My Logo Design Process

LogoDesignProcess

Before designing logos, I was very unaware of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into creating a logo for a business. I was actually shocked when I learned how much time and work it takes!

If you’re interested in working with me to design your logo or just want to peek behind the curtain of my shop, this post is for you!

1.) Meet the Customer

All of the custom design logo packages in my shop have a questionnaire requirement. You might be thinking, “Wait a minute Rita. Aren’t you the one who is supposed to be coming up with the logo ideas here?”

Yes, as a designer it’s my job to make sure your logo looks its best and represents your brand. However, I have to pick your brain because it’s not my brand that the logo will represent. This is why the questionnaire is so important. It ensures that I get to know my client and create a logo that reflects what’s special about their brand.

2.) Jot Down/Sketch Initial Concept Thoughts

I start taking notes before I ever sit down to design in Adobe Illustrator. I jot down my thoughts based on my conversations with the client and their questionnaire responses. I make special notes on their brand name and target audience.

3.) Research the Business, any History/Industry, and its’ Competition

I always do research on the business first. This frequently includes:

  • Checking out their current Etsy Shop or website
  • Googling their business name and seeing what comes up
  • Checking out social media accounts
  • History/Industry Specifics.

Then, once I feel like I have a good feel for the brand, I look to their competitors. I ask myself, “What kind of logo design can I make that will give my client an edge?”

  • Look at businesses similar in size and age
  • Visit their shops or sites to look at product pictures

4.) Narrow Down Ideas

I start trimming down all of the ideas I’ve collected, and if there’s something the client is adamant about including, I figure out how I can work it in.

5.) Create a Mood Board

I gather pictures and color pallets for inspiration based on my final ideas. The pictures are usually something inspiring that helps set the mood for their business. Whatever I used as inspiration is included, and I track all of my work/concepts on it. As an example, this is a Brand/Mood Board for My Business:

Graceful Guessing Brand Board

6.) Start Designing

I start turning the ideas into Adobe Illustrator. It could take a while, or it could go quickly. It all depends on the project and how the ideas come together.

7.) Present the Idea to the Client

Once I’m happy and feel that the design is in a place that the client will be happy too, I present it. This is where I ask my client to give me honest feedback.

8.) Review and Refine

The client reviews the logo, and from there asks for revisions. I’ve had some where no revisions were requested; I’ve had some where they needed more. The point is that Revisions are welcome and necessary to creating a beautiful logo.

9.) Finalize

Once the client is happy, I finalize the logo and create the contents of their logo package.

10.) Check in with the client.

I like to give my clients a little time with their logo before I check in and see how it’s serving them. If they’re having issues, I want the channel of communication to remain open so I can help them resolve it.

And there you have it! Logos can be a lot of work, no doubt. But when you consider that it’s the face of your brand, it is absolutely worth taking the time to get it right.

Etsy Shop Resources for Newbies

EtsyShopResources

Note: This post does contain some referral links and affiliate links.

My shop is 4 months old on August 6th! Man has it ever been a ride. But it’s been incredibly rewarding and a lot of fun, too!

I’ve learned a lot of stuff along the way. Things I had to find out on my own or stumble upon because they weren’t posted in one convenient location. I don’t want you to have to suffer the same fate. Let’s be more efficient about this, shall we? So in no particular order, here’s my favorite Etsy Shop Resources.

Get Comfortable with Social Media Marketing and Use a Scheduler. Social media is a very important key to your online presence. But it’s hard to post to multiple places at once. And you’ll drive yourself absolutely crazy trying. Enter Postcron. I use this for most of my social media scheduling (everything except Instagram). You can link 6 accounts for free to start! Unfortunately Instagram is not apart of their free service. 😦 However, the fact that it’s free for FB, Twitter, and Pinterest is really nice when you’re starting a business on a shoe string budget. If you click here, you can try a free month with all the bells and whistles. And I’ll get a free month too! YAY!

You Can Earn Free Listings! That’s right! When you get your shop set up, you can share a referral link with a new shop owner and when they use it, you both get 40 Free Listings. Even though listings cost .20 each, it’s really nice to have one less thing costing you money right at the beginning.

SEO is KING. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. And SEO is crazy important when it comes to Etsy. For people to find you, you need high engagement (that means more Favorites and Sales), low competition keywords (the less people competing with your keywords, the better off you are). Rather than using “Sheet of Stickers” to describe an item, drill down and get specific. But also make sure it’s something that someone might actually search for. Such as, Small Business Order Stickers, or Business Thank You Card.

I struggled with it for a few months before reading posts in my Etsy Facebook Groups about Marmalead. First of all, I thought, “What in the heck is Marmalead?” So I googled it. My first time trying it, I HATED it. But it was my own fault; I only hated it because I didn’t know how to really utilize it.

Fast forward to now, my favorite features in Marmalead are the Search and Storm features. I use them nearly every day for driving more views to my products as well as researching new product ideas. When used properly, it will definitely help you find good keywords so customers will find your products. It also gives your listings an SEO grade so you can see how you’re doing.

With Marmalead, there’s a free version and a free trial, but there are also a few subscription models. I highly recommend making the investment for a subscription model. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll use it regularly. Promise.

Every Listing is a Chance for People to Find You.  Definitely start your shop with a chunk of inventory. I started mine with 30 listings. Of course I completely shifted focus in my shop, but it still came in handy and it was all a learning experience (plus those were apart of my 40 free listings anyway). The more time that passed, and the more I added to my shop (with GOOD SEO KEYWORDS) the more my views have gone up.

Don’t Underprice Yourself. Take into account material costs and pay yourself a fair wage. If you’re not seeing results, chances are you’re going to burn out. You can sell a bunch of products but if you’re not pricing them right, you may not make money. There’s a lot of embedded costs; promoted listings (ads on Etsy), listing fees, materials, etc. Account for all of it in your pricing. If you’re not great at bookkeeping, (which I know I’m definitely not), check out Paper and Spark’s Etsy Seller Spreadsheet.

Shipping is Important to Learn About Too. You’ll definitely want to learn about USPS Shipping Policies. And the people at your local post office or even in a good Etsy FB Community are ready to help! I bounce questions off both sources frequently, and it really helps.

It Won’t Be An Overnight Success. In this day and age we expect just about everything we put on the internet to go viral. That’s just not how it really works. It takes time and hard work to build a following. Just like any small business, really. My first sale was from one of my best friends on my opening day. My next sale didn’t happen for another two weeks and came from one of my blog readers. Then around Mother’s Day and Graduation Time my items related to those two events started to pick up steam.

Etsy Shoppers are Looking for a Boutique Experience. This means you have to really dazzle your customers. Get a good logo, write professional copy, and most importantly REALLY GOOD PICTURES. They want to see the product from all angles since they can’t pick it up and touch it.

I started with Printables and recently started selling physical items. As a result, I finally buckled down and purchased a light box kit and a vinyl backdrop for my photos. Currently I just use my iPhone and Adobe Photoshop for pictures, and it works perfectly. One of my friends is a photographer, and she’s going to start giving me lessons on how to use a big girl camera for product photography. 😉

It’s Crazy Hard Work. But it’s WORTH IT. Etsy is definitely not a set it and forget it thing. You’re going to invest a lot of time in getting established. In spite of this, I have found it to be an incredibly rewarding experience. And if I had to do it all over again, I absolutely would.

Starting an Etsy Shop sometimes feels like a crash course in Small Business Management. I hope this post helps you on your journey!

Are you starting an Etsy Shop? I’d love to hear all about it!

 

Logos Matter: Why Your Handmade Business Needs a Logo

Why Your Handmade Business Needs a Logo

 

So you’ve decided to start a handmade business! Congratulations! From personal experience, following my heart and opening my Etsy Shop changed my life. That may sound corny, but I’m being 110% serious. I invite you to read my story on why I finally started my business. At the time I wrote it, I wasn’t really set on what I wanted to do, but I knew something had to change. For my family and for my sanity.

My Shop and all of the work involved (because believe me, it is HARD WORK) feeds my soul, it allows me to share my creativity with the world, and best of all, I’ve met some incredible people since I began my Small Business journey. I’m not exaggerating when I say that my business is something I would do even if I weren’t getting paid to do it. And if you’re like me (which if you’re here I suspect you just might be), then that is music to your ears.

In the recent weeks, I’ve grown as a designer and branched out. I began making logo packages and small business materials, and I’m in love. I absolutely adore my niche and clientele. I love sharing ideas with them and sharing in the excitement of making their business dream a reality.  And I really, really want them to succeed.

So that means that when I design a logo for a business, it’s critical to get it right. I could really talk about how logos and branding are important all day, but I’m going to force myself to give you three reasons why you as a small business or handmade business owner need a beautiful, well designed logo.

Your Logo Showcases What You Offer and What’s Special About Your Business

Your logo must convey who you are and what you offer the world. Take my logo for example:

Graceful Guessing Design Co. Logo

Foremost, you can tell right away that I’m a Graphic Designer.  Additionally, it gives you a demonstration of my design style. Believe it or not, no two graphic designers really have the same style or will attract the same clients. Just like your handmade business, each designer is unique in their work flow and what they bring to the table. In my opinion, we’re really just computer-aided handmade business owners. 😉

I specialize in a whimsical design style; pretty, feminine, fun. Of course I’m capable of doing other types of design (and I certainly have) but my logo acts as a way to showcase my talents and passion. Most importantly, my logo will attract my ideal clients to me. Your logo is no different; the same exact rules apply.

Fonts, colors, and images can speak volumes about a business. All three of the aforementioned things evoke emotion. Because many people tend to buy something based on how it makes them feel the logo color, font, and images, can make or break a sale.

Logos Attract Your Audience

You need your audience (or your people people as I like to call them) to say, “Oh hey! I know them! They’re awesome! I’m a client for life! *wave a foam finger*” Ok maybe not just like that, but you get the general idea. 😉

Every time you share your logo in a professional manner, they’ll begin to connect it with you and your brand. Remember those elements that evoke emotion? They play right into this.

Another example, let’s check out one of my Etsy Listing Photos, shall we?:

Small Business Sticker

You’ll notice in all of my Shop listing photos, I include a very subtle watermark in the corner. This creates brand recognition. When people find my items in Etsy Search, they see my branding. A good logo conveys your personality, and encourages like minded people to connect with you.

A Well Designed Logos Demonstrates Professionalism

Investing in a logo, whether premade or custom, tells your customer that you care about quality and getting things “right.”

It demonstrates that you yourself are a professional and that your product will fulfill their particular need. Have you ever seen a not-so-good-logo? One that is just like, “Wow. That was totally made in Paint.” Consider for a moment what that made you think about that particular business. I would hazard a guess that it made you question the quality of the product they offer. We don’t want that to happen to you. That’s bad news bears.

Your work is too beautiful, too important, too amazing, to let that happen. You deserve to be set up for success.

Again, your logo attracts your people. It’s an investment in your business. Set your business up for success with a great logo.

Now, that absolutely does not mean that you absolutely have to to hire me or any other graphic designer to make your logo (but I sure would love to help you!). If you have an eye for good design and resources to do it (such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator), you could very well make your own logo.

Show your logo ideas/designs to people who want to see your business succeed. Tell them they need to be completely honest in their analysis of it; hurt feelings cannot come into play here. This is the cornerstone of your business; it’s crucial to get it right.

With that all being said, my hope is that this post informed you rather than overwhelmed you. I adore small business owners – I’m surrounded by them, in fact! Small business owners are just amazing people; we can take the smallest idea and breathe life into it. And I want to see yours take flight.

Do you have any questions about logo design? Do you own a handmade business? I would love to hear from you!

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

ImposterSyndrome

I finally bought my own business cards (<—referral link) and a special self-inking stamp for my business. I’ve been “open” for three months now. I ordered my business cards from Moo, which I highly recommend. And if you need to order some, you can sign up here and we both get a $15 credit. Nice, right? Plus, I’m super happy with how they turned out:

IMG_2524

So back to my story: why did it take me so long to get offline tools to promote my brand? Imposter Syndrome.

Right about now, you probably want to know what Imposter Syndrome is. Imposter Syndrome is the feeling that you’re a fraud and you’re going to be “found out” at any minute; that you’re not really what you claim to be even though you’re doing a great job.

I’ve been designing cards, invitations, and wall art for almost 7 years. I’ve done it for fun, for family and friends, for gifts, and myself. And yet I still felt that calling myself a graphic designer was reaching, mostly because I didn’t go to college for it (although I do have a degree in Liberal Arts and I’m a very, very quick study). I’ve been studying my butt off, reading a ton of business books, and honestly making a ton of growth as a designer. I’ve had several requests for custom orders in the last week. My business is growing!

In spite of my business growing, negative thoughts still managed to creep in.

A few weeks ago during a slow sales period I caught myself thinking, “My stuff sucks, no wonder no one is buying it.” Then a few days later my sales picked right back up. This week I caught myself under-charging for services and products. Before that at a particularly hard day at my day job, I thought, “how am I ever going to escape when my business income isn’t replace my day job income?” I got a new paper cutter and it was making crazy, misaligned cuts; I thought, “I can’t sell paper invitations and cards! I can’t even get my paper cutter to cooperate!”

Why was I sabotaging myself? What’s wrong with me? Why didn’t I feel good enough?

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran at your craft or a newbie, it turns out a lot of people (even iconic people) worry about this.

So when Imposter Syndrome strikes and starts to gnaw at me, here’s my combat strategy:

1.) Don’t Compare my Beginning to Someone Else’s Middle.

Hands down one of my favorite quotes by Jon Acuff. I constantly have the feeling that I should be farther ahead than I am. Then I feel like I’m behind and I need to learn everything RIGHT THIS INSTANT.

I have to remind myself that I’ve only been doing this professionally for three months. I need to give myself grace and time to learn. There’s no way that in three months my brand new business is going to completely replace the job field I’ve been working in for a combined 10 years. But if I work hard enough and believe in my business, and grow it, it just might someday. And I need to hold onto that and stay positive.

Fear will make you do some crazy things you’ll regret. I’m no exception to this. So I need to keep my cool if I want my business to stay around.

2.) Remember that I Bring Something Unique to the Table.

No one is going to be or think exactly like me (or you!). We all have our own special talents and gifts to share with the world. Not every person is my ideal client and that’s ok, there’s a designer out there for them, too.

3.) Rely on my Tribe to Keep Me Humble and Build Me Up.

My tribe is smack dab in my target demographic so I bounce ideas off of them A LOT. They aren’t afraid to give me constructive criticism and that is SO important. Surround yourself with people who care about your best interests and will help you stand up and dust yourself off when you fail.

TribeQuote

Your turn: have you ever suffered from imposter syndrome? How did you overcome it?

Starting a New Career at 30

Life is too damn short to be miserable. And I’m going to do something about it.

I have worked in the same building in varying capacities since I was 20 years old. That’s 10 years of learning the inner workings of Public Service and climbing the ladder. I’ve had lots of time and opportunity to see behind the curtains… and it ain’t pretty. And it’s time to plan an escape route.

A few months ago, I wasn’t entirely sure where my blog or shop was heading. I really  just decided to start; anywhere was better than nowhere. For the sake of my health and sanity, I had to formulate a plan to escape my toxic day job. I’ve come to realize that the place I’m excelling and wanting to be, is working in graphic design. My design skills from two months ago to now are impressive, even to me. It’s something that I love doing, love learning about, and feel like I need to pursue. Best of all, it doesn’t feel like work. It’s fulfilling and fun. I feel like it’s a perfect mix of things I enjoy and setting up to be an amazing career.

So what does this mean for the day job? This means I begin to formulate my exit strategy. My plan is to be out of there in two years MAX. If I can get out sooner, that’s preferable. I’m going to use my design skills to help us finish paying off out student loans, build an emergency cushion, and then be a full-time freelancer.

Am I nervous? Oh definitely. I’m driven and motivated enough to be my own boss, I’ve led teams, and created a process from scratch, but I’ve never had to do it outside the four walls of an organization. This of course is unchartered territory for me, but I’m taking steps to make these as seamless and stress free as possible.

Watch The Budget

Since retail and Freelance work can be tricky creatures, it’s important to really watch our budget now, and prepare a nest egg. The great thing about being a freelance graphic designer, is that I could break my leg and still be able to work. So that doesn’t scare me. What does worry me is uncertainty and whether or not the work will be steady. That’s one big perk to doing this as a second job; I can get the full lay of the land before quitting.

Share My Feelings with My Husband and Friends

I’m not always great about communicating how I’m feeling. I often internalize my freak-outs so I don’t worry those around me. Lately I’ve been opening up more about things that worry me about making my business my full-time job. But I realized that being silent means I turn in on myself. Not letting anyone in is just as bad as being in my toxic work environment.

Talking to my Husband and Friends has been very therapeutic, and I am so grateful for them. Plus I get to tell them all of the crazy stuff that happens at work and they can shake their heads right along with me. They’re my sanity check.

Learn as Much as I Can and Create as I Go

This is CRUCIAL. The research I’ve done says that a degree for a Freelance Graphic Designer isn’t a huge deal. Knowing your stuff and having the talent to design, however, is. But boy is there still a ton to learn:

  • The Basics of Graphic Design, of course. (Color Theory, Drawing Skills, Mastering my Wacom Intuos)
  • Adobe Illustrator (feeling good with this one though)
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe InDesign
  • Social Media
  • Marketing
  • Instagram (which I am TOTALLY Addicted to right now)
  • The ins and outs of being a small business owner in general

I’m reading a ton of books, taking courses at Udemy, googling things that I want to learn and making a design style that fits me. It’s absolutely paying off. I learn best by doing, so my Etsy Shop has been a great place to hone my skills.

With anything, skill takes time and practice. The time I spend on building my business and my skillset is going to be what I do in my spare time for a while. But I’m perfectly ok with that, because I’m having a blast.

I’ve also been going back to earlier designs and making them better. I did that with a few items this past week and I was really happy with the results. It’s startling seeing what I originally made to what I’m capable of now.

All in all, I’m kind of glad that my day job isn’t making me happy. Because if it hadn’t made me completely miserable, I would never have stepped out of my comfort zone and found something I truly love and feel good about. How’s that for a positive attitude? 😉