Can You Build a Brand on Your Own?

Believe it or not, I often recommend building your brand and website on your own…!

You might wonder why, I of all people would suggest that… I’m about to tell you.

When you start out, you don’t need a flashy website, a visual identity that is spot on, or unique messaging designed to fit you and your audience just perfectly. It’s a “nice-to-have”, at that point.

Yes, I said you do not need all that.

In the beginning you just need to start. Which on its own is not an easy feat, but that’s it.

Start with A DIY website.

Maybe have a logo on it, then go out there and figure out what you are doing, how you do things, and for who, THEN hire somebody to help you communicate that. Not the other way around [unless you have heaps of money laying around that you just need to get rid of, because it is of course very helpful! 😉 ]

I often see people hiding behind fixing and editing a website to be just “right” before they can go out and sell their goodness… yeah you know what I’m talking about, I know you have done it too.

Smiling, it’s ok, it’s also a time to think and define what you are doing and how. Just remember to not do it for too long because clarity comes from acting…not thought.

Oh, have I done that? Yes, of course. It’s even trickery when you are a brand designer and own an agency, ha, but the same rules go for me. Being aware of the excuse, [yes, it’s an excuse] can get you to change direction quicker though.

So today, I’m hoping I’ll nudge you into action, with your maybe not so perfect set up, and let you know that you can do it on your own.

Well, you don’t have to do it fully on your own.

There are lots of great tools and support out there, which brings me to something exciting! I have been working on this idea for quite some time, understanding why we make excuses for ourselves.

Sometimes you need to let things marinate, get the right experience before you can release something you are really excited about into the world. I have finally carved out time to create a course to help folks who aren’t ready to work with a professional still get fabulous guidance and support! 

The truth is, there is just sooo much to know about setting up your business online – so much.

This course is something I wished I had way back when I got going, it’s a collection of all the goodness I have learned in the past decade or so.

Launch w/ Ease will not only teach you how to set up your brand and website, but also how to build your business with confidence so you can start making money.

The best part – I will be there alongside you during the whole process to support, because without support…ugh, it makes things everything a whole lot more difficult, that’s a fact.

So, hey! If you are interested in learning more about this lovely course of mine, please click here, or simply sign up below, and you will be the first to know when it’s available!

Be the first to Launch w/ Ease

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If you are not interested, no worries!

I still hope you take action on whatever you are working on, put it out there and share your goodness with the world!

 

A Photoshoot Brings Your Website to Life

DO YOU WANT YOUR WEBSITE TO LOOK 10X BETTER (IF NOT MORE)?

Simple trick: Have a photoshoot.

It is seriously such a big difference if:

1) You have real photos versus stock photos (although in some areas great stock photos can work like a charm!)

2) If those photos are great, you are much more ahead of the game.

I work with a lot of different photographers, and I’m always just as excited and anxious to get the photos because the quality of them will make a tremendous difference.

You can think of it like sourcing the best ingredients for cooking a meal… you know the difference on a store-bought tomato and a home grown one… yeah, it’s like that!

Today I thought I would give you some tips on how to set up a great photoshoot.

FIRST, FIND YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER.​

  • You can ask a friend for recommendations
  • Search Instagram using hashtags, and easily get a spread of delightful photos so you can see if you like their style
  • If you are on a budget, ask a photography student
  • Or simply just ask a friend who has a creative eye

Type of photos

  • Client meeting –  invite a client (or ask a friend to act like a client) and have him/her dress appropriately – colors, style etc. – then set up a meeting with them portraying exactly how it would be in real life. The point of a photoshoot is to let your potential new client get a sneak peek into your world, who you are, and how you do things, so be authentic.
  • You at work – you at the computer, in your office, at your desk, etc.
  • You working – you with a notepad, pen, on the phone, researching, etc.
  • You communicating –  you on the phone, video conference, talking to co-worker, etc.
  • Filler photos – they should not have you in them, or you in focus, but rather portray your essence. It can be a blazer on a chair, big jewelry, glasses, fun socks, nice car or watch, a glass of wine, etc.
  • Family if family is part of your life bring them either in focus or out of focus
  • Pop of brand color incorporate your brand colors in accents like an armchair, wall, plant, flowerpot, pen, bag etc.

Technicalities

  • Horizontal images: Because we are shooting for a website, horizontal images work better. I know it is tempting to do vertical photos for bio/head shots, but I would suggest shooting horizontal, so you have space next to you, and the images will fill up the computer screen. If you don’t need the entire image, you can always crop it to fit. Having space next to you gives more depth as well as a perfect opportunity to lay a call to action on top of the photo
  • Interesting angles: Shooting at slightly unexpected angles makes for a much more interesting shoot and immediately takes your site to another level
  • Lighting: Great lighting is essential. You want it for removing shadows, illuminating your face, etc. You can also use lighting in a creative way, for example if some sunlight is coming in creating a ray on your desk etc. Lighting can take your photos to whole other level.
  • Negative space: Negative space is, actually, positive 😉 What negative spaces means is that you have empty space around you/the object.  As mentioned above, it’s a great place to lay text over the photo, but it also gives the viewer breathing room and a sense of space.

What to wear

  • Wear what you would wear when meeting with a client
  • Brand colors: Dress in something that has your brand colors or complementary to your brand colors. However, you do not want to go overboard (unless that is your thing). Using subtle placement makes the photoshoot natural while reminding the user of your colors.
  • Multiple looks: If you can, shoot in a couple different outfits. Changing up your looks is as simple as swapping out your blazer, changing your blouse, or putting on a new pair of shoes! It will give you better variety for the site, give it more life, and it is fun!

Where to shoot

  • Your office – If it is on brand and looks nice
  • Office-like space – Find a space you like visually, can be a coffee shop, hotel lobby or co-working space. It’s okay that it’s not your space. What you are doing is creating the experience of working with you and if it’s not exactly where you would work that’s totally fine.
  • Home – Depending on what kind of work you do, or how you work with your client, you can just shoot in your kitchen, your patio, etc.
  • Outdoors – Shoot in a park, city scape, beach, hiking trail, biking to work etc.

I HAVE CREATED A GUIDE FOR YOUR PHOTOSHOOT, DOWNLOAD IT BELOW!

Extra goodies

It can be a little uncomfortable if you are not used to being in front of the camera, so make sure to have fun. I recommend candid lifestyle shoots; they are more genuine and comfortable. Perhaps bring a friend who can help with the shoot, provide their perspective, or just make you feel at ease.

I also recommend, checking out the location beforehand so you are comfortable know what to expect. Being comfortable in your environment will make your photoshoot run smoothly and be more fun!

Whether you have a friend or photographer shooting, optimizing your time is thoughtful.

Have fun!!

I hope this inspires you to get in front of the camera!

Business Highlight: Vuori

As a small business owner in San Diego, it is my pleasure to highlight a company that embodies the lifestyle of San Diego in their brand. As a premium performance apparel company located in the quintessential surf town of Encinitas, California, Vuori’s integration of fitness, surf, sport, and art is evident throughout their entire brand, product, and purpose.

Oooh, I’m not sure it can get much better than that!

Well, they get me. Anyone who knows me, knows I am an active person, not only one who loves being outside getting my heart rate up, but one who truly believes movement is essential for business and life, allowing creative flow and overall health.

*For you who have been asking, the Make a Move business talking workout group will soon be back up and running – pun sort of intended ;)*

One reason I picked San Diego to call home is because you can almost always be outside moving, giving me a daily feeling of happiness.

This leads me to why I was initially drawn to Vuori. Their Investment in Happiness is the foundation of their brand, a guarantee that they are more than a nice product and positive customer experience.

Although those are important, Vuori’s “Investment in Happiness” goes much deeper, it is the philosophy in which the company was built on – how they do business, how they care for their team, community, nature, and most importantly, one another.

At Vuori, their guiding principles are simple and genuine:

“We aim to make great products, be in great relationships, and live extraordinary lives”

That is a lifestyle I can get behind!

As if their Coastal California mentality is not making enough of a positive impact on their community, Vuori makes a greater impact on the world through their use of ethical manufacturing, focus on sustainability, and emphasis on community.

Vuori has set up their own Code of Conduct, a commitment to ensure fair treatment of labor, enforcing safe and healthy working conditions and strict environmental factors. To support and encourage safe and healthy working conditions for factory workers, Vuori requires the signature of this Code of Conduct from all their suppliers. Not only are they promoting ethical manufacturing, but they are ensuring their product process is one they can be proud of.

In addition to ethical manufacturing, sustainability is a primary foundation of Vuori’s business with a mission to create quality products for the pursuit of a happy life, one which empowers deeper connections with fitness, nature, creativity, and community. Keeping their Coastal California influences at the forefront, Vuori’s approach to sustainability focuses on the materials they use, reduction of waste, offsetting 100% of their carbon footprint, social responsibility, and finally, community leadership.

Community is important to me, just as it is important to Vuori. They describe Encinitas as their “background and playground for active living”, serving as a direct influence for the brand as they focus on deepening relationships with their staff, partners, and the communities they operate in. Rather than being a company that does not interact with their customers and community, Vuori “aims to bring together people from all walks of life to create and share positive, meaningful experiences.”

Then of course, they are looking the part too. In my book, you can’t just have function, you must have both form and function. Visiting their site is like a walk on the beach, it is refreshingly airy and natural. It’s like I just want to take in a deep breath in…and let it all out…!  

The colors they have picked not only for their products, but their photoshoot locations are on point. The clean, modern, and airy feel gives exactly the experience they want to portray.

Environmentally friendly, a focus on community, and investment in happiness - they nailed if you ask me.

I love when I see companies like this, those who do business and care like this. It excites me!

When you can, support local great companies like this who focus on greater impact!

Keep up to date with Vuori here, as well as on Instagram (@vuoriclothing)

 

Disconnect to Reconnect

It's time to take a walk.

Are your days full? Your to-do list so long you can’t see the end of it? The life of running your own business…yes, but you cannot forget you also have a choice what you focus on.

Today, I want to give you permission to stop for, let’s say, 30 minutes.

Turn everything off; phone, email, notifications of all sorts and then stand up and walk outside.

It’s just 30 minutes, you will be right back.

While you go for your walk, think about these questions:

  1. What difference are you wanting to make with your business?
  2. Who do you want to serve?
  3. Are you offering your services in the most ultimate way for you and your client?

If you been in business for a while, you might already have these answers, but still, I want you to look at your business with fresh eyes. We are constantly growing and changing.

Sometimes, we tend to get lost in the day-to-day to-do’s that need to be done, working IN our business, instead of ON our business.

These kinds of questions will refresh your memory of why you are doing this in the first place, because let’s be honest sometimes that is the number one question of the day. But more importantly, it will strengthen your foundation and clarity of your brand and how to articulate it. 

The movement? Well, that it helps creative thinking and is good for your overall health.

The more time you take to work ON your business, the more transformation you will see. The sooner you will reach that big vision of yours.

Ok let’s keep up with the honesty: Do you block off time to work ON your business? If yes, do you stick to it?

If no, now is time to make that a habit, a certain time and certain place to work on your business and its future. How much time? As much as you can!

So today, do yourself a favor, take 30 minutes to walk outside and think of/answer the questions above. I have a feeling something really neat will come to you.

Want to bet?! 😉

Hit reply and let me know your answers!

I hope this inspires you to disconnect from your devices, get some fresh air, and reconnect with your creative side!