3 Things Every Solopreneur Website Needs

3 Things Every Solopreneur Website Needs

3 THINGS EVER SOLOPRENEUR’S WEBSITE NEEDS

Enough with the overwhelm and stress. Let’s break it down to the most important components your website has to have if you’re to be taken seriously in this game we call business.

1. CUSTOM LOGO DESIGN

Let’s get real. It’s 2019 and we can all tell the templates from the customs. Fads come and go with the blink of an eye and everything has a new update all the time. Logos seem to be easier to access and this is making it all the more of a challenge to stand out above the crowd. Sure, you can just slap the name of your business at the top of your site in a nice font, or create your own for free on a site like Canva, but if it’s that easy to do, how many others are doing the same thing?

Stop messing around, take yourself and your business seriously and invest in a custom logo that properly reflects you and your business.

Here are a couple of my favorite designs from earlier this year. ⇒

2. BRANDED PHOTOS

I’m going to be brutally honest, a stock image or phone photo has NO business on a professional website. When we’re starting out, and we have limited resources, we do the best we can. I get it. I’ve been there. But once the ball is rolling, and we are considering making bigger investments into our business, professional branding photography is a must. A picture is worth a thousand words, and you want to make those words count every time a potential client lands on your virtual real estate.

So, own it with some badass images of you working your magic.

3. CONSISTENCY

This one is a bit broad but let’s break it down into two prongs: layout design and copywriting. For layout, if you’re self-hosting and working from a template, keep it simple. Work with the same colors and fonts throughout your site. If you have a custom logo design, let that be the foundation layer for the general aesthetic. Your photos should all weave into the layout nicely, matching the color scheme and general message of your site. If your expertise does not lie in design or the arts, this can definitely be overwhelming and confusing. Ask those who do have an eye for these things to give your site a good look, or hire an expert to perform an audit that will include a look at the design.

The other thing that an expert is more qualified to observe is your copywriting, the second prong to this component. I see this mistake often when clients first come to me–the copy is all over the place. First person here, third person there, “I” here, “we” there. Some pieces sound more conversational, and others look like they came straight from a template. Yikes. Just as, if not more, important as your design is your writing. This is your voice, this is how your client is meeting you for the first time if they are landing on your website. You want them to know you when they read your Home and About pages. So speak with a steady voice throughout. Find out what kind of tone they will receive best, and stick to it.

Hernandez Family Session

Hernandez Family Session

Gallery Feature: Hernandez Family Session

About a week ago, I had the great pleasure of capturing this sweet, sweet family. It was such a privilege to shoot this session for the Hernandez family, as it was their first time sitting for family portraits! This was honestly one of my favorite sessions to date because their love for one another is so genuine and it really shows. We talked and giggled and admired the beautiful Lost Pines of Bastrop State Park all the while I clicked away to get some really lovely candid moments. 

If you are as touched as I am by these shots, don’t hesitate at the opportunity to have your very own! I’m shooting mini sessions this upcoming weekend at a local Austin park, with all the cozy fall decor–including blankets, throw pillows, pumpkins, and gourds galore! This isn’t something I do very often, so make sure you reserve your slot before it’s gone.

BOOK YOUR FALL MINI SESSION

If you’re ready to have your own gallery of beautiful images with you and your loved one(s), don’t miss out on this opportunity for a mini session with me THIS WEEKEND ONLY! Reserve your slot today.

Elephant Mountain Sanctuary

Elephant Mountain Sanctuary

Elephant Mountain Sanctuary

Our trip to Thailand was one for the books, no doubt. We ate delicious gai yang and papaya salad and mango sticky rice. We hiked up mountains and walked through ancient temples and rode around on a vespa scooter. While we did our best to see as much of the country through a less tourist-y perspective, we did commit to a few of the stereotypical tourist must-sees, as well. And there was no way in hell we would miss a chance to hike up a mountain, bathe in mud, and swim in a watering hole with the elephants. So, I think I’ll just let the images do the talking for me here…

Enjoy. 

Brand Feature: Inkdrop Lit

Brand Feature: Inkdrop Lit

Web Design

Brand Feature

Inkdrop Lit

 

Alright, it’s time to start sharing more of my branding work with you guys. This project is one I hold near and dear to my heart for a myriad of reasons. I mean, where do I begin?!

For starters, I’ll tell you that Sarah Welch is an absolute gem of a human being, and when she reached out to me to help with a full rebrand for her business late last year, I was thrilled. Sarah had been working full time for a couple of years as a freelance writer, editor, and coach when she decided it was time to level up. She had the name picked out, all she needed was the brand to come to life! 

Here’s what we created: 

  • full brand strategy
  • brand new logo design
  • brand new Squarespace website
  • a full branding photography session
  • new business card design

I’ll add that while, yes, I own my own WordPress site, we went with Squarespace because I never push my clients to do anything they are not comfortable with. Squarespace is what she was already using before, so it was an easy transition to build a new site within the same host/builder. Why not I host it? For one, I’m not a coder. There, I said it. I’m not. My specialty lies in design. For another, I believe it’s crucial for us solopreneurs to be able to have control over our sites and be hands-on whenever we need to. I know that’s what I want for myself, and I know that’s how my clients feel too.

 

Creative Process

Those pictures are cute, huh? Well, I often hear people asking what makes branding photography so different. Let me tell you, it’s pretty simple and can be summed up in a single word: s t r a t e g y.

Vision

When Sarah and I began working on this project, I had one goal in mind: to fully understand every aspect of the Inkdrop Lit brand. I wanted to get to know what Sarah’s drive was to build it, the way she interacted with her clients, what they had to say about her (obvi, nothing but the best), and her goals for its future. Why? Because I wanted to create a visual story that could communicate all the glory of Inkdrop Lit to her ideal clients.

Color Scheme

One of the first things we think of when we think of branding is color. The decision regarding what colors will represent the brand is a big one and requires a full investment from both the artist and the client. Sarah’s aesthetic is professional, classic, and whimsical. We easily found the range to suit this mood, as a lot of it was already in her office and wardrobe.

Setting

My vision for the shoot is always to, first and foremost, be genuine. Sarah often works from home or at a coffee shop. Her adorable office was the perfect place for us to begin our session, and even better, came with guest appearances from her furry assistant, Barney. From there, I looked for different poses that could showcase Sarah’s warm, friendly, and professional approach to her business. Having Barney in some of the shots helped us find even more natural expressions and poses.

The logo

When we were planning Sarah’s photoshoot, I knew we needed to incorporate my vintage typewriter. So when it came time to brainstorm the logo design, the vision came almost immediately. Using typewriter font, and playing with the circle placement, I wanted something that could be both playful, clean, and reminiscent of that classic vibe a typewriter can bring. We played with different variations of the color scheme, until we landed on this design and we both fell in love with it.

Trust

When we sat down for coffee to first discuss this project, it was so easy for Sarah and I to connect. As a passionate writer myself (as some of you know, literature is near and dear to my corazón), it was clear from the start that we had a lot in common, and our visions quickly aligned. There was a mutual respect for each others’ work.

Communication

Throughout the two month duration of the entire project, we kept in steady communication via e-mail and a few scheduled in-person strategy sessions to stay on track.

A Foundation For the Future

Because I understand what it is like to run your own business about which I am incredibly passionate and proud of, I wanted Sarah to feel in control of her business every step of the way. I wanted her to feel confident moving forward when I was finished and she was ready to launch, so when I was done building her Squarespace site, we made sure to go over any major features she would be needing to update regularly and that I could walk her through the how-tos and logistics before we were done. This ensured that Sarah could always be in control of her site, and not have to rely on me for any small add-ons or changes.

← before →

after

So there you have it, folks! If you’re looking for any help regarding your writing or publishing needs, please reach out to Sarah and go see the website for yourself here. Learn more about all the magic she creates, and in particular, the magic she is creating right now with her new bookAustin Brown Dogs: The Shelter Dogs Who Rescue Us! If you do, you might even find a short story in there about a dog named Scarlett… 😉

A Fairy Tale Island Escape

A Fairy Tale Island Escape

Weekend Getaway in Toronto

One weekend in early July 2019, we were invited to the city of Toronto to celebrate a dear friend’s wedding celebration. While we were more than excited to spend a couple of days visiting with old friends and eating some spectacular food (shout out to Donna’s and Grey Gardens for the most delicious meals), we were also excited to spend the little free time we had exploring parts of the city we’d always wanted to see. It was a quick trip, so I didn’t have my camera on me the whole time, but I made sure to take it with me on our ferry ride to Ward’s Island. This is the smaller of the three islands (known as Toronto Islands) and to be honest we visited it because it was the shortest ferry line. But once we arrived, I was in awe of it’s charming beauty. See for yourself in the gallery below. And next time you’re in Toronto, don’t skip Ward’s just because it’s the smaller of the three. It is the stuff of fairy tales.

“Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.” – E. B. White

Hiking Up El Nevado de Toluca

Hiking Up El Nevado de Toluca

Rediscovering my second home

Last March I took a special trip back to Mexico City–a place I’ve visited dozens of times–but this time explored some new and magical corners.

Mexico City is an intimately special place for me.

 

It’s where my mother was born. It’s where my parents met. It’s where my grandparents and family all live. It’s where I first fell in love with the whole country when I visited so many times as a young girl. It’s where I first fell in love with my boyfriend, when I spontaneously decided to join his group of friends last year on their weekend getaway to my favorite place in my parents’ native country. So, when he got us tickets for our one year anniversary as my birthday present earlier this year, I was ecstatic to return to the city that holds my heart so dearly in its arms.

If you’re a wanderlusting traveller like myself, you might wonder how I haven’t grown sick of visiting the same city so many times. And to tell you the truth, I wonder, too. Don’t get me wrong, my list of dream destinations is endless and always growing longer. But if you love to travel as much as I do, you know how special it is to find a place that enchants you with its unique charm, and its magnetic allure that keeps drawing you back.

Living in Austin, I’m very fortunate to find a trip to Mexico not only easy, but rather inexpensive. So it’s super convenient to make it the perfect weekend getaway.

And the more I visit, the more I discover.

 

As I said, growing up my family and I would visit Mexico City rather frequently: for my baptism, my first communion, later it would be to take small vacations with my aunts and uncle and grandparents. Then I grew up and went to college, and later moved out to Austin and it became more difficult to join my family on their trips. It didn’t occur to me that, as an adult, I now had the freedom to go as I pleased, until one day a friend of mine mentioned he was going on a weekend trip to CDMX with some friends and extended me an invite. At first, I said no thanks, but there’s no way I could just leave for a weekend to go to Mexico City just like that.

It only took a short while, when it hit me–yes I fucking can! Why not? This was, after all, the sort of thing I had always dreamed of doing when I was younger: traveling. So, I quickly messaged him after my “groundbreaking” realization and said, I’m in!

Well, as you know this “friend” became my boyfriend over the course of that wonderful weekend and a year later we went back to enjoy the city we both love so much and celebrate a great year together.

This trip was special for a myriad of reasons. We were celebrating a year together, and for the first time, we didn’t have everything planned (well apart from the food we would be eating, of course). 

As soon as I learned we were going, I reached out to my beloved godmother (who lives in the city) to see if she was interested in taking a day trip to a nearby area with us to explore. Being quite the adventurer herself and not often getting an opportunity to spent time with her goddaughter, she immediately said yes, and suggested the Nevado de Toluca for us to visit for a day trip/hike.

 

El Nevado de Toluca is a volcano located about 50 miles west of Mexico City, in the city of Toluca. Before this trip, I’d never heard of it, and I was eager to explore what seemed like a hidden treasure in the country of Mexico.

My godmother arrived early Saturday morning at our Airbnb to pick us both up and begin the hour and a half trek out to Toluca. To be honest, if I didn’t have family in the city, I wouldn’t know much about how to get there otherwise. The population make-up of the visitors at the volcano reflected my suspicions, as it mainly consisted of Mexican tourists. I felt even more grateful for the opportunity, like we were tapping into something truly special.

We arrived and enjoyed a delicious breakfast of tlacoyos and hot café de olla, then made our way over to the line of trucks ready to take passengers up the dusty, winding road to the top. Now, when I say dusty, it feels like an understatement, because it was quite intense. And in true Mexican fashion, we were loaded into the truck like packed sardines. Luckily, we found this amusing and honestly, once we arrived a the top, we forgot all about it.

Because the view was breathtaking–literally. If you’ve never been to CDMX, you should know that it sits over 7,000 ft above sea level…and this volcano is more than double that elevation. Coming from the flat plains of Texas, visiting Mexico is always an adjustment–but this was more like a shock to the system.

 

Carefully, we began our slow hike towards the top. I thought it was kind of funny, to see how slowly everyone was moving on an incline that truly wasn’t that steep, and a distance that couldn’t have been more than 2 miles round trip. But the fact is, the effect the elevation has on your body is difficult to ignore, and we all had to stop and take several breaks along the way. 

For a photographer, this was ningún problema. 

The day was dense and overcast–my favorite weather to photograph in. As you can tell in the images, the contrast of the beautiful, fluffy white clouds against the almost golden landscape was so captivating–I felt as though we were on a moon perhaps, or some foreign land mass. As I watched the other travelers making their way, it dawned on me the power of the earth, the power of wonder and beauty. We were all there to see the famous sister lagoons that sat opposite each other in the craters of the volcano. The trek was arduous, uncomfortable–and yet, here were all of these humans of different sizes, ages, backgrounds–all willing to make the journey to experience a uniquely exquisite sight. 

I don’t know about you, but I don’t often have these musings from the comfort of my couch or sitting behind a desk. 

I have these musings when I’m on a difficult path, when I’m outside of my comfort zone, when I am experiencing the world in all its glory–painfully beautiful and alive. 

(Pictured above: Boyfriend admiring the volcanic landscape as he so kindly carries my girly ass bag for me.)

It’s necessary for me to have these experiences–as a part of my creative and spiritual journey. If I am seeking inspiration, I will not find it within the confines of my comfort bubble. I have to climb the mountain (or in this case volcano).

It’s challenging-sometimes seemingly impossible, but the reward is always, always, always worth it.