5 Tips on Launching Your New Brand

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Launching a new brand can sometimes get very hectic and feels somewhat over bearing at times. Over the years, through tests and trials, I’ve had the opportunity to help launch over 100 brands. This day and time, with the influx of entrepreneurs and the accessibility to do so online, new brands are launched almost every day. Below, I provide a few tips on a successful launch for your company and how to capitalize on the influx of growth you will receive during your launch.

  1. Set a Firm Launch Date & Time – stick to it and prepare to make your first launch announcement.
  2. Advertise Prior to Launch – It’s good to let your audience know that your new brand is launching soon. You’ll want to start making this known no less than 2 weeks prior to your launch via all social media platforms. In addition, have a landing page set up, so that your audience can sign up via email for updates on your launch. A good way to encourage people to sign up is by offering an opt-in incentive ( 20% for new subscribers, free download, etc. ).
  3. Plan & Prep – Once you launch your business, you will have a good amount of consistent growth over the next week or so. To capitalize off of this, be sure you have plans for building your mailing list, future marketing and advertising in place. Prep all of your systems for post launch growth. In addition, create a social media editorial calendar. This is a calendar where you should plan all of your social media posts. This assists in freeing up your time, to allow time to focus on other important aspects of your business.
  4. Check & Review All Web Links– Next to your site not launching, would be your links not working properly or there being blank pages. 
  5. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help – Ask your friends and family if they don’t mind posting about your launch as well as the people that were involved with your project. A lot of times, we’re afraid to ask due to a fear of disappointment, however, closed mouths don’t get fed. LOL If there is someone that you feel has been supportive of you, has been there every step of that way or that simply was involved with the making and building of your brand – reach out to them to get all the the support you can with the launch of your new brand 🙂

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You Are What You Post

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In this day and age, hardly none of us are without some sort of social media account. Being that I am a creative and entrepreneur, this immediately gave me an opportunity and platform for my work and talents to be seen. However, it took me a minute to find my wave and really connect with how to showcase my work and style.

If you’ve been following me for awhile, then you know that I’ve done a full 360 and re-brand. Below you’ll find a couple reasons why your social media should reflect who you are, your business and why it’s important to your branding.

Future Clients and / Business Partners

If you have a business, you have to keep in mind who your target market is. When you post on social media, if it is a public account, be mindful of what you post and be sure it ties in to what YOU stand for and/or represent as a business.

Once upon a time, I used to post….let’s use “medication” , for lack of words. One of my clients pointed it out and criticized me about it and I immediately took offense. My mindset at the time was, “fuck the world, I do what I want!”. After thinking about it and replaying the situation in my mind, it caused me to reevaluate a few things. I thought about the stereotypes surrounding medication, the way it is perceived professionally and the effects it could have on a lot of my major goals.

You have to remember to keep your personal and business separate. Some things are just not meant for social media. Especially if you are in the professional world and looking to do work mainstream. Due to what is posted on social media we’ve seen people lose their jobs, lose endorsements and much more, it is wise to keep that in mind when sharing online.

Who are your followers?

What you post is going to have a reflection on your following, If you’ve built a following based on your body, more than likely that’s what people want to continue seeing. It’s hard to turn those followers into making money if what you’re posting is not relevant to what you are selling. Say for instance, you always post shoes, but you’re a florist. It’s going to be really hard to get people to buy flowers from you if you only post shoes.

Build your brand so that you create a genuine following of people that share common interests.

It’s not about how many followers you have, but the quality of your following. If you have 1 million followers but can’t market and sell to at least 100 people, you may need to reevaluate what you’re doing and how you are going about your branding.

Be sure that you are prepared for the feedback you receive for what you are posting. For instance, you can’t post a half nude photo and not be prepared for crude, rude and sexual comments from men AND women. You just can’t; it comes with the territory once you put something out for the world to see and give their opinions on. I can’t say I haven’t been there, but i’ve come to a place where I know that’s not the feedback I want.

There used to be a day where if a corporation wanted to work with me and asked to see my Instagram it wouldn’t have reflected things relevant to my actual design and style. Recently, I went into an office for a freelance position and when they asked to see my social media pages they were blown away and I was immediately hired for the next project. That’s something I am proud of because I made a conscious decision that I wanted my social media to reflect my branding and style as well as what I have to offer the world aside from what you see on the outside.

Keep your long term goals in mind when sharing on social media. Remember that you must be the energy you want to attract and be prepared for the criticize you may / may not receive for what you post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Weekend at Lake Arrowhead 

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I finally got to get away from LA for a bit this past weekend and spend a little time with my family. We took an awesome trip up to the mountains and to visit Lake Arrowhead, which is about 3 hours outside of LA. I’ve been wanting to visit a few locations in the mountains for awhile. 

It’s absolutely beautiful and full of things to do on lake including shopping, amazing dining and water activities.

A few facts about Lake Arrowhead include: it is a man made lake once owned by the Van Nuys brothers and a few others. The lake is now owned by the community / housing association. Some well known residents that live there full time include Olympic medalist, Michelle Kwan and the head of animation at Disney ( was super excited about that ).

I didn’t get to go hiking this time around but I’ll definitely be making another trip out to the lake. Breathtaking and relaxing environment. Take a look at a few gems from my visit below 🙂 

Know Yourself, Know Your Worth

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As a designer, I’ve spent a good time trying to figure out what to charge, what’s fair and trying to be nice to everyone. Instead of basing my rates off of the current market rate or even a fair price in exchange for the work put in, I’d charge based on what I thought would get the client to easily say yes, or what I thought they could afford. As a freelance creative, there are so many things wrong with that. Below I am going to share my experiences and give a few tips on setting rates and getting what you deserve.

What’s the Going Rate?

Do some market research and find out what a person with your expertise and experience makes per year in your state. Find out the average salary both hourly and annually. This will help you to set a fair and competitive rate for services in your industry. In addition, find a few people that work in your field as well, find out their rates and pricing as well. From my personal experience after doing this, it really opened my eyes and I came to the realization that by low balling, I am not only cheating myself, but the client as well. Here’s the reason why: If you’re cheap, there’s a few things that just don’t go hand in hand. For me it was that I was cheap and gave good quality, but with being tied down with tons of projects just to pay my standard bills it was hard to get everything out on time. Below is a diagram to better explain what I mean here.

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This diagram was shared with me by one of my close friends years ago. It helped me to understand about setting my rates and how it all goes hand in hand. You can give someone a fast, cheap product, you’re more likely to lose quality. If you have great quality work, with cheap prices, you’re more than likely going to have to wait awhile and last – if you want something timely and good quality, it’s simply going to cost you.

RENT’S DUE

Take the time to sit down and write out all of your bills – and I mean ALL. Find out how much it costs you to live and maintain the essentials you need to work and produce at a high quality. This will help in setting your as well.Being a freelancer the main things I need to work are high speed WIFI, a MacBook and a phone, aside from other standard monthly bills. If you have set your prices so low that you struggle to keep the bare necessities, you need rethink your strategy and review your rates. I am a firm believer that artists should not have to struggle, especially once you get to a certain level in your career. There comes a time where you have to look out for yourself and stop trying to be nice in business.

I Got the Hook Up

Part of knowing your worth as a freelancer includes not giving out hookups and discounts to people all the time. This decreases the value of your work and people begin to expect something for nothing. You don’t want to end up always getting the short end of the stick and begin to burnout and lose passion for something you love. I’ve been in situations where I wanted to help someone and found myself doing a website in exchange for a pair of flip flops. I look back and think to myself, ” GIRL,what were your thinking?!” LOL. That’s a $2500+ project for a pair of shoes….sure, it was a nice, polite gesture, but it wasn’t fair to myself.

 

“I think I’ve realized that business and being polite [don’t] match. You can be fair, but me being polite was not me being fair to myself.” – Beyonce

 

Presentation

Presentation plays a big part in actually getting what you’re worth. When going into meetings – look professional, no matter how well you may know the client. I am not saying wear a blazer, dress and heels all the time but, put your best foot forward.

When you present things to clients, pull out all the bells and whistles. Create a deck for your presentation to give to clients and use fancy mock ups where necessary.

Looking the part plays a big role in potential clients taking you seriously and valuing what you can provide for them.

By doing the above things – it will put you on the right path as a freelance creative towards getting what you deserve and being able to provide your client with the best service and experience when working with you. There used to be time where I was piled up mile high with work and could barely pay bills. You have to charge a fair rate to avoid that unnecessary stress and work with people that understand the value of what you’re giving them.

 

Feel free to share your client experiences below or comment for advice 🙂

I have this thing for green…

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Decided to put together my take on the modern living area using a green sofa. I love using a sofa for a POP of color and to add a little spice and uniqueness to the space. An antique brass is used for the chair, fixtures and the photo frames. Can’t forget to add the plants. Although there’s already enough green in the room it seems. Doesn’t hurt to add a small touch of “life” to the room. Hanging plants are perfect, along with something for the floor. 2 is more than enough to avoid overdoing it. To give the room more of a “home” feel – I chose a more relaxed style ottoman as the coffee table – paired with a beautiful area rug with hints of brown and a nice geometrical pattern. Get the deets below on each piece I used in this mock up 🙂I have this thing for green...

 

D’USSE Day Party Hosted By CLuxe Brand Management

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This past weekend I had the opportunity to check out the D’USSE Day Party in Santa Monica. The venue was so cute and I had a really great time! The ladies of C Luxe curated the perfect day party vibes. This was my first time trying D’USSE and honestly…truly, I like that it’s a change from the norm. Don’t get me wrong, Hennessy I feel is the old-time fave, but D’USSE, it’s really smooth and the drinks I got the chance to try were really tasty ( open bar at the event, perfect lol ). My fave was the D’USSE lemonade, not too sweet, which is my kind of drink.  C Luxe did a great job hosting this event and I can’t wait to attend the next. Check out some pics from my event experience below.

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It’s Okay to Just Say ‘NO’

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Time and time again, I used to find myself in the situation where I’m working on 12 projects with 14 open and 2 pending. Not sure how I thought I could do that much alone….well, actually I wasn’t. I would take on so many jobs at once, all due around the same time, some low in pay and non-paid, all because I was afraid to say, ‘No.’ Saying no in business does not equate to being mean. As a true business person, you have to know your boundaries, stand your ground firm and try not to overwork / overextend yourself because, what good are you to your business or clients then?  Below I’ll cover a few situations in business where you may be hesitant to say ‘no’.

Family & Friends – This Sh*t Ain’t Free

It seems like the most difficult thing to do sometimes, especially when it comes to friends or family. Some people try to give you the guilt trip or make you feel like you owe them something, when the reality is, you DON’T. This is YOUR BUSINESS and how you make a living and you deserve to get paid your worth. It’s cool to be nice and giving sometimes, but you can’t give so much of you that you become drained or stressed out. Some people may not understand the aspect or your business and want you to just, “do this real quick”, however time is something you can’t get back and the worst feeling is getting behind on your actual work and neglecting your clients to do something for free, that the person most likely won’t appreciate or understand the true value of . To avoid stressing yourself out, don’t feel bad about it, just say ‘no’. Business is business at the end of the day and you’ve got to take your business serious if you want them to respect it and if they are true friends and family, they’ll be down to pay for and support you in your endeavors.

Discounts Are For Dollar Tree 

You have those people that claim to support you, but always want a little hook up. -_- It’s perfectly fine to offer a discount from time to time for those people you’ve built a relationship with, however, don’t make it a habit. Ever heard, “give em an inch they’ll take a mile”? Yeah, it’s bound to happen. Don’t feel bad, communicate. It’s okay to tell this person ‘no’, as well. If you’re working hard and giving them great service and great work, they should be willing to pay you your standard rate for what they are getting. Don’t shortchange yourself.

HELP! It’s an emergency!

Yikes. There’s always that one person that needs something and they need it in a flash. It feels good to help out when you can, however, sometimes you simply CAN’T. Maybe what they are asking for is beyond the scope of what you can provide or possibly they aren’t willing to provide the resources for what they are asking for. Whatever the case may be, this is another situation where it’s okay to say , ‘No’.

Many times in these situations where you are doing someone a favor, these are the same people that will talk bad about you if you don’t meet their free or discounted unrealistic needs and standards. Save each party the stress and don’t be afraid to express yourself and communicate if it’s something in business you are unable or don’t want to do. A good way to ease the bad news is to provide them with an alternate resource for what they are looking for or requesting.

Remember to never be afraid to speak up for yourself if there is something you disagree with and value your time. In business, you have to look out for yourself and if you don’t respect your business, no one else will. You can’t always be nice and you won’t be everyone’s friend.

“A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble .” – Mahatma Gandhi

Ice Cream, You Scream : Free Download!

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iPhone wallpaper created using 2 sketches I did and turned them into a pattern. All for my love of ice cream. With this hot weather how could you say no to an ice cold sweet treat?! 🙂

Just click the button “Free-Purchase” then click a 2nd time to checkout. Once you enter your email address, your download will be sent directly to you

Bad Clients and How to Avoid Them

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Sometimes, as designers we literally come across the client from hell. That one person that no matter what you do, it’s just not right. Below i’ll give a few pointers on how to tell if a client is for you or not.

There are many different types of “bad clients” , I’m going to break down the 4 most common types of clients you will come across and how to avoid them.

  1. The Negotiator – This client wants to negotiate and talk you down from whatever price quote you give them. They usually want a plethora of items and want to get the cheapest price for the most work and will likely be expecting a fast turn. To avoid making the mistake of falling into this trap, you must stick to your guns and your rates. Anyone who respects your work, should respect your time as well and understand that your time as a designer is valuable.
  2. The Finesser – This is the client that midway through the project adds on little things here and there. The scope of the project becomes way more than you were initially expecting or had discussed. You must not be afraid to let a client know when what they are requesting or expecting is going to take additional time and money. If you do not communicate this, many times the client will expect the project to be completed in the same amount of time originally quoted. With this client, communication is key. To avoid this situation all together, you must be sure to screen and ask all necessary questions in the beginning. If this still occurs, do not be afraid to speak up and communicate. Many times, clients do not understand what they are requesting is beyond the agreed scope of work; and even if they do, it’s your job as a freelancer to speak up for yourself.
  3. The Newb – This client has no idea what they want. It’s likely that they aren’t even really sure as to what they need from you. They simply know that they are looking to start a business and need a logo. To avoid issues with this client you have to ensure that your initial point of contact is clear and precise. Ask as many questions as possible and use the necessary and proper communication channels if you choose to work with a “first-timer”. Likely this will require you to communicate more and work closely with the client to help guide them to creating effective design solutions. Good solutions with first time clients are online questionnaires with a follow up call and/or in person meeting.

    4. The Slave Master – Last but not least, this guy. The slave master. This client has nothing but expects you to deliver the world. They want a designer to be a magician of some sort. Avoid this client at all cost. Through experience, this person will likely have the funds and be ready to proceed with work, but have no idea or direction as to what they want. If dealing with web design, they will likely have no content and expect you to generate everything for them. This is usually the type of client that seems to be a stickler on time, yet have no time to provide you with the necessary tools to complete their project. Essentially, they feel like they are your only client and that all of your time should be dedicated to them and their project only. This is the worst. Once you are locked in to an agreement, even IF you offer to sever ties and give a refund, they will likely not accept and demand you still work with them. It’s hard to get out of but easy to avoid. As mentioned with prior client types, client screening is important. Ask all the questions you need and be sure the client understands what they must provide prior to designing so that you can provide them with a great service that meets their needs.

With all clients – it is necessary to have procedures and a series of questions that you ask prior to working with them and starting their project. In addition, it is important to connect on a more personal level. Email is ok and although, I am not a fan of text, sometimes a quick text may be necessary depending on your relationship with the client and scope of the project. Phone calls, Video Calls and in-person meetings are simply needed to be able to connect with a client to ensure you all have a successful project. If you pre-screen and really get to know the client prior to tackling their project it’ll likely save you some time and a headache. Take it from me, you don’t want to rush into a project and midway find out it’s the client from hell and searching for a way to escape. Been there, done that and it sucks LOL.

Next week i’ll be sharing my 10 necessary questions to ask BEFORE starting any design project. Until then feel free to share some of your client stories – I know we’ve all had at least one experience with these kind of clients if not all. Thanks for reading!