weekend reading | 09.19.14

weekend reading | grab a cup of tea and check out these posts!

Hi friends, and happy Friday! I just wanted to thank y’all for the great support for Brand Catalyst yesterday. That was what I imagine a soft announcement to be, and I’m hoping to get a more defined post and such as I continue working on the course.

Anyhow, let’s dive into those fun posts, right?

Here’s a great reminder from Katie: another person’s success doesn’t mean your failure. I think that’s something we could all stand to remind ourselves most days.

Freelancers: Allie wrote a great post on pricing yourself and knowing when to raise rates, two things that pretty much all of us struggle with from time to time.

Also for freelancers: I thought it was neat how Kia broke down her brand style packet that she sends to clients. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: it’s always great to read what others’ are doing because it can help you refine your own process!

Piggy-backing on that creative post is another from Jessie where she shares more about her creative process in a blog tour that I’m sure y’all have seen by now. Most of the freelancers I follow are only that, so it’s neat to follow her work at a 9-5 design job and as a freelancer.

For anyone coming back to their blog after taking a summer break, Celestine has some great tips on getting back into the blog grind.

Similarly, Angel has some very useful thoughts on knowing your limits in business.

Lastly, any photographers (or those interested) out there? Paige shared some really great tips for beginners on shooting professional photography.

Any posts you’d care to share? Leave a link in the comments so we can check them out!

crafting your branding

crafting your branding

Starting a business or blog can be intimidating, particularly because it seems that so many people are already out there doing it (and probably exactly what you want to do). However, one thing that I tell my constultees (and people who talk to me about starting a blog/business) is that yes, you should go after what you want to do, even if a ton of people are already doing it. Why? Well, because each person has their own unique experiences and voice. But, this post isn’t about finally starting that beauty and fashion blog you’ve been dreaming about (though I’m here to tell you that, yes, you should finally do it).

Instead, I’m talking about those moments after you decide to start a blog / business, and not just right after but those moments along your journey. One thing you have to think about while on that journey is your branding. Often times people think of branding as the name of something, or just a logo, but it goes deeper than that. So today I’m sharing a few things to think about when you begin to craft your branding, which can work for either a blog or a business.

Your name + logo Yes, obviously I’m starting with this one. Some people agonize over a name and others can immediately think of something and go with it. Regardless of which of those you are, it’s important to think about the name and then the logo. The name of your blog / business doesn’t have to be super deep, in fact you can go with your own name (many of us do!). If you are going for something different, give yourself time to come up with something that has meaning to you. Then think about a logo. You can make one, you can get a premade logo on Etsy, or you can work with a designer to get one made. This all depends on where you’re at in your journey and your budget. It’s okay to start out premade and then work with a designer later down the road. Ultimately, you just have to find something that suits you and your name.

Who you are, what you really do This is where you get deeper into what you’re doing. Don’t just look on the surface of your blog / business, really analyze who you are, what you’re doing, who you’re targeting, and more. Here are a few questions I ask my consultees along this line:

  • What do you do?
  • Who is your ideal client / reader?
  • Where would you like to be next year?

When we ask ourselves questions like these, they force us to really dig deep on our brand. Analyzing your answers to these types of questions can help you see maybe what you’re doing wrong and right, what goals you should set, and what things you should prioritize. Also, these are really just the tip of the iceberg. Go deeper, ask “Why do I do what I do? Who do I enjoy helping the most? What do I enjoy doing the most?” Thinking about these things will begin to bring clarity to your branding, which may shape your name, logo, voice, and more.

Your voice This is one that loads of people struggle with, I know. It can be difficult to find your voice in writing posts, service descriptions, or even to clients; however, the more you do the better you get, right? Translating your talking voice (and personality) to writing is tough, but don’t let that keep you from considering where your voice plays into your branding. Are you going to be playful in the way you talk? Are you going to be super straight forward and to the point? Your voice plays a huge role in your branding, so it’s important to think about how you want to “come off” in your words. Personally, I try to write exactly the way I talk, which is why there are some elongated words or italics in my posts and newsletter emails.

This is all really just the start; there is more that goes into your branding. If you want to learn more about building and crafting your branding, and then actually crafting your branding, I’m officially working on an ecourse that is meant for you: Brand Catalyst. Pop over to the website and sign up if you’d like more info as it becomes available. I’d love to have you!

launch / jules a la mode

jules a la mode | branding + blog design by kory woodard

I mentioned earlier this week that I would have a new project launch for y’all this week, and here it is! I’m so thrilled to be finally bringing y’all the final design on this project. Y’all probably remember this moodboard and this process post, and obviously this is the outcome! I just thought it was so funny with the process post that many of you were liking the top left (or the bottom right) and the top left on that post was the final! You guys just know sometimes!

One thing we ended up doing a bit differently was dropping the red down to a darker color. When we started looking at the blog design itself, the red just felt like it was popping too much. Instead of forcing it, we worked on finding a new color that fit better with the black and white color scheme. Ultimately, Jules picked out the perfect deep burgundy, and of course I love how it fits in with the rest of the look.

jules a la mode | branding + blog design by kory woodard

We worked on her About page, per usual, and her package also included an additional page design, which we used on her Collaborate page. She wanted her content on both simple and to the point, so we didn’t over-design those pages. I thought it would be fun to add the types of collaborations to that page, and I’m liking how it turned out.

Obviously you need to see the design for yourself, so be sure to click over!

getting organized / 05

getting organized : straightening up your blog

Wooo, it’s been a loooong time since the last post in this series. I apologize, y’all. I guess I got inspired to write so many other things I sort of forgot about this series. I’m back though with it today, and I wanted to share some tips on straightening up your blog.

Blogging is such a cool thing. When you stop and think about it, you’re writing your opinions and feelings and posting them on the internet, meeting other people who have similar opinions and feelings that you might never meet if we weren’t all on the internet. However, in this long pattern of writing, meeting, connecting, and repeating, it’s super easy to forget about the stuff that’s not content that’s hanging around on our blogs. So let’s get down to it, right?

Your pages Throughout our blogging journey we add pages to our navigation. Home, about, contact, collaborate, press, and on and on. Wow. Just thinking about all the stuff that goes on those pages is overwhelming. Here’s the thing: if the pages aren’t doing anything for you, why have them? For example: what if you have a sponsor page, but no one is jumping to sponsor your blog? Or what if you have a contact page, but no one’s getting in touch. You have two options for these pages: get rid of them or revamp what’s on them.

Your ads Yikes! Here’s one that falls under one of my pet peeves: if you have ads (paid, affiliate, or otherwise) in your sidebar and they aren’t making you any money or getting any clicks, why exactly are they there? (The only exception to this is the image links to organizations you support or are a part of like Southern Blog Society or Links With Love.) I’m not the first to admit that if I go to your blog and there are a ton of ads in the sidebar, I’m getting distracted, and I’ll probably end up clicking out without reading anything. Instead of distracting your readers with tons of ads, narrow down on ones that are getting attention from your readers. If none are, don’t be afraid to nix ads altogether for a while. I did, and I still don’t regret it.

Your design I hear y’all already: “I don’t have enough money to hire a designer! I’m DIY-ing my design, and it’s tough! I’m doing what I can!” Look, I get it. Regardless if you’ve worked with a designer or you’re on the DIY route, routinely check in on things. Are images still displaying the way they were meant to? Are your images wide enough? Is your design cohesive? A messy design is just as distracting as too many ads in the sidebar, so by checking in on things every now and then, you can make sure that you’re blog is looking its best. (Added note: If you need advice on your design, Sarah does a column called Fix-It Friday, where she gives a bit of advice to those who comment!)

Our blogs mean a lot to us, and with as much work as we put into the content, it can be a downer when it starts collecting dust, so take a little bit of time every couple of months to straighten things up and keep your blog looking as good as your content sounds!

currently / 14

life lately | kory woodard

Hey friends! Wow, this weekend seemed to fly by! I know that’s not entirely unusual though, right? Fun stuff has been going on around these parts, so I thought it was just perfect timing to share a new life related post with y’all! I don’t want to do this list style, but honestly that seems easiest so here we go:

+ Since the last currently post I got engaged! Holy smokes. We’re now trying to figure out what exactly we’re going to do about getting married, when, and where as well as when we want me to move over to South Carolina. It’ll be weird calling a completely different state home, but luckily it’s just so gorgeous I might get used to it!

+ After that I came back and started working through an ecourse that I (sort of) impulsively bought. I nixed my original idea for the new offering I was working on and got another one instead after you guys blew me away with the survey responses a few weeks back. I’m taking it slow on this project since it’s the first of it’s kind for me, but I’ll keep y’all updated on where I’m at.

+ I met the beautiful and sweet Lauren a week from last Friday at a wonderful coffee shop in Franklin. Not only did I enjoy a wonderful lunch there, but I had such a blast chatting with Lauren on all sorts of life things. She’s got so much heart; really, if you’re not following her online, you need to get on that!

+ I finished one of the books on my list of two to read for this month. Boo-ya! Actually, the picture above is from when I was reading Three to Get Deadly while killing time before Lauren showed up. I just love the Stephanie Plum series so much! Those books keep you on the edge of your seat but are still girly enough that they’re for the gals!

Those are my big things! I also binge watched the two seasons of Nashville late last week through Saturday. Man! I did not think I would like that show, but it’s actually really good. Loads of drama and I just fell in love with the actors and actresses in it! I’ve also been finishing up some design projects. I’ve got one to share with y’all this week, and another to share next month after the site launches. It’s soo much fun to see my projects come to life, I tell ya.

So! Now that I’ve dished on my life, I want to hear about yours! Share something that’s been going on with you (big or small) in the comments!