Are you an entrepreneur / biz owner who is still trying to figure out the perfect logo that speaks to your brand spirit? Or you love your logo but feel lost when it comes to other graphical aspects of your business side.
You struggle with your designer , or feel lost when it comes to designing your letterhead , product tags , social media posts , social media styling. Somehow and every time you struggle going through canva or in your computer trying to get just the right thing out?
Possibility is that you are missing one essential part of your business that is your brand styling guide.
Do you really need one?
Every Business needs a brand styling guide , be it a startup or a big name . When I started working as a designer my first mistake had been not to create my own brand styling guide. Due to this I know how it feels to be lost trying to figure out where your brand identity lies. Every aspect of your business feels like a brand new design job and nothing matches the next.
Chance are my friend you missed creating a proper brand style guide when you started your online business.
What is a Brand styling guide?
A brand styling guide includes distinct guidelines on how each and every graphical or visual aspect of your company will be handled . It is something you can always refer to when creating your online presence.
This guide establishes rules for creating the presence of your brand online and in the market. This includes everything from a logo , a visiting card , letter head design, the look of a website and product design.
Brand styling guide acts as a personal communication guide for your social media , advertising and product design needs.
Your brand styling guide also serves as a guide for designers , including typefaces and styles to color palette , image use , text and tone and also emotional portrayed by the brand.
Above all a brand style guide brings every aspect of your business together to attract the right sort of clients , compels them to do business with you and enables you to create authority.
Why it is important for your business , blog or shop?
A good brand style guide must capture the essence of your business Your brand identity should speak the essence of your business and must resonate with the core message of your business. It should be something that makes your heart sing when you look at it.
YOUR BRAND IDENTITY MUST REPRESENT YOU AND YOUR BUSINESS
So What is included in a Brand style guide.?
Below are a few brand styling guide should include
Overview of brand, including history, vision and personality
Logo specifications and examples of usage
Textures and patterns
Image use specifications, including photography style
Letterhead and business card design
Social media guidelines
I have created a checklist that will help you come up with your brand style guide step by step . This checklist includes exact steps working towards creating your basic style guide which you can always come back to once need arises.
RECOMMENDED RESOURCES AND TOOLS FOR ONLINE DIGITAL BIZ OWNERS , ARTISTS AND MAKERS
Occasionally i mention the tools that i use for my graphic design and other technical bits. Here is a list of them all for your easy reference they might be helpful to you too. I do get a little compensation if you purchase anything following my link but these are my top most recommended ones.
As I continue to learn more, I’ll add to the list. So check back again! ^-^
For email marketing convert kit is the best one out there. If you have a smaller email list or trying to figure out the whole concept of Email Marketing you can start for free which Mailchimp but with convertkit you can easily segment your readers and send them personalized content so your engagement level is always booming.
if you have a smaller email list and hoping to start off small then i will recommend MailChimp . My mailchimp account has around 5 email lists . Once you get to know this tool it is very easy to use.
I recently seriously started using Canva , it does have some limitations when it comes to design , but overall it is a great tool for people who dont have enough knowledge of photoshop or illustrator to create graphics for their businesses.
There are tons of tools for social media but I recommend the following
I use hootsuite as a free tool at the moment and it is working fine for me . I have my instagram and twitter connected to Hootsuite. That way I can easily schedule messages for the period of a month in batch & push posts for instagram with ease. I love this tool !
Archie is another tool if you are looking for some automation in the very begining of starting to use instagram. Although I do not like the use of automation tools which like and just that. But if you are initially startign up with instagram just to get a number of followers visible on your account I think it is a great tool.
One of favourite tool which working is Snagit , from screen capture to creating graphics to screencast , this little tool is great for everyday use. Since my kids like to try their hands on recording minecraft videos even they can use it . Hands down simple to use !
A very practical tool indeed , it zaps bit of tasks for you while you sleep . Examples of zaps it can trigger are like add your subscribers of one list to another , send email , Automating tasks , posting your Instagram posts to other social media and so on.
Like zapier , IFTTT can be really handy . I use ifttt to take items from my rss feed of etsy shop and then spread them over the social media networks. So once I publish a new product it is automatically posted to many channels , including but not limited to facebook , twitter and blogger.
I have a confession to make , I had always struggled with the “just right ” planner to do everything for me . And I have always printed tons of pages from everywhere in search for just ONE planner that will streamline everything in my head hoping to get the perfect Goal setting worksheet.
I had always been looking for , buying , printing “Just the right” planner. And I love how creatively designed planners are out there. But I’m sorry dudes and dudesses (is it even the right word?). None served the task of planning out this blogging graphic designer , who is an artist.
So what did I do ? You know me I designed my own version of goal planning worksheet. Maybe it wont fit requirements of many of you who are like me . But for me it work like a charm. I have been 80% more productive after starting to do this goal planning exercise along with finding my focus workbook.
My personal workflow for projects is this baby , but I will admit , I rarely use the monthly , weekly and daily pages included in this. But I did include them because I know there are many who will love it.
I have shared this planner before on the blog but now I wanted to give you an updated walk through ,So lets get working , I will walk you through my goal planner system and let you download each section of goal planning worksheet as we move forward.
Why would you even need a project planner
Let me be clear here , YOU MUST ALWAYS , sit down before you even start working on a projct , yours or someone else’s . And walk through visualizing its completion. You will be amazed that if you only go through this planner , even if you decide to through these planner sheets out the window , into the trash . This planner would already have done its job. that is to make you visualize the project you are getting into.
You will have a clear understanding before you start
If you are working with a client you will know before you even start that which section might need some client input . You can note it down and send to client to start working on that section before you are at it.
So basically this goal planning worksheet or project planner whatever you need to call it walks you through project visualization.
You might need the following supplies if you are a neat freak and one who likes to manage their lives better. I have linked them to external source so should you decide to get the best out there , it is easier for you to get it.
The first thing is the cover , many binders have a pocket to slide in the cover page , but if yours does not have then dont worry you can either paste it over the front of just leave it . But “it looks pretty”.
Print the divider with the project name and insert it where it belongs . And then print the goal planner pages , its phases pages and then monthly pages. Insert these in the projects section. While in the end of the who planner binder you can insert monthly and weekly and daily tasks sheet.
You can print the dividers and name them as sections , that is , Projects , Monthly pages , Weekly pages , Daily to-dos.
I personally prefer Projects way of managing it, but it is totally upto
Brain Dump page for GOALS or project
You are your master , think away! dream big
This is the master goal planning worksheet if you have multiple projects and goals that you want to accomplish. Just print this buddy out , and write down your goals in a big picture. You can also include personal goals , relationships , financial goals or projects just get everything out of your head and onto the paper.
Get working on the planning now . Now take the notes out of your brain dump pages and write them more clearly with some key dates! . These are your Yearly goals , these can be spanning to 5 years to, this is all ok!.
You will be taking ONE goal to the next step that is use the goal planning worksheet page to break it down. This is where things get more fun. You will be now focusing on ONE goal and breaking it down into its time frame and timeline. Give it a time mapping it out to 12 months if needed. This way you have a clear understanding of when you need to get it done.
One yearly goal is broken down to 12 months with a due date , then to 6 months , then 3 months , 30 days and finally 7 days . Key is to start thinking backward and visualizing that what you must have achieved by 30 days , 3 months or 6 months.
Goal Planner To-Do tasks
Next lets break it down to further to-do master list which will consist of further breaking it down and focusing more on next job to do ahead.
You will break down your goal span of 12 months into phases now , refer to the goal planning worksheet above and then dump to-do tasks . Track your progress and give yourself even smaller goals by filling in “By the end of phase 3 I will have ____”.
Moving on to now monthly tasks. Once you have mapped out the tasks now you can just totally forget about next 6 months and 12 months and just concentrate on the next month. Use the tasks pages to fill out your current month plan.
This monthly planner page can handle 3 projects so you get a birds view of the current work plan. How neat is that!!
Monthly Tracker pages (Bonus)
This system also includes tracker pages , so if you are working on a social media task and want to map it out or your blogging habbit OR just your water intake this is your planner page to go!. Print as many as you like.
Daily and Weekly planner pages (Bonus)
Included are daily and weekly planner pages as well which you can use to plan out your day to day tasks . I suggest that you fill each day out at night so when you wake up you know where to start your day from.
PS: COPYRIGHTS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED THIS SYSTEM IS MY OWN CREATION PLEASE DO NOT COPY OR REDISTRIBUTE I HAVE SPENT DAYS CREATING THIS PLANNING SYSTEM RESPECT THE CREATOR , NECESSARY STEPS WILL BE TAKEN IF NEEDED
if you are a small business entrepreneur like me chances are you are still struggling to streamline different aspects of social media scheduling. While juggling with various business related tasks and most of all some or another unforeseen task waiting to disturb the plan that you have in mind for the day . I can totally understand that how frustrating it can become to manage social media.
I sometimes wished and hoped that I had grown enough to hire a VA who is hired JUST to handle my social media accounts for me . I totally get it , while trying to grow our business we miss on the great returns social media can bring in if handled methodically and regularly.
Are you a small biz owner hoping that you could hire a VA to manage your social media for you , but cant afford at the moment. I have good news for you , You have a VA for your social media tasks !! err maybe not for free but for a wonderfully manageable cost !. I am talking about my recent new love , a social media and your blog management tool. CoSchedule is an all-in-one marketing calendar that brings your content and social media in the same place. It’s your unified marketing calendar of record!
Convert Evernote & Google Docs Content To WordPress
Lot’s Of Intergrations That Will Simplify Your Life
Lets get a bit more detailed overview of these features.
Drag-And-Drop Marketing Calendar
Yes it is possible ! indeed , with CoScheduledrag and drop feature you can simply re-arrange your marketing calendar. Move around your scheduled posts and the full social media posts control.
Easy Social Media Scheduling
The best thing about CoSchedule is that as you can manage all of your content using drag-and-drop simplicity. Things get really yummy when you can schedule upto the coming month or say a year! , keep those posts evergreen. Plan them out for the full month and ahead and just sit back and see them rolling at designated times. Good news is there is no limit to number of posts .
In the image below you can see that how it is easy for me to even get an overview of the full social media schedule. You can also assign tasks for your posts .
Easy Workflow Management For Your Marketing Team
Now I dont have a marketing team and that is why I am loving the ability of this tool , but if still however you decide to handover the task to someone else then the whole management process becomes so easy. You can assign tasks from inside CoSchedule and then see which one of your team member is where at his / her tasks.
Easily Re-Schedule Old Blog Content Works Great With WordPress.
And then while you are working on a new post or you want to re-schedule old content you can easily see how well the posts have performed or posts that need to be shared. That my friend is a priceless tool when it comes to creating evergreen content.
With this amazing WordPress plugin, you can save a ton of time and grow your traffic by scheduling social media promotion right from WordPress while you blog! CoScheduleis the the marketing calendar that WordPress has been missing.
Manage Google Docs/Evernote Content
if you are like me , who hates to write inside wordpress ? this clever tool can connect seamlessly to your Google Docs or Evernote content and convert it to your wordpress post.
CoScheduleintegrates with WordPress, Evernote, Google Docs, Google Analytics and major social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Buffer, and even Google+ Pages.
below is an overview walkthrough shared by CoSchedule if you are interested in learning about it more then check this out. Oh ! and if you click through any of my links you will get 14days trial.
Would you like to streamline your Social Media Management? Check out CoSchedule . If this tool can work for me it will work for you too 🙂 . Which tools do you use and recommend I would love to know share in comments below.
How I started selling Stock photos and illustrations and from where you can too.
It all started way back around 12 years ago when once i was sitting in front of my computer clueless and projects less . Nothing to work on and no idea to where to get work from.
Thats when i started to think backward , by backward I mean i wondered from all the cool illustrations and graphics coming from that we used to buy for our projects. At that time I was working in a telecom company and my job was to create multimedia sms . I would score the internet looking for inspiration and graphics to use . But to tell you the truth the job was 9-5 and not much fun.
As i wondered from where these graphics coming from I now looked at the source sites with a different eye . As I looked i found a little button saying Contributor. Now what was that I had no idea. I clicked on that read it through and signed up and after that soon my graphic design profession took another turn.
I was soon crazily creating illustrations and uploading them to multiple contributing website. The day that i earned my first $.30 was such an encouraging day. I was “Freelancing” earning for myself !. How satisfying this $.30 was ! I was hooked!.
And then I started looking further for more sites to contribute to and pretty soon my portfolio was up at 5 websites. And I was earning form myself. It started from $.30 and now the whole process has grown into my very own website for graphics.
The good that came out of all this is a satisfaction of being ones own boss and alongside client based custom illustration jobs.
I would like to share a few websites that I have contributed in the past and hope that it might open doors for opportunity for someone else as well.
So what really is stock imagery?
Simply put, stock imagery means any art that already exists and is ready to use. A stock agency curates a library of images on large number of subjects and licenses those images to customers. People often refer to “stock photography,” but “stock” can refer to any type of visual content, including photos, videos, or illustrations.
below are some of the stock sites that i have personally used in the past during my obsession with stock image contribution. These are in order of revenue that i generated and still generate from them.
You can sell stock photos , Vector illustrations and various design elements from this website. After you apply as a contributor you are provided an ftp area as well as upload interface.
If you are uploading vector files then you need to save them as EPS files . I have shared a post about how to prepare file as an eps for submission a while back . That can be accessed here.
Shutterstock has been one of my favs when i started uploading work. The uploading process used to be a bit simpler but still it is not too techy. Once you are on the site the Become a contributor button is on the top right. Shutterstock sell royalty-free images, footage, vectors and illustrations. You can apply to be a contributor here.
For me shutterstock had been a favorite one because they don’t pressure you into exclusively distributing images or video . Your content is yours to control to maximize your selling opportunities and profit.
Why you wont find my portfolio on istock ? it is simply because you have to be an exclusive with them to start selling. And if you are an exclusive then in my openion going to the road of stock imagery and earning from a multiple streams becomes a bit difficult. But hands down istock is one of the best stock photo website out there.
So creative market is more of a full content resource website , from where you can take a step further and start selling templates , themes , fonts and other resources too. I love the simplicity of creative market and I see a great potential in selling through creative market BUT if you package your content well.
Graphic river has been in the industry for a while now and has proved to be a good resource for graphics. I personally like to buy through creative market when it comes to themes resources and fonts. But Graphic river is a good competition and has turned a lot of sales for me over the years. My portfolio is really really very small over there but still I get a small chunk of money now and then.
I currently plan to take my graphics down from fotolia , reason you ask? at times fotolia used to bring sales that ranged from $5-$10 each graphics . But lately I have noticed that their royalty has fallen down to $0.30 , just rechecked gone down to $0.25 . It seems that they have sold out rights to images to some other websites as well , as I have found my images being sold from there on couple of other “unknown” , websites as well that sell stock images.
Alright so Etsy is hands down i have found to be just ok among many mentioned above . The amount of images that you sell through Etsy needs additional advertising on your part . While when you are selling through stock photography websites 1-7 all you need to know is better keywording . But once you start selling through etsy you must be aware of ways to drive traffic to your shop , SEO , social media marketing and more.
Zazzle in my opinion can drive you more earnings if you have a potential of visualizing your products on various products. You can upload any of your graphics and then using bulk tool create multiple products ranging from stationary to homeware or more. Despite the fact that I am no longer creating many products through Zazzle but my Birthday invitations storeand Art Prints shop are giving me an extra income.
Last but not the least there are a few more websites through which you can sell your photography stock imagery and graphic design resources. these are …
Just like etsy Artfire gives you ability to host digital content for instant downloads but then you have to work extra to drive traffic to your shop . That can or may include your social media skills to sell art online .
Our brain is merely a muscle that we strengthen to have more things done in a day. It is entirely upto you to sharpen its powers in the right direction and as a result get more done in a day.
and the good news is that you really do not need any training from outside to unlock the potentials of the brain to be more productive. You do not need some expensive help to unlock its power.
There are some simple exercises my friend that you can start right now and today to get the most out of your day. Be more creative and as a result be more creative.
My biggest challenge had been to concentrate not on million tasks at hand but to do one bit at a time.
Although my Goal planner workbook did help me towards streamlining my project planning . But these simple exercises help a lot.
So my creative challenge for you today is to channelize your brain to its creative potential and as a restult get more stuff done.
This post will show you how to…
1 – Explain a simple mediation exercise to begin your day with
2- Keep track of your progress and help you commit yourself to a project and project tasks.
3- Help you create a list of tasks that will help you work towards your bigger goal.
4- Help you find the perfect tool to track your project tasks.
lets jump in and see what you can do TODAY to get more creative focus.
Meditation is an approach to training the mind, similar to the way that fitness is an approach to training the body.different meditative practices require different mental skills.he easiest way to begin meditating is by focusing on the breath — an example of one of the most common approaches to meditation: concentration.
In a concentrative mediation you need to focus on one single point. This single point can be watching the breath , repeating a mantra , listening to a repetitive gong or counting beads. In this way of mediation you just need to refocus on the way you are mediating and come back to it again and again , caliming everything else down.
A very simple mediation exercise that you can do right away is just to close your eyes. Take deep breaths .
Breathe in and breathe out and concentrate and just try to listen to your own heartbeat and your own breathing sound. Avoid listening to any of the surrounding sounds.
Slowly relax your muscles and take your brain to a place which is calm and you are the most happy at.
The one thing that you can do today is to commit to yourself that you will be mediating everyday for a few minutes. How this helps is that sometimes we are stuck in everyday mayhem and a few of the tasks just stick to our part of the brain that is taking actions.
Mediation will help you find the clarity about which tasks requires more attention and which tasks you can leave for later.
In the workbook i have a added a simple tracker that you can just tick mark everyday so you can keep a track of it and dont forget to give your mind a little break.
2-Work on a to-do list
As simple as it might sound having a to-do list and a proper one is a task in itself. For years i wandered the internet looking for the perfect to-do list. I pinned a lot to many to-do lists and printables. I printed too many , i worked on too many until it dawned to me that every person has his/her own way of doing things and you cant really follow someone else’s printable to-do list . But you must have a system that helps get the tasks done efficiently that resonates to your own personality.
I found this system in form of my goal planner which works for me fine. Basically just follow these simple steps to get things done following a to-do list.
1-Write down your big focus and give it a logical date
2-Break it into three steps
3-Break each step into tasks.
4-Prioritize tasks and write them down with dates.
5-These smaller tasks will become your weekly goals .
6-These weekly goals are your achievable to-do lists.
Start writing them down and marking them off as you go forward towards your big focus.
3- Use tools to find your focus.
As crazy it might sound but sometimes you do have to return to the technology to find a focus to really stay away from the unfocus that it brings .
Confusing? yeah it is ! but really here are a few tools that you can find online which can crazy help in finding your focus.
use a Start – Stop – Continue method every now and then
here is how you do it
Stop: What am i doing that slows down my creative process?
Start: What can I Start doing that would increase my creative outcome?
Continue: What should I Continue doing that is bringing me returns.
Keeping track of your daily tasks bit by bit helps you work towards your ultimate goal . The most important thing is to focus of one thing at a time. If you are unable to focus on a single task today you wont be able to move towards your ultimate goal. The trick is to overlook the overwhelm and focus on a bit at a time.
This works for each and every aspect of our lives. For all the roles that we play so you might need to focus on one Role of yourself at a time. Here is the final breakdown.
Focus on one of your roles at a time. Use the worksheet to write down the big focus for that particular “you” . write down your weekly then daily tasks . Repeat for all the roles that you play and then eventually refer to all these roles and find a clarity of what needs to be done today.
Happy finding your focus friends!
Got questions? Want to share an idea? Leave a comment down below!
The March 2016 Calendar that i have for you today is finished with some roses illustrations and watercolor splashes . March is already here and I am already planning my next three months using my Goal planner Workbook. And as an extension to that I really needed to keep an eye on everything thats going on during this month.
My Habit of the month for this month is Make a to-do list everyday. This habit can either be timed late at night or early morning . I have found that if I plan the next day then I am too excited to sleep well .
My kids are also now grown up enough that I would like to teach them importance of having a planned day . Once they see my planners up everywhere I am sure they will someday come to know importance of planning their days.
So my habit of the month is to work on my day plan early morning. You can print calendar hang it up or frame it at a visual spot.
Down below you will find links to the March 2016 free monthly Calendar for Desktop , for your tech device and also an artprint .
You will love this March Calendar Art Print , I have used my illustrations to finish this. A bit of rosy and shabby … sorry guys this is how I am feeling this month.
I have created the desktop calendar boxes big enough to place my important files over it. Let me know how this idea worked for you too.
So here is your free calendar to print Download the March Calendar File below
While it is on its way why not show you around our Dream Catcher Creative Workbook . This Free Goal Planner Workbook works wonderfully with the full planner to jot your dreams down. Here is a sneak peak!
Lets face it life gets crazy sometimes and with the pressure to catch up with everything and everyone we find ourselves lost sometimes.
The Dream Catcher Planner is designed to help you focus on the great things in life. Things that matter .
Dream Catcher is designed to help you not only focus on your creativity but is is also takes you step by step through the process of mind mapping the process of Achieving those goals.
Big Dreams and Goals that otherwise look enormous and difficult to achieve are broken into small actionable steps and hence become a reality.
This Free Dream Catcher Goal Planner Workbook will help you.
Mind Map your big dreams
Break it into small manageable , actionable steps
Get it all out of your head and onto the paper So you get a visual of your Dream hence making it achievable.
If you love this Workbook and want to take it one step further you can order the full 2016 planner .
Dream Big: This Goal setting planner is designed especially towards achieving your goals. Getting things done bit by bit , get all the jumbled up confusions about how to get things done with a solution right in front of you!
You will Start by Dreaming Big while this life planner will take you towards accomplishing your goals step by step .
“THE GOAL SETTING SYSTEM OF THIS PLANNER WILL MAKE 2016 YOUR MOST PRODUCTIVE YEAR YET!”