Picmonkey is gone – what do I use now?

what's the alternative now picmonkey is gone

I want a transparent background, but I can’t use PicMonkey anymore.

Because it’s no longer free.

There’s nothing surer on the internet than constant change (and usually in the pursuit of the dollar). We all struggle to keep up. Remember Periscope? Whatever happened to that? And Snapchat – seems after an initial blast, Snapchat has quietened down too and I’m wondering if it’s on the way out as well!? Facebook’s algorithms are constantly changing and I NEVER know what’s going to be in my newsfeed or how I can best reach my audience there. And since Facebook took over Instagram, I get stuff in my feed that’s a week old. Pinterest is chock full of sponsored posts too.

There’s nothing surer on the internet than constant change (and usually in the pursuit of the dollar). We all struggle to keep up. Remember Periscope? Whatever happened to that? And Snapchat – seems after an initial blast, Snapchat has quietened down too and I’m wondering if it’s on the way out as well!? Facebook’s algorithms are constantly changing and I NEVER know what’s going to be in my newsfeed or how I can best reach my audience there. And since Facebook took over Instagram, I get stuff in my feed that’s a week old. Pinterest is chock full of sponsored posts too.

Now PicMonkey has gone by the wayside as well.

In the last couple of weeks, PicMonkey announced that it’s no longer a free platform – not even a tiered one, like it used to be. The only way you can use it is to pay (which is pretty sad, because I used to love how you could combine PicMonkey with Canva and do just about any kind of graphic you wanted!). My good friend Karyn Sealby is using the paid version and still loves it – she says there have been numerous big improvements in functionality lately that she says have made it even better.

If you’re on the paid version of PicMonkey, I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

But where does that leave us, who just want to use a few of the basic tools, such as being able to use your own fonts, and create shapes with a transparent background?

Well, now that PicMonkey is gone, we head right on over to Gravit Designer, that’s where.

It’s a step up from free PicMonkey – besides all the image-editing stuff, being able to create things with a transparent background, and able to use your own fonts, you can also create your own vector shapes as well, AND download them as .svg files too! If you’re not sure what that means, it simply means you can create shapes that never lose their crispness, no matter what size they are – which is PERFECT for logo design, and pattern design too.

How good is that?

And they’ve promised that “We will always keep it as a professional yet free design tool”, so that’s excellent news for us! You can use it online, or you can download a desktop version as well.

While Gravit Designer is a bit more complex than PicMonkey, they also have a simpler version called Klex – which at first glance looks a LOT like Canva. And while there are things that Canva can do that it can’t (and I must admit, I find some things in Klex a bit “buggy”), there are also lots of things that it can do better than Canva as well – for instance, flexibility in its vector illustrations, and font alternatives.

However, if you’re feeling OK about the tech side of things (and honestly, you don’t have to be a tech whizz or anything), I’d go for Designer. It can do just about everything you’d want – crop, import your own fonts, create vector illustrations, and a whole lot more. It’s got lots of alignment tools (snap functionality, grids, auto alignment), and image editing.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be doing some Facebook lives on tips and tricks for Gravit Designer – so I hope you can join me! Every Friday at 10.30am AEDT and you’ll get the low-down. It’s quite new to me too, so you can join in as I discover what it can and can’t do – and as always I’ll be getting inventive, so if there’s something it can’t do, I’ll figure out a way around it.

Just you wait and see 😉

You can find me on Facebook at facebook.com/tractorgirl.viz.biz. See you there for Friday morning Facebook Lives!

Julie x

What makes a great opt-in? Hint: it’s not “Subscribe Now”

what makes a great opt-in

 

I’ve *just* come back from the Artful Business Conference – hooley dooley!!! SO. FREAKING. GOOD. I could tell you a zillion things about it: how aaah-maaaaaz-ing was Ricci-Jane Adams, how beautiful it was to see my friend Karyn Sealby up on stage because I know where she’s come from business-wise, how hilarious and smart was Kate Toon, how utterly thought-provoking was Peter Tullin and his ideas on the future of business, collaborations, and what audiences want (they want experiences, not just products), how totally on the money were all the workshops (practical video tips from Dawn, how to pitch and be the perfect podcast guest from Katie, how to disrupt the status quo bigtime in your hometown…. hahaha, thanks Peter – watch out Wagga!)

But I’ll save all of that for another blogpost shortly.

One thing that was touched on over the weekend was creating the perfect opt-in that will attract the exact people you need on your list.

And you need a list. 

Because your audience can forget to visit your website, they can forget to visit your FB page (which has virtually no reach these days anyway, thanks FB [not]), and they’ll probably lose your business card – but you can keep turning up in their inbox regularly and reminding them of how you can help.

It’s NOT a numbers game.

It’s about nurturing those relationships once they’ve joined you (because of your deliciously juicy opt-in). Having a highly-engaged small list is way better than having a list of thousands that delete your emails as soon as they turn up in your inbox. What’s the point of that? F’rinstance – I recently bought some bedlinen from a major retailer online; they automatically put me on their email list. They subsequently sent me THREE emails in the space of a week, all trying to sell me more stuff. Guess what I did on the third one?

Yup. Unsubscribe. That was pretty silly, no!? They could have sent me a discount voucher, they could have sent me home decorating tips, they could have sent me all manner of useful information and kept me engaged; but no. They sent me more pushy salesly stuff. Yuk.

But I digress. This is about creating a value-packed opt-in to get THE RIGHT people onto your mailing list in the first place.

 

Here’s my best tips:

1. Understand who your audience is.
If you don’t know WHO you’re talking to, then you’ll have no idea HOW to talk to them, or WHAT you need to be talking about. Figure out who they are first, what they want/need, and how you can help them.

2. Solve ONE problem.
Broad + general + covering all bases = VAGUE. Nobody finds that useful.
Solve their one burning problem.

For my opt-in, if you don’t know where to start with your branding and it’s all too overwhelming, I set out the basic foundations of what you need to do, so you can go through them step by step (if you’d like a copy of the Build Your Brand ebook, you can grab it here).

3. Keep it simple.
I know you want to help them with everything (because that’s one of my biggest issues too! I want to give you guys EVERYTHING that’s in my head because I know how much it will help you).

But in fact, too much information creates overwhelm, and overwhelm means that people simply abandon all that carefully crafted knowledge. No one actually wins there.

Be succinct. Create something that’s simple to apply or do.

4. Make sure it’s on target with everything else you have to offer.
While of course you’ve got lots of knowledge in different areas, don’t offer them apples when your business is all about oranges.

Think about how they got to your page in the first place. You, for instance, likely came to my site because you were interested in figuring out how to brand your small business, and read a couple of my blog posts. The flow is then that my opt-in offers you more information about branding for small business. If I offered an opt-in on how to set up an auto-responder series in Mailchimp, while it’s still small-business related, it would be quite disconnected from the main focus of my website, and I doubt many people would opt in.

5. Make sure it’s clear how your opt-in will benefit those who sign up.
Vague labels like “Sign up for my newsletter” aren’t going to cut it. The conversation in your audience’s head goes something like “What-the-hey for? What will I learn? What useful stuff will you give me that I can’t get elsewhere? Are you going to teach me stuff I need to know, or are you just going to be pushy and sell me stuff all the time? My inbox is already too crowded – why should I stick around?”.

Tell them exactly the sorts of things that will help them get where they want to go. For instance, “Get small business tips and tricks”, or “Get free photos weekly” or a one-off specific thing like “Learn 20 ways to build better relationships”.

6. Keep your headline simple.
Be specific and succinct about what you’re offering – if you have to take a paragraph to explain what your opt-in is, then it’s (a) obviously too complex and doesn’t solve the ONE problem (see points 2 & 3 above); and (b) ain’t nobody got time to read that. These things need to behave like billboards – grab your audience’s attention before they drive past.

If the headline grabs them, then you give them a brief summary of what’s covered under that (dot points are good; or a single, descriptive sentence).

7. Make your opt-in button stand out on the page.
Don’t buy into that rubbish about “red buttons convert better” – they don’t. What DOES convert the best is the button that contrasts with the rest of the page – so if your brand colours are predominantly red and orange, then make your button blue or green (and of course, make sure the colour still fits with your overall branding!). As Seth Godin says, “Show me where to click”.

8. After you’ve got them, keep them.
After you’ve gone to all this trouble, make sure you nurture them. Give them useful stuff. Entertain them. Intrigue them. Respond to them when they write to you (and they will).

Make them feel like they’re part of something.
Make them feel like they’re part of your tribe.
Love them hard. Give them stuff.
Make them feel like they’re part of something. (repeat)

 

That’s it.

Follow those 8 points and you’ll be able to build your tribe much more easily. However, keep in mind that even if you do those things to the best of your ability, they’re not bulletproof. They’re simply pointers, and you’ll still be spending time refining and tweaking your beautiful opt-in.

But that’s OK! The long game is the only game in small business. Build relationships, and your audience will sing your praises. And that’s good for business.

 

Lastly: 
I wanted to make sure you know about my FREE Canva challenge which starts Monday, 7th August, 2017.

5 days, 5 challenges – and you will SERIOUSLY up your Canva Game! Join here – http://bit.ly/ConquerCanva5 – and when you join, there’s also a chance to win spot in my Campaign WIth Canva Masterclass (worth $85).  The Masterclass is 15 days to create a totally on-brand, on-target, beautiful social media campaign for your business. Join the 5-day challenge and get all the details!

 

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Thanks 🙂
Hope I’ve made you think about your opt-in and now your imagination’s working overtime!
Have you got any questions about opt-ins? Pop a comment below, and I’ll point you in the right direction.

Julie xx

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.)

How to make a GREAT YouTube channel banner

 

You know that EVERY interaction with your audience adds to their impression of you – whether it’s your sparkly, amazing website design, your luscious business card that everyone oohs and aahs over, or your YouTube channel banner.

In fact, I was just listening to Tash Corbin today talking about where to start with branding/rebranding your business, and she suggested to start with the things that get the most interaction from your audience, i.e. your Facebook page, and your Youtube channel – because really, unless you’re the Huffington Post, your social media is where all the interaction is happening and your site is not.

So, here’s today’s tutorial on how to put together a great banner for your YouTube on Canva. There are a couple of SUPER important things to remember about your banner for Youtube, especially the size and placement of your text – and so I go through how to use Canva’s guides and snap tools to help you (and I explain why NOT to use any of Canva’s templates for this too!).

Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

As mentioned in my last post, I’ve got a Canva Masterclass happening VERY soon – it starts on Thursday, 16th March. If you’re launching anything anytime soon (a new product or service) or even if you just want to raise your social media profile, I suggest you check it out.

You can learn next-level Canva skills and create a whole social media campaign from the ground up, with tonnes of individual attention in a small group setting – find out more here.

See you there!
Julie X