Design | Freelance

Invest in your Biz on a Budget: Branding (Part I of III)

May 10, 2017
aleia walker | invest | branding | branding design | branding | copy | brand voice

I have this philosophy on what you should invest in when you get started with your freelance business. The three big investments that I think you should spend your money (and/or time) on are branding, your website, and strategy. Over the next three weeks I’ll talk about how to go about investing in these crucial parts of your business, without breaking the bank.

Branding.

That means a logo plus some pretty colors right? Wrong.

Wait whaaat? Yes, of course your logo and brand colors are a part of your branding but you need your branding to represent who you are as a business.

For example, I have a plane in my logo because I’m either on a plane or thinking about one. So my Instagram highlights my travels and I’m often travelling (albeit by car) in my Instagram Stories. I’m super sarcastic and I curse a bit (a lot) so my sarcasm often ends up in parentheses. I know my curse words turn some people but if the word shit scares you, shit. I don’t need to be BFF’s with my clients but I want them to know that I’ll be real enough to tell them when something comes up.

Like no. I’m not using Comic Sans or Edwardian Script. Or yellow typography. Or photos of spaceships for a floral design company. Or Wix. Or Weebly. And you need me to tell you why before I hand over your brand assets. And if you want to push back and ignore my professional expertise because you feel really strongly about the offense in question I may go ahead and do it to. Specifically to get you off of my client list. But I won’t put my name on the work – because I’m not proud of the work. And you want the person you hire to be proud of the work. So listen to the person you hire.

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So how do you invest in your brand on a budget?

Take a course (or two). Blog posts are great. Really fabulous. And yes, you can find blog posts on specific topics – typography, writing copy, creating brand icons, etc. Your brand is so comprehensive that you need a solid foundation on creating your brand and not just piece things together.

There are a few key parts of building your brand how it looks, how it sounds, and how it makes you feel. How it feels is a product of making sure the look of your brand and the verbiage of your brand connect. A quality course or two may set you back between $500-1000 dollars, which may sound steep, but done for your branding could cost anywhere from $3,000-$10,000+.

Branding (design) courses to invest in

Skillcrush – Visual Design

Skillcrush is of course near and dear to me! I got started with tech via Skillcrush courses and this is the perfect option for someone who does not want to touch code. You’ll learn three of the most important Adobe tools for designers Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign and spend a solid chunk of your time building an actual brand (and then maybe even your own). You won’t only build the visual parts of your brand – you do a lot of work in defining your brand voice and mission – so that people feel exactly what you’re delivering to them.

Elle and Company – Adobe Illustrator Basics

I sometimes ask myself if I like Illustrator or InDesign more. And I realize that I cannot decide. They each are pretty special to me. If I can be honest, Illustrator was my first love – and nothing is ever as sweet as your first love.

But like all Adobe products, there’s a serious learning curve (bezier curves might be my favorite tool in Illustrator). If you want a deeper look at using illustrator to physically create your logo, business cards, blog graphics, brand icons, etc. this is the place to go.

Paper + Oats – The InDesign Field Guide

If you move into online sales, you are going to be creating PDFs to deliver as freebies and/or opt-ins to your mailing list (like my Freelance Library). I am a diehard Adobe fan and don’t believe that there is a more comprehensive PDF creation tool than InDesign. You could pipe up about Canva – but I’m going to ask you to pipe down. With Indesign you can easily include clickable links, insert other files and documents, make templates so all the PDFs that come out of your work house are easily identifiable as coming from you. And after the learning curve, they’ll be easy for you to transfer into InDesign and make pretty.

I have not found another InDesign only course out there (besides courses hosted on platforms) so this is a really great find if you’re looking to get started with InDesign. And sales for the course actually just went live.

Don't Work Alone, Find your Tribe

You're new to the freelancing game and struggling with working alone in a bubble. But you don't have to, you just have to know where to look for others like you.

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Branding (copy) courses to invest in

If you hate writing about yourself (because you’re a normal human being) a couple of copywriting tips won’t cut it.

Ashlyn Carter – Copywriting for Creatives

This course is opening up in a few short days, and I’m so excited about it. As a creative online business owner, I spend a lot of time in copy – writing about myself, my services, and trying to not sound like a “buy me bot.” I’m so passionate about what I’m doing and about my products but I don’t want to sound spammy.

Ashlyn writes copy for some of the greatest in the online business world so I’m sure she has some great knowledge (and practical applications) to creating copy that converts.

Bushra Azhar – Persuasion Hacks Lab

I first discovered Bushra Azhar on a podcast and I laughed so much I had to rewind to laugh again. And learn. Learn all the things. She is all about persuasive writing and by the end of the podcast I was persuaded into being a believer in Bushra. My favorite part about her entry offering, it’s $7. It’s a persuasive copy resource library that includes PDFs, videos, and much more. She values keeping pricing low because she deals a lot in the third world and wants to keep things accessible.

But she’s still very successful, a quick search of her name and you’ll see that she earns five figures per month via her affordable offerings. Obviously, she’s doing something right.

Marie Forleo – The Copy Cure

The Copy Cure is  a great giant beast of awesomeness that you should invest in if writing is going to be your everyday gig. It’s a tiny bit pricy (hahaha) and only once or so a year (you’ve missed it for 2017 – whomp whomp) but it’s something to look forward to if you find your copy needs that extra punch. If you head over there now you can get access to a free sample copywriting class.

Ready to invest in done for you branding?

Start with a short chat with your possible designer or developer. They’ll probably explain things that you don’t know that you don’t know – and that’s why you hire them. There are things about text headers, alt tags, image file size, web hosts, and about 100 other things that you don’t think about if you don’t live and breathe web design and development.

Don't Work Alone, Find your Tribe

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You're new to the freelancing game and struggling with working alone in a bubble. But you don't have to, you just have to know where to look for others like you.

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