Dandyline Studio, Marketing, Resources, SEO, Solutions, Your Business

10 Steps To Helping Your Designer Help You

February 14, 2014

Design projects are often priced by the amount of time estimated for consultation, brand and industry research, initial concept design, proofs, revisions and preparing files for print and web use. Whew! And so much more…When you invest in a designer to help you with your brand design projects, you are investing in the time as mentioned above, and their talent a s a professional in their industry.

We have a standard questionnaire that we send to each of our clients at the start of our relationship to help understand their brand, message, vision and goals. We’ve also put together this 10-Step infographic of items you can provide us to help us help you.

10 Steps - Help Us Help You

This article is a part of our 10-Week Series Challenge on Making Your Business Remarkable. This article is for Week 6: “Step By Step” where we explore “Ten Steps To Help Your Designer Help You.” Feel free to share in our comments below any one of these ten items that help set your business apart…

Dandyline Designs, Making Your Business Remarkable - Steps

Dandyline Studio, Development, Marketing, Resources, Solutions, Technology, Your Business

Five Reasons Why You Need to Make Time For Yourself

February 7, 2014
Dandyline Designs - Five reasons to make time for yourself...

In a fast paced world of high-tech, “I need it now” momentum, it is not uncommon to mistake “I work 24/7” with “I am successful.” We found this great article on Entrepreneur about “5 Reasons to Make Time for Yourself Right Now” that we thought was worth sharing:

It’s instinctive for driven professionals, especially entrepreneurs, to work ’round the clock, making little time for themselves. These ambitious types swear off the New Age folks who spew rhetoric about work-life balance, insisting there are only 24 hours in a day and not a minute can be wasted on activities that don’t include succeeding in business.

While such a high level of inner gumption will take you far, there comes a point in time when burnout sets in. Before this happens to you, consider these five reasons why making time for yourself on a regular basis is not only important to avoid burning out, but is actually a key ingredient for success.

1. It clears and refreshes your mind. Just like sleep refreshes your mind and body, so does taking time off from the day-to-day grind. If your routine is the same day after day, it’s bound to get old, no matter how much a creature of habit you are. When you allow your mind to focus on something other than work, it helps you gain perspective that you can’t see when you’re knee deep in the trenches. (Related: The One Tool You Need for Success? A Mirror.)

2. You can’t be good to anyone unless you’re good to yourself. This old adage should not be taken lightly. Ask yourself, “What have you done for me lately?” If you can’t come up with a good answer quickly, chances are it’s because it’s been a while since you took sometime to focus on you. You are more than just a business leader or entrepreneur. You are a whole person. If you don’t value that person, you can’t be effective in managing and leading others. The work will get done just the same or even better if you use your time wisely. So start by being good to yourself, take some time off and give yourself what you need.

3. You will be more creative. Creativity is not found in the organized and logical part of your left-brain. While it’s instinctive for the driven professional to look for ingenuity there, creativity actually lives in the chaotic, messy and unorganized side of your right-brain. And so does inspiration. Sitting day in and day out in your office trying to move things along will at some point cause your ideas to dry up. Taking some time off from organization and processes will give you the space to explore the chaos in your right-brain. It’s amazing what you will find in there. Related: 10 Strategies for Overcoming Creativity Block

4. Being a control freak isn’t helpful. One reason why business leaders are who they are is because of their ability to organize, drive processes and move people toward the goal line. They know how to make things happen. They know how to control situations and create outcomes. But they can also be controlling people. There is only so much we are able to control and at some point we have to learn to let go before we get in our own way. Making time for yourself is a great way to take a step back and relinquish control, even if for only an hour per week. If you have the right people in place, you should easily be able to delegate tasks in your absence.

5. You keep in touch with what’s truly important. And speaking of control… Sometimes things don’t go as planned, especially in business. And sometimes it gets so bad that closing the doors is the best option. Or maybe you’re an executive who is shown the door one day unexpectedly, pink slip in hand. When we define ourselves by what we do, we can easily lose sight of who we are, leaving us devastated when the unexpected happens. Taking time for yourself allows you to realize that you’re more than your professional self. You owe it to yourself to honor those parts of yourself and the truth is, you never know where or when you might meet someone in your travels who can help your career or business. Related: 3 Ways to Stop the Fighting And Start Focusing on What Matters

Dandyline Designs, Making Your Business Remarkable - Five reasons

This article is a part of our 10-Week Series Challenge on Making Your Business Remarkable. This article is for Week 5: “Five Reasons Why…” where we explore “Five Reasons Why You Need to Make Time for Yourself. Feel free to share in our comments below what you will be doing this weekend to make time for yourself…

Dandyline Studio, Development, Marketing, Resources, SEO, Solutions, Technology, Your Business

We Recommend – Pinterest for Marketing Your Business

January 31, 2014
Making Your Business Remarkable - Week 4: Recommendations

As part of our 10-Week Series Challenge on Making Your Business Remarkable, we are in Week 4: “Recommendations”. Read on to find out why we recommend integrating Pinterest into your businesses marketing strategy.

Pinterest For Your Business

You’ve heard it before: “I’m addicted to Pinterest!” As of January, 2014 there are an estimated 70 million users worldwide. 79% of active users are from the US with close to 16 minutes average visits to the site.

Investing in television commercials, radio commercial space, print advertising, etc. has never been realistic for small businesses trying to reach a large audience. In the history of marketing, this large population of a potential audience has never been available as an opportunity for virtually no cost.

Now the real question is: “Is your business on Pinterest, and using it effectively?” 

If you are selling a product, you should know that Pinterest grabs about 41% of e-commerce traffic. If you are offering a service, you should know that 33% of social media users look to Pinterest for specific service tips and recommendations. 81% of users trust Pinterest as a reliable source for information and advice.

If you aren’t convinced by all the numbers we just threw your way, check out Pinterest’s page on business success stories. Some huge brands are included in these stories like Nordstrom, Sony Electronics and Sephora.

Here’s how you can make the most of marketing your business on Pinterest:

  1. Create a business page HERE.
  2. Download the “Best Practices Guide” from Pinterest.
  3. Add the “pin-it” button to your website. See more about this little button here.
  4. Start Pinning by showing what inspires you and your brand. “Instead of just showing off your products, show what inspires them. Create boards for the ideas, places, people and moods behind your brand.” -Tips for business on Pinterest.
  5. Track what works, and what doesn’t with the intuitive Analytics Tool.

We are Pinterest addicts and love sharing images that inspire us here in the studio. The goal of our pins is to help people connect to our style as designers. Please share a link to your Pinterest account below, and check out our Inspiration Page on our website to see our latest pins.

Dandyline Designs, Dandyline Studio, Development, Resources, SEO, Solutions, Technology, Your Business

Review: WordPress SEO Plugins

January 16, 2014
Week 3: Making Your Business Remarkable - Reviews

As part of our 10-Week Series Challenge on Making Your Business Remarkable, we are in Week 3: “Reviews”. Here we share some thoughts on WordPress Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Plugins that we have used and some thoughts on them. Let us know what you have used, or if you have a favorite not listed here. Also, feel free to share your review link in the comments area below to let us know your business is joining us in this 10-Week Series Challenge.

1. WordPress SEO by Yoast

WordPress by Yoast

This may be the most popular SEO plugin to date. With WordPress SEO by Yoast, you can easily setup page Title/Description templates for every post-type/page, create XML sitemaps and verify your Google and Bing webmaster tools accounts…among other things. This is a fantastic plugin is updated consistently with new features. In our opinion, this is a “must-have” for your WordPress website.

2. Scribe SEO

Scribe SEO - WordPress Plugin

“Scribe makes content marketing simple” is how the plugin is described by the creators. We cannot disagree with that. This plugin helps you create better content and provides a ‘grade’ for each post-type/page. Additional features include keyword and link research tools that you can use easily within the default WordPress editor.

3. All in One SEO Pack

All in Once SEO Pack - WordPress Plugin

All In One SEO Pack is another common plugin that brings in many options Search Engine Optimizers rely on. While it has many similarities to the Yoast plugin, the options panel lags behind a bit. The developers created a pro version for $39 where can get some more extended features. We aren’t fans of paying additional fee’s when we don’t need to, but we’ve used this plugin before and have been pleased with the basic version.

4. Local Search SEO Contact Page

This is a great plugin for many of our clients who are not comfortable with some of the technical angles of SEO. This plugin allows you to embedded a Google map to your contact page that can be linked to your Google+ Local account, with a link for users to leave a review. This tool is great if you are a build-it-yourself WordPress user.

5. SEO Friendly Images

You can probably guess what this plugin does by it’s title. SEO Friendly Images automatically adds ‘alt‘ attribute and ‘title‘ tags to any images that do not have them. This plugin also has a premium version that gives you more features such as an images XML sitemap creator and more custom settings. We recommend adding ‘alt’ and ‘title’ tags when you upload your images instead of using this plugin, but if you know you have a bad habit of forgetting, then this is the tool for you!

Dandyline Studio, Development, Interviews, Resources, Your Business

Interview: Braid Creative

January 10, 2014
Making Your Business Remarkable - Challenge, Week 2

We are HUGE fans of Design Sponge and love their series “Biz Ladies Profile’s“. The series interviews women owned businesses across the nation to share inspirational experiences, advice and most of all, comfort that we are not in this alone.

We were very inspired by this interview of a very cool and admirable design and consulting company: Braid Creative and thought it was worth sharing.

Here is the article copy & pasted (below) or you can view the article on it’s source, Design Sponge, HERE.

Kathleen Shannon Biz Ladies Profile
Photos by Choate House

Today’s Biz Ladies Profile comes to us from Kathleen Shannon of Braid Creative & Consulting and & Kathleen. After working in the firm-side of the advertising and marketing world, Kathleen decided to embark on a self-employed journey along with her sister, Tara, and launch their own venture. With a motto of living what you love and doing what you want, Kathleen has established a successful business, blog and mentoring system. Today she shares a bit more about her career journey. Thanks for offering this glimpse into your process, Kathleen. –Stephanie

Read the full interview after the jump…

Kathleen Shannon Biz Ladies Profile

Why did you decide to start your own business?

I was working in advertising as an art director for 5 years and blogging on the side. Through my blog I was getting lots of fun freelance projects doing branding for small creative entrepreneurs – eventually the drive to strike out on my own began to outweigh the security of a steady paycheck.

A year later my sister, who was a creative director in advertising, decided to jump into the “work-for-yourself” waters and team up with me. Together we started our business Braid Creative & Consulting. It was really scary at first – we don’t come from a family of entrepreneurs. In fact, our parents have had the same jobs for over thirty years!

When you first decided to start your own business, how did you define what your business would be?

Both my sister and I had backgrounds in advertising and marketing – and I had developed a passion for working with micro businesses and artistpreneurs during my stint in freelancing and blogging. So we decided to bring our agency experience to this world of other creatives who aren’t always drawing a line between the personal and the professional. We decided on the name “Braid” because it’s about taking all the different aspects of a person and weaving them together to tell their blended story, in a way that gives them confidence and gets them hired living what they love.

Kathleen Shannon Biz Ladies Profile

What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting off?

The best piece of advice we received when we first started came from our life coach, Jay Pryor, who we hired to help us navigate the uncertainty that comes with being your own boss after years at a day job. He told us, after three months of almost zero business, that the universe abhors a vacuum and that we needed to create space for our clients. Literally. I had a big chalkboard wall in my office and drew ten big blanks on it with the title “CLIENTS.” It was really scary looking at those empty lines but within a week the chalkboard was filled up with paying customers. To do this day we still use a chalkboard system to track business and set goals.

What was the most difficult part of starting your business?

It can be really difficult going from a day job where someone else defines your roles, sets expectations, and gives you praise to doing your own thing. Nobody tells you that everybody who owns their own business is making it up as they go. You’re no longer responsible for just showing up and doing a good job but now you’re accountable for all the things that go into growing a business. All the decision-making it takes to start up can feel really exhausting and overwhelming.

Kathleen Shannon Biz Ladies Profile

Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned in running a business?

I’m going to cheat and give you two:

1. I’ve learned that by being who you are, personally and professionally, you will attract your tribe and your dream clients. For example, I was terrified that by fashioning my hair into dreadlocks I would alienate clients with cash but have found that cultivating the confidence to just “own it” is your biggest asset.

2. Give it all away. The more gifts of knowledge you openly share for free, on your blog for example, the more people will come to you to pay for your expertise.

Can you name a moment of failure in your business experiences?

Recently I decided I wanted to try my hand at bringing what we offer our one-on-one client and ecourse students to a small in-person workshop. It certainly wasn’t a failure but I didn’t leave the experience feeling fully satisfied or energized. I realized that we were trying someone else’s business model and it didn’t quite work for us. And that’s okay.

Failures and barriers are chances to tweak, refine, try again a different way, and narrow in on what you really want to be doing.

Can you name your greatest success in your business experiences?

Partnering with my sister, hiring two full time designers and an e-sales manager, getting to work with dream clients and write blog posts for a living – feels pretty damn successful.

But if I could list two experiences that made me feel like “YES! This is it!” they would be:

1. Launching our Braid ECourses for Creative Entrepreneurs (or aspiring entrepreneurs!). The courses take our creative expertise, translate it into useful how-to’s, and make it available to other creatives who want that guidance but can’t work with us one-on-one. So scaling what we love and know best, felt huge.

2. Being hired to rebrand Brené Brown. If you’re not familiar with Brené Brown watch this TED talk. It’s a must for ANY creative who needs to muster up the courage to live wholeheartedly. I did a book review on her must-read Daring Greatly – it caught her eye and eventually she hired us to help her tap into her personal brand before appearing on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. It was a total dream to be able to work with a hero.

Kathleen Shannon Biz Ladies Profile

What business books/resources (if any) would you recommend to someone starting a creative business of their own?

ReWork by 37signals – this book keeps it simple and proves that you don’t need a business degree to launch.

We Are All Weird by Seth Godin – this book will give you the courage to get narrow in your niche

In your opinion, what are the top three things someone should consider before starting their own business?

1. What is your craft or skill? In other words, what are people actually buying from you?

2. What’s your purpose? Why do you want to do what you do – and for whom?

3. And finally, I’d just like to say that even your dream job is hard work. Are you ready to show up every single day?

Dandyline Studio, Your Business

“Sick” and “Small Business” Don’t Mix: How to Survive the Cold/Flu Season

January 7, 2014
How To Survive The Cold and Flu Season

We stumbled into 2014 with a cold AND a stomach bug running rampant in our little studio. Having already taken a healthy week off for the holiday’s another unplanned week turned into a nightmare. As a small business owner, it is not as exciting as I remember it was in high-school to be told the best remedy is ‘resting for a few days’ to recover. Especially when your business depends on you being present and healthy.

Returning to the studio after any time away can feel overwhelming playing catch up. Thankfully, developing solid relationships with our clients from the start helps during times like these. We are lucky to have such awesome and understanding clients. One reason I started Dandyline Designs was to support other business owners. It is such a great feeling being supported in return, when I needed it.

This prompted me to share some ideas I found through a few articles in my quest for searching for how other business owners handle sick time and having to literally ‘shut down’ business until they are healthy again. There are some wonderfully proactive ideas that I will implement moving forward. Here are 5 tips to help you be productive:

1. What Are Your Priorities?

What are your most important tasks for the coming month? Take a few minutes to narrow your list down to just two or three items. Chances are you couldn’t complete everything on your list even when you’re well, so don’t be too hard on yourself while you are sick.

2. What Can Be Delayed?

In addition to figuring out which tasks are absolutely top priority for you, take a look at what items can be aside for now with minimum consequences. Some things won’t be your top priority and yet you may be reluctant to put them on the list of things to delay. To start, just look for the items you can easily identify.

3. What Can You Let Go Of?

Being sick can be an opportunity in disguise. Look closely at all the projects you are working on and ask yourself if it’s really essential for all parties involved. If you don’t feel enthusiasm for the project even while you’re sick, that may be a clue that it’s something that’s not worth doing. This won’t (and should not) apply to everything. For example, you’ll still need to pay your bills on time. However, you may discover something you hadn’t considered.

One business owner shared: “During my recent sickness, I realized that a major project I have been working on was not for me. It was something I had been working on for an embarrassingly long time. Worse, I was getting discouraged about my lack of progress. I realized it was going to take too much time, money and energy for the expected results.

Being sick gave me a chance to evaluate this project from a completely different frame of mind where it was obvious that the best thing was to cancel the project. It was quite a relief.  Rather than feeling stressed about my lack of progress with it, the project is no longer on my list of things to work on.”  

4. Break It Down!

One of the best ways to get things done and overcome procrastination is to break your list of tasks into smaller chunks. It seems simple but it’s not easy.

One business owner shared: “If I was unable to sleep – or between naps – I knew I had just about enough energy for 5 or 10 minutes of work. When you only have the energy to send one email before you stop, you know you have to quickly figure out which email that will be.”

5. Simplify

You may be too sick to do anything that requires much thought. If you still feel compelled to do some work, this is a good time to look for those simple tasks that need will eventually have to be done, but don’t require much thought.

One business owner shared: “At one point I was too cranky to write even simple emails, but I could scan a couple receipts.  It was obvious from the stack of receipts waiting to be scanned that this was something that needed to be done. It wasn’t as urgent as some other things, but it was the easiest thing available at the moment.”

I hope these tips will help you survive the cold and flu season. Be sure to reach out to family and friends for support. Please share your experiences and recommendations below. Also, be sure to drink lots of water and treat your body well with clean food and activities.

Finally, thanks to all of our clients who have been patient during our recovery. We are so lucky to be connected with such strong and supportive business owners in our community.

Dandyline Studio, Development, Marketing, Resources, SEO, Solutions, Technology, Your Business

Top Ten Design Trends For 2014

January 3, 2014
Week 1: Making Your Business Remarkable - Top Ten Lists

Jumping into our 10-Week Series Challenge on Making Your Business Remarkable, we have started with item one: “Top Ten Lists”. Here we share the ‘Top Ten Design Trends for 2014’. Let us know what you think will become popular in the new year. Also, feel free to share your top ten list in the comments area below to let us know your business is joining us in this 10-Week Series Challenge.

1 - Mobile Friendly Web Development

1. Mobile Friendly, again

2013 really shifted developers into designing mobile friendly/responsive websites. So many more users are using their phones to browse the Web so this is a logical transition. We do not imagine this going away in 2014, but only getting more important. Look for integration with social media, asking for email subscriptions, long scrolling sites (see below), and fast loading sites to be seen in responsive modes.

2- Video Over Text

2. Video Over Text

Why read when you can watch? In our visual world, videos cut to the point quickly and clearly. Videos are becoming easier to produce, and easier to share on your website and on social media as well. Another added plus is that many video services such as YouTube allow you to track how many views your videos get which is helpful to better plan your content for your website and marketing campaigns.

3 - Typography Experimentation

3. Typography Experimentation

We love typography! With font integration simplified with tools like Google Fonts, it is easier to find more fonts to add to our arsenal. One trend with type we can expect to see in 2014 is fonts with personality or fonts that feel like they can stand on their own. They are not your standard serif or san-serif font. We expect to see many more websites in 2014 getting away from very simple and overused typefaces and finding some with personality.

4 - Flat Icon Design

4. Flat Design

Yes, we are Apple lovers…With the release of iOS7 came the design aesthetic now commonly known as flat design. While adding drop shadows and gradients used to seem like a good idea to give a more updated look to things, Apple took it to a whole other level by dropping pretty much any ‘extra’ design element it could. Flat design is everywhere you look and will not be going anywhere in 2014.

5 - Hero Area

5. Large Intro (aka Hero) Areas in Place of Sliders

Large hero areas (the “intro” area, often an image with minimal text, at the top of a website – a term borrowed from print design) on a website’s home page are everywhere. Hero areas are quickly replacing sliders as the new attention-grabbers, and they are becoming increasingly creative and elaborate. Take a look at the “Sites of 2013” on Line 25…Hero areas galore!

6 - Long Scrolling Sites

6. Long Scrolling Sites

We’ve gone back to being comfortable with scrolling through a website to read and find information. Long scrolling sites are starting to appear again and will be a present trend in 2014. The difference with the new scrolling sites is that the content is more organized and in a much easier format to digest.

7 - Color, Simplified

7. Color, Simplified

Design and color go hand in hand. In 2014, we will see a lot more website with very simple color schemes. And by simple, we mean really only one or two colors. The use of a more simple color scheme seems to come with flat design (discussed above), but not always. When used the right way, websites can highlight certain areas well with a clean and simple look.

8 - Simplified Content

8. Simplified Content

Simpler content will dominate 2014 and beyond as we design our websites. Last year we saw an overload of content and it is time to reign it back in. Messages will be short, clear and more effective. Twitter has helped morph our messages into short bursts of content. Our attention spans have become shorter, so designers have compensated for that by putting content in short bursts instead of long narratives.

9 - Farewell Sidebar

9. Farewell, Sidebar

This will be more obvious is blog or magazine-type sites. In 2014, we expect to see many of these sites dropping the sidebar all together. This allows for a more visual impact with content and easier responsive Web development. As an increasingly visually preferred community emerges, designers need to account for this and it is easier to share the message without the sidebar distractions.

10 - Images with Text

10. Images with Text

While it is easy to just throw any basic photo on your blog. But now it’s just as easy to throw some text over the image, color overlays, etc. Thanks to Instagram and Pinterest, these trends have taken hold and websites are catching on.

Dandyline Studio, Development, Marketing, Resources, SEO, Solutions, Your Business

10 Week Challenge – Making Your Business Remarkable

December 20, 2013
10-WEEKS CHALLENGE: Being Remarkable

According to marketing genius Seth Godin, being different from your competition is not the same as being remarkable:

“Remarkable has nothing to do with the marketer. Remarkable is in the eye of the consumer, the person who ‘remarks.’ If people talk about what you’re doing, it’s remarkable, by definition.

The goal, then, isn’t to draw some positioning charts and announce that you have differentiated your product. No, the opportunity is to actually create something that people choose to talk about, regardless of what the competition is doing.”

We’ve compiled a list of proven successful patterns to help your business create something that is mention-worthy or ‘remarkable’. If you missed our 10-Part Video series introducing each item, you can watch them on our YouTube page HERE.

Do you think you want to take on the 10 Week Challenge for the New Year to make your business remarkable? We will start Thursday, January 2, 2014 with item 1 on our list and will continue with a new item every week after.

Download the 10 Week Plan HERE before we begin.

Make the commitment real by commenting below. Let us know if you have any questions along the way. Most of all, this should be fun and bring a fresh new take to your marketing efforts.

Good luck all you REMARKABLE business owners! Amazing things are coming your way…