My #1 Tip for Putting Your Ideas Into ACTION

Today, I’m trying something new!

I’ve decided to experiment with doing occasional “visually-rich” posts: sort of like a video-blog, except it’s not a video—it’s a 2D image with a simple tip baked in. And little-to-no extra words.

Fun for me to create, and easier for you to “digest” quickly and then get on with your day. Comment if you like!

implement your ideas

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{The Sweet Brand! series appears on the 1st Monday of each month, and features awesome niche brands, small companies, solo businesswomen, and even celebrity brand personalities. The purpose of this series is to introduce you to businesses that are kickin’ it in their brand, and to point out what they’re doing right—principles that you can apply to your own brand.}

If New York City has Tiffany & Co, Texas has…James Avery!

James-AveryAs a Texas gal, I grew up with my mom and grandma wearing James Avery jewelry, and as a little girl I was always admiring (and sometimes begging to wear) those beautiful necklaces, rings, and other pieces. Here in Texas, JA is a widely admired, respected, and sought-after brand, and I’ve been wanting to profile them for a very long time now. So I’m finally doing just that, simultaneously kicking off what I hope will become a regular series of featured brand profiles.

As I’ve grown up to become an entrepreneur, it has become even more apparent to me how much James Avery has done right, both from a business perspective and a branding one. Inside, they’re a family-owned company, started by Mr. Avery himself out of his garage in 1954. But to fans like me, they’re quite simply the epitome of quality—a true gem in the midst of today’s abundance of made-in-China, cheap plastic, lead-containing, throwaway products—James Avery makes timeless, high-quality jewelry that celebrates life, and that thus will still be just as beautiful and relevant when today’s customers bequeath their JA pieces to their grandchildren decades from now.

So from a brand standpoint, what can we learn from them? Here are three things I’ve identified…

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4 Secrets to Publishing Your Own Digital Magazine

magazineI won’t lie—publishing a digital magazine is a lot of work. But, I just keep going back for more…because obviously it’s a great way to gain new subscribers (some of whom later become my clients)…but also, I just love the medium, and I have a blast designing each mag! I’ve done four in all, and am currently putting together my fifth—the all new One Sweet Brand.

If you’ve been considering doing your own magazine, or you’re just curious how I do mine, here are a few “secrets” that I’ve learned (mostly the hard way), that will help you to create a successful magazine for your own business.

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Crafting a New Goodie for Your Tribe? Consider This…

trophies from Free ImagesWhen you’re creating a new course, a product, or a new e-book or magazine for your tribe, of course you want it to stand out on its own, right?!

But what if you get so caught up in giving your product its own mini-brand, that you forget it also needs to align with your BIZ brand and your offerings as a whole?

Once upon a time—like, a few years ago—my own collection of offerings was kind of like that—a mess of things that didn’t necessarily “belong” in my brand.

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blond girl is worried♪♫ Bad girl bad girl, ah-what-ya-gonna-do, ah-what-ya-gonna-do when they come for you? ♫ ♪

So many of us have done it: Used copyrighted photos without permission, posted an image online without crediting the photographer, and risked inviting stock photo companies and photogs alike to come after us with copyright infringement suits and who-knows-what other legal troubles. (Yikes!!)

You might think that being a “small fry” in the large world-wide-web makes it highly unlikely you’ll be caught, but as detailed in this article, any website—even a ten-visitors-per-month site in the farthest corner of the internet—can still be targeted for a very expensive (read: messy, pain-in-the-beehind, even business-ending) lawsuit.

I know you don’t want to get cornered into paying out $5,000 of your hard-earned dollars for an easily avoidable copyright infringement suit (I don’t either!), so here are two simple steps you can take to ensure that the photos you use are legally and ethically sound.

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Disgusted woman in red making a funny faceWould you believe, I once thought that branding, marketing, and advertising— all the things that allow us as small businesses to connect with our customers— were despicable?

In college, my heart’s desire was to be a greeting card designer for Hallmark…because I thought it would be a fun career where I could really make a difference, as opposed to working for some ad agency where I would be responsible for churning out billboard ads, sales brochures, or other things that I as a consumer traditionally found annoying and obtrusive.

But, as you might’ve already guessed, I warmed up to branding over time…choosing to design for small biz’preneurs like yourself, because you’re awesome and a blast to work with! What’s more, becoming a small business owner myself has helped me understand the need for, and role of, branding. In fact, I had forgotten there was a time when I thought it was despicable…

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email marketingIn the online business ’sphere, e-mail marketing is KING.

You hear it all the time: build your list, build your list, build your list. It’s uber-effective for getting clients, keeping your customers up-to-date, getting repeat business from people who’ve purchased from you before, and so forth.

Hopefully, you’re doing just that, and are ever on the lookout for new tactics to gain more new subscribers.

You’ve got a juicy opt-in offer to entice your prospects to sign up for your list.

You’re getting plenty of traffic to your website, and you want to know…“How do I get more of those folks to become subscribers, without being all up-in-their-faces?”

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What’s your flavor? (Sell it!)

strawberry ice cream from SXCYes, I’m totally going to go there…

…it’s the old ice-cream flavors analogy.

When it comes to the cream, everybody has their preference. Lots of people swear by vanilla…others love chocolate…then there are the picky ones, who have to have their rocky road, cheesecake-flavored with graham cracker bits, or mint chocolate chip. (That would be me, for the latter two flavors…actually, red velvet cake-flavored with swirls of cream cheese would be freakin’ awesome. I wonder where I could find some of that?)

NOW: What flavor is your business? What “vibe” or “atmosphere” will your ideal peeps totally love at first “bite”, and how do you give them that experience? Maybe you’re a strawberries’n’cream brand (read: light, friendly, nostalgic)…or you might be a niche brand like my aforementioned red velvet + cream cheese fantasy (read: exclusive, decadent).

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designer overwhelmDon’t get me wrong…I LOVE being a designer. But, design just doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process, sometimes frustratingly so!

Alas, design doesn’t become “great”, or “beautiful”, or “effective”, with the flick of a magic wand, either. It takes effort on both parties (designer and client), to get fantastic results.

So, say you’re going to hire a designer (like yours truly) to create your new business logo/trick out your website/make your e-book beautiful /whatever…

…You’d really like have your SHINY NEW THING completed in a reasonable amount of time, right? And, even more importantly, you want it to BE the fantastic design that piques more interest among your tribe, converts more customers, and creates more love & loyalty, among other things! (Right? Right!)

So, here are some things you can do on your end, to scoot things along faster, and get better results too…

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colorful water I love being a creative person. And, I love being an entrepreneur. (Holla’ if you do too!)

But, we entrepreneurs are far from perfect. For one thing, sometimes we’re so full of ideas and new ventures and general creative excitement, that we want to just “get this show on the road” already—even when we really shouldn’t.

If you’re a newly-minted entrepreneur building your brand from the ground up, or a seasoned ‘preneur in the midst of a major re-brand, you might be anxious to get your brand “out there” already. You wish you could have your website up, or commission that new logo…like, yesterday. Because the sooner you’re LIVE—running with all that brand personality and alluring products and services your peeps will love—the better, right?

dollars versus hours

Now, wait just a darn minute here. You’re looking at investing your hard-earned dollars (and/or your priceless time) to bring your brand to life via your website and other marketing channels. So doesn’t it make sense to wait until you’ve got your brand like you want it, before you hire a designer to bring it to life? Um, yes!

Look at it this way…

Building your visual brand identity is like building a house.

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