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Get More Attention in Business with Kara of Simplifying DIY Design

So many business owners are spending weeks or days reinventing the wheel!  If small businesses want the attention of new clients, we need good visuals– in the photography AND the designs we share.  But, we shouldn’t have to spend hours or days creating them.  That’s why I had to share my online friend, and fellow momprenuer, Kara.

easy design for business with templates

Kara is the owner of Simplifying DIY Design and has been certified in graphic design for over 10 years. She is a full-time blogger that specializes in combining her knowledge of graphic design with online marketing to create better social media graphics, lead magnets, and digital products that are currently helping over 15k bloggers grow their online businesses.

Templates are her JAM and her passion is to create design tools and systems that can be used to implement your way to success in your digital business!  Check out the interview with Kara below for lots of goodies about design in business.

What is your background?  What do you do now?

I’ve always loved art! I took advanced drawing and painting classes in school and took my first graphic design class in 8th grade. I completed the graphic design program at a local vocational school and passed my state certification by the time I graduated high school.

Then, I decided not to go to college for design. I didn’t love traditional graphic design– headers for stationery, corporate logos, etc. So I became a nurse and worked at a correctional facility for several years until my son was born. Once he was born I decided to be a stay at home mom. I quickly learned that we couldn’t afford for me to not work and I was wanting something of my own that I could call mine.

I did several things to try to make money– an Etsy shop, blogging, and then eventually I got a job as a graphic designer for a blogger. I learned a LOT about blogging and digital marketing and I saw a need in that community for designs– pins, lead magnets, entire courses.  Everything involved graphic design and most of the bloggers I saw in Facebook groups didn’t know where to begin with it.  After all, they started their business because they like to write!

So I started my own blog about design and how you can combine design with your marketing to make more impact. I began selling design templates and courses and the rest was history!

What do you love about your business?

I love that it gives me freedom and flexibility to enjoy my life and family WHILE getting to help people. I can’t express how much it excites me when I get emails from people telling me how many sales they’ve gotten from a product they created in minimal time because of my template. Or when people tell me they hit thresholds for Mediavine because of my pins. Things like that. I LOVE seeing results and it’s such a cool feeling to know that I was able to help them.

You seem passionate about helping small businesses.  What mistakes do you most often see businesses making and what tips do you have?

I think the biggest mistake I see is the unwillingness to invest. I do understand that when people are just getting started, they don’t really have the budget to spend a lot. Trust me, we were on the financial struggle bus when I started my first blog for sure!

However, it is necessary at some point to invest in the proper tools and education to grow.

Most of us realize the importance of great graphics but a lot of us still struggle with it.  What advice can you give?

First, I always encourage everyone to try their best not to be a perfectionist– done is better than perfect. That being said, don’t underestimate them either. The difference between getting a click and a sale can sometimes be boiled down to the image– it didn’t stop the reader long enough to get the click.

My best advice is to test, test, test. Don’t make one and be done forever. If you’re running ads, make multiple graphics. If you’re making pins to blog posts, circle back, and make new graphics on a routine basis. Not only will this give you PRACTICE but it’ll also help you see what works and what doesn’t.

Take note of any image that DOES work– what are the colors, what are the fonts, what are the photos, etc.

Keep track so you can pick up on any trend or similarities.

Also, don’t make it complicated! Find a design template that you love and use that as a jumping-off point!

I’ve found a lot of entrepreneurs can’t afford to hire when they are first starting out, what simple ways can they still outsource?

In terms of graphic design, it’s easier and less expensive than hiring a graphic designer if the entrepreneur purchases design templates and then hires a VA to edit them. VA’s are generally less expensive to hire than a graphic designer is and they generally have less of a wait time as well.

How do you spend your time on your days off?

BATHS!! I love a great bath, seriously I could spend hours in there (and sometimes I do if I get soaked into a video from a course or program I’m taking). That, and a lot of family time! My husband and I both have close families so we try our best to make sure everyone has time with us and our kids.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Don’t obsess about your brand! I know it’s a common theme among designers to recommend a breathtaking brand and that’s totally fine to have but I see it paralyze so many entrepreneurs as they obsess about color palettes before they’ve even figured out who they want to help. Remember, anything can be changed. Just get started and the rest will come!

Where can we find you?  Are you on social media?

I am!

Facebook: facebook.com/simplifyingdiydesign

Instagram: instagram.com/@simplifyingdiydesign

Pinterest: pinterest.com/simplifyingdiydesign

Blog: simplifyingdiydesign.com

Any specials or promotions you’d like me to mention?

If you’re looking to get started with design, you can check out my free training: Blog Graphics that Convert!

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Email Marketing with Bonnie Morata of The List Lab

If you’ve been around here a while, you know I believe in outsourcing every element of business that we can.  As business owners, we are pulled in 100 different directions and time is too precious to spend on tasks that don’t NEED our attention.  But as we know, we can grow faster when we hand over pieces of our business to someone else.  Beautiful, right?

That’s why I love Bonnie Morata and her membership called The List Lab.  She is an expert an email marketing and provides templates for weekly emails.  I just know that you all would love to hear from her and learn how you can outsource another thing and save even more time!email marketing tips for outsourcing

A Little Bit About Bonnie

Bonnie Morata is a business strategist, entrepreneur, creator of The List Lab, and momma. Like you, she’s just a gal that enjoys working but is focused on doing so from a place of rest and inner-alignment.

Her superpower is “vision weaving” meaning nothing gets her more excited than a big idea in need of a step-by-step plan to give it life. She also has a knack for taking complicated concepts and reframing them in a way that is digestible, useful, and kinda fun.

 

Amy:  Hi Bonnie!  What is your background?

Bonnie: Oh gosh! My background is not linear at all. I started out in commercial real estate and in my first role, I was very much an entrepreneur. I created a previously non-existent job description that focused on client happiness through events. I started dabbling in graphic design because I wanted to make cute invite emails and event materials. From there I began educating myself about email marketing best practices to increase the attendance of these events. That was about 8 years ago now!

With the exception of a Digital Marketing certificate, I am 100% self-educated in marketing and business. Well, I should not say self-educated — I’ve taken several online courses. After a while, I became tired of Googling and just wanted streamlined answers to my questions.

Each phase has been a stepping stone to what I offer now — a content membership. It’s continually growing into the ultimate vision I have for it as more than just a tool, but a community for heart centric entrepreneurs.

Amy: You seem passionate about helping small businesses.  What mistakes do you most often see businesses making and what tips do you have?

Bonnie: Yes!! Entrepreneurs hold a very special place in my heart and are the focus of my work. A common mistake I see entrepreneurs make, and it’s a pattern I have to continuously correct myself, is obsessing over the small details that will not make or break a business. This perfectionist behavior is a symptom of fear — fear of failure, visibility, success…you name it. So my best advice is to do mindset work from day one and every day after.

Amy: Most of us realize the importance of an email list but a lot of us still struggle with it.  What advice can you give?

Bonnie: It all comes back to mindset. And I want to address two common hang-ups about email. Number one is trying to appeal to everyone with too many options. You only need one offer, one opt-in, and one welcome email sequence to be successful.

Yes, many established entrepreneurs have multiple opt-ins for multiple offers. That works for them and it’s important to acknowledge that they also have a team and time behind them. Focus will always bring better results when you are a solopreneur or working with a small team.

The second thing is that entrepreneurs are worried about being “spammy” and refrain from sending regular emails. This one drives me nuts because I know that they have big hearts and brains to share with their community — who by the way literally asked to receive emails when they opted in.

So send the weekly email. If people don’t want to receive it, they’ll unsubscribe and everyone can move on.

Amy: I’ve found a lot of entrepreneurs can’t afford to hire when they are first starting out, what simple ways can they still outsource?

Bonnie: Templates! There is an abundance of templates available now — from legal contracts and websites to my own content membership, The List Lab. Templates are the best option for the DIY entrepreneur who wants to have a stellar online presence and save a ton of time while working with a small budget.

Amy: Bonnie, Where can we find you?  Are you on social media?

Website: bonniemorata.com 
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/bonniemorata
Instagram: @bonnie.morata

If you’d like to learn more about Bonnie and email marketing, check out her training for the 5 Simple Secrets of An Effective Email Strategy and The List Lab.

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New Collections! Four of My Favorite Winter Survival Tips for Business Owners

This month’s collections include stock photos featuring yoga, winter salads, working from your bed, and letters (like-real-life-in-the-mail-letters!). While reviewing this collection, I realized how helpful each of its themes can be during this time of year. Whether you prefer to call it, tips for beating the winter blues or strategies for surviving without sunshine, most of us could use the reminder to take care of ourselves and reach out to others during this busy, bleak-weathered season. Here are four of my favorite ways to make it through winter as a business owner and four collections for you to share with your audience until spring has sprung.

(As always, subscribers have access to these photographs right now. Not a subscriber, sign up here! Or, if you’re not ready to commit, you can always purchase individual photos or collections.)

Good Food (Pear Salad Collection)

You’re welcome to choose your own ratio, but I prefer part good food and part comfort food this time of year. Taking an extra few minutes to plan and prepare healthy food options is worth the effort and can be a surprisingly great motivator during the winter months. I don’t know if it’s the connection to the earth or the extra vitamins, but there’s something about a good winter salad that provides the extra edge it takes to brave the cold and keep on going. Plus, there’s nothing like coming home to a hot beverage and freshly baked cookies, after all, that effort!

Stress Relief (Yoga Collection)

So many of us carry stress in our bodies, but our culture is conditioned to tough it out and push on until the stress takes its toll and refuses to be ignored. Yoga is a fantastic practice to counter this tendency, and pause to connect our mind, body, and spirit. By listening and moving and releasing the tension, we can free ourselves from negative energy, and be more open to the things that are true and beautiful about who we are. We found a fantastic space with beautiful brick walls and enjoyed shooting this yoga collection there. As always these stock photos have been designed to be used by anyone…But, especially those with a love for yoga and fitness!

Love Letters Collection

We live in a digital world and emails, texts, and DM’s are just the norm. With so little human connection, getting REAL mail can be such a joy! And, mail in a beautiful envelope with a gold wax seal? How fun is that?

This collection has inspired me to set pen to paper and write a few notes to brighten friends’ dreary February days. It is the perfect collection for anyone who loves to get mail, write letters, or who loves pretty things! (Pro Tip: Ask your audience if they’d rather get a letter or email for lots of engagement.)

Meaningful Work (Working From Home Collection)

Taking photos and using my fifteen years experience as a business owner to help others is more than just work to me, it’s work that matters. At the end of the day, I not only get to do what I love, but I also get to help other people grow their own businesses. It’s beautiful and it makes me happy. But, my day to day life looks a lot like this. Sitting on a bed with a laptop. Working in the margins. Kids around me. Side hustles. No matter what kind of work you do, I see you–sitting at home, working hard to balance it all, just like I am. This is a collection for all of us.

What would you love to see for March? I have so many spring thoughts on my mind, I can’t wait to capture them.

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Stock Photography Can Save Time! Check Out My Guest Post!

Have you ever wondered how stock photography can improve your business? This week I had the chance to answer that exact question in my guest post for Simplifying DIY Design. Most business owners don’t realize just how much they can save through quality stock photos. In my post I break down three ways stock photography can save you time and money, and a few tricks to get the most out of this great investment.

Kara, the woman behind the screen at Simplifying DIY Design, is a graphic designer and blogger who provides clients with design tools for online marketing. Simplifying DIY Design’s templates are another great saver for business owners! I love how well our businesses complement each other. It was such a blast to get to share my thoughts on the Simplifying DIY Design blog and talk a little bit about how Hello Stock Photography was born.

To learn more, be sure to make your way over to our guest post: https://simplifyingdiydesign.com/3-ways-bloggers-can-save-time-using-stock-photography/

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How To Write an Attention Getting About Me Page

BE YOURSELF

This one sounds obvious, but it’s easy to overlook this essential tip. Sometimes the pressure to seem intriguing or exciting or funny can cloud the message you’re trying to send. An approach that works well for some might be awkward when applied to YOUR about me page. A good rule of thumb is that what feels natural will come across naturally, and what feels forced will likely come across as forced. Be true to yourself! After all, your about me page is about you!

computer at a desk with rose gold accents stock image
From our Rose Gold Office Collection

CONSIDER YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE

While your about me page is about you, it isn’t actually FOR you. Consider your target audience and tailor what you say to their needs. A target audience of moms who work from home will be looking for something very different than an outdoorsy, millennial entrepreneur. Are both of them in your audience? How can you appeal to their interests? Once you determine your audience, you can highlight aspects of yourself and your business that may draw them to you.

IS THIS ABOUT ME OR MY BUSINESS?

It can be challenging to find the sweet spot between market your business and emphasizing who you are as a person. As a general rule, your about me page really should tell about you. Let the rest of your website tell about your business, and use this page to show the person behind the product. Some details about your business will inevitably be part of the page, but try not to let it become the focus.

succulent pen and watch office look in rose gold stock photography
From our Rose Gold Office Collection

MAKE YOUR ENGLISH TEACHER PROUD

Remember to keep your tone consistent. Decide where you’d like your post to rest on the formal to casual spectrum, and keep to it. Then consider whether you’d like to write in the first, second, or third person. Would you prefer to speak as an individual (first-person: “I love producing quality photographs”), or as someone else describing you (third-person: “Amy loves producing quality photographs”)? Also, it never hurts to triple check for grammar and spelling. Always have an extra set of eyes glance over your page, or read it aloud to yourself to catch errors. Common mistakes like mixing up there/their/they’re or your/you’re or to/too/two can distract from an otherwise clear message.

SET A CALENDAR ALERT TWICE A YEAR FOR UPDATES

Finally, be sure to update your about me page as your life changes. Limiting time-dependent phrases can help. For example, if you have eight years of experience, try saying “nearly ten years of experience,” or if you have upgraded your credentials, be sure to say so as soon as possible. An up to date about me page shows your attention to detail and will build your potential clients’ confidence in you.

SAY CHEESE

Last, but not least, don’t forget a photograph of you–SMILING. love moody, artsy portraits as much as the next girl, but they don’t belong on your About Me page. You want to look approachable and kind and a smiling photograph will portray warmth to the viewer. As a photographer, I’d highly recommend hiring a local brand photographer. A good photographer will make you look your best and capture you in a way that makes people notice. They will know the most prettiest light, best poses, and which lens to choose to flatter you.

But, if you don’t have the budget yet…you can always have a friend help you out. Choose great lighting (facing a window is usually good) and take 20-30 photos until you find one you love. Chances are your potential clients/customers will too.

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3 Ways Outsourcing Can Change Your Life (& Business)

gold and black office stock photography image

(from the Hello Stock Gold & Black Office Collection)

Nobody ever tells you that when you start your own business, you will be the CEO of everything. And I mean EVERY single thing. When I became a photographer, I thought I would spend at least 90% of my time taking photos. That seems logical, right?

Believe it or not, taking photos only accounts for about 10% of what I do. I spend my time editing, emailing, scheduling, blogging, selling, pitching, posting on social media, making phone calls, designing, marketing, developing my website, driving to locations, strategically planning…oh yeah, and occasionally taking photos.

As my businesses have grown over the years, I’ve definitely learned a thing or two. Most importantly, I have accepted that I cannot do it all, and I will go crazy if I try. Every business owner will inevitably learn this lesson – sometimes the hard way.

What sets an average business owner apart from a successful business owner is figuring out what to do with this information. You built the foundation of your business, and now it’s time to spread your wings and watch it grow. There’s a limit to what you can do by yourself, and once you reach that limit, it’s time to outsource.

I know firsthand that it’s hard to pay someone to do work that you could do yourself if you just had more time. It’s even harder when your business is barely profitable! However, if you aren’t keeping up with the many aspects of your business, you get caught up in what I like to call the Market-Work Cycle:

work smarter not harder

The only way to break this cycle while continuing to run a profitable business is to take a leap of faith and get some help. Getting help doesn’t have to mean handing over all of your hard-earned profits, and this business investment will actually make you more profitable in the future.

So, are you ready to outsource? You’re probably wondering where to start.

START SMALL

Have you heard of Fiverr.com? It’s a freelance service marketplace that allows you to find the perfect person to help you with business tasks, big or small. The biggest benefit to using Fiverr is that you can find an expert to do exactly what you need for a specific job in a relatively affordable and efficient way. Some projects start at only $5!

You can find sellers for just about anything – writing content, editing images, designing brochures, updating your website, managing your Instagram, running Facebook ads, designing a logo…the list goes on and on. I have personally used Fiverr many times in my businesses. It’s a great tool to use, especially when you’re just starting to dip your toes into outsourcing! Fiverr can be a little hard to navigate at first, but I have some tips that will make it worth your while:

First, read a lot of reviews. Each seller has a rating (assuming they’ve completed gigs), and reviews from past clients. I always look for someone who has a cumulative rating very close to 5 stars, and I also read quite a few of their reviews. If a seller has completed over 100 gigs with 5 stars, you can be pretty confident they’ll do a good job for you as well.

Next, reach out to the seller before purchasing their services. Ask questions about the specific job you want them to do, and make sure they are comfortable with it and understand exactly what you want. If the job you want them to complete is beyond the scope of their listing, the seller will often offer a custom quote.

If you have a large project you are ready to outsource, start small. Pay a seller for a smaller task first to make sure you are satisfied with their work. When you are happy, you can talk to them about the larger job and see if they can do it. Sending a smaller project first is a safety net for your business. It ensures you aren’t wasting money on someone who doesn’t do quality work.

simple aqua and butcher block kitchen stock photo

(from the Hello Stock ?Kitchen Details? Collection)

LESS HOUSEWORK? YES PLEASE!

Raise your hand if the idea of doing LESS housework while still having a put-together home makes you way too excited. That sounds like a dream to me! Outsourcing doesn’t just have to be for your business.

You probably feel like home life should be 100% separate from your work life, even if you work from home. Of course, you are right. But, you are also wrong. You’ve heard it time and time again, but it is true – time is money. You can’t get time back once it’s gone.

Even if you work a lot of hours every week, you can still have more free time to spend however you want by taking advantage of outsourcing home tasks. Doesn’t that sound amazing?

It’s all about deciding what you want to do more of, and what you’d rather outsource to someone else. Here are three home tasks that are super easy and affordable to outsource:

GROCERY DELIVERY

You may not be able to afford (or feel comfortable hiring) someone to write your content or design your ebook, but did you know you can have groceries delivered for about $2 plus tip each week with Instacart? We all know that grocery shopping is a huge time suck, so outsource it and use that time for something you actually enjoy!

LAUNDRY SERVICES

Is it just me, or does laundry seem to be a never ending cycle, especially when you have kids? Pick up laundry, wash laundry, dry laundry, fold laundry, put laundry away…and then two days later it’s time to do it all again. There’s about a million other things I’d rather do than laundry.

Did you know there are services that will pick up your laundry directly from your house and drop it back off when it’s all clean and folded? It seems like something that only the rich and famous can afford, but I’m excited to tell you that it’s not as expensive as you’d think.

There’s a laundry service near me that does it all for $1.15 per pound. I haven’t given it a try yet, but to me, it’s worth paying $30 to be able to spend more time with my family and more time focusing on my businesses. Seriously, I may never touch my washing machine again!

HIRE HELP WITH HOUSEKEEPING

How many hours a week do you spend cleaning toilets, dusting, and scrubbing your floors? Not enough if you’re like me, but that’s beside the point! Outsource the housework you can’t stand doing to a professional cleaning crew. Another idea is to outsource it to a teen neighbor (or your own kids) who might be looking to make a little extra cash. Even if you can only pay for a few hours a week, it will free up that time for you to be doing something more enjoyable.

GET HELP WITH SOCIAL MEDIA

A full time social media manager, though worth their weight in gold, can make a big dent in your balance sheet. What exactly does a social media manager do? One of their main tasks is sourcing images that fit the clients? brand to post on their social media accounts.

A tool that social media managers often take advantage of are stock photos. Stock photos are so useful. They are pre-edited, styled photos you can purchase and use for your brand without crediting the original photographer. They save you time and money that you would have spent hiring a professional photographer. You can find stock photos for A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G. If you actually took the time to track the hours you spend sourcing images, you would be shocked (and maybe slightly annoyed at yourself).

Though stock images are an (inexpensive) investment, they are worth every penny. I source all of my images right here from Hello Stock. With new collections added regularly, you can find the perfect photos to align with your brand and content.

Still not sure how you would use stock photos? I use them for a huge variety of projects, but mainly: Pinterest pins, Instagram stories, in-feed Instagram posts, Facebook posts, and blog posts (like this one!).

When you purchase a stock photo collection, it is yours to use however you’d like (except you can’t sell them as your own, obviously). They can instantly be downloaded right to your computer or phone. How awesome is that?

If you’re still not convinced about how life-changing stock photos can be for your business, sign up for our email list and get 10 free images to get you started!

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Outsourcing is a valuable tool for business owners, work from home moms, or just busy people in general! You don’t have to feel guilty about paying someone to do the tasks you don’t love. You should feel proud that you are taking control of your life and your time.

Outsourcing has freed up countless hours for me in the past few years. It has allowed me to grow my businesses into what they are today. Without this help, I never would have been able to grow!

Do you already utilize outsourcing? If not, what is the first task you are going to outsource?