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.


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.


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. ⬅︎


May 25 2017

Meet Sarah Giffrow, our fearless Creative Director and Benevolent Overlord!

Sarah steers the ship at Upswept Creative, deftly serving up smart branding solutions and building beautiful, usable websites that make sense and look awesome.

Sarah Giffrow HeadshotSarah created her first webpage more than two decades ago, when she taught herself HTML to stave off boredom over a summer in high school. In college, she ditched her journalism major and decided to make a go of it in the then-fledgling industry of web design.

Before launching her own creative studio more than five years ago, Sarah was doing web design and management in the non-profit / education sector, and side-hustling in wedding and portrait photography. Motivated by a desire to explore different avenues for her creative skills, solve new problems, and feel more connected to clients, she decided to go out on her own, giving rise to Upswept Creative and, indirectly, this blog post you’re reading right now.

Creative Convergence

Driving her own creative endeavor allowed Sarah more time to get to know local creators and business owners. She observed gaps in their marketing and online presences, and began to figure out ways to help them.  

“Getting to see their work close-up and experience it in-person, I knew how skilled and passionate they were, and I wanted to help them show that to others, and get the kind of die-hard fans they deserved.”

That connection to the vibrant independent business community remains a priority in Upswept’s work as we expand our service offerings and grow our team. On her hopes for the future of Upswept, Sarah says, “I’d love for us to really become known as a resource for independent businesses, so we can keep helping people grow their passions into their livelihoods.”

Being Yourself

Sarah has faced many of the challenges typical of creative work, and lessons learned along the way inform her strategies to help clients better, particularly in figuring out how to differentiate herself in the local market bursting of talented competition.

To attain success, Sarah says, you must “understand deeply what sets you apart in your industry. Communicating that authentic expression of who you are and what you do in a clear way is critical.”

Though thriving in such a lively market can be tough, Upswept Creative wouldn’t be the same studio if it existed in a different city. One of the values Sarah identifies with in the Portland creative community is a “deeply-held belief that, if the service or the product doesn’t already exist, we can create it! We [Portlanders] place a lot of value on supporting businesses with local roots, and we aren’t afraid to try something that hasn’t been done before.”  

Beyond Work

Sarah on Skates!Outside of work, Sarah spends much of her time involved in roller derby with the Rose City Rollers, as a skater, official, and juniors coach. Sarah loves to bake, much to the enjoyment of anyone who’s attended an event at Upswept HQ, and this year is enrolled in the Google Academy of Organic Gardening.

Your Turn!

Now that you know a little bit more about Upswept’s leadership, we’d love to get to know you better, too. We like to kick off every new project with a get-to-know-you meeting, so we can assess your unique business problems and craft an elegant, beautiful solution just for you!  Get started by scheduling your free clarifying consultation and see what kind of awesome Sarah and rest of Team Upswept has in store for you.


Mar 30 2017

Social Media Management 101

Online marketing is so widespread, it’s hard to imagine a business today without some kind of presence on social media. But how do you even get started? It can be a lot to tackle. What is a good social media strategy? How do you manage posts across platforms? What does success even look like? This post will bring you through these basics of social media marketing.

A GOAL WITHOUT A PLAN IS JUST A WISH

The first step in any cohesive social media strategy is to formulate a plan. Start by asking yourself, “what do I want my online presence to accomplish?” At first, you might simply want  to increase followership across platforms, getting your other brand assets in front of as many eyes as possible. Another goal could be to increasing website traffic, which is a good goal for online retailers. These goals will form the basis for the rest of your social media strategy, so feel free to take some time, do some research, and really think about what you want out of a social media presence.

PUZZLING PLATFORMS

There are so many social media platforms to choose from!

Once you’ve set your goals, you can identify the platforms your company should be active on. Facebook is a pretty universal option, but it doesn’t always need to be your main focus. I Growing a presence on LinkedIn could be valuable, if you run a business-to-business operation. Instagram is ideal for visual-heavy businesses, like fashion designers or photographers. Twitter allows you to quickly reach an audience and link to out-of-platform content like a blog, or ticket sales site. Crossover content between platforms is ok, but it’s important to take into consideration these strengths and weaknesses when creating content.

CONSISTENCY IS QUEEN

Now that you know your active platforms, you can start drafting content. Posting regularly is the most important thing, so be sure to come up with a posting schedule you can actually stick to. A consistent stream of content, even if it’s just three posts a week, shows people that your business is active. You can also use social media tools like Hootsuite, which allow you to schedule multiple posts at once, to help you manage multiple platforms.

STICK TO THE PLAN

One of the most difficult aspects of social media marketing is determining success, but you’ll never be sure if you’re succeeding if you change tactics too often. It takes time to grow a strong social media presence, so practice patience. Use the built-in analytics tools most social media platforms provide, and keep track of your goals as the weeks go on. Experimenting with different types of content, posting schedules, and platforms is all great, but make sure to give each plan enough time to see if it’ll catch.

If this all sounds like a lot of work, you’re right! Many small-business owners get overwhelmed by the nitty-gritty details of ongoing social-media management. It’s ok if you’d rather spend your time on other aspects of your business! Upswept Creative has our very own Online Marketing Maven in Josselyn Haldeman, who will allow you to do just that. If you’re interested in her services, be sure to say so when you reach out.


Feb 02 2017

How To Build A Brand That Reaches Your Dream Clients

Branding can be a hard thing to understand. You know that a strong brand can help you land more clients and make more sales, but you may wonder: how does that happen?

It’s important to make your brand distinctive, so it sticks in your clients mind. That means knowing your own values and staying in touch with your Why, instead of focusing too much on your competition. But, knowing who you are is only one piece of the puzzle: you also need to know who your customer is.

Know Who Your Brand is Talking To

There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all brand. It’s often said that, “you can’t please everyone,” and that’s especially true for branding. A brand that appeals to a hip, trendy 20-something isn’t likely to attract a 40-something shopper who’s more interested in quality than trends.

To build an effective brand, you need to know who you’re talking to. That means making choices about what kind of people you want to attract! Think about their age, their preferences, their habits, and you can start making choices about how your brand will engage with them and appeal to them.

Choosing your audience might seem scary, at first. You might feel as if you’re turning away other customers by choosing an ideal audience, but trust the process! Your brand will be much more powerful when you tailor your brand to a specific group, instead of trying to please everyone. If you try to attract too wide of an audience, you can easily end up with a weak, non-specific brand that doesn’t resonate well with anyone.

Are You the Same As Your Customer?

When you’re an independent business owner, it’s easy to think that building your brand is just a matter of choosing things that appeal to you. If that’s what you’ve been doing so far, STOP for a second, and ask yourself: “are my ideal customer and I actually alike?” 

A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that their customers are just like them when, in reality, their customer is much different. You are not your customer, and even though you may both like your work, they may be drawn to it for different reasons.

When you’re building a refreshed brand, it’s important to find the balance between your own values, and what will appeal to your customer. You don’t need to pretend to be something you’re not (please, don’t do that!), but you DO need to make choices that appeal to your ideal customer.

“How Do I Start To Identify My Ideal Customer?”

This can be a question with a lot of layers, depending on where you are in your business. If you’re an established business looking at a refresh, you can learn a few things from your past customers and experience. If you’re a newer business, however, you’ll need to operate more on research and instinct.

As a starting point, here are a few questions that businesses at any level can start with:

  • What are my ideal client’s demographics? Think about age, gender, family size, income, education, and so forth.
  • What are their habits? How does their typical day go? How do they spend their free time?
  • How does what my business offers fit into their life? What problem will it solve for them?
  • What do they value most? What is important to them? Style? Practicality? Uniqueness? Being socially conscious? Choosing high-quality work? Etc.

Understanding your ideal customer’s mindset is huge for building a strong brand that helps you grow and succeed! Try putting yourself in their shoes and seeing how they think. Walk yourself through what their experience with your business might be like. You could learn a lot from it!

Need more help understanding your brand?

Our Finding Your Brand Center workbook is free, and here to help you build your brand foundation. >>

Get Instant Access »

workbook_finding-your-brand-center


Dec 08 2016

Stealing Photos is Bad

Photography usage in the digital age has, unfortunately, been a big problem. Stealing content is not ok – ever! Knowing the rules and etiquette surrounding using work that is not your own is an important part of being an ethical and responsible business owner or creative professional. I’ve written this post as a quick guide to help you avoid making hurtful and costly mistakes with photo usage.

CREATOR RULES

Photo generously provided by Mac Reid. Check out their work at www.macreid.com.
Photo generously provided by Mac Reid. Check out their work at www.macreid.com.

The photographer who produced the original image likely owns it, and is therefore entitled to decide how it’s used. When contacting the original creator, it’s polite to describe how you plan to use the photo in question, so they have a better idea of whether or not it’s something for which they’d like to give permission.

The owner might ask you to pay them for your usage. They might also request that you give credit to them. Giving credit is not only courteous, but it’s often simple. If you aren’t sure, you can always ask the original creator how they would prefer to be credited.

STOCK SOLUTIONS

Stock photos can be a quick and easy photo solution. There are many online stock photo databases out there, and each has it’s own strengths and weaknesses. Photos you’ve paid for you can usually use however you’d like – just be sure to check the usage terms on the site you bought it from.

DIY

If the perfect photo isn’t out there, why not make it yourself? Photographs you produce you’re allowed to use however you’d like. This might not seem like the most convenient route, but it is one way to get exactly what you want out of your photos. Lucky for you, we’ve written some posts on how to take professional quality photos, and you can always subscribe to our newsletter for more in-depth tips. Feel the power!

BOOK A PROFESSIONAL PHOTO SHOOT

If stock photos don’t feel right, and the Do-It-Yourself method isn’t working out, there’s another way to guarantee you can use your photos freely: Hire a professional photographer to take the photos you want! You’ll be able to share your unique brand vision with your photographer, you’ll get high-quality photos, and you’ll often get a more authentic look than a stock photo can provide. Upswept has some options for photo shoot sessions, if you need help in that area.

Different photographers have different standards for how their clients use their photos, so you may want to check with them to find out what’s okay and what isn’t. But, as a general rule, you should have a lot of freedom to use this type of photo in your branding and marketing.


Nov 18 2016

Feel Good About Your Website

Creativity can be a boon in difficult times. Self-expression is an essential part of being human. Finding an outlet is especially important when the world around us seems intent to silence individuality. The image of the Artist mining their pain for the page or canvas is a popular one, but it’s important to remember that painting and poetry aren’t the only avenues for creativity. Many of us make inspired decisions in the course of day to day life, especially if you run your own business. Here at Upswept Creative, we help people express their true selves through their business ventures with innovative branding solutions, especially in website design.

Your website isn’t just a digital storefront, it is a visceral experience you impart to every visitor. Your web site is often the deciding factor if they become a paying customer or not. Taking a fresh look at your website design and incorporating new elements can feel liberating.

If you don’t have a website yet, planning is essential. Assembling a good plan and following through feels powerful and gives you momentum that can carry over into other aspects of your business.

Make Your Website Awesome

Not sure where to begin? Start by asking yourself these questions to nail down some basic elements of design for an awesome web experience:

Look at how the image size, top menu, and logo design all work in conjunction here. Does it make you want to order pie right away?

What is the goal of your website?

Is it to make sales? Have visitors sign up to your newsletter? Ask questions about your products or services? Try to be as specific as possible. Your goals shape the whole experience of visiting your website, and what a visitor sees first. Is it a mind-blowing splash graphic that sets the mood for viewing your art? Or would a horizontal-scrolling bar showing off featured store items be more appropriate for your goal?

How did visitors come to your site in the first place?

The answer to this might require combing through your analytics, but it can still be an important step in the planning process in the meantime. If you use your social media to promote click throughs to your website, you’ll want to have the relevant content front and center.

What kind of image content do you need?

Product photos, team member profiles, or the perfect website background are all major elements in a cohesive web design plan. Make a list of all the types of images you think you’ll need to show off the best of your business to the world.

Will your website be viewed by people on-the-go? Be sure and consider your design for mobile platforms as well.
Will your website be viewed by people on-the-go? Be sure to think about your design for mobile platforms as well.

Don’t you feel better after newly considering those aspects of your website? Now is the time to follow through. Upswept Creative offers free consultations to folks just like you – people who have put serious thought into their business and are ready to take the next step in accomplishing their overall branding goals.

We want you to know that no matter what message you’re getting from society at large, the team here at Upswept Creative knows that your individuality matters, and so does your right to creatively express yourself. Let’s hit your creative goals together!



Sep 26 2016

Building a Nest for a Happy Brand

When we first met with Emily of Happy Nest, she had a busy day-to-day of running her professional organizing business and caring for her young children. She had the start of an online presence, but her brand didn’t feel like a good fit. “It’s just… not awesome,” she told us. So, we made a plan to turn her disappointment into excitement, and rebuilt her brand from the ground up.

Photography: a view into a brand

Professional Headshots Portland
Professional headshot of Owner, Emily (hair/makeup: Jessica Belknap)

Our photography session was a great opportunity to get to know her work and what drives her. When I moved through the spaces she’d organized, I could quickly see how her organizing work could make an entire lifestyle more orderly. And, as a mother of three (including twins!), she clearly had to be smart and creative with her solutions to keep her own life running smoothly.

Emily’s work is about creating balance and ease, rather than rigid rules. So, “helping you create a more calm and peaceful nest,” was a great way to capture that ease and show that her solutions are designed to fit your life.

Logo Design: making a nest modern

Finding the right look for Happy Nest’s logo was no small feat. The first logo had a flat, illustrated look to it, but we soon learned that Emily craved a cleaner look that wasn’t quite so literal. After a few rounds of design, we arrived at a logo that felt like just the right fit for Happy Nest.

Website Design: simplicity and structure

The Happy Nest web site didn’t have complicated needs, but, “simple,” doesn’t mean, “boring.” We wanted to create a clean look that echoes the structure that Happy Nest can bring to your life, and we’d learned a lot about Emily’s personal style and aesthetic during the project. We saw pleasing colors and clean geometric patterns in her own decor. So, we let photos from our photography session set the tone on her homepage, and framed it with patterns and colors that spoke to her.

Then, we did rounds of testing to ensure that the site worked well on mobile devices, because her clients are often busy, on-the-go people. The end result is a site that communicates her brand more strongly, and makes details about her services easy to find. (and really, if there’s anyone should have a well-organized, easy-to-use web site, it’s a professional organizer! 😉 )

Desktop web site
Desktop web site

Mobile site
Mobile site


Jul 13 2016

The Hard-To-Spot Problem in Your Photos That Could Cost You–and How To Fix It

Being an online seller is already a lot of work, even when your customers are happy. Your day-to-day hustle can turn into a huge headache when your customers get a product that isn’t what they expected–or worse yet, if they aren’t buying at all!

What’s the one hard-to-see thing that can save you from that headache? White Balance.

white-balance-example
These four images are all of the same product! They just have different white balance. Which one do you think is the best?

What is White Balance? It’s the balance of hues in your photo that makes the object look the most natural to your eye. Digital photos have different levels of tints and tones, and it can make a real impact on the final photo. It’s not the easiest thing to see, when you look through your photos one-at-a-time.

Take a look at the four images to the right. Those are all the exact same photo, of the exact same product! The only difference between them is that they each have a different white balance. (bonus: can you tell which is the best-balanced one?)

From there, you can see one problem right away: someone could easily buy this product online expecting one color, only to receive it in a different color. And that means an unhappy customer.

And, if your photos are inconsistent, that can make YOU look inconsistent. You only have a second to build trust online, and if your photos are all over the map, online shoppers won’t feel as comfortable trusting in your product.

“I See The Problem! But How Do I Fix It?”

Product Photos Made Simple will include some specific apps and techniques you can use to adjust your photos for better results, but a couple of things you can do right away:

  • Make sure to compare your photos. Look at other photos from this batch of products, and look at older product photos, and see if they’re consistent with each other.
  • Ban fluorescent lighting from your shoots! Fluorescent lights–particularly those long, tube-style lights you’ll see in stores and offices–very often make people and products look sickly and green. Look for a different lighting source to shoot your products–you’ll likely be much happier.

Want more, better, in-depth help for your product photos? Support our IndieGogo campaign, and you’ll get Product Photos Made Simple, a How-To Guide specifically for people who DIY and don’t have time to waste!

Learn how to take better product photos, even if you don’t own a real camera!

Get Product Photos Made Simple! »

Got an extra Second? Share this with your people.

Your help getting the word out is valuable beyond words! So, share our e-mail tips with others who might benefit, encourage folks you know to check out the IndieGogo campaign, and share it on social media. The more who jump on board, the faster you’ll get this guide delivered straight to you!