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!
You may have heard us say (once or twice) that growing your brand can be like the awkward teenage phase of a business. That’s because we’re hard pressed to find a more apt metaphor. When you’re a young brand, identity crises can abound. Who are you? What is your purpose in this world? What do you have to say, and how will you stand out as you say it?
Though we’re still trying to crack the code on how to get actual teenagers through this phase, we’re experts at guiding businesses through it. So when jeweler Lindsey Baudoin came to us for help developing her new jewelry brand, we were thrilled to see her off on a fresh start. Though she’d spent the past 6 months designing her collection and taking crash courses on how to run a business, Lindsey quickly learned that there was too much important work at this stage for her to simply “wing it.” Lindsey knew her Louisiana heritage played a role in shaping her jewelry’s aesthetic and goals, but she wasn’t sure how it fit into the greater purpose of her brand:
“I have really struggled with designing my logo, figuring out what my story is, finding my brand identity, and designing my e-commerce site. I think Aeolidia could be the answer to all of my struggles!”
Emphasis on the “figuring out what my story is.” After all, before creating a logo, a brand identity, or writing a word of copy, every business needs to know what they’re all about, deep down at their core. Thankfully, we have a resident business soul searcher—Caroline, our marketing expert—who worked with Lindsey to excavate her brand’s true purpose. Together, they defined the essential elements of Cajun Heritage Collection, such as its target customer, its key differentiators, and its unique selling proposition. They created a mission statement that succinctly and proudly touched upon the brand’s manifesto and the emotional experience it creates. With this newly-discovered brand story, our team now had a frame of reference for everything that came next in Lindsey’s project—from the copy on her website to her logo and print work. We began planting seeds of her story on her home page:
A style so personal it reminds you of home. Inspired by our southern Louisiana roots, Cajun Heritage Collection is a celebration of how we’re all connected: vibrant and unique gems coming together to create a beautiful whole. We hope our handcrafted pieces inspire you to embrace your unique culture—and those all around you—wherever life may take you.
Then, inspired by the brand’s bohemian-rustic style, Jess created a visual identity that captured the spirit of Cajun Heritage Collection in a way that’s classically nostalgic but also modern vintage.
Having her brand’s story come alive organically through words and design helped Lindsey realize her brand’s true identity. Rather than discovering it as she went, Lindsey could now proudly own her messaging and visuals with confidence and purpose.
“I first discovered Aeolidia while listening to a podcast that had a guest speaker, Arianne Foulks. I visited Aeolidia.com as soon as the podcast was over, and I just knew that they were going to be the answer to my current struggle—defining my brand identity and designing my logo.
I particularly loved the fact that Aeolidia only worked with makers. I also loved how they were so organized. They had every stage and step of my project scheduled before we even began. Their professionalism and organization was very comforting and reassuring. My initial consultation over the phone with Samantha gave me the clarity and piece of mind that I needed. I knew I needed help if I wanted to grow my business, and I knew I would be in good hands if I worked with Aeolidia.
Sam did an amazing job being the glue that held my entire project together. The marketing consultation with Caroline was invaluable. She helped me define my ideal customer and established our mission statement. She unknowingly came up with my business tagline; something that was not planned but I am so grateful for. Natalia wrote the most amazing copy for my About Page. I still get excited and re-energized every time I read it! Her copy gave meaning and emotion to my brand. One of my project goals was that I wanted my customers to connect with my brand and be inspired after they visited my website. Thanks to Natalia, I think we have accomplished that goal.
My designer, Jess, was truly magical. She delivered exactly what I envisioned, and then some! She just ‘got’ me from the very beginning. It was like she took everything I pictured in my head, and was able to make it a reality. She was reassuring when I was hesitant during the design phase. She graciously accommodated every request that I made. I really appreciated how she designed with my ideal customer in mind. She not only gave life to my brand, she inspired me to grow my business far beyond what I imaged. She helped me envision my brand on a much larger scale.
I am so much more confident in my brand thanks to the design work and guidance I received from Aeolidia! I feel more equipped to communicate who I am as a business and now have the confidence to reach out to editors and potential wholesale accounts in my field. Aeolidia is definitely the dream team that I was looking for. Thanks to them, I not only feel professional, I also LOOK professional.
I am so grateful for all the time and energy put into my project by the entire Aeolidia team. I truly appreciate everything they have done for me and my new business! I could not be happier with the final results and the overall branding experience! Everyone was so encouraging, excellent communicators, and delivered beyond my expectations! I can’t wait to work with them on future projects. To any business that needs help establishing their brand identity or logo: I would highly recommend Aeolidia! It is 100% worth the investment, and I promise you will not be disappointed!”
Could you use this kind of help?
Are you stumbling through a brand identity crisis? We got this. Contact us for help discovering your brand’s true self.
In our Facebook group for online shop owners, we often see newer members asking if Shopify is worth the price, or if they should just stick with Squarespace or Wix or some other software. This tells me that people just don’t get what exactly Shopify is offering, because the difference between Shopify and these programs is enormous.
The benefits of using Shopify aren’t equalled by any other software. And that’s even more true now that they unveiled the new Shopify features they’ve been working on for you lately!
We just returned from the Shopify partner conference in San Francisco, and we’re feeling excited about what Shopify has announced. Some of it is ready to go now and some is coming soon. I took notes on the features our clients are always interested in, and Shoshanna, one of our web developers, took notes on what our team can do on the back end to make your sites even more powerful.
Here is a quick overview of the news:
New sales channels
One of the coolest things about Shopify is that you aren’t just stuck selling your stuff on your own site. You can also set your shop up to sell your products directly on other platforms, such as Facebook, Pinterest, Wanelo, Houzz, and more. They just announced that they’ve added more new channels, including one of our favorites: Instagram!
This was one of the things that impressed me the most. The Shopify team showed us that their checkout performs much better on mobile than average. But with this big change, I think you’ll see a big conversion rate boost on mobile.
If your online shop is like most, your mobile shoppers have either surpassed your desktop shoppers in number, or they’re about to. But it’s hard to shop on mobile! So many bits of info to type in and maybe you’re swinging from a bus strap or you have a toddler chewing on your leg.
I’ve made a few purchases recently using Apple Pay and I loved how easy it was. Shopify Pay is going to do the same thing for your mobile shoppers. They can save their info once (via a “remember me?” checkbox) on ANY Shopify website, and then when they visit you, Shopify will have remembered their info, turning something like 16 fields to fill out into just two. I can’t wait to see how this takes off.
First, it appears that Shopify have solved online wholesale for their Shopify Plus customers. This is their enterprise-level platform, and wholesale is so important to many of our clients that I think they would be able to consider the cost of Shopify Plus as a worthwhile investment to grow the wholesale branch of their business.
If your business is not at that level, things are still looking bright for you, because there have been a whole bunch of APIs that Shopify has worked on and is giving developers access to: Order Fulfillment, and Draft Orders, in particular. That means that the somewhat hacky wholesale apps that exist today may soon be replaced with more robust apps that will do more of what you want them to do. We’re keeping our eye on that!
Everything in the lounge at the conference was for sale with a QR code from Shopify stores!
We also heard a lot of interesting stuff about improvements to inventory tracking, a new admin design that’s going to let you instantly share new products to social and track your marketing conversion better, improvements to checkout, and to flash sales.
If Shopify is starting to sound like the right place for you, I’d love to talk with you more about your business’s particular needs, the details of moving your site to Shopify, and how we can help. Please do get in touch so we can get your site up to date and selling more efficiently.
Like to give it a try yourself? Sign up for a free trial of Shopify here. That’s Aeolidia’s affiliate link (and then if you’d like, let me know you did, and if you could use any help with next steps).
I just had to stop and take a moment to share the latest photography for online shops from Jen Lacey on our team. She has been doing incredible work that is making our clients’ products SHINE! Even the best-designed custom Shopify site will suffer without amazing product photography.
Here’s what we’ve been working on:
Patricia creates laser cut wooden products, and her new brand, website, and jaw-dropping photography will make a huge difference to her online sales. Take a peek!
Robyn’s custom jewelry designs are perfect for celebrating family members. We also worked on a trio of photos that show the customization options and the additional charms that can be ordered with the jewelry.
Jen took more than 80 completely different photos for Living Well Spending Less, all using different props and styling. The hero shots below feature the planner styled for different purposes and seasons.
Elizabeth is working on improving her online presence, and photography was an important first step! Along with these photos with a baby and toddler, Jen also created a set of styled card and mug photos using white blanks that Elizabeth can easily add her graphics to.
When you’re working on your online shop, there really isn’t any area that I’d recommend skimping on. Everything is so important in hooking your potential customer and drawing them further in to your site. Their reaction to your brand and website will be subconscious, which means you have less than a second to help them decide whether they’re interested or not.
Photography is a huge way to tell your story, create interest, and get your visitor imagining their products in their life. Jen styles and shoots photos for our clients – hero shots, still lifes, tabletop scenes, model photography, products on white backgrounds, and will even create your own better-than-stock photography which you can use to drop your designs onto cards, mugs, totes, and more.
Do you keep an eye on your website statistics, and make plans based on what you learn? At Aeolidia, we start every website redesign by looking at the current stats: we see how much traffic the site is getting, where it’s coming from, if it’s on desktop or a phone, what pages the visitors are most interested in, how the site in general is converting, and where customers may be dropping out.
This gives us great direction for redesigning the site to have the most impact for the people who are actually using it. And it gives us an idea of what marketing/SEO strategies are working, and where the business could use a better strategy.
I’ve been mildly horrified a few times this past year when a client didn’t have Google Analytics set up to track their stats. Shopify provides some stats, but nowhere near the level that Google does. So much uncaptured data! It makes my head whirl.
So I would urge you to do these three things right away:
1) Set up Google Analytics for your site
If you don’t have Google Analytics set up to track your stats, get that set up! It’s free and it’s powerful. Even if you set it up and then don’t look at it for two years, maybe some day someone like me will come along and want to take a peek and then be able to make targeted changes to your site based on real information about your real shoppers. It’s great to have that historical data there to compare against and learn from.
If you have Google Analytics set up, but aren’t tracking your ecommerce goals, do that next. Knowing where traffic comes from is nice, but without the money piece there, it’s hard to make decisions. Maybe you get a ton of traffic from Google and just a bit of traffic from Facebook, but the Facebook traffic makes you more money. That’s info you need to know!
If you’re using different ecommerce software, first check their documentation to see if they have information on how to set up ecommerce tracking. If they don’t, you can always set up goals manually (this is how I do it, since I don’t have a shop):
Pick a few basic bits of information that you’d like to know, and make an appointment with yourself to check on those things on a regular basis (maybe once a month or once a quarter?). If you don’t know where to start, I’d suggest:
a) conversion rate – what percentage of visitors converted into paying customers?
b) top revenue generating traffic sources
c) how paid ads are performing
Why should you do pay attention to your website analytics?
With the right information, you can decide where to focus your social media efforts, where it’s worth paying for advertising, and what types of features and collaborations you should aim for. Comparing your conversion rate to the past months, quarters, or years will let you gauge the health of your site and figure out when it’s time for a redesign (hint: if your website is converting poorly for shoppers on mobile devices, it’s LONG past time).
Want to get to know us a bit better before hiring us to strategically redesign your online shop based on real data? Our newsletter is the perfect place. I’ll explain it all bit by bit over a few weeks, right to your email:
Whether you’re launching a new brand or redesigning for an existing one, a timeless logo is essential for creating a strong identity that’ll grow and propel your business for years to come. When you have to reassess and restart, this kind of work is not a step back, but rather, a huge step forward.
Samantha Leung of Handmade Sam Made came to us at a point in her business when she was ready for her visual identity to be realized to its full potential. Her line of brass geometric mobiles and wall sconces—inspired by traditional Finnish himmeli—had such a distinctly modern, minimalist style that it was easy for us to imagine her business evolving into a brand that encompassed not only an aesthetic, but a lifestyle. This would help position her brand as a leader in her industry, while also making the evolution of her product offerings, from air plants to plant-inspired enamel pins, a more seamless transition.
Sounds like a lot of big changes, right? Not necessarily. Sometimes, the true artistry of a redesign lies in knowing the difference between what to change, what to keep, and what to enhance.
Transforming a strong brand foundation into a timeless logo design
When Samantha came to us, she’d already built an incredibly strong foundation for her brand. She was doing a stellar job of knowing what her brand’s style was, who her customer was, and her Instagram account (with its gorgeous photography) was driving much of her sales.
What was lacking were a name and logo that tied all these elements of her brand together in a way that was as beautifully cohesive as her products. The messaging, style, and vision were all there—they just needed to be brought to life. As our designer, Jess, got to work on the visual identity for the newly-named Hemleva, Arianne compared our creative approach to that of building a new “home” for it to live and thrive in:
“Samantha, I think of your work like the framing of a house. All the 2x4s and plywood are up in the shape of the house, and now it’s our job to add the design details. We might add decorative molding and beautiful windows or even a little tower, but we’re not going to tear down any of the work you did and change the configuration ‘just because.’ We definitely don’t want to change what you’ve already built, because your foundation is so strong.”
Before & after: how refining your brand sets you up for success
Hemleva before and after rebranding with Aeolidia
Sometimes a brand requires a complete makeover. Sometimes, it simply needs to have its true identity be brought out in a way that feels natural and timeless. Hemleva already had so many brand elements “playing well together” that our job was to tease them out and make them shine. Jess’s designs were meant to be ones that Sam and anyone familiar with her brand would recognize and think, “OF COURSE that’s what it should look like. That’s what’s always been there, just scratching the surface.”
This reframing and refining of a brand makes it that much stronger. We wanted to set up Hemleva to take charge of its identity with strong, iconic visuals that would make it easier for the brand to stand out as the original leader in its class. The long-term goal behind Hemleva’s timeless redesign was to convert it to greater memorability in customer’s minds, a more commanding presence in retail stores, and overall success for Hemleva that will stay true to Sam’s aesthetic for years, no matter how her product offerings evolve over time.