Oct 26 2017

Meet Josselyn Haldeman, Our Social Media Maven!

Josselyn Haldeman is Upswept Creative’s in-house Social Media Maven, an expert in taking advantage of the internet’s social spaces, using them to increase brand awareness, drive traffic to stores and websites, and share an organization’s stories to connect with the internet on a personal level.

What do you enjoy about working in social media?

J: My approach to social media marketing allows me to marry two of my passions: statistics and creative writing. There is a lot of creativity in building a social media presence — the tone, intended message, length, vocabulary — are all important. But to determine if those aspects are actually communicating your message, or if the message is even accomplishing your business goals, that’s where I use statistics and my analytic side.

Social media, marketing, branding Portland
Josselyn making the socials work for you, at Upswept HQ.

How did you get started in professional social media management?

J: I moved to New York City in my early 20s to work with a medical genomics startup company in a sales capacity. Eventually, my role grew to a more Business Development position. Because the company was new, they needed a social media presence, so I took the initiative and started their Facebook and Twitter presences, as well as a medical genomics educational blog.

After I moved back to Portland, I took on clients as a freelance social media manager. I had learned so much about social media marketing in NYC, and it was my favorite aspect of my job there, that I wanted to continue in the field.

When Team Upswept works with clients, we focus on telling authentic brand stories as a marketing approach — what are your thoughts on remaining authentic in social media?

J: Social media gives a business such a unique opportunity to interact with customers and potential customers directly. It’s so important to strike a tone that is authentic to the core of the business. I strive to, even in more advertising-centric campaigns, communicate like a human being. I’m not just some intern who’s just getting content on the page; I really do care about what gets put up, and how I respond to messages and comments.

How do you find an authentic voice to represent a client’s organization?

J: A big part of finding that authentic voice, for me, is taking the time to build a strong relationship with my clients. Why did they start their business? How is your business different from competitors? What is the story of your brand? At the core of every social media campaign is a kind of story that communicates all of those things and more. It’s only possible for me to tell that story if I feel like I truly understand the client and their business.

What’s a thing you enjoy in life that is not this?

J: When I’m not working, I’m usually reading, writing, or performing poetry. Portland’s local poetry scene is so inviting and good that it’s hard for me to stay away! I’m in the editing stages of my second chapbook, slated to be released this winter.

* * *

Josselyn is fantastic at what she does, running Upswept’s social media presence, as well as human-focused, data-driven campaigns for some of our clients. Whether you want to hand over the keys to your Facebook account and never look back, or you just need an expert to create a custom plan to make the social machine do your bidding, Josselyn and Team Upswept are here to help tap into your authentic brand voice, and extend your reach on the internet. Ready to talk about it? Get in touch here!

Oct 13 2017

SEO Made Easy: Keywords and Permalinks

website design seo portland
SEO work can help you make your website more findable.

Making your website findable is one of the most difficult tasks in creative branding online. To be findable, your website needs to be search engine friendly. This is accomplished with a number of techniques under the banner of SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. If you’re not familiar yet, take a look at my previous post on SEO Basics.

One simple technique is to create user-friendly URLs that permanently link to the different pages of your website. These URLs are ideally custom, short, easy to read, and use keywords that people are likely to search for when searching for your business. They should also be accurate to the information that’s on the page.

Sound like a lot of work?

It’s really not with WordPress. We do love building websites on WordPress, and one of the reasons is how easy it is for users to work with. Changing the URL naming conventions of your website is very straightforward, and making a custom URL for any given page is a breeze. This lets you name important pages of your website based on keywords people might naturally associate with your business. A page’s current permalink is located below the page title on the “Edit Post” page. Changing the naming conventions of every page automatically is found in Settings > Permalink Settings.

The WordPress permalinks setting page. I recommend making your permalinks naming convention after the page title.

 Upswept Creative is a Portland based web design and creative branding company. Someone in need of web design services may use the search terms “website,” “professional,” and “Portland.” So, I commonly include these terms in custom URLs for different pages on our website – blog posts, service descriptions, even the main landing page. The more pages that have these keywords, the higher the search engine ranking will be for those specific terms.

If you need more guidance on where to start, Yoast is a tool that helps make sense of all this keywords business. It’s a WordPress plugin that outlines common  SEO techniques for each of your WordPress pages, and empowers you to take control and make adjustments to your site for better SEO. It allows you to define many different aspects of a page that directly affect how a search engine interacts with your website, like keywords, URL, and meta-description.

Identifying and defining aspects like keywords and meta-descriptions is closely tied to the core of your brand. Finding your brand center is what Upswept Creative specializes in, as well at the practical, nitty-gritty aspects of web design.

If you need some help with your website and SEO, we can help! Schedule your free consultation with us today.

Sep 29 2017

What Your Website Builder Isn’t Giving You

website design e-commerce portland
There’s more to building a good website than just putting it online.

With website builders like Wix, Squarespace, and others coming into their own, it’s becoming easier to put a website online. And, that makes it harder for the average person to tell the difference between what you get from a website builder, and what you get when you hire a website professional. After all, why would you pay top dollar for a website, when you can build one yourself for $19/month?

If you only look at cost of the website builder itself, a website building tool may look like a no-brainer, at first. But there are, in fact, several reasons why hiring a website professional is head-and-shoulders the better option for a business owner looking to make a serious impact online.

A Website Builder is Just a Tool

Companies like Wix and Squarespace have built tools that make it relatively easy for tech-novices to put up a website. But, these tools are exactly that: tools. They give you the parts you need to build something, but not the knowledge you need to make the best possible use of them.

Sitting an average person in front of a computer with a website builder would be like plopping me down in front of an old car and handing me a toolbox. An average person doesn’t know much about building websites, and I barely know how to change a tire. I theoretically have what I need to get that car running, and it sure looks like a car, but: will that car actually work when I’m done with it? Probably not, and definitely not as well as it could work if an expert mechanic had that toolbox.

Do You Know What Your Website Needs?

It’s pretty common for a business owner to think, “I need a new website!” without having a clear idea of why that is. Do you know what you need to post on your website? Do you know why your current website isn’t working for you?

If you don’t know the answers to those questions, then I have some bad news: that website builder tool you’re using can’t give you those answers, either.

The good news? A website agency or developer can guide you through all of this. They’ll have answers to all of those nagging questions you might have, such as:

  • What should my homepage say? (it depends on your business and your goals)
  • Do these colors go together?
  • Do I need my full bio and CV on my homepage? (probably not)
  • How do I rank higher on Google? (hint: it’s not just META tags anymore!)
  • How do I set up my e-mail with my new domain?
  • Can I just use these photos I have on my phone? (possibly, but it may not be the best idea)
  • How do I connect my website to my e-mail newsletter?

The website professional you choose to work with has built numerous websites, and gained the special skills and expertise required to make the most of those website building tools. They’ve heard these questions, and they know the answers.

You’re Not Just Paying for Tools, You’re Paying for Knowledge

Website professionals have years of knowledge, and that’s where their value lies. When you have a website agency on your side, they can not only fill in those blanks that you don’t know the answers to, but remind you of the questions you didn’t even know needed to be answered.

When we work with clients here at Upswept, we’re guiding them step-by-step through the process of building a website. We’re using our knowledge to find the right tools in that toolbox, and use them in the right way, to get that car running beautifully.

That means we do things like helping you identify goals for your website, and creating calls-to-action that achieve those goals. We can help you choose the right photos for your homepage. We provide you with a content structure, so you know what pages you need to fill. We remind you that your logo image needs to be a different size, or that you might not want to use a photo from your cousin’s wedding as the professional headshot on your About page.

We also do things like set up e-mail addresses, offer web hosting, or even contact tech support for you when your existing web host isn’t working like it should. We’ll help you set up an e-mail marketing account, and integrate it into your website so you can start building your mailing list. We make suggestions for what social media platforms would be the best to promote what you’re selling. We can set up your shipping calculations for your e-commerce store, and train you on how to use your new store.

Does a website builder do any of that?

Know How To Get Where You Want To Go

Website builders can be a terrific tool, especially for a new business on a limited budget. If you just need a web presence that you can put on your business card, then Squarespace or Wix can definitely help you do that. But, as you get a clearer picture of where you want to go, a website professional can help you make the smartest use of the tools in the website toolbox.

Are website builders not getting you the results you want? Team Upswept is here to guide you through! We’re a comprehensive creative studio, and we have years of website design expertise to put to work for you. Get in touch to learn more!

Sep 14 2017

Content is Queen: A Case for Content-First Design

A letter without a message is just a blank piece of paper in a fancy envelope. (And who wants to look at that?)

How Design Communicates

When we build websites, draw logos, and make marketing assets, we’re using our (awesome) creative powers to help our clients share their message.

We use colors, shapes, letterforms, photo assets, and spatial relationships to communicate visually and optimize the message. You could say that design is a method by which we package and deliver content in a pleasing and accessible way, so that everyone who receives your message wants to learn more, sign up, buy, or donate.

Your Message + Our Design = People Compelled to Act!

Making Sense and Looking Awesome

When we know what content we’re working with, we can create intentional, purpose-driven design to showcase the message — tailored just for you. We don’t just drop your content into off-the-shelf themes or templates. Every design is customized for each project’s specific needs, which we help you uncover through Discovery and research.

Dialing in your messaging is so important here in the early phases of design. Whatever it is that you want people to hear from you, you’re going to need some words. The right words, even, that say what you mean with precision!

But Copywriting is Hard!

For most of us, even when ideas come easily, it can be challenging to commit them to precise, effective writing. We know that the Internet has a short attention span (are you even still reading this blog post?), and the pressure to get to the point and pack in all of the critical information is real.

A bit of planning now can save you from a big mess later.
Photo by Alice Achterhof on Unsplash.

Often when you get into the thick of creating or editing your content, you will likely find that the words and organization change shape — you might need a second level of subheads, or block quotes, or inset boxes, or so many other things! These may seem like minor changes, but they can have a big impact to the overall way your content behaves on a page. If you’re designing for print, the addition of a subhead can add pages to your final count, or require a whole cascade of other visual changes to make the document work and feel cohesive.

Enlist help with your copywriting if you need it. A great editor can help you shape and refine your message without adding a ton of time to your project or to your financial investment. Approaching your designer with ready-to-use copy will save you time and dollars in the design phase.

Get Real

In book-publisher school, I learned that a nascent book moves from editing to design to production — in that order and in only one direction. While that’s a really great system, I have literally never received a project to design that was content-complete while working in the actual world.  For the first few years, it really bothered me.

By now though I have consigned myself to the reality that content may will change a bit during the design process, and I’ve committed to having some grace about it. When a client sees work that they’ve only known in a text editor come to life in a webpage mockup or sample chapter, some new revelations about aesthetic preferences and/or how the content is working often crop up — that’s a normal thing that we expect and build into our process.

So what should we all do? As a client, you should approach your designer with as much ready content as you can — this includes written copy, photos you have the rights to use, and anything that the designer won’t be creating such as logos, forms, and barcodes. Make a plan with your designer that clearly states who is responsible creating, editing and gathering each piece of content. Create a timeline. Understand that your designer can only get so far into a project without your real content. The closer your content is to completion when we start, the more seamless the design process, making the final product that much better.

Whether you are still working on your content, or it’s all ready for design, Team Upswept has your back. We’re a comprehensive creative studio, offering copywriting and editing services, graphic design, photography, as well as web and print design. Get in touch to learn more!

Aug 17 2017

Put the “Pro” in Creative Professional

At the beginning of August we introduced Janet Price, a Portland makeup artist we love. Janet had so much great advice for achieving professional success that we thought it deserved more than one blog post!

Process and technique can sometimes be hard to communicate to the average person, when you work in a creative field. Part of the puzzle is finding a way to educate your audience about why your service is particularly good or special. But, as a longtime professional makeup artist, Janet has learned a few other important ways to build trust as a creative pro.

Keys to Professional Success

Salamander Boy - creative professional tips
Salamander Boy. Makeup by Janet Price. Photo by Gary Norman.

Janet credits her success as a professional to the following three keys:

  1. Be Dependable and Honest. Janet says it’s critical to show up on-time to do the thing you are committed to do (ie Don’t be late to your job!). Just as important, she says, is being honest about what what your skills are as well as what you can’t do — in contrast to the popular fake it to make it mentality, Janet has always been clear and open about what she can do well and what would be better left to someone else. She says she’s never felt penalized for declaring her limitations.
  2. Do Good Work, Stay Current. Do a good job, of course, and continually push yourself to keep building your skills. Don’t rest easy on your current skill set or position.
  3. Don’t be a weirdo! While Janet is always herself on the job, she says it’s important to remember that she is not the focal point of the job. With anyone you work with, employ discretion, refrain from gossip, and respect the privacy of others.

Being A People Person

Getting close enough to another person to apply makeup to their face can be a very intimate act, especially if her clients aren’t accustomed to it. Janet says that some people are more comfortable with this than others, and often one of her first tasks in beginning a job is to establish rapport with her subject.

Creative professional tips - Makeup artist applying makeup to a woman's face
Janet Price at work. Photo by Gary Norman.

Indeed, Janet is very easy to talk with, whether that initial conversation is about the shade you like to wear on your lips, her love of Marilyn Monroe, or your opinion of animals with people names (Janet’s house cats are Greta and Sammy, so she’s all for it). Rapport is very important, Janet says, and she usually has to build trust with the people she is working with very quickly, especially with film and television jobs when the pace of the work is quick and time is usually short.

Diplomacy is important, too — sometimes the person who gets makeup is not always the client to whom Janet is responsible, and she must balance the needs, wants, and comfort of both client and the person whose face she is painting.

Sometimes Janet is the only makeup artist on the job with full creative control, other times she works as an assistant on bigger projects, when it’s her job to execute the vision of an art director. The more players in the game, the more great communication, personal rapport, and professionalism need to be spot on. Her approach is to emphasize each individual’s unique beauty and work in partnership with talent, production, and crew.

Oh, the Humanity!

Whether you are a makeup artist like Janet Price, a fashion designer and small business owner like Tori Tissell, or any other creative professional, you know that the work is more than making a great product: at some point you’re going to have to come out into the daylight and talk to other humans. Janet Price makes it look easy, and with her advice and some practice, we know you can too!

What’s your next creative venture? Let’s talk about discovering your authentic and compelling brand story that will help you connect with your ideal audience. Start your branding project by scheduling a Free Clarifying Consultation with Team Upswept.

Aug 04 2017

Portland Business Spotlight: Janet Price, Makeup Artist

Janet Price is a Portland-based professional makeup artist with over 13 years experience in film and television, as well as print, stage, and theatre makeup design.

Janet Price grew up in Los Angeles during the reign of Mouseketeers and The Gong Show. As a kid, she felt surrounded by the entertainment industry — it was normal for people she knew to go in for auditions, and shows that she saw on TV were being produced right down the road. Her involvement in the industry felt natural. It wasn’t strange to think she’d  grow up to be a Mouseketeer, because that’s what LA kids did.

Artist applying makeup on a woman's face.
Janet Price at work. Photo credit: Gary Norman, www.garynormanphotography.com

In 1984, Janet moved to Oregon with her family and got involved with high school drama productions. Fascinated by the parentally-forbidden art of makeup, she studied library books to teach herself how to work with theatrical makeup while secretly painting her face at school and making sure to arrive home before her dad did to wash off the evidence of her artistic rule-breaking.

While Janet chose not to pursue makeup artistry as a career, she continued to expand her knowledge about new products and techniques as a hobby she couldn’t shake off.

Some years later, Janet was flipping through a Northwest School of Film class catalog and found a 3-month intensive Makeup for Film + TV class and was excited to get formal education. The class instructor, Christina, began to casually mentor Janet after the class ended, no doubt seeing Janet’s talent for the work and her affinity for the industry. Christina was preparing to retire, so she gifted Janet makeup and tools that she wouldn’t need once she retired. Christina recommended Janet for her first job as an assistant makeup artist, on a Paramount Universal film that was shooting in Portland. It took just the one recommendation from a veteran artist, and Janet’s work as a makeup artist  took off from there, booking jobs of all sizes in film, TV, theater, and studio settings.

Janet Price Logotype by Upswept Creative, 2016.
Janet Price Logotype by Upswept Creative, 2016.

We worked with Janet in 2016 to create a new logotype, business card, and brochure website, which resides at http://www.janetpricemakeup.com/. She hoped to modernize her brand, and make her work easier to find. Now, when professionals in the film industry are planning Portland-based productions, they can easily find Janet’s work and contact her through her new website. That means less of her time spent looking for work, and more of her time spent doing the work.

What is your passion? Whether it’s a side-hustle or your main gig, we’d love to help make your brand shine and spread the word about how awesome you are. Whether you want to revise your website, change your branding, build a strategy for marketing more effectively, or you’re not sure where to start, get in touch with us to schedule your FREE consultation, and we’ll use our extensive online experience to help you get clear on your next steps.

Jul 20 2017

Analytics in Social Media Marketing

We’ve talked about how setting goals and tracking them is super important in planning  an effective social media marketing strategy. But how do you go about that? With analytics, of course! Analytics is simply gathering data and thinking critically about what that data means in context. By using analytics wisely, you can determine whether or not your overall strategy is working, and where tweaks need to be made.

It’s a Numbers Game

Social media offers a ton of data. Seriously, a lot. So much so that it can be overwhelming. This is where your social media goals come in handy. If you know exactly what you want from your social media presence – i.e. increased followership, more website views, lots of people viewing your posts, etc… – you can focus on collecting only the data you need to track those goals.

Establish a baseline by recording the time and date you post. Then, after a consistent amount of time has passed, (the consistency is what’s key here, so you can reasonably compare performance between posts. My rule of thumb is one week) record the data points relative to your goals. Did the post have an affect on your overall followership? What was the overall reach of the post? Over time, you will be able to see your progress, and make tweaks if necessary.

Facebook provides business pages with pretty robust analytics tools. Use them!

Experiment

If you are posting consistently and tracking your goals, but not making any progress, don’t be afraid to change your tack. A tweak in strategy might not lead to direct progress towards your goal right away, but it will give you more information, so your next adjustment has a better chance of succeeding.

Through the course of a social media campaign, I’ll do this kind of experimenting most often with determining the best time to make a post. Making a small change, like scheduling a post for lunchtime instead of the evening, can have a huge impact.

Eyes on the Horizon

In the world of social media marketing, your goals are always changing. You’ve either met your goal and are setting a new one, or you’ve reshuffled your priorities and determined a new course. Paying close attention to how your posts perform, and whether or not they are accomplishing what you want them to, can help strengthen your overall online presence.

 

An analytical approach to social media marketing can be intimidating. We can help you with that! We have several tiers of social media support, from providing a step-by-step outline for you to follow, to full and robust social media management piloted by yours truly. Interested in expert help? Learn more about our social media management services.

Jun 22 2017

Local Business Spotlight: Tori Tissell

Tori Tissell, founding owner of Storiarts, maker of literary soft goods, has the kind of internet success story that entrepreneurial dreams are made of.

It started with a personal project. For holiday gifts in 2011, Tori created her first run of book scarves — an excerpt from Pride and Prejudice silkscreened onto a square of super soft, off-white (think the pages of a classic book) fabric. She gave most as gifts and listed a few for sale on Etsy.

Tori in her home workshop cutting material for a scarf.
Tori Tissell cutting out some Alice in Wonderland in her workshop.

Tori had been living in Portland since 2008, when she moved here in pursuit of a career in fashion design. She was working four days a week at an office job in the dental field, and worked on her creative projects with her time off. The book scarves were the first item she’d put up for sale on the peer-to-peer e-commerce site, which focuses on handmade and vintage items.

As a fashion accessory, the scarves were a perfect statement for Tori and some of her friends. One of the things that she likes about designing wearables, in addition to the utilitarian aspect, is that “no matter what, what [a person wears] expresses aspects of one’s personality.” A self-identified bibliophile and introvert, Tori liked that she could spark connection over one of her favorite things though her apparel choices, and keep her neck warm in our cool PNW winters, too.

Screen printing a scarf with Maya Angelou’s poem, Still I Rise.
Screen printing a scarf with Maya Angelou’s poem, Still I Rise.

The Pride and Prejudice scarves sold quickly on Etsy, and Tori received many requests for more. The scarf got shared on Pintrest as well, further boosting interest. After three months, Tori was able to leave her office job and make scarves full-time.

Rising Action

Since 2011, Storiarts has expanded their catalog to celebrate more than 27 titles on scarves, fingerless writing gloves, t-shirts, pillows, and baby hats. Staying rooted in the Pacific Northwest is a key value in the company, and most of their products are printed, cut, sewn, warehoused, and shipped in Oregon, with some milling and cutting happening in LA. All of their products are handmade in the US, even though production has scaled up quite a bit since Tori made everything by hand in her garage. Now that the manufacturing is off her plate, Tori can focus on design of new products, as well as drawing all of the illustrations for their scarves, writing gloves, and t-shirts.

Though Storiarts was born through e-commerce sales and continues to sell through several online retailers, it wasn’t long before they expanded into sales at brick-and-mortar stores. The Library of Congress shop was the first to approach Tori about carrying book scarves, and today you find them in the New York Public Library as well, along with dozens of other libraries and boutiques across the US, and in Australia and New Zealand. 

To Be Continued…

Woman reading a book outside a coffee shop.
Amber modeling a lightweight summer scarf outside of our neighborhood coffee shop.

Upswept Creative does much of the marketing photography for Storiarts, from clean product shots to lifestyle photography like this one featuring Amber Nicotra, wearing a new scarf from their Spring 2017 collection. 

We love working with Tori and her co-owner and husband, Chris. Their company embodies so much of what we value in working with independent businesses — from their commitment to keeping it local, to the thoughtfully-crafted, pleasantly nerdy products they sell.

What’s your next creative venture? Let’s talk about discovering your authentic and compelling brand story that will help you connect with your ideal audience. The first step to schedule a free clarifying consultation is clicking ➡︎ here. ⬅︎

Jun 08 2017

Social Media Management 102

A few weeks ago, we talked about some basics of social media marketing. In that post, I went over how to set goals, decide which platforms to use, and urged you to stick to the plan. Now I’d like to get into another aspect of social media marketing that’s just as important… what the heck do you put out there on social media!?

SET YOUR TONE

It’s part of our brand to be a little cute and cheeky, so I’ll often make fun posts like this one.

Deciding on the tone you’d like your social media presence to embody is a fundamental aspect of any online strategy. It’s also one of the most difficult things to nail down. Tone comes across through word choice in your posts and profiles, the actual content of your posts, and how you engage with followers, comments, and private messages.

While the voice you use on social media should be similar to the tone of your website, it shouldn’t be a carbon copy. Social media is social after all. Find a voice that encourages engagement, whether that’s a “like”, comment, or click-through to your website.

A PICTURE IS WORTH 1000… LIKES

Across all social media platforms, posts with pictures get the most attention by far. This blog did an informal study that showed tweets with images garnered 89% more favorites than tweets without images. But you shouldn’t just attach random images. If you can, create or commision your own visual content by taking product pictures, crafting digital graphics, or snapping some thoughtful photos while at a work-relevant event. When using images created by a third party, make sure you have permission!

Giving a peek into the behind the scenes of your business can be very engaging. This is a shot Sarah snapped during a recent photo shoot.

 

The benefit of having in-house visual content is that you can make sure it’s all on brand. It will naturally feel a part of your overall brand identity.

GET THAT GOAL

Social media platforms are fantastic for bringing your brand’s tone and personality to the fore, and getting your name out to a lot of people. They aren’t so great as a place for information dumps, or straight-up advertisements — those fit better on a company website, and something people will be more prone to absorb if they’re already interested. Cast a wide net with your social media presence. Strike a tone that’s personal, use visual content that’s on brand and engaging, and craft content that makes people want to click that link to your website, ticket sale, or product page.

I like to think of a social media presence like a digital storefront, and the overall strategy as the decorations and window displays. The goal is to get as many people in the store (onto your website, online store, etc…) as possible. Once they’re inside, it’s much more likely that you’ll make that sale!

 

At Upswept Creative, we’re a one-stop-shop for branding, web design, and social media marketing. You can get all the elements you need for a successful online presence from our small-but-fierce firm. Check out our variety of service offerings, designed to meet the needs of business owners at different price points. We’re looking forward to chatting with you!