I hate bookkeeping. My almost-all-the-time-right-brain rebels on so many levels and after working at doing it for almost two tax years now I feel like I am beginning to have some level of understanding. When I saw this post on Design Sponge’s Biz Ladies column I may have did a little happy dance. This is very well broken down for us creative minds. It is long but the most important thing for your business (which can totally be your blog) is to know how money is moving in and out and to get the most out of your taxes.
Also I personally suggest finding an account who will be your cheerleader and understand your business. It makes a huge difference…but I have no where near enough clout to talk about this topic and that is why you should be reading this post from Design Sponge instead!
image via: Workspaces
I remember when beginning my business Hitch Design Studio and my blog The Fresh Exchange I wasn’t totally thinking. I began The Fresh Exchange with no real purpose other than just posting things I love, which is why many begin blogs. At the time, I never really thought that my blog and company would possibly become tied together. I am not sure why this is other than out of pure ignorance. By the time I realized I should of thought more clearly through the naming process of my two fronts I felt it was too far along and I should probably just run with it and make it work. I love the names of both sites and I feel I can make it work for me but I know it will be something I will continue to think about and possibly be something I do change.
That all to say I really thought I should touch on the subject of the naming process for your blog. I think you can get away with almost any name. For instance, when you think of some stores like Banana Republic…who would have ever imagined that name would hold higher end business attire and casual chic pieces for everyday? Not me. In my mind Banana Republic makes more sense for a drink hut in the Bahamas, so does a name define you significantly? I do not think so, but should you think through it and make it as purposeful as possible? Yes.
I think about this a lot when I come across a new blog or blogger, store, or business on twitter. I am always wondering where that name came from and what about them personally made them choose that name. Have you ever thought that?
Before getting into a step by step I will share where I came up with my name and why The Fresh Exchange. When I decided I would make a blog I felt it was a big deal for whatever reason. I had no one following me and if I had never shared it with friends or family at the beginning I probably would have had no one following me other my husband or at that time boyfriend for quiet some time. I agonized over what to call it that didn’t sound silly, weird, or even too boring. Eventually I began to write words that described the content I thought I would place on it. The word that continued to come up was ‘fresh’. I felt it described me on some level as well, as I always try to keep things light and simple, and I hope to always be refreshing to the people I know and meet (see now this is beginning to sound silly right?). Once I landed on that one word I remember Mike (husband) stated that blogging was kind of like sharing ideas with people and instead of Fresh Sharing we landed on Fresh Exchange. As a designer I like things to be in odd numbers for symmetry reasons so I dropped in the ‘the’ to round it out. It seems all a little crazy but I to this day really feel it still describes my blog well and who I am. I love the words and how they look (always key to me). I tried not to look at anyone elses name and stay true to what came to me as naturally as possible.
It is amazing to watch a name come together and to feel like you just met your soul mate for the first time. If you are new to blogging, thinking of beginning a business, or starting an online store this can really be helpful to get you started. Even if you already have a name…no worries this may help you feel more secure in your name or rethink what you have now in a positive way.
1. Begin with yourself: This may be the biggest step. It is key to understand yourself when beginning a blog, business, or shop. This does not mean head off to Asia to hike through the Himalaya’s to find your inner-self. This just means know your taste, things that come natural to you, and what you love. Make a mood board of your favorite things maybe via Pinterest or just gather all your ideas and/or products into one place and give it a good hard look. What do you see? What are some of the similarities? Make sure to create a list of words that come to mind. Anything goes at this point because no idea is bad. Just be really open about who you are with this step.
2. What will be behind the name: As you develop a name think about what your content will be giving readers, what kind of products you will be offering to your clientele. If you are beginning a blog about kids and food then think about things that will tie into those topics. Maybe something like Beansprout or Little Scoops. Make sure you gauge readership and/or clientele well enough to make sure they will easily be able to recognize the connection.
3. No copy cats: I think what is even more embarrassing than anything is to copy a name. It has no real benefits to you as the original is ultimately the original. It is great to recognize a good idea but not to copy it. It can be very hurtful to you and the launch of your site. The best thing to do is, as you develop names check them with Google or the Trademark Office of the US (this mostly for businesses). Google is the best place to start as many blogs and etsy shops do not trademark but if you are launching a business it is best to check there.
If you do see something similar on Google, the best thing is to figure out what they are and where they are. If they are in the Netherlands and run a fruit shop and you are in the US running a design business or blog on design and lifestyle I would say you are safe. If you find a web agency in the US and you are beginning a print and design shop in the US with the same name I would really think twice about your choice.
It is difficult to figure out a good name you feel confidant about. For some people they know right away and others spend months or even a year or so trying to really figure it out. My hope is these three steps can help you in whatever stage you are at.
If you have further thoughts and want to share how your blog got it’s name feel free to do so below in the comments. We love hearing from you all and we know it is helpful to others as well and that is what Blog Brunch is all about.
image via: Wit + Delight
We all know that starting a blog comes with some need of design work, but not each us is a designer. It could be that you may have some knack for it but have always thought about hiring a designer to really help you get to the next level when the time came. It can be a big and scary process if you really have no clue where to begin, what to expect, and how to work with a designer to get exactly what you have always wanted.
Every week I receive a good number of design inquiries. Every thing from as simple as a small web banner to a large scale full re-brand. I love every kind of design project and really look forward to getting to know each of my potential clients. Each one has their own story and different things they need help with in order to push their business along.
Many times these inquiries do not turn into a job for various reasons from money to lack of vision at the time of inquiry. This is where I would like to get down to business. Hiring someone to help make your vision a reality is a huge commitment as well as a big leap both financially and emotionally. When you have dreamed of creating this entity for some time and then to let someone else have their hands on it may be a little tough for you to even begin to wrap your head around.
Hiring a designer is a big step so I thought as a designer it would be nice to break down some things to get in hand before shooting that email off, what to expect money wise, and after hiring how to get the finished product.
So let’s first get things ready for your email to inquire. The more prepared you come to the designer the more likely you are to spend less, receive a quality product you love, and be using your finished product sooner.
1. Designers are visual. Designers communicate emotions, ideas, and feelings through visuals. That is what is innate in us, so pull together ideas that visually communicate what you love and foresee for your logo and brand. It could be a sweater from Anthropologie or a photograph you have always loved. I know as a designer it helps me to understand my client better when they shoot me links or send some images along. There are so many ways descriptive words like edgy, modern, playful, whimsical, etc. can go so having somewhere to start is great.
2. Define your target. You need to know who you want to market to. We do not want to give you a logo that is clean cut and masculine if you are looking to target 13 year old Miley Cyrus fans. So know the ages, interests, and expectations of your target market when discussing your brand with a designer. It will help them to narrow in on an idea quickly.
3. A list of needs. Every designer is different when it comes to costs and how they price themselves but if I am working with a smaller business with a limited budget I try to create a package for them that suits their needs. This is easiest and most effective if you know what you need up front. If you add things on the backend it becomes more expensive than it would have been if you knew when we first created the package.
4. Know what you want. This is does not mean be forceful with your designer. They are your partner in all of this but the best thing is to let them know up front if you have a tight deadline or something you REALLY want. Maybe you dig a certain kind of drop down menu or you want some funky fun business cards. Be honest! I always dig it when client tells me they want to go out of the ball park so don’t be afraid.
Once you have shot that email off to get your price quote and the conversation has started you need to prepare yourself for what may come back in the next email. Many designer have various forms of pricing they use and I cannot speak for everyone here, but I will try to give a good idea. If you are looking to hire a rockstar designer you can expect a pretty hefty price tag as you should! If you think about trying to hire Kanye West and Jay-Z to come and perform for you privately than you have your price tag visualized for a top notch designer. Will you get amazing work? Oh YES and it will be well worth every penny I am 100% sure. Do you have to pay that though? No. If your budget does not allow it than don’t feel like you will never get what you are wanting.
There are many options out there just make sure you find someone who can give you the work you want that matches your budget as well. If you can work with a rockstar designer you should. If not that is okay as well! To give you a decent breakdown of what you may see…most new designers (in college or just out of college) begin at $35 an hour and more popular (Kanye and Jay-Z) level designers range around $150-$200 an hour. I know you may think that is crazy but I was told to think that you are paying for knowledge, expertise, and years of experience. Remember also that this is a brand and your whole face of your business. This should be the thing you place the largest emphasis and money on. I know I am bias but really think about it.
As I said not all designers charge the same…some may not charge you by the hour they may be willing to give you a package if they have those setup. I do this from time to time with repeat types of requests. Say a blogger comes to me looking for the usual items (blog design, logo, business cards, social media icons, twitter background, maybe a banner or two) I would give them a package price that I may have set up exactly to a blogger. I also do this with many photographers as well. I tell them the total number of hours of work it includes and I keep track throughout the process. This insures I do not get taken advantage of and neither do they. It is all about communication. If they go over those hours I give them my hourly wage at that point for every hour we go over.
So you received the email you have your quote and you have questions and/or it does not fit the budget. Ask your questions and also do not be afraid to communicate your budget concerns but mostly make sure you return the email! More often than not I never receive emails back from most inquiries I feel that is pretty disrespectful especially with the time and energy I put into emails to potential clients. Think about that whether you decide to work with them or not you should let them know either way. If you are worries about hurting a designer’s feelings, don’t. They wouldn’t be a designer if they didn’t have tough skin. Most of a designers life is being told their work has to be changed. Sometimes I begin with over 150 logos to get 1…That is 149 no’s…They can take it I promise :)
Once you have a designer booked and the project has begun here are a few things to remember.
1. You hired a professional. This is huge…designers are not button pushers that you tell exactly what you want. You hire a designer to bring you an original, artistic, and smart design to the table for you. If this isn’t what you want than working with a designer could be frustrating for you. For instance I would never try to tell my accountant how to run my taxes because she knows 100 times better than I do, which is why I hired her in the first place. So trust them. When they ask for your opinion that is when you give it.
2. Give criticism with direction: The point of revisions to refine the options towards one final idea. So when giving your opinions during revision times give your designer something that does not make them expand your options unless you feel it is necessary and they have not given you what you want.
3. Give them credit. Once you receive the final product show off their work and give them a great pat on the back. It makes all that hard work and late night emailing well worth it. More often than not you will find that the designer will be so excited to talk about you as well. Especially if you really valued them and their expertise.
I know this is a lot to go through but I hope this will really help you in the process of finding, hiring, and working with a designer. It is an awesome process, but so many people are not sure what to expect. I think for some people it’s like entering a rabbit hole a little bit.
If you are a designer feel free to leave your comments. I know I am only one opinion on this topic and would love other thoughts because everyone is different.
We can’t all be photographers, graphic designers or classically trained chefs. BUT we can all have blogs can’t we. What ever your inspiration may be for planting your seeds on the internet, its vital for your reputation and reader’s education that you link back correctly.
I cringe when I look back as some of my first posts and I was using people’s photos like there was no tomorrow (sad face). Now- no one ever said anything to me, maybe because they were too nice- or maybe they didn’t care but as I became as READER of blogs, I learned that I had made a huge faux pas.
In real life the golden rule may be “treat others as you want to be treated” but in the blog world it’s, “cite thy neighbor- as you want to be cited”.
On Link With Love (a “neighborhood watch” for blogging and teaching the rights/responsibilities of intellectual property) Erin Loechner and Pia Bijkerk do a wonderful job with an “storm cloud” infographic explaining how to cite. And yes I realized the irony of me citing a citing image, but it does the job.
Here’s how I see it:
- If you didn’t take it, design it, or think of the idea- cite it.
- If you don’t know who created the work your talking about, spend some time trying to look it up (or maybe do not use it). Also don’t be afraid to ask fellow bloggers if they know who is responsible for the content.
- Ask for permission first. Most people who make a living off of generating business from the internet will be thrilled that you are mentioning their work on your blog, so give them a heads up or even ask if it’s okay to use their work before you publish.
If you have your own “rules for citing or linking” we would love to hear it! Add it in a comment below!
We had our very first Blog Brunch this last Saturday! Katie and I spent many evenings preparing to make this the easiest and most fun it could be. It was so fun to meet so many of you and get to know you all a little better. For those of you who could be there thank you so much for being open, honest, and engaged! We couldn’t have been happier with your responses and contributions. That is why we wanted to give a good recap of the Brunch.
We know that many of you could not attend but really wanted to. We also know that some tried or did attend but were confused or had a hard time catching all the information. Each month our plan is to give a recap and also to open the doors for feedback. So if you have any feedback please shoot us an email whenever is convenient. We will also be putting together a survey this week as well.
Okay now into the real fun! The brunch began with Katie and I sharing a little of what brunch looked like for us.
Once everyone was accessing the hashtag and everyone’s favorite drink and/or brunch food was in hand we got rolling with the very first question.
1. What do you think of when you’re creating content? Your own style? Other blogs? A personal story? Your readers? You tell us!
Here are a few answers that got the most response and we felt were the most imformative:
2. How do you store your content or remember your great ideas? Journals? Bookmarking? @Pinterest? Collage board in your office?
Where everyone suggests storing ideas and content:
3. What is your editing process? Is there a specific program you use? A grammer-wiz spouse at home? Is it different each time?
4. Do you check to see if other bloggers similar to you have already blogged about the same thing? If so, how do you do it?
5. Tell us all one blog you think we should be reading for their great content!
If you want to read all of the tweets head over here to get the full breakdown. There is still a lot of awesome things to read and catch up on from the first Brunch.
Also if you missed Brunch but want to still contribute your answers please answer them below in the comment section so others will be able to catch your answers. Just reference the question number.
Once again if you have comments, questions, or suggestions for Blog Brunch next month please shoot us an email at hello [at] blogbrunch dot com.
We cannot wait to brunch with everyone next month. Stay in touch by joining the mailing list. We will be releasing the upcoming topic for the next Blog Brunch very soon. Mark your calendars for November 5th as it is the next time we can all clink our champagne flutes again!
Okay so twitter ain’t no new thing but a lot of bloggers don’t use twitter. And let me clarify something when I say, “use twitter,” I mean USE twitter. I suspect that there are a lot of reasons why not to tweet… but let me give you my elevator pitch as to why you should be tweeting.
- Bring on the bonding! Twitter has over 225 million users- you are bound to have something in common with a couple people- if not thousands! When you’re carefully picking whom you follow, you are openly letting the world know your interests, style and personality. “Following” a user on twitter is like casting a fishing line in a big ocean, if your fish (or the followed tweeter) takes the bait you just might be reeling in a new friend, business prospect or collaborator.
- Extra Extra! I find in my line of work, the best way to make a quick Press Release or update friends about one of my projects is to send a simple tweet! People get excited from getting a glimpse of what you are up too- don’t be shy, they are following you for a reason, they want to know!
- New Job Opportunities. As a Creative Director by day I am constantly looking for new people to work with. I have gotten to work with, what I consider some of the most talented groups of people on the West Coast because I wasn’t shy to send a Direct Message or reply to a tweet regarding someone’s project. Twitter has become an informal platform for people to professionally connect and if you manage your contacts properly (through lists) you can create a fantastic Rolodex.
- You can stop torturing your friends and family. Its harsh but true, I faced the facts a long time ago that my friends (who don’t blog) hate hearing my blog chatter… and my Mom bless her heart doesn’t know the difference between a hyperlink and a hole in the wall. THAT said when you find a kindred spirit via whatever medium its special. If you think of Twitter as your not so shy way of approaching new friends, you can develop real lasting relationships.
Now that I have hooked you on the idea of Twitter, (I got ya didn’t I?) a quick and easy way to meet and connect with tweeters is through “twitter parties”. Okay- I understand I sound silly, how can you have a party on your computer, and moreover how could you benefit from it?
Since I’m a lady who loves a good analogy, let me briefly break this down for you in a language that I think we all can understand: a twitter party is like a pot luck:
You all bring your favorite things to the table; you share great meal, laugh at horror stories of burning the soufflé and leave with recipes! In the end you not only walk away full and happy but you have new ideas to try, some really yummy leftovers and new memories with wonderful friends!
At a twitter party everyone wants to discuss your favorite topics and they all are bringing something unique to the table. A potluck of ideas if you will!
There are certain things a twitter party attendee needs.
- Know your hashtag or (#). In our case it’s #blogbrunch.
- Find a way to follow the party. We have provided this link for people to use. I am a personal fan of the Tweet Grid format (see example below), but I also use programs like TweetDeck.
- Don’t panic. There is going to be a lot going on but (and I am going to say this in all caps) DON’T GET DISCOURAGED! Yes, parties can be overwhelming there is a lot going on, people are answering questions all at once- not to mention others are replying to your answers. My suggestion to you is to focus on why you are at the party. If you are there to make new connections, yak it up! Answer the questions when you can and go back to them when you have time. Don’t try to read every tweet, you run the risk of developing a stress related disorder! The best part about twitter feeds on #hashtags is that they aren’t going anywhere, so keep calm and have fun with the conversations.
- After the party stay connected with your party-ers. Blog Brunch is a once a month occasion but that doesn’t mean you all can’t stay in contact with each other. I suggest making a new list on twitter with all your favorite “brunchers” so you can stay inspired all month long.
I personally cannot wait for our first Blog Brunch, I hope you all come eager to learn and share. If you have any questions about Saturday’s first Blog Brunch please feel free to email me or Megan at hello at blogbrunch dot com.
Have a great night!
Hi There Brunchers!
Blog Brunch is only a few days away, making its first official appearance this Saturday, October 1st at 10 AM PST / 1 PM EST and we thought we’d give you a sneak peek of what we’re going to be brunchin’ about. Our first Brunch is focusing on… (drum roll please) CONTENT!
As bloggers, we discover new tips and tricks about creating and crafting content on a daily basis. Make sure you come to brunch with an appetite to share and enjoy- because there will be no shortage of advantageous ideas as to how you can find new ways to manage your blog’s content. The Blog Brunch Twitter account will be asking a series of five questions throughout the #blogbrunch party, and we thought it only fitting that we split it up into a five course meal.
- Finger Food: What do you think of when you’re creating content? Your own style? Other blogs? A personal story? Your readers?
- Mimosa: How do you store your content or remember your great ideas? Journals? Bookmarking? Pinterest? Collage boards in your office?
- Main Dish: What is your editing process? Is there a specific program you use? A grammer-wiz spouse at home? Is it different each time?
- Something Sweet: Do you check to see if other bloggers similar to you have already blogged about the same thing? If so, how do you do it?
- Take Home Box: Tell us all one blog you think we should be reading for their great content!
Other than your favorite glitter headband and a plethora of mimosa’s, here are several things we are encouraging for the first #blogbrunch.
- If you like something, retweet it! If you find a tip useful or inspirational let your followers know too!
- For a quick shortcut to follow the party you can click on this link, “log in” and fill in your username in the far right hand column so you can see who is replying to your tweets. If you want to follow more than just @blogbrunch in the center column, just add more users by inserting an “OR”. For example if you wanted to add Katie, you would say, “from:blogbrunch OR from:mspinkandblue” and hitsearch.
- No Shameless Plugs. We all think you’re lovely, but try not to advertise your products during the chat please it’s just courtious.
- It’s wonderful to generate a great debate, in fact we hope #blogbrunch sparks many conversations on and offline BUT please keep all comments and tweets friendly.
We hope to see all of you at Brunch this coming Saturday! Don’t forget to tune into the Blog Brunch Facebook and Blog for live updates on “How to Participate in a Twitter Party” and our daily Blogger Find of the Day!
Don’t Be Tardy For The Party,
Katie and Megan
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