October 29, 2014

5 lessons learned at the 2014 Brand New Conference

Filed under: Branding,Creativity — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

2014 Brand New Cnference in chicago

I recently attended the Brand New Conference in Chicago, a 2-day event that focuses on corporate and brand identity.

In addition to having the best lanyards and stage set-up ever (see above), the conference shared branding wisdom from designers from around the world. In fact, the conference itself was a perfect example of branding at work.

5 lessons learned

  1. Use all of your experiences as influence for your work. (Lance Wyman)
  2. Craft is still important in design. (discussed by most of the speakers)
  3. Use your environment as inspiration. (Sebastian Padilla)
  4. Strategy and brand positioning are the foundation for design solutions. (Sol Sender)
  5. Use your skills to make an impact. (Justin Ahrens)

Heading to a conference soon? Read my tips for designing the perfect conference experience.

October 28, 2014

5 tips for making your business card work for you

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion — lidia @ 2:15 pm

a collection of business cards

Ah, the lowly business card. We all have them, but do we know how to make them stand out? Here are a few tips to make sure your business card doesn’t end up in the recycle bin…

  1. Make it unique and memorable: whether expressed through format (size, shape, folds), paper stock (heavy, textured, plastic, wood) or design, a memorable business card will stay in your recipient’s mind—and on their desk.
  2. Include clear and complete contact info: start with the basics: name, address, phone/fax number, email, URL. Then consider adding “extras,” such as twitter username, blog URL, hours of operation, product offerings, etc.
  3. Express your business personality: incorporate an aspect of your business or personality into the card. If you’re a home builder, print your card on wood. If you sell a product, include a photo of it on the card.
  4. Don’t overwhelm the recipient: don’t cram everything you do onto a tiny card. Consider creating a second business card for your ancillary business offerings or sideline business.
  5. Make sure it’s well-designed and thought-out: a good business card—just like a good business—is not thrown together quickly, but thoughtfully considered, planned and executed. Need help? Reach out to a graphic designer experienced with branding and identity for expert assistance (hint, hint)


October 25, 2014

30 picture book ideas in 30 days? Sign me up!

Filed under: Creativity — lidia @ 10:41 am

PiBoIdMo 2014 official participant badgeWith my new-found passion for designing children’s books, (and obsession with coming up new ideas) I was excited to stumble upon children’s book author (and mom) Tara Lazar’s blog and her annual challenge, PiBoIdMo: Picture Book Ideas Month

Inspired by the NaNoWriMo movement (National Novel Writing Month), PiBoIdMo challenges you to come up with 30 picture book ideas or concepts during the month of November.

I’ve had so many children’s book ideas percolating, so Im excited to have an incentive to start documenting them every day.

Sign up runs through Nov. 4. If anyone else joins in the fun, let me know! I will be sharing sketches on my typebaby Instagram page.

Now, off to buy a new sketchbook…

October 24, 2014

10-Minute Marketing: list your marketing essentials

10-Minute Marketing: list your marketing essentialsIf you are on my mailing list, you saw my recent newsletter about marketing essentials. What are marketing essentials?

The marketing channels that bring you the most return on your investment of money and especially, time. With so many ways to market yourself—and so little time—it’s best to focus on a few marketing techniques that are working, instead of trying to do it all.

Potential marketing essentials:

  1. Website
  2. Email newsletter
  3. Social media
  4. Content marketing
  5. Printed materials
  6. Cold calling (or emailing)
  7. Networking

This week’s 10-Minute Marketing task:

Write down your top 3 marketing essentials and post it on your office wall.

10-Minute Marketing is a weekly series featuring short, easy-to-accomplish marketing tasks. Follow along with past posts here.

October 22, 2014

Feeling stock photo research overload? Try this…

Filed under: Design & Art — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 4:23 pm

Anyone who has researched stock photography knows that it can be really time-consuming—not to mention, mind-numbing. Here are a few expert tips to make the search go smoother and faster:

  1. stock photo - orange orchids

    iStock #2734373

    Know what you’re looking for: make sure you specify if you are looking for royalty-free or rights-managed* BEFORE you find that perfect image

  2. Start specific: instead of “family”, search “mother and daughter”
  3. Specify a wide age range: age specifications can vary based on photographer or website—use a somewhat wide range (and be prepared to be shocked by what is considered “elderly”)
  4. Pair them up: when searching people photos, pair it with an activity (biking, reading, canoeing) or place (park, lake, mountains) to narrow the choices
  5. Go with what’s popular: checking the “Most Popular” box usually gets you the best images first
  6. Step away from the computer: when you start to feel stock photo overload, stop and clear your head. Or close the search window and start from scratch.

*Royalty-free (RF) = you pay once for unlimited usage (subject to the stock house’s agreement). Rights-managed (RM) = you pay based on specific usage rights (timeframe, usage types, number of pieces printed). Rights-managed images are a good choice if an original or exclusive image is needed.

Need stock photo website suggestions? Shoot me an email!

September 2, 2014

Featured biz mama: Kristin Graham of LivLo Designs

Filed under: Biz Mama — lidia @ 10:00 am

Featured biz mama: Kristin Graham of LivLo Designs

Kristin Graham always wanted to be an entrepreneur and take a product line she was passionate about to market. So, after having her two daughters Olivia (Liv) and Lauren (Lo) she decided it was time to change the direction of her life and chase her entrepreneurial dreams. She started her entrepreneurial journey in her early forties by taking one step at a time. Her work experience had primarily been in the field of education, but she considers herself to be a creative person who has always loved fun prints—so why not create her own.

She also wanted LivLo Designs to make a difference in the lives of women and/or children so a portion of the sale of each of their products is donated to a charitable ‘sisterhood’. Their slogan is ‘Spreading the Strength of Sisterhood—one sister at a time with every bag sold’.

Kristin Graham of LivLo Designs

Tell us a little about your business/job responsibilities.

My current business responsibilities are to grow my e-commerce business, work social media, write blog posts, market LivLo’s products and just basically try to let people know that my company exists.  This takes a lot of work, but it is interesting to find out the different ways that Biz Mama’s can promote their businesses from the comfort of their own homes.  I also am very particular about customer service and starting a conversation with my customers and those who have joined the ‘LivLo Sisterhood’.  Building relationships is extremely important to me…..my happy customers are my best promoters.

What are the ages/genders of your children?

My daughter Olivia is 6 and a half (can’t forget the half!) and my daughter Lauren is 5.

Did you start your business before or after having children?

I started LivLo Designs after I had my children.  My daughters inspired me and gave me the courage and the strength to just do it.  I also wanted to show them that having dreams is important and following them nothing to snicker at. Dreamers are cool.  :)

Describe a typical workday.

My typical work day begins as I drink my first coffee in bed and check emails and social media posts.  Then I am an incredibly fortunate woman who is able to walk her children to school.  As soon as I get my children off, my day is composed of 5 hours of busyness.  I may be at the post office doing some shipping, I may be writing a blog, or perhaps working with my graphic designer to discuss a new print idea.  I try to tackle the jobs I am least interested in first thing in the morning so I can feel good about myself for the rest of the working day.  If I have some situations that I am trying to figure out, I will sometimes sneak in a run or a bit of gardening to give the answers time to come.  At 3:30 I pick up my daughters and we do the ‘after school’ thing which could be lessons of some kind or play dates….you name it.  I normally spend some time online at the end of the day as well…..after the girls have gone to bed.  This is also when I will write out my list of things I want to accomplish for the next day.

What is one tip you can share with other Biz Mamas?

One tip I can share with other Biz Mamas is to keep moving forward—one day at a time.  I also keep a book filled with the things I have learned and my accomplishments since starting LivLo.  I find this book saves me on days when I wonder what in the heck I was thinking…..because let’s face it, we all have days where this is the case.

LivLo Designs

Newmarket, Ontario, Canada.
Twitter: twitter.com/livlodesigns
Facebook: facebook.com/livlodesigns
Pinterest: pinterest.com/livlodesigns
Instagram: instagram.com/livlodesigns

August 4, 2014

Featured Biz Mama: Janine Vangool of UPPERCASE

Filed under: Biz Mama — lidia @ 10:00 am
Biz Mama Janine Vangool of UPPERCASE

Janine Vangool with her son and the latest issue of UPPERCASE magazine

Janine Vangool‘s  background is in graphic design and she worked for a dozen years freelancing for arts and culture clients. In 2009, Janine founded a magazine. It started out as her own side dream project and quickly took over! UPPERCASE is a quarterly magazine for the creative and curious with content inspired by design, illustration and craft.

I met Janine by being a fan of UPPERCASE (I recently gifted myself a subscription for my birthday!) As a fellow designer, I admire and am inspired by her work, not to mention the feat of being a mom and magazine publisher.

Tell us a little about your business/job responsibilities.

I publish, edit and design UPPERCASE, a quarterly print magazine for the creative and curious as well as books on illustration, craft and creativity. It’s a one-woman operation, so I’m also customer service, distribution and subscription manager and tech support/web development. I wear far too many hats.

What are the ages/genders of your children?

My son is 4.

Did you start your business before or after having children?

I’m lucky that I began the magazine before Finley was born! It would have been impossible to do things the other way around. My hope was that the magazine would become a stable income that could support my family.

How did your business life change after having children?

I can’t even really remember what life was like before having a child! It seems so long ago; everything is different in that my focus has both shifted and intensified at the same time. For his first year, I stayed at home and worked on the magazine from the basement. As he grew older, I’d bring him to the office sometimes—but it wasn’t until he was three three that he started to really enjoy coming to the office with me and actually requesting it! (This is my dream come true, that my child would enjoy spending time in my studio… and let me get work done… most of the time!) But he spends most days with my husband Glen Dresser, who is a stay at home dad and novelist. Without Glen, I wouldn’t have the time to concentrate on my many tasks!

Describe a typical workday.

I wake up when the dog wants breakfast (hopefully my son keeps sleeping for a little bit after that). I check email and shop orders and then get breakfast ready for Finley. We have breakfast together and then I walk to the office. My walk is about 40 minutes so lately I’ve enjoyed listening to podcasts during the commute. Once at the office, it is full-on multitasking with everything from design, writing, lots of emailing, filling orders, customer service, planning and so much more. My child might join me for a few hours while Glen gets some writing done at a nearby coffee shop. I’m hope by 6pm and I spend the rest of the evening with my family. I might do a bit more work on my laptop while Finley watches some bedtime tv.

What is one tip you can share with other Biz Mamas?

Don’t view your working life and motherhood as separate entities: they’re both integral parts of who you are. I think it is important that my son sees and understands the hard work that I do to support our family. He’s growing to appreciate the time and effort it takes to get things done. In a sweet moment last week at bedtime, he offered to do half of my work. He said he would draw a diagram to explain this for me—one big heart representing me and a smaller one for him. Maybe someday, my company will be “UPPERCASE & son”.


Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Twitter: @uppercasemag
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/UPPERCASEmagazine
Shop: http://shop.uppercasemagazine.com

The Summer issue of UPPERCASE featuring all things colorful is now available! Browse the issue and find stockists here.

August 1, 2014

10-Minute Marketing: Reconnect with a past client

Filed under: 10-Minute Marketing — lidia @ 10:00 am

10-Minute Marketing: Reconnect with a past clientIt’s easy to forget to stay in touch with clients. But by doing this, you are not staying top-of-mind—which means they may not reach out to you for a project or other opportunity.

Here are a few ways to reconnect:

  • send an email
  • make a phone call
  • extend a lunch invitation
  • connect on LinkedIn
  • follow on social media
  • add to your newsletter mailing list

TIP: In addition to keeping in touch with clients through my newsletter, I systematize my client follow-up with a simple spreadsheet I keep in Evernote.

This week’s 10-Minute Marketing task:

Reach out to a past client or two. (Challenge yourself to see how many you can reach in 10 minutes!) 

10-Minute Marketing is a weekly series featuring short, easy-to-accomplish marketing tasks. Follow along with past posts here.

July 16, 2014

Chronicle Books Friends & Family Sale: 35% off!

Filed under: Round-up — lidia @ 4:40 pm

Chronicle Books / MyChronicleBooks

This is an affiliate link. I wholeheartedly support Chronicle Books!

July 11, 2014

10-Minute Marketing: create an editorial calendar

Filed under: 10-Minute Marketing — lidia @ 10:00 am

Create an editorial calendarI know, the words “editorial calendar” can make you shudder. But with so many places to share content nowadays, having an organized plan is really useful. And it can help you stay on track with your content marketing.

My simple editorial calendar includes the following: month, topic, call to action and release date. I mainly use it to plan my email newsletter, but it can be expanded to include all of your social media outreach.

This week’s 10-Minute Marketing task:

Simple editorial calendarCreate a simple editorial calendar. Download our template for reference (Excel).



10-Minute Marketing is a weekly series featuring short, easy-to-accomplish marketing tasks. Follow along with past posts here.

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