Logo Design In 5,000 Easy Steps

By Guest Blogger Belinda Pyle – www.problemsbythedozen.com

My wonderfully gifted writer friend is at it again. She’s graciously prepared another blog post for me about her adventures in logo design. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did! – Kelly

As per my last blog post, How My Technological Dream Turned into a Nightmare, you now know that Kelly saved my virtual butt. Whew. So, we got the template chosen but then, it was time to look at a logo.

Choosing a logo for a small to medium-sized business like mine is challenging. Often, the founder is closely tied to the company and its product or service so this leads to all sorts of interesting questions. In my case, I was the primary product and writing was my service. Here are a few of the questions that you may also struggle with:

#1 –     What is the lifespan of the logo?

Do you expect this to be a long-term company? Will you hand it over to your grandkids as you head for beaches in a warmer climate? Or, is this your starter company that you know will either be short-term or will eventually evolve into another entity?

If it is long-term, you need help. The logo is the beginning and end of your branding and if you get this right, everything else flows much smoother. A long-term logo means that you absolutely must be completely in love with the logo. So much so that: it has its own room in your home; you tuck it into bed with a kiss each night; and you pull it out of your wallet to show pictures of it to people you have just met. Yep. You just love it that much.

If it is short-term, there are many, many sites that have stock photos. One of my favourites is 123rf and Kelly’s is iStockphoto.  Neither is the cheapest out there, but I always find what I’m looking for on 123rf and Kelly swears by iStockphoto.

#2 –     Which is more important the person or the product?

As a writer, I figured that this was an easy one. My writing was the product. Therefore, I needed to focus on it. Accordingly, I began brainstorming logo ideas and spending hours doing research. I was ready for the next step!

#3 –     What is memorable about your product/service?

This was where the fun and the not-so-much-fun began. Kelly and I were brainstorming and we came up with the idea of a chameleon to represent my ability to change my writing depending upon the audience (I know, brilliant wasn’t it!) I got really excited and the only one who does “excited” better than me is a five-year old on Halloween night–after he has tasted all of his candy.

This idea quickly got out of control and here’s how:

    1. krisdog130100042-[Converted]Found amazing picture on Internet. Fell in love with it.
    2. Showed picture to Kelly who suggested I search for a stock photo to save money on having it hand drawn.
    3. I wanted an “original” so I turned up my nose and asked a friend’s amazingly gifted son to turn it into a cartoon (Kelly has a designer on her team, but I decided to give the business to my young friend since Kelly and I are working on other things together).
    4. Went to pet stores looking to buy a chameleon as my mascot. Really. I did.
    5. After a few back and forth bounces with my young friend, I realized that I was not communicating my vision well. Started flipping through stock photos to give him an idea and found a perfect, already completed chameleon logo image.
    6. Paid $100 for stock photo including all electronic and print rights.Yes Kelly, this is where you say, “I told you so.” (Note from Kelly: I would never say I told you so…to your face ;))
    7. Realized that my excitement had led me down the wrong road. I am the company, not a chameleon.

Conclusion? I wasted $100 and a lot of time because I did not do my homework on question #2. (Kelly: Although I did get a really great image for this blog post – he’s really a lovely little chameleon!)

Back to Question #2

So, here I am, back at this question and finally have the real answer. I am more important than my product. Why? Because this is for the long-term: the type of writing I do may change but I will always be here.

So, bye, bye $100.

Bye, bye, chameleon.

Kelly, better warm up your computer because I am finally ready to listen to your logo advice.

How My Technological Dream Soon Turned Into My Worst Nightmare

By Guest Blogger Belinda Pyle – www.problemsbythedozen.com

Confused woman with laptopI can’t remember a time when I was more excited. The company owner where I was last employed had given me a lovely gift as he kicked me out the door—one year’s salary. Apparently I had done such a great job at developing, launching and running the business that he thought he would give it a try himself. Um, thanks?

So here I was, in the enviable position of actually having the funding and the time to do exactly what I had dreamed. It was wonderful, it was exciting, it was thrilling, it was terrifying. What the hell was I doing, thinking that I actually could be a writer. Gulp.

My dream was to write a book, but you can’t write a book in this marketplace without having an “author’s platform”. If you have done any consulting you know this means that you basically have to be everywhere demonstrating that you can do everything. This means quite simply that you had better be damn good at technology. Since I was pretty good with Word and passable with Excel, I figured developing my own blog would be a snap. After all, I had supervised and hired lots of marketing companies over the years to develop sites for clients so this would be simple, quick, and a no brainer.

The only thing simple about it was that I lost my brain. I learned about Word Press and was enchanted by the idea that I could whip up my own blog as easily as scrambled eggs. Since scrambled eggs are the extent of my cooking ability, this certainly sounded like something even I could do. But I wanted my site to look “just so” and to do that, you need to know about fun things like CSS and HTML (geek speak).

Frightened computer userFinally I gave in and enrolled in training offered by the company hosting my consulting site. They were patient, kind, and helpful, although I am not sure how. I called, and called, and called, and called beyond my pre-determined hours. The more they trained me the less I knew.

Finally, two wasted Word Press themes later, I switched my blog to the theme that they were using and since this was their expertise, things started to smooth out. I got to a place where I was ok with my site but still not thrilled. I realized that if I wanted to be thrilled, have something that was uniquely mine and would stand out from the noise in cyberspace, I would have to get some professional help.

At this point, I was on the technological edge and through friends, found Kelly at Oomph Studios. In one call, I went from despair to delight and confidently stepped away from the ledge. No need to jump now, I had someone watching my back.

So, now I will be working with Kelly on my technology adventures and will be documenting them together in her blog. In the meantime, here’s what I have learned about launching your own site:

1) Time Sucks
Yes, time is sucked away faster than you can say “upload”. My year flew by and there wasn’t a day when I wasn’t learning or working on my blog. If you have a year to learn about technology and all of the marketing that is associated with it (hint: SEO does not stand for send email over) then go for it.

2) Economy of Effort
The army knows best. A friend of mine is an army guy and as we were clearing the table last evening, he explained economy of effort. “You are going to clear this table 1,000 times and make 10,000 trips to the kitchen. Or, you could spend one day making a nice wooden trolley to take the dishes one time thereby reducing 10,000 to 1,000.” (Or, I could get my kids to do it by bribing them with TV time but I digress). For your site this means taking the time and doing it right up front. It will save you tremendous amounts of time later on with the constant tinkering to get it exactly the way you want it.

3) What is your time worth?
This is a very big thing in the non-profit sector. I constantly see Executive Directors doing secretarial jobs or in my case, writers doing technological guru’s jobs (never again Kelly!). As an entrepreneur, your time is the most expensive and most cherished so try to always hire others to do what can be done by others. While they are doing secretarial and marketing support, you are out doing what you do best–getting new clients or producing your product.

4) Know enough to know what you want
I am not advocating that you stay a technological innocent. You need enough training to know: a) what is possible b) what you want and c) if possible and want make sense together. Furthermore, try to know enough to do some of the basic stuff yourself so that your site can be a dynamic living, breathing entity.

Good luck on your technology adventure. We would love to hear about yours!

Why You Need to Secure Your Website Now

The following is an article I wrote that was originally published on www.SiteProNews.com in October of 2012.

Internet Security ThreatsAs the owner of a website, one of the things at the back of your mind might be your website’s security. I’m here to bring it to the forefront. Most site owners are under the mistaken impression that their website sits on the World Wide Web day after day in complete and utter safety. Many think that as long as their passwords are kept secret and secure that no harm can come to their website. If this is you, then be glad you are reading this article because it could be the thing that finally convinces you to secure your site.

You likely haven’t put much thought into exactly what the Internet is. It’s just there to explore when you turn on your computer each day. You, like so many others, may not realize that the website you are viewing is hosted on a computer that might be very much like the one you are on right now. Given this information, let’s think about your website. Right now, it’s sitting on a computer somewhere. Very likely this computer is fairly secure (if you have a decent host), but if you think that computer is not at risk, then you are avoiding reality.

Hackers and viruses aren’t the only ways that your website could be damaged or destroyed. Hosting companies make mistakes every day. Just one employee who doesn’t know what he or she is doing could bring down your site. And it doesn’t just have to be hosting company employees. If you have employees that work on your site, they are only human, mistakes can be made. Ruining or deleting a site is not difficult to do. It also wouldn’t be difficult for a disgruntled employee to take their revenge by damaging your website.

Now back to that computer where your website is hosted. Let’s imagine that your website is hosted on your own computer. Has it ever crashed? Is it immune to crashing, overheating, getting destroyed in a fire? No? Well neither is any other computer on which your website may be hosted. I can almost hear your next question: “But isn’t my host responsible for keeping my website backed up and secure?” The answer is a resounding “No.” That responsibility rests solely with you, the website owner.

There are a plethora of things that could possibly happen to the computer on which your website is hosted, many of which could severely impact your business. The best thing you can do to ensure that this does not happen is to back up your website. Research methods of securing your website and implement them, or hire someone to do it for you, but most importantly back-up your site. Any security plugins, or programs can fail, but having a copy of your website and your website’s database is absolutely crucial if the unthinkable happens.