Selling on Etsy – The Importance of Image Quality

Selling on Etsy – The Importance of Image Quality

After keywords, your product images on your Etsy store are the biggest facts in the success of your shop.  Ranking on Etsy or getting views based on your titles and tags is like a dark art on its own.  It is also subject of many articles and Youtube videos like this one from Etsy coach Nancy Badillo www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZCbCqTB7UM, or Etsy and Erank guru Starla Moore www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVMeis4q3P4&t=194s.

 

I have also discussed the importance of Search engine optimisation SEO in a previous blog www.kdigitaldesign.com/learn-how-to-optimise-your-business-starting-with-seo/] and the value of images in marketing your blog or online store.  SEO for Etsy stores is about using relevant keywords that the average person would use to find your products.

 

This blog post focuses on how to improve your Etsy shop through improving the quality of your product images in your listings.

 

 

Outline

  • What makes a quality listing?
  • 10 Images – Analysis of a Listing
  • What is a lifestyle Image?
  • Canva Templates
  • Summary

Be sure to grab my Ultimate Etsy Image Guide to keep as a hand guide

How to Create a Mood Board in Canva

 

What Makes a Quality Listing?

  

In my opinion, the number one rule with images when selling on Etsy, or any online store, is to ensure that your images clearly show what you are selling.  On your Etsy store, the first thumbnail or feature image is key, as that is what determines whether a visitor will click through to view the rest of your images.  The thumbnail should be a close up or zoomed in view of the item you are selling without distracting backgrounds.

Far too often I see photos of people’s handmade hard work not being shown to look their best.  You have worked so hard to make and design, don’t let yourself down by your images.

 

Let’s take one  example – earrings or other jewellery photographed lying on the lawn, draped over coloured rocks, or hanging on bushes.  Most of the time the size of the jewellery in these types of photos is very small, or out of scale with the props used.  I recommend not including props in the thumbnail or main listing image – this way it is not only clear WHAT you are selling, it is also clear to the buyer that the props are NOT included.  Whilst this may seem obvious, a quick read of seller posts on some Etsy Facebook Groups will quickly show you that buyers can make all sorts of assumptions or claims when making a purchase based on what they see.

 

If the background on your Etsy listings is too distracting – heavily textured and dark timber are some I see often – it means the buyer has to really squint to see the detail of what you are selling.  As many people shop and browse on their mobile phones, image clarity is even more important.  You want the potential buyer to like what they see enough to click through to your other images and to make a purchase.  So make your hardwork the focus.  Show a close up of your product.

 

As much as overly dark or distracting backgrounds take away from the quality of your product, so too do stark white backgrounds.  It’s not a great idea to remove the background of your product and then show it ‘floating’ on a stark white background – this can be “jarring” on the eyes.  You want some muted toning or softening of bright white. 

 

One thing to note is that the colour and style of a background that suits one shop, may not work so well for another shop.  So often lately on social media I am seeing posts and comments from overwhelmed and confused Etsy sellers saying “I read that we should only use white background”, or “I read that we should not use white backgrounds”, “I heard that we should now use wooden backgrounds) … and the myths go on.

 

There is no 100% right or wrong answer.  Find what works for your items taking into account:

  • Using a close up of your product
  • Keep props off the first thumbnail if possible
  • Use light coloured and lightly textured backgrounds generally
  • Use darker backgrounds where it suits – but not if they obscure the detail of your item
  • Avoid stark white photos with your image just floating in white space

 

    5 reasons you need a mood board for your business

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    10 Images – Analysis of an Etsy Listing 

     

    Etsy gives us 10 image slots for a reason.  I encourage you to use as many as you need to show what you are selling.  Think of it like a shop window – people have the opportunity online to view items without touching them, so they want know:

     

    • What it is?
    • How to use it?
    • What colour/s it is?
    • What material it is made of?
    • What size is it?
    • What will it look like?
    • How is it packaged?

     

    ALL without the benefit of physically touching or trying on the item.  YES we have written descriptions which can tell Etsy shoppers all about the details and beauty of our products and digital downloads, but I find that most people will not go to the written details, if the images are not good enough to convince them that they need your item or that what you are selling will solve their problem.

     

    I used to think that we should always use all 10 image spots, and I actually do this for my Canva template shop.  However, don’t do it if it means showing the same or similar images of an item over and over for the sake of filling up all 10 photo spaces.  In these cases, I suggest that less is more.  I wouldn’t do any less than 5 or 6.  If you think about it, by the time you show some different angles of the item, some lifestyle shots, explain a few details, showcase some other items in your shop, I think it would be hard for you to be including less than 5 images.  Remember a few words next to your photo will answer a lot of questions a buyer might have, before they get to the detailed description.

     

    Colour

     if a listing comes in other colours, show the variety available. Even if the items are listed separately, it will encourage a shopper to browse your store and understand that there are options available.

    Scale  –

    humans are funny beasts and not all of us can easily visualise the scale of an object.  In addition, with Etsy being an international platform, you have different measurement systems to deal with leaving some scratching their heads as to what 5 inches equates to and others wondering if the 80 centimetre long artwork will fit in the space they have in mind in their home.  I’m a fan of showing the scale of objects in a relevant way.  Don’t just throw in a coin or a ruler and hope for the best.  Try to use a prop or a guide that is related to the item being sold.  For example, in one of my templates for a crocheted baby toy, I show the toy next to a baby’s bottle, to give some idea of how big the toy is.  In another project I have shown a timber sign hanging on a wall above a dining table to show as a guide – how big the sign is.

     

    Include a video when you can in your listing – show how you create your item or show your product in different settings.  This all adds to the visual marketing appeal of your goods and your shop as a whole.

     

     Ugghhhh !!  I’m hearing the groans even as I type this, that some sellers will think this is too much work – and that my friends, is where the magic of templates come in.  Read the section below on Canva templates and find out how you can save so much time AND have high quality listings.

     

     

    What is a Lifestyle Image?

    A lifestyle image or mockup is showing people how your item is used in everyday life.  As people, we are emotional beings.  We like to visualise how clothing is worn, what you can fit inside a handbag, how a blue scrunchie will look in different coloured hair, how the geometric artwork would look in a lounge room, office or nursery.

     

    These are all lifestyle images to help sell your product.  They are examples of how a buyer can use your item which will help convince them that it is right for them and that they need to add it to their cart.

     

    Does this mean that you need to photograph every item in your store in different locations, on six different models or get a professional photographer to flatlay your products?  No.  Clear photos of what you are selling, plus a few Canva templates,  and you will be able to list your items more quickly and make them look professional and saleable.  Read on below for more information. 

     

    Make your lifestyle images relevant though.  As I mentioned earlier, don’t photograph your earrings or your wine glasses in your backyard on the green lawn or rocks as they are not relevant to the item you are selling.  In this setting, these props distract from what you are selling, confuse the buyer and often stops a buyer from getting a detailed view of your item.  Not only that, it’s time and effort that you don’t need to be spending.

     

     

    5 reasons you need a mood board for your business

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    Canva Templates

    I still remember the joy of the day I discovered Canva.  You can use the free version (www.Canva.com), although personally I have Canva Pro because I use it multiple times a day for my business.  The benefit of using a programme such as Canva, is that you can take reasonable quality photos yourself, even on your phone, upload them and create great listing images by adding backgrounds, text and other elements.  This reduces the need for expensive equipment, a lot of time you probably don’t have, and also eliminates the need for a variety of props.

     

    If you are not sure where to start, I have some Etsy shop listing templates in my store.  Some are niche specific – such as for soap shops, candle shops and crochet shops, however these can really be used for any type of Etsy shop.   I also have a general mockup template which can be used for any type of shop whether it is a product or digital shop.

     

    The idea of using templates is that they are super easy to edit, save you a whole lot of time and up the WOW factor for your shop.  With my templates, simply:

     1. delete the placeholder images and insert your own

    2. Edit the text

    3. Change the background colour if you wish

     

    The best part is you can use this same template for ALL your Etsy listings, saving you a ton of time, as well as making your shop look professional and consistent.

     

    Create a colour palette from your moodboard

     

    Summary

     

    Remember – people act on visuals.  If they like what they see in your images they are more likely to stay on your Shop and look around and to purchase.  You only have 1 to 2 seconds to capture attention.  Your product images need to be clear and they need to answer any questions your buyer has when they are browsing.  Most potential buyers are not going to read the details in your listing descriptions if they have not been won over by your images.

     

    Have a look at some successful shops in your niche.  See how they present their photos and listings.  But when you do this, keep it in the context that a lot of older shops, that have built up a great following and high sales, may have done so with less images, darker backgrounds, lower quality photos.  In a world where online shopping has grown astronomically, and there are now well over 4 million Etsy shops, competition is fierce, and best practice is important.  Etsy is a small business platform, so to succeed, you need to engage in proven small business marketing techniques to attract your buyers.  It doesn’t have to be overwhelming, yes it can be a lot of work, but your images are the deciding factor as to whether your views convert to sales or not.

    Let me know what you think and I would love for you to share some before and after photos if you decide to update some of your listing images.

     

    If you do purchase one of my Etsy listing templates – be sure to share it here or over on my Instagram as I would love to see how you put your personal touch on them.

     

    K Digital Design
    How to Make A Mood Board Using Canva

    How to Make A Mood Board Using Canva

    Mood boards can be used for so many different purposes from styling a room or styling an outfit.  In relation to small business, creating a mood board is a great place to start to develop your brand story.  I believe we should take cues from the visual images that inspire us to create our branding components.  If your business is built around what you love and what inspires you, you will feel a stronger connection to what you project towards your potential customers or clients.

     

    In this blog I will show you a step by step on how to create your own Mood Board using Canva.  But first, if you are not already getting all the blog information, new releases and special offers, then take a moment to jump on board and join my email list.

    How to Create a Mood Board in Canva

     

    What is A Mood Board?

      

    If you examine the Oxford Dictionary definition, a mood board is:

     

    “An arrangement of images, materials, pieces of text etc intended to provoke or inject a particular style or concept

     

    Your mood board can be printed out and pinned up in your home study or office.  Alternatively you can keep it digital and use it as a reference.  Spend the time on creating your board as it sets the framework for building your brand components that tell your brand story:

    • brand colours
    • brand “voice”
    • logo
    • patterns
    • textures
    • personality

      

    5 reasons you need a mood board for your business

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    5 Reasons You Should Create a Mood Board For Your Business

     

    Remember in the definition we learnt about invoking moods and vibes – that is precisely what we want to do when creating a mood board as the context of our new small business.  We want to convey, through pictures and words, what our business is all about.  What is the mood?  What is the personality?  Is our brand about casual elegance or sophisticated and sleek style?

    1 brainstorm your business identity

    2 select brand colours and imagery

    3 show others what your brand is about

    4 engage your Target Audience

    5 reach your goals.

     

     1. Brainstorm your Business Identity

     The first step is for you as the business owner to have clarity on what your business identity is, and what you want to convey about your business to the outside world.  This is relevant to businesses of any size.  You don’t have to be a large corporation to focus on brand awareness.  If you don’t understand your own branding, how do you expect your customers or clients to do the same?

     

    2. Select your brand colours and imagery

     

     This is the fun part.  In the next part of this blog I show you how you go about this creative but important step.  This is a key part of your brand message.  I have talked in other blogs about the importance and the power of the visual image.  This blog discusses choosing images for your website: www.kdigitaldesign.com/choosing-website-brand-images/

     

    3. Show Others What Your Brand is About 

     

    Through your brand collateral – your logo, business documents, website, social media posts and comments, your brand identity is on display for potential clients or customers. It gives a glimpse of the personality and context of the brand and the people behind the brand.

     

    4. Helps engage your target audience

     Done right, your marketing content which is built on your original mood board, is attracting your target audience.  Your words and images should reach those who align with your brand and want to be associated with it – either as customers, clients, consumers collaborators or influencers.

     

    5. Reach your goals.

    This might seem a stretch, but hear me out. 

    You have taken the time to analyse your what and why of your business.  You have then symbolised it through a creating a mood board.  Next you gave life to your brand personality by developing your business brand collateral – your logo, brand colours, brand imagery, brand messaging.

    You engaged with your target audience because you were on message – your brand conveyed the authentic “you” in your business and your customers could see that you were on brand and had a clear business brand and clear business goals. 

     WHY?

    Because you created a mood board which describes the who, what and why of your business in words and pictures.  It is THAT simple.  And it is also THAT important.  You achieved your goals and you will continue to kick goals.

     

    Now that you are convinced as to why you need a mood board, besides being a creative outlet and the opportunity for some home office artwork, it is time to create a mood board for your business, blog or even your Etsy shop.

     

    Here is a simple Canva mood board template that I have created that you can grab for free by signing up to the link below.  There is no right or wrong way to create your board – make it as simple or creative as you like.

     

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    Mood Board template in canva.  Sign up to K Digital Design to get free template

    Step 1: Create a New Design

    Save the template I have made as your own Canva document.  It doesn’t matter what size your moodboard is, what matters is that you make one.   The one I have designed has the dimensions of 1920x1080px.     

     

    Step 2: Personality Words

    Brainstorm some words that you would like to use to convey your business brand to the community.  It could be casual or formal, fun or corporate. Luxury, natural, urban, classy, sophistocated etc.   If you get stuck you can always do a web search for brand personality keywords, but try not to overthink it.  You really want a few words that readily come to your mind that you want to inject into your business branding.

     

    Write these words in the space provided on my template Mood Board that you have downloaded.

     

    Step 3: Images

    Search images on Canva or Pinterest to find ideas of things that you love.  Just remember when using Pinterest that you are collecting these images for your own use, so it is okay to use them on your moodboard for personal use.  If you are looking for brand images to use in your business, then photos you have access to on Canva are fine for you to use.  Alternatively, Unsplash is a great source of free stock images.

     

    By way of example, let’s pretend that the keywords you choose are:

    • Fun
    • Natural
    • Calm
    • Discerning

    Type these words individually or as phrases into Canva or Pinterest and find images that you like based on these keywords.  Place the images onto your moodboard.  You can use as many as you want.  Try not to have so many as you still want to be able to read a cohesive mood or vibe from your selection.  They don’t have to be images related to your business but they can be.

     

    Below is the example of my ‘Coolum Homewares’ mood board.   It shows some homewares in natural materials and discerning items, but it also shows calm and fun through the beach scene.  Have fun playing around with options and settle on 4 to 8 images to reflect your vision or brand mood.

    Create a colour palette from your moodboard

    Step 4: Colour Palette

    Next we can use our images to select a colour palette.  From my photos, I can readily identify natural “raffia” fibre colour, white and blue tones.   To find the right tones that blend with the images, you can select one of the blank colour palette rectangles in the template.  This brings up the Canva colour options and when you look at those you will see that photo colour options are shown for the photos in the mood board.   These colours are shown as they are complementary to your image colours, or close matches.

     

    there is another cool way within Canva itself to generate colour palettes for your brand.  For some reason, not many people seem to know about this feature.  Head on over to www.canva.com/colors/color-palette-generator/.  Next upload single images or your image collage and the Canva generator will pop up with a colour selection.  You can get lost for hours researching the combinations available.

     

    If you want to colour match an exact colour in your photo go to Image Color Picker (imagecolorpicker.com).  Upload your photo and it will select colour matches as well as colour combinations.  The great feature about this website is that it allows you to choose how many colours you want in your colour palette, and also lets you zoom in to refine a colour match.

     

    Summary

    Now you have a mood board that has been inspired by you and your vision for your business.  In turn, your mood board will also inspire your business growth as you move through the different stages of your setting up and launching your business.

     

    It is also relevant from time to time to revist your vision board and see if your business goals and direction still align with your original mood board.  Have you drifted away from your original direction?  Or has your business evolved so that you may need to update your mood board.

     

    I would love for you to share the mood boards you make using either my template or your own vision board template.  Share them below and let me know how you are progressing.

     

    K Digital Design
    What is Working on Pinterest? – The Data Doesn’t Lie

    What is Working on Pinterest? – The Data Doesn’t Lie

     

    Introduction

    If you are reading this Blog post then chances are you have an interest in Pinterest and most likely Tailwind.  Perhaps you are wanting to get started on Pinterest but not sure what is the best approach in using the visual search engine.

     

    The power of visual images for marketing, is well known, and I have discussed some of the benefits in this earlier blog (www.kdigitaldesign.com/choosing-website-brand-images) and this one too (www.kdigitaldesign.com/pinterest-marketing-for-small-business).

     BUT what really prompted me to write this article is how much other factors can be powerful in our decision making processes that affect our businesses.  Unfortunately, not all of it is for the right reasons, particularly when social media gets in the way.  

    This blog will discuss the impacts that arise from: 

    – What is said in social media forums about Pinterest and Tailwind

    – What was presented by Tailwind representatives Jeff Sieh and Alisa Merideth in a Facebook live on February 25 2021 (US time) – you can catch the replay on the Tailwind Facebook page here (facebook.com/Tailwind)

    Outline – Dispelling Pinterest Myths

     The Tailwind live session was a great information source and boosted my confidence in knowing that a sound strategy, including the use of Tailwind, is a good path for Pinterest success. My intention is that by distilling the information discussed in the live, will help you as a Pinterest user to understand what works, and to separate some of the fact from the fiction out there.

    1. Some Terminology
    2. Tailwind Studies – A Summary of 2021 Results
    3. Saves and Followers DO Matter on Pinterest
    4. Biggest Mistakes
    5. Pinterest v Tailwind
    6. Repinning – Is it Out or In?
    7. Biggest Winners
    8. Summary

     

      

     

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    Pinterest Marketing for Small Business

     

    1. Some Terminology

    It can be confusing to keep up with the terms used in Pinterest especially after the changes made in January 2021 [you can read my summary of those in an earlier post here (https://kdigitaldesign.com/pinterest-analytics-update-january-21/)

    Relevant to this blog article are the key terms that Alisa Merideth used in the Facebook Live: 

    • A “Create” –  this means a new pin, the first time it appears whether it is published in Pinterest or Tailwind first.  You will notice on your Pinterest account there is a ‘create’ tab – and you can choose to create a new pin.
    • Saves – any time a pin is saved. These used to be referred to as a ‘repin’. A save is a good indication of the distribution of your pin.  If someone is saving your content, then they have an interest in, either immediately or are saving for future reference.

     

    Bear in mind that a “save” could be you saving your own pin to different boards (more on that later) OR it could be you saving other people’s content and someone else saving YOUR content.

     

    Personally, I love the use of the term “creates” in this context, as discussions about what constitutes a fresh pin can be confusing.

     

    2. Tailwind Studies – A Summary of 2021 Results

      

    I have listened to a few Facebook lives in the last week or so where Alisa spoke about the study that Tailwind completed in January 2021. What is interesting is that the study arose because of the massive “buzz” on social media about whether pinning with Tailwind versus pinning with Pinterest resulted in different outcomes.  The premise being that one yielded better stats than the other.

     

    I know from being a member of many different Facebook Pinterest and blogging communities that there is a lot of opinions as to whether one is better than the other or whether one platform can negatively impact on your results.  However, this is all hearsay unless it backed up by evidence or data.  AND that’s what Tailwind did.  The analysed the data to find out the answer to not only this question, and in the process, various interesting facts came to light.

     

    The Results are In:

    The Tailwind study surveyed millions of pins that were pinned recently, and these included non-Tailwind users, (so there is no bias on that aspect).  The results showed (insert drum roll here):

    • Pins with 20 or more saves were from pinners who were pinning a lot more new creates (brand new pins) than they were saving (repining) content.

     

    • The first time a create appears it attracts 71% of its saves (so the more times it appears, the less times it is saved – although still able to attract an additional 29% which is not insignificant).

     

    • Average Engagement drops off around 60 days after a new create is first published (half-life used to be around 120 days). This is an average figure.  There will still be a lot of older pins that are getting saves and there will be a lot of pins that trail off in less than 60 days.  Remember these are averages, but also points to freshness as a relevant factor.

     

    Does this mean we shouldn’t pin out 2-3 months in advance? No – again Alisa explains that this all about averages, not hard and fast data, and in my opinion another example of how when you start mentioning numbers, things can get taken out of context and 3 days later, on social media become “law”.   Of course, we should be pinning in advance for upcoming holidays and special events to capture the first wave of interest for those that are planning in advance as pinners like to do.  Then top up the content with new images.

      

    How to be Successful on Pinterest

    3.Saves and Followers DO Matter on Pinterest

    How To Increase Your Pinterest Saves by 373%

     Now who could resist that headline?

     The Tailwind study also showed that of the millions of pins investigated, those which were made using Tailwind Create had a 373% increase in saves of pins compared to saving an existing pin.

     

    We don’t know what difference there is in using Tailwind Creates compared to Canva when designing a new create. What this information could be telling us that is that people are creating more pins as Tailwind Creates can be faster (once you have tried it a few times) and the pin designs are a little bit different to what has traditionally been doing the rounds of Pinterest up until now (generally speaking of course).

    What Does This Data Mean for Pinterest?

     

    This information is GOLD.  It provides such richness on what is working in general in Pinterest and Tailwind.  That said, it remains true that approaches to using Pinterest should be unique to YOUR account and YOUR business.  What this confirms or consolidates, however, is that the changes and Pinterest ‘best practice’ and tips that were adopted and promoted by Pinterest back in September 2020 are becoming reality as shown by this social proof.

    • Pinterest said they wanted fresh content
    • Pinterest said they wanted creative content
    • Pinterest said they wanted people to engage with their platform more

     

    AND the Tailwind study has demonstrated that the best results are coming from

    • pinning more fresh content compared to saving content
    • Our first pin yields us the most saves on average – so where we save it and how many we create must matter, right?

     Part of the Tailwind study looked at pins with more than 5000 saves:

     30% were video pins

    • 89% of pins with more than 5000 saves had some additional layer of engagement – either a comment, reaction or photo attached.

     

    What About Followers on Pinterest?

    Another part of the Study examined 2 million accounts who pinned in November 2020 and January 2021.  Those who had consistently higher than average engagement had an average follower count of 50,000.  YES you read the correctly.

     

    I liken it to FOMO (fear of missing out) – as identities on Pinterest become well known, their content becomes more visible because they are sharing content more frequently.  Engagement grows, saves grow, and followers grow.  A lot of Pinterest Managers will tell you that followers don’t matter.  They do matter it would seem.  Increasing your followers increases the chance of your content being seen.

     

    I have never subscribed to “follow for follow” trains, however, there are meaningful ways you can grow your followers:

     

    • Publish fresh content/blogs
    • Pin fresh content
    • Nurture and grow your email list
    • Add value in social media groups

     4. Biggest Pinterest Mistakes

     Not claiming your website.  It seems obvious but … apparently amongst the consistent UNDER performers on Pinterest, only 3% had claimed their website.  Claim your website on Pinterest so people find you more easily when you pin something.

     

    Not so much a “mistake” but another thing to note with Pinterest is that Hashtags are out and in fact are not recommended any more.  Does this mean you should go and delete all your existing hashtags, probably not worth the time.  Moving forward leave them out.  What we do know from Pinterest and Tailwind is that they don’t provide any benefit, and potentially – although I have no first hand information, is that they may leave your pin vulnerable to “bot attacks.

     

    I would hazard a guess that in the accounts that are underperforming even though they are pinning regularly – keyword or SEO optimisation would be an issue – either on the boards, pin titles, pin descriptions, or all of the above.

      

    Pinterest versus Tailwind - which is better for pinning.

    5. Pinterest versus Tailwind

    Tailwind analysed pins from July 2020 through to Jan 2021 to test whether there was any difference in results depending on what platform the pin was first published.  Both Jeff and Alisa are active in Facebook groups and saw the many complaints and suggestions that Tailwind was negatively affecting their Pinterest performance.

     

    The results showed that pins made in Tailwind had the same or higher engagement compared to pins made in Pinterest.  As Jeff Sieh discussed, we are often quick to blame the tools instead of looking at the data to see why results may be different.

     

    6. Repinning – Is it Out or In?

     

    Okay, so we have heard that 71% of saves happens (on average) to the first create.  The first time a pin appears. What does this mean for repining own content?  Does this mean Pinterest doesn’t want us to repin at all anymore (… I can see the social media rumour mill grinding away as a type ….).  We can still save to other relevant boards, just be aware of “diminishing returns”.  There is still a chance for 29% more saves. 

    Alisa Merideth raises a very interesting point on this topic.  She explains how it might be worth considering only saving new create to one board and then change the image and keyword to target the other boards.

    In all honesty, I feel a little bit vindicated by some of these results.  So many times in the last few months I have proffered advice in Facebook forums about pinning proportionally more of your own content than you do of other peoples.  This is what Pinterest has been telling us about wanting new content.  Perhaps it goes further than that though.  Perhaps it does mean saving less of our own pins to even a few relevant boards.  Do I think it means only pinning one pin to one board?  No – as there is still on average almost 30% of content value left on the table if we take that approach.  These Tailwind results indicate that Pinterest really does want fresh content.

     

    Testing and analysing results is one way to find out what approach works best for your account.

    7. Biggest Pinterest Winners?

     

     Story Pins and video pins are hot right now on Pinterest.  My view is that as the demographic on Pinterest is getting younger than a few years ago, and video content is more mainstream, it makes sense that video and animations will feature heavily on Pinterest.  The more popular they are the more people will include them on their pins and the cycle continues.

     

    If I am being totally honest, it has taken me a bit of convincing to get on board with animations and videos on Pinterest.  As a long time user of Pinterest for personal use, I favour the relaxing browsing functionality of Pinterest, and not necessarily a personal fan of moving images whilst browsing.  However, from a business and branding perspective on Pinterest, I can see that colour and movement are important in some niches and to a wider audience.

     

    Also winning is using your data to inform your outcomes.  I have always been a person who researches and analyses (some will say too much …) but understanding your data to inform your decision making really hit home to me when I started listening to Jennifer Priest from Smart Creative Social and her amazing Smart Pin Pro course ( www.smartcreativesocial.com)

     

    8. Recommendations – Where to From Here?

     

    So if you are new to Pinterest what should you do?    Is it too late to be a Pinterest success?  For sure there are businesses who have been on Pinterest for years and their success is entrenched so the impacts of changes to Pinterest may not affect their process or strategy as much as those of us who are newer.

    Does this mean it’s too late to get on board the Pinterest train?  Absolutely not.  Pinterest is in a massive growth phase that will only get bigger as importance of visual marketing and alternatives to Facebook and Instagram are being sought out.

     

    If you follow the advice to:

    • pin fresh content on a regular basis
    • Only pin to relevant boards
    • focus on the growth of your own account, don’t compare to others
    • have great SEO or keyword rich titles, descriptions and board names
    • Pin variety
    • Think of your audience when designing your content – they don’t want to see it all looking the same

    I encourage a mix of pin types to engage with your audience – use a little animation on a pin – it can be as simple as a moving arrow.  Create some simple video pins relevant to your content.  Experiment with creativity.  This is what Pinterest is looking for.  If we can make Pinterest happy, the rewards should be reflected in those clicks, saves and engagements.

    Use Tailwind to improve your workflow if repining to more than one board or using smart loop.  Try out Tailwind Creates for a little more variety – it may just save you some time as well, especially after you have tried a couple of times.

    I would love to know what myths you have heard about when using Pinterest or Tailwind.  Was there anything in this article that is new to you or that you might use to mix up your Pinterest strategy?

    K Digital Design
    Learn How to Optimise Your Business Starting with SEO

    Learn How to Optimise Your Business Starting with SEO

    Optimisation or “to optimise” means:

    “the action of making the best or most effective use of a situation or resource.”

     

    This term is one of the most used terms around on Google, Bing, social media, Pinterest and even Etsy, amongst those running an online business.  I have come to realise particularly in the last few weeks as I dive back into my business after  the holidays – is that whilst many people USE the term, there are a lot of people who don’t fully understand what it means to have a business that is optimised for success.  Inherent in its component parts is having an optimised website, as well as having sound business practices and a marketing strategy which is built on optimising each of your social media platforms, Pinterest, and/or Etsy stores.

     Content Outline

     In an earlier blog I talked about the need for having business systems and how they help you.  Read that blog post here: https://kdigitaldesign.com/small-business-success-how-to-start-your-online-business-the-right-way   The information in that blog is ideal for new online businesses as well as those auditing their marketing and website traffic to see where they can improve.

     

    In this optimisation blog I focus on  SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation.

    • What is SEO?
    • Why you need SEO?
    • How to optimise for searching

      

     

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    Pinterest Marketing for Small Business

    What You Will Learn

    After you read this post, you should feel more confident in understanding the chatter or lingo when you next see it on social media forums.  More importantly, if you understand what optimisation is, and how to optimise, you will have a better chance of being successful in writing your own website and blog copy.

     

    If you haven’t already, please go ahead and sign up to my email list now so that you are the first to learn when my next blog post is published – it is about why I believe that SEO is not enough on its own to grow your business and achieve the success that you truly deserve.  You don’t want to miss that one as so many people fall into trap of believing that SEO is all you need. For my Pinterest fans out there who already believe in the power of Pinterest for your business (and if you don’t read this blog first: https://kdigitaldesign.com/pinterest-marketing-for-small-business)  I have another blog in the pipeline about how to optimise your Pinterest account.

    What is SEO?

     

     At this beginning of this article I explained that optimisation related to being effective – which is successfully achieving an intended outcome or goal.  Clearly for most if not all small businesses and blogs starting out, the goal is to grow our audience or customers, and grow our business so we can help others and make a profit in the process.  Search Engine Optimisation (or SEO for short) is the: 

    “process of improving the quality and quantity of website traffic to a website or web page from search engines” (Wikipedia)

    Let’s break this down – SEO is about:  

    1.  Search Engine
    2. Process
    3. Improving (or increasing)
    4. Quality and Quantity
    5. Website/web page

     

    1. Search Engines

     Simply put, as I’m sure you know, a search engine is a programme that searches for content based on the keyword terms.  Obvious ones are Google and Bing and similar.  Did you know that Pinterest and Etsy and can also be thought of as search engines?  Common to all is that they use a complex system of software to analyse and label what people are searching for. 

     

    As a society we often joke about “just Google it”, but in reality it is a common part of our everyday lives.  Whether it is literally Google, or a social media or other platform, as consumers we are constantly searching for information and resources to help us in our personal and business lives.

     

    From an online business perspective, these search engines provide an important basis on which to gain visitors or traffic to our website or shop or our Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn accounts. 

     

     

    Why you need SEO for your business

    Process

    Process is important because as business owners I truly believe that it is important to understand how something works in order to experience success.  Understanding what you are doing and why, will help you analyse the results and to know what to change if necessary.

     

    Take the example of a cake – following a recipe and knowing what ingredients you are putting in and the quantity of those ingredients will help determine the outcome.  Sure, there are other factors such as cooking time and oven temperature involved, but the fundamentals of the process are knowing what to use and how much.

     

    SEO process is no different.  You need to have a system for identifying what people are looking for in relation to what products you sell or what services you provide.  As part of that action, you first need to know your business niche and who your ideal client or target audience is.  If you were your ideal customer, what keywords or phrases would you be looking for ?  Perhaps take some time after reading this blog to write those down. 

    Improving or Increasing

    Here is where we get to the purpose or intent of using search engine optimisation in business.  We want to increase the number of visitors to your blogs, websites or online stores.  It really is as simple as that.  The more people visiting your site/shop, the more eyes on your goods and services and the better chance you have of sales conversion.

     

    Gone are the glory days when simply having a website was enough to be found by searching.  Given the billions of websites out there, you need to optimise your content so that your audience finds you when they are searching.  When they are using everyday terms to find something that is going to help them or solve their problem.

    The more often an online business, blogger, or ecommerce store uses those keywords in their content, the more likely their content is going to appear in front of their target audience.  of course there is always moderation.  Use the keywords in your content so that it still makes sense to the reader, without “keyword stuffing”.  You still want to be authentic to your audience.

      

    Quality and Quantity

    When a user inputs words to find some information or a resource, the platform uses that information to track relevant content.  The more people using those keyword terms, the more popular it becomes.   This can become a double-edged sword as if the terms are too popular, you can get lost in a sea of results, competing with the masses. 

     

    As new small business owners or bloggers, you can implement great strategies to optimise your content and product descriptions without having to engage an SEO expert.  Whilst all platforms operate differently, the common basis is to use search terms or keywords that your audience will be using.  If it is not a word that is commonly used, find something similar to use that “Joanne Public” is more likely to be searching for.

     

    But it is not just about driving traffic to your website, blog or online shop.  The keywords or search terms in your content need to be relevant to your business and appropriate to your target audience.  Otherwise you may get hits to your website, but they will turn around and leave if you don’t have what they are looking for.  If you are not solving their problem or pain points.

     

    This is why quality and quantity matter.   Naturally you want to increase the number of visitors to your business, but only the right traffic.  This is why I am so often commenting on forums and advising clients and others that the number of followers on Pinterest or your Instagram shop don’t matter so much if they are not your ideal client.  If they are never going to buy from you or are not interested in what you are selling or offering, they are less likely to engage with your content, less likely to share it, and unlikely to convert to a sale.

     

    If you don’t want to miss out on learning HOW to grow your business the right way and achieve online success, then sign up to my email list for blog updates, SEO tips, keyword planning tips and more.  

    Website or Web Page

    Your website or your landing page is where it all comes together.  You have great content, you have used keywords to attract visitors to your site.  People like what they see and are interested in more.  Once they get to your website, you then need to have enough that is relevant, interesting, eye catching and aesthetically pleasing to keep them there.  This is where conversion analytics comes into play.  This is also why my next blog topic explains why SEO on it’s own is not enough to grow your business.  

    Conclusion

    Remember how at the beginning of this article we examined that to optimise meant to make the most effective use of a situation?  Well, now it is your turn to optimise your business platforms and processes, armed with the knowledge in this post and also this one [https://kdigitaldesign.com/small-business-success-how-to-start-your-online-business-the-right-way]. 

    Start with your business systems – are you optimised for success by having your contract, accounting, work methodology in order.  Do you have a plan for your work day?  Working week?  Next look at your website. Read your content from the perspective of your target audience.  What are their issues and what problems are you solving?

     

    Now look at your marketing strategy and accounts – are you ready to make the most of the resources you have?  Drop me some comments at the end of this blog to let me know if this blog resonated with you.  Did this help you examine the parts of your business in a new light?  Did it help you understand more about the “mystery” of SEO?

      

    K Digital Design
    Pinterest Analytics Update – January 21 2021

    Pinterest Analytics Update – January 21 2021

    A quick blog overview on changes released by Pinterest on 21st January 2021. 

    As a Pinterest Manager I like to keep up to date with Professional Development by staying informed with Pinterest and Tailwind as well as sharing information and ideas with other Pinterest Managers in online forums.  This helps me deliver quality content and up to date strategies to my clients.  Stay up to date with Pinterest tips and information on my blog by signing up to my email list.

     

     

    What Has Changed?

      

    Rule number 1 – don’t panic.  The changes are largely cosmetic and logic-based changes related to the analytics of your content.  Whilst the appearance of your account may have changed slightly, it is to show you the data related to YOUR own content, rather than ALL the pins you have in your account.  In my mind, this is a great improvement for business owners and bloggers.

      

     

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    Pinterest Marketing for Small Business

     

     Let’s take the monthly view that now appear in your top right corner as shown above.  This metric or data  is now showing you the number of views that YOUR pins have had in the last 30 days.  That information is much more relevant to you as a business owner as it is telling you how many people are loving your content, rather than loving all of the pins in your account, which includes other people’s pins.

     

    The monthly views does include all “impressions”, so if someone views your pins multiple times in a month – but that is still good – its showing a lotta love to your account right?  And the more times someone views your content, the more chance you have of conversions and clicks.

     

    Pinterest explains this change as:

     “Analytics will no longer include data for Pins you’ve saved that do not link back to any of your claimed accounts. To see stats as they were, tick ‘Include saved Pins’ in the Analytics filter bar.”

     

    For some people the numbers may show large changes, either up or down.  For myself and my clients, there is unlikely to be a significant change – because I use a strategy that focuses on fresh content that belongs to the business connected to the account.

     

    There is nothing wrong with pinning other people’s content, after all, that is part of what Pinterest is based on.  BUT what a lot of people don’t realise is that Pinterest favours fresh content.  This became even more important when the Pinterest Alogrithim changed in late 2020.  Fundamentally I don’t believe that Pinterest did change significantly as it has always been about creating new content – but this is the subject of a future post.

     

    As indicated above, you can click on the analytics to see data for all pins on your account if you wish.

     

    Why The New Pinterest Changes?

     

    According to Pinterest, the changes to the default appearance of your Business Hub Analytics is:

    “We’ve made this change so that you can understand which content drives followers, traffic and conversions”

     

    In all forms of marketing, data is “King”.  If you analyse your data, and understand your data, you can use that information to inform your decision making.  In this context, the information can help you in your pin designs to ensure that you are reaching more of your target audience and converting more traffic.

     

    Key Changes Explained

     

    This information is directly from Pinterest itself – refer to www.help.pinterest.com/en-gb/business/article/review-new-and-updated-reporting-metrics for further information.

     

    Before the update, stats included: Today, stats include:
    Any Pins you saved Only Pins you’ve saved from your claimed accounts
    Any Pins you published No change. This includes Pins you’ve created by uploading content to Pinterest as well as Pins you’ve saved from your claimed accounts.
    Other Pins connected to your account No change. This includes Pins saved by others that link back to your claimed account, and Pins created from a catalogue feed.

     

    Updated Metrics

     

    Metric Updated definition
    Impressions The number of times your Pins were onscreen
    Engagements The total number of engagements with your Pins, including clicks and saves
    Pin clicks (formerly close-ups) The total number of clicks on your Pin to content on or off Pinterest
    Outbound clicks (formerly link clicks) The total number of clicks to the destination URL associated with your Pin

     

    Pinterest Data Terms

    For organic pins:

     

    • Close Up – is now called a Pin Click – this means someone clicked onto your Pin image, ‘cause it looked cute and called them to action.

     

    • Link Click – is now called an Outbound Click – this means that some has taken the next step by clicking through to your website.

     

    These are the most important analytics that you want to focus on as part of your monthly analysis.  You want visitors to your site and you want people to have their eyeballs on your content.  Each month, follow your month on month growth in these areas to help track how successful your Pinterest account is.

     

     Do I Need to Change My Pinterest Marketing Strategy?

    Not as a result of the data name changes.  If you are following a good strategy, focusing on your own fresh content you should keep going as we all know that a consistent long term strategy is how to be successful on Pinterest.   All you need to do is become familiar with the terminology changes if you like to keep track of statistics, and maybe update any spreadsheets you use.

     

    Let me know what you think of these changes and whether or not you like them.

      

    K Digital Design
    Pinterest Marketing for Small Business

    Pinterest Marketing for Small Business

    This Blog is the first in my Pinterest content series, and provides an overview of why and how Pinterest marketing works for small business.   Many people out there have been using Pinterest for personal use for many years, but have not yet discovered that Pinterest is a great tool for small business marketing as well.

     In this article I explain:

    1. What is Pinterest for Business?
    2. Why Pinterest is different to Instagram and Social Media
    3. How Pinterest can help grow your business

    If you are not currently a subscriber, sign up now to stay up to date with my latest tips and advice on Pinterest, business systems and website design.

    Pinterest Marketing for Small Business

     

    What is Pinterest for Business?

      

     I LOVE Pinterest.  I literally eat, sleep and dream Pinterest – either business related, or searching for ideas, recipes, inspiration.  And that is exactly why Pinterest is the perfect marketing tool for so many businesses.

    Pinterest is essentially a visual search engine.  Think of it like google with images.  Except that Pinterest is so much better than that as every image on Pinterest links back to your website.  So every time that someone clicks on one of your business pins, they are being directed to your website, where they can browse, shop and get in contact with you about your services or products.

    When you or someone else is on Pinterest, they are using it to look for ideas, inspiration and information.  That is why Pinterest has been successful for many years for food bloggers, lifestyle bloggers, crafters, business coaches and the like.  Many of these bloggers and coaches have turned their side hustle into their main hustle and make money from their blogging.

    What people are now starting to realise is that you don’t need to be a blogger to use Pinterest.  In fact, Pinterest as a marketing tool has become one of the biggest growth areas for small businesses because it has the power of:

               Visual images + links to your website or URL

     

    You would have heard of the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words.  There is nothing quite like grabbing the attention of your target audience with eye catching images or pins, text overlays and links to your website.  Here is an example of the type of pin you can use.   Progammes such as Canva (https://www.canva.com/)  or Affinity Designer (Affinity – Professional Creative Software (serif.com) can be used to create graphics which are called ‘pins’.

      

     

    why your business should be on Pinterest

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    Why Pinterest Is Different to Social Media

     

    Like any tool, in order to grow your business with Pinterest, you need to understand the fundamental principles behind Pinterest and how they differ to other marketing platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.

     

    We have already discussed that one of the underlying principles is for attention grabbing visual images.  A key difference between Pinterest and the social media of Facebook and Instagram is that Pinterest pins have a much longer lifespan.  Social media may generate interest for 24 hours and little more before feeds are filled up with other news and images.  Pins stick around for months and years on the platform.  This gives you as a business owner much more value for your time (and any money) spent on Pinterest.

     

    Another important difference is that Pinterest will not give you overnight success.  It can take 3 to 6 months for the Pinterest algorithm to process the data you are feeding it. 

     

    The reward for your patience will be growth every month and every year, provided that you are consistent with your content and provide content that is relevant to your ideal customer or client.

     

    Why Pinterest is good for business

    How Pinterest Can Help Grow Your Business

     

    The first step towards Pinterest success for your business is to set up a business account for Pinterest.  This is different to a personal account as it can track information about the number of visitors to your website, your popular pins, your audience profile, etc

    Signing up for a Pinterest account is free and easy (www.pinterest.com )  Follow the steps given by Pinterest to ensure that you link your website to your Pinterest account so you can track visitor numbers.

     

    Some tips for small business to experience growth on Pinterest:

    • Be relevant – include images, words and descriptions that are relevant to your business and your client avatar
    • Be consistent – pinning quality pins, regularly is more important than trying to pin a ton of pins on one day a month
    • Design a variety of pins – static, video, story pins (when available in your area)
    • Analyse what is working and try something different if its not
    • Focus on content for your business, whilst sharing a sprinkling of other people’s content
    • The number of followers you have is not really that important. To some extent it can be helpful to have followers who are sharing your content, but it is not overly important in the scheme of the things

     Conclusion

    Pinterest is a great tool, and helping so many different types of business make a lot of money and driving a ton of traffic to their website.  BUT success comes with understanding how Pinterest works.  Any marketing you do for your business needs to be underpinned by a good strategy, otherwise you are wasting your time and your money.  When you only have a few seconds to convert a potential customer, the power of the visual image on Pinterest can be highly successful.

     

    I hope you learned some great tips from this blog.  Please let me know what you found useful and what you would like to see covered in future blogs in my Pinterest series.  If you love the concept of Pinterest marketing for your business, but don’t want to do all the work yourself – check out my Pinterest Management packages and monthly pin design subscription.

      

    K Digital Design
    Small Business Success – How to Start Your Online Business The Right Way

    Small Business Success – How to Start Your Online Business The Right Way

    How to Set Up Your Business for Success
    This post outlines my 7 “must do” steps to starting an online business?

    For the purposes of this Blog, I’m assuming that you already have your business type and niche picked out, you have researched the market and you have your business structure/company type sorted.  If you are looking for online or small business ideas that suit you, there are plenty of articles and ideas you can look.  I’m focusing here on helping people who have their business ready to launch, or are wanting to know what is required, and what isn’t necessary.

    I recommend reading through the entire blog for my step by step small business guide to fully understand what each of the topics are about, and why they are important.  Before you do that – grab my Business Start Up Checklist so you can make notes as you read or to keep as a handy reference guide.

     

    Contents

    Covered in this blog is:

     

    Overview – Done is Better than Perfect Right?Step Process – What’s NOT Negotiable:

    1 Business Registration and Set Up

    2 Branding

    3. Money Matters

    4 Business Plan

    5 Marketing Plan

    6 Website

    7 Contract Documents

     

    Some Myths Busted – What is Negotiable

    Myth 1: You Need to Spend Money to Make Money

    Myth 2: Start A Business in Just 30 minutes

     Summary

    Overview – Done is Better than Perfect Right?

     

    ‘Done is better than perfect” is perhaps the most common phrase I have seen mentioned in Facebook groups and business networking groups when the topic of how to start a new business, or work from home business comes home.

     

    I agree with this, but only to a point.

     

    It can be hard to find the right balance between prelaunch requirements and just diving in.  Research, analysis, paying for courses, the perfect website, Instagram. Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Tik Tok, Clubhouse and whatever else will appear next week and the week after that.  Just because you think everyone else out there is doing it or using it for their business doesn’t mean it is actually true. It also doesn’t mean that it is right for your business.  Most importantly, you do not need all the bells and whistles when you launch, and you probably will not need them three years down the track.

     

    Whilst ‘done already’ can be better than waiting until everything is completely perfect, I believe for success in your small business, there are some non-negotiables to ensure that your business is set up for success and that you have the right tools in your toolkit to step confidently into operating an online business.

     

    Whether you are a product based small business or a service-based business, the suggestions and recommendations contained in this article apply.  Even if you are an established business or an existing entrepreneur looking for ways to improve your small business in 2021 – this guide will help get you thinking and moving towards success.

     

    If you are in the beginning of starting up your online business, the overwhelm can put you in a spin.  even worse, it can make you grind to a halt or want to throw in the towel because you do not know where to turn.  That’s definitely not what you want.  I have heard it so many times in various Facebook groups and other online forums.  Questions such as:

    • What do I need to start my business?
    • Do I really need a website?
    • Do I need to take a course or certification before launching my online business?
    • How do I start an online business?

    And the list goes on.

     Does this sound like you?

    I’m telling you that it doesn’t have to be this way.  I spent several years working in the corporate sector as a project manager and town planner here in Australia, so I know a bit about the need and benefit for having systems and procedures in place.  It might seem fun to dive right in when you have a new business venture or you are a new start up business.  Unfortunately, without a solid strategy in place you are not going to achieve the business success that you deserve.  Rather, you are going to suffer burnout and overwhelm, and that is not going to sustain you or your business.  If we learnt anything from the world that was 2020, it was to focus on what matters in life.  Taking the time to set your business foundations up right will save you time, angst and overwhelm in the short and long term.

     

    This Blog outlines my step-by-step essential guide to starting a new online business that can be applied to many different types of business – products, services, coaching, Etsy etc.  As we kick of 2021, there is no time like the present to really understand what it takes to be successful online.

     

    You have started a business because you are passionate.  Or you are about to start one because you want to quit the 9 to 5, traffic jam, or you have discovered the benefits of working from home and spending more time with your loved ones.  You, my friend, deserve success.   But in the process, don’t get caught up in ‘shiny object’ syndrome.  You don’t need every new app (yep that’s right, Clubhouse can wait), CRM, photography, computer equipment etc to get your business off the ground, but you do need the fundamentals.

     

    I can speak from personal experience when I was starting out the overwhelm and confusion can be intense.  Oh, and those rabbit holes – I would literally disappear for days researching and reading from so many different resources and every aspect related to my business.  I thought I could compare them all and distil the relevant information and everything would be peachy.  This is ok for some things, but there is no one way to run a business.  No one way to find clients.  There are more than 100 strategies to follow on each social media and marketing platform, organic and paid that it can be completely overwhelming.  One of the reasons that there are so many different ways is that there is only one you.

     There is only one you.

     You are unique and your business should be too.  So how do you move forward in the right direction?  That, my friend, is where planning and strategy comes into effect.

     

     

    7 Step Business Launch

    So here is my checklist of 7 steps for your business start-up or business audit if you are already lucky enough to have been in business for a little while.  In my view – these are not negotiable if you want to have a professional business and be ready for success and a streamlined process. Grab the downloadable PDF here so you have an easy reference guide.

     

    1 Business Registration and Set up

    2 Branding

    3 Money Matters

    4 Business Plan

    5 Marketing Plan

    6 Website

    7 Contract Documents

     

    1 Business Registration and Set Up

     

    Legitimising your business in my opinion is the first step on your success pathway.  On more than a few occasions I have read about people asking for help as their business name is already taken as they did not register the name or the domain name first.

    For Australian businesses, you need to register your business name and apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN) regardless of whether or not you need to pay GST immediately.  If you use this website www.abr.business.gov.au you can also check whether a business name already exists.  Regardless of the results, I highly recommend before you do this that you do a domain name (website name) search and secure the domain you want.  Even if you decide that you won’t start off with a website (more on why I think you should later) if you secure your domain name you will have the peace of mind that your business name and matching domain name are available.  There are many places to buy and search for domain names and there is no one particular company that I recommend (I have used both Crazy Domains and Go Daddy for Domain names previously, but feel free to shop around – please note that this is for your domain name purchase only, I recommend being more choosy for web hosting).

    A professional email is a must.  Businesses with gmail addresses or similar raise suspicions about the legitimacy of the business to an outsider, and do not necessarily convey that you are committed.  You also want to keep your private and business emails separate.  If you are having a website (which is all of you right?), a good hosting provider such as SiteGround will include email as part of the package.

    In terms of business insurance and other legal matters, you are best to refer to business.gov.au in Australia, or the equivalent Government regulations in your area.

     

    2 Branding

     

    With your business name locked in, you can now start your branding package.  If you are new and not quite sure why branding is important, even for small businesses, you can catch up with my Branding Matters Blog here (Business Branding Matters | K Digital Design)

    There is a whole other blog post or two in the making about developing your brand colours, logos and the like, but in this blog I am focusing on the ‘what’, more than the ‘how’.   To get you started you should have:

     

    • A logo – this can be a font or text-based logo, or it can be one that includes a graphic image. Just know that you can change it later, and the simpler you keep it, often the more effective it is, as well as being easy to replicate across your marketing and business material.  It is important to have, but not so important that you need to spend thousands of dollars or weeks of time delaying the start of your business.

     

    • Brand Colours – have a couple of colours (plus a black and a white tone) to be part of your brand recognition. A light and a darker shade will give you contrast options for your website and marketing material.

     

    • Client Avatar – ideal client – target audience – these all mean who are the people that you are going to aim your business towards. It doesn’t mean that you cannot help others but giving yourself a client focus will actually help you drill down to the details of what your business is all about, who you are serving, and how you can solve their needs or address their pain points.  I have one client with a client avatar so detailed it is a few pages long and I honestly feel that person exists when I read it.  I also have clients with avatars that are one or two paragraphs – but they still cover what they need to.

     

    When writing your client avatar or client profile, focus on one person.  Who are they? Gender? Age bracket? Income bracket? Spending or other habits?  Where do they hang out online and offline?  This profile will help you refine your product offerings, services and your marketing plan.

     

    Do you see how planning and strategy are starting to link together?

     

    3 Money Matters

     

    Know Your Price before you pitch to your clients.  There are whole strategies that some business coaches teach for working out how to price your services or products.  For product-based businesses, it involves knowing your market, comparing other prices and a general gut feel.

     

    I see a lot of serviced based business owners who struggle with the concept of what to charge and how to charge.  I favour avoiding hourly rate charges as much as possible, and I am often advising virtual assistants to do the same.  Hourly rates mean you are tied to tracking minutes and hours for different clients which adds another layer of administration time and cost to your business.

     

    Instead, value your time and the skills you bring to the table, and the value that you add to your client’s business or the products that you are selling.  This doesn’t mean charge a ridiculously high price  – there still needs to be a market willing to pay the price you are asking, but be sure to cover at least:

     

    – the time equivalent that you would spend on the tasks,

    – the expenses you need to cover,

    – administration time for your business

    – the unique value or service that you provide to your customers.

     

    So that you are making a profit – after all that is how your business is going to be able to afford to keep going, and to grow.

     

    The next step is to stick to your pricing.  Be firm and know that there are clients in every budget and there are also service providers and products in every budget category as well.  A few years ago, I remember Susan Mershon from the Techie Mentor (www.thetechiementor.com) saying in a course: “Don’t shop with other people’s wallets”.  This is so true.  You need to set your own prices based on your unique business and your target client.  Charge what you and your services or product is worth to you and what you need to earn to make your business both viable and profitable.  If a client cannot afford you for what you are offering, they are not your ideal client.

     

    Payments and Invoicing

     Getting paid is clearly a must have.  You don’t need anything fancy, nor do you need to engage an accountant.   It really is as simple as choosing a means by which someone can pay you.  Shop based enterprises can set up payment gateways on their website such as through Shopify or WooCommerce on WordPress.  If you are providing a service (one off or ongoing monthly packages) you can use payment processors such as PayPal which are secure and can be setup in a matter of minutes.

     

    There are other options, and they all have fees, but it is part of the cost of doing business and provides a secure payment system for you and your business.   Alternatively, you could do bank transfers, particularly if you are conducting business within the same country.

     

    For service-based businesses you also need to be able to draw up an invoice which outlines the details of the goods or services you are providing, and how much your client will pay you.  PayPal includes the ability to set up invoicing and invoice templates that you can copy and reuse each time for each client.

     

    I also recommend the use of Xero accounting software to keep track of your accounts and payments, but this is something that you can add down the track as there is a monthly cost involved and it is not essential to your business launch phase.

     

    Whatever you do, please remember to set up a separate business bank account from the beginning and keep your business and private accounts separate.

     

     

    4 Business Plan

     

    The purpose of your Business Plan is to set out what you need to do to achieve the financial and other goals for your business.  As such it will help you prioritise what is important and give you the means to achieve profits.

    Having a Business Plan in place means that you can set your business goals for the short, medium, and long term.  Think about what you want to achieve in the first quarter of business, the first 12 months and even a 3 or 5 year plan.    What do you need to do to meet your goals?  Plan the resources that you will need to use in your business.

     

    Your business plan can be one page, or it can be multiple pages.  As long as you have a plan in place to help keep you focused, and it is something you can measure your business growth against.  If some aspects of your business are not working as well as you like, revise or tweak elements of your business to meet your goals.  Perhaps it is your goals that need tweaking to make sure they are attainable in the timeframe that you set.

     

    Keep your business goals SMART.

    Specific

    Measurable

    Achievable

    Realistic

    Time-Bound

     

    5 Marketing Plan

     

    Your marketing plan also does not need to be detailed for a new start up.  As long as it is clear to you, relevant for your business, and follows the SMART principles you are on the right track.

     

    My biggest advice would be to choose one main marketing platform to start off with.  Don’t try to do it all, otherwise you will no doubt be spending 80 or 90% of your time on marketing your business and have no time left for the actual work which brings in the money.

     

    Naturally, there is more to do in the beginning stages as you want to network and post in social media to let people know about your new venture.  Choose one main platform to market on – eg Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Pinterest, and then use one or more of the others as complementary marketing platforms. Work out which platforms your ideal customer is likely to spend more time on, and the platform that best suits your business. Develop a content plan for a month or so in advance so that you are clear about how you want to engage with your audience.  Repurpose content between different platforms.  Build relationships and add value – its not all about the sales pitch.

     

    Website

     

    For me a website is a must have, not negotiable.  BUT I do recognise that not everyone shares the view that it is essential for a business startup.  I would encourage you to consider at least having a landing page style website where people can get a feel for your business and the face behind the brand.

     

    When I am talking with people about the pros and cons I often ask people to put themselves in the visitor seat.  If you were searching the internet, or reading in a business group and wanted to find out more about a business – how would you feel if that business did not have a website? I am the first to admit that I will walk away and move onto the next business, because I want to explore the business vibe and offerings, without having to send an email or discuss it all by phone.  It is the same as pricing – include this on your website so you can focus your time and energy in engaging with your ideal customer who is on board with your pricing and service offerings.

     

    By having at a one page website, you have the foundations to build upon in the future, and you also have the ability to showcase your portfolio, include your service offerings and provide a means by which people can contact you.  You can also share your social links so people can follow you and keep in touch, even if they do not purchase straight away, they have the opportunity to come back.  Something to remember is that you own and control your website and its content, so I find it’s a worthwhile investment to be able to lead your customers to your domain.

     

     7 Contract Documents

     

    My final step in the business set up process for service-based businesses is having a contract or service agreement in place – BEFORE you go on the hunt for clients.  This document becomes the basis on which you agree to a scope of work, the amount to be paid, and when payment is to be made.  There is no one contract template that suits all businesses, and it is a personal preference whether you purchase one relevant to your business and your location, or whether you adapt one from others that you have seen.  My checklist contains some more details on what you can include in your contract document. {link here]

     

    I strongly urge service-based businesses not to commence any work until a contract is signed and the initial invoice has been paid.  There have been many tales of woe reported when this has not happened.

     

    LAUNCH!!

    You are ready to launch.  Not only that, but you can do so with confidence that you have set up a business that you are invested in and that looks professional and covers you for getting paid what you and your products are worth.

     

    Some Myths Busted

     

    Myth 1 – You Need to Spend Money to Make Money

    Yes and no. As outlined above, there are some expenses that you are going to have in getting started, such as business registration, domain name, potentially branding and website set up. Making a professional impression from the outset will get your business off to the right start, setting the right impression for your target audience and instilling confidence in you and your business.

     

    There are plenty of free resources out there – Pinterest is a gold mine for useful tips and information.  If you are going to invest in a course before you launch, ask yourself some key questions first about whether it is necessary for you to launch, or whether it is something that you can add to your business plan once you achieve a certain milestone.  If you need to invest $5,000 in a course to learn a service that you want to offer, then perhaps it’s not the right service for you yet.  You want to be sure that your business offerings and target market are aligned before such an outlay.  On the other hand, if you find a course that provides you with some allied skills such as marketing, using an accounting system for your finances or a project management tool to increase your workflow efficiency for a relatively low cost, that is something that is worthwhile considering.  It may not be essential, but it can save you time and therefore money in the short and long term.  Small costs can be easier to recoup in a short space of time.

     

    Myth 2 – Start A Business in Just 30 minutes

    It may not be 30 minutes that is being promoted.  I have seen 5 minutes, 1 hour, 5 days and everything in between and beyond.  Starting your own business is going to take more than 5 minutes, and for most businesses it is going to take more than 5 days.  This doesn’t mean that it is going to take 6 or 12 months to set yourself up for launch, but you do need to be aware that investing in your business, yourself, and your future, takes time to do it properly.  A business set up in 5 days may be possible, especially if it is a service-based business, but it will mean being organised and following each step.  Building a website takes time also, whether you are doing it yourself or engaging an expert.

     

    Conclusion

     

    Being profitable or making money in your business will depend on how well you implement the foundation steps and maintain engagement with your networks and your target audience.

     

    In this Blog we have explored the essentials of starting an online business with a step-by-step plan.  I explained how planning should be a key premise on which start your business from scratch.  Plan your business, your services, your pricing, your marketing strategy.  Planning your business means that you are planning for profit.

     

    If you are an established business, take the time to carry out an audit of what you have.  For example, if you don’t yet have a business plan or a marketing plan, set aside some time now and make one.  Your future self will thank you for it.  These plans provide you with some goals to help you keep track and to keep you accountable to your own business.

     

    I would love to hear what you found useful in this Blog, and if there are any other aspects you would like to see covered in the future.  Happy planning, and celebrate your launch success.

     

    Yours in Design

    Kerri

     

     

    Choosing the Right Website Images for your Brand

    Choosing the Right Website Images for your Brand

    Staying on brand and within your brand color palette isn’t always easy.   Likewise, choosing website brand images can be tricky business.

    Scenario

    Recently I was asked to review and provide feedback for a new company website that was preparing for launch.   Apart from tweaking some wording and headings here and there, the number one thing that stood out to me was how important images are for a brand. 

     The images were all wrong.

     On their own the images were f-i-n-e.  Cool, and some quirky even.  But, in the context of the business, many of them were clearly “off brand” or “off message”.

     The company was a new start up.  Their business was all about offering easy step by step solutions for online customers in a business finance sector.  Whilst their colours were slick and stylish, the front page image of a glass lying on its side and an empty glass beside it to me messaged:

     

                   disorganised, messy, not sure what we are doing.’ 

     

    On another page which described the streamlined business processes, there was an image of densely planted forest that had been filtered with a colour gradient matching the brand colours (not green I might ad).  The image itself was great and edgy, but not in the right place on the website. 

    It said nothing whatsoever about how the business was going to help me achieve my goals and aspirations.   I didn’t want to be lost in thick jungle.  Instead, I suggested a lifestyle image such as a carefree couple on the beach, or a family boating outing, or wining and dining at a restaurant.  To me these new suggested images would convey the fun and relaxed lifestyle people could have if they used this business service.

    So, this got me thinking.   

     Not only about the images I use for my brand, but what you might want to consider for your brand.  It might seem like a relatively small and insignificant aspect in the scale of the many, many things you need to do to launch your business, but it is the first impression you leave on visitors to your website. 

    AND here’s the crunch – it is therefore also the first impression you leave for potential customers or clients.

    You really only get a few seconds to grab the attention of your website visitor.   If you missed my first Blog about WHY branding matters – you can check it now here: https://kdigitaldesign.com/business-branding-matters/

    What is the best way for new businesses to choose their website images? Here are my 7 tips for choosing the right brand images for your website.  There is no 100% right or wrong answers, but giving some thought to your style, your business, your audience, will help keep your visual brand totally connected to your written brand. 

     

    1. Who is Your Ideal Client or Target Audience? 

    It is often said that ‘a picture tells a thousand words’, but what words are you trying to say with your images on your website?

    Aesthetics and design are so subjective.  What is liked by one person, may not be endearing to the next.  Let’s face it, life would be pretty b-o-r-i-n-g if we all liked the same things.  Life would be pretty boring if we all designed the same things.  AND life would be no fun if all websites looked the same.

    Whilst that is true, staying on brand matters, and the images you choose for your brand on your website matter too.

    If your business provides personal wealth strategies, targeting self-funded retirees, you are not going to want to use tattoos and nose piercings in your imagery.  What if you are a fitness coach, showing images of your chocolate and ice-cream binges is not going to bring in faithful followers.  It’s not about YOU, it’s about THEM.  You may laugh, but I have seen this done time and time again.

     

    AND that right there is one of the key secrets to a successful website.  Let me say it again – it’s not about you, it’s about your ideal client.  Sure you need to say and show what you can do, but it needs to be described in a way that puts the emphasis on the client and how you can help them.  

    Your visual identity through your brand and brand images serves the same purpose.  If your customers or clients can see that you are consistent and relevant, then they are more likely to trust in you and your business service or products. 

    Write down who your ideal client is.  What is their age group, gender, pain points, business type.  Knowing the answer to these questions will help you choose images that are appropriate to your business and the people you want to provide a service to.  The people you want to come and buy from your online shop.

     

    2. what brand message do you want to send?

    Having a connection with your customers or your potential clients is important for attracting business as well as keeping your business growing.  You can have a fun and vibrant brand, whilst still being professional. 

    If your brand images are mis-matched and not relevant, it’s going to be hard to keep your customers interested.  You may have the cutest dog in the world.  But photos of your cute dog are not going to tell your next customer what jewellery items you stock.  Likewise they are not going to help a business coach decide whether you have the right social media marketing skills they need to grow their business. 

    Jot down some key words to describe your message.

    3. staying on brand – image “personality”

    Inject some personality into your brand images.  Whilst the type of images you choose will be relevant to your ideal client or customers and your business niche, let some of your personality shine through in the type of images you choose. 

    It’s all part of your brand story that you are telling people who visit your site.

    4. choose your images

     Finally!  Choosing the visuals.  A mood board or even your branding board is a great way to place some images so you can see what suits your: 

    • Message; and
    • Your business or brand personality

     Pinterest is ideal for this.  Being a visual search engine it is a great place to source images to help describe your brand.  Please keep in mind that when using Pinterest for visual images, you can only use these for your personal use.  They cannot be shared or posted or anything without the permission of the owner of the material.  And that’s totally fair.

     

    Alternatively you can use Canva [https://www.canva.com/} or Unsplash [https://unsplash.com/] to source your images.  There are millions to choose from, especially in the Pro version of Canva.

    Paid favourites that I love, are Ivory Mix and Haute Stock.  I am in no way affiliated with these brands but they provide so much value, free stock images, plus there are paid stock subscriptions to save you time sourcing relevant images for your own business.  Ivory Mix can be found here: https://ivorymix.com/  and Haute Stock here:   https://hautestock.co/  Honestly you will find very swoon-worthy images on those sites.

    Simply type in some keywords and see what images come up.  Try different combinations of keywords and see what impact they have on the type of images, colors and moods.

      

    5. set yourself a timeline

     

    This ‘rule’ or checklist item is more for me than you.  Seriously!  I can spend days on end researching any topic imaginable, and sourcing photos and images is no exception.  As important as images are to your branding, there comes a time when you need to draw a line and move on.   

     

    6. you can always change your images

     

    Trust me when I say you can always change your website images.  I have been there, as I haven’t always followed my own advice and have spent many an hour researching and looking, and swapping and changing.  I even changed my brand color palette before I launched, so anything is possible!  This was what helped me lock in a better process for developing your brand story.

     

    Better still is to have a selection of brand images.  You may not use them all on your brand board or mood board, but if you take the time in the beginning to find images that are relevant, it will save you a lot of time down the track when you are writing blogs, pinning to Pinterest or posting on social media and LinkedIn.

     

    Every now and then, go for an update of your images, following the same steps set out in this blog.

      

    7. have fun creating and branding

    You have made it this far in the step by step process and it is time to pull it all together.  Some strategically placed images on your website, with the right content, will convey clear messages to your readers and visitors.

     

    You will want your home page or landing page to be the ‘ultimate’ in terms of your visual branding, as that will determine who stays and who goes.  Then work your way through designing each of your website pages with a consistent thread of color, imagery and branding.

    conclusion

     

    So, let’s re-cap:

     1. Who is your ideal client or target audience?

     2.What brand message do you want to send?

     3. Staying on brand – image “personality”?

     4. Choose a theme or key words to find suitable images.

     5. Set yourself a time limit so you are not agonising for days.

     6. You can always change your images.

     7. Have fun creating and branding.

     

    The same approach applies to your Facebook page, Instagram feed and Pinterest pins.  You need to be on brand and relevant with your brand imagery. I cover this in a lot more detail in an upcoming blog post.  So make sure you sign up to my email list to receive the latest tips and blog notifications. 

     

    Grab my free brand board template from my website [https://kdigitaldesign.com/) and start playing around with your brand images.  It is like shopping and trying on clothes without having to part with any hard earned cash!

     

    Yours in Design,

    Kerri

    Free Canva Brand Board

    Brand Board Template
    Business Branding Matters

    Business Branding Matters

    So what is branding anyway?  It can be so easy to assume that only large corporations and companies with multiple employees need to worry about branding.

     

    I’m busting this myth for you right now, then you will see how your small business can prosper and profit.

     

    In a world where online businesses are booming and new businesses are starting up all the time, it has never been more important to think about your brand.  How else are you going to stand out from the crowd?

     

    Branding is not just about being different. In fact, it’s about being DIFFERENT from your competitors, but CONSISTENT within your business.  So that means same, same but different, right?

     

    By this I mean all your marketing material, website, email marketing, Pinterest Pins, social media posts, business stationery needs to show your brand.  The more often someone sees something, the more likely they are to remember it and associate your brand + your key messages.

     

    Think of some famous brands and their consistent messages.  Coca Cola is all about having fun and is consistently branded in red, with a particular font style and colour.  Even when they branched out to offering different flavours, the same base branding, colour, font styles are there.

     

    Consistency is Key 

    Being consistent doesn’t mean being boring.  It means that your business is recognised by its unifying and identifiable elements.  These brand elements include –

     

    • business name
    • logo
    • typography/fonts
    • colours
    • elements – eg lines, artwork associated with your branding
    • patterns and textures
    • Images – depicting your brand mood and vibe

     

     It’s also about consistent personality.   These are things like – 

    • The services your business provides
    • Your business systems and processes
    • How and where you connect

     

    Branding by Example

     

    Let’s look at an example.  Company A is a family photography business.  They advertise in their own Facebook group, in other local Facebook groups in their area, and in flyers.  Here is an example of what they have posted in a marketing graphic.

     

    Brand Example A

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     Company B is also a family photography business.  They use similar marketing approaches and materials.  Here is what they have posted in a marketing graphic.

     

    Brand Example B

    Which one do you prefer?  Which company are you drawn to?  Which one stands out as a business you want to engage with, and want to click through to their website and learn more?

     

    In the first example, there is no consistency of colours between the images or the title and the individual images.  Apart from one family photo, the other images are food related, or obscure to what the business is actually about.

     

    Now let’s look at the  second example.  If I am looking for a family photographer to hire, I am drawn to this visual.  It is on brand, it is clear, and it shows that the photographer offers studio and outdoor photos.  It also shows that the photographer either sells framed prints, or cares about how the photos are going to look when framed.  Or both.

     

    I get that imagery and colours can be subjective.  Wouldn’t the world be boring if all designs were the same and based on the same template?  Do you know what the key is?  It is to look at it from the customers perspective – it’s about the MESSAGE.  The subtle message as well as the obvious message.

     

    The subtle message refers to the impression you are setting.  It’s telling your website visitors (aka your potential future customers or clients) that you:

    • are professional
    • follow a process
    • have taken the time to set up your brand content
    • show that you care about the details of style and cohesiveness
    • show that you pay attention to detail.

     

    Does A Picture Really Tell A Thousand Words?

     

    Some of you may be thinking would someone really get that much information from a few pictures?  You would be surprised.  Remember the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” – well it is true.  Having worked in the corporate world for almost 20 years, I know first hand that impressions count.  In the fast paced world of online business where visuals are king, a potential client or customer is going to be making decisions on the visuals they see before they read the words.

     

    Let this sink in a little.

     

    It doesn’t mean that ‘glossy’ and ‘shiny’ is all that matters.  It’s not.  What matters is that the visual brand consistency is there, as well as the quality content to back it up.

     

    So that’s the “subtle” brand message, but what about the “obvious” brand message?  This is more about the actual content – the words and pictures, the headings and their relevance to your brand.  The relevance of your business name and logo to your brand.  That’s a whole other blog post topic.

     

    So What Does This All Mean?

     

    Of course, not having coordinated branded Pinterest pins and social media posts doesn’t mean you are going to fail.  But it can make a difference as whether the next visitor to your website or Instagram account is going to want to engage with you and take the next step.  It can make a difference.

     

    How are they going to feel about your brand?

     

    I would love to hear your thoughts on this branding matters topic.  Leave a comment below, and share your experiences on the subtle and not so subtle messaging in brand story.