Blogtacular!

blogtacular

I’m thrilled to announce I’ll be speaking at Blogtacular, an amazing new conference in London for design, lifestyle and craft bloggers.

Some of the other speakers include Joy Cho from Oh Joy!, Yvonne Eijkenduijn from Yvestown, Anne Ditmeyer who blogs at Prêt à Voyager and for Design*Sponge and so many more (see the full speakers list here).

My session

I’ll be talking about blog design, covering basic graphic design skills and design principles. In particular, I will be covering DIY design tips including things that you can do to improve the look and feel of your blog whatever your skill level or background may be. While the ideal for most bloggers is to employ a professional designer to create a custom blog design, that is not always possible especially when you’re starting out or blogging as a side project so it makes sense to learn how to beautify your blog yourself.

By the end of my session I want you to feel empowered and ready to take control of your blog design!

 

Details

Blogtacular will be held at the Royal Institution in Mayfair, London. The conference starts on Friday May 9th with an evening drinks reception and Joy’s Keynote talk. It then continues for the whole of Saturday 10th May which is when my session will be. For full details and to book your ticket head over to the Blogtacular site before they sell out.

I’m so honoured to have been asked to speak and I can’t wait to meet so many wonderful new faces :)

I hope to see you there!

5 Ways To Limit Distractions

limit-distractions

As part of my job as a strategist I spot patterns and opportunities by observing what is going on the world. While this is great for clients, I’ve realised it has actually been holding me back in my own business.

It often goes something like this:

First I notice a huge gap in the market for a new project. Then I research lots until I have convinced myself to give it a go. I get frustrated when my other work/projects/life gets in the way of me being able to do this new project. Then I shelve project until I have more time/find a way to clone myself. i.e forever.

It sucks.

My time is limited as it is so I need to be focused to get stuff done.

After realising my lack of focus and over-abundance of ideas was sabotaging my attempts to reach my business and personal goals, I made a few changes to help me get back on track.

1. Check email no more than 3 times per day.

A while back I cut down on email checking but I found I was creeping back into the habit of checking it all the time again. I now check it around 9am, 2pm and 6pm and I work with the project management app Asana to stay in touch with current clients. This eliminates much of the email back and forth involved in longer term projects as we’ll just message and upload files within the app. I’ve also turned off notifications of email on my phone.

2. Limit social media to 3 times a day.

I found this harder to limit because it is so easy to use social media to fill in dead time, like when I’m waiting for the kettle to boil or sitting on the bus. I find too much social media draining though so, limiting my time on it helps keep me sane . If I come across an article I want to share, rather than going into Twitter and getting sucked into to conversations and even more articles, I’ll queue the tweet in Buffer using the browser extension.

3. Limit information consumption

While I do need to read a lot of info for my job, I’m changing how I do it. I now limit myself to scanning news headlines in the morning and after the kids are in bed. If I’m in the research phase of a client project, I’ll reach much, much more but I’ve started tracking my time to make sure I don’t get lost down the rabbit hole of article after article.

4. Stick to the plan

Last year I readjusted my business model and decided to make some changes. I now work to a six month plan which I will reassess in July. If one of my new ideas doesn’t align with my short or long term goals then I don’t follow it up.

5. Simplify business systems.

In order to reach my goals for the business I needed to set up business systems that allow for growth. For me, this meant documenting the steps of every process I undertake from client intake, project workflow to packaging systems for Happy Piece. I still have more to do but it’s helping me become more efficient and will help hugely when I take on team members in the future.

So there you go. Hopefully some of these will help you!

Have you limited your distractions lately? Have any tips to share?

Founders Insights

business-resources1 As part of my work I need to know what is happening in the world. Whether it’s popular culture, trends or the latest celebrity gossip (yes, really!). I consume a lot of information and assimilate it to work out the best way forward when devising strategies for clients.

I’ve bookmarked so many business resources that I think you would find helpful so I’m going to try sharing some of the best videos, books, blog posts and anything else I can think of that may help you, on the blog every Wednesday.

One resource that has had me going back for more whenever I get a spare moment has been Inc’s Founders Forum. It’s a set of video interviews with some of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs.

Some of my favourites

Two entrepreneurs that are inspiring me right now are Marc Ecko, founder of Ecko Unltd and Neil Blumenthal of Warby Parker. Both have built brands that are authentic to them, with both starting out as underdogs of their industry.

Marc Ecko

Mastering the Art of Authenticity

Marc talks about authenticity, how you are your best brand and over coming obstacles and fear.

Neil Blumenthal

A New Vision for E-Commerce

Neil talks about the importance of branding, authenticity and strategy to grow your business.

Watch and learn.

Challenge yourself

challenge-yourself

In January I set myself a challenge to write every day with the hope of sharing more thoughts in this space. I managed to write a lot but nothing ended up here. So when I saw my friend Patti was taking part in NaBloPoMo  (National Blog Posting Month), I decided to join in. I’ll be posting every day for the month of April. To make sure I complete it, I won’t be sticking to a particular theme but instead I’l post whatever is on my mind that day.

30 blog posts in 30 days doesn’t sound that much of a challenge if you are a frequent blogger but it is rare for me! I’m hoping this challenge will get me back into regular posting schedule.

When was the last time you set yourself a creative challenge?

Embrace the present

budha-quote

Bye bye 2013. Hello 2014. I have a feeling you’re going to be a special one. Not because of all the things I might achieve but because of all the things I’m going to savour this year.

One of my goals is to live in the present. I want to feel and experience every moment.

I don’t want to rush through life trying to get to the finish line, missing all the things that happen in between reaching big milestones or achievements.

LIFE is what happens in those moments in between. Those moments when we’re waiting or working or resting or playing.

That is life.

That is living.

So le’s make the present the best it can be. Let’s savour those little moments because those moments ARE your life.

Your life doesn’t start when you reach your goals, your life is right now.

Today.

Sometimes the little things are the big things

little-things Today I was caught in vicious hailstorm with my 3 year old daughter. At first we were going to wait it out, we had somewhere to be and I didn’t want to be late. I soon realised that we’d need to run for cover. My daughter’s hood on her jacket kept blowing off, my boots were getting soaked through, my gloveless hands were freezing.

We ended up running back home and being late but what I’ll remember most:

  • Lily’s giggles and squeals as we ran under cover.
  • Her excitement at the “hard snow” falling from the sky.
  • Her sparkling eyes, wide open in awe at the hailstones.
  • Holding hands as we ran. Her small soft hand fitting inside mine perfectly.

These little tiny moments, I’ll hold close forever.

Your life will have different tiny moments. Moments that are hard to capture on camera because you’re fully living them.

By the end of our lives we’ll realise the little things were the big things. Those little moments of giggles, laughter, small fingers and toes, loyal pets, crisp leaves and the hug of a dear friend. These things matter so much more than we realise day-to-day.

Enjoy them.

just-decide

Just decide

just-decide

Make a choice. Just decide what it’s going to be, who you’re going to be, how you’re going to do it. Just decide.

Have you ever gone back and forth with something so many times that you feel like a yo-yo? Or have you been stuck because you just can’t decide what it is you even want?

You are not alone. I’ve been there too.

When I first heard this quote in a youtube video,  I was still trying to decide where I was headed. This past year has been a discovery year. I’ve changed things up, switched things around, took on too much, cut it all back down and built my workload back up again. I was searching, waiting, to find the right balance for me.

While all the experimenting was great, I still felt stuck.

I had no idea what I wanted which meant I wasn’t ever going to move forward.

But this quote, it resonated with me. It brought me back to 2009 when I finally decided to start my first real business (my short-lived illustration business aged 8, notwithstanding.)

So I decided what I wanted. Truthfully, I always knew it but it was buried under tons of stuff.

I went back to my core. I decided what mattered. I thought about what makes me happy.

And now, here I am.

I’m not entirely sure where this blog will take me all I know right now is that I have to write. I want to write.

So I’ve decided. What it’s going to be. Who I’m going to be and how I’m going to do it.

Thanks Will.

Start Now: Minimum Viable Products

start-now-noisette-academy minimum viable products A few days ago I had an idea for a new project that I hope to launch within the next week.

From idea to launch in a week?

Yes, it can be done!

Normally, I would percolate on an idea for so long that I’d lose interest or start reworking and changing things to fit what I thought my target market needed or wanted. Inevitably, I’d end up never launching or someone else would launch something so similar I’d end up shelving the idea.

This time I wanted to try something different and get my idea to market as soon as possible.

The funny thing is I was actually working on launching a different idea when this new project idea! There was no reason to wait so I got started on it right away.

Minimum viable products.

Minimum viable product is a term often used in tech startup world. The idea is to create your product, release it to the world then use feedback from early adopters to develop the product even more.

You still need to create the best product you can and of course it needs to meet a need or solve a problem for your target market.

Things I didn’t do this time that I would normally have done:

  • Spend time thinking about a name, brand or getting a domain name. First I’ll see how things go then I can change and alter things later.
  • A full new website. Again, I can do this later once I decide on a brand name and develop the idea from your feedback.
  • Researching ideas for product delivery and recurring payment systems. It’s easy to fall into the never-ending research trap so I’ve kept things simple while I test out the idea and I can always look at other solutions later.

Instead I spent my time on:

  • Preparing the best product I can.
  • Ideas for future products. A quick brainstorm to make sure I had enough ideas to sustain the project.
  • The sales page and introductory blog post.
  • I also thought about how I would spread the word (guest posts, giveaways sharing photos on instagram)

If you have an idea you are percolating on, why wait? Release the product as soon as you can and start getting feedback!

What are your biggest obstacles when launching a new product or business?

isa-seminega-brand-consulting

How to use Instagram video to enhance your business

When Instagram announced it’s new video feature I was so excited for the possibilities. I’d resisted signing up to Vine because I didn’t want to sign up for yet another thing and truthfully 6 second videos seemed too short to me (although I have seen some great vine videos). With Instagram you can shoot videos up to 15 seconds in length. Still not that long, but long enough to get creative when it comes to sharing your work.

Since I was already an Instagram user, I couldn’t wait to start playing around with video for Happy Piece. I’ve  made a few so far including this one to show our packaging and if you click through to my Happy Piece Instagram account, you can see a few others.

 

Mr-yen-video

Mr Yen went one step further and embedded his videos into his product descriptions! Check out this floral initial papercut and scroll down for the video. It’s so simple but effective. You can really see how delicate his papercuts are and it’s easier to get an idea of sizing before you buy.

I think this is such a fabulous way to give your potential customers a clearer idea of what they are buying. You can show dimensions, colours, textures or tell a short story about how you create your products. The possibilities are endless!

How to do it

Making the videos are pretty straight forward. You’ll need the latest version of the app so make sure you updated it recently. Then it’s pretty self explanatory. Just start playing around with it to see what you come up with.

It’s easy to embed your Instagram videos into your website, blog posts or product descriptions. Instagram have simple instructions here. You can use your videos anywhere you can put the embed code. I use Big Cartel for the Happy Piece website and this lets you place code almost anywhere so I’ll be working on adding videos to the site over the rest of the Summer.

Downsides?

The only downside with Instagram video is that you can’t upload video that’s already on your phone. (Update: you can now use any video that is on your phone. Yippee!! Makes it so much easier to get things right before posting). You need to do it there and then and it can get a bit buggy if you are deleting and editing bits as you go along but for me the convenience outweighs that. As a busy mum, with limited video equipment and skills in this area, being able to quickly take a video to enhance our customer’s experience with Happy Piece and our products, is brilliant!

The possibilities.

There are so many ways you can use short 15 second videos in in your work. If you are an illustrator you can make a video showing your process or a quick stop motion from start to finish of one of your pieces.

Other ideas:

  • Quick and simple DIYS.
  • Motivational or inspirational messages. Could work if you’re a blogger or business coach.
  • Share your process. This works whether it’s woodworking, making jewellery, copywriting, illustration or web design. You get the idea.
  • Your workspace or studio.
  • Show how your products can be used or worn.
  • Interview series. You could answer one question per 15 second clip and post them on your blog.
  • Show your team and who you work with.

Have you used Instagram video to share your products? Leave a link in the comments for us to see!