[50] 5 Steps to a Better Brand with Julie Gibbons

Ep 50 - Create & Thrive Podcast

Welcome to the 50th episode of the Create & Thrive Podcast!


This week I’m chatting with my friend – and our teacher for the new C&T course Brand Your Craft – Julie Gibbons from Tractor Girl.

Julie opened her Etsy shop in 2009 without putting any thought into her branding, and as a result her shop was not as successful as she hoped.

Julie went on to start her blog in 2011, and by interviewing other artists she quickly realised she wasn’t the only one who didn’t have good branding – and that a lot of people’s businesses were suffering from not having a strong, clear brand. Julie has gone on to specialise in visual branding – helping makers to craft strong brands for themselves.

In this episode she gives you 5 steps you can implement to make strides towards creating a stronger, better brand for your handmade business.


Ep 50 quote - Julie Gibbons

Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • 1. Graphic Design is important.
  • Alignment – don’t make things messy or in different sizes as it can be distracting.
  • You want to present something neat and easy to look at.
  • Think about contrast especially for important links.
  • Negative space is your friend – don’t feel you have to fill every space with content.
  • 2. You don’t need a logo.
  • Your logo is not your brand – your brand is about conveying a mood.
  • You don’t even need to think about a logo until you have your branding sorted.
  • ‘A logo is not the basis of your brand.’ {Julie}
  • 3. Set parameters. 
  • You need to set yourself a game plan and some parameters.
  • ‘If you have too much choice it can stop you from doing anything because you just don’t know which direction to go.’ {Jess}
  • Who are you and what do you want to project?
  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • What is your product?
  • Once you have these fundamentals you can find the mood you want to encompass in your brand.
  • 4. Give yourself time.
  • Your brand will evolve over time and develop naturally.
  • ‘Don’t be afraid to take people on the journey and tell them the story of why.’ {Jess}
  • 5. Learn your brand back to front.
  • In order to be able to explain your brand to people you need to know it inside and out.
  • Get your peers to look at your visual branding and provide constructive feedback.
  • ‘Everyone has the ability to learn good design basics.’ {Julie}
  • FURTHER LEARNING: Julie and I are running an eCourse on this very subject! Visit Brand Your Craft (This site/resource is no longer available) for more information.
  • You can find Julie at her website (This site/resource is no longer available), Facebook or Instagram.


Download/Listen to this Episode



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

What does your customer think about your brand? Ask yourself these 5 questions and find out.

How does your customer see your brand-


Have you ever wished you could stand in your customer’s shoes and know what they’re thinking when they land on your site? Me too!

What is it that makes them stay, and what makes them turn off and click away?

Fortunately, with a good checklist and a bit of smart thinking, you can make some fairly accurate guesstimates.

I’ve got 5 questions for you to ask yourself today in order to get clear on what your customers think of your brand and business.



1. Ask yourself, who is your customer?


Is this a totally obvious question? It totally should be!

And unfortunately, many businesses only think they’ve answered this question. Sadly, I’ve come across lots of small businesses who’ve only got a super vague idea of who their customer actually is.

But knowing this is the essence of having a business, surely!? If you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business.

The more you understand specifically who your customer is and what’s in their head, the better you’re able to communicate with them and give them the exact product they’re looking for.

When I started on Etsy in 2009, my idea of my customer was fairly non-existent – if anything, I thought it was just like a mini-me – if I liked what I made, then of course they’d like it too. End of story…. {um…. no.}

Your customer can be a lot like you, but they’re not usually you. Perhaps they’re you from a year or two back, perhaps they’ve got more disposable income than you, maybe their work situation is different to you so that they have more time to themselves.

Focus hard on what makes them tick and get beyond the demographics – demographics are important to be sure, but you need to dig down deep into your ideal customer’s head. What hobbies and interests do they have? Do they have a similar world view to you? What motivates them? What are they currently worrying about? What makes them swoon?

The more specific you are the better – use your knowledge of what they like to appeal to them. Whatever you do, do it with your beautiful, ideal customer firmly in the front of your mind.

Seriously, the worst thing you can do for your biz is to try and be a generalist – to try and appeal to everyone. You KNOW you can’t, so don’t even try.



2. Does your site look neat and orderly?


Right, let’s get down to the nitty gritty.

When people land on your site, they take SECONDS to decide whether you’re right for them, based purely on how you present yourself visually. There are a whole bunch of things that contribute to this, so let’s go through them one at a time.

  • Colour – Do you have a distinct colour palette that you use for all your graphics? A limited palette of 1 – 6 colours (not including black and white)  is great for making your visuals hang together. Not only are you sure that every time you make a new graphic that the colours work well together, but you save a bunch of time because you’re not scrabbling around in the colour charts, trying to find a workable combination. When it’s done well, colour can be one of the most important identifying factors when it comes to business branding (think Cadbury – think purple).
  • Fonts – Same goes for fonts – having a basic ‘wardrobe’ of no more than two fonts (OK, maybe three at a super-stretch) helps keep your text looking clean and orderly, and you save time because you’re not always choosing things afresh. More than three fonts starts looking very messy style-wise, but if you need to add variety, consider simply changing your font size, using bold and italics, or even changing the colour of the text (and any combination of these).
  • Image style – Think about the business personality you want to project. Is it slick and high tech? Down-to-earth and friendly? Childlike and fun? Whatever you choose, make sure your images match that personality. Generally, don’t try and mix impersonal stock photos on your site with casual snaps you’ve taken yourself – the style difference is glaringly obvious and looks unprofessional. Tie all your images together by mood and/or styling.
  • Alignment – This is the super-power of graphic design. Nothing looks messier than elements that aren’t all aligned – whether you choose centred, left- or right-justified, make sure the edges are all in a straight line!! Same goes for borders that don’t line up, or using lots of different sized things. I know it’s not always possible with everything, but if you’ve got a bunch of photos for instance, crop them all to the same size and put ’em in some kind of orderly grid.



3. How well can you solve their problem for them?


So, now you’ve got their attention, you have to deliver the goods. There has to be some substance behind the gloss or they’ll give up and go elsewhere. It’s here where you let them know that you understand exactly what their problem is, and that you’ve got the perfect solution.

Because customers have a problem to solve: that’s why they’re buying something – and their problem’s usually quite specific.

Perhaps they need new earrings to go with their wedding dress, or a small waterproof toiletries bag to take camping with them, or a casual wrap to keep their shoulders warm while they do the weekly shopping. When you customer comes to your handmade soap shop, what are they looking for? Something beautiful and luxurious to give as a thank you gift to their bestie? Or something super mild and allergy free for their sensitive skin?

There’s a story for every product that connects you to your customer – tell it.



4. Is it obvious what you want people to do? And how easy is it for people to ask you questions if they need to before they purchase?


The totally awesome Seth Godin once wrote about the problems he experienced in trying to navigate a particularly difficult-to-navigate website.

His message, as always, was spot on.

“Show me where to click.”

Whenever you set up a site, however you lay things out, always make sure that it’s obvious what you want your audience to do next.

They don’t know your site, they’ve not visited you ever before. And they don’t know you!  So, put your menu in an obvious spot.

Make your “Buy” buttons stand out (use contrast – it’s really that simple); put the link to your mailing list near the top of your sidebar; make your contact forms and your email addy easy to find.



5. How can they trust you?


Lastly, people need to trust you before they buy – and this is especially true of online transactions. People hesitate if the thing they want to buy has risk attached to it – “what happens if it doesn’t fit when I get it?” or “I’m not sure if that colour will look OK on me”, or even “I’m not sure if your coaching packaging is right for me and my biz”.

How do you build trust? Through social proof. This is simply other people who are unconnected with the business, recommending you – word of mouth is the best advertising you can possibly get (and you get them by delivering top quality product with top quality service, paying attention to every aspect of the customer’s experience).

Collect testimonials and put them up on your site.

What if you’re just starting and you don’t have testimonials? Your About page is the perfect place to start to building a connection between you and your customer – did you know it’s the second most-visited type of page on any site (next to the home page)? Tell your customers the story of why you do what you do – how you started and what it means for you. Make it personal, because people love connecting with people.

Offering guarantees is yet another way to inspire trust in prospective customers – 30 day money-back, exchanges, or extra bonuses are all ways to help lessen the perceived risk for customers.

So, take a step back from your site, and pretend that you’re encountering it for the first time.

Go through each of the 5 questions in turn and adjust your site accordingly, and you’ll be sure to end up with a site you customers will thank you for.


Now, I’d love to know – What are some of the worst, and the best sites you’ve visited, and why?

Your answers here will help everybody make their sites lovelier, so fire away!


[49] 5 Steps to Prepare for Licensing your 2D Artwork – with Laura C George

Ep 49 - Create & Thrive Podcast

This week I’m in conversation with Laura C George, who is a business consultant for artists.

After studying a degree in art, Laura decided to focus on the marketing side of the art world, and now she helps 2D artists to be able to make a full time living from their art.

So – this episode will be most helpful to you if you are a 2D artist (painter, illustrator, photographer, etc.), because we are discussing the topic of licensing your artwork to manufactures. This might not be something you’ve ever thought of doing before, but it can be a great way to get your work out into the world.

In this episode she gives you 5 tips you need to take in order to prepare for licensing.

Even if you aren’t a 2D artist, there’s some good stuff in this episode about brand positioning, how to think about the legacy of your work, and more.



Ep 49 quote - Laura C George

Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • 1. Have your copyrights in place.
  • No one will use your work unless this step has been completed.
  • You can pay copyright for a collection rather than each piece which can save you money.
  • 2. Have a collection ready rather than a one-off.
  • A collection is preferred by those who will pay licensing.
  • Buyers want to see a larger selection of work even though they will rarely choose all of it.
  • It is important to include a ‘story’ about your collection.
  • 3. Think about the types of stores you want your art to be in.
  • It is really important to know so you can ask this of your manufacturers.
  • 4. Think about the types of products you want your art to be on.
  • If you are a gallery artist you don’t want your art to be on products that could make your art look cheap.
  • ‘If it’s on everything it presents a very different perception of who you are and what your art is and how it’s valued.’ {Laura}
  • Remember that licensing can affect your originals – for better or worse.
  • ‘You have to do what’s right for you and what you feel comfortable with.’ {Jess}
  • 5. Get some education on the process and the lingo.
  • The language used for licensing can be a bit tricky, so do your research to learn the jargon.
  • Learn the processes and best practices in order to protect yourself.
  • You need to be confident so you can come across as professional to potential buyers.
  • Don’t let fear hold you back.
  • ‘Keep reminding yourself to be resilient.’ {Laura}
  • FURTHER LEARNING: Laura wrote this post about licensing and the next steps you can take – ‘How to Get Started in Licensing’
  • VIDEO: How to Find and Approach Manufacturers for Licensing.
  • You can find Laura at her website, Facebook or Instagram.


Download/Listen to this Episode




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

Enter the C&T 5,000 Follower Giveaway on Instagram to Win Access to the New eCourse – Brand Your Craft

5000 follower giveaway


Create & Thrive has just passed the 5,000 followers mark on Instagram – so I decided to celebrate with a giveaway!


I’m giving away access to our NEW self-study eCourse – Brand Your Craft – which will be launching next week.

Brand Your Craft takes you through all the steps you need to take in order to create a compelling brand that speaks to your Ideal Customer, and which helps your handmade business stand out in your niche.

Sound good?

Head on over to the Create & Thrive Instagram account, and look for the image below to enter.


5000 follower giveaway entry image


Make sure to do BOTH of the entry steps on Instagram!


Competition Rules

  1. This contest is in no way affiliated with or sponsored by Instagram.
  2. You must complete both entry steps to be in the draw to win – liking the competition post on Instagram AND tagging at least 1 friend in the comments below the post.
  3. You can enter as many times as you like – but you must make a separate comment for each friend you tag. If you tag more than one person in one comment, that will only count as one entry.
  4. Winner will be chosen randomly from valid entries.
  5. Entries close Monday the 28th of March at 10am AEST.
  6. There will be three winners. They will be announced on Monday the 28th of March, and will gain access to the course when it is launched.

Good luck!


How to Overcome a Creative Block

Creative Block


We all know how hard it can be to switch on our creativity when we have so many things to think about in our daily lives.

And I’m not just talking about the business side of what we do. Rarely are any of us simply running a creative business: we are also parents, siblings, friends, employees or carers – not to mention regular, relentless day-to-day chores.

Creative block can often be caused by too much workload, stress, or simply lack of motivation.


Here are a few simple techniques to help you conquer creative block.


Do something completely different – Maybe if the creative juices aren’t flowing then you just need to trake a step back and do something completely different.

Go for a walk, cook up a feast, do some non-creative business work or even go play paintball!

Your brain may need a little rest so it is important to grant that when needed. Make sure you keep it guilt-free though – you have to actually switch off.


Learn to work when you aren’t feeling inspired – Sometimes just going through the motions is all we need to get things kick-started.

It’s kind of like exercis – we may not love the thought of it, but once we are out there for that jog we actually do enjoy it! (Sometimes!)

So head to your workspace and just start. Pick up whatever you are working on, set yourself a short time frame to avoid frustration, and more likely than not you will be back in the swing of things before you know it.


Embrace block as part of the process – I don’t actually know a single creative person who hasn’t faced creative block.

Keep in mind that is is part of what you do. Knowing its there, knowing how to best deal with it, and being aware that it will pass can actually help clear the block quicker. If there are tears, who cares? Make a cup of tea, take some time out and just know it is part of the process.

We all knew when starting our creative business that it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. This quote sums it up perfectly!


Lotta quote


Let your imagination run wild – Do something for you. Make art. Scribble, experiment, make mess, involve friends or the kids and just have a good old silly time!

This is like a day out for your creativity. Feed it what it needs so that it can continue to grow and flourish.


Talk about it – Open up about how you are feeling.

Find someone willing to sit and listen, write it down, or even talk to it. Yes that’s right, talk to your creativity block!

Why is it there? What is stopping you from being your incredible wonderful creative self that you know is there? Ask these questions out loud or on paper and then answer them.

It may sound a little silly but it may just help you find your block and begin the process of removing it.


Whatever you decide to do don’t let a creative block get the best of you.


We all know we can work through it. It could take hours or it could take days, even longer in some instances!

Look back at previous blocks to learn from the past, be aware of when you are in a creative block so you can deal with it effectively, and prepare for future blocks by staying strong and keeping positive.

You’ve got this!


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