Small Business Assistance and Consulting

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Are you a new Start-Up business looking for help? 

When starting a small business there is So Much to consider! And most of the time, you really just want to be doing business. And that’s where I can help. I have worked with many independent and small businesses to help develop their branding, online identity, and inhouse systems to get them off on the right foot.

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Some of my clients in the past few months:

  • Local potter looking for web-design and Etsy page development; maintenance of Etsy site (til it’s up and running; generating business)
  • National (meaning not local to me, and only corresponded via email) “Life Coach” starting a new business after 30yrs in Marketing, looking for web-design, email marketing branding and consult on how often to email (and How) to constituents
  • Local inventor looking for personal branding, consult on how to proceed with current “invention”; web-design creation and maintenance; Facebook site
  • National Realtor starting on their own looking for personalized branding across web-site, Facebook, and all printed marketing materials. Also provided consult on drip-marketing campaigns; how often, content, etc.

Each new business has their own needs and I have worked the gamut from Real Estate to local Artisans to Construction.

Some need branding  - Graphic Design of logo, which carries to website and other social media platforms as well as printed marketing materials such as business cards.
Others just need someone to talk them through their already formulated ideas….  Is this the Right thing to do? What do others do?
I recently met another potter with an established business and web-site, but needed an Etsy site for online purchasing; 2hrs of pulling his already created graphics off the web-site and building an Etsy site, and we were done.

Some contracts are a few hours. Some clients I’ve had for years and maintain all their web-presence and marketing materials.

Have a few ideas? Great! Let’s work from those, and go forward. Let’s talk and see what needs you have and how I can help get your business off on the right foot, even if it’s just a conversation.

I Printed My First Book – A look at “Blurb”

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I became involved with Blurb.Com a few years ago because they work with Blogs. There are numerous printers out there to create your photo book or textbook or whatever your needs, but Blurb can “slurp” your blog right in to their book (meaning they take your year of babbles on your blog and convert it directly to book format). This was ideal for me and my personal blog because while I’d had the hope in the first year of my son’s life to manually scrapbook all my blogs, complete with photos and intricate scrapbooking decals… seriously, who has the time for that. Blurb saved me. A few hours of tweaks here and there, adding a few extra pictures, I was able to take my mommy-blog from Blog-format, to printed… and $40 later, I had something hardbound for my shelf.

Update to this year, It’s Time to Print a Genealogy Book for the family.  Because I am the holder of the “stuff”, I have numerous photos for one side of my family, enough to create an Entertainment book on our family.

Let me break down what I learned, where I’m coming from, and some notes here & there.

1 – Download the FREE Blurb application. It will take some time to download, but not too much space on your computer. (you pay for the printing/shipping, but the application is free)

2 – Define your audience – It will help you decide what to include in your book.
I was building an Entertainment Book. I was not printing a detailed history of the family, neither ancestral nor descendant report. I knew from the get-go the “reports” I could export from my genealogy software would be of little use to this. I wanted all the bazillion photos I have stored (many my family has not seen) and a brief listing of families, lines, and history. I knew going in to this that if I wanted a brief ancestral report, I would have to write it out.

* Just to note that if you’re going with something different, Blurb can import any and all files. So if you want to print out that 28page of Descendant Listing from your genealogy software, it can import it. then, you can tweak it and reformat as needed.

3 – Organize Your “stuff”
I started quickly with what photos I could find, importing to my new “book” and quickly realized none of my photos were in order; that I had scans from this last summer that were never renamed nor put in their correct spot. And I’m very organized on my computer, yet I still needed to stop my project for a good hour and re-organize.

4 – Get to building your book.
I write books and manuals all the time and I tend to just import everything I can find, with the idea that you can move and alter later – your process is up to you. If you need to start with page 1 and move forward as you go, that’s fine. But with Blurb you can insert/delete pages as needed, so if you just want to start importing photos to pages… you can fix later.

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as you get going, you should see something like this… a running list of all your pages down below, and the selected page in the big View window at the top.

6 – Edit your book. At any point you can change the format of your page, move pages around, add more, etc., both Text and Photo Pages (Text pages also have images, just LESS images than a Photo-page)

7 – Preview your book.

8 – Order your book

And You.Are.Done.
I mean it. Whatever time it takes for you to create your book (mine took me about 10hrs over two nights), you can be done so quickly. It depends on what materials you already have, such as photos and reports; and depends on the tweaks you want to make.

10hrs of book compilation
1hr contemplating more wine, tears at happiness, emails to people trying NOT to tell them what I’d created

Free installation of Blurb product. 10 minutes of upload of my 42 page book; 30 seconds to enter my credit card. And $53 to have the single product shipped to me, at an increased rate to arrive before Xmas. (they have great deals if you’re printing multiple copies, which I will do once I make a few edits to this initial draft).

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Blurb Rocks for me.
I’m sure there are other comparable products out there. But this just made it So Easy on me. Insert photo; insert text. Build a page. Go from there.

And HEY, if you’re of my Loops-Webb family, You can purchase this book! as either a PDF download or Printed Version (trust me, you want the printed version for your shelf). Let me make a few tweaks to it first (afterall, I did put it together in 2 days, there are a few changes I’d like to make). Contact Me for more information.

(Updated post, Originally posted on GenealogyLoops.com, Dec. 15, 2013. )

It’s that time of year again

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It’s that time of year again

It’s my favorite time of year – Preparation for Christmas! Oh yes, I know that Thanksgiving has neither come nor gone. But when it’s time to start planning Christmas cards, you have to start early. Plus, it’s just never too early to start with the Christmas music.

I have got a jump start on a few Christmas card designs for this year, just playing around with some photoshop options to see how I feel about our pictures for the year. One of these years we’ll actually have professional pictures taken. But until then, you make do with what you have, including a pretty good iPhone selfie at the Harvest festival a few weeks ago (although because of the quality of the iPhone shot, likely should not be the only photo on the page). And personally, I prefer any photo collage where I can include a picture of the boy in a box… but maybe that’s just me.

What types of Christmas cards do you send out?

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Instagram… and why it took me so long

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urlToday has been crazy, starting and continuing with sneezing fits, two very successful trainings, and finally ending with an evening alone at home surrounded by kleenex… laptop working away.

This week I finally discovered yet another social networking site, Instagram and thought I would share my opinions… and why it has taken me so long to get with the program.

Instagram is a Social Networking site for sharing photos. It is App-based, which means it works best with your phones and tablets.

It also has a photo-editor in it, so you can take your rather boring photo and put a filter on it so it appears Sepia, Black and White, or 70s, or other color and lighting enhancements.

You can share with friends, share with Facebook, Share with everyone!

Now… if it’s so cool… why has it taken me over a year to finally use it?

When Instagram first came out and Facebook was flooded with all these retro pictures, I’ll admit that my Photoshop-using self got a little snotty, like, why would I use another program to put a filter on a picture when I can do it myself. And do it better in Photoshop. hmph.

Right. Cause that’s constructive.

And also because I am not a photographer, nor do I profess to be.
So yet another site to store my photos, highlighting ONLY photos? … just didn’t seem like something for me.

But then last week, I had a bit of a lightbulb…..  I am stuck in a rut. I am not moving forward with apps and programs and technology. I am becoming one of those people that feels like just because it’s the way I learned how to do it, it must be the best/only way to do it.

So…. Instagram

What it does:

  • It empowers people like me, who are not photographers, to share their photographs with the world. Because these easy-to-use filters can make just about any picture look better.
  • It allows you to show pictures, and only pictures, without elaborate stories. You don’t have to post to Facebook, do you not have to blog, you do not have to say anything. It’s just a picture
  • Upload a picture taken from your camera – or TAKE a picture within the Instagram app.
  • With 1-2-3 button clicks, your photo is rotated, cropped, filtered, and you can add a frame on it.
  • One more button and your image is Shared on to Instagram. One more, and it’s on Facebook.
  • SEASY it’s scary!
  • Share with your friends. Your friends comment and LIKE. And you pass around the love.

What it doesn’t do:

  • Instagram is not invasive. It doesn’t take over your camera or your photos. You Are Not Required to use it.
  • It does not link to your computer. While there is a computer version, it does not allow you access to images saved on your computer
    • However, you can email yourself a photo, Open your email on your phone and save the picture to your camera roll, and then access in to Instagram.
  • It does not “organize” your photos. There are no folders or any other way to file your photos, except they are uploaded in order by date.
  • It DOES send your photos to Facebook – if you so desire. It does not allow you to choose the folder to put them in, if you use Facebook folders. All photos sent via Instagram go in to an “Instagram” folder — so if you’re an organizational NUT like me, this is an issue. but that’s probably just me
  • It does not allow you to download other people’s photos. You’d have to go to their Facebook page (if they uploaded it there) and snag it from there.

So….. if you haven’t downloaded Instagram to your phone, DO IT! It’s fun!
It’s what I’m doing tonight.