a member of a local chapter of a national organization that pertains to your career field/area of expertise, you should be able to have access to a job board where they will often host listings (and not just for full-time opportunities, but also remote/contract ones.) Other freelance sites like Upwork are great ways to connect with companies needing your services. 

3. Make it easy for people to find you  

Have a nice and visually pleasing website that is easy to navigate — and social media platforms in place. Show up consistently and grow a following. Have a blog setup on your site and post regularly. You will eventually form a community that visits your site and reads your blog frequently — and who also follows you on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Have your email address or a contact form readily accessible for inquiries. Interested parties should be able to quickly find you, if they need you.   

4. Engage in Facebook groups

This wasn’t something that I did even two years ago, but now, it’s all the rage. It’s free, easy and should only take a few minutes of your time each day. You will make connections, build relationships, offer free help and collaborate with others. Someone will need your services and in time, they’ll already know, like and trust you enough to hire you. Request to join private groups that pertain to your field — whether that’s female entrepreneurs in general, health and wellness coaches, Etsy shop owners, jewelry makers, web designers, online business strategists, etc. And, don’t be “sales-y.” Get in the groups, participate, be of service and offer genuine value. Connect with people who can benefit from what you offer, as well as those who can be of service to you. Build others up! Spend a few minutes each day doing this — not a large amount of time. (You have other things to do, of course.) And again, you never know who you will meet! 


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
I got a question for ya. How is your branding looking? Do you have a logo, website and more that you absolutely love…or…not so much? If you’re not a design professional, branding might be something that you don’t love to do for your business or you simply don’t have time for, so let someone else take over! Sign-up below to receive the link to download my new and free PDF tool “Branding 101: What it is, what it isn’t and why you need it” — right now! This quick and simple guide will walk you through why it’s important to establish consistent and memorable branding within your biz — and if you can DIY some of it or if you should hire that professional. If you have any questions after going through it, let’s connect and chat some more!