Branding: Should You Re-brand or Just Spruce Things Up?

By guest contributor Mariah Danielsen. Photography by Bhldn.

This time of year leaves us all reflecting on our brands and how we want to grow in the new year. One thing you may be contemplating is a whole new look for your brand – complete with a new logo, website, and new offerings.

Re-branding your business, even when you don’t have a ton of followers, can be overwhelming and costly. The price of a new logo, website, web copy, images, and business cards can add up quickly. It’s worth thinking about whether you want a whole new look, or if you should just spruce things up a bit.

Illustrator 106: Sketches

By guest contributor Melissa Coleman.

Sometimes you just need to put your personal touch on things. In this final of our Illustrator series, you’ll learn how to do just that. Get out your sketchbook and start doodling, or dig up one of your old sketches. Black and white works best, but there’s nothing Photoshop can’t fix. Pull it into Illustrator, and with the click of a button, your sketch will turn from a raster to a vector image. You can blow it up super large, or shrink it down teeny tiny, with no quality lost. Let’s get started.

Successful Brainstorming

By Victoria Hudgins. Photography by Startup America. If you are thinking about new projects and collaborations for the new year, start with a brainstorming session. I loved this great article, written by graphic design blogger Megan, about hosting an effective brainstorming session: If you’re on a creative team, chances are you’re used to brainstorming ideas […]

Branding: Creating an Experience for Your Customers

By guest contributor Mariah Danielsen. Photography by RoomForty.

Keep your customers coming back for more by creating a fun experience for them each time they encounter your brand. Here are three ways to do this:

1) Pretty Packaging

One way to create an experience for your customer is with your packaging. When someone receives a package from you, you want them to be wowed when they open the box. Special touches like washi tape, twine, and pretty wrapping – along with a special little note – will go a long way. It shows the buyer that you took some extra time to make the product special for them, and that you truly care about what you’re doing.

If you don’t have products that you ship to people, you can still wow them with your website and email correspondence. You can add special touches like a customer log-in. Here they can add custom mood boards and settings, or see other products they may like based on what they’ve done on your site previously. Services like these will create a special experience for your customer, and will keep them coming back.

Collecting Sales Tax

This is part 6 in our accounting for bloggers series, by Alt Channel Teacher Helena Swyter. Photography by Susan.

If you sell products, you are required to collect sales tax and submit them to your state.

The Basics
Sales tax must be collected on the sale of tangible goods. What is a tangible good? Something you can hold in your hands.

Sales taxes are not collected on services (since you can’t hold “consulting” in your hands). However, some people sell both tangible and intangible goods. Be sure you are collecting sales tax appropriately. For example, if you are a photographer, the photographic services you provide are intangible – people are paying for your skill. However, if you provide a photo album, that is a tangible good that you must collect sales tax for.

A best practice for people selling goods and services is to list each item separately on your invoice. This will enable you to show the state authorities (and your customers) that you are only collecting sales tax on the exchange of physical goods.

Illustrator 105: Patterns

By guest contributor Melissa Coleman.

Have you noticed that slight pattern in all of the Illustrator 101 images? It’s far easier to create than you may expect. Just a couple rectangles repeated over and over will resemble a chevron pattern. You’d be amazed at all the cool patterns you can make with a simple step and repeat in Illustrator. Today we’re going to practice a couple old tricks, and add in a couple new tricks, to create a pattern. Let’s play.

Here’s a couple new keystrokes to add to your repertoire:

10 More Misused Words and Expressions

By guest contributor PJ Feinstein – read part one right here. Photography by People People.

Why is good grammar so important to blogging? To start, a well-written and grammatically correct blog conveys a sense of professionalism. And aren’t many of us bloggers striving to become professionals in our respective fields, whether it’s event planning, interior design, or photography?

Also, poor grammar is frustrating to the reader, and blog posts with numerous grammatical errors (especially the most basic mix-ups) can be hard to read. But have no fear! Your friendly grammarian is back with ten more examples of misused words and expressions to help you quickly and easily improve your writing.

Accept/Except
Accept has a couple of meanings: to receive (accept the package), to believe (accept that version of the story), and to agree to a responsibility (accept a job).
Except means to exclude: “My son will eat everything except vegetables.”

Blond/Blonde
A blond (noun) is a male with light-colored hair: “That blond vaguely resembles Brad Pitt.”
A blonde (noun) is a female with light-colored hair: “Is it true that blondes have more fun?”
Blond (adjective) may be used to describe the hair color of either gender: “I love the fishtail braid in her blond hair.”

Can’t Hardly Wait
Despite being the title of a 1998 movie featuring Seth Green and Jennifer Love Hewitt, the expression “can’t hardly wait” is incorrect because it implies a double negative. Instead say, “I can hardly wait until Alt!”