New Brand and Website for ToyiToyi Toys

A couple of months ago I hosted an Instagram challenge called Improve Your Brand and to make things more interesting I put together a huge giveaway prize (read about it here!) for those who participated. At the end of the challenge I randomly drew a name and Jennifer Blaine, of ToyiToyi Toys, was the first person I drew and thus began a cool albeit challenging design process.

Whereas I’ve designed brands and websites for online stores, I had yet to work with a toy company but since I like trying new things and challenges, I took on this project head on. Read on to read about the design process.

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How to set goals that you’ll actually reach

Hey creatives!

Let's talk goals for a moment, shall we?

When it comes to goal-setting you will be forgiven to not take it seriously actually should.

Goals should be more than a to-do list or a list of things you’d like to have or be.

They should serve as a reminder that it’s all possible, only if you put in the work.

Goals give you a purpose; they act as a roadmap to what you want to achieve and the life you desire.

So instead of wandering around aimlessly and just throwing everything at something to see what sticks, how about setting actionable goals that you will dedicate time working towards?

I know, saying it is one thing and actually writing down effective goals is another.

This is where this blog post comes in.

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The thin line between inspiration and comparision

Hey creatives!

You’ve probably heard of the saying, “comparison is the thief of joy”, which -let’s be honest- we all know to be true. When it comes to creative businesses, it’s quite easy to fall into the trap of comparison when we look for inspiration from other creative business owners.

I like to say that there is a thin line between inspiration and comparison. So how do we prevent ourselves from comparing ourselves to people who we’ve previously sought inspiration from and protect the joy in our own businesses?

First we have to know the difference between inspiration and comparison.

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5 Ways to Prepare Your Business For Success

Hey creatives!

We all want success, right? Yes! Like pizza! I know there are a bunch of people who don't like pizza so yeah, maybe not like pizza but we all want success! 

When running a business, you have to constantly make sure that your business is prepared for success, otherwise you’ll find that you’ve missed opportunities to grow when you had them because your business just wasn’t prepared to handle or make use of those opportunities.

Wouldn’t that be tragic?

Less tragic than a Shakespearean play but much more tragic than coming home after a long day excited to eat those leftovers but opening the fridge and finding that someone had already eaten them.

Let’s stop that from happening, shall we? In today’s post, I have complied 5 ways to prepare your business for success and they are the very same methods that I am currently using in my business and I’ve seen quite a bit of growth already. After the jump:

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6 Ways To Refresh Your Website

Hey creatives!

A couple of weeks ago when I decided to take a break from the biz and actually didn’t take a break (smh) I spent time changing little things on my website to refresh it.

I think when we have our websites designed we tend to forget that we regularly need to maintain them to ensure that things don’t get boring for a while. Think about it; how many websites or blogs do you continually visit everyday? How long does it take you before you start noticing little things that you wish could be changes, like maybe you wish the dang sidebar wouldn’t have so many things and my goodness! Is that pop-up form going to appear every single time you visit the site? Amirite or am I right? If you have experienced that, chances are your loyal (or even new) website visitors will also encounter that.

Now, as your resident Web Designer/User Experience designer (ahem) I’m going to let you in on a few ways you can refresh your website so you keep visitors interested and make sure they keep coming back. Okay, content is the most important factor in getting people to keep coming back but design, in this case user experience design, is also a big contributing factor.

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How To Create A Thank-You Page Like Leadpages' in Squarespace

Hello creatives!

Last week I shared a tutorial on how you can use Squarespace buttons to trigger a pop-up with ConvertKit forms...sort of like Leadboxes. This week I’m back with a tutorial on how you can design your own Thank You page that looks like the popular Leadpages ones with Squarespace’s cover pages.

A lot of bloggers and biz owners who use Leadpages use the Thank You pages so subscribers see something other than a generic success message when they've signed up to a newsletter, course, webinar or whatever has been offered. 

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How to Create Button Triggered Pop-up Forms Using Squarespace and ConvertKit

Hey creatives!

I tried Leadpages for 30-days a fwhile ago and despite loving it, my business expenses had increased lately and I couldn’t commit to the $37 monthly price or the $300 annual one on top of ConvertKit (which I started investing in so I could deliver my free email course with ease and it’s a worthy investment!). What does a person do in this case when you loved Leadpages but you can’t afford it right now?

We improvise and find a work-around.

Which is exactly what I did. It took a lot of trying work arounds until I found one that worked for me, which I’m sharing below. Before finding this one, I used one rather complex work-around that involved using the Squarespace lightbox form button which I connected to Google Sheets then used Zapier to automatically send subscribers from the Sheet to ConvertKit.  It worked okay until I became aware of one problem;

That work-around did not record analytics to ConvertKit.

Yikes! I needed something that would make things much simpler and still send analytics to my ConvertKit forms.

I’m pleased to report that I found a way using just Convertkit forms and Squarespace- no creating Zaps required! Even though this method requires a little bit of coding knowledge, don’t stress. I’ll be sharing a step-by-step tutorial so you can create your own button pop-up forms that send subscribers (and the analytics) straight to ConvertKit. Ready? Set? Go.

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Four Essential Things Your Homepage Should Have

The one thing I keep telling my clients is that website shouldn’t only be pretty; that should come secondary. The main objective of websites should be to attract visitors, keep them and ultimately turn them into clients and customers. In short, your website should convert to leads, not just be a place where people “ooh” and “aah” at the beauty of it, leave and then promptly forget about it.

Your homepage is the one page on your website that would probably get the most traffic and this is all the more reason why you should focus on it and make sure it gets you as many leads as possible.

Therefore you have to be intentional about what you want visitors to do when they visit your website and design your website accordingly. Without further ado, here’s the four essential things your homepage needs, after the jump:

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5 Things I Do in The Mornings That Help Me Retain My Sanity As a Solo Entrepreneur

I’ve been running this little business of mine solo for 3 years now and it could be a wonder how I managed to keep my sanity. Granted, there were times were I could have easily undressed and went running naked in the streets of Johannesburg because I had temporarily lost my mind (I think I came close on one or two occasions) but so far I have done a great job of preventing that.

Because I do everything from writing blog posts such as these, maintaining my social media, creating free email courses, designing brands and websites for clients, doing the usual living and at the same time, while trying very hard to resurrect my non-existent social life (hehe) to doing the usual living and not becoming a slave to my passion, I do need a ritual of some sort to prevent my brain from spontaneously combusting and have me running naked in the streets with my dignity barely hanging on. Today I’m going to share a bit about my morning ritual:

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How To Start a Business With Little To No Money

Many people have an idea for a viable business but more often than not, the only thing that stands in the way of actually getting their business off the ground is lack of funding. We have become conditioned to thinking that we need a lot of money to start a business but so many people have started businesses with little to no money. People like Richard Branson and Sara Blakely (the inventor of Spanx)!

If you have a dream, determination and no funding, you too can do it. I did it as well, mostly because I wanted to start small and thanks to my Mum’s influence, I didn’t like the thought of owing someone a lot of money. How about I show you how?

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How To Get a 30-Day Free Leadpages Trial

For the past year I’ve been hearing a lot about Leadpages from bloggers I read regularly and how it’s awesome for growing your email list and I’ve been wanting to try it out but unfortunately, I couldn’t see a sign up for a “30-day free trial” link on their website. I resigned myself to not having the chance to try it out until I’m ready to invest in the $37 a month fee…until a few days ago.

While fooling around productively on the internet (haha!), I discovered a way to try out Leadpages for free (almost) for 30-days and it’s such a brilliant tactic on Leadpages’ part, I must say I’m impressed. Anyway, let me go right into it and show you how so you too can try it out if you’ve been wanting to for ages like me:

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How To Properly Set Up Google Analytics For Your Website or Blog

If you’ve got Google analytics set up on your website or blog, by now you know how important it is when you want to grow your business but have you set it up correctly? The common mistake of most people who sign up to use Google Analytics is that they set up only only profile when you’re supposed to set up three. Wait, what?  Yes! I also didn’t know that.

As someone who takes my analytics seriously so I can track what’s working and what’s not working for my website and also track popular content and where you are reading this from, I went to investigating to learn more about Google Analytics and realised that I’ve set up my analytics wrong. I’ve since fixed that and today I’m going to show you why you need three profiles and how to set them up. After the jump:

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Five Things The Dark Knight Taught Me About Running A Business

I know, I know. I’m a Marvel fan but Batman is why am I writing about Batman? And what does superheroes even have to do with business? Why am I even writing about an old movie? Geez, so many questions...haha! To answer; I love superhero movies and it doesn’t matter if they are from Marvel or DC; Marvel just has been doing a good job of feeding my superhero film obsession.

The first superhero I was exposed to from a very young age was Tim Burton's Batman  and yes, I had a crush on Batman. (Gosh, why did I admit that?) But that’s not the point. The point is you can learn a lot from some of these movies and -as I’ve realised a few days when I decided to unwind by rewatching Christopher Nolan’s brilliant The Dark Knight- you can even learn a thing or two about running a business. And boy, do I have exhibits:

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4 Reasons Not To Freak Out About Email List Unsubscribers + Tips On How To Decrease Your Unsubscriber Rates

So you’ve set up your mailing list that people signed up for. You decide to take the leap and send out a newsletter and suddenly you’re getting notifications for unsubscribes. That’s not what you wanted, you actually want people to subscribe, not unsubscribe! You will be tempted to wail and send emails saying, “Nooo! Come back, stay! Here’s a 50% coupon that you are probably not interested in but it’ll entice you to stay for a little while!” to the people who have unsubscribed to your mailing list. Dramatics aside, maybe you’re gobsmacked to what you should do now.

The common misconception with mailing list newbies is that email unsubscribes are bad and you’re doing something drastically wrong. Don’t freak out, I’m here to tell you that it’s not a bad thing; it’s actually a good thing for your business! Here's several reasons why:

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Instagram Challenge: Improve Your Brand

Calling all small business owners, bloggers and personal branding enthusiasts! Do you want to make more leads from Instagram; be it clients, customers or networking connections? Do you feel your current Instagram feed is lacking and not strongly representing your brand? I’ve got a challenge for you and I hope you will join me!

Earlier this week I blogged about three ways you can improve your small business and how it needn’t cost you and arm and a leg. To prove that, I wanted to make an example with one aspect; improving your visual branding, specifically on Instagram.

Instagram is great, and if used correctly, it can generate you a lot of leads and sales and you can also use it to meet new people in your industry to collaborate with. One of the best ways to gain leads is to attract people to your feed and engage with them enough for them to trust your name and brand.

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3 Ways to Improve Your Small Business

Perhaps my favourite and even slightly intimidating thing about life and business is how you can never know enough. I like to think of knowledge as infinite because it is just so large and expansive that one can never hope to reach its limits in a lifetime. With that said, knowledge can arm you with the tools you need to succeed in business, that no one can take away.

A few months ago I took a break from design because I wanted to give my clients a lot of value within my design packages. I learned about branding and design in college but still it wasn’t enough. For me to be able to give my clients something that is even more than they expected, I needed to know even more than they expected from me.

So I took time away to learn and educate myself extensively on branding; the development, strategy and theory. I took what I learned and changed my business model from the inside out and I saw the results, they were astounding! Best part? I can now help my clients with the same thing. I help them develop their brands, create strategies, etc. all before I get to design their brand identity. I increased my design package prices and both listed packaged includes every aspect of branding, not just visuals.

Cool right? You too can arm yourself with the necessary skills needed to improve your business and give your clients of customers the best service you can give, and this will all go hand-in-hand in attracting more of your ideal customers and thus generate more revenue for your business. I’m going to list some of the few ways you can improve your business without breaking the bank; you will only need time, patience and perseverance. Ready? *claps hands* Well, let’s go!

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Five Things That Make a Good Logo

With so many businesses and brands out there in the world and others being created every second, one needs to make sure that his/her brand stands out and the best and widely popular way to do this is through a logo. Have a good logo and you'll be able to easily stand out and be differentiated from your competitors. Have a bad logo (looking at you Uber, what happened!?) and...well. 

Don't worry though, if your business is new and you've scraped up a logo yourself and you're no designer, you are not alone and you are not the first, nor the last. Many great brands that are still around today have started out with some rather bad logos (Apple, amirite?)  but as they grew, they invested in some quality logo design and now have good, even great logos. So other than the usual, what makes a good logo?

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Three noteworthy reasons why you should brand your online course

Online courses, much like your business, could benefit greatly from branding. I always tell my clients that they are not buying branding, they are buying an experience. See it this way: you need some nice, comfortable running shoes so you can go jogging early in the mornings. You need shoes with proper grip and shoes that wouldn’t fall apart within a year from use. You want quality and you want the experience of going running in those shoes and how they feel on your feet. But which shoes do you buy?

How about Nike running shoes? You’ve seen the advertisements of some lean woman going running on the roads and she’s clad in Nike running shoes and wouldn’t you know, you’ve heard people talking about how awesome the Nike+ running app is and how it tracks things like the distance you’ve ran and you can also compare distances or do running challenges with your friends on the app. So what do you do? You go and buy the Nike shoes because you want the experience! Awesome, right? That’s basically how branding works.

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4 Extremely Important Things Newbie Business Owners Should Know

Congratulations on starting your new business! Now that the easy part is out of the way, the hard part begins but it some things don’t have to be hard. There are a lot of things that new business owners should know when running their business but I have compiled a few that I believe are extremely important to running a successful business.

Everything included here is based on what I have learned through trial and error during my three years of running Allebasi Design and because I want you to actually have a successful first year of running your business, I’m sharing it all with you!

Without further ado here’s what newbie business owners or entrepreneurs need to know about:

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