Before dishwashers, clothes washers, robot vacuums, microwaves, takeout, grocery delivery, etc., it wasn’t easy to run a household. You needed a person out making money and a person at home keeping everything livable. With all of these tools making it easier to take care of our homes, those responsibilities now take less time and we can focus on other things.
Similarly, there are a variety of new tools that can get things done for you and your business. If you find the right group of tools, you can let the “housekeeping” take care of itself, and get back to work. You can’t get all the work done completely hands-off, but I do like to make things more push-button as I’m able to.
I run a web design studio with a 20 person team, and I get a scant handful of hours each day to stay on top of things before my kids get back home. The list of software I use to keep my mind and business organized grows all the time, and I’m not timid about trying new things and dumping the things that are no longer working for me. Here is a list of the best productivity apps for running a small business.
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Hiring a copywriter! This is not something that is an obvious to-do when working on your website. Your website is about what you do and what you know best, so who better to write about it than, well, you?
Besides, even if your writing isn’t perfect, how is someone else going to know all they need to know to write about your stuff? And even if you can give a copywriter that info, what she ends up writing won’t sound like you and your business, right? It will sound like someone else wrote it, and will feel false.
I know exactly why you feel that way, but happily, I’m here to tell you that your worries are unfounded, and to show why you’ll be delightfully surprised by what our copywriter, Natalia, can do for your business.
Natalia recently worked with Elizabeth from Scout Salvage on the About page for the store. We asked her about her target customer, keywords that fit her company style, and background information. Elizabeth gave us a great “brain dump” of info that was super helpful, but obviously not anything she would want to plop on her About page.
You’ll be amazed at how Natalia took this raw material and transformed it, and Elizabeth’s reaction is what makes our work so rewarding for us.
Elizabeth gave us:
June Carter Cash
check out my instagram account I live on that thing, it will tell you everything you need to know @scoutsalvage
Here is my general background-
I grew up in very rural Pennsylvania, in the same little town where my parents grew up, and their parents, and their parents….
I stated loving vintage things hanging out with my grandmother, who had saved everything she ever had (from growing up in the depression)
My mother collected pottery, so she dragged me all over when she would be out buying it at estate sales and barn auctions.
I’m now 35, live in Fishtown, Philadelphia with my fella and my dog ( a very friendly pit bull named Lucky)
Ive owned Scout for three years. It started as a Brooklyn Flea stand in Williamsburg, and has snowballed.
Prior to scout I spent about 15 years as a bartender. I’m very glad to not be bar-tending anymore. I had to pour a LOT of drinks to get Scout started.
But it all fell together really easily and its going so well in the store that it feels like it was meant to be
Natalia then asked some really targeted questions that prompted Elizabeth to give us this great info:
I’ve flown to Los Angeles to buy items, and flown back the same day. I’ve driven cross country in a 16 ft Uhaul truck. I’ve hiked up a mountain to buy a taxidermy squirrel holding a walnut. I’ve been on countless farms, in dairy barns, hiked through muddy pastures, changed van tires on mountain roads, I’ve been everywhere.
I’ll buy anything cool, weird, useful, pretty or ugly. It just speaks to me at the time.
I think Scout is different because we do work so hard to get great things and keep prices somewhat low. I don’t know how much I want to promote that, though. We have really odd ball stuff, that appeals to a wide range of buyer.
Natalia then rolled her sleeves up and got to work. About her process for this project, she says:
One of the things that helped me tremendously was, surprisingly, looking through Elizabeth’s Instagram account for Scout Salvage. Not only did the visuals help me see the “big picture” and get a sense of their personality, but the captions and comments were great little peeks into the world of Scout Salvage and its target audience. I read the captions and paid attention to the words that Elizabeth and her customers used when they got excited about an item or a sale. Something that might not seem out of the ordinary to someone within the world of vintage shopping (like describing a great find as a “score” for instance) stuck out to me as unique, colorful language. I wanted to tap into these details to connect like-minded people together. They’re the kind of details that we’re sometimes too close to the source to see. It helps to get an outsider’s perspective and a pair of fresh eyes (like that of a copywriter) to see what truly sets you apart, and then amplify it.
Natalia came back a few days later, astounding us all with Scout’s new “About” copy:
We’re an oddball vintage store for people who think rehab is for furniture and stripping is for paint. When we say we scored last night, it’s because we found a taxidermy squirrel and a pink-paisley square dancing dress at a rural Pennsylvania barn auction. We believe cowboy boots should be purchased worn-in, the Old West never got old, and that plaid would make a kick-ass flag for any country crazy enough to put us in charge of such things.
Our roots trace back to the ye olde days of 2010, when what started as a humble Brooklyn Flea stand in Williamsburg snowballed into a cross-country, farm foraging, mountain-roading quest to find anything uniquely cool, weird, useful, pretty or even ugly. Prior to starting Scout Salvage and Vintage Rescue, owner Elizabeth Cassel spent 15 years pouring drinks and listening to patrons’ stories. She’s glad she’s not bartending anymore, but she’s still always got her ears open for things that speak to her.
Elizabeth read what Natalia had created for her, and was absolutely bowled over:
That’s perfect. I’m thrilled. Don’t change a thing.
And a day later:
I keep re-reading it and it almost brings me to tears. Lol. It’s so right on
This kind of perfect client/copywriter union is a shot of pure joy. I would absolutely love to do this for your business.
The wording used for your marketing copy needs to be interesting, informational, and grammatically correct, with the goal of making a sale. This means your website text, product descriptions, pitches to editors, blog posts, newsletters, and more.
If you’d like to hire a copywriter to create compelling and polished writing about your work, please get in touch.
Every year, I commission one of our illustrators to create a Christmas/New Year/thank you card for our clients. We knew we wanted to do something special for our end-of-the-year cards this year, to celebrate our new branding and get people excited for the new website.
Well, Mariah knocked it out of the park, as usual! Here was the idea she showed me for our cards:
Oh, hello little merman! Look how cheery you are! It was super exciting getting the box of cards in the mail from Pike Street Press, a local printer. Instead of stacking them up somehow, they just scattered them delightfully on a bed of tissue paper, and they all waved a jolly hello to me.
I sat down with my slate envelopes, shimmery gold liners, and spool of Divine Twine (courtesy of our lovely client, Whitney), and got to work putting these little ornaments together and getting them ready to mail.
Box o’ mermen
My merman crafting supplies
Had a little help from my kindergartener
This will be the first of many creative and delightful print projects for Aeolidia! I am so glad to finally be giving our own company the royal treatment that we give our clients.
In case you thought we were a one-trick pony (websites!), I’d like to be sure you know that we do print design as well.
We can make you business cards, notecards, postcards, letterhead, custom envelopes, and all kinds of great business stationery.
If you sell a physical product, we love to make your packaging as sharp as your website, and can help with jewelry cards, hang tags, labels, boxes, bags, custom ribbon and tissue paper – the works!
We can also take the work of getting them printed off of your hands. We can find a printer and make the order, coordinating all the special touches, such as die cuts, letterpress, luxurious card stock, gold foil, painted edges – you name it.
If your packaging or marketing materials could use a refresh in 2014, please tell me about it:
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If you’ve shopped for fonts lately, you’ve probably experienced the increase in different types of licenses you’re faced with, not to mention the different systems and platforms providing them for use on the web. Font licensing can be really confusing, and web font licensing in particular, so let’s break down some of the key things to know so that you never find yourself confused about which fonts you can use where.
Please Note: I am not a lawyer. This post is about understanding how different font services work and what some of the options are when you’re licensing fonts. If you have legal questions about the license terms for any font, you should consult the foundry, the site selling it, and/or a lawyer. This post is not legal advice.
It takes a ridiculous amount of time to create a high-quality font, not to mention a font family with various weights and styles. Like most artists, typographers protect their work by providing it under certain license terms. I won’t go too much into why it’s important to respect the license, but it is absolutely vital that you locate, read, and understand the licensing terms for any font (or other asset, such as photographs, illustrations, and icons), before you put them to use in any project, commercial or otherwise.
While there are some tools out there that let you convert regular desktop font files to webfont files, you must make sure that by doing so you are not breaking the licensing terms. You also have to be really careful about the output of those converters, as they’re not going to spit out fonts that are as well-optimized for web as an expert hand-crafting the same font would produce.
Types of Licenses: Web, Desktop, App, Oh My!
There are a LOT of different license types even before you get into usage restrictions within each type of license. Fontspring does an especially good job laying out the various available licenses for each of the fonts it sells:
Screenshot from Fontspring.com
You can see from the icons across the page that this particular font (Proxima Nova) is available for four different license types:
- Combo of desktop + web
Desktop licenses are probably most familiar – that’s where you download a font file, install it on your computer and then are able to use it in a variety of programs such as word processors and Photoshop. Typically, desktop font licenses are based on the number of computers on which the files are installed.
Ebook and Application licenses are based on the number of titles or applications (you’re buying the license to use in one book, or in one application, and you’d have to buy another license for a different book or application).
Webfonts consist of a set of file types necessary to display the font across different browsers and devices. You can’t just load a desktop file to your website and expect it to work, so if you need to be able to work with a font both in desktop programs and on your website, you’ll need to get both types of licenses (or what Fontspring offers as a “combo” license).
If you’re still not sure what a webfont really is or why we use them, you may want to pause for a minute to check out my Non-Technical Introduction to Webfonts.
Dimensions of Web Font Licenses
Unfortunately, understanding that you need a webfont license for any fonts used on a website is just the tip of the metaphorical licensing iceberg.
There are a lot of different sites and services that sell and/or provide webfonts, and licensing is handled differently both across providers and also across individual foundries (the companies that actually make fonts) and font families. Licenses and services typically vary across the following areas:
- Free vs. one-time payment vs. subscription/ ongoing payment
- Unlimited vs. limited by pageviews per month vs. limited by cumulative pageviews
- Usable on unlimited sites simultaneously vs. usable on a specific number of sites simultaneously
- Hosted (e.g. Typekit, Google Webfonts) vs. self-hosted (e.g. MyFonts.com, Fontspring)
Some fonts may have one set of criteria for personal use and a different for commercial use (e.g. a font may be free for unlimited personal use but require a one-time license fee for commercial use).
With any given font you might consider, you’ll want to figure out where it falls on all three of those dimensions, as well as make sure the license you’re looking at is suitable for the type of site (business or personal) you’re building, and that the method for actually incorporating the font into your site works for whatever platform you’re using.
How Do I Decide?
Beyond the design considerations that go into selecting fonts for a website, there are considerations like what license options exist for a particular font (or a few that are similar that you might be deciding between), budget, and so on.
Before you hit the font site shopping cart, here are a few things to remember, and some tips and suggestions.
Consider Your Specific Needs
Different providers have different fonts available (with some overlap), so there’s not necessarily one right way to find the best license for your needs. You’ll want to do some comparison shopping to find the right terms and situation for your particular project, keeping the following in mind:
- Choose fonts that are available with webfont licenses.
- Find out whether your platform allows you to upload and host font files. If not, you will need a font provider that does that for you, such as Typekit, Webtype, or Google Webfonts.
- Check the budget – how many weights will you need and what’s the cost per weight? Does the cost depend on pageviews? If so, what’s your traffic like and how does that impact your costs?
- Find out whether different sites offer different terms.
I almost always go with a single payment rather than subscriptions, if I have the option. The major exception is when a font is only available via a subscription service, or when the project uses multiple fonts all available through the same service such that the cost is balanced by the usage.
It can also be a good idea to use a subscription service if you redesign your site frequently, since you may have a lower overall investment once you factor in how long you’ll likely be using the font.
There’s Always Free… At a Cost
If you just want to grab a webfont that is free for unlimited commercial use, two great resources are Fontsquirrel and Google Webfonts. All the fonts on both sites are free for commercial use and most are available as webfonts (all of the Google ones are).
One of the potential downfalls of free fonts is that there may be a lower bar as far as quality control goes. You’ll want to be careful about which fonts you choose and you’ll need to test them out across browsers to make sure they’ll be legible and nice-looking for all your site visitors.
When you’ve got your heart set on a premium font, make sure to check around before you buy to find the best terms and price for your needs. For example, let’s consider the popular Brandon Grotesque font family:
MyFonts.com pricing for a single weight & style of Brandon (shown at various pageview levels)
Typekit offers Brandon at the Personal plan and higher – the whole family is included
Fonstpring’s pricing for a single weight & style of Brandon
Besides not displaying the specific terms of their license until you get to the cart, MyFonts also has the highest pricing for Brandon Grotesque when you take a look at the pageviews they’re allowing at each price point.
Typekit and Fontspring are both better options, but the choice between the two will probably come down to which other fonts you’re using in the site and how long you expect to use the same fonts. The comparable Typekit plan for 500,000 pageviews per month is $50/ year, which may not be as great a deal if you want to use Brandon for a couple of years and you only need one or two weights/ styles, but may be a steal if you want to use the whole family, other fonts you want are also available on Typekit, and/or you want to use a Typekit account over multiple sites with diverse font needs.
A Note About Pay as You Go & Subscriptions
A few sites have plans called “pay as you go” (MyFonts, in particular, uses this model for some fonts). What they do is set a total number of pageviews, and then once you run out (they send warnings first) the font stops working unless you renew. It’s basically a subscription model but instead of setting a cap on pageviews per month it sets a cap with no defined time limit.
Again, the competitiveness of this model will depend on your specific site.
One big thing to make sure for both pay-as-you-go and subscription fonts is that you put the account for the fonts in your name so that you know when they’re up for renewal.
Is your head spinning? Remember, you can hire the pros (like the Aeolidia team!) to help you through this. That’s a big benefit to working with a designer and/or developer – we deal with this all the time and can not only help you select beautiful fonts and combinations of fonts from a design perspective, but we can also guide you to appropriate licensing choices based on all the factors listed above.