Friday, December 3, 2010

Save Your Eyeballs!

So, lately I've been designing like a mad-woman, trying to stay on several deadlines for the myriad of end-of-the-year projects. This heavy workload is great for business, but bad on my eyes! I've been experiencing terrible eye strain, followed by headaches and more headaches. It's not like I can just take off a few days to recover, so I started researching other ways to help relieve the eye strain. Here's two of them:

1. Take a Time Out (literally)
Another graphic designer recently introduced me to Dejal Time Out, a program specifically designed to gently remind (or force) you to take time outs throughout the day. Time Out has two kinds of breaks: a "Normal" break, typically for 10 minutes every hour, so you can move about and relax, plus a "Micro" break: a very brief 15-second every 10 minutes, so you can remember not to tense up too much for long periods. You can disable either kind of break if desired, and the breaks are automatically paused when you go away from your computer, and can be reset when you come back.

Now, I'll admit it, the 10 minute breaks are too long for me to take right now, so i just skip over them. But the micro breaks (while sometimes annoying when they arrive right when I'm in the middle of something) are actually really helpful. Just taking those few seconds to shut my eyes, take a few deep breaths and then continue on has decreased my eye strain problems immensely! By the way, did I mention this program is FREE! Go, download it now, your eyeballs will thank you!

2. Have a Cup of Tea (no, really!)
The second eye strain tip came from a life coach I recently had the pleasure of meeting and it involves, well, having a cup of tea. A chamomile tea compress will help reduce eye swelling, and it will also help you relax while you have tea bags on your eyelids or drink chamomile tea to your health. Get the full directions here!


Do you have other suggestions for combating eye strain? I'd love to hear them!

PS-Special thanks to Jessica Menk for introducing me to Time Out and to Jeanette Eleff for the Chamomile tea compress article!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Start NOW: Your 2011 Marketing Plan! (Part 3 of 3)

So, last week I shared some key points I learned from a webinar hosted by Ilese Benum, co-founder of Marketing Mentor, entitled "Start NOW: Your 2011 Marketing Plan!" First, we focused on key factors that should be determined prior to developing a marketing plan. Next, we discussed marketing tools and tactics to consider as part of your overall plan. Now, let's move on to how we'll carry-out our marketing plan—we'll break it into daily, weekly and monthly tasks.

Daily Tasks:
1. Prospecting Hour: Set aside an hour each day to reach out to a few of your prospects.
2. Social Networking Break: Set aside time to network via your social media channels, 30-60 minutes per day is suggested by Ilese Benum.
3. Research: Spend a little time each day researching potential prospects.


Weekly Tasks:
Weekly tasks are divided into two groups—beginner and advanced. See the handy-dandy chart I made for you below…


1. Marketing Monday: OK, this could be any day, really, but "Marketing Monday" has such a nice ring to it. Basically, set aside a day each week to work on your own marketing efforts.
2. Networking Event: Try to attend one in-person networking event each week.
3. Follow Up: Follow up with any outstanding proposals or projects.
4. Online Discussion: This is a great opportunity to write your own blog posts, comment on other posts, or join a group forum.
5. Thought Leadership Efforts: Work on ideas for articles, speaking engagements, white papers, etc.


Monthly (or Quarterly) Tasks:
Finally, we come to your monthly (or quarterly) tasks. Again, these tasks are broken down into a Beginner and an Advanced section. You determine where you should fall. Another handy-dandy chart to the rescue…


1. E-Newsletter: Some may opt to send a monthly newsletter, while others prefer quarterly. Pick a time frame that works best for you and stick to it. (Ummm, I'd better take my own advice here, my enewsletter is WAY overdue!)
2. Web Updates: Make sure to update your website on a monthly basis so your information is current and up-to-date. This is also a great opportunity to check your web stats through programs like Google Analytics
3. Direct Mail: If your business permits, send out a direct mail campaign on a monthly or quarterly basis. This could involve a special coupon or promotion, or just a basic self promo piece.
4. Case Study: Chose a specific topic to write a case study about. For instance, in my profession, a case study may entail a detailed description of a client's overall branding and identity system. What would a case study mean for your business?

There you have it! These past three posts should give you most of the insight, tools, and tasks you need to write (and stick with) a successful marketing plan for 2011. Remember as a business owner, NOW is the time to start focusing on next year! Good luck and please let me know how you do!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Start NOW: Your 2011 Marketing Plan! (Part 2 of 3)



Earlier this week, I shared some key points that I learned from a webinar hosted by Ilese Benum, co-founder of Marketing Mentor, entitled "Start NOW: Your 2011 Marketing Plan! We first focused on three key factors that must be determined prior to event starting your marketing plan—goals, target audience, and the tools you'll use to keep you on track. Hopefully over the week you've thought about these factors.

Now, lets focus on some of the actual marketing tools or tactics you should consider as part of your overall marketing plan. Ilese Benum suggests the following:

1. Networking: Some may not consider networking as a marketing tool, but it IS, it actually is a BIG one! If done correctly, networking can set you up to build lasting working relationships. Try to include both online & in-person networking as part of your plan. Personally, I try to attend at least one in-person networking event per week, plus utilize social networking tools such as Facebook or Twitter, or even more specific social/business sites such as Savor the Success (a business networking site for women business owners).

2. Website: If you don't have a website, you may want to think about getting one to use as possibly one of your most effective marketing tools. (If you don't have a site for your business, um, call me!) Your website is where potential customers can learn more about your company, it's a place to include all the pertinent info about your company...the meat and potatoes of your business. 

3. Email Marketing: Consider sending out an email newsletter on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis (whichever works best for you!). I recommend using a company such as MailChimp to host and send your email campaigns.

4. Direct Outreach: This includes direct contact with potential customers, such as phone calls or in-person meetings. Don't disregard how important some direct face-to-face contact with a potential client can be.

5. Thought Leadership: Ilese Benum defines thought leadership as speaking and writing outlets. It's a way for you to present yourself as an expert in your field. Speaking engagements can include your local civic organization or a national conference (and anything in-between). Writing gigs may include your own blogging, or guest blogging (or both). White papers that you include as resources for your existing and potential clients will also help define you as an expert.

For a well-rounded marketing plan, you really should utilize each of the above tactics. How will you use the above 5 marketing tools for your business? I'd love to hear some of you ideas!

Also, be sure to tune in next week as we conclude this 3-part blog topic with a list of suggested daily, weekly and monthly tasks of your marketing plan.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Start NOW: Your 2011 Marketing Plan!

It's hard to believe it's already November and the holidays and end of the year are quickly approaching. (personally, my mind is still back in the sunny, summer days of August, but I digress…). As a business owner, the end 2010 means focusing on the beginning of 2011—including next year''s marketing plan.

Last week I participated in a webinar hosted by Ilese Benum, co-founder of Marketing Mentor, entitled "Start NOW: Your 2011 Marketing Plan! Over the next three blog posts, I'll share with you some of the key points I learned.

First things first, before you even start your marketing plan, you must decide a few key factors including goals, target audience, and which tools you'll use to keep you on track. So, begin thinking about your goals for next year. Be detailed and specific, including as many dates and figures as possible. Download a worksheet provided by the Marketing Mentor to help you think about your goals. At the same time, start thinking about your ideal clients, who you'd like to focus your marketing efforts on. Here's another worksheet to help you brainstorm who those perfect clients will be. And last, how will you keep track of your efforts. You may choose to simply input all due dates into your calendar (check out a sample Google calendar below), or use a To-Do List such as Things, or a project management program like Paymo (more to come on this little program later!)

Sample Marketing Calendar Task Tool
So, let's get started on the above three key factors: Business Goals; Target Audience; and which tool you'll use to stay on task. Let me know how you do!

Later this week, I'll move onto the different types of marketing tools you may consider using for your 2011 Marketing Plan! Plus, coming Soon: Part 3: Daily, Weekly and Monthly Marketing Tasks!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Halloween!

It's that time of year! Halloween was always a fun holiday in my family—we worked together to create the scariest house in the neighborhood! To bring back some of those old childhood memories, here's a montage of some Halloween-inspired graphic design to get you in the spirit for this weekend!

 
Plus, I just couldn't resist sharing these amazing pumpkin designs! I wish everyone a safe, fun, and, oh yes, super scary Halloween. Mwah-ha-ha-ha!
 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cool Finds: Wall Decor

So, in-between client design work, I've been researching ways to spruce up the Kalico office a bit.

Walls Painted…check.
Shelving Up…check.
A few new pieces of furniture…check.

Now what I need are some cool things to hang on the walls. Yes, I may end up hanging some of my own design work, but let's face it, I stare at my own designs all day! I want some fresh, fun and creative pieces to decorate the wall space. Here's a few samples of some of my finds—which one is your favorite?

Colorful Large Wall Calendars:

White Board Wall Calendar:


Simple, Minimalist, Inspiring Words:

Let me know which one(s) you like the best! Have other suggestions? Please send them on over. Working in a creative, inspiring environment helps lead to creative, inspired work. And --> THIS GIRL <-- is ready for some changes in my workspace!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

It's Not Going to Our Head…We Swear!


I am happy to announce that Kalico Design was recently awarded two Creativity International Print Awards for our work! The beer label designed for Downtown Frederick Partnership's 20th Anniversary special brew, Opera House (by Brewers Alley!) was awarded a Silver Award and the logo design for Luna Soma Jiva (a women's retreat center in Hagerstown, MD) was awarded an Honorable Mention Award. We are thrilled with these awards, but, even more so, are grateful to have such wonderful clients!

About Creativity International Awards:
Established in 1970, Creativity Annual Awards is based in Louisville, KY and is one of the longest running independent international advertising and graphic design competitions in the world. A print, web, advertising and media design competition, each year the judges choose the best from all over the world to be reproduced in the 400-page Creativity Awards Annual Book published and distributed by HarperCollins.
For more information on Creativity International Awards, visit their website! Also, all winners will be listed by October 30—be sure to check out ALL the award-winning work!

Plus, for a full look at the winning pieces, check out our own website: Logo  |  Beer

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Find It Frederick Fall 2010 is here!


The latest edition of Find It Frederick is now online. Take a look before it hits stands! Or pick up a copy at participating local venues next week, which you can find here.

What's Find it Frederick, you ask? Here's a summary:

FiND iT FREDERiCK is the distinctive shopper's magazine that fuses funky with functional. This (FREE!) portable shopping companion mixes entertaining articles and audacious graphic design (by yours truly!) AND it's small enough to fit in a purse!

Both residents and day-trippers alike are reaching for FiND iT FREDERiCK to see who's who and what's where in and around Frederick, MD—from the newest in noshing to the area's best bargains and most unique finds—to what's hot in culture, arts, and nightlife.
We LOVE working with Find it Frederick! Such fun graphics and great stories, plus ads and information on a ton of local businesses. How do you like the latest issue? Your feedback is encouraged!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Not Too Shabby, If We Do Say So Ourselves...

Our quarterly newsletter design for the Sts. Peter & Paul Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society (longest name EVER!) was recently granted a 1st Place Award of Excellence in recognition of the Most Impressive Printed Newsletter. Competing against Philoptochos associations across the nation, this is a great honor! What the heck is the Philoptochos Association, you ask? In short, it is the women's philanthropic society of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. For a more detailed explanation please visit their website. Special thanks to Donna Moore, Marie Carras and Father Anastasios Kousoulas for their help on this project. 

Need help with your next printed or eNewsletters? Don't be shy, contact us today to schedule a meeting!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bring on the Color!


As a graphic designer I love color! Part of my job is getting to play around with color combinations to help convey a certain feeling or vibe within a logo or layout (so fun!). Recently I found a great resource to help get your creative color juices flowing: Design Seeds.

Design Seeds is a blog devoted to discovering a stockpile of fresh inspiration. "Design Seeds is about what goes into creating a collection, a new concept, or project. It is about looking forward and beginning the process...not the final product on the runway, shelf, or in a magazine. Focusing on original content that is reference/inspiration for all with a passion for design, arts, and a creative lifestyle." The blog showcases unique and interesting color palettes derived from lively photography and other found inspiration.

I definitely recommend checking this site out to help with brainstorming and for some color inspiration, I know I'll be going back to it again and again!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ridin' Along in my Autobmobile...

This past weekend, I happened to be traveling along the roads of West Virginia on the way home from my husband's latest Motocross race. And what should appear before our very eyes...



That's right, it was a large billboard for the Martinsburg-Berkeley County CVB's annual "Pickin' in the Panhandle" BBQ & Bluegrass Festival! Why was this so significant you ask? Well, here's a hint—the CVB is one of my clients and...yep, you guessed it, that wondrous billboard was one of my designs! There's just something exciting about surprisingly seeing your work, larger than life, when your not even expecting it! (and, yes, I do still get excited about seeing my work in use!).

I started working on Pickin' in the Panhandle last year, starting with the recreation of their logo, then moving on to print ads, web banners, and eventually billboards (see some samples below)!


Unfortunately I wasn't able to make it to the Festival last year, but you can bet it's on the calendar for this September—just two weeks away!!

Don't miss it:

Pickin in the Panhandle
September 10-12, 2010
Lazy A Campground
Featuring: The WV State BBQ Championship
Plus Bluegrass Music including Ricky Scaggs, Joe Diffie, Shenandoah and more!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Graphic Design and Video, Oh Mai!

I am happy to have Whitney Hahn of Digital Bard Video.Web.Marketing doing a guest vlog this week! I had the pleasure of working with Digital Bard on several projects, and I have to say, as a primarily print designer, it is super cool to see your designs transformed into the animated world of video! See below for Whitney's explanation, then scroll down to see the original poster designs for both of the 24/7 Dance productions:

video

As mentioned in Whitney's video, Kalico Design supplies Digital Bard with the raw file formats, mostly photoshop or illustrator files, and then they work their video magic! Below are the original poster designs for each production:


See! Graphic Designers and Videographers CAN play nice together! If you're interested in video for your next project and or would like to add a video component to your website, please contact Whitney at Digital Bard Video.Web.Marketing!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

CLIENT SPOTLIGHT: Damascus Dental Center

Over the past year and a half, I've had the pleasure of working with Damascus Dental, a cosmetic and laser dental center. With an established practice in Damascus, MD, and the opening of a second office in Mt. Airy, they were looking to rebrand themselves. After our initial client consultation, I got started on the project and have had a solid working relationship ever since!


It all starts with a logo...

The logo developed was a simple, yet still sophisticated, text treatment. Since their focus was on cosmetic and laser dentistry (i.e. no scary drills) I wanted to give the logo a soft, warm, inviting feel (because, really, who actually LIKES going to the dentist!). This ideal is carried out through the use of a scripted, handwritten-styled font, as well as subtle soft colors.




Power to the People...
One of the key words that kept coming up in our initial client consultation was the fact that Damascus Dental prides itself on customer service and happy returning clients. For their marketing materials, such as ads and brochures, I wanted to capture that human element. So, keeping in mind their budget restraints, we utilized a variety of stock photographs highlighting naturally smiling people. Keeping with the simple sophistication of the logo, we opted for clean, bold silhouetted imagery, which truly captures your attention.




Bringing it to the Real World...

Damascus Dental was so invested in and optimistic about their new identity that they used it as the inspiration for the decor and interior design of their brand new office space. A state-of-the art dental center, warm golds and greens pulled from their logo line the walls, and in the center of the waiting area is a custom-created die-cut sign of their new logo. Everywhere you turn, their identity and brand jump right out at you!




What's in Store...
With an established identity system, Damascus Dental continues to promote their new office location and unique laser and cosmetics abilities. We've applied their identity to stationery, signage, brochures, office forms, and are currently working on a new website!




Remember, as a small business, treat your visual brand and identity seriously. Think of it as an investment—something that will give you an instant visual consistency with your existing and potential customers, as well as make you strongly stand out among your competitors. Hire a professional at the start, and you'll have the basis to extend your unique "look" to anything and everything that will come in the future.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Gettin Down with the Monkey!



I've mentioned it once or twice before in various blog posts and eNewsletters— MailChimp rocks! If you currently are using a different email marketing provider, I highly recommend making the switch. If you haven't started your email campaign yet, do it soon and be sure to MailChimp it up!

OK, why do I love MailChimp? Let me count the ways:

1. Organized, non-confusing interface
2. Easy to customize templates
3. Great customer service and resources right on their site! (Here's just a few)
4. They're funny and fun to use
5. Data tracking is a breeze (see for yourself)
6. They provide so many ways to network with your social media accounts (seriously!)
7. List management is to the point, and (again!) easy to use! (ahem)
8. Oh, and did I mention you can get a FREE account!?

Need help with your eNewsletter campaigns? Kalico Design can create a customized newsletter template to match your existing brand. Mix up some great design and a little MailChimp magic, and viola, an eNewsletter campaign that YOU can update (or we can do for you, it's your call!). You can't beat that!! Contact us for more info!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I'll Admit It. I'm Stuck!

That's right, I'll be the first to admit it… I am totally stuck! I work with clients all day to design their informational and promotional pieces, but when it comes to creating my own, it's like my brain just quits!

I've been brainstorming a good self promotional idea for Kalico for several months now, and still haven't come up with that "just right" idea. I think my problem is that I am putting too much pressure on this one, single self promotional piece. So much, that the creativity and ideas just shrivel up. Why is it so hard to design for yourself!?

Here's my criteria so far:
1. Has to be fun yet functional. (I don't want to send out something just for the hell of it, I want there to be a meaning and a message behind it!)
2. Has to jive well with my existing brand (duh)
3. Would prefer it to be printed or produced with/by eco-conscious materials and vendors
4. I want that "Wow" factor (it needs to be something that you didn't expect and would want to keep)


Well, at least that's a start, I guess. How to you brainstorm for your own self promotional ideas? Any and all suggestions are appreciated! I'll keep banging my head against a wall and hope that an idea will come soon! And when (or if!) that "just right" idea comes, I'll be sure to post the results!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Find It Frederick Summer 2010 is here!



The summer issue of Find It Frederick is now on news stands! Pick up your copy at one of the participating locations, which you can find here. OR, check out the online version above!

FiND iT FREDERiCK is the distinctive shopper's magazine that fuses funky with functional. This (FREE!) portable shopping companion mixes entertaining articles and audacious graphic design (by yours truly!) AND it's small enough to fit in a purse!

Both residents and day-trippers alike are reaching for FiND iT FREDERiCK to see who's who and what's where in and around Frederick, MD—from the newest in noshing to the area's best bargains and most unique finds—to what's hot in culture, arts, and nightlife.
Make sure to pick up your copy today!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My Online Marketing Plan

Ok, so most business owners have heard of the importance of a marketing plan. This is where you map out the different types of marketing efforts you'll take part in to promote your business. For me, I actually create a marketing calendar, which highlights what I will do each month to market Kalico Design, as well as what costs are involved. Making the plan is the easy part...it's the sticking-to-it part that's hard!

Recently I have been using more and more social media marketing tactics to promote Kalico. These online marketing tools were not included on my original marketing plan, and most are daily, not monthly, tasks. Luckily, I ran across another talented graphic designers blog post, which focused specifically on devising an online marketing plan. Genius! Thanks Angela at 13thirtyone!

So, here goes. My brand spankin' new online marketing plan and goals:

Goal 1: Spend 2-3 hours per week of online networking. I am going to try my hardest to schedule this in, just like regular client work. This networking can include:
• Updating the Kalico Facebook and Twitter accounts daily
• Brainstorming & Researching ideas for future blog posts weekly
• Commenting on online articles for some of my online networking groups including Savor the Success and Biznik (once per week)

Goal 2: Blog on a Weekly basis. My goal is to keep a balance with my blog posts, including both Kalico office-related News as well as pertinent tips and tricks for clients

Goal 3: Send Kalico eNewsletter out on a quarterly basis. Hmmm, guess this means I'm due for my next newsletter...I better start brainstorming!!

Goal 4: Continue Face-to_face Networking. Ok, so this isn't technically online. But, I find that my face-to-face and online networking tend to overlap. The more people I meet in person, the more people I network with online, and vice versa (for example, after meeting someone at a networking event, I may connect with them through LinkedIn or Facebook to extend and build the relationship). I will attend a weekly BNI (Business Networking International) lunch meeting, and will attend monthly Greater Frederick Advertising Federation (GFAF) educational and social events. I will also continue to look for other face-to-face networking opportunities.

How do you use social media to promote your business? Do you have other suggestions or tactics on how to manage your online networking?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for…Interns?



OK, so maybe on this 95+ degree day you actually ARE screaming for ice cream. But for the past few weeks, I have been nonstop screaming (as in cheering WOOHOO!) for my first summer intern, Jennifer Tyler! An aspiring graphic designer from Shepherd University, Jen has been a tremendous help for me during my busiest time yet since the inception of Kalico!

Without further adieu...get to know the new face at Kalico Design:

Jennifer Tyler is a senior in the graphic design department at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown WV, with plans to graduate this December. Before moving to West Virginia, Jennifer was utilizing a culinary arts degree working as a full time baker in her Native state, Oklahoma. She loves being active in the design community, and currently serves as the president of Shepherd's newly-formed student chapter of AIGA. Last year Jen helped to organize the first annual AIGA student exhibition displaying a variety of student design work, including her own work which was rewarded with a viewers choice award! Check out some of Jennifer's student work at her website, jentylerdesign.com.

Jennifer will be helping me out over the summer months, and I can't be happier (or more relieved!). I've definitely been keeping busy these past few weeks, as is evident in my lack of blogging (sorry!). But, stay tuned for updates on some of our most recent work!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Networking Know-Hows


When I started Kalico Design, I was terrified of networking! I knew it was a very important way to market Kalico and get my name out, but I had to force myself to 1) Go to a Networking event in the first place, 2) Actually talk to people and 3) Feel comfortable and productive doing it.

But, as I continued to attend events, I realized Networking is mostly about building working relationships and learning how I can help others. (Which, in turn, usually means that someone will also be trying to learn how they can help me...ahhh the universe is in balance!) Approaching networking events with this mentality doesn't seem scary at all, it just seems like a great way to meet, get to know, and possibly work with other like-minded business people! (OK, so maybe it's still intimidating sometimes, but I no longer have to drag myself kicking and screaming to events any longer!)

Here are some interesting facts and valuable tips that may help you at your next networking event:

1. Traits of a Good Networker:
According to Ivan Misner's Referral Institute study, the top five traits of a good networker are:

1. Enjoys Helping Others
2. Is Trustworthy
3. Is a Hard Worker
4. Follows Up
5. Is a Good Listener


2. Important Things to Ask Yourself:

Figuring out which types of networking events will be the most productive for you and your business may take some trial and error. Here are three questions that may help you decide:

Who Are My Best Prospects?
Decide if you are targeting businesses or consumers. Think about factors such as industry type, business size, and location.

Where Are My Best Prospects? Different events bring on different types of people/businesses. For instance, if you are targeting small business, you may want to try Chamber of Commerce events or local business associations. Whereas, if you prefer to target representatives from large corporations, your better bet may be through service clubs, nonprofit groups, or volunteer work.

Who Do I Really Want To Meet? Be specific when asking for a contact or connection. Ask with an open-ended question to generate a better response. For instance, if I ask: "Do you know anyone who needs a logo". The answer will most like be "no", end of conversation. But, if I ask "Who do you know who just started a small business and is looking to distinguish themselves from their competition with an eye-catching visual identity?", I've not only made my request very specific, but I've also potentially opened up the conversation for further discussion.

Do you have other suggestions on how to be a good networker? We'd love to hear them!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Creativity in Practice


I'm so excited to be quoted in "Creativity in Practice", an article in the May issue of How magazine. How is a national magazine dedicated to the creativity and business of graphic design, and it's a publication I've been reading since college — so for me, it's a great honor! The article discusses ways to apply the same creative thinking to your business as you do to your design work. Here's my full quote:

My wicked awesome quote:

My new and exciting way of business development for my one-man-band design studio is to be myself. I know, seems obvious and old-school, but I find a lot of other small design studios are trying to be something they are not. As a soloprenuer who works with small businesses and associations, I’ve found that embracing my small, yet creative business is far better than trying to make me seem larger and more corporate. I am able to get more personal with my clients because they deal directly with me as the creative guru and business owner; they feel more comfortable because they actually get to know me (and as a solo worker, “me” is pretty much the brand of my business); and they respect my advice because I can relate to their small business needs, fears and triumphs. It’s all about really understanding who your clients are. Instead of going to a potential business meeting in a stuffy suit, I usually show up in creative business casual (even jeans on occasion!). I’ve found that this what-you-see-is-what-you-get attitude puts clients more at ease and creates a trust-relationship much faster.

If I am able to do a one-to-one in-person meeting with a potential client, showing them my work, but also getting to really understand their business needs, I am usually able to land the job. I don’t treat clients as the next paycheck , but as a business relationship that will grow as time moves on. I’ll admit, I’m pretty new to this self-employed bit, but I am certainly content with both the caliber and amount of work I’ve been lucky to receive. In the two years I’ve been in business I haven’t sent one self-promo out! All jobs have been strictly on a word-of-mouth basis and its definitely working for me!

What do you think? Do you have any additional input or creative ways you run your business?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Gettin' Social: Facebook Fan Page

We've all heard of Facebook, you may even have your own profile. And if you're ahead of the game, you may even be using Facebook to promote your small business! (Go ahead, pat yourself on the back). Here are a few quick tips on how to use Facebook Fan pages for your business.

Facebook Pages are different than profiles. You have a profile for you, but must have a page for your business. A Page can include all the important information about your company. They’re useful because you can include everything that relates to your business such as company overview, website & contact info, press releases, videos, Blog RSS, company news and status, photos of new products or projects, plus customer interaction, to name a few.

To learn more about how to create your business fan page, click here. Then, follow the directions to create your own page. BUT WAIT! Before you create your own fan page, please read my latest eNewsletter, that will help you to plan why, who and how you will use your page. It's not enough just to have one, you must first strategize how your fanpage fits into your business marketing plan.

Once you have a fanpage, there are all sorts of fun, and thoughtful ways to make it stay consistent with your brand, while getting the most out of it. First, make sure to set a custom user name for your page. Usernames allow public entities to easily promote your presence on Facebook with a short URL, such as http://www.facebook.com/companyname. This username can be used in your marketing communications, company website and business cards. If you didn't select a user name when setting up your page, go to www.facebook.com/username, then click on the bottom link "Set a username for your Pages" and select an available name.

Second, create a unique landing page that stays consistent with your brand. The landing page would be similar to a website homepage—you want to very quickly let the viewer know who you are and what you do. Plus, you want to encourage them to become a fan of your page! Check out Kalico's landing page for an example. Landing pages must be created using FBML, which stands for Facebook Markup Language. It’s similar to HTML for writing websites, so unless you are familiar with HTML, you may need a designer's help for this part. Here's a great How-To Video that walks you through the steps.

There are tons of additional applications you can include on your facebook fan page. Here's a great list to start choosing from. You don't need all of these, of course...just pick the ones that work the best for you and your business! For instance, for Kalico, my goal was to increase subscriptions for our eNewsletter, so I have an app that includes a newsletter subscription form right on my fanpage. I also use the Photos tab as a way to showcase some of our portfolio works. My next step is to add an RSS feed for our blog. (yep, the one you are reading right now!) The possibilities are endless, and I'll admit I'm still learning new ways to use Kalico's Fan page everyday!

And last, stay on top of it! It will take time to build your fan base, so keep sending out invites to new contacts asking if they want to become a fan of your business Page. Keep your content up-to-date and give people a reason to check in on your page regularly. Constantly promote the Page in any way possible, and before long you should see a large portion of your website’s referrals coming from Facebook!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Combating the Burn-Out Crisis


This past winter was rough, and not just because of the abnormally large amounts of snowfall we had here (Maryland)! Work has been crazy busy, personal life has been crazy busy, family life...yep, you guessed it, crazy busy, and so on. I'm sure you can relate. I feel like I have been going nonstop for the past 3 months (or more), and I'm coming close to my breaking point.

As a self-employed business owner, this is scary and overwhelming. Don't get me wrong, I am ecstatic Kalico has been so busy, and I continue to enjoy what I do. In addition, I also love the extracurricular activities I'm involved with, and I enjoy serving as a director on multiple Boards. On top of it all, I do try to manage a normal life, spending time with my husband working on our house, or visiting with family and friends. But sometimes it just all gets to be too much! I'm the first to admit it—I am reaching my "Burn-Out" point, and I'm not entirely sure what to do.

As I talk with more and more people, I've discovered I am not the only one feeling this same way. This winter really took it's toll on businesses as well as individuals. So, I decided focus on ways to overcome this Burn Out mentality. OK, maybe I haven't done all of these things yet, but just writing them down will help motivate me to make some changes, which will hopefully bring me back to my normal self! Here goes:

1. Always take a lunch break! (Not at your desk)

2. Get plenty of rest and sleep.

3. Get outside (especially now that the weather is nice). That fresh air can REALLY make a difference!

4. Listen to relaxing music while working. Lately I've been switching up what I listen to, and it has really helped keep my mind fresh.

5. Set a cut-off time...sure, we all need to work late now and again. But, you get to a certain point when you just aren't productive anymore. Figure out when your stopping point is, then come back to your task in the morning. You'll be likely to get more accomplished.

6. Exercise. If work permits, take a walk during the day (I am going to try to take the dog on daytime walks), get up and walk around the office a bit, do some light stretching. Anything that gets you moving for a bit.

7. Breathe. Sometimes just taking a few minutes (away from your computer, or your current task), to do some deep breathing exercises can really have a calming effect. Plus, it gives your mind a small break to just be and relax.

8. Break your tasks down into smaller, more direct steps. I recently started using a task management software program called things. It allows me to break down each of my tasks into smaller, more manageable steps. I check off each of these steps when I'm done then move onto the next one. It really helps to break down those big To-Do Items into less daunting tasks. Plus, it looks like you've accomplished more at the end of the day!

These are just a few of the things I pledge to try, and hopefully these little changes will help get me back on track! Any additional suggestions are greatly appreciated! How do you cope with burn-out?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Award Winning Logos!


We are thrilled to announce that Kalico Design has recently been awarded for two of our logo designs-Luna Soma Jiva and Break Some Eggs!

ADDY Award
And the ADDY goes to...yep, you guessed it—Kalico! On Thursday, March 11 we attended the Greater Frederick Advertising Federation's ADDY awards at the Weinberg Center for the Arts. Amidst the variety of 80's inspired costumes (I attempted the Pat Benatar look!), local designers and advertisers were awarded for their creative work! We are happy that our logo design for Luna Soma Jiva, an organization that presents workshops and retreats to bring women together, was awarded with a Silver ADDY!

AGDA Awards

In addition, this morning we were also notified that both our Luna Soma Jiva and Break Some Eggs logos were awarded with American Graphic Design Awards! The AGDA awards are a national competition and judging is based on three criteria: concept (is it a good idea? was the work original?); execution (technical skills involved, presentation); and appropriateness (how effective is the work? does it communicate well).

We are excited to have our work presented by both prestigious design award competitions!

Friday, February 26, 2010

How to Keep Your Sanity While Working from Home


As most of you know, I run Kalico Design out of my home office — which I love! But, while working from home has many perks, it also comes with some of it's own unique challenges.

I was recently in a meeting with two new business owners who were adjusting to the work-from-home mentality. We discussed some of the things they were finding hard, such as time management, how to focus, how to get inspired, and how to turn it off. After working form home for over two years, I've worked out a lot of my own kinks, but still tweak and adjust as often as needed to assure I am as productive as possible. Here are some of my tricks:

1. Have a Door: I am lucky enough to have a designated room for my home office, with a door! This helps separate work from home. It alleviates distractions (i'm not staring at dirty dishes or laundry, I'm only staring at my computer screen and work-related paraphernalia). This puts me in work mode, and helps to put me in "home mode" when not in the office. When possible, try to designate a specific room or area for your work space.

2. Window & Natural Lighting:
Again, I am very lucky that I have two large windows in my office. I strategically placed my desk and chair so that I face these windows. It helps to have natural lighting (which keeps me awake and alert, and also helps save on energy, b/c I rarely have to turn on an office lamp!). Try to position yourself near a window or natural lighting, especially if you are in a creative profession.

3. Billboard:
One of my favorite office supplies is my large billboard that sits directly in my line of site. I am able to put my important notices, production schedules, calendars, etc. all in one main location. As a designer, I often have long production schedules for large projects. Being able to see all these schedules in one glance is especially helpful and helps keep me on track. It's also fun to put up some of your own fun memorabilia, to keep your office creative and personal!

4. Set Hours: Sure, you're working from home, and you can always work. But, you'll burn yourself out very quickly if you don't balance work and home. I keep normal business hours, 9-5. OK, a lot of the time I will work late or I'll work on a Saturday, but i DO NOT answer emails or phone calls unless it is during regular work hours. By setting normal hours you will help to keep a professional relationship with your clients.

5. Ambiance: One of the perks from working from home is that you don't have to worry about offending or distracting co-workers. So, take advantage of this and make your home office as comfortable and personal as you want. I have a candle that i burn to help keep me relaxed. I also frequently play music for background sound. But, I don't recommend working with the tv on, it is way too much of a distraction!

6. Flexibility:
Another perk from working from home is that you do have more flexibility. Use this, don't abuse it. I swear by my laptop. For me, it's like a portable office. But, even if I am working from my laptop, I usually am still in my office. However, I do allow myself "work-from-home treats". For instance, on Fridays, I have a work from anywhere day. During the winter, this usually means working from the comfort of the living room couch. But in the warmer months, I may work outside when possible, or I might go to a coffee shop and do some work there. A change in scenery helps with creativity and inspiration. While it is most productive to have a set schedule and designated office space, you can still allow yourself a little fun — after all you work from home! Just be sure to make it the exception, not the rule!

What are some of your suggestions or tricks to working from home? What challenges do you face? What do you love about it? We'd love to hear your feedback and insight!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Loving the Olympics!


So, not only have I loved watching Shaun White, Apolo Ohno, Seth Wescott and all the other fantastic Vancouver Winter Olympians, I've also loved the graphics for the 2010 games(above)! I am loving everything about them, the bright colors, the overlapped textures and patterns, the sense of movement, and the hard-edged styled figures! Has anyone else gotten side-tracked from the racing, spinning, or jumping of the athletes to find themselves admiring the bright fluid graphics in the background!? Is it just me? (Doubtful!) Check out all of this year's Olympic posters here.

In fact, I was so enthusiastic about this year's Olympic graphics that I decided to research and compare it with the graphics of past Olympics. Unfortunately I wasn't able to find the full graphics package of some of the older games, BUT i did manage to find a lot of the past, present and future Game emblems (or "logos", in graphic designer speak). Here are some of my favorites. Which one do you like the best?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Practicing Creativity



I'll admit it. The past week, I hit a creative slump. It happens every so often, and normally I just have to work through it—either by distracting myself with something unrelated, doing more research, taking a break, or just pushing forward until I have a break through. This week, I turned to the research method, but decided to research the creative process itself. Not a new concept for me, as it was my thesis topic in college (maybe one day I'll share some of my findings...if only I could find my old paper!).

Anyway, back to my research. I stumbled upon a really great article on the 99% network, "RSS Creativity: Routines, Systems, Spontaneity", by Mark McGuinness. It describes some of the more mundane parts that help with the creative process, ways that make it easier to get to that "A-Ha!" moment. Below is a recap of some of the most important points of the article, or, read the full article here.

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Most of us don't like to think about the labor involved in creativity. It takes away the glamour and the magic. But real creators know different. They know that creative work isn't particularly glamorous. It requires discipline, routine, and a nitpicky attention to detail. We often talk about “the creative process,” but it's really several interlocking processes. The magic happens at the point where they intersect.

Here are three core processes you need to coordinate in your work as a creative professional:

1. ROUTINES

Many creative people lead apparently boring working lives, sticking to the same routine every day. They do this because they understand instinctively what neuroscience has now confirmed – routine is a key that unlocks creative inspiration.

Certain times of day are especially conducive to focused creative work. The effect is magnified when familiar objects, surroundings, and other stimuli (coffee, background music) become associative triggers for creative states of mind.

Takeaway: Notice what time(s) of day you are most alert and creative. Dedicate that time to focused creative work. Use the same tools, in the same surroundings, even the same background music, so that they become triggers for your “creative zone.”

2. SYSTEMS
A rock-solid productivity system performs a dual function for your creativity: (1) It ensures that all ideas and action steps are captured, so that nothing slips through the cracks, and (2) When you are confident that everything important has been captured, you are free to focus fully on the task in hand.

Systems are different from routines, since they are not dependent on circumstances. Major events can play havoc with your routine. When this happens, a good system acts as a safety net.

Takeaway: Take a few moments to review how you spend your time. Study productivity systems and experiment to see what works for you.

3. SPONTANEITY

Real creativity involves spontaneity and surprise, whether a simple “Aha!” moment or the lightning bolt of inspiration. Paradoxically, the harder you work at routines and systems, the more likely you are to experience that bolt from the blue.

But nose-to-the-grindstone productivity won't get you very far unless you take a break, relax in the bath, have a beer with friends, browse the internet or a bookshop, or go for a walk. One of the best things about being a creative professional is that all of this stuff technically counts as work!

Takeaway: Take breaks from the usual routine. Be open to new people, places, and experiences. Welcome the thoughts that appear from nowhere. Have a notebook or phone handy to capture them."

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Do you have any other suggestions, or specific things you do to help with your creativity?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Email Marketing 101


I recently attended the High Rock Marketing Summit, which focused on new media marketing, such as social networking and email marketing, as well as ways to incorporate all with your website. It was a great 1-day conference! The next Kalico eNews will breakdown how to use the most popular social networking sites, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, with your business marketing plan.

But, for this post I will give a quick list of Email Marketing basics. Whether you've already started an email marketing campaign, or you're just getting started, here are some of the basic points to think about to ensure you get the most out of your email newsletters.

1. Design: Keep the look and feel of your emails consistent with the design of your website. This helps to keep your business identity in tact.

2. Delivery:
Be consistent with the delivery and timing of your email newsletter, such as on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis. The key is to send your emails often enough so they are expected, but not so often that they become a nuisance to your recipients.

3. Information: Make sure to include valuable and useful information in your eNews. Think about what your target audience wants to hear. Also, be sure to keep your information concise, short and to the point.

4. Measurement:
Find a good Email Management Provider (we recommend MailChimp) that will offer you measurement or analytics for each message you send. Some important measurement tools, including percentage of emails delivered, bounced, or unopened as well as click rates for links, will give you insights to how your email was received.

5. List Management:
The first important step to starting your email campaign is to import a list of existing clients and prospects (a service like MailChimp can help you build and manage your list). You will also want to include a subscription form on your website to allow users to subscribe automatically.

6. Know the Rules: There are laws concerning commercial emailing. The United States federal CAN-SPAM Act became law on January 1, 2004, protecting consumers from unwanted emails, or spam. Many details are included in the law, but some of the basic points are:
• Emails must be requested and not unsolicited
• The user must be given a visible and operating "Unsubscribe" option
• Content of subject and form field must be relevant

And so concludes our quick and easy breakdown of Email Marketing 101 tips. For more information, or help starting or redesigning your email newsletters, please contact us!

If you'd like more information Social Media Marketing, feel free to sign up for our upcoming eNewsletter!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Proactive Productivity

I recently attended a GFAF roundtable session for freelancers and solopreneurs on the topic of "Gears, Gadgets & Stuff". One thing we discussed was task management software. I'll admit, my task management "software" consists of a pen and a pad of paper, with an overflowing list of hand-written to-dos! For the most part, it works for me. However, there are a few occasions when a task gets overlooked (usually due to sloppy handwriting or a flip of the page!). So, I've researched a few other options for task management. Below is a list of the three best ones I've found:

1. Things: This application is strictly for Macs (yay!). It's basically a glorified to-do list, with easy scheduling, categorizing, and tracking, as well as the ability to include file links, emails and web links with your to-do item. The interface is simple and straight-forward, so you just focus on the action items. You can download a free trial, but for a full version the cost is $49.95. Not a bad price for easy organization!

2. Bento 3: This application is a little more involved than the above. You can track your tasks and projects, but also organize contacts and mailing lists, plan special events, catalog inventory, record billable hours and payments due, and much more! Bento also offers templated backdrops, to make each project have a unique visual look. You can download a free trial, but for a full version the cost is $49.00. While this program seems to offer a ton of possibilities, for me, it was a little overwhelming—almost too much organization!

3. Basecamp: Basecamp is a web-based task management and project collaboration tool. With basecamp, you can share files, meet deadlines, assign tasks, centralize feedback directly with your clients, co-workers or your mom if you wanted. You also have the ability to upload files for sharing as well. When you've finished a task, simply mark it completed, and then everyone associated with that task is notified. Basecamp is offered at different pricing plans, starting with a basic plan for $24/month for small groups.

After researching all of these, I am leaning toward Things for Mac. It just seems the most simplified and straight-forward which is what I am looking for. But, before I purchase, does anyone have any other suggestions or any programs they are currently using?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Years Resolutions!

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope you had a great holiday season! I am very grateful to have been able to take off last week for a little rest, relaxation and refreshing! But, my time off wasn't all tv watching and lounging—I did manage to revamp and update the Kalico website. It now features new works and a more user-friendly portfolio section, as well as highlights some of my social media efforts (such as this blog!) Be sure to check it out!

During my time off, I also created a set of 2010 business and professional resolutions for Kalico Design. I am curious if anyone else did the same—I'd love to hear some of them!

My goals are listed below. I am hoping that over the course of the year, I can use this blog (and your support!) to help me update the status of some of these resolutions, as well as catalog any successes and/or obstacles I may approach along the way.

Kalico Resolutions:


1. Purchase new computer system (Check! My new IMAC just arrived today!)
2. Update Software System (Adobe CS4 & Microsoft Office already ordered!)
3. Research, Explore and Create Twitter account (any advice on this is greatly appreciated)
4. Create Self Promotion campaign (mail 4x throughout year)
5. Send out quarterly newsletter and stay on schedule
6. Participate as exhibitor in 1 tradeshow
7. Hire summer intern (yikes!)
8. Increase Blog traffic by 20% (help me, help me, help me!)
9. Create monthly marketing calendar and stick to it (this is the hardest part!)
10. Set aside at least 2-3 hours per week to focus on Kalico business needs, organization and growth
11. Join another networking group, while continuing existing networking efforts
12. Acquire at least 3-4 new clients in the health/wellness, organic or women-oriented industries

Sheesh! When they're listed like that, it seems like a lot! But, I am committed to putting forth my best efforts to complete these goals, which will improve my business, and, ultimately, improve business for my clients! I am excited for the new year! What are some of your business/professional goals for 2010?