3 Easy Ways to Make Your Website More Strategic

Are you a small business owner struggling with a website that isn't effective? If so, it's probably because your site is lacking a clear strategy! Don't worry, you don't have to be a web designer or developer to have a successful website. Find out how to instantly improve your website by identifying your audience, defining your website goals, and using a clear call-to-action on each page. This blog post is a must read for all entrepreneurs!

Whenever I do website redesigns for small business owners there are always a few things right off the bat that can instantly improve a site. Surprisingly none of them have to do with the visuals!

These days there are so many great website-building platforms out there with gorgeous templates. This means you don’t need to be a designer or developer to build a good-looking website. While this is incredibly useful for you, there is still value in hiring a web designer because there is one thing they can offer that is hard to do on your own. That is creating a website strategy.

A website strategy is essentially coming up with a game plan for how you want to lead visitors through your site using clear calls-to-action with a specific end goal in mind.

If you’re not able to hire a web designer at the moment, you’re in luck because I’m going to walk you through three things you can easily do on your own to create a more strategic website. This means you will have a website that doesn’t just look pretty, but actually gets the job done!

Identify Who, What, + Where

To get started make it crystal clear on your homepage (and ideally above the fold, meaning no scrolling needed), what service you provide, to whom you provide it, and where you provide it if you’re location-dependent. If people don't know this information right off the bat, they're probably not going to dig around to find out.

You can have some fun with the wording and infuse your brand personality into it, but don’t get so creative that people will have a hard time understanding what you do.

You can see what I have on my homepage in the screenshot below. “Beautiful Branding + Strategic Websites for Small Business Confidence”. This makes it clear what kind of services I offer and to whom I provide them. To add some personality and make it reflect the value of my services, I also mention the confidence that small business owners can expect to feel after working together.

Are you a small business owner struggling with a website that isn't effective? If so, it's probably because your site is lacking a clear strategy! Don't worry, you don't have to be a web designer or developer to have a successful website. Find out how to instantly improve your website by identifying your audience, defining your website goals, and using a clear call-to-action on each page. This blog post is a must read for all entrepreneurs!

Define Your Goals

Now that you’ve identified who you’re trying to attract and what you’re going to offer them,  you need to do identify the primary and secondary goals of your website. If you haven’t clearly identified why your website exists then it’s pretty much a guarantee you’re not using it to its fullest potential.

Primary Goal

It’s common to think that the end goal of your website is to get more people to hire you, but that’s actually not true. That’s because most likely the actual booking process is happening somewhere other than your website. This might be in person, via email, or on a client service management software, like Honeybook. So the end goal of your website is actually to get people to inquire about hiring you.

Secondary Goals

Since the majority of visitors to your site are not going to inquire, especially on their first visit, it’s a good idea to have some secondary goals. The best secondary goal is to get them on your email list. You may want them to follow you on social media, but this is not as important as getting them on your list. This is because it leads them away from your site, and as we all know by now, social media is rented space. Instead, invite visitors into a space that you actually own, like your email list, so you can stay top of mind through regular email communication long after they've left your site.

Clear Calls-to-Action

Once you’ve identified the primary and secondary goals for your website, you’re able to make sure you have the right calls-to-action (CTA) on each page. Visitors should never end up on a page and have no idea where to go next. Whether there are way too many CTA’s or not enough, the easiest thing for a visitor to do in that scenario is to leave your site. So let's do our best to prevent that by making the next step for them obvious and easy.

Take stock of each page of your site and decide where you'd like to lead visitors from there. It’s important to keep in mind that someone is not going to go from visiting your homepage for the very first time to sending an inquiring. You have to warm them up first. You can do this by introducing yourself and your services, showing your work, and giving them useful information through your blog. Eliminate the clutter on each page and implement a single CTA with a button that is begging to be clicked. By doing so you are mapping out the journey for visitors so they don't have to do it themselves.

The screenshot of the process page of my website below, shows a very clear, singular call-to-action. Once people have navigated to this page they have probably already visited my prices + packages page, so from here I invite them to my contact page. Of course, not everyone is going to inquire, but for those who are ready I make it easy.

Are you a small business owner struggling with a website that isn't effective? If so, it's probably because your site is lacking a clear strategy! Don't worry, you don't have to be a web designer or developer to have a successful website. Find out how to instantly improve your website by identifying your audience, defining your website goals, and using a clear call-to-action on each page. This blog post is a must read for all entrepreneurs!

Remember that someone’s journey through your website might not start on your homepage. It’s very likely they may end up on a blog post that they found through Pinterest or a google search. This is one reason why it’s important to have an email opt-in on every page of your site to support your secondary goal.

As you create your brand strategy, consider all of the possible ways people can end up on your site, then lead them through an intentional journey that invites them to sign-up for your email list and ultimately inquire about your services.

Here’s a quick recap and a list of homework for you:

  1. Make it clear what you do and who you do it for on your homepage
  2. Identify the primary and at least one secondary goal of your site
  3. Make sure each page of your website has one clear CTA

Extra credit: Add an email opt-in to the footer of your site and the sidebar of your blog!

What is your biggest website struggle? Leave it in the comments below and I’ll answer it in an upcoming blog post!

Small Business Interview / Liz Riden

In need of a little motivation to continue on the road of entreprenuership? Read this interview from leather designer, Liz Riden, who reminds us that while being a small business owner is a lot of work, the payoff is totally worth it! You'll also have an insider's peek into her design process, where she finds manufacturers, and her favorite business podcast. Click through to read it!

Today we have the privilege of hearing about Liz Frandsen's journey as a small business owner! She designs handbags and small leather goods for women. Liz is based out of her home studio in Lancaster, PA and has been in business for three years. Her business name, Liz Riden, is her maiden name, since it has more of a "designer" ring to it! She currently designs, cuts, and sew ALL of her bags by hand! And they are SO beautiful! 

Why did you decide to start your own business?

In college I had the opportunity to work for some pretty big designers in New York City. It was one of the most incredible learning experiences of my life, but also really made me realize how much I would love to create my own brand and product, and ultimately not work for a big corporation. The flexibility was a major draw for me!

What do you wish you had known when you were starting out?

Something that I'm still learning today. That success isn't overnight, and that being a small business owner often means working WAY more than most jobs. But, that the payoff is totally worth it to get to be your own boss and pursue your dream.

In need of a little motivation to continue on the road of entreprenuership? Read this interview from leather designer, Liz Riden, who reminds us that while being a small business owner is a lot of work, the payoff is totally worth it! You'll also have an insider's peek into her design process, where she finds manufacturers, and her favorite business podcast. Click through to read it!

For other product-based business owners, how would you recommend finding a manufacturer?

Finding manufacturing partners that you can trust to create your vision to the right quality is really key to scaling your business. There are several things I recommend.

Maker's Row is a fantastic resource for product based brands to find factories and sources. While it's mostly for fashion, there are many factories that are skilled in many types of products!

Also, when it comes to manufacturing, the industry is still pretty old school. I've found most of my insider sources simply by a Google search and going to the garment district in New York! Always meet with them or set up a call to discuss their work and make sure it's a good fit. Chances are, if they know other great resources they will be willing to share them too!

In need of a little motivation to continue on the road of entreprenuership? Read this interview from leather designer, Liz Riden, who reminds us that while being a small business owner is a lot of work, the payoff is totally worth it! You'll also have an insider's peek into her design process, where she finds manufacturers, and her favorite business podcast. Click through to read it!

What does your process look like from concept to completion?

My design process from concept to completion starts with sketching and pattern making. I am a very hands on designer, so I like to start by drawing my ideas out and drafting a pattern on paper to see how it fits together.

Flat pattern drafting basically involves measuring out the dimensions and pieces in a two dimensional way, and then piecing them together to make the three dimensional final product.

Once the pattern pieces are measured, I cut them out from cheap vinyl material and sew it together. I use vinyl for the first draft because it's cheaper than genuine leather and allows for mistakes to be made. 

Typically, my pattern process takes 2-3 revisions before it's exactly where I want it to be. 

Once the pattern is perfected, I make the sample in real leather to photograph. Currently, all of my bags are made to measure, so I will make one sample and then create orders as they come in!

In need of a little motivation to continue on the road of entreprenuership? Read this interview from leather designer, Liz Riden, who reminds us that while being a small business owner is a lot of work, the payoff is totally worth it! You'll also have an insider's peek into her design process, where she finds manufacturers, and her favorite business podcast. Click through to read it!

What has been the most effective strategy for selling more products?

For my product-based business, Instagram has been an absolute game changer in the way I do sales. I've found that not surprisingly, the more I share my work, the more it generates sales.

In addition, I've started expanding my wholesale division of my brand. I've found that being spread out across the country has grown my customer base quickly and that once customers shop in stores, they connect on Instagram and then that also grows future e-commerce sales.

What has been the best financial investment you've made in your business?

The best investment I've made in my business has been quality equipment. I started off my business with very cheap machinery because it's what I had and could afford.

Now, having the proper equipment allows my workflow to be more efficient, and the quality to be immensely better. Also, having proper leather working equipment has allowed me to do freelance work for other brands and designers who may not have those resources.

In need of a little motivation to continue on the road of entreprenuership? Read this interview from leather designer, Liz Riden, who reminds us that while being a small business owner is a lot of work, the payoff is totally worth it! You'll also have an insider's peek into her design process, where she finds manufacturers, and her favorite business podcast. Click through to read it!

What's your favorite business book, blog, or podcast?

I can't get enough of the podcast How I Built This with Guy Raz. It's so good! It's encouraging to hear about MEGA brands that got started from humble beginnings and all about how they did it. I wouldn't be lying if I said I secretly hope to be on it some day.

How do you rest, recharge, and find inspiration?

As a small business owner and mom, rest is something that's hard to come by! But recharging and inspiration are not. I'm fueled by lots of coffee and good company. I find inspiration in short day trips, art and art history.

Thanks so much for sharing, Liz! To view more of her gorgeous products and make a purchase, head right this way >>

Small Business Interview / Llani Shoes

Starting your own business and needing some advice? Check out this interview with Alana Oates, owner of LLanie Shoes. Find out from an entrepreneur when to launch your brand, the best investment,  reaching out to influencers, and finding inspiration.  "Don't be afraid, don't delay, start now and worry about perfection later." Click through for more  from Alana and a free shipping code!

Today's interview is with Alana Oates, founder of Llani Shoes. She produces the most fun and stylish slippers, flats, and slides that provide the comfort of home from anywhere. Read on to learn about her experience running a small business. AND...if you make it to the bottom there's a little treat for you!

Why did you decide to start your own business?

I launched Llani in 2016, but the decision happened way before that. It was always a nagging idea in the back of my mind. I was working for a large corporate company in San Francisco, but my fiancee was on the east coast in the home we bought before I said yes to the opportunity that took me across the country.

My motivation to get home really propelled me to take the steps to start the brand. I knew I wanted to 'come home' and in doing so, I wanted to work independently.

What do you wish you had known when you were starting out?

I think for a few months when I was sampling shoes and figuring out how and when to launch, I took it all a bit too seriously. I obviously wanted to put my best work into the world and I thought that once I decided on an identity, a logo, a color story, it could never change and it would determine the brand ID forever.

I soon realized, it was better to launch and let the brand evolve it's self. Now, I let my customers choose what they want to see more of. I follow my sales patterns, for sizes I buy into, and I pay attention to the feedback I get on social media to determine my next steps.

Starting your own business and needing some advice? Check out this interview with Alana Oates, owner of LLanie Shoes. Find out from an entrepreneur when to launch your brand, the best investment,  reaching out to influencers, and finding inspiration.  "Don't be afraid, don't delay, start now and worry about perfection later." Click through for more  from Alana and a free shipping code!

For other product-based business owners, how would you recommend finding a manufacturer?

I was lucky that I had a strong background in sourcing from the larger companies I worked for, but I found a lot of my current vendors through Linked-In. Some approached me, some I sought out.

The best thing is to have an idea in mind of want you want. I knew I wanted to work in India. I have always been inspired by the culture, and I love their hand-crafted atheistic.

My collection features a lot of hand beaded work, and it's one of the only places in the world I can get the quality I wanted for the right price. Figure out what area will be best for what you need to produce, and work from there.

llani-shoes-interview-03.jpg

What has been the most effective strategy for selling more products?

I do a lot of influencer outreach. For me, I like to reach out to girls who are also business owners, or creatives. Maybe they don't have the largest followings, but they have a curated feed and great fashion sense, while also having the integrity to showcase smaller brands and tell their story.

These girls are thrilled to get a pair of my shoes, and post a photo in return. Instagram has been a god send for me. I don't know how small businesses launched before social media!

Starting your own business and needing some advice? Check out this interview with Alana Oates, owner of LLanie Shoes. Find out from an entrepreneur when to launch your brand, the best investment,  reaching out to influencers, and finding inspiration.  "Don't be afraid, don't delay, start now and worry about perfection later." Click through for more  from Alana and a free shipping code!

What has been the best financial investment you've made in your business?

My largest investment has directly been into my product. I have really tried to keep all other costs lean. It's the most important piece of what I do, so investing in that first and foremost was the best move.

Just this year I took another big step and partnered with a PR firm in NYC. That was my second biggest investment, but waiting one year to take the step felt like the right timing. I hope it will be a game changer.

What is something you regret or wish you had done differently in your business?

I really can't say I regret anything to date. There are small learns I encounter everyday, like ordered too much of one size and not enough of another. But that can all be channeled into the next season to make that one a success. I'm forced to learn through trial and error.

What's your favorite business book, blog, or podcast?

I love to listen to Girlboss radio, in the mornings while I'm getting ready for my day. Sophia features amazing women who have started their own companies and listing to their journeys really inspires me.

Starting your own business and needing some advice? Check out this interview with Alana Oates, owner of LLanie Shoes. Find out from an entrepreneur when to launch your brand, the best investment,  reaching out to influencers, and finding inspiration.  "Don't be afraid, don't delay, start now and worry about perfection later." Click through for more  from Alana and a free shipping code!

How do you rest, recharge, and find inspiration?

I love to socialize and I gain a ton of energy from doing so. Trying to unplug on weekends is huge for me too. My husband and I often go to the shore on weekends with our dog, getting away from the office and taking a walk on the beach with my family is the best way for me to relax.

Anything else you would like readers to know about you, your business, or being a small business owner in general?

Don't be afraid, don't delay, start now and worry about perfection later.


USE CODE: SHIPNAH 
For free shipping

Start shopping here!

Don't forget to follow her on Instagram. Thanks so much for sharing, Alana!

The Best Online Printers for Your Marketing Materials

Looking for the best online printers for your marketing materials? This blog post has a list of some that your small business can rely on. Whether affordability, quality, or flexibility is your priority, you'll find one to meet your needs. This is an important resource for every business and some discount codes are included!

As small business owners we have plenty of printing needs from business cards for our next networking event, to brochures of our services, to thank you cards for past clients. Having a printer you can rely on is always helpful. Ideally I love working with small local printers, but sometimes we need the convenience of an online printer, and other times we just need the most affordable option. 

Over the past few years I’ve tried out a handful of different online printers. The one I choose depends on a few factors, budget usually being the first one and quality the second. If you're a small business owner looking for the best options to print your marketing materials, read on. All of the printers below will ship to you wherever you are.

Most Affordable

VISTAPRINT

Everyone's heard of Vistaprint, so it almost feels unnecessary to mention them, but the truth is you really can't beat the prices. They also offer a large range of products. My experience with them has been hit or miss. I've received some things that have turned out well, and others that looked low-quality.

The main reason I’m including them on this list is because of their customer service. If you aren't happy with the quality they will often refund you (usually in credit) or reprint for you free of charge. If you're on a tight budget this is hands-down your best option. If you're ordering from them be sure to check out their special offers. I've never ordered from them without some kind of discount.

Most Reliable

MOO

Moo is another popular one that you may have heard of and is probably my favorite non-letterpress printer. Moo has great quality all around and the prices are not bad. They don't offer as many products as Vistaprint, but what they do offer is great. They also offer specialty printing methods like gold foil and spot gloss. Their luxe business cards are beautiful and will definitely have people thinking you spent much more on them than you did. For $15 off your first shoot me an email and I can send you a coupon code.

Most Flexible

ALPHAGRAPHICS

Alphagraphics are located all over the country, but you can submit a print request online. This printer is different then the others mentioned so far. With the other printers you upload your files online and immediately place your order. With Alphagraphics you have to send them your file and specifications to get a custom quote. This is especially helpful if you want to order something in a non-standard size. The prices are a little higher than the other printers mentioned so far, but the quality and customer service are worth it.

Runners-Up

The next two are runners-up simply because I haven’t used them myself. I have ordered paper samples from both and plan to try them out in the future.

Smartpress

I just discovered this one through an online search and am glad I did. Their printing options are very impressive. Compared to some of the printers above you can create far more customized products. They offer everything from laser cutting, to scoring and folding options. They even provide variable data personalization (i.e. business cards with different info for each employee). They also offer direct mailing services, blind shipping, and PMS color matching which are great features to help promote your business and maintain brand integrity. Their prices vary drastically because of the customizations available, but overall the prices seem competitive.

UPRINTING

This online printer offers a wide range of products and sizes, including large format, such as posters and banners. Based on the sample pack I received the quality seems great. One downside is that their minimum order for some items is kind of high. They also have surprisingly high shipping charges, although if you live in LA you can pick up in person. 

Almost all of these printers offer free sample packs that you can order from their website. Grab some for yourself so that when your next printing need arises you're ready to go.

Know of any good printers that I didn't include in the line up? Have printing questions? Comment or ask below!

Mood / Timelessly Modern

Looking for branding inspiration for your small business? This mood board is sophisticated with a heritage feeling. Serif fonts and neutral colors evoke the timelessness of the brand, while the sans serifs and clean lines keep it modern. 

This mood board is for a branding project I just wrapped up. We wanted to evoke a sophisticated, heritage feeling in a modern way. Serif fonts and neutral colors evoke the timelessness of the brand, while the sans serifs and clean lines keep it fresh and current. 

Can you guess what kind of brand this one was for? It's not too hard to figure out ;) The final product will be in my portfolio soon. Can't wait to share!

Why you should guest blog + how to get started

ARE YOU A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER WONDERING HOW TO GROW YOUR AUDIENCE? IF SO, GUEST BLOGGING IS A GREAT WAY TO DO THAT. THIS ARTICLE OUTLINES THE ADVANTAGES OF GUEST BLOGGING FROM GROWING YOUR AUDIENCE, AND IMPROVING YOUR SEO, TO ESTABLISHING YOUR AUTHORITY. IT ALSO WALKS YOU THROUGH THE STEPS OF GUEST BLOGGING FROM FINDING THE RIGHT BLOGS TO SUMBIT TO, HOW TO SUBMIT AN ARTICLE, AND WHAT TO DO AFTER. THERE'S ALSO A LIST OF BLOGS THAT ARE CURRENTLY ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS. CLICK THROUGH TO START GROWING YOUR BUSINESS THROUGH GUEST BLOGGING!

If you’re trying to grow your business, guest blogging is one of the best ways to get your name out there and expand your audience. I’ve had a lot of experience writing for blogs of all sizes and have reaped many of the benefits. If you’re interested in guest blogging, here are some reasons why you should give it a shot and some helpful tips to get you started. 

Advantages

Even though guest blogging is free to do and accessible to anyone, know that it will take time and effort on your part. Below are some of the reasons that it’s a worthwhile investment for you personally and for your business.

New Audience & Potential Clients

One of the obvious benefits of guest blogging is that you’ll have the opportunity to reach a new audience. This can potentially lead to new inquiries and clients. I personally received a new client within a month of my first guest post being published. It's important to mention that I've also written several other guest posts that haven't lead to any new clients. There's no guarantee you'll end up with a new client, but if you do it definitely makes the time and effort you put into writing the post pay off.

Increased Traffic & SEO Benefits

Guest blogging will lead to increased traffic to your own site. Not only will there be an immediate boost when the post is published, it’s likely that there will be ongoing traffic from it, especially if the blog you’ve written it for continually promotes past content.

In terms of SEO, it's incredibly beneficial to have other websites linking to yours. These are called backlinks and if they are coming from reliable sources they will benefit your site. The more backlinks to your site, generally the higher your site will rank on search engines.

Establishes Authority

Another benefit of guest blogging is that it shows your expertise and establishes you as an authority in your field. If you write intelligent and helpful articles, readers will trust and respect you. If you’re writing for well-known blogs this will improve your credibility. Linking to the guest posts you’ve written somewhere on your own site will show visitors that you are knowledgeable and respected in your industry.

Free Marketing

If you don’t have a large marketing budget, guest posting is a great way to get your name out there for free. There will be a time and energy cost, but it’s usually worthwhile. Although harder to come by, there are paid blogging opportunities as well, which I cover in more depth further down.

Writing Experience

One of the best benefits I’ve received from guest blogging is an overall improvement in my writing skills. Like with anything, practice makes perfect. Since I’ve started guest blogging the quality of my own blog has greatly improved. Strong writing skills are always beneficial to possess.

Finding Blogs to Submit To

So you're convinced that guest blogging is worth it and you're ready to get started. Wondering where to begin? To find blogs that accept guest posts you can google terms like "become a contributor", "write for us", or "guest blogging opportunities", along with some terms that are related to your industry. I have also included a short list at the end of this posts of some blogs that accept guest writers. Even if a blog doesn't explicitly state that they accept guest posts it never hurts to reach out and ask. Below are a few things to consider when searching for a blog to submit to.

Ongoing Verses One-time

Some blogs are looking for one time contributions, while others want ongoing contributors. Typically the one time opportunities are unpaid, while the ongoing ones tend to be paid. I’ve done both and they've each proved valuable in different ways. If you're just getting started blogging, it's beneficial to gain some experience by writing free blog posts first. Once you have writing samples under your belt you have a better chance of scoring a paid position as a regular contributor.

Paid verses Unpaid

The majority of my guest posts have been unpaid. When they lead to a new client they pay for themselves, but as I previously mentioned there’s no guarantee of that happening. I’ve written many guest blog posts that didn’t lead to any financial gain. They have, however, had many of the other benefits mentioned above.

Once you’ve gained enough writing experience, you'll probably find that free guest blogging is no longer worth the time investment. Take into account that ultimately you want to grow your own readership. If guest blogging is taking away from your own blog, it might be time to scale back on the guest posts.

The Right Audience

There's no point in writing an article if it won't be read by the right people. Be sure to look for blogs that would attract your ideal client. Read past articles on a blog you're considering contributing to and see what kind of topics are discussed. If the blog topics seem relevant to your industry then go a step further and see who is commenting on the posts. If there is a high amount of engagement by people who could be in need of your services or products, you’ve probably hit a goldmine. 

Submitting Articles

Blogs that clearly state they accept guests posts will usually have guidelines for how to submit them. When contacting  a blog you would like to write for be sure to include the overall topic(s) you would like to write about, with an example of a specific blog post you think their readers might enjoy. Some blogs will require that you submit the entire written post in order to be considered. Others will just want the topic and maybe some bullet points. The main thing they will look for is whether or not your article will provide helpful content to their readers.

Deciding On a TOpic

As previously mentioned, the article has to provide substance and value to the reader. Some ways to do this are through a how-to article, a step-by-step tutorial, or a persuasive article on why they should or shouldn't do something. Ultimately, you want to provide practical help for the reader in a way that establishes your expertise and shows the benefit of hiring you. Remember that the post is for the benefit of the reader and it’s not about self-promotion.

The first guest post I wrote was about how to avoid hiring the wrong designer. I talked about the warning signs that someone looking to hire a designer should be aware of. This is helpful to someone who has never worked with a designer before, but is looking for one. I didn't talk about my business or how I could help them. Instead I provided valuable information and ultimately it led to me receiving a new client. 

Writing Your Bio

Most guest posts will be accompanied by a short bio about you. This is the one chance you have to blatantly promote your business, so don't hold back. Be sure to include the name of your business, what you do, who you do it for, and a link to your site. It's also a great idea to mention any free opt-in that you give to people who sign up for your email list. Something along the lines of "Be sure to grab a copy of the FREE Mini Branding Guide on her site" is all it takes. This will encourage people to visit your site and help grow your list. Most blogs will also include links to your social media profiles, as well. Most importantly, follow any guidelines that the blog has for writing your bio.

Following-up with your Article

Don't expect to have people contacting you the moment your article is published. It will take time, so be patient. The good thing about blog posts is that they can continue to bring new visitors to your site long after they’ve been published. In the meantime, it's a good idea to check-in on your post periodically to see if there are any comments. Oftentimes people will ask questions in the comments and it's important to answer those. It shows potential clients that you're helpful and knowledgeable on the topic you've written about.

Blogs That accept submissions

To help get you started, here are some great blogs that are currently accepting guest posts.

I'm sure there are more out there! You just have to start searching and find some that are relevant to your industry. Do you know of other blogs that accept guest posts? Leave them in the comments!

Small Business Interview / Krista Rae

Take a sneak peek into the business of a web developer and hear  about the ups and downs of running a small business. If you're an entrepreneur, click through to learn about the most common website mistake small business owners make, some of the best financial investments Krista has made in her business, and her favorite business podcast.

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Krista Miller owner of Krista Rae. She offers custom WordPress development and design strategy for brand and web designers and has been in business for two years. Kirsta hails from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. An interesting fact about her business is that she started out offering web design and really quickly realized it was not her thing. So she switched over to offering development instead and hasn't looked back! 

Krista has graciously provided an insightful peek into her business and opened up about what has worked for her and what hasn't. Keep reading to learn about the most common website mistake small business owners make, some of the best financial investments Krista has made in her business, and her favorite business podcast.

Why did you decide to start your own business?

I decided to start my own business almost on accident. In December of 2014 I randomly decided to start a craft blog as I was teaching myself to crochet. I was amazed with all the other blogs out there and for some reason it felt like the thing to do. After a whopping two months of that I got super bored and decided to let it go. Around the same time, I started following John Sonmez who talks a lot about how important it is for developers to have their own online brand. Thanks to a great course he offered, I got my own website up and running where I was talking about being a female in the tech industry.

Through a whole lot of Pinterest searches, I ran across content from people teaching you to make money through your website. Specifically, Mariah Coz had just started teaching people how to make income through courses. I jumped straight on the bandwagon and attempted my first course launch. With two people on the VIP list, it didn't go well, but I learned so much. A few months later, I realized that I could make money in the creative industry with the same skills I used every day at my full-time job and that's where my current website and business was born.

Take a sneak peek into the business of a web developer and hear  about the ups and downs of running a small business. If you're an entrepreneur, click through to learn about the most common website mistake small business owners make, some of the best financial investments Krista has made in her business, and her favorite business podcast.

What do you wish you had known when you were starting out?

When I was first starting out, I did absolutely everything by myself. I was afraid to reach out to people because I didn't think anyone would want to hear from someone who was as new as I was. Since then, I've seen the insane power of making connections and how much it can accelerate growth. If I'd have known that right away, I would have been able to give my business a bit more of a jump start.

What is the most common website mistake you see small business owners make?

The most common website mistake I see small business owners making is not putting any real thought or strategy into their site. They might loosely base it off of what they see other people doing, but they don't think about how those things relate back to *their* personal goals. If someone else is doing web design for coaches and you're selling products, having a website similar to theirs is a sure way to guarantee that it's not nearly as effective as it could be.

Take a sneak peek into the business of a web developer and hear  about the ups and downs of running a small business. If you're an entrepreneur, click through to learn about the most common website mistake small business owners make, some of the best financial investments Krista has made in her business, and her favorite business podcast.

What has been the most effective strategy you've used for gaining new clients?

The biggest thing I've done to get new clients is build relationships and make new connections. Last I checked, about 80% of my clients were coming to me through referrals, which is huge. If someone is looking for a developer in a Facebook group, it doesn't take long for several people to chime in with my name. And sure, I'm good at what I do, but those people wouldn't take the time to refer me or give me a shoutout if we didn't have some kind of personal connection.

What has been the best financial investment you've made in your business?

The best financial investment I've made for my business are the coaches I've worked with. I've now worked with two business strategists and one life and business success coach. While the investments can be a little terrifying, it has paid off for me every time to let someone with a ton of experience get an inside look at my business and point out the areas I could improve. For example, I'm not sure I ever would have realized that I was better at targeting designers as my audience, rather than general business owners, if one of those coaches hadn't looked at what I was offering and pointed it out.

Take a sneak peek into the business of a web developer and hear  about the ups and downs of running a small business. If you're an entrepreneur, click through to learn about the most common website mistake small business owners make, some of the best financial investments Krista has made in her business, and her favorite business podcast.

What has been the biggest game changer in your business?

The biggest game changer in my business, besides the connections and coaches I already mentioned, was a live course I took in October of 2016. The course was Be Booked Out by Halley Gray and it taught me everything I needed to know to really zoom in on my ideal audience, craft services that they would want, and launch them in a way that leaves me booked for months at a time. It was quite the investment, but I wouldn't be where I am today without it.

What is something you regret or wish you had done differently in your business?

Something I wish I'd had done a bit differently is being pickier about the people I collaborate with. On a few occasions I've done webinars with people I barely knew or even larger collaborations with people I've been close with that haven't gone well. It's important to hold yourself back from getting over-excited about something and really evaluate whether or not you and that person would make a good team. I've always learned to start with some type of smaller collaboration before diving into something that generates income or is ongoing.

Take a sneak peek into the business of a web developer and hear  about the ups and downs of running a small business. If you're an entrepreneur, click through to learn about the most common website mistake small business owners make, some of the best financial investments Krista has made in her business, and her favorite business podcast.

What's your favorite business book, blog, or podcast?

My favorite business podcast is The Strategy Hour from Think Creative Collective. I love that they don't hold back information and don't waste time chatting about random stuff, while still making it a blast to listen to.

How do you rest, recharge, and find inspiration?

This is something I'm not the greatest at. I'd like to say that I take random days off during the week or go for walks in the middle of the day to free up space and make time to be creative. Buuuut that's not how it is around here. I have gotten pretty good at taking nights and weekends off of work, which helps a lot. Now when I get to Monday I'm usually excited to dive into work, rather than tired from all the extra tasks I checked off over the weekend.

As far as inspiration, I think I'm lucky to be a naturally driven and determined person as well as someone that can easily identify actionable tasks out of goals I want to accomplish. So my form of inspiration comes from thinking of a goal I'm working towards and identifying the steps I need to get there. A more logical and nerdy approach than most probably use ;)

Thanks so much for sharing, Krista! If you'd like to learn more about website strategy this is where you can find her: Website / Podcast / Instagram

Mood Board / Warm + Relaxed Nostalgia

Looking for a little branding inspiration? This Mood board, designed by Letterform Creative, is for a family films videographer. The warm color palette and natural textures evoke a relaxed and comfortable feeling. Mood boards are a great way to guide your personal or business logo design or brand identity. If you're unable to work one-on-one with a graphic designer, create your own. The first step is to gather all of the Ideas you have, then pare them down to a  single, unified style. Click through to read more on the blog. 

Here's another mood board coming your way!

I love how each mood board has the potential to evoke a different emotion. This one makes me feel relaxed, happy, and completely content, basically like I'm soaking in a warm bubble bath (maybe it's the middle image on the top). Even though cool colors are typically associated with calm feelings, this board with it's warm palette is very calming to me.

This was the inspiration for a logo I designed for a videographer, specializing in family films. We just wrapped up the logo and it was a blast to work on! I'll be sharing it over here soon.

In the meantime, I'd love to know what emotions this mood board evokes for you?

Branding Advice / How to Choose a Color Palette for Your Branding

As a small business owner, you already have enough to stress about and your color palette shouldn’t be one of them. Learn how to choose the right color Scheme for your brand identity. These helpful tips will provide Entrepreneurs the inspiration and guidance needed to choose a color palette in order to establish a  style guide. Once you have a palette chosen use it for your logo, website, patterns, layouts, and graphics for a cohesive look.

My blog posts have been a little less frequent as of late, but for good reason. I've been spending time writing guest posts, one of which was recently published by The Rising Tide Society. This is the second time I've had the opportunity to write for them (see the first here). 

This time around I'm talking about choosing a color palette for your branding. I outline how to use the following steps to define your brand's color palette:

  • Knowing your audience
  • Knowing your competition
  • Finding inspiration
  • The difference between hue, value, and saturation

As a small business owner, you already have enough to stress about and your color palette shouldn’t be one of them.

Read the full post to start planning your color palette >>