Social Media: Boogeyman or The Bomb?!


Just when you thought it was safe to “Post your comment” and mastered the art of telling the world what your cat is having for dinner in “140 characters” – BAM! Here comes Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, Pajamagram and all the rest.

OK, so maybe not Pajamagram. As for the rest, they can be tad overwhelming and downright scary. But here’s the thing, you can love it or hate it, but there’s no way around it – if you aren’t on Social Media you are losing business and giving your competitors the edge.

So throw caution to the wind and come on in – the water is fine!

Social Media is a marketing bonanza! Yes, even for YOU! So sit back, relax and breathe. I am here to demystify Social Media. It really isn’t that scary, I promise! In fact, you have probably been practicing safe Social Media for years!

But before we dig deep, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page about “marketing.”

It’s easy – marketing is everything your company does to identify and then persuade your customers your product is the best…the easiest, cheapest, newest, fastest, smartest, prettiest “gotta have it” product they will ever find.

Yours is the RED CRAYON in a box of blah!

Then your “Marketing Strategy” includes all the other crayons left in the box – advertising, public relations, direct mail, newsletters, brochures, yadda, yadda. Right? Well, not quite. Have you ever gone to a networking function, spoke to a potential customer on the phone or even explained to someone you’ve met at a BBQ what you do for a living?

THAT, my friend, is Social Media and you are already doing it! Dig deeper.

See? Social Media is not so scary after all. It’s communicating, interacting, connecting and networking with people just like you. It’s sharing, discussing or creating information and ideas. That’s it.

Only now we’re doing it online and instead of coming face-to-face with just a few, come to Facebook and make friends with 1.3 billion users. Or just the ones you know. Or used to know. Or want to know. It’s your choice how you use Social Media.

So let’s get down to business.

Perhaps, the biggest change, in business today, is the importance of the relationship between the company and their customer. More than ever before, people value who they do business with as much as they value the actual product. Wow, opportunity, indeed!

So how can you use social media, in your business, to develop that special relationship with your customers? Here are six suggestions to help you start now:

  1. Write a BLOG – Content is King so rock your audience with killer tips and trends; exciting new technology; colorful tidbits; provocative solutions and more. Tempt them, tease them, make them ask for more. Be audacious!
  2. Educate, don’t sell – We can all smell a sales pitch from miles away, so avoid it like the plague. Instead keep them coming back for more by providing information, free tips or simply entertain your customers.
  3. Create a Contest/Take a Survey – Invite your customers to come out and play. Engage your fans. Reward them. Let them help develop your brand; it helps develop their loyalty!
  4. Offer a place for “Comments” – Keep the conversation going…with you, with each other. Let them talk about their likes and needs. Who knows better than they do? Listen well.
  5. Direct them here, there and EVERYWHERE – Create your strategy, keep it moving and take your customer with you. Start a story here but end it over there…on your website or a product review or another application. Ask an edgy question but let them answer it. Anywhere they’d like.
  6. Produce a video – Every minute, 100 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube and viewed by 490 million users, per month! Give them something fabulous to look at – YOU! A short, animated video (30 – 90 seconds) will grab attention and hold it.

Finally, here’s the big take-away, Social Media is for real people, like you. If you love what you do, believe in your product and care about your customers, here’s your chance to blow your competition out of the water.

So pull off your tie, kick off your heels and go forth and prosper – greet your best customers on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest … or Pajamagram

What’s in a business name? A rose by any other name….

20140922 - What's in a Business Name-01

OK, it’s true, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. But if its name was, say, “spiderwort”, who would ever know? Who wants to smell a spiderwort flower?!?

Same goes with the name of your business. Regardless of how exciting your business is, if it doesn’t inspire a customer to choose you or shout the loudest in a crowded marketplace, it’s simply not the right name.

It’s not doing its job.

And if you get it wrong – it’s not something that can easily be changed. Once the company has been established; the business name registered; business cards and stationary printed, signage constructed, contracts signed, trademarks registered and the title “BOSS” hanging on your door – it can be a costly and disruptive exercise to rebrand.

If you haven’t committed to a name yet, phew! This is your opportunity to do the research, take your time, stop to smell the flowers (maybe not the spiderworts) and get it right the first time.

So, what’s in a successful business name?

It must be creative, it must be unique and it absolutely must be memorable. It should rock the boat, as well as the red carpet and show off your swag! It doesn’t need to be a literal description of what you do (in fact, avoid this completely), but once heard, it sticks. It’s both an ah-ha and a lasting first impression. Smart, savvy, sizzling.

THAT is a successful business name.

But like all inspiring ideas, the proof is in the implementation. The difference between the ah-ha and the uh-oh is being able to execute the idea. Here are a few tips to point you in the right direction:

  1. Keep it short. We are bombarded by so many sights and sounds all vying for our attention. So the shorter the better. For example, Coca-Cola became “Coke”, McDonald’s is now “Maccas” and you may know the brand “3M” but did you know they were originally the Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Company?
  2. Make up a name. Think of the most successful and iconic brands – Adidas, Reebok, Coke, Pepsi, Wotif – all made up names! You will have a greater chance of trademarking a made up name than if it was a descriptive name such as “Dependable Pest Control.”
  3. Make it meaningful. Smith & Sons means nothing. Smith & Sons Trucking says what they do, but isn’t memorable. “Keep on Trucking” is a name you’ll remember.
  4. Get creative! Combining meaningful with creative is even better. Take Virgin Airlines. When Richard Branson began his empire, someone suggested the word “virgin” because they were new at business. Branson loved it. Take a characteristic of your business and make it your calling card. Why hide that you’re “fresh”? Virgin was unique and unforgettable.
  5. Create an emotion. When Steve Jobs started his business in his parent’s garage, the desktop computer was an absurd concept – who would want a big ugly machine on their desk? Steve chose the name Apple inspired by memories of visiting an apple farm in the summer. He thought the name was “fun, spirited and not intimidating”. Seriously, who doesn’t like a juicy red apple? Touch the heart, touch the memory, touch the desire and you’ve found the magic touch.

Finally, when you’ve narrowed your top choices, write them down and walk away. Sleep on it. Take some time to get a feel for each of them. Over time, there may be one that keeps jumping out at you and sticks in your mind. If all else fails, leave it for a couple of weeks and then say the first name you remember.

That’s the business name we’re likely to remember, too.

Follow these tips and you’ll be starting your business, smelling like a rose … rather than a spiderwort!

Over the coming weeks I will be looking at how to create the right logo and the importance of protecting your brand. So stay tuned …

Intuition is a powerful thing …

Trust you gut - Kylie Garner // Kreatology

Back in my university days I worked in small bakery owned by a husband and wife team who had recently become new parents and needed a helping hand at the shop.

It definitely wasn’t a glamorous job, but it helped pay the bills while I studied my Journalism degree.

They seemed nice enough initially. However each day I turned up for work, something just didn’t feel right. I could never put my finger on it. From the moment I walked through the doors of a morning, I would get this horrible churning in my stomach.

I put it down to anxiety and tried to fight through it, but each day the feeling got worse.

One day the wife dropped a sliced loaf of bread on the ground. To my dismay she picked it up, placed it in a bag and put it on the shelf ready for sale. I then watched as she sold it to a customer.

That was the day it just got too much for me and I resigned.

Barely a week after I left, there was a drive by shooting at the bakery. Turns out the baker’s wife was having an affair with the shop owner next door and the baker wasn’t to happy about it!

Intuition is a powerful thing. Sometimes, if it doesn’t feel right, you just have to trust your gut …

8 essential tools I use in my freelance design business

Freelance design business tools | Kylie Garner, Kreatology

It is not easy putting yourself out there as a freelancer. Whether you’re a designer, developer, marketing consultant or even a photographer it is hard taking your passion and turning it into a profitable business.

And sometimes “pros” within these industries can be really unkind to those just starting out. And I get it. I really do. But it is very easy to forget that we all had to start somewhere.

So I would like to put myself out there in helping others on their freelancing journey. I want you to be a success and rock your freelance business. I am an open book. Ask me anything and I will do my best to answer what I can.

I am by no means an expert nor claim to have my business all sorted. It’s actually in a constant state of evolution. But I can share with you what works for me and my lessons learned along the way.

Let’s kick things off with a question I often get asked – what tools do I use for my freelance design business? I have tried and tested a ton of applications, tools and systems over the years. But these are the business tools I currently use to keep myself organised and get things done.

17” Macbook Pro

My Macbook Pro is a point of contention in my household. The hubby is a PC guy through and through. Up until a few years ago I was too – until I jumped ship and never looked back.

I don’t really buy into the PC v Mac debate. I think its a personal choice and what is the best fit for your business and personal needs. So here is why I love my Mac. I find the Mac platform intuitive, beautifully simple and appeals to my design sensibilities. I believe Mac developers put as much thought into the design of their software as they do the functionality.

From a productivity point of view, I have significantly cut the time spent troubleshooting browser compatibility issues when designing websites. Developing for Safari seems to produce much less issues, if any, as when I designed for Internet Explorer primarily.

What can I say? I love my Mac.

Studiometry {$US199.95}

Studiometry is my business management tool and the nerve centre of my freelance design and marketing business. It tracks all my projects from start to finish including client management, quotes, tasks, time, expenses, invoicing and payments.

While it can be a little complicated to use initially, it is an extremely flexible tool and customisable to suit my various products and services.

Google Apps {$US50 per user, per year}

Google Apps is a cloud-based email hosting and productivity suite offering 30gb of email and document storage. What I love most about my Google Apps setup is that it automatically syncs with every device I own – Macbook Pro, iPhone, iPad – and also accessible via a web based interface. So no matter where I am in the world, what device or platform I am using, I can can access my email, calendar and documents anywhere anytime.

Dropbox {Free]

Dropbox is a cloud based document storage system that seamlessly integrates with my computer’s file system allowing me to continue using the software and file types that I know and love. The documents are accessible anytime, anywhere and on any device. If the file was moved or modified, the changes sync on every device. All documents are secure, but I can also share documents or make them public for easy collaboration with clients.

Skype {Free}

While I love the convenience of email, I much prefer to talk to my clients face to face so I can get a feel for who they are and their businesses. Sometimes this isn’t always possible if they are located interstate or overseas. And that is where Skype comes in!

Wunderlist {Free}

Any tool that keeps me organised and gives me clarity is a winner to me. I am a bit of Getting Things Done (GTD) addict and if you haven’t heard of it before, check out Zen Habits “Beginners Guide to GTD”. Wunderlist allows me to setup my GTD task lists and manage both business and personal life in one single task management tool.

Evernote {Free}

Can’t tell you how much I love this tool. Everything I need to remember is stored in Evernote, which is then accessible anywhere, anytime and on any device. It is the place I store all my code snippets for easy access on web projects and also a place to collect beautiful examples of design from across the web when I need a little design inspiration.

Hootsuite {Free}

I have a love hate relationship with Hootsuite. With the myriad of social media accounts I manage, I am on the hunt for one tool to rule them all. Hootsuite suite does allow me to do this, but it’s user interface is incredibly clunky and just plain ugly. Unfortunately I am yet to find an alternative that doesn’t cost a fortune per month.

I am always on the lookout for new tools and I would love to hear from you – what tools do you find invaluable for your freelance business?

Krista Hauritz eCard

Thought I’d share this cute little Christmas eCard I did for Krista Hauritz. I’ve had the privilege of working with Krista on a number of projects including the Mount Isa Rotary Rodeo. She wrote the winning submission for the Isa Rodoe’s 2012 Queensland Tourism Award in the Events & Festivals category.

Such a talented lady! Check out some of the other work I’ve done for Krista here.

Krista Hauritz Christmas eCard | Branding, Brisbane

Thank you 2012, hello 2013!

Thank you 2012, Hello 2013

Gosh time flies. To be honest, the past two years are a bit of a blur. We said hello to a cheeky little redhead man named Riley in 2010 and since then, I’ve been consumed with finding a balance between freelancing and family. Trying to maintain a sense of identity that wasn’t simply “stay at home mum” has been a bit of a challenge.

It has taken a while, but I think I’ve settled into a rhythm. Having said that, I can’t help but feel I’ve been maintaining status quo.

So I’m declaring 2013 the year of change. It’s time to kick old habits and start new ones. And if it ain’t working, change it. I’m not going make grand New Year resolutions. The plan is to make small incremental changes that have a big impact long-term.

Here are a few things I want to focus on:

Get social – And I don’t mean social media! I’m sure all the mummies out there would understand that sometimes it’s easier to stay at home and avoid the public humiliation of a toddler tantrum. But it’s important to stay connected to family, friends and peers. So I’m looking forward to coffee with friends, eggs benny with my besty, the occasional lychee martini with the girls, client lunches, networking functions, art exhibitions, event launches …

Play more tennis – I struggle when it comes to exercise. I force myself to go to the gym because I know it’s good for me and if it wasn’t for the company of my good friend Cathy, I’m not sure I’d go at all. But I LOOOOVE tennis, so rather than force myself into something I dread, I’ll throw myself into something I love.

Kick the sugar habit – I’ve been reading Sweet Poison by David Gillespie and the effect sugar can have on your health and ability to lose weight. Frankly, it’s a bit scary. So I’m saying goodbye to soft drink, juices, ice cream, cookies and cake. I have a bit of a sweet tooth, so giving up the chocolate is going to be devastating.

Blog, blog, blog – Time to show this blog some love.

Shoot lots – Photography is a bit of an artistic pursuit of mine and after my 2012 Canon EOS Photo5 win, I’m keen to perfect my craft. The only way to do this is shoot lots! So the plan is to take the camera with me everywhere and shoot as much as I can.

Take a barista class – The perfect Café Latte is an art form. I can tell when it has been made with love – the coffee has a fresh earthy aroma, the froth is silky smooth almost like a melted marshmallow and the latte art somehow makes you pause to appreciate the extra love on top. I’m on a mission to perfect my froth, so why not become a qualified barista?

Side projects – I have been collaborating with some lovely ladies on a few side projects in the past year, but unfortunately they’ve taken a back seat to paid work. So I am keen to dedicate time to get them off the ground in 2013. Stay tuned!

Learn to sing – who doesn’t want to rock the local karaoke bar?

But most of all, I am really looking forward to see what 2013 brings.