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Your Brand Is More Than A Logo

 

 

 

Branding is your like business’s personality.

It is the story that you tell around everything you do in business.

It is often the first thing that customers see of you and your business.

It should not only be totally unique to your business; it should be the way customers distinguish you from your competitors.

So what does make up a brand?

Your brand is the public image of your business.

It is the voice and feel that you portray for your business.

It is the image that you create around your business that reflects your style and your values in a way that appeals to your targeted audience.

Some elements that make up your branding include:

  • Business name
  • Logo
  • Colours
  • Business values
  • Products/services
  • Customer service
  • Packaging
  • Quality
  • Value
  • Price
  • The language you use
  • Your images
  • The context in which you operate
  • And more.

Your brand is the idea or image of your business and it is what customers connect with. By building a strong brand you increase your consumers connection to you and your business and this helps to build trust and loyalty.

Brand awareness, brand recognition and your reputation are all important for your businesses success.

The more recognisable and easy to remember that your brand is, the more likely you are to have success in business.

Today I want to talk you through some criteria that you can use to evaluate your brand, find the places you excel, and see where you might need some improvement. Go through each of these elements and make notes as to where your brand is currently and where you like it to be.

Focused

Does your business have a strong and clear focus?

Ideally this should be just one or two words.

What is the CORE of your business?

Why does it exist?

Intangible

Hoe does your business make people feel? 

Effective branding taps into what the customer feels.

What is the emotion you want people to feel when they connect with your business?

They may be loyal customers, or potential customers looking over your website for the first time – how do you make them feel the way you want them to?

Unique

The essence of a brand is how your business is different from your competitors. You need to find that thing that makes your business unique and let people know about it.

Try and think of one thing you do better than other businesses.

What do customers thank you for?

What is your point of difference?

The Experience

How does your customer feel during their interaction with your offering?

Does wearing your clothes make the customer feel beautiful?

Perhaps your coaching gives them an experience of feeling in control and empowered?

Jot down how you hope to make your customers think and feel while they are consuming your products.

Consistency

Is the essence of your brand delivered to your customers on a regular basis?

All your marketing, advertising, social media etc needs to feed into the same story.

Is your branding consistent and clear?

Are their ways you can improve it?

Authenticity

Is your branding credible, believable, and authentic?

You need to be able to deliver (and ideally over deliver) on the promise your brand offers.

Sustainable and recognisable

Your branding, colours and logo might all change over time, mine certainly have, but it should always remain consistent with your core message.

Rebranding is sometimes necessary but it shouldn’t be done without a lot of planning and consideration.

Your style will evolve and that’s OK but be aware that often the smallest elements that make up your brand are what make it the most recognisable so if you do mix things up a bit be sure to bring your customers along for the journey.

Where is your Branding now?

Now that we have talked about the many elements that make up your brand, and this is not an exhaustive list, think abut your website, your social media, your customer emails, business cards, packaging etc and how they help to tell your brand’s story. Can you think of some simple ways to tell a clearer story?

What is your overall message and is it coming through in your content?

Is it clear what you offer and the benefits of your offer?

Are the colours, images, fonts you use consistent across the different platforms?

What kind of language do you use and is it consistent?

What about your overall tone and attitude?

Do you stand behind your branding? Are you proud of it? If not, what changes can you make so you do.

Have fun thinking of ways to better share your brand story with the world!

[#12] 10 Things You Must do to Have a Successful Online Craft Business

Today’s episode is a podcast version of one of my all-time most popular blog posts, which talks all about the steps you need to take to have a successful online craft business.

There is lots of information out there about how to maximise your online presence to make more sales but when it comes down to it, there are some really simple concepts which will help your business thrive.

It’s not an easy road but I have found that by following these tips, I now work full-time in my own creative business and my husband works with me while we earn a wage for the both of us.

Here are the 10 tips I talk about in the episode:

  1. Create something that people actually want to buy
  2. Work on it every day – but be patient
  3. Be friendly but professional
  4. Have beautiful photos
  5. Make reproducible items
  6. Believe in yourself and your work – fiercely – but be open to change
  7. Get a mailing list
  8. Price for Profit
  9. Get Your Own Website/Blog
  10. Learn, learn, learn

I would love to hear how you implement these ideas into your own craft business and if you have some clear steps to take after listening in today.

Quotes and Highlights from this Episode:

  • There’s so much that goes into having a successful online craft business.
  • The path is long until you build up a modicum of success.
  • “Sometimes I can’t quite believe that we’ve reached this point. I work full-time in my business, Nick works full-time for the business.”
  • It is possible to build a profitable, sustainable online handmade business.
  • It’s not easy and it’s not quick.
  • It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
  • “You have to be really patient. It will take time. Businesses do not grow overnight.”
  • Be dedicated, be patient and be flexible.
  • You don’t have to be a big company when you’re not.
  • “Be you but be the best you.”
  • Even if you don’t get a sale, make a positive influence on someone who might be your customer in the future.
  • Never complain about a customer in a public forum.
  • This is the key to standing out online – have beautiful photos.
  • Photos is 80-90% of the decision making process.
  • What makes a great photo? Natural or white light and using backgrounds which scream ‘your brand’!
  • Don’t use backgrounds that are too busy.
  • Close up, far away shot, styled shot, modelled shot.
  • Use interesting or intriguing angles.
  • “The idea of the main photo for your product is to capture someone’s attention and make them want to click through and buy that product.”
  • You CAN make one-of-a-kind items; but when selling online, it could hold you back.
  • Make a prototype and make that same item over and over.
  • It’s not just about making the product – it’s all the extra work that comes along with it.
  • If you make reproducible items, you don’t need to do all that extra work each time.
  • Time photographing, adding to your online store and everything else that comes along with it is time that you can’t be making new items.
  • Be proud of what you make and really advertise that.
  • “If you’ve been plugging away at it for years and you’ve made no progress, then something needs to change.”
  • In order to succeed, you might need to make some changes.
  • Email is still the most direct and effective way to really connect with your customers.
  • They are showing that they trust you with your email and so they have a closer relationship with you.
  • Treat that email with respect – don’t spam but keep in touch on a regular basis.
  • “We all have struggled with pricing and we generally tend to price too low.”
  • Don’t price low as it’s not valuing your skills.
  • When you do your pricing, add a profit margin and don’t compete on price.
  • Commodities can compete on price as you can get it anywhere and the customer looks around for the cheapest price.
  • People aren’t buying from a handmade business because it’s cheaper, they are buying because you can give them exactly what they want.
  • Be confident in your pricing.
  • Blogging is really powerful if you’re comfortable with it.
  • You can connect with your audience and build relationships as well as helping with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).
  • Even if you just have a landing page with a link to your offsite shop – it just looks so much more professional.
  • “In business, there is no such thing as done.”
  • If you don’t try, you might not fail, but if you try and fail, you will learn.

Download/Listen to this Episode

(You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher – just search ‘Create and Thrive’)

Five Ways to Build your Creative Business on Instagram

 

 

Instagram is a must for creative businesses.

The ability to connect with followers using images and videos works so well for those in the creative industries – so if you’re not part of Instagram you’re not only missing out on potential customers – but also a lot of marketing fun too!

Once you’ve got your account set up in Instagram, then the next thing that you’ll want to know is how to get more followers.

More followers means more people seeing your posts, finding out about your business, and potentially purchasing your products or services.

Here are our top 5 ways to build your creative business on Instagram:

 

1. Pimp your Bio

Getting people to your Instagram account is the first step.

Of course, when they do come to your account it’s important that they understand what you do immediately.

Writing your bio in Instagram is what you do when you first sign up. However, you may have noticed that other accounts have a bio that has been formatted with line breaks.

To keep up with the pros on Instagram you should write your bio in the Notes app* and copy and paste it into Instagram. Use emojis to add more flair but remember that you’ve only got 150 characters to play with.

(*Required for iPhone only. Android phones have formatting available when writing within Instagram.)

Here’s a great example of a bio:

Example of a Good Bio
Example of a Good Bio

And this one is not so great:

Example of a bad bioSync with all your marketing materialsSync with all your marketing materials
Example of a bad bioSync with all your marketing materialsSync with all your marketing materials

 

2. Sync with all your marketing materials

If you’re on Instagram, then you need to tell everyone that you’re there!

Cross-promote your Instagram account across all your marketing platforms by adding in an Instagram feed plugin on your website, a custom tab on Facebook, and links from your other social media profiles.

Include a link to Instagram in your email signature and at the end of your e-newsletters.

You can even embed Instagram posts onto your website or blog by using Instagram on your desktop computer to get the embed code.

If you sell a physical product, include a postcard or flyer telling people that you’re on Instagram and ask them to join you there.

For printed materials, don’t rely just on an Instagram icon; you need to include your actual Instagram username.

3. Use relevant hashtags

Hastags gather together similar posts in a collective group.

By adding hashtags to your posts they have the ability to be seen by more than just your followers.

Hashtags serve to connect your account with people that are interested in your creative business. Therefore the hashtags that you use should relate to your business and what you do.

The questions below are a quick way to start thinking about which hashtags you should use on your Instagram posts.

Which tribe does your product connect with?

For example: entrepreneurs, hipsters, fashionistas, mums, makers, artists, creatives

Give your business a broad brush stroke, in one word describe what you do…

For example: craft, macramé, jewellery, print, design, cross stitch

Which category does your product or service come under?

For example: Handmade, fabric, homewares, interior design

Where are you located?

Tip: For a lot of businesses starting out on Instagram connecting with the local community is a great way to build your following. This can also be good to use if you’re selling at a local market or event.

Now… Write down the variations!

By only using one hashtag to describe what you do you are missing out on marketing to a broader reach of customers. Once you’ve written down your answers above, take a moment to come up with variations on the same theme. For inspiration, check out websta.me (http://websta.me) to search by which hashtags you want to use.

Remember people still need to be able to read your comments, so make sure that hashtags don’t take over!

Here’s how to play the hashtag game right:

 

Example of good hashtags
Example of good hashtags

And here’s an example of less effective hashtagging:

Example of Bad hashtags
Example of Bad hashtags

4. Post interesting content

Interesting photos and videos are what make Instagram such a great social media platform!

While you may sell only one product, it’s important to show this off in a variety of ways so that people are continually interested in your posts. This also serves you when people come to your account so that they’ll choose to follow you as well.

It’s easy to create compelling content by placing products on interesting backgrounds, using off-centre points of interest and perspectives. 

 

Add yourself or other people into the photos for even more engagement.

In contrast to Pinterest (where users prefer images without people) photos with faces receive more interaction on Instagram. Put yourself in the picture and see the results!

 

5. Collaborate with other accounts

Collaborations involve working with other Instagrammers or businesses to build your following.

Collaborate with other accounts for competitions and photo shoots to cross-promote each other.

Collaborations can also involve tagging locations and other users so that they receive a notification and will potentially repost your image as well.

Instagram is a great platform to work with other businesses that you know and ones that you don’t.

Use Instagram as a research tool to find other collaborators and reach out to them. If you’re contacting another account to collaborate with, work out exactly how you want to work with them beforehand and know what you can offer them in return.

 So get your creative self out there and go share your unique story with the Instagrammers of the world!

 

[#11] How to Find Your Authentic Voice

On this week’s episode we talk about the process of finding your authentic voice for your business – and how you can inject your own personality into your branding and story across all your content channels (blog, social media, website copy etc.).

Sometimes it’s hard to tell a consistent and honest story about your business, because it’s so entangled with you and all your myriad aspects.

You might be a parent, partner, worker, and teacher along with being a business owner – which means you have a lots of different aspects to your life, personality, and personal narrative.

Finding out a little bit more about who you are can really help you to distil down the parts of your personality that match your business, and help you to showcase these aspects in your business communication.

There’s a lot of information in this episode so listen in for some more tips and exercises that will help you to show the best version of YOU to your loyal followers.

Quotes and Highlights from this Episode:

  • You don’t need to be someone you’re not so figuring out who you are is really important.
  • Grab a bunch of magazines and rip out images which represent your personality and paste them onto a piece of cardboard. This is kind of like a look-book for your personality.
  • It’s about defining yourself by what you surround yourself with.
  • If you have a fun and vibrant clothing line, you’re not going to speak with a formal “no-nonsense’ tone of voice.
  • On the flipside, if you sell upmarket gold and gemset jewellery, you wouldn’t be dropping swearwords or text contractions like ‘luv this gr8 style!’
  • “A little bit more professional than your most casual self is always my recommendation” {Kath}
  • Get onto those replies as quickly as possible, even if it’s just an acknowledgement.
  • So many people say they can’t write or can’t find their voice when blogging.
  • “Nobody expects your blog to be perfect – it’s not a School assignment guys…” {Jess}
  • It’s more like writing a diary or a journal.
  • If you struggle with writing and ‘don’t know what to write about’ there are loads of tools out there which help you to learn and grow your writing style.
  • “I’ve done the 500 words challenge and it was what helped me to get a job writing for a local online events publication” {Kath}
  • WEBSITE: http://goinswriter.com/my500words/
  • You can write posts that you don’t publish immediately if you want to work on them further.
  • The key is just to start writing and you’ll find your style will develop so much quicker than just simply thinking about it.
  • “I don’t use it often, but if I can’t think of a title, this blog topic generator can help you with distilling down your blog idea into a great concept.” {Kath}
  • WEBSITE: http://www.hubspot.com/blog-topic-generator
  • WEBSITE: http://www.copyblogger.com/
  • Find great images and use video.
  • “We’ve been talking about voice as words, but voice can be a little bit bigger than that.” {Jess}
  • Have photos taken of yourself in your workspace, or just take some of yourself.
  • Make sure your written voice and style match your photos and other imagery.
  • Use IG and Facebook to show your lifestyle and business and how they mesh together.
  • Photos can help you to tell your brand story and you can showcase your unique personality.

 

Download/Listen to this Episode

(You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher – just search ‘Create and Thrive’)

3 Passive Income Streams for Your Creative Business

 

 

 

There are loads of ways to make money out there and often, as Creatives, we can get caught up in the art of what we’re doing and forget about the business of art.

To continue doing what we love, the undeniable truth is: we need to make money.

Without money, there are no tools and materials to work with.

Without money, we don’t have time to take a holiday to find our muse and allow creative thoughts to flow.

Without money, there is no food to fuel our creative imagination.

In short, just like everyone else, Artists and Creatives need money to do what they love.

Now that we’ve established that ‘making money’ aren’t dirty words and the act of making moolah is, in fact, extremely necessary, we can start thinking about options of getting that cash into your hands to help you live your best life.

You might have a small or burgeoning creative business where you make items individually by hand and this takes a lot of time (but you totally love it).

This can be so rewarding – but there is always going to be a time when you hit a ceiling of how much you can make in the time you are awake.

You can take on staff and grow your business if that’s what you want.

OR you could try to find some passive income to supplement your income from your handmade business.

What is passive income?

Usually it’s the kind of thing you can ‘set and forget’ and it slowly ticks over and makes you money.

Passive income is not necessarily easy and it can take hard work to get it up and running, but the reward is rarely having to work on it once it’s done and available to the world.

I’m going to give you a list of income streams which you can get going that might compliment your creative business, but that you don’t have to work on day to day after the initial set up.

 

  1. Write an eBook

Whether you’re a writer or not, chances are; you are an expert at something. {Hint} Whatever you’re making and selling – you’re an expert at that!

If you’re a silversmith, perhaps you could write a simple printable with tips and tricks that a beginner might need to get their own workshop started and how to sell their own products.

Or perhaps you’ve had loads of success with marketing your business and getting excellent PR. If you write that down and offer your expert information in the form of an eBook, you can charge a fee each time it’s downloaded.

The passive part: Once you’ve written the eBook, you only need to advertise it from time to time and let people pay for your expertise.

 

  1. Sell Stock Graphics or Photos

Have you mastered the art of photography through your work on your business?

I see so many amazing Creatives who have incredible photos in their online stores. If that’s you, I bet you have a catalogue of awesome pics which you can sell to people who want stock images for their own website, blog or business.

Some great places to start are Shutterstock, iStock Photo, Alamy and 123rf but there are loads out there which all have differing payment options.

For the graphic designers out there, some of the photo sites will also sell your graphics or you can find companies which specialise in using your graphics for saleable items.

Most people know Threadless Tees and then there’s Society 6, Redbubble, Zazzle and inPRNT which do most of the hard work for you – you just submit the design and forget about it.

The passive part: Take new photos or just grab some from your collection then submit and forget.

 

  1. Monetise your blog

So if you’ve been reading this website for a while, you’ll know that having a blog is still a must for your business these days. It tells your story, helps with your SEOs, builds relationships and lots more – read all about it in Megan’s excellent post here.

There are lots of ways to monetise and you can definitely do your own research but the first thing you should consider is whether or not you want ads on your blog.

It’s ok if you don’t – you absolutely don’t have to – but it is a way of adding a passive income stream for almost no effort. Some companies will let you target ads so that they match your target market which means they won’t turn off your loyal followers.

You could also charge for premium content on your blog by having a members-only section where VIPs get exclusive access to content. This could include printables, downloads, special discount codes or expert information.

Affiliate marketing programs are another great way to get some extra income however they can take a little more time (making them less passive). If you have become an authority in your field, you can recommend products adding an affiliate link which identifies you as the referrer and rewarding you with payment.

It’s best to always identify that you are being paid for your review or link to ensure your followers are on the same page.

The passive part: Once you set up these items on your blog, you will only have to come back to add content or write a review

 

There are so many more ways to make passive income to supplement your income from your creative business. 

At some time or other, every Artist and Creative worries about money and how to make sure their business is a success.

Just as in life, diversifying and adding alternative income streams might be a way to give you some breathing room via a regular and reliable income.

As I said before, it’s not easy to set up a successful passive income stream. But once you have, it will hopefully make you more financially comfortable in the future to get on with creating what you love.