That time I sat in the car and …

 

As anyone who’s ever started a business knows, there are moments when you doubt yourself. A lot.

But when you keep going because there’s that thing you’re utterly passionate about, you’ll never know where you might end up…

Look. I was trawling through my memory for a story or two to share with you about my ongoing love-affair with the Artful Business Conference (aka ArtfulBizCon), because it’s so darn freaking good for women in business like me and you. Like that time Elle showed us the video of the lone dancer and demonstrated the power of community. Like that time Sonia told us about growing up in a family that always reinforced the idea to “Do things that make other people happy”, but eventually realising that when we do things that make US happy, the happiness flows out of us to others anyway. Like that time Karen told us to start a revolution, by sharing your gift with one person – because who are YOU not to share?

And that time I spent sitting in the car in the carpark in tears of overwhelm for an hour, because I felt like I’d finally found my tribe.

I’ve come so far.

So when I was going through what I’d written about last year’s Artful, I noted with interest this little gem:

“Thanks to Elle, I’m facing my fears and doing it anyway. (F’rinstance: before, I struggled to find photos of me that I even liked. Now, I’m the selfie queen, and I’ve got a good dozen videos under my belt (yeah yeah, I know they’re short, but it’s a start!)). And I’m pushing myself out there in lots of other ways – new products, and a (ahem) webinar in the planning stages.” (note the self-doubt still hanging around there?)

Only last year’s conference, and yet it feels so long ago!! Since then, I’ve given several webinars, run 4 x 5-day challenges, currently post a selfie on my page at least a couple of times a week, got a bunch of new services to offer clients in graphics and training, and served LOTS of beautiful clients (new and old) who say fabulous things about me.

I’m kinda not the same person I was.
And my business has grown a lot.

 

The Artful Business Conference is only a couple of days away, and I’m a teensy bit excited (because you know I’m speaking there, don’t you!? Check out my workshop and other details on my event page). Tickets start at $117 for a virtual – you can join in from the comfort of your own couch and you get full access to the recordings afterwards, forever (and you’ll get bonus stuff from me if you book through my afflink).

 

If you come, you might get to meet someone fabulous.
(Here’s me and Jess Van Den from Create & Thrive)

See you there?
Grab a ticket.

Julie X

What even IS ‘branding’?

What the hey is ‘branding’?

I get asked this question a LOT, so thought I’d do a quick video to explain. No, it’s not just your logo.

 

 

Basically, branding comes down to being consistent in what you put out into the world, curating your customer’s experience of you.

In the video, I mention Nike and Adidas as fabulous examples of branding, and how they differentiate themselves – because, as we know, they actually sell the same stuff. But they target their markets very differently – Nike is about heroic striving; Adidas is a bit more down to earth and ‘real’.

What do you think – does your customer’s experience of you stack up? Or are there things you can improve?
Let me know in the comments below – what one thing are you planning to fix in your branding next?

(Oh, and if you’d like to grab the free workbook Build Your Brand, you can grab it here.)

I Knew I Was In Business When ….

artfulbizcon 2016

 

You know, the actual fact is that I never really had a moment of “I knew I was in business when…” (but I’m totally heading off to THE best women’s business conference in Australia in only two weeks because I am ABSOLUTELY doing the biz thing now!)

It’s been a long journey.

I suffered through a lot of half-hearted attempts on the way. After finishing my Jewellery & Silversmithing degree at uni, I’d tried lots of different things – selling my jewellery (of course), although finding a workshop to work from that didn’t cost too much (or, let’s be honest – didn’t cost anything) was really hard and I didn’t have the persistence required to make that hard thing happen. I got my dad to help me make a small bench, set it up in the shed and got bits and pieces made, but then shipping work around the countryside on a consignment basis was not only expensive, but also disheartening when things got sent back because they didn’t sell (consignment for small handmade businesses sucks I reckon; don’t do it people. Or, be prepared to have lots of work out in lots of shops. And wait.). In the mean time, I’d got a nice safe office job (ewww) to pay the rent, and started to think about other opportunities.

Then, I was offered a PhD candidature with scholarship, so I did that (who wouldn’t, if someone’s paying you to do something you love). I rolled over into training as a high school teacher, which I did for several years, and then had some babies, all the while making things on the side in fits and starts (think, random, scattered, not much).

With babies, the opportunities to make jewellery diminished (they don’t make a good combo with acid, fire, and sharp things). I picked up my sewing machine again. I set up an Etsy shop in the middle of 2009 to the sound of … crickets …. and nearly fell off my chair when something actually sold, several months later.

Let me just say that none of these experiences were in any way encouraging to me. Because I discovered that business is HARD. And you have to be committed and passionate (because that’s what will sustain you when the going gets tough). But I persisted, because I always knew that there was something more that I was supposed to do with my life.

I think I’ve got an inkling of what it is I’m supposed to do now. I’m working on it. I’m building it. The money’s starting to flow.
So here’s my best advice.

You have to have a plan. None of this “chuck a few things out into the world and let’s see what happens” attitude (which is totally what I did. To real life shops, and on the web. Just because you’ve got half a dozen things in two shops does not make for a sustainable business. Just because it’s out in internetland does NOT mean that anyone’s going to see it. You have to tell them about it, duh.) I mean a specific, actionable, PLAN. Where are you planning to be with your business in 1 years’ time? 5 years’ time? Specifically, how much money will you be earning? Be realistic (you’re not going to be earning a million bucks this time next year). What have you got to sell, and how many of those things do you have to sell to reach your income target? How are you going to let everyone know about it? And there’s only so much spruiking you can do yourself – how are you going to get other people (delighted customers and the like) to tell everyone about you?

Surround yourself with people on the same journey as you. Organise a coffee morning with a couple of other like-minded souls, and talk business. Get specific. Bounce business ideas around with them. Talk about what you think is holding you back, and figure out options to move you forward. Show them what you’ve made or written – whatever product it is you’re thinking of putting out in the world – and ask for constructive criticism. Remember you’re not alone; if you’ve got a great brainstrust around you, they’ve always got your back. Keep your eyes and your mind open. Learn, adapt. Invest time in your business. Be critical about how you invest money in your business – you don’t need every coaching course under the sun, nor every app with bells and whistles. Keep your eye on your goal. Filter everything you see through that goal and don’t get distracted by shiny objects. Build your business step by step.

 

Most of all, keep going. Because amazing things are about to happen.

 

I know. I kept going. Finally, it’s working for me. I’m in business.

Julie x

The best laid plans of mice and … women

Happy International Women’s Day!!

You know how we women tend to take on too much and try to juggle everything – mother, partner, business owner, and a dozen other roles … not to mention tech issues and the like ….

So I just wanted to pop in here and let you know that despite being tripped up by one or more of those things that the Rebrand is almost done DONE! How do you like the new look? Feels so much fresher and lighter to me. I think I’m going to enjoy this space 🙂

 

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AND today marks the launch of my thoroughly rejuvenated, revamped and expanded (SO much better it’s not really even the same book) e-book, VIZ BIZ – branding for small business, worth $35.

cover4

 

It brings in my 7 years of small business experience and my 20+ years of design knowledge. EVERYTHING you need to know about branding for small business, in a convenient e-book size. 92 pages, jam-packed with know-how and inspiration.

You can grab your copy at the super special launch price of $21 – that’s 40% off – but only for a week – finishes Tuesday 15th March. 

Use the code VIZBIZ40 at checkout and get your copy here.

 

 

That’s it for now, keep your eyes peeled to the changes, AND my final video in this series. It’s been a blast.

Julie XX

How do I choose the right font for my Brand (Part 2)

 

How to choose the right font for your brand part 2

 

Carrying on from Part 1 here, in which we looked at things to watch out for when choosing a font (like why you would pay for one when there’s so many for free), here we’re digging into the specifics of font shapes, and how/why they convey the feeling they do.

Let’s have a look at a couple of fonts in detail.

You know that serif fonts are the ones with little ‘feet’, and as a group, they generally convey ideas such as “classic” and “conservative”. But what if you have a business personality that is classic, AND dynamic? You want something with a bit more pizazz.

 

font - alegreya.regular

 

Alegreya is certainly classic. But there’s something a bit more interesting about it, right? Let’s look closer.

font - alegreya caps - details

 

All the corners are crisply finished; this gives us ideas of precision and attention to detail. Anything with diagonals is perceived as ‘active’,  and nearly all the serifs are not only finished diagonally, but are parallel. Strong uprights such in the “L” and “E” are evenly tapered, slightly thicker at the top, and the tail on the “Q” is generous. Altogether, the strong alignment, the crisp corners and smooth tapers convey ideas of well-organised, strong, and systematic, while the kicks on the serifs and the inclusion of diagonals conveys sharp innovation.

 

font - knorke - details

 

Knorke is also a serif font, and in many ways classic. HOWEVER, it’s a totally different kettle of fish to Alegreya. Knorke is trickier, more lively, and even a teensy bit subversive. Look closely, and you’ll see uneven serifs, wobbly tapers, unaligned strokes, and outlines aren’t smooth. It also has no crisp corners; it looks a bit stocky and a touch overweight, like Mundungus Fletcher. All adding to that feeling of being a little bit less predictable.

 

Add a bit of fun

Of course, if you want to be totally subversive, go all-out whacky with your font. If you just want to add a bit of humour, you might want to try something like these –

font - boingo

font - eskargot

Note that each of these fun fonts includes tightly wound curls – it’s a whimsical and lavish flourish that’s both generous and friendly. The roundness of Boingo, its curves in both serifs and uprights and the fact that it ignores the baseline (the imaginary horizontal line that all the letters sit on), all add to its loud, bouncy, upbeat nature. Great for if you’re selling kids toys.

Eskargot on the other hand, is a bit quieter. It sits well on its baseline, and its uprights are straighter (although not quite…). It’s still very definitely funky and upbeat, with uneven strokes, slightly off angles, and crooked lines making it look fresh and lively. You might want to try something similar if you’re selling unconventional jewellery, or even cute plants.

 

 

So, next time you’re agonising over “WHICH FONT?”, stop; zoom in, and take a much closer look. Look for angles/straightness, look for look for tapers/parallels, look for smoothness/unevenness – and think hard about how all that makes you feel.

 

One last word for today. Don’t use the fonts that came on your computer for any of your graphics (you know the ones I mean – Times New Roman, Arial, Verdana, and the like) – they’re about as interesting as a stale biscuit. And don’t EVER use Comic Sans. For anything. Because it’s ugly.

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Stay tuned! After a question from Jess on my Facebook page recently, next week we’ll be talking about how to pair fonts – for when you need more than one to say what you have to say. There are definitely techniques to this! 

If there’s something YOU’D like to see here, or any questions you’re curious about, drop a comment and ask me here, I’d love to help out.

See you next time, Julie x