Is Surtex really worth the time, MONEY, and energy that designers invest?Read More
How To Design Your Own Fabric
Check out my step-by-step guide to my Fabric Design Tutorial.
Become a Textile Designer Today
With my 5 easy tips for getting started!
Learn how to become a Textile Designer in 5 easy steps. Hint: I did NOT major in Textile Design in school.Read More
Add a Pinterest Widget to Your Website
And your followers can get the latest trends in real time!
MANIFEST YOUR DESIGN CAREER THROUGH SCRIPTING
I heard about the Law of Attraction a very long time ago. Thought it was a cool concept, but didn't give it much credence.Read More
IGTV is a new way to watch...
Join the live book club discussion of Jen Sincero’s life-changing book, You Are a Badass at Making Money. We dive into book club questions that really force us to look at our limiting beliefs surrounding money.
ARE YOU TIRED OF BEING TOTALLY BROKE?
Being broke is stressful. Before I read Jen Sincero's You are a Badass at Making Money I had no idea that getting rich was something in my control. I thought ultra fancy "Rich" people were either lucky SOB's inheriting their family's heaping wealth, lucky SOB's with a world-changing invention or business idea, or lucky SOB's born with a genius-level brain.
Damn, I was wrong.Read More
WHY DOES EVERY DESIGNER NEED AN EMAIL LIST?
Email lists are crazy effective. In fact, I don't believe it's possible to grow your design business online without one.
Find out why email lists are soo much better than social media marketing and who the best providers are.
Read below for more!
THE #1 EMAIL PROVIDER I RECOMMEND
is hands-down Mailerlite. Click below for more!
WATCH THE VIDEO
Speaker 1: 00:00 Hey, what's up fools? This is Lauren with Lauren Lesley Studio and today we're going to be talking about why every designer needs an email list. Now you may be thinking, what is an email list and why does it matter? And if you're wondering that you are in the right place. Today we're going to go over why you need an email list in the first place. Why an email is different from social media, how to choose a provider and how to get subscribers on your list and how to craft your newsletter.
Speaker 1: 00:35 So the problem with social media, okay, so although social media is very important to growing your business online, you don't own it. So a few years ago, every business was trying to get as many people as possible to like their facebook page because then they would show up naturally in their facebook newsfeed. Well, facebook decided to change their algorithm because they own facebook, you don't. And now business page or pages are basically dead. So business has spent all this energy, all this money marketing, um, and everything trying to get people to like their facebook page. And then in the end, it didn't really make a whole lot of sense. It was totally useless because they didn't actually own all of these likes. I mean, facebook was, could just change it at any minute. Um, another reason why social media is a little bit harder than email is because it's difficult to contact your tribe directly if you're putting a ton of energy and a ton of money into social media, uh, especially a platform like facebook or instagram, you just Kinda have to cross your fingers and say a little prayer and hope people see your stuff in their feed.
Speaker 1: 01:55 Like what if they're not on their feed that day or they're, you're posting at the wrong time or you're posting at a time where there's too much competition. So it's difficult to contact your customers or get your leads directly.
Speaker 1: 02:12 Email lists, on the other hand, bomp bomp bomp allow you to contact your customers and leads directly in their inbox. So it's intimate. Um, you're contacting them directly on social. You're posting for the whole wide world. So that means something to your potential leads or customers. I'm a thoughtful email is a lot. It's just, it's more intimate, it's like chatting with a good friend and it's intentional, you know that someone sat down and crafted this email very intentionally where sometimes social just kind of looks like, Oh, here's a pretty picture. Hope you like it, you know? Cool. Also email subscribers are way more likely to become customers and existing customers are more likely to become repeat customers. Can I get a hell yeah?! Also with email lists, conversion rates are high. According to opt in monster article on May 29th, 2018. So this is very recently guys, there are 2.6 billion - billion with a b email - users versus 1.7 billion facebook users. So email is pretty much like double,
Speaker 2: 03:29 um,
Speaker 1: 03:31 the amount of facebook users are. So you just have a bigger audience to work with in the first place. Not everyone is on facebook. My cousin who's in his twenties is not on facebook. My fiance, who's, you know, 35 has a facebook account, but he literally never ever, ever, ever logs in. Unless I tell him, hey, you need to go contact this person or there's an event we're going to, you need to respond to. Some people just aren't that active on facebook, but everyone is on email for 58 percent of people email us their first check of the day so they may wake up and grab their phone and immediately what do they do? Look at their email or maybe they have breakfast, have their coffee drive to work, and then what do they do? They look at their email first thing,
Speaker 2: 04:20 um,
Speaker 1: 04:22 and only, I mean that's versus only 11 percent of people who look at facebook first part of the day. Um, and you also have to take into account different age groups, like what's your target audience? This and that. I'm someone checking facebook first thing in the day. They may be out on school break or may not have, you know, a huge to do list that day. So that kind of factors into also who you're trying to target. Okay. So 77 percent of people find promotional material acceptable in email. What that means, Hey, if you're sending a promotion, people aren't gonna be offended if you send them an email about it. They're like, yeah, that's cool. That's what email is for. This is where I want to look up sales and coupons and deals. Like I don't want to see it on my social media feed. I'm only four percent of people find it acceptable to see promotional material on facebook that's supposed to be this intimate time for their friends and family. That's what facebook was originally. It was supposed to be connecting with first your college friends. Um, and then it kind of extended and it's more of your family now and whatever, but that's opposed to be social. It's not supposed to be where you're shopping. Like you don't want to get on facebook to shop. Um, you want to get on facebook to see who had acute new baby or um, you know, who went to the beach last weekend.
Speaker 2: 05:51 Um,
Speaker 1: 05:53 so emails deliver an excellent Roi which is return on investment for those of you who might not know, um, which has 21 percent of the time versus a facebook and twitter ads are about 15 percent Roi. So get this guys, 66 percent of consumers have made a purchase because of a promo email. How cool is that? Sixty six percent. I think that's pretty good. Uh, versus only 20 percent has made a purchase based on a facebook promotion. So that Kinda shows you, hey, like people are kind of turned off by seeing, you know, promotions and ads on their facebook newsfeed. They're kind of like, Ugh, gross. Like I don't want to see that here. Um, but you know, in their email it's totally acceptable.
Speaker 1: 06:45 Email reaches 79 percent of the people you send it to 'em and this is the average global inbox placement rate. Just Fyi, facebook's organic reach. Get this guys, this is crazy. It's declined to about one to six percent, one to six percent. How crazy is that? What does Mark Zuckerberg doing? I mean, really, really? So you put all this effort and energy into, you know, posting something on facebook or instagram and facebook's organic reach, like they're literally, they're trying to force people to buy ads so that your stuff even get seen, which is crazy. Like they should not, I mean in my opinion, and this is my opinion, but I don't think they, I understand they have to get paid. Okay? Like, yes, everyone has to get paid, totally get that, but it's just not fair. It's just not fair to, you know, basically fuck with the algorithm that much to try to force people into paying for ads just to be seen on facebook.
Speaker 1: 07:47 Like, Hey, facebook, guess what? You're not that important email as a way better. I'm a statistics than and reach and effectiveness than you do. And so you're only hurting yourself. You're only hurting yourself. Facebook declining the organic reach, you know, maybe you could say, oh, ads have a boost that organic reach doesn't, but don't fuck with it and make it, you know, totally obsolete. That's just not cool. Like, no one's going to be on a platform if they can't, um, you know, share the cool things that they're doing. Um, yeah, so that means if you're, your pays, blah, blah, blah, I can't talk. That means if you're posting on facebook, only one to six percent of your facebook fans will actually see your posts, which really totally blows. So the bottom line is email has far greater reach than social media if you couldn't figure that out already.
Speaker 1: 08:47 So you're probably thinking, how do I get started? Well, I'm glad you asked. I'm here to tell you. So the first thing you want to do is choose an email service provider and I'm going to recommend three different options for you guys. So the first one is convert kit. Now I can't personally recommend convertkit because I've never used it, but I hear people rave about it all the time. So it may be one that you want to look into. Some of the pros are that it allows you to tag customers so that you can target them more effectively. And bloggers love it. Um, it's really helpful for small businesses and um, and sending like a content upgrades for your blog posts. It's easy to send those downloads and that kind of thing. Uh, some of the cons are it's $29 a month for the bottom tier guys.
Speaker 1: 09:40 So they have zero freemium option. There's no free option for if you're just starting out and it's not the most user friendly in the beginning. Um, I've heard people complain that, you know, um, they had a little bit of a hard time figuring out at first it's not as intuitive starting out, uh, the next email service provider that you could work with is mailchimp. Now, some of the pros of mailchimp is it's free for your first 2000 subscribers. That's pretty cool. I mean, you got to get mail chimp credit for this. Um, it's only $10 a month after that and then the tiers kind of increased from there. And one of the reasons I like mailchimp is because it easily integrates with squarespace. So I use squarespace for my, um, my website. And so mailchimp really easily integrates with them. So it's just like smooth sailing to collect emails from using mailchimp.
Speaker 1: 10:40 Um, and one little other pro is, it's an Atlanta guy, so like come on, we have to support them a little bit. Um, okay. So some of the cons, I will be honest about the cons. Uh, it's, there's no tagging. They have like groups in segmentation, but honestly like it's, it's very hard to, for me at least to figure out, I don't find that very user friendly or easy to manage. And I have heart. I've heard other bloggers complain, um, and really not recommend mailchimp because once they have a really large list, the functionality is not great. So that's something that also think about. They're like, hey, if I could have started with convert kit and I would've saved myself this huge headache once my list kind of exploded because then they had to go back and fix everything and like Redo a lot of their sequences and whatnot.
Speaker 1: 11:32 So that is just word on the street. And then the other Ma, a mail service provider that I do very much recommend and I have used them is mailer lite. Um, they are also free for your first 1000 subscribers, so it's not as many as mailchimp, but it's still great, like your first 1000 subscribers totally free. Um, and then after that it's only $10 a month as you incrementally increased here. So like for the first 1001 to 2,500 subscribers, it's only an extra, it's only $10. And then the next tier is only $20, et cetera. Um, so just as your subscribers increase, your fees increase. Um, the really awesome thing about mailerlite as well is that you can tag your lists to send more targeted emails. So let's say for example, um, as a designer, I, I work with a lot of real estate agents and I also work with bloggers I work with, um, I worked with like financial advisors, et Cetera.
Speaker 1: 12:37 So I might not want to send the same emails to my real estate agent customers as I do to my bloggers because they might have totally different needs and I might even be telling them about a product. Like I came out with this really awesome product. I'm God the real estate portrait Creator and it basically allows you to pick and choose some pre made options, literally over 70 faces and I'm adding more guys like if this is like a mega pack, awesome. 14 different houses and scenery. There's male realtors, there's female realtors on and on and on, different outfits. Um, and anyway, I would want to let my real estate customers know about that, but if I send an email to my entire list, then my, you know, blogger, customers are going to be like, I'm not a real estate agent. Why is she sending me this?
Speaker 1: 13:31 Like this is annoying. So like tagging your list is, is important. So that's the really awesome thing about mailer lite. I love them and I do use them in conjunction with mailchimp. The only con I can see so far is that it doesn't directly integrate with squarespace, which is the website I use, website hosting. I use and I think you can get around this with I'm doing a Zapier, a doing a zap, um, and it Kinda. Zapier basically connects different apps together. Um, and I tried to do that with mailer lite and I wasn't successful then I just kind of gave up because I didn't have time to spend hours trying to get it to work. So anyway, I'm still using mailchimp and as I'm a, I'm just in order to basically, uh, remember what customers are who are signing up for my email list. I'm just creating different lists in mail champs so I just have so many different lists in mailchimp. So eventually I can bring those over to mailer lite and just tag them. Um, and then I can target my audience really easily. Okay. So
Speaker 1: 14:42 after you choose a provider, convertkit, mailchimp, mailer lite, it's your choice. You have to decide what's best for you. I'm, you're gonna want to create a list for your email subscribers and you could just do like a basic one for now if you just have something very generic like a blog post that has, um, I dunno, organization tips or something that could be useful for anyone. Um, you could just make a subscriber's list will do for now. And then the next thing you want to do is you want to create newsletter signups all over your website. Now you want them to be strategically placed so that they're not too annoying, but at the same time like you want it to be seen. I feel like as as um, designers especially, but as any creative entrepreneur, we'd get a little bit nervous about, you know, annoying people, we don't want to annoy people, but I find that there's a healthy balance between pushing yourself a little bit out of your comfort zone and feel like you're being a little bit annoying.
Speaker 1: 15:44 That's probably the right amount because honestly guys, like people just get bombarded with everything. Email, social media, whatever everyday. So if you just send or you know, like anyway, you get the point, you do need them all over your website or nobody's going to see them and nobody's going to sign up. I'm so you're going to feel like slightly annoying probably if this is new to you, but don't worry about it, you're really not. And that's, you know, that's the way people are going to sign up if they want to. If they don't, they won't. Um, so you'll kind of be able to see if it's working or not. And so you may be thinking, well, okay, so I put these all over my website, but what if no one signs up? Okay, so sometimes you do have to entice people to give you their email address.
Speaker 1: 16:34 Why would they just, you know, people get bombarded with emails every day, so they're going to be a little bit hesitant, but what you can do, and this is a strategy that tons of people use and it's very highly effective. I'm offer a crazy, awesome freebie in exchange for their email address. Now, sometimes this feels like you're working for free, but if you can see the longterm picture, it's really totally worth it because you need leads coming into your business every single day. So you need to offer a really crazy, awesome Freebie, something that would probably you would normally charge for, but you just do the work once and people get to download it. It needs to be something downloadable. You don't want to sound like a hat because then you have to like pay for shipping every time someone gives you their email address, so you don't need to do that.
Speaker 1: 17:24 You just need to spend a few hours and create a really valuable pdf checklist. Um, she, she, um, as a designer I have offered for free real estate logos, so that's something that, uh, is really great for people that are just starting out and I hope I can help them out with that. Um, and then I hope they also see like maybe once they start earning some good money, they get some commissions, then maybe they want to come back and get kind of the full branding package, um, instead of just like a little house icon logo. Um, but that's a great starting point for my real estate agent customers. Okay. So you'll see here an example of my for, for your real estate logos, and the button says, give me for free logos and so they have to click on it and then enter in their name and email address.
Speaker 1: 19:46 Here is also an example of my landing page. So when you first go to my website, you'll see, um, what's up fool. I'm Lauren, Leslie, portrait, illustrator and designer. And then the very next thing you see at the bottom of the landing page is grab your free surprise and I'm asking for their first name and email address. So you know, people might not do that right away, but there is a little trick in sales that says people have to see things seven times before they buy. And I would be willing to bet the same thing is true with giving you their email address, so you just want to kind of make it very easy for them to sign up for your email address and put it all over your website. Okay. So the next thing you want to do is write a freaking email. It's gonna be weird.
Speaker 1: 20:33 At first it was weird for me. I didn't know what to say. I just was kind of blabbing on and then I was telling people about my new products and a few people on subscribed, which is always disappointing. But now I feel like I'm in a much better rhythm and I'm telling people that they actually want to hear about. Um, and I feel like I've really gotten comfortable with my own voice when I'm writing emails. Um, instead of sounding too quote unquote professional or Stoic, you know, you want to really put your personality in your emails, but the only way to get to that point is to start. So you just have to start somewhere. Don't worry about it, don't stress about it. And don't worry if people unsubscribe because new people are going to start subscribing everyday. Hopefully once you get that really awesome freebie up.
Speaker 1: 21:21 Okay? So your subscribers obviously signed up your email list for a reason. They love you and they want to hear from you and you don't want them to forget about you. So you know, if you, I mean, how many times have you gone to, you know, pinterest and then you ended up on some blog and it maybe it was a cool recipe or maybe it was something and you ended up subscribing for their email list, but then you never heard from them again and you totally forgot about them. But in contrast, maybe you did the same thing, but you hear from this person regularly and you were like, oh yeah, like if I need a recipe, I know I can go to this Vegan blog or whatever it is. Um, and it just like,
Speaker 1: 22:01 it just makes sure that you don't forget who they are. So you don't want your customers to forget about you. You spend a lot of time on this Freebie. Make sure that you are emailing them at least once a month. I would say like people say once a week, but at least once a month. I would email them when they first get their Freebie you want to send them, I would say three to four emails and you can space it out if you are scared about being annoying you, you could send the first email and then two to three days later a setup, a sequence where another email sends to them and then two to three days later another email sense to them and then you can kind of cool it and maybe email them once every week, two weeks, three weeks or once a month. But definitely keep emailing them because they're going to forget who you are if you don't and then you just wasted all this time and you know your potential lead is Kinda gone.
Speaker 1: 22:51 So you definitely want to do that. I'm not rules in next steps. I mean this is pretty obvious guys, but just don't spam people. I mean obviously that's probably the opposite of what you're thinking. You're probably scared to send an email in the first place because you don't want to seem spammy, but for those of you who are a little bit more ambitious, just, you know, don't spam the hell out of people like people hate that they're going to unsubscribe. Just bring value and be yourself and people will like getting your emails. That'll be fun. Oh, I'm going to be something they can kind of check when they're first getting out of bed or when they're sitting in a doctor's office kind of bored. Um, okay. So you. And then you want to set up an ongoing email sequence that's on autopilot so that way you're not having to like, scramble and Think, Oh my God, what am I going to email everyone this week?
Speaker 1: 23:43 You just want to set up a few at, I would say at least five to six initial emails just to get started. Um, and then you can tweak them later if you want to kind of change what they say or whatever. At first, do you want to thank them for signing up? Second, you want to give the full their freebie. They signed up for a reason, give them their Freebie, next, tell them your personal story. So we don't want to get personal all the time, like we don't want to be like, here's a picture of my dog today for like 30 days in a row because people are like, I don't, I don't get it. I don't care about your dog, like whatever. But if they are interested in something like getting a real estate logo from you or you're interested in their, um, recipes and maybe eventually you're going to buy their cookbook.
Speaker 1: 24:28 They want to know your personal story. They want to know who they're buying from and they want to really be able to connect with you. So share with them. Everyone has a story and everyone has been through something really shitty in their life but hopefully has a positive outlook on it. I mean, for me, like when I tell my personal story in my emails sequence, I want people to know, you know, that I'm not perfect and I'm not. I don't have this perfect life. Like my dad took his own life when I was six years old. And that really sucked, you know, and it still sucks, but I was really able to like dive into my art and in a way I think that my creativity kind of saved me. It was my strength, it gave me strength. Um, and then I kind of talk about, you know, my steps in my career, you know, how I was an art major in school.
Speaker 1: 25:17 And then I had my first job as a t shirt designer. I decided I wanted to do graphic design and not fine art full time. So that's what I did. And then, you know, that wasn't really a great fit. So I got my first or my second big girl job. I say my big girl job as a textile designer at a home decor company in Atlanta. And that's when I finally got to kind of say peace out Spartanburg, Spartanburg. It's my home. But I mean it just wasn't a good fit for me long term in terms if I want it to be a designer. Like I would have not been able to progress like I have in a big city like Atlanta. So that was just such a better fit for me and I'm so I really flourished here in Atlanta, so that's something that I tell my customers and they love it.
Speaker 1: 26:04 Like I've had people respond and be like, wow, thanks for telling me this like, and it hopefully makes them want to do business with me because they know that I'm a real person and I have struggles, but I also have successes and we're more alike than we are different. Um, so another idea for an email in your sequence is to share your best resources and tools. So if you use a program like a sauna or Trello, you can say how wonderful it is at project management. It helps you play in your blog posts or whatever your projects are in your business. You can talk about that. Um, you can talk about what kind of equipment you use, what books are you reading, if you have some cool business books that you're reading. I read entrepreneurial you by Dorie Clark who loved it, wrote a blog post about it. That's awesome. Um, recently read or I listened to the audio book, Anna Kendrick, scrappy little nobody. Oh my God, she's a freaking hilarious. You guys have to listen to her audio book. Don't read the book, listen to the audio book because she is so perfect in it and she's, her personality really comes through her voice and with her narrating the whole thing. It's just, it's pretty great. So that's another idea for your email list. Just share some cool resources and tools and like things that have inspired you in your business lately.
Speaker 1: 27:24 And then, um, at the end of your email sequence you can offer our prayer a, sorry, a paid product that is relevant to the Freebie that they wanted. So like my example of the real estate agents I'm giving for free real estate logos. But what I can do at the end of my sequence is say, hey, like I also have this paid product that's so much better than the four Fri logo. So like whenever you're interested, here it is. I hope you'll buy it
Speaker 3: 27:53 sometime at some point
Speaker 1: 27:56 and then you just want to make sure to remind them of how to find you on social. So I know this whole kind of videos about why email is so much better than social, but that's not to say that social isn't important. You still want to be able to connect with people on social. They want to be able to see your pictures. See that again, it's just another way for them to see that you are a real person for them to get inspired. It's just another point of contact. So while email is number one, you definitely also want to connect with your customers and leads on social, especially if they maybe a little hesitant to give you their email address. Maybe that's, you know, the second best thing you can do.
Speaker 3: 28:36 Um,
Speaker 1: 28:37 so, uh, I wanted to also let you guys know where to find me in case you ever want to work with me. My website is Lauren Leslie Dot Com a l a U R e n l e s l e y Dot Com. Lauren. Leslie Leslie as my middle name. I like the alliteration, that's why I chose it. Okay, so a click the link in the show notes to get the link to your email providers. And these are affiliate links guys. Um, but it's, that's great. It's a win win for you and me because with the affiliate links I can make a little bit of money, but still keep these videos totally free for you guys. So help us out.
Speaker 1: 29:19 Okay. So if you guys have any other ideas on why you love an email list or if you have any other email hosts, providers you want to recommend or any other ideas for an email sequence, please leave a comment in the notes below. And that way we can all share ideas. That'd be really great. And don't forget to subscribe to my youtube channel. Click the little button in the right hand lower corner and to get notified, click the little bell so that way you won't miss the next episode. And if you are on facebook, you can definitely join our facebook group. It's called the design tribe. So you can go to facebook.com/groups/design tribe. Lauren, Leslie, um, and I will also be live streaming videos in the facebook group, so that's a great place to find me. Thank you so much for watching. I'll see you next time. Bye guys.
Creating a brand for your online business isn't easy! Especially if you're like me and you love allll the fonts and colors. :)
But hey, you gotta start somewhere. See the 7 steps below for creating brand guidelines you can easily stick to!
STEP ONE | RESEARCH + HOMEWORK
The very first step should be a total brain dump scribbling out on paper all of the adjectives that describe you, your target audience, and what you will be offering.
Think of your brand as a visual representation of the marriage between you and your audience.
I've constantly hear the advice to be thinking about your audience and what they want. I've heard that you should wait to brand yourself until you have a following, because your once you know your followers you'll know how to brand yourself.
I have to kindly disagree. While YES, you should absolutely be seeking to serve your audience... it's also essential to preserve the essence of who you are. I believe that in the beginning, your brand should be somewhat flexible. But it should always reflect YOU.
If you don't like XYZ colors, then don't use them even if you think it will be a hit with your target audience. If you aren't excited about the way your brand looks and feels, then nobody else will either.
So research, brain storm, and write down descriptive words about you, your favorite colors/fonts/style, and about your target audience, their favorite colors/fonts/style. Where do they shop? Write down the retail stores. Are they male or female? What age range?
Start a board on Pinterest and collect color inspiration, pattern inspiration, fonts you like. Narrow down. See if it all looks good together on one page.
Watch The Replay
STEP TWO | CREATE A LOGO
If you are a solopreneur just starting out it's a good idea to keep your brand flexible. One way to do that is by representing your business with your name and image. This allows you to try all the things without any major hurdles to your branding.
For example, when I opened my first Etsy shop I thought about naming my shop Lauren Poole Invitations. I ended up just using my name which was a life saver! While I started out doing invitations, I almost never do them now. Based on customer requests and feedback, I was able to tailor my offerings to something customers wanted that was also in line with enjoyable work on my end!
I have now changed my business name to "Lauren Lesley Studio." Lesley is my middle name and I loved the alliteration it created. Studio is a broad term, but it indicates the creative aspect I am offering. The "Lauren Lesley" portion of my logo is my actual handwriting so it feels very personal.
My logo is a vector icon of me drinking a cafe latte, wearing aviator sunglasses, and wearing heart earrings. This feels very "me" and also represents a key element of my business: vector illustration. So I'm advertising my own service with my logo.
Your logo should be easily represented as a small icon. This absolutely comes in handy for all the profile pictures you have to upload or when you want to subtly include your branding on materials.
If you need a designer to help you with your logo please email me at LaurenLesleyStudio@gmail.com. I would love to work with you! :)
STEP THREE | HIRE A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER
It's true. So, so true. Professional photography goes a LONG way. There was once a time where I thought I could get my boyfriend to snap a few photos of me on my smart phone. Nope. He was super sweet for trying, but he knows literally nothing about photography.
Once I worked with a real photographer it was like I could hear the angels in heaven singing, Hallelujah! The angles were right, the coloring was amazing, and there were lots to choose from.
Back in the early days of Instagram, you could get away with snapping a quick photo on your phone and using one of the built-in filters. With the limited technology at the time, it looked incredible! Those days are long over. Using an unprofessional photo sends the message to your audience that you are lazy, cheap, or not serious.
Also, if you are a solopreneur, your following wants to see YOU. They want that personal touch of seeing your face and feeling like they are friends with you.
Hint: If you are on a budget I recommend seeking out a photography student in your area. See if they are willing to do a photoshoot with you for free or for a very low cost in exchange for allowing them to use the photos in their portfolio.
STEP FOUR | CHOOSING FONTS
One of the very first lessons taught in any Graphic Design class is how to choose fonts. What is the difference between serif and sans serif? What rules should you apply? When is it okay to use cursive or script fonts?
The #1 rule is that the body of your copy is 100% legible. This is not the time to get fancy. Most websites are already pre-formatted this way, but you'll want to make sure to use a very basic sans serif print font (like I'm using in this blog post). Your copy should be smooth, quick, and easy-to-read.
Next, I recommend choosing at least 1 print font for your header, navigation, titles, etc. This font should stand out on the page. You'll see my print font is HALIS GR BOLD. I use this font all the time. It's clean, bold, and modern.
I also recommend choosing at least 1 script font. I chose 2 script fonts: Blacktear Script and Madgue. It's also nice to have a bold cursive script font as a title or as your signature. You can see I'm using Blacktear Script for my signature name.
I added in Madgue, because it was feeling super fresh and seemed to fit better with my new 2018 product release of 80s Memphis Printables. I can get away with it for now, but in general you should stick to the same 2-3 fonts for EVERYTHING.
A great place to research fonts is DaFont.com. You can download any font for free although some may have licensing restrictions for personal use only. Another great place to look is Creative Market. Lots of incredible hand letterers are constantly listing fresh new fonts for sale.
STEP FIVE | ESTABLISHING A COLOR PALETTE
Narrowing down a key color palette can be a bit daunting. This is a major STRUGGLE BUS for me, because I love pretty much all the colors. So sue me. :)
A great way to do some research is to look at some new arrivals at retail stores you like. Visit their website and see if any new color combinations inspire you! Start collecting color inspirations and pin them to a Pinterest Board.
I'd narrow down to 2 main colors to use for your website or blog. My 2 major colors are pink and yellow. This ties into everything including the color change when you hover over a link. I also try to keep my designs and digital products in this same vein.
STEP SIX | SELECTING PATTERN
Once you have your color palette, you should select some patterns that fit with your brand. It is key to keep your style in mind. Is your brand whimsical, preppy, nautical, coastal, bohemian, sophisticated, or rustic? Once you choose your patterns, your color palette can be applied.
Your patterns are awesome to use as a backdrop, on a letter head, on your website, and even on digital products to sell! There are a million ways to use your patterns and it helps further establish your brand as a well thought out professional authority.
A good place to look for pattern is Pattern Bank, but keep in mind that other buyers can also buy the same pattern. If you are interested in having an original pattern made please email me at LaurenLesleyStudio@gmail.com. I'd love to work with you. :)
STEP SEVEN | KEEP IT CONSISTENT
Now that you have a badass looking brand, it's imperative to stay focused on these brand guidelines. Consistency is key! With so many online businesses, it is really difficult to stand out. The repetitive nature of branding helps your followers recognize you anywhere.
The combination of your logo, key fonts, limited color palette, and patterns that express your style will absolutely set you apart.
To get a free template, click the button below.
The template is a Photoshop file so if you don't already have Photoshop, click the pink button to install your free trial!
I have been reflecting on my vision boards that I created last year around New Year's. It's certainly interesting to see all kinds of crazy progress in each area of my life. Setting your intention and being really clear about what you want is certainly a powerful thing to do.
Each vision board represents one of the main pillars of life.
- Career + Finance
- Health + Spiritual Wellness
- Relationships, Friends, and Family
The first one is Career + Finance.
Let's be honest. We spend the majority of our lives at work. If you hate your job or feel like you're wasting time doing something that isn't your longterm vision it can be pretty depressing.
I made this vision board last year by collecting images of artists and designers that deeply inspired me. Making the collage gave me unlimited energy, an excitement in my bones. I got clear about my vision. And you know what? This past year I've been very intentional about working towards that vision and have seen LOADS of progress.
I signed up with MailChimp, for one thing! In the past, I worked with customers who happened to find me on Etsy. Now, I am being proactive about staying in-touch with clients, because I want to be the go-to designer. I want to create digital products that will make your life easier and prettier!
The Universe cannot give you what you want unless you tell it exactly what you want. I told the Universe what I wanted. I made my vision board, I scripted about it, and I talked about it nonstop. And it has manifested in amazing ways.
So what do you want?
Do you want to be debt free? *Raises hand!* If money wasn't an obstacle, what would you be? (Are you looking at me??) Yes, right at ya. ;)
What are your financial goals? Do you want to create passive income or achieve financial freedom so that you can give ALL of your time to the things that really matter? It's absolutely possible.
I've created a product to help you achieve your financial goals for 2018. It's called The Ultimate Financial Planner and it includes a Printable (if you prefer to plan your finances on paper) and an excel spreadsheet that is pre-formatted as a budgeting balance sheet. Hurray! Setting your financial goals couldn't be easier.
Plus, it includes 32 PNG avatars to play with. Yeahh. :)
I didn't always have a clear design process. I simply made whatever I was in the mood to make and threw it up in my Etsy shop hoping someone would like it. Those days are over, boo. I've learned that in order to be successful online you have to be super intentional about your process.
Often times creatives are introverted (I know I am!) so while we rock out the first two stages of brainstorming ideas and creating beautiful designs, the last two stages of sharing and teaching can feel rather unnatural. We don't like being the center of attention, we don't like self-promotion, and hey, there's a reason why we're not sitting in a classroom writing on a chalkboard everyday. At least for me, I'm the happiest when I am deep in concept and creation mode.
The problem is... you will have no customers, certainly not repeat customers, if you don't make the effort to get the word out and build relationships.
You need all 4 phases in order to support the parts you love the most. It will start to feel more natural as you get into a consistent rhythm. When you share and teach, it gives you the opportunity to engage with customers and people who are interested in your work. This ultimately provides invaluable feedback and nurtures the idea building process, which then allows you to create the best products ever! It's a beautiful cycle. :)
"Should I go to art school?" you may be thinking.
No. Please don't. I've worked in the design field for the past 10 years and I promise no one gives a shit about where you went to college nor do they care about your MFA. What matters is having a kickass portfolio, good work experience, and nailing the interview.
Please see the 5 reasons below on why you should NOT go to art school.
Watch the Webinar Video
1.) Student Debt
Guys, in case you haven't heard, student debt is a national crisis in the United States. Americans owe over $1.45 trillion in student loan debt - and yes, that's trillion with a T. That's more debt than the total amount of credit card debt in the U.S.
In 2017, SCAD's tuition alone is $36,630 per year. That's $146,520 in 4 years and what do you get? A boring, dime-a-dozen Bachelor's degree. Trust me, no one is going to look at your resume and say, "Oh wow, you have a Bachelor's degree. I'm impressed!" In the 21st century, having a Bachelor's degree is nothing special.
I know the romantic narrative of doing what you love sounds like the debt won't really bother you, because you'll be so happy in your career choice. This is a myth. Student debt is absolutely crippling. It can prevent you from pursuing major feats later in life such as buying a home, starting a business, or traveling. It might not seem super important right now, but wouldn't you rather have the flexibility of making those choices rather than being cornered by your student debt? Being a designer is awesome, but it doesn't pay that well. Be smart.
I am all about pursuing your dreams, but you don't need to pay $146,520 (+ interest) to do it.
2.) The Internet is Free, boo
Don't tell me nobody told you. ;)
But seriously, the world is changing and there are more resources than ever that are either free or extremely affordable compared to the stuffy art school tuition you're raising eyebrows over.
If you want to be a designer the first thing I suggest is to sign up for Adobe Creative Cloud plan at $19.99 per month. This will give you access to the latest version of Photoshop. The next step is to watch as many videos as you can on YouTube for FREE.
Then offer to do free design work for people. Believe me, I learned 90% of my design knowledge on-the-job, NOT in school. You'll probably feel a little bit like a fake-it-till-you-make-it person, but that's totally okay, because you're not charging so how could a client be unhappy? The learning process will be organic. My advice is to trust it and keep going. The more actual work you do, the better you'll get and once you feel like you know what you're doing, you can start charging an entry-level fee. You'll also start building a library of design work to create your kickass portfolio.
If you need more structure to learn the software, I'd suggest signing up for Skillshare for $15 per month or $8.25 per month (charged annually).
3.) Learn By Doing
I can remember absolutely hating my first Graphic Design class. I was on the road to earning my B.F.A. in Studio Art with a concentration in Painting from a liberal arts college. I completely loved getting lost in the process of making art by hand: deciding on a unique viewpoint, experimenting with color, mixing paints, applying texture, painting over an area, and presenting my work to a class full of smart, creative people. The rewarding feeling of self-expression is unlike anything else. The idea of sitting at a cold computer working on a corporate logo in a program I didn't understand made me want to gag.
The problem is that my perspective was so limited. I had no idea what I could do with design and school was never going to get me to where I was eventually going. You have to try things. Take jobs. When you're first starting out, you are willing to take any work a client gives you. And that's great, because you can quickly determine what type of work you enjoy. Sometimes you think you know what you want, but the reality of your day-to-day could be totally different. I know a male designer who wanted to design cars. To him, that sounded like the coolest thing in the world. But after taking a few assignments, he realized it wasn't as glamorous as it sounded. He ended up working in drinkware and absolutely loves it! I started out as a T-shirt designer. It was a great first job and I learned a lot, but was not what I saw myself doing forever. I discovered artists like Leah Duncan and realized how profoundly different my path could be.
I realized that design could be something I actually loved as much as painting and started researching more artists, designers, and illustrators who inspired me. What were they doing? How were they making money? I worked on my portfolio day and night drawing and designing in a way that motivated me. 'I could get into this,' I thought. Eventually, I built a body of work I was proud to present and began applying to companies to which my portfolio would appeal. I applied for anything and everything in the SouthEast that needed an illustrator or a textile designer. I applied on LinkedIn for a position as a print and pattern designer at Surya, a rug wholesaler. I nailed the interview and received an offer. The company was based in Calhoun, GA about an hour outside of Atlanta. I knew in my bones that I wanted this position and was willing to do whatever it took. I took the job, and for 5 years, I commuted from Atlanta to Calhoun to design rugs for Surya. I recently changed jobs, no longer have a commute, and now work for a manufacturer who designs rugs for private label brands such as West Elm, Pottery Barn, and Target.
I had ONE Graphic Design class in college. I did not get to this point in my career by taking out crippling student debt and attending college. I did it by trying things, by working on my portfolio at night, and by accepting the challenge. I have never taken a textile design class, yet when I left Surya, I had offers from multiple companies, because I now have relevant work experience. I gained my work experience by taking action. The majority of my design knowledge I learned by doing.
Would You Rather Follow Along While Driving?
Click Here To Listen To The Podcast Version Of My Webinar Series
4.) Real Job Skills
When I landed my first job I felt like a phony. Sure, I knew the core basics of Graphic Design. I could make some shapes in Illustrator and I could use a few selection tools in Photoshop, but I couldn't shake this feeling that I had bamboozled my boss into hiring me because I felt so completely lost and unprepared for real work. Even though I had been through 4 long years earning a B.F.A. at a liberal arts college and had taken a year of Graphic Design courses on top of that, I was at my very first big-girl-job feeling like I had no real relevant skills.
Believe me, folks. In design, you learn real job skills from working. The problem with school is that you learn how to do something in Illustrator/Photoshop/InDesign one time, but because you aren't constantly applying this new skill at work day-in and day-out it's easy to forget. While I enjoyed the majority of my classes and found the subject matter interesting, it didn't really help me when I needed to turn out 10 T-shirt proofs within a guaranteed 24 hour turn-around time.
The great thing about a liberal arts education is that it teaches you how to think. I am grateful for that in life and have the attitude that I can always figure it out. If I became a rug designer without ever taking one textile design class, then like me, anyone can acquire their real job skills while working.
So while there are some things I appreciate about my formal education, it makes me cringe to think about how much time was wasted on pretty useless shit. There were plenty of enjoyable classes I took in school that had no application in the real world. For example, I took Sculpture and Ceramics. While those classes were fun, I have never once applied anything I learned since I left college. Those classes surely didn't help me land a job and the skills I learned in those classes didn't help me once I was working. Thinking about the timeline of life, those types of classes should have been reserved for my retirement.
So don't waste time.
Start working now. If I had started learning Photoshop and Illustrator in high school, I would be light-years ahead. If I had started working with clients while I was in college I would have found my path much sooner.
Life is extremely short and the time to start pursuing your dreams is now. My advice is to go to the school you can afford and start your side hustle immediately.
For more, check out the video below where I rant about this topic for about 20 minutes. :) It's entertaining.
STEP 1 | COLLECT COLOR INSPIRATION
To get started, pour through Pinterest and gather all of the colors that really get your blood pumping. Create a board called "Color Inspiration" and pin anything and everything you find attractive. Search keywords such as Color Palettes, 2018 Color Trends, Color Schemes, Color Combinations, and Paint Colors. Research sites like Design Seeds for constant newness and Pantone for well-researched color trends. Use the Pinterest button to pin from these sites to your Color Inspiration board.
Next, observe what you've pinned. Look for trends among your pins and start to organize them into sections. A Section within a Pinterest board is my new favorite feature from Pinterest! Check out how I started organizing my Sections:
STEP 2 | PLAY WITH COLOR
It's impossible to really narrow down the color palette that is perfect for your brand without allowing yourself to play with color. If you're not a designer, I recommend doing this in Powerpoint (or Google Slides). It's extremely easy! You can eye-drop custom colors from the inspirations you saved in just a few clicks. I've created a free template that you can download here.
First, import your inspirations into the board. Then click on your first color chip.
- Click the Shape Format tab at the top.
- Click the arrow beside Shape Fill.
- Click on More Fill Colors.
- Click on the Eye-Dropper tool and hover over your inspiration images.
- Click OK.
The 6 colors across will be your core colors. I like to add color value to the palette as well - aka light, medium, and dark versions. You can usually find these versions within the inspiration by hovering over shadows or lighter areas. You can also simply use the Slider bar to adjust your color to be lighter or darker. And don't forget to include at least 3 neutrals.
STEP 3 | APPLY YOUR COLOR
After you've played around with creating a few color palettes that feel good to you, apply it to your product, design, or brand. Let's say you are creating a logo. I would create a mock version of it in Powerpoint. Even if it doesn't look exactly the same, it will give you a good idea of the color relationships.
- Go to Slides.
- New Slide.
- Insert > Shapes.
I always choose the circle to start. Make sure to include your brand name and a few other design elements such as an outline.
Next, copy and paste your color palette to the new slide.
- Right click > Group.
- Now, you can scale down your color palette to the corner without distorting the proportions.
- Click on your shape > Eye-dropper tool.
- Click on a color in your palette.
- Click OK.
If you're not loving how the colors look together, go back and readjust some of your colors. Try another palette. If you're really in love with your palette, don't sweat it if you are having a hard time applying the color. My suggestion would be to seek out a designer and provide them with your color palette as a general guideline. The designer should be able to take the main idea and apply the colors in an awesome way you'll love.
If you're interested in learning more about color, I highly recommend this book!
*This post contains affiliate links.