How To Choose The Best Web Designer For Your Small Business

By Ange Hammond

Whether you’re just starting out in business or you’re looking to take your business to the next level, there comes a time when you’ll consider getting professional help with your website. When you’re swamped with a growing to-do list, hiring a website designer can be just the lightbulb moment of clarity you’re looking for. Or it can be an experience you’ll want to forget, big time.

I’ve heard all the stories. The small business owner who paid top dollar for a simple 5-page website designed by a large creative agency. The freelancer who paid a deposit to a website designer who started out doing a good job on their design but then seemed to fall off the face of the earth, never to be reached again. And then there’s the entrepreneur who wanted to save money and signed up for a fiverr-type gig only to be bitterly disappointed with the results.

The problem is there are just so many web designers out there! In a time when starting your own business has become the new black, everyone with a bit of computer know-how is giving the ‘web designer’ label a spin around the block and it’s difficult to spot the good from the inexperienced.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the options, let’s explore some things to look at when trusting your beloved online home to someone. You want to look for someone who’s the right fit for you and the type of small business you’re running. You want someone who knows SEO and will implement this on your website while they’re building it. You want someone who has both design sense and functionality in mind, not to mention your ideal client.

Judge a web designer by their website
Just like any other service or product we want to invest in, visiting a web designer’s website gives you valuable insights into their skills before going ahead with them. Have a think about the following questions when browsing their website:

  • Is there a logical flow of information?
  • Has the content on each page been broken up by photos and graphics to make it easier to read?
  • Is it easy to navigate around the website?
  • Is the website visually appealing to you?
  • Do their blog posts demonstrate the knowledge and expertise they possess?

Have a good look at their portfolio and get a feel for their design style. Each website they’ve created will be different of course, but there’ll generally be a consistent style to their designs. If their past projects resonate with you, it’s a good sign you’ve found your match.

Word of mouth
Rather than googling for a website designer, which will more often than not just expose you to the world of big design agencies, ask some business besties who you trust to give you some recommendations. There’s nothing better than word of mouth to find the best people to outsource to. If you’re still struggling to find the right fit, put a post on your favourite Facebook business group and see who’s out there in your community. Perhaps it goes without saying but do not engage with website designers who spam-email you, telling you that they can build your website on WordPress for $100. Only place your trust in a website designer who leaves you feeling that they understand you and your business.

The quote
When receiving a quote from a website designer, there are a few things you’ll want to make sure are included:

  • Your website will be both designed and developed by them.
    There are graphic designers who design websites but do not build them. If this is the road you want to go down, just make sure you’re aware of this and that you’ll be paying website developer fees on top of their quote.
  • Some SEO tasks are included.
    These tasks might include some keyword research, keyword placement for your pages’ titles and descriptions and your images being optimised for web. If there’s no mention of any of these things, ask them. These tasks form the basis of your website’s SEO and really are a no-brainer that they’re included.
  • Check the platform your website is being built on.
    I recommend doing some research on the platform of your choice (eg. WordPress, SquareSpace, Shopify, etc) and finding a web designer who specialises in it. There are many platforms to choose from so it’s important to choose the right one for the type of business you’re running. Keep in mind any website functions you want to include in a year’s time… plan ahead so you’re not having to change platforms down the track.

And then there’s the price. If your instinct is telling you that the website designer is the perfect fit for you but they’re a little bit out of your price range, have a chat to them about it. Chances are that they will be flexible and can give you a suitable payment plan so that you can pay off the project price in instalments. There may be some of the website features that you’re wanting that aren’t super urgent and they can be done at a later date when you have more funds to invest in your quality website.

Your website is one of the most important assets you possess when it comes to your business. It’s where your desired clients go to find out whether they want to work with you. It’s where your customers window-shop your latest products and purchase them online. Your website is just like a brick-and-mortar shopfront, only it’s on the internet, and it deserves the right person to create it and it’s also worth the investment. Taking the time to consider the options, coupled with trusting your intuition will ensure your future website takes your business to new heights.

Ange Hammond is an inspired web designer at Resonant Imagery who loves creating vibrant and easy-to-navigate websites. She’s most at home when helping clients attract more of the very people who can benefit from their valuable services and products. Using an intuitive design process, Ange creates beautiful, informative and professional websites that’ll do wonders for any small business.

5 Ideas To Inspire You When You're Struggling To Create Blog Content

By Zoe Arpin

Struggling to create blog content? Here are five ideas to get you inspired....

1. Write a list
PEOPLE. LOVE. LISTS. (You clicked on this blog post, right?!) Humans have short attention spans. Many people leave web pages in less than a minute. Receiving information in concise, bite-sized chunks is ideal. If the list is related to your business in some way, that’s great, for example “Five reasons you should start a blog”, or “Ten ways to improve your Facebook business page” But it can also be a way of sharing information about you as a person, such as “Three Netflix shows I’m loving right now”; or “Five things I did that helped me quit smoking.”

Whatever the topic, blog posts involving lists are nearly always some of the most popular on any blog.

2. Interview someone
We humans don’t just love lists: we’re insatiably curious about each other! Doing a Q&A with someone you think your audience will find interesting is always a great way to get traffic to your website. For example, if your target audience is working mums, you could feature a mum who runs their own business and get them to share tips for juggling home and work. Or if you run a blog about reading, you could interview an author (which admittedly will be easier if the author is quite early on in their career - J.K Rowling’s probably a bit busy!) You could even turn these interviews into a series and turn it into a regular feature.

The win-win about doing something like this is that the person you’ve interviewed will often promote the blog post, too. That’s double the promotion for your website and opening your business up to a whole new audience.

3. Answer commonly asked questions
No matter what your business is, I will bet that you often find yourself being asked certain questions time and time again. “How do you find inspiration for your products?” “Where do you find interesting content for your blog? “How do you find the time to run your business and look after your family?” Take your regular answer to a question you are often asked and elaborate. “I find inspiration for my products by doing X, reading Y and listening to Z.” Go into more detail on each point and you’ve got yourself a blog post.

4. Educate
By sharing your knowledge, you are not only educating your audience about a certain topic; you are positioning yourself as an “expert” in this area, and people will return to your blog when they want to learn more. Dietitian? Write a blog post advising people on how to manage Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Photographer? Write a post about how to best photograph a child in motion. Own a clothing line? Write a blog post about accessorising.

5. Write a “how to” post
This is a particularly popular type of educational blog post, and one which Google loves. Think about it: how many time have you typed “How to do XYZ” into the Google search bar find out how to do something? If your blog post title matches the question that someone else is looking for, your blog post is almost certainly going to be near the top of the search results, especially if it’s something specific. Illustrator and designer Sarah Renae Clark writes some really great “how to” blog posts related to illustration, such as “How to draw a rose.” Writing a “how to” blog post is just another way to position yourself as expert in a certain area in the eyes of potential and current customer.

Zoë Arpin of Teapot Communications specialises in helping small business navigate the world of marketing. She has a particular focus on copywriting, content creation and social media management. If marketing's not your cup of tea, Zoë would love to help you! You can reach her at her website, Facebook or Instagram

4 Photography Tips To Level Up Your Blog

By Gemma Peanut

As creatives, we can love our art so much that we may struggle to think of it as a business. 

It may even seem wrong to promote and sell it for monetary gain - but we all need to make a living and what better way than by doing what you are bonkers passionate about! 

That being said, I do cringe at the thought of bookkeeping and even invoicing clients which are all parts of working for yourself - but one area that I am more comfortable with these days, is marketing.

And the reason for this, is I think I’ve cracked the code...

3 years ago, I was crying myself to sleep, stressing my little heart out over what the heck I was going to do with my life.  A friend suggested that I start blogging as an outlet and a way of deciphering through all the confusion and so begun Gemma Peanut Gallery

As I continued to share my musings and adventures, I realised the power of imagery. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and I quickly learnt this first-hand by seeing the response on my blog to different images. It seemed that having great visuals was a easy win on the marketing side! This realisation fed my curiosity about learning how to take better photos and so began my foray into photography… 

Today, I am a professional shutterbug on a mission to help creative creatures become the boss of their cameras once and for all so that they can produce stunning imagery that shows off their art to the masses.

I’m going to share with you the photography tips that helped me level up my blog.

1/ MOVEMENT
The most compelling photos have movement OOZING out of them and because of this, they tell a story instead of just showing a static, frozen moment in time. The viewer is drawn in and invited to daydream about what’s going on in the image. 

My favourite cues to capture a sense of motion in photographs is to take a walk or to do a twirl which instantly injects playfulness and spirit. 

2/ IMAGE BANKING
Ever typed up the final word of your masterpiece, been super eager to hit “publish” and then realised you have no images to jazz it up and to use to share on Facebook? This is where image banking comes in real handy.

To key to creating a plentiful and versatile arsenal of photographs is to shoot for variety. Consider capturing a range of emotions from smiling straight to camera, to side-profiles staring off pensively, to candid and whimsical back shots. Shoot a scene with both portrait and landscape framing and both close-ups and wide-angle shots. 

3/ FLAT LAYS
Flat lays are so visually captivating when everything falls together effortlessly - but trust me, there is a lot of effort involved! You have to select and arrange the items in a way that expresses an idea or a theme and then you have to take the photo from the right angle, with the right framing and the right lighting. 

Never fear! There are some sure-fire ways to make your flat lay ultra-pinnable! Pick a tonal palette and stick to it to create instant harmony in your flat lay and choose a background that allows these colours to shine. Matte cardstock, hardwood floors and granite bench tops work wonders! 

Now for how many objects...I find that the magic number is 3. You can create so many balanced arrangements with just 3 items such as all 3 in a row, or peeking in from 3 of the corners leaving one corner intriguingly blank which leads me to…

4/ NEGATIVE SPACE
As with many things, less is more and photography is no different with the nifty technique of negative space. Negative space is simply the space surrounding the hero of your image - so picture your model against a big, blank wall or a pretty trinket against a patterned rug. Negative space makes your subject or object really pop!

And it’s also handy for blogging because you’ll be able to easily add in some text to form a header image or a quote perfect for Instagram. 

Photography is the ultimate marketing tool and its uses to give your blog that extra edge are endless! 

Gemma Peanut is a professional shutterbug and story teller. Armed with her camera, her untamed heart and a boundlessly messy imagination. If you’d like to keep on learning about photography, check out Photography 101 with Gemma Peanut where manual mode photography is broken down into human-speak across several beautifully presented video tutorials + the super-active and exclusive Shutterbug Club. 

Biz Mama // Maternity Photoshoot

Maternity Photoshoot

I don't often post too many deeply personal updates here on the blog - but with the impending arrival (any day now!) of our little bub I have a feeling that is all about to change. As I begin to shift and transform into the role of business woman and mother I find myself re-examining how best to forge this path for Blog Society and I'm excited about the prospect of change.

While I don't know exactly what this new direction will look like I do know that I will continue to be here to help support, guide and nurture other women along their own business journey, specifically as they navigate the marketing world.  I also am feeling called to be more personally present and to share more openly this journey as a new biz mama and the challenges that unfold over the coming months/year.  I've always been a fan of learning from each other and feel that sharing this new adventure is another way to dispel the often unrealistic expectations that women are held to.  

So to kick things off I wanted to share a little behind the scenes update on what's been happening in my world.  This pregnancy has been a joyful and gratitude filled 9 months, one that I'm personally sad to see go but at the same time am so excited for the chance to finally meet this little soul earth side.

We were so grateful to be able to capture this moment in time when Nikki from The Milk Teeth stopped by our house a few weeks back to snap some maternity photos.  I've always been one to feel extremely shy in front of the camera but Nikki had us completely at ease, laughing and having fun in the process.  Looking back now I am completely thrilled we decided to go for it as I couldn't be happier with how they turned out and the special moment in time they captured for us. We'll be able to share these photos with our little man in the future and I'm so thankful to Nikki for the opportunity. If you are in need of any family or lifestyle pics I can't recommend Nikki enough, she's top of her game and soooo fun to work with - I promise she'll have you laughing the entire time!

On a side note, thank you for all the kind words and notes of support about our pregnancy - it's been incredible to share this journey with all of you via social media and looking forward to more updates as soon as he arrives. In the meantime we'll continue to post killer content from around the globe to keep you inspired on your own business journey. 

xx Jac

Maternity Photoshoot 2
Jac+James 13 EDIT.jpg

How To Keep Your Business Thriving During The First 3 Months Of Motherhood

By Stephanie Skryzowski

If you’re a highly ambitious, Type A, make-it-happen entrepreneur, who’s passionate about growing your business, AND you’re about to have a baby, you must read this.

You are excited for your little one to arrive. You’ve probably meticulously planned his or her nursery (and of course you know the gender, because TYPE A!) and have all the little clothes hung neatly in the closet, arranged by size. You know where you’ll deliver and maybe even have some meals socked away in the freezer for after his or her arrival.

You are also a busy entrepreneur. You’re hustling daily (and you love it) and your business is growing, maybe faster than you’d anticipated. Your days are filled with client work, hosting webinars, and creating content for your audience. When you left your 9-5, you didn’t imagine it would all work out so well and you are energized and on fire (as much as can be for a pregnant woman).

Does this sound like you?

Then keep reading and let’s talk about what it’s like to be a new mom and an entrepreneur. I’ll give you a hint: it’s not at all like what you think it will be.

If anyone could do it all, it was me. The Queen of Efficiency and Productivity, I remember my husband remarking at my Master’s degree graduation celebration that he couldn’t believe I was even in grad school plus working full time plus commuting four hours a day because I just had it all together.

So naturally, I thought that having a baby would be similar. I’d give birth and be able to keep all of my client work going, hopping on the computer after a feeding or when the baby was sleeping. I knew I’d be tired, but it wouldn’t be that bad. I could do it all.

Turns out, even the Queen of Efficiency and Productivity needs help.

I am sharing my Five Proven Tactics to help you be fully present as a mom, which is critical in those first few weeks and months, AND continue to help your business (your first baby!) thrive.

1. Prepare financially in advance. You are your own boss and nobody is handing you any paid maternity leave, right?! As an entrepreneur you should be accustomed to saving in advance for business investments like a conference or a new computer, and maternity leave is no different. Figure out what your monthly number is then begin setting aside funds in advance. I had set aside three months’ worth of income, just in case all of my clients disappeared while I had the baby (they didn’t!) and it gave me a huge peace of mind. Voila! Paid maternity leave!

2. Tell your clients. I was super nervous about telling my clients that I was pregnant and would likely need to step away for a little while. What if they all left me and I was left with no job, no money, and no prospects? Turns out, that was ridiculous thinking. My amazing clients were not only understanding, but incredibly supportive (they even sent me thoughtful baby gifts!) and they managed to keep the lights on without me. You will feel a huge sense of relief once you tell your clients and come up with an agreement as to how long you’ll be unavailable and when you’ll dive into work again. 

3. Give yourself a maternity leave. I am serious about this. I know you love your business and will want to get back to feeling “normal”, and a true leave might feel hard. You don’t have to disconnect for a year but you must give yourself some space for a minimum of two weeks. I made the mistake of not putting an out of office message on so I felt obligated to answer emails. I even took a client call at just 7 days postpartum, where my mind was so foggy, it was almost an out-of-body experience. I looked back at my notes several weeks later and they were completely unintelligible, so I wonder how I sounded to the client! Trust me that your clients will wait (remember how long they took to finally sign your contract?!) and that you will feel much better after a break.

4. Ease in slowly. So maybe after two weeks you start answering emails, then another couple weeks you take sales calls, then a few weeks later dig into the actual heavier client work. I thought I’d have no problem handling bigger, strategic thinking type projects but I truly needed that time to let my brain begin to function normally after the hormone surge/drop and sleep deprivation.

5. Enlist help. It’s okay if sometimes that help comes in the form of car seat naps and a coffee shop. I can’t tell you how much work I got done in three hour increments while my daughter slept in her car seat. I felt like a normal human by getting dressed and out of the house, she got a solid nap (when she likely wouldn’t have slept at home anyway), and my client work got done. In fact, there was a point in time where we were frequenting Starbucks so much that her car seat began to take on the aroma of coffee beans. And, are you part of any neighborhood or community organization that uses a meal train? Get humble and SIGN YOURSELF UP. I felt weird about it at first (like, I can’t handle feeding myself?) but when that friendly woman showed up on my doorstep with a bag full of chili, artisan bread, and brownies, a smile, and then left, I couldn’t have been more grateful.

Being a mom and an entrepreneur isn’t easy. I landed myself back in the hospital at three days postpartum with an infection, and spending the night in the emergency room with your tiny newborn isn’t all that fun. But these tips will help you get through those first weeks, focusing on your baby and yourself, and give you the confidence that your business will be there as soon as you’re ready.

And I promise you that your clients won’t run away.

Happy Mom-ing, Boss Lady!

(Disclaimer: Every mom's birth and postpartum experience is different, and these tips are based on my experience alone. Sending lots of love and respect to all the new parents out there.)

Stephanie is the Owner of 100 Degrees Consulting, which provides financial leadership to help nonprofits and entrepreneurs change the world. Having spent nearly a decade in Afghanistan, Nepal, Malawi, and other far-flung locales, Stephanie has vast on-the-ground experience crunching the numbers to help organizations make better strategic decisions for their business. Stephanie brings energy and passion to all things in life. She loves her work as a CFO, running marathons (7 to date!), hiking, and traveling off the beaten path. She is a new mama and currently lives in the US with her husband, dog, and five-month-old daughter, Kyla.