[24] Blogging, Content, and Design Essentials with Arianne Foulks of Aeolidia

The Create & Thrive Podcast - Episode 24

Today I am talking with the amazing Arianne Foulks from Aeolidia, with whom I discuss the essential website design and content elements that will ensure your site invites people in and encourages them to want to shop with you.

Arianne has a wildly successful web and graphic design studio, and directs a team of people who craft gorgeous websites for creatives. I invited her on the show because she knows what works! In this episode we talk about logo design, photography, content, and more – all the things which a great website needs to get right.

It’s so important to have your own home on the internet – somewhere that represents your business to the world and tells your business story. But it can be hard to know what to focus on when creating a website, as there are so many possibilities!

Listen in for Arianne’s top tips for making sure your business’s online home is the best it can be.

 

Have your domain name

Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • “Have your own domain name even if you have other web presences.” {Arianne}
  • Get your domain name and point it to your primary online presence (e.g. Etsy)
  • Having your own domain belongs to you and nobody else unlike Facebook and Etsy when your shopfront belongs to those companies.
  • People want to go at their leisure and find out about you online before getting in contact.
  • It’s like having a menu in a restaurant, it’s a way to see what’s on offer before you sit down to eat.
  • Your about page is the most important thing to get done first on your website.
  • “People want to know who made it, why they made it and what their story is.” {Arianne}
  • Big beautiful photos are so important.
  • Tell a story with your products through styling.
  • “Learn a little bit about what makes good photography. Less of the technical stuff and more of what makes a great photo.” {Arianne}
  • Make sure you tell people your name so they feel they know you a little more.
  • Contact information is vital.
  • “It’s an important for searchability to keep your website up to date and relevant” {Jess}
  • It can be important to have both their own website and other online stores if possible.
  • It’s not enough to rely on Etsy or another platform to send them buyers.
  • “Relying solely on a company who is not under your control to send you customers is not ideal.” {Arianne}
  • Build up an audience on your own website.
  • “I can sell in Australian Dollars on my own website but in American Dollars on Etsy.” {Jess}
  • StitchLabs: A way to keep your inventory up to date on multiple platforms without having to do it manually.
  • It’s still very important to blog even when you have an ecommerce site.
  • “Those who have been in the blogging world for ages think it’s a no-brainer. But for newbies I understand the confusion about why you would blog.” {Jess}
  • You need to enjoy blogging to want to blog.
  • Blogging brings traffic to your site – partly through Google and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).
  • Blogging gives you keywords which will eventually list on Google and traffic will come to you over the years.
  • “Having a blog can really humanise your brand.” {Arianne}
  • Establish yourself as an expert in something.
  • Once you start blogging it makes all your other marketing efforts easier.
  • Your social media is made much easier when you have your blog written and you can borrow content.
  • “Get yourself on a schedule and find something that you like and you enjoy doing with your blog.” {Arianne}
  • Make sure you’re keeping your target market in mind.
  • Video can be a great way to get more people interested in your website.
  • Make sure you have some keywords associated with your video so it’s searchable.
  • “There’s a lot of writing that goes into marketing.” {Arianne}
  • “When we say keywords, we don’t just mean individual words.” {Jess}
  • Think about it more like a ‘keyphrase’.
  • What are your customers going to be typing in?
  • Try not to use jargon and lingo that your customers may not know.
  • Keep working on your website as long as it doesn’t take you away from other aspects of your business that also may need work.

 

Download/Listen to this Episode

 

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

Success Stories – Boo and Boo Factory

 

Profile Picture 3

Christina is a powerhouse of imagination and creation. Her Etsy store literally stopped my in my tracks with my mouth open as I gawked at her beautiful (and bright!) jewellery and purses. I like bold, statement stuff and so I was pretty excited when she graciously agreed to be interviewed. I am so excited to share Christina’s rise to self-made business woman as she transitioned from architectural graduate to style icon.

 

Can you take us on the journey of your creative career path so far?

 I began Boo and Boo Factory as a way to make some extra money to pay for architecture school. 

Supplies, models and computers can get expensive so any extra income was welcome.  I continued to craft on the side all throughout architecture graduate school.

I began to notice that my shop was growing very quickly and due to my heavy school schedule, had to start declining work and projects for Boo in order to keep me focused on my studies.

After I had completed my thesis in 2012, I decided to pursue Boo and Boo Factory full time instead of going back to work in architecture

Boo and Boo Factory 59

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome so far in your business?

The largest challenge for me is how to find balance between designing, making and many of the other tasks of running a business.

Since I am a one woman shop I tackle many elements daily that a larger business would outsource.

I source my own supplies, work with retail shops as well as manage wholesale, I do my own taxes, accounting and book keeping, inventory, design and upkeep my website, answer emails, network, market and all of this on top of designing and hand making each piece.

It can be really tricky trying to do it all and it never seems like there’s enough time in the day

What has been the biggest ‘fist-pump’/successful moment for you so far?

My biggest successful moment was when Etsy had their first pop up shop in Soho during the holidays and they asked me to be a featured maker there.

They flew me out to New York and set up a work area for me to meet customers and sell my goods.

It really was one of the most amazing experiences.

Boo and Boo Factory Handmade Jewelry 51

Do you ever have doubts as to your future creative direction? Are there things you yearn to achieve, but haven’t yet found the time for?

I don’t have any doubts as to my future creative direction. 

Every day I learn something new in regards to business and I’m constantly trying to learn new techniques to help me push my product lines and experiment with new designs.

As I had mentioned previously, time is always an issue. 

I always feel like I don’t have enough time for one thing or another, I just try to do my best.

Are there times when your creativity and inspiration seem to disappear? How do you handle that?

Every now and then I go through creative slumps.

I think that’s something that all creatives can relate to.  If I feel stuck, I go outside for a walk, go to a different part of the city I don’t usually go to or sit at Lake Michigan.

I find that ruts hit me when I’m swamped with work and tired. So taking a break and seeing something new usually does the trick to spark creativity.

You have to learn to take time for yourself and your well-being because if you don’t your business can suffer. 

 

Boo and Boo Factory 60

How do you balance your work with the rest of your life ~ what does a typical day in your life look like?

Every day is a little bit different and depends on how many open orders I have. If I have a rush of orders I spend the whole day making and then try to package and ship at night.

If I don’t have too many orders, I use that time to make new products, photograph and list them in my shop.  Usual business tasks are also spread out depending on my work load.

Working for your self is way more work than working for someone else.

I work 7 days a week sometime from 8 to 14 hours a day. 

I love it and don’t mind putting in those hours.

I am so grateful that I am able to do something I truly love for a living. It is really one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever experienced.

Boo and Boo Factory 43

What has been the best marketing move you’ve ever made for your own business?

Instagram has been the best marketing tool for my shop!

I started it only a year ago and love it! I meet other creatives and network with people all around the world on a daily basis.  I also receive most of my wholesale orders as well as fun custom orders through Instagram.

The other thing I like about Instagram is the instant feedback you receive on products.

Whenever I’m working on a new design I’ll put up progress shots all the way up to the finished design and receive feedback on all stages of the work.

It’s so helpful and is a really fun way to try something new that you maybe wouldn’t have done before.

Boo and Boo Factory 50

What is one piece of advice you’d like to give fellow makers about running a successful creative business?

I think that a lot of creatives try to learn everything there is about business before they open their shops.

The truth is you won’t be able to learn everything and it doesn’t have to be perfect when you open.

You’ll learn as you go through experience and you never stop learning.

Of course it is very important to research before you begin but it’s also very important to take the leap and get your products out there for the world to see.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I see myself in 5 years in a dedicated studio space outside of my home with employees!

It would be so amazing to hire help for the business side so I can spend more time designing and making pieces.

at work

Shop/Website

Instagram

Facebook

Pinterest

Success Stories – Core.

I’ve known Damara for some time and I always admire her incredible artworks and range of jewellery which is unique and thoughtful. Core. is a blend of artisan work and crafting through design and construction of beautiful wearables and wall hangings. Read on to see how a little craft market stall turned into a burgeoning creative business.

003

Can you take us on the journey of your creative career path so far?

Art has been a major part of my life since I was little.

After floundering at university briefly studying anthropology, I decided to follow my true passion, and became a Graphic Designer.

I worked in graphics and (at the time) the newly developing world of digital photography until my first child came along.

After focusing on family for a number of years I found my passion to create was itching just below the surface, so I started my own business. After learning on the run and a few changes here and there I settled into Core.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome so far in your business?

The biggest was definitely a small legal battle last year.

Someone was trying to copyright my business name even though my business was established and they already knew of me.

I had been naïve when starting the business not copyrighting the name, only registering it. I had no idea of how my venture would go and had little money to put towards such measures.

It ended up costing me A LOT more in the end, but thankfully with the help of a great IP lawyer my name is safely trademarked now.

It was a taxing time both emotionally as well as financially.

001

Do you ever have doubts as to your future creative direction? Are there things you yearn to achieve, but haven’t yet found the time for?

Yes, all the time (for both questions).

I think a lot of artists can relate to the fear involved in running your creativity as a ‘business’.

As an artist I just want to create what I love, but as a business it needs to be viable as a ‘product’.

I am constantly wondering if what I’m doing is what I should be doing.

Will it work?

Will people like it?

Even more so, will people part with their hard earned money to buy it?

And there are always a thousand more ideas in my head I do not either have time to get to or get pushed aside to make way for other things. I also have a problem with the word ‘success’.

I honestly don’t feel like a ‘success’.

It’s all a process rather than a definitive end and I am still within it, trying to keep moving forward and be happy.

006

Are there times when your creativity and inspiration seem to disappear? How do you handle that?

I just have to work through it.

I find that by going through other processes, getting things done, that it comes back.

Even if I have to spend days just gluing or sanding or doing paper work, eventually I will be struck by a moment of inspiration.

How do you balance your work with the rest of your life ~ what does a typical day in your life look like?

My family comes first. That will always be the case. And that sometimes makes things very hard, but I am fortunate that this business is a ‘choice’ for me.

Yes it is a necessity for me as an artist to be creative, but I get to do that with my 3 children as well. As my youngest is getting older it is becoming easier to fit more focus time into Core.

Each day begins with getting everybody up and off to school, then my business time begins after that.

After school hours is quite tricky, and Core. just has to fit in around soccer and hockey and cello and holidays etc.

005

What has been the best marketing move you’ve ever made for your own business?

In one word – Instagram.

By far the best and easiest marketing tool, and I love it.

Everything goes on IG, all my processes and finished products, plus it is a visual tool, which as a creative person really appeals to me aesthetically.

What is one piece of advice you’d like to give fellow makers about running a successful creative business?

Don’t worry about anyone else. Just do what makes you happy.

You can’t compare apples and oranges, just like you can’t compare your life to what you perceive is how someone else’s life is. Stick with your reality, and produce what you love.

That authenticity will shine through your work and people will believe in it… and in you.

004

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Still on this creative journey.

I hope that my little business moves forwards and upwards.

002

Website: etsy.com/au/shop/corejewellery

Facebook: facebook.com/core.jewellery

Instagram: instagram.com/littlecore

Success Stories – LilyEmme Jewelry

 

 

Val-at-the-bench

I have been so thrilled to find so many incredible artisans making a living from their passion while looking for businesses to feature for our Success Stories series. Val from LilyEmme Jewelry is one of those ‘gems’ (pardon the pun) that I have come across in my journeys who makes incredibly professional products but manages to keep in on her home ground. Read on to hear all about Val’s journey from ‘Rock Hound’ to Gem-setting Jeweler. 

Can you take us on the journey of your creative career path so far?

I was a rock hound as a child but I never would have guessed I would end up where I am today.

I also grew up loving wildlife so when I went to college, I decided to pursue a degree in environmental science so that I could pursue my interests in wildlife ecology. I instead wound up pursuing a career in the marine insurance industry and after a few years I realized I wasn’t fit for that type of work.

All along I had been cultivating this love and obsession of making jewelry which started as a hobby while I was in college and progressed to a small side business shortly after.

Jewelry began to come to the forefront and eventually it made the most sense (financially and emotionally) to do what I love full time.

July 4th is my anniversary of becoming full time, a bit of my own independence day, if you will.

LilyEmme-Engagement-Rings

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome so far in your business?

The biggest challenge has been wearing all of the hats and running out of time.

Time is precious and I learned early that if it’s not spent wisely, I quickly become consumed in all of my to-do lists.

Unhealthy habits (like popcorn for lunch) creep up on me and personal relationships can suffer.

Every day I work on learning ways I can spend my time more efficiently.

What has been the biggest ‘fist-pump’/successful moment for you so far?

When Amazon contacted me to help represent them and their new venture Handmade at Amazon, I was beyond thrilled.

I work very hard to make my work stand out amongst other online shops and the fact that I was hand-picked had me elated.

Hard work pays off!

Sapphire-ring

Do you ever have doubts as to your future creative direction? Are there things you yearn to achieve, but haven’t yet found the time for?

I don’t have many doubts because my customers and repeat-customers are always providing such wonderful feedback on my jewelry’s quality or the emotions it made them feel.

Word of mouth has been one of my larger sources of traffic to my shop.

I would love to research opening a Brick-and-Mortor shop if I had more time. I think it would be awesome to sell to people in person and really connect with my buyers.

Are there times when your creativity and inspiration seem to disappear? How do you handle that?

Sometimes after a long or difficult work week, it’s easy to succumb to feelings of exhaustion or stress.

But I understand that it’s a natural part of the process in creative types of industries and I’m cool with it knowing that it’s only temporary.

During times like these, I shut off my phone and laptop and try to have a quiet evening away from work which helps me refresh by morning.

How do you balance your work with the rest of your life ~ what does a typical day in your life look like?

I achieve balance with the help of my daily planner and Siri who takes care of my reminders on my iPhone.

I ordered a great customizable planner and I write everything down, otherwise I’ll forget later.

Running a business on your own means your mind is always flooding with ideas, reminders, and possibilities so I’ve gotten in the habit of writing everything down and planning my week out so that I don’t overlook the important things. It’s no fun to schedule everything but it ensures that I make time for what’s really important to me – family and friends.

I start my typical day at 7am and usually head straight to my jewelry studio. In the early hours of the day is when the light is most beautiful it’s an incentive for me to get there.

I’m a bit slow to move in the mornings so I am admittedly not very productive when it comes to making jewelry at these hours.

I reserve these slow hours for emailing with customers, printing new orders and preparing supply orders for gold, diamonds, packing materials, etc.

From 10am to 4pm I become very productive and I usually keep my head down buried in production work or creating one-of-a-kind pieces for my customers.

From 4:00-5:30pm you can find me packaging orders and dropping them off at the local post office when I usually just barely make the 6pm cut-off time for the day’s mail pickup. After that, it’s time to go home and relax.

Studio-dog

What has been the best marketing move you’ve ever made for your own business?

Instagram has allowed me to connect one-on-one with my customers and develop a personal relationship and casual dialogue that many of my customers appreciate.

Our society’s appreciation for visual social media has allowed my work to be shared all over the work and the instant feedback I’ve received in the form of likes and comments has been priceless.

Mobius-wedding-ring-set

What is one piece of advice you’d like to give fellow makers about running a successful creative business?

Ask for help when you need it.

I always give that advice but I truly believe that you shouldn’t be discouraged if you can’t do something on your own.

Maybe it’s because you don’t have time or perhaps it’s because you don’t have the skills yet, but there will always be someone who can help you which will free up your precious time or teach you how to do something on your own.

I’ve hired an accountant, virtual assistant, engraver, and most recently, a production assistant.

Before I hired them I was doing it all on my own and I was always stressed from lack of time. But now, I can’t imagine how I’d gotten by without all of their help which I am so grateful for.

Tools-and-plants

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Within 5 years, I‘d like my little business to continue growing into the fine jewelry arena.

I’m sure I will always have an online shop but maybe that brick-and-mortar shop I mentioned earlier will be closer to reality by then.

Shop/Website

Instagram

Facebook

Success Stories – Satsuma Street

 

 

 

 

jody headshot2_1000

 

“Grandma” and “Kitsch” are NOT the words you would use to describe Jody’s beautiful cross-stitch patterns from her online store Satsuma Street. As an avid crafter who likes to try her hand at everything, I was gobsmacked by the beautiful and unique patterns which are modern, bright and fun; these are now on my ‘to buy’ list! Read on to hear more of Jody’s amazing career story and how she sold over 12,000 patterns so far on Etsy.

 

Can you take us on the journey of your creative career path so far?

All of my careers so far have been creative ones, but very different! I have a degree in costume design and started my working life as a seamstress and costumer.

After doing that for a while, I decided to go to film school and got my Master’s degree in animation. I worked in Hollywood in the visual effects field for big action movies, but after a few years I got tired of the intense hours and unpredictable nature of the entertainment business.

That’s when I decided to start my own business designing cross-stitch patterns, at first just as a sideline.

Much to my surprise, Satsuma Street took off almost immediately, and within a year it had become my full-time job.

 

satsuma_street_blue_village_05c

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome so far in your business?

The biggest challenge has really been trusting my own instincts.

I’ve started to get all kinds of offers for ways to expand and diversify, but when you run your own business and work completely alone, it’s hard sometimes to trust your own choices.

Making the decision to trust my gut and only say “yes” to things that feel right to me has been tough, but so far it’s worked out.

What has been the biggest ‘fist-pump’/successful moment for you so far?

When I was approached by the public radio show Marketplace, who wanted to do a story on my business, I just about fell over I was so surprised!

The radio story ran nation-wide over a three day period, so it was really fun to watch the traffic to my shop go through the roof as people all over the country discovered me.

 

tokyo_satsuma_street_cross_stitch_city_04

Do you ever have doubts as to your future creative direction? Are there things you yearn to achieve, but haven’t yet found the time for?

It seems like finding the time to achieve all your ideas is the most common struggle I hear from creative entrepreneurs!

That’s definitely my greatest frustration these days, I already work seven days a week and yet still don’t have enough time to do it all.

Because I’ve always managed to make a living from my creativity in some way, I don’t doubt that I will find a way to keep doing that, even if I can’t totally predict what the future will hold.

Are there times when your creativity and inspiration seem to disappear? How do you handle that?

I definitely go through creative slumps, but I’ve come to think of them as a normal part of the creative process and I try not to let them worry me too much.

As one of my artistic idols, Corita Kent, said;

“The only rule is work. It’s the people who do all of the work all the time who eventually catch on to things.”

So if I’m feeling stuck, I still try to do something creative every day, even if it’s just going to a museum and staring at a favorite painting.

I think as long as you try to stay mindful of the world around you, and really make a point to notice the beauty and details even in the smallest things, you will always find inspiration.

 

impossible_01

How do you balance your work with the rest of your life ~ what does a typical day in your life look like?

My days are really varied, some days I’m sketching new ideas, others I’m doing nothing but responding to customers and working on social media posts.

That’s the great thing about working from home, you can keep your schedule really flexible. The downside to working from home is that it’s very easy to work seven days a week, or till all hours of the night!

Because I love what I do, I don’t mind working hard.

But lately I’ve just been trying to listen to my body and when I start to feel overwhelmed or exhausted, I take a personal day!

What has been the best marketing move you’ve ever made for your own business?

I happened to launch Satsuma Street right around the same time that Instagram was becoming popular, and I really enjoyed posting process shots and finding other cross-stitch fans there.

I encouraged my customers to share photos of the projects they had made using my patterns, and that started a really organic and fun way for new customers to find me.

By using the app to document my progress on new designs, I can generate excitement for them before they even come out, and it’s a great way to quickly gauge which products will be popular or not.

trees_satsuma_street_cross_stitch_03

What is one piece of advice you’d like to give fellow makers about running a successful creative business?

Don’t get too upset about people sharing or copying your work.

The first time I discovered people sharing my patterns illegally, or someone knocking off my designs, it felt like a punch in the gut, and my first reaction was to stop putting my work out there in the world.

But I’ve learned that while the internet can expose you to people who try to steal or copy your work, it also exposes you to many, many more people who will love and respect what you’re making and pay you for it.

You should definitely protect your intellectual property and defend it when you can, but don’t let negativity consume you.

The benefits of being able to connect with people all over the world cannot be overstated, so ignore the copycats and just keep making!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I hope that in 5 years I’ll still be running Satsuma Street, and helping to change people’s ideas about what cross-stitch and needlework can be.

I’m planning to explore video and web classes, so I can help share my love of the craft to those who haven’t tried it yet.

And I would love to expand and start applying my design sense to other products, so hopefully in the next few years I’ll find the time to make that leap.

 

satsuma_street_amsterdam_03

 

Find Jody Online:

Shop/Website

Instagram

Facebook

Pinterest