Should you buy a shipping label printer? Which one? What shipping software should you use with it?
The Facebook group I started for shop owners is a real gem. The advice in there is top notch stuff that you can’t always find on Google. This example was so helpful, I thought I’d share it with you. One of our members asked,
“Morning! I’m looking into getting a label printer for my shipping labels. I currently just print them on regular paper, cut them, and use shipping tape to adhere them to the envelopes. Anyone know if using a label printer will be more/ less expensive than doing it like this? I’m sure it will save me time, but wondering if it is worth the purchase. Thanks!”
Dozens of experienced shop owners chimed in, and here are the pros and cons of buying a shipping label printer.
DIY label printing
Quite a few people had a manageable amount of orders, and were able to print labels simply, just using their own home printers. They buy self-adhesive half sheets of labels off Amazon, Uline, or the like and run them through their printers. Please note that an inkjet printer can get very expensive. If you use a printer with a toner cartridge it will last quite a bit longer and you won’t have to keep buying ink.
low initial investment
no extra equipment to have around
can start doing this right away if you have a printer and paper
purchasing ink cartridges can get expensive
taking time to cut labels to size
taking time to cover with tape to prevent smearing from rain
cost of tape
may not look professional
The DYMO 4XL thermal label printer
The DYMO 4XL label printer was called a game changer by many shop owners, and described as, “one of the first and one of the best business investments I ever made.”
“I use the Dymo 4×6 label printer and it is one of the best, if not the best, investments I have ever made for my business. The time it saves and frustration it saves is incredible. Every time I use it it’s like Christmas morning quite honestly hahaha”
It uses thermal technology to print, using heat to create a smear-proof, weather-proof print. You can use it to print labels with your logo, bar codes, and postage.
People who ship many orders a day told us they were spending $400+ a year on toner alone, and the DYMO was a big time and money saver for them. We were told that the price on Amazon fluctuates, and it’s easy to get it for well under $200 if you watch for a deal. The more labels you print, the more likely this machine will save you money over using your inkjet.
special thermal paper means you don’t need to spend money on ink or tape
saves time by preventing the extra work of cutting and taping
prints quickly (up to 129 labels per minute!), and labels are on a roll, so you don’t have to feed them in manually
initial investment in printer and paper
ongoing investment in paper refills (depending on your shipment volume)
need to find room on your desk for it
There are a variety of DYMO label printers, but the 4XL was mentioned specifically in our group. A DYMO alternative that was mentioned with praise was the Brother QL-570 professional label printer.
Label paper refills
DYMO recommends you use their label paper only, but some of the shop owners in our group save money by using other brands. Know that using off brand labels voids the warranty on the printer. One of our members had a printer break and DYMO sent her a brand new one, but required photos and to ship the old one back to see what had happened to it.
Another shop owners told us, “It’s definitely something for which you have to assess the risk. The amount of money I saved by buying off-brand labels for the duration of the two-year warranty was actually more than the cost of just purchasing a new label maker if mine had broken, so it was worth it to me. But for someone shipping fewer items, it might not be.”
Another big time saver is using software to speed up the shipping process. The most recommended tools were:
Shipstation, a service that combines your orders from different sales platforms and creates and prints postage with great rates (it’s affiliated with, and includes a subscription to, stamps.com). That’s an affiliate link, and a lot of our clients use Shipstation.
Shippo, which integrates with Etsy and Shopify, and lets you create your own labels and use carriers such as UPS. It can cost less per label for low volume shipping (and has the cutest logo!).
ShippingEasy is feature rich, and if you send less than 50 packages a month, you can use their starter plan with no monthly fee. My husband uses it, and that’s our affiliate link.
Each of these services work well with with the DYMO label printer, and are a great step toward growing a business.
Get your questions answered in our group
Hey there! Do you run a creative business that sells stuff online? I think you’d really like our Facebook Group. We have everyone from brand new to established businesses in there, sharing the real stuff that goes into making sales online. It’s a super helpful group of almost 3000 now, and I make sure that no one in there is trying to sell anything to you. It’s a cozy place to give and get advice between peers. Subscribe here (and then search “shipping” in the group, or whatever else you have a question on. Odds are, we’ve sorted it out).
The National Stationery Show (the NSS) is a big yearly trade show in New York City that showcases both established and new stationery businesses. It’s “to the trade,” which means that retail sales aren’t being made; it’s for forging and maintaining wholesale relationships only.
We have been honored and delighted the last couple of years to be able to attend as press (see our previous trade show tips and advice here). We love seeing what’s new in the stationery world, getting to meet face to face with business owners we support and admire, and meeting readers and members of our Facebook group. One of the biggest delights, though, is seeing our designers’ logo and branding design come to life in the form of a trade show booth.
Here are three Aeolidia-made logos and brand designs (two we recently launched), in booth form:
Casey, in the Casey BarberSHOP booth. Logo by Aeolidia.
Category: All Things Paper 417 Press — Infertility Sucks greeting card
Also an awesome brand we admire!
What about you?
Could your business use a professional brand identity to start off on the right foot and impress prospective wholesale customers? Let’s talk! We work with many brand new businesses, can answer all the questions about what makes sense to invest in at first, and we want to see you succeed! We currently have three, count ’em, three spots available in our design block that begins on June 19th. And Sam is talking to a few people who are interested, so please email today so we can save you a spot!
Former rock star turned rock hound, Dani Barbe sculpts and sets gemstones into modern, glamorous statement pieces. She started her business with her own logo design, fabulous photography, and a shop on Etsy. With a strong presence on social media, she was able to drive a ton of customers to her shop. Products sold like wildfire, and Anthropologie came knocking on her door.
It wasn’t long before Dani’s upscale jewelry brand required a custom website design to inspire customer confidence.
Solving website usability problems by replatforming to Shopify
Dani had a WooCommerce site built about a year and a half before coming to us, but it wasn’t performing up to her standards. Frustrated with its functionality, Dani continued to send customers to her Etsy shop.
I am currently using WooCommerce, and it’s such a pain to update things, that I just don’t do it! I find that it impacts the amount of new items I post, and also the amount that I actively promote my website. I currently have an amazing Etsy following, but would love to have a website that looks higher-end to send to my clients and more upscale boutiques.
Our team worked both internally and with Dani to come up with a straightforward list of project goals:
Improve functionality for processing payments and communicating order information with customers.
Make a connection with customers, giving them a more secure and professional shopping experience.
Attract high-end wholesale customers by having a protected wholesale portion of the website.
With this list of goals in mind, we set out to create a website that balances simplicity and style, showcases Dani’s gorgeous jewelry and accessories, and inspires confidence in customers to make a purchase.
A custom design for Dani Barbe
Dani’s existing logo was fantastic! It spoke to her customers and had longevity. It was edgy and modern, but still approachable and sophisticated — it just needed to add a little refinement on spacing and proportion. What Dani was lacking was a complete brand identity, full of complimentary elements that could be carried over to her site.
Christine on our team created a new brand mark. Inspired by Dani’s jewelry, the intersection of the D and B create fun shapes that would be used as additional graphic elements mixed and matched throughout her new site.
The colors are simple—black, gold and white, with a bit of blush to take the edge off (but not too much).
We were really drawn in by the chic sophistication and artfulness of Dani’s photos, so we gave them prime space in the site design. By keeping the overall design clean, the photos are able to shine, telling the story of her brand and products.
The layout is clean but not stark, and the typography is strong but not loud. The branding elements we created together are carried over in some spots, giving the site dimension and interest. Together, these design elements support the true star: Dani’s jewelry.
What our client thought
I am over-the-moon in love with the design. Really, I couldn’t be happier. I feel like everything will be so easy to navigate. The main page looks so fashion-forward and clean. You truly brought to life what I envisioned for my brand.
Do you hate email marketing? Want to know how to write a newsletter that works? If I could convince you to do one thing to grow and strengthen your business it would be to start building a mailing list and sending email to them regularly.
I thought I was going to write one article about newsletters last week and move on, but we had such a rousing discussion about that post, and cleared up so much of the “ugh” feeling around sending newsletters that I had to share and save that great info here on the blog.
Here’s a little Q&A from business owners just like you about how to deal with their newsletters. Q’s are all from members of our Facebook group, and A’s are all from me. Below, some great biz owners share what works well for them. Here we go!
Q: I do worry about annoying my subscribers, so I only send one newsletter a month.
A: I have heard over and over that once a month is not often enough, and people will forget who you are and why they subscribed. Would you try twice a month and see how it goes? You can’t really annoy your true fans if you focus on bringing value to each message you send.
This business owner responded, “I know what you mean, I think I will try more than once a month. The amount of shops and other creative outlets whose email lists I’ve signed up to definitely suggests that I’m not sending enough. I shall work on the “adding value” part though, until now my newsletters have been mostly “what’s new in store” and “have this coupon” type affairs. I’d like to deepen the relationship with my customers, ideally!”
Q: I have 170 subscribers and haven’t sent out a single thing. I’m worried about content that is interesting and “me.”
A: Email permission will “expire” on you – the longer you wait, the less people remember who you are or why they signed up. I’d break the ice soon! I’d show some lovely photos, introduce yourself, talk about upcoming events or recent news and don’t worry too much about it. Ask your subscribers in the email what they’d like to hear more about! They asked you to email them; do them a favor and go for it!
Q: I am soooooo bad about doing mine. I have almost 800 subscribers who hear from me a few times a year. 😫 I never know what to say. I think I get myself convinced it has to be so clever and so full and that’s intimidating. Looking through newsletters I get from others, they’re often super short. A single pic, link and sentence even! I need to work on not making this such a big thing.
A: When they hear from you, do they buy? If you can see the newsletter being a tool for your business you’ll be more enthusiastic about doing it! People really seem to build these simple tasks up into gargantuan expectations. Keep it easy! No one has time to read emails anyway.
Follow up! She sent a newsletter that same day, then told us, “just wanted to let you know that my FB group membership almost doubled in size since I sent the newsletter yesterday. It’s tiny and only slightly less tiny now, but that was so effective for me! Thanks for the push!”
Q: I’m even worse, have over 2,500 subscribers so pay MailChimp monthly and STILL don’t send them regularly. Words are not my friends. Newsletter writing is probably the thing I beat myself up about the most.
A: If you don’t like writing, do the newsletter your way! Make it full of photos. Do you like posting on Instagram, for instance? Send out your most-liked Instagram photos and captions, throw in a little update about what you’re up to, and bam! You’re the boss, lady! Your newsletter can work however you want it to. There are no rules!
I’d say you need to send at least monthly, or people are going to be surprised every time they receive an email from you.
This business owner replied with, “Ayyy ay ay, I am fast running out of excuses! I love instagram!”
Q: I hate mine! I never know what to talk about and I hate the term newsletter. I have some automatic hey welcome emails set up… but aside from a sale or a new product, I don’t know what else to say! So should it be like a little mini blog post? or just, hey here’s some things from other people I dig (without selling my own stuff? is that crazy to pay to send an email that’s not selling anything?
A: That is SUCH a good point. I think we just say “newsletter” because there’s no other good name for it. I personally hate “email blast” the most. You should rename yours (like give it a name like it’s a magazine or something — that’s what I’m working on for Aeolidia!) and then just think about what you would talk to a customer about if they walked up to you while you were selling products. What are you most interested in right now?
It should be anything that you can repeatedly get up enthusiasm to do! Sharing links is a great way to do a newsletter. And it doesn’t have to be all or nothing: you can show other people’s stuff AND mention what you’re doing, too.
I often send emails that aren’t selling anything. You’re investing in building an engaged audience that enjoys hearing from you, which is priceless. Promote your stuff gently some of the time and just bring people something useful or delightful or funny or interesting the rest of the time, that’s all fine. You’ll find a balance that works for you.
Then when you DO really want to promote or sell something, you’ll have a big audience of loyal “money-waving” fans at the ready!
Q: This is something I need to do. But I always have the excuse that I have an order that needs to get done. So I continue to put it off! Ugh
A: Ugh indeed! It’s very easy to put off something that we don’t know how to do. Anything that’s new and not in my usual business flow tends to get shoved to the end of my list until I finally desperately start doing it… and then find out it wasn’t a big deal at all, and in fact it’s kind of fun!
The best thing you can do for something like a newsletter is set yourself an inviolable schedule (Tuesdays, for example) and allow yourself to keep it very simple at the start until you get used to the idea.
Q: I just cleaned up my newsletter subscriber list and am at about 215 subscribers. I usually send 2-3x a month. Before I started thinking about things “strategically” and trying to sell, my writing flowed much more naturally and I really enjoyed writing to my peeps. Ever since I’ve been trying to plan out blog posts… I feel unauthentic. Would love to get to a place of balance.
A: Just write your newsletter like you used to do and how you feel comfortable. Then come back to what you wrote and see if you can add in a link to your shop anywhere for any reason. Don’t let the sales interfere with the writing.
If you’re on-topic for your business, though, probably most anything you write about has something to do with what you sell (I hope!) and you can promote your products in a natural and valuable way.
And remember that EVERY newsletter doesn’t need to be about getting people to buy your stuff. Some can be just for fun, to develop a rapport with your readers.
Q: I loathe doing mine too —except that every time we do it, we get sales from it. I recently set up my email funnel through mailchimp, and I am pleasantly surprised at that, too.
A: I find that I get much more engagement from my social media posts and my newsletters when I am excited about them. I have definitely had periods when I was just doing what I had to do to get by, and it showed in my stats/likes/comments. Readers can sense when your heart is in your communication and when it isn’t. It shows through in your writing, unless you’re super skilled! So I’d urge everyone who hates the way they’re communicating with their customers to find a way to make it interesting and appealing to you. You will see the difference in the response (and sales) you get!
Some advice and encouragement from business owners:
I love doing mine! While my list is still pretty small, they are definitely engaged and I get regular feedback that they love receiving my weekly email! At first it was tough, but usually I have an event, or a new stockist, a giveaway, blog post, or new product to show! I also include links around the web on parenting and geekery, and the longer I’ve done it, the easier it gets to drum up content each week. I thought about monthly, or even every other week, but I know myself well enough to know that I’ll forget to send it on the “on” weeks and monthly ones might be too long.
I have a small email list who I’ve been emailing to once a month. I am just now starting to email once a week (starting tomorrow)! I watched Megan Auman’s Creative Live class last week and realized I don’t have to throw all my news into one long email (I was worried about more than once a month being too much) and to only focus on one idea per email. I also wasn’t really advertising my products in my emails, so I am going to start doing that too.
I only have 180 subscribers, and have been sending regularly for less than a year. Almost every newsletter sent results in a sale, and it gets easier to write every time. I created a template in MailChimp, so it’s the same format, but I type in different info. And lots of photos.
List building is important! (Still working on mine even as I am just over 6000.) And you do it through sending emails of value. Like Claire said – it’s people who WANT to hear from you! I’ve been sending a monthly email/newsletter to my list for years. Basically my meaty blog post for the month plus a quick personal note on what I’m up to. I will generally send another one in the month to highlight an online class I’m hosting or special sale.
I used to send every 1st Thursday of the month. The last few years I’ve played with that considerably by changing the day and even hour of the day I schedule it to see how my list reacts. I’d like to get to where every time I blog it goes into an email to my list.
If you can post to Instagram you have newsletter content! Most people say they don’t know what to say in an email. Most people also post to Instagram once a day at least and email maximum 1 a week. So in the course of 7 days you’ve had at least 7 things you thought were moderately interesting (interesting enough to share to Instagram) — somewhere in there there is absolutely enough to create an email with once per week!! People love to make stuff complicated; not all emails have to be sales pitches or coupons. People love just being in the loop!
We do a weekly newsletter and while it takes a ton of time (I always want to write something meaningful), it’s been HUGE for our sales. We love our MailChimp template that Aeolidia designed for us, and I also love that MailChimp gives you insight into the conversions from each campaign. It’s been so important for us!
Still working on building our list (I think we’re over 2300 now), and every day that there is an algorithm change with a social media platform I get extra insight into how valuable it is.
The beginning of our newsletter (and the main chunk of it) is always a story — some sort of personal reflection that is applicable to our brand mission and personality (promoting education, leadership, and empowering young girls to be proud of being smart). The second section usually highlights a product, blog post, or upcoming event. We then have a quote, and at the very bottom we have two products that make sense with the message of that newsletter and a “buy” button for each.
Because we put a lot of thought into writing the main portion of the newsletter (to make it of value to the reader), I get a lot of engagement with people writing back to me about it. Plus it helps people feel connected to the owner!
Thank you, Arianne, for taking the time to encourage and educate me on the importance of the newsletters! I have only sent out 3, but each one brought in customers and sales. They also have been relationship-building which is so KEY!!! I’m sending out my 4th this Friday, with an invite for 3 Morning Class/Gatherings this summer (a few customers have been asking for this) and I’m excited about it.) I would encourage ALL of you to take the baby “one-step-at-a-time” and do this.
Spurred on by this post, I sent out a quick email newsletter this morning and already got a bunch of sales! Arianne, could you stop being right all the time?
It needs to be at least once a month, and probably not every day
Subscribe to a bunch of newsletters as a customer, so you can see what you like and what you don’t like
Don’t overthink it! Keep it simple to start, and who knows it may grow on you?
I love my newsletter! It’s my number one most valuable marketing asset. Want to subscribe to my newsletter? A subscriber recently told me, “I couldn’t believe that all this relevant, practical, and beautifully written content was available to me for free! Sign up by entering your email address below:
Frankie & Claude is a stationery and lifestyle brand that exudes charm with a unique blend of prettiness, wittiness, and occasional snark. Owner and designer Sam Bearbower dove into the business full-time in 2015 after juggling her work in the legal field with her hobby-turned-passion. Not too soon after launching, her store’s name ran into some trademark issues, and Sam opted to rebrand. What many would’ve considered an obstacle or a step back turned into a huge step forward: an opportunity to take stock of the elements of her brand that made it truly stand out, and build a beautiful, cohesive visual identity.
Newly named Frankie & Claude, the brand was in need of a new tagline, logo and visual identity. Reflecting on her creative process and what makes her brand unique, Sam noted that all Frankie & Claude products are not only pretty, but functional.
“My initial thought with every product I add is, is it useful? Then, is it pretty and aesthetically pleasing? And of course, is it unique? For instance, our art prints help make a house a home. Our matchstick jars are super functional and make an amazing gift item to hostesses, or to celebrate new homeowners. Our notepads help to keep people organized in a stylish way. Etc., etc.”
We came up with a tagline that demonstrated her aesthetic and philosophy in a concise, fun, and catchy way:
Give Pretty. Live Practically.
From there, Christine conceptualized a new Frankie & Claude logo that paired a delicate, feminine hand-lettered script with similarly thin lined roman letters. The ampersand nestled between the words unifies the letters in a way that makes pretty meet witty. Floral details in the shape of a crest give the mark a more classic feel, while the oval arrangement of the tagline in the secondary logo steps outside of the traditional circle just enough to feel timeless but charming.
Following the initial round of logo concepts, Christine and Sam discussed integrating Sam’s own handwriting into the design, given that so many of her new products would incorporate her hand lettering. Then, inspired by Sam’s hand-lettered version of “Frankie,” Christine drew completely custom type by hand for the “Claude.” This resulted in a totally unique mark that embraces the smallest of imperfections—like the slight variations in line-thickness in the F, and the gentle angling of the last few letters in “Frankie”—in order to visually embody the pretty aesthetic of the brand as well as its willingness to be playful and not take itself too seriously.
Lastly, Christine incorporated the leafy illustrations from the logo and two new fern-inspired drawings into the brand’s pattern work. She also created a very simple geometric diamond pattern, handy for the more humorous/less feminine products. Though sometimes overlooked, patterns are like the cherry-on-top of details. Potential uses include the backs of business cards or postcards, packaging tissue paper, custom tape or ribbon—so many lovely possibilities!
We talk to each of our clients about their mailing lists, and while most are totally on board and use theirs as a valuable marketing tool, some people are understandably less enthusiastic. Bonnie told us,
“I have spent a couple hours reading about MailChimp [that’s an affiliate link to the software we recommend to send newsletters], and I have to admit I hit a mental roadblock every time I visit this topic. My plan for staying connected to my followers is to blog (and repost this on my business Facebook page). I keep thinking that adding MailChimp, and creating newsletters would be an extra busy detail that my heart isn’t into. I know from receiving letters that I rarely, if ever, read them (the only exceptions are Aeolidia and Michael Hyatt).
Am I missing something if I do not send out newsletters? Is there a way to send the blog posts in newsletter format or as the newsletter?”
I told Bonnie that I would be remiss to not push her to reconsider a newsletter! And if you, too, are on the fence, let’s talk: your mailing list subscribers are going to be your most valuable asset, once you’ve built up a list.
What is a newsletter for?
Imagine if you were launching a new product line next week. Would you rather have a mailing list of 10,000 interested fans to tell about the new products? Or would you rather post to the blog, mention it on Facebook, and hope people will find it? Facebook only shows your posts to a small amount of people who have liked your page, even when you pay to promote each post.
With a newsletter, everyone who wants to hear from you can hear from you, without Facebook getting in the way and blocking them, and without making your customers have to remember to check your blog out regularly.
Remember that Facebook can totally change the rules at any time, or even shut your account down. You don’t own your space on Facebook. Your mailing list is yours.
Why would people want to hear from you regularly?
I imagine you probably have a core group of big fans or loyal customers (if not, you want one!). They want to hear from you, and it’s a shame that you aren’t communicating regularly with them. Maybe, like Bonnie, the only newsletters you read are mine (thank you!) and other business mentors. If so, it’s because your business is what you’re so strongly interested in growing right now.
Your customers aren’t interested in a growing a business, and would be totally bored by the newsletters you like. Bonnie sells skincare products, and her customers, for example, want to hear about living their best, most healthy and glowing lives. They are as interested in it as she is, and I recommended that she get in touch with them a couple of times a month to tell them what’s interesting her, and how they can improve their wellbeing.
Your best customers also share an interest with you, and you should spend some time figuring out what that is and how to use the commonality.
How can you make a newsletter fit your interests and your customers’ needs?
For Bonnie in particular, a newsletter seems really natural for her. She told us she has a personal touch, loves educating, and that she sees all her customers via personal, one-on-one appointments. Believe it or not, that’s what a newsletter is! It’s a chance to have those personal appointments, little check-ins over email. The things Bonnie offers during her appointments are what her customers are seeking from her, and if she can find a way to translate it to email, she’ll be golden.
What do your best customers want from you? What do they appreciate hearing about? How can that be turned into an email?
What about a blog?
The advantage of a newsletter is that people will receive it automatically, without having to remember about it and search you out again. The disadvantage is that it’s private and Google will never know about it, and if readers share, they’ll likely just forward it to one person, rather than many. Your blog is the opposite of this. People need to seek it out, and you need to promote it to get people to check it out. But Google loves blogs, and it’s easy to share blog posts all over social media.
Do both! I know it sounds like a lot, but once you’ve written one or the other, you’re 85% of the way to having both done.
I’d absolutely use the blog posts as a springboard for the newsletters. Rather than posting the whole article, post a teaser, get people interested, link them to the website, and while they’re there, they can go shopping. That’s the beauty of it! It doesn’t have to be a lot of extra work. You’ll just write a friendly letter about how enthusiastic you are about your latest updates to the blog and site.
How do I get started?
I strongly recommend a newsletter for every business selling anything online. I know it feels like a hassle, but it’s one of the best hassles to keep up with.
We offer Abby Glassenberg’s wonderful ebook about planning a newsletter here on our site, and include it in our clients’ product packages. Reading just the first couple of pages will explain the WHY behind the mailing list, and then if you read on, you get the HOW. Also, Abby has a great class you can take to improve your mailing list strategy, too.
Remember that if you’d like to get your existing and past customers on the list, you need to get their permission. So, rather than just adding them to a list and emailing, send a one-shot email where you invite them to join your list, with a link to subscribe. Here are MailChimp’s guidelines about this: The Importance of Permission and I like their article, Examples of Compliant and Non-Compliant Lists.
Even if your list starts out as just 10 people, set up a regular schedule to send an update, and go ahead and do it. I wouldn’t space emails out more than a month or so apart, otherwise people will forget they subscribed.
I know it’s a lot to do, but it will pay off! Happy emailing!
Sometimes a brand is about much more than a product. It’s about a passion, a story, a way of seeing the world and living in it that’s so unique, it’s like a beacon that guides you towards your people. Lifestyle brands inspire and empower customers to achieve a way of life—whether it’s through a specific aesthetic, set of values, or a philosophy.
Take the minimalist aesthetic and philosophy behind Hemleva.
The inspiring call to live your dreams and thrive at it, embodied by Living Well Spending Less.
Or the slow-living movement encouraging customers to embrace wonder and creativity with Twig & Tale’s fabric patterns.
The beauty of lifestyle brands is their ability to connect with customers on an emotional level. They help customers dream, aspire, imagine and attain a way of living that they truly desire. This type of emotional connection is built on a foundation of values that in turn, inspires loyalty to your brand and products. But in order to bring a lifestyle brand to, well…life, these values need to be well-communicated.
How to bring your lifestyle brand to life with copywriting
If you’re unsure if your brand is a lifestyle brand, consider the following questions:
What is the big picture, the greater purpose, behind your products?
Think of your dream customer—what does your product bring to their lives?
If you were to build a community made up of your dream customers, what is the glue that would hold them together?
What are your core values, and in what way, if any, are these connected to your brand?
Now consider the story that your brand is telling. Perhaps it’s all about living authentically and spreading goodness through ethically-made products. Perhaps it’s about carving your own path with outdoor goods that inspire spontaneity and a connection to nature. Whatever the story, your products are only one part of it. To fully communicate the essence of your lifestyle brand, your copy and messaging need to do two things:
Invite customers to imagine themselves living in the world your brand embodies
Show them how your product fits into that world and enables their desired outcome
Hiring a copywriter for your lifestyle brand
If you’re struggling with telling the driving narrative of your brand, it could be that you’re too close to see the big picture. Stepping back and getting outside perspective can be a real game-changer for brands. It’s why we work with clients at all stages to pair marketing consultations with copywriting. Think of it as soul-searching for your brand: we dig deep to help you look inward to rediscover and reconnect with the essence of your brand. Then we use this foundation to build your core mission, shed light on your driving values and philosophies, and write copy that illuminates your message for all the right customers to hear.
Most projects will include copywriting for at a minimum, three core components of your website:
Your home page: this is usually the first introduction customers get to your online space. The purpose of your home page copy should be to quickly communicate what you’re all about—in a way that connects with visitors on an emotional level and entices them to want to learn more.
Your about page: Now that visitors like what they see, they’ll want to learn more about who you are, what you’re selling, and why you do it. Your about page is your chance to go into more depth and tell the story behind your brand. Keep in mind that this story should not be all about you—it should be about what you can bring to enhance your customers’ lives.
Your product descriptions: Paired with beautiful product photography and vivid, specific language that showcases the unique qualities of your products, a good product description will tell a customer all the vital specifics of product (what it is, what purpose it serves) in a way that ties it all back to your brand’s story.
Since every brand is different, your project may expand beyond these 3 core elements. Maybe your project requires additional copy, such as an information page explaining how your products work. Or, you may find you want to charm customers with an unboxing experience, and need a thank you note written to include in every package.
The possibilities are endless because each story is entirely unique. How will we tell yours?
Do you know who you’re talking to when you promote your business on social media? Do you feel a rapport with your customers, totally get who they are, and why they would choose to buy from you over anyone else? If the answer is no, you’re invited to join us in figuring out this important foundation of your business.
Announcing Aeolidia’s online class to find your target customer
I recently taught a jam-packed class about target customer at the Craftcation conference. We looked at a bunch of examples, and began filling out Aeolidia’s target customer exercise. This kind of work is a lot easier when you have people to bounce your ideas off of, which is why I’m teaching an online community-based class for you starting next week:
UPDATE: class is in session, and registration is closed. If you’d like to hear about the next class we offer, please sign up for our mailing list.
You’ve probably heard that you should create a target customer profile for your business. You may have heard a term such as customer avatar, customer persona, dream customer, or something like that. Whatever you call it, this is the one person who is the very best fit for your business’s style and products.
At my design studio, Aeolidia, we refuse to start a design project without a good understanding of who the target customer is. And no, “women, 25-65” doesn’t count as a target customer! We used to try to work with clients who didn’t have this info, but soon realized that our work just wasn’t effective that way. If you try to speak to everyone, you end up speaking to no one.
If you know your target customer, you know:
where to be featured
what keywords to use
how to word your marketing
what benefits to point out
what offers to make
how to style and photograph your products
Your target customer will even influence your product line for the better.
If our multi-talented and experienced team can’t do good work without a target customer, I sincerely hope you aren’t trying to build your business without one.
Handcrafted HoneyBee, postcard design by Aeolidia
Here’s what I want you to know:
You may feel that if you narrow down your marketing to focus on one particular type of person, that limits your business. Surely you’d want as many people as possible to be interested in your products, right?
Defining a perfect customer doesn’t mean the imperfect ones can’t shop on your site. In fact, it will make your site more appealing to more people if you design it for one specific person.
When you do this, you aren’t narrowing the field of people you can sell to. You’re making your brand vision stronger, which makes your business as a whole more appealing, memorable, and lasting. Hint: it also makes your marketing efforts easier and more effective.
If you’ve interacted with your customers personally, it may feel weird to try to shoehorn them all into one type. I can help with that!
Challenge your competition by being less like them and more like you
You want to differentiate yourself from your competition, and your best way of doing that is by having a strong brand. As shared in this recent piece by Sean Low,
“…look around to who might be doing similar work. Ask yourself if you would be confused if you were the client between the two (or ten) of you.
If you would be confused, […] become MORE you, not less.
And that is the thing about strategy, it is about distillation, not dilution.”
If you’re going to do ONE thing as you start to build your business, it needs to be defining your target customer. Figure out what your business will mean to her, and why she would choose you over even your very closest competitor. Let’s do this together!
I am excited to finally have the time to get together with a group of creative business owners (including you, I hope) to help directly and specifically to build a strong foundation for a lasting business. Let’s talk about where your business is at, and bump it along to the next step together.
Thank you so much for these notes! Your target customer presentation was one of my favorites at Craftcation, I learned so much.
— Andrea Greene
You need to sign up by May 15, and class starts that day!
UPDATE: class is in session, and registration is closed. If you’d like to hear about the next class we offer, please sign up for our mailing list.
If your website is starting to feel outdated, or your business has outgrown your starter solution, it’s time to call Aeolidia! We are Shopify Experts that focus only on custom-to-you Shopify website design for creative businesses. We design strategically, and our design decisions are all meant to support your goals, increase conversion rate, and multiply your current sales numbers.
Here is a quick peek at our clients’ recent launches, and at what we’re working on going into spring. These motivated creative businesses include: 4 gift and housewares designers, 2 children’s clothing brands, 1 stationery designer, 2 shops for the mother-to-be, 1 dog apparel brand, 1 party shop, 2 bath and body brands, 1 doll maker, 1 fine art gallery, 1 interior design studio, 2 clothing pattern designers, 4 jewelry designers, 1 flower farm, 1 cooking club for kids, 2 designers of art prints, 1 furniture designer, and 1 shop specializing in cheese storage.
It is such an honor and a delight to be able to work with such creative, ambitious, and dedicated business owners. I think you’ll like them, too!
We will write about these projects in more detail in the upcoming weeks, but for now, I wanted to give you the rundown of what work we’ve finished and what we’re beginning now.
These ones are totally done!
Design block two at Aeolidia has wrapped up, and block three of 2017 is underway. Some of our logo clients from block two are having a website built, some sites designed in the last block are being developed, and the others are new to us this block. I’d like to show off the inspiring brands that are ready to put their plans into action and achieve their goals now! Here are the projects we’ve recently completed:
Frankie & Claude
Thoughtfully designed stationery & lifestyle brand that celebrates life’s moments and reminds you never to take yourself too seriously.
Project: Brand identity, marketing consultation
Status: Brand identity is complete.
When creating a new logo for Frankie & Claude, we were inspired by vintage signage—classic but a little bit quirky. This style helps Frankie & Claude stand out in a sea of all script logos that are becoming too common in the stationery world—but still appeals to their target customer, the ladies who appreciate beauty that is accessible. Because so many of Frankie & Claude’s products feature Sam’s own handwriting, we decided that it was only natural that she have a hand in the logo as well. We paired her own handwritten “Frankie” with hand-drawn type and illustrations.
We created a website that balances simplicity and style, showcases Dani’s gorgeous jewelry and accessories, and inspires confidence in her customers to make a purchase. The layout is clean but not stark, and the typography is strong but not loud. The branding elements are carried over to give the site dimension and interest. Together these design elements support the true star, Dani’s photography. By keeping the overall design clean, the photos are able to shine, telling the story of the brand and products.
Silly Buddy bowties, collars and leads are worthy of neatly being placed in a drawer like any other special garment.
Project: Custom Shopify website, copywriting
Status: Project complete, website launched!
Visit: Silly Buddy, a custom-designed Shopify site by Aeolidia
Silly Buddy bowties, collars, and leads are meticulously made to order for each pup. This personal attention to detail and quality is extremely important to owner Hande. After successfully selling her products on Etsy for years, Hande knew it was time to create proper home for Silly Buddy. She wanted a custom website dedicated to her brand so that Silly Buddy could get the recognition it deserves.
Lindsey had a focused set of goals when it came to her brand identity. She wanted us to design a look that can appeal to women that have a chic-boho style, showcase her traditional Louisiana culture in a new and unique way, stay true to an organic feel and spirit, and bring in her made-by-hand philosophy.
Hip and fun sewing patterns that you can buy, download, and print at home to make your own clothing. Project: Brand Identity, marketing consultation Status: Brand identity is complete.
When designing this logo we were especially inspired by Aimee’s love for Scandinavian design, and while researching we kept coming back to the image of retro Scandinavian folk art flowers. They are so graphic and fun, but with a minimal amount of lines and detail. Inspired by Aimee’s business to sell clothing patterns, we worked to incorporate scissors (a necessary tool for sewing and pattern cutting!) and pins into a scandi flower design. We also liked how the flower designs are made up of lots of different parts that can be shuffled around to create new and different types of flower designs—much like Aimee’s concept for her products! In addition, the line-art style of the icon also mimics the design of clothing patterns.
We paired the flower icon with a simple lowercase serif type that has a retro fun flair with the loopy “t’s”. The overall combination hints at a vintage aesthetic but with a clean and contemporary twist.
The gift shop is an extension of Casey’s personality and style–witty, quirky, and above all, pop culture OBSESSED.
Project: Brand Identity
Current site: The Casey BarberSHOP Status: Brand identity is complete.
“Gifts for the Pop Culture-Obsessed” is the perfect tagline for Casey’s collection of hand-painted prints, cards, and pins. Her work is inspired by pop culture, her design style skews retro, and there’s a bit of her humor in each of her creations. Casey’s business reached the point where it needed a bit of polish and a more robust online shop. We worked with her to create a new logo using her signature colors, design print collateral, and offer guidance as she expanded The Casey BarberSHOP ecommerce presence.
With a unique collection of handcrafted items from artisans across Latin America, Ricardo was looking for a brand that reflected both the artists he features and the masterpieces they create. The “Handmade Heart” tagline remained at the forefront in our minds as we designed colorful branding, print, and web designs that stay true to the roots of this new online hub of artistry. Visitors can browse work by exploring amazing 360 degree views of each piece, and learn the specifics of each creation and its artist before purchasing.
We wanted to create a bright and happy home for Bamboletta’s dolls. The website balances simplicity and warmth, while telling the Bamboletta story, showcasing the dolls and what sets them apart, and inspiring customers (new and trusted alike) to make a purchase. The homepage features woodland inspired illustrations paired with storybook typography all on a clean, responsive layout. There is no white background, but there’s still enough visual space so the important information doesn’t get lost. The photography is beautiful, so we made sure to give the photos room to breathe. By keeping the overall design clean, the photos are able to shine, telling the story of the Bamboletta brand and products.
The Hester & Cook team came to us to upgrade their online shop to solidify Hester & Cook as the go-to resource for tabletop goods. Our goal was to create an updated and beautifully branded experience that would not only appeal to their current customer base but also attract a new online clientele. We also wanted the online experience to match the quality of their curated, flagship brick & mortar experience.
These ones have moved to the next phase
We were hard at work on these projects in block two, and now we’re moving right along with the next step through June.
Bonnie originally signed on with us for brand identity design and custom product packaging, and was so pleased with her experience that she extended it. We’re now happily absorbed in designing her website, and making the experience online mirror the experience she gives her customers in person.
Well Dressed Wolf is a business that felt like an iconic Aeolidia-type business from the moment Sarah and Shannon contacted us. We’re enjoying refining their brand and sub-brands and getting them ready to meet their goals. Coordinating three brands in a way that is cohesive and allows each to stand alone has been a fun challenge, and we can’t wait to show you.
It’s a thrill being brought in when a successful business is seeing growing pains and needs a custom website that eliminates frustrations and can grow with them. We’ve discovered many areas with room for improvement, and it’s been great fun coming up with solutions, particularly to the customizable aspect of the shop.
The Nest team had a logo, but were missing all the graphical assets needed to create a full brand identity design. For the first part of this project, we revised the logo typeface, created some alternate logo marks, chose a color scheme, coordinating typefaces, and created some graphics and patterns to be used in marketing materials. Our next step is to develop the custom Shopify website.
This brand started with our business naming process and became Indigo Ember. Patricia was ready to invest in what she needed to take her business to the next level, so we have also been having a business and marketing consultation with her, writing the copy for her website, and styling and shooting photos of her products. The brand identity and website design are complete now, and our next step is website development.
We first got to work on branding for Geese & Ganders. They had an adorable logo, but needed business stationery and packaging pieces to round out their brand identity. We were inspired by their love of patterns and highlighted the brand’s personality in their printed pieces. Since this is a new business, we also worked on website copy and marketing strategies to give her a unique voice in the marketplace. We have now moved on to the website development phase and are very excited to launch in June.
With a successful Etsy shop, Oh Baby Names had the proof of concept they needed to take their business to the next level. We first started with new business name brainstorming and then moved into logo design. We came up with classic yet playful logo with vintage-inspired details that reflect the authenticity, heart, and soul behind the brand. Now we will begin website design.
These ones have just begun
I’m thrilled to introduce you to these inspiring businesses who are beginning work with us in block three. See where they’re at now, and check back with us in a couple of months to see their transformations!
I had created nursery artwork for my daughter when I was pregnant because I wasn’t finding exactly what I wanted for her and I thought it would be fun (and it was!). Later after she was around a year old I decided I would try to make a little extra money on Etsy to cover childcare, put into savings, etc. . . . while also giving myself a little creative outlet. I had very low expectations for it financially but very much enjoyed creating it and having my own little creative corner of the world. I have loved the journey and have decided to get serious about my business.
I dream of a day when . . . my website is the backbone of my business. It is so dialed in with the right photos of the right collections of the right jewelry that I reference *it* for my next steps ahead. Meaning, it’s organized. It’s so organized I can clearly see any gaps or holes that I need to fill in. I can see what I want to add next.
We need a shop that is robust, easy to navigate, mobile friendly, easy to use (front and backend), that’s built to scale up, can handle large traffic spikes, offers other payment options besides Paypal, and is a joy for our customers to use. Our internal goal is to have working with Floret be a life changing experience . . . in a positive way.
I currently sell cheese packaging products, Cheese Storage Paper and Cheese Storage Bags, I just added a new product Food Storage Bags and will be expanding this product offering to include Food Storage Sheets. The Food Storage products are a new material that is 100% recyclable and reusable. As I develop this product line I need the site to explain the different products we offer and make it clear what the differences are.
Celebrating the zesty, peppy essence of animals with original designs and goods for your nursery, home, desk and beyond.
Project: Custom Shopify website, copywriting
Current site: Gingiber (new site scheduled to launch August 18)
I truly believe that Gingiber has been an unseen trendsetter in our market for years now. I would love to find a way to rise further and capitalize on our many successful partnerships. Also, we need a better way for people to purchase wholesale directly from our site and to communicate our abilities to license our art. Finally, and obviously, we want to grow our online sales and improve our conversion rate.
I don’t have a cohesive brand style/personality. I feel like the chevron and mint combo is well liked and I get a lot of compliments on the packaging. However, I feel like the brand image is missing a luxe element or something special. The products are fantastic, but I’m not sure if the brand is memorable.
I have been working towards starting a business for handcrafted products for the past year, and your website has been a great resource for me. . . . I am convinced that I am in need of your services. One thing I have heard over and over from makers is that they wished that they had launched with professional help from the beginning, to eliminate costly do-overs etc. So I have decided to heed this wisdom and invest in professional help from day 1. You could think of me as a “clean slate”, I have my ideas but I’m not married to any of them and am open to professional advice.
Our business officially launched at the end of August, 2016. Our current website functions great, but does not feel polished enough. We enjoy all of the functions of Shopify, but feel that this year’s business goals necessitate a more custom solution design-wise. Our biggest challenge is that we need more products and a broader line of our own inventory. We want to find a way to give our own brand it’s place in the spotlight, while also building a community of other like-minded brands that we carry as a retailer. We hope to become a one-stop shop for those who are seeking children’s products with a social impact.
I’ve been running my business for about 8 years. . . . What started as a hobby for me grew to numbers that resulted in a full-fledged business. . . . My current website was designed in early 2014. Sales have never been spectacular, but I don’t do much advertising. I’ve been designing kit patterns for Craftsy and Annie’s Catalog for a couple of years now, and have had some very high sales with both companies which leads me to believe that given a wide enough audience, I have the potential to sell more to say the least.
As a new online business, we are looking to create a unique, custom website to give customers a trustworthy and engaging feeling from the start. With a logo design near completion, we are looking for a design agency to partner with us to design and develop the initial website, and also to support us on marketing, brand identity.
We’re looking to redesign and refresh our website. The current version is about 3 years old so we’d like to modernize it, improve the architecture, optimize across devices and generally make it better. While the look and feel may change, the general flow, page themes and even some of the copy may not . . . not a total rethink of how people experience Raddish, but we’d like it to look better.
Do any of these hard working business owners sound like you?
Your small but fast growing business is perfectly poised to make a big splash in online retail, and that’s exactly where Aeolidia loves to meet you. We are highly-ranked official Shopify Experts, with a history of exceeding expectations. Our work is strategic, completely custom, and entirely goals-based. We like to get involved when we know our work can be transformative and cause exponential growth.
Ready? If you’re ready to move forward with your business, and to invest in some outside help, we would love to be your team. Please contact us if you’re interested in telling us more about your retail goals and objectives so we can put together a custom proposal for you.
Not quite ready? If you’re not quite ready to do this work for your business (or you aren’t sure if you are or not), a great next step is to join our community, The Shipshape Collective. Not only will we send you our best info about pushing your business to the next level, but you’ll be invited to our Facebook group, and be able to access all the free business building tools in our members’ area. Join here:
2017 has me feeling like I’ve been shot out of a cannon! This is a good thing, but I am wildly scrabbling in the air with my arms, wondering when the scenery is going to stop passing by at such an alarming rate.
I’ve been getting invitations to speak at conferences, requests for a coffee dates to “pick my brain,” I have four business travel trips coming up, I’m planning workshops, and I filled in last minute to teach at Craftcation. We’ve also just hired two new employees and three new designers. I have turned a lot of things down and I’ve given a hearty YES to a lot of things as well.
It can be easy to say yes and then wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into. And sometimes it can be hard to say no, even when you know the invitation is something that’s a good fit for you.
Here are the top things I’ve been coming back to and re-reading to maintain my focus:
“The best productivity tip I ever got was the idea of a ‘stop-doing list’ from Jim Collins. In this Age of Distraction, we’re all dodging and weaving between so much incoming information that what you don’t do on a daily basis has become as important—if not more—as what you do execute on.
“In perhaps the most famous case, Darwin Smith of Kimberly-Clark — a man who had prevailed over throat cancer — said one day to his wife: ‘I learned something from my cancer. If you have a cancer in your arm, you’ve got to have the guts to cut off your own arm. I’ve made a decision: We’re going to sell the mills.’”
“People pleasing manifests in subtle ways. For example, how many times have you said, ‘Sure, I’ll do that…it can’t hurt.’
And two weeks later, you have to go to some dumb party/event you committed to, which you actually don’t want to go to, and you hate yourself. It can’t hurt. Actually, it can!! There’s nothing wrong with helping other people, but when you start saying ‘yes’ to things that are distracting and drain you of energy, you can’t make the maximum impact on the world.”
“If you tend to be a people pleaser, it’s hard to ignore genuine requests or turn folks away just because you are busy. Below are a few questions you can ask yourself to help clarify which emails are real opportunities and which are duds. Perhaps more importantly, they should also help you shift your mindset about who you do and do not owe a response.”
Now, my entire job is based around helping others—and I love it! Where we need to pick and choose is about who and what is a good fit for our time, and for our business as a whole.
You need to make your own priorities for each quarter, month, week, day. Then, when an opportunity comes up, you need to evaluate how much it will detract from your own plans, and how much value you’ll get out of it.
How to decide if you should accept a business opportunity
Here’s how I’ve been deciding lately: I just think, “if it’s not a heck yeah, it’s a hell no!”
Great opportunities are easy to spot, exciting to receive, and I fire off a YES straight away. It’s when I find myself struggling to decide that I realize my trouble is in not wanting to disappoint someone.
The same goes for great clients, great customers, great collaborations. You probably know when you have a winner.
The only tricky bit is mistaking fear for uncertainty. There may be things that you don’t want to do just because you’ve never done them before, you’re feeling shy, or you’re scared of public speaking. Don’t turn down things that are a great fit with your business and your goals because of fear. Say yes before the fear can get you, then work on your courage on the way.
Do you agree? What are you going to say NO (graciously!) to today?
I originally sent this to my mailing list. If you’d like more like this, please join us!