Feb 04 2019

Making Content that Connects

Kelley Gardiner headshot
Kelley’s smiling because she knows how to make your content smarter.

We spend our days designing dreamy websites, and we’ve learned that you shouldn’t trust just anyone with your content. Content is what makes you memorable, and it’s never a place to cut corners! That’s why, when we were looking to tune up our website copy a few months ago, we called in Kelley Gardiner Content & Copy to guide us to our happy place.

Kelley generously took some time to chat with us about diving head-first into self-employment, reaching your ideal clients, where to find some extremely tasty baked goods, and how to know when to call in some professional copywriting help.

UPSWEPT CREATIVE: According to your Instagram, you “quit your job to become a writer.” What were you doing before this? Have you encountered any noteworthy and/or mundane challenges in making that transition?

KELLEY GARDINER: In short, I was sitting at a desk with other people telling me what to do. Before that gig, I was creating programming for a continuing education program department at a community college in Indiana. (Then, we moved back to Portland in a recession.) Things I miss about working in an office: the food carts across the street. People hardly ever tell me if my outfit is cute. It’s hard to keep myself on track, as distractions are everywhere, and other than client deadlines, nothing really HAS to be done. That newsletter can go out a few days late, and no one but me will know, you know? 

It’s also a challenge going into a field that requires putting a lot of yourself on the line and dealing with rejection. Desk jobs might be soul-crushing, but they usually require little emotional energy. Running your own gig takes a lot.

UC: What are some strategies you use to reach your ideal clients?

KG: Talk to them. Show them what a catch I am. The right people will pick up what I’m laying down.

Right now, I’m using a bunch of strategies: blogging on kelleygardiner.com with relevant, fun stuff, guest blogging to boost my quote-unquote authority, having lots of coffees with people, networking events. I’ve actually gotten to the point where I kind of like networking, because I realized that it’s not sleazy. It’s about talking to people, learning about what they do, and seeing how you can help them. Sometimes, you can help people by writing words for them in exchange for money. That’s a valuable service, and no one has to buy unless they really want to.

UC: We love the updated website copy that you wrote with us — how the heck did you capture Upswept’s brand voice so authentically?

KG: Luckily for me, you have a strong brand voice that I was able to plug into! My biggest job was pulling out messages that needed to be coaxed a little further. Like about how awesome you are. That’s an important one.

Maybe I cheated a little bit by following Upswept over the course of several years, and knowing Sarah for a long time.  [ed. note: hey, it’s important to do the research, however it happens!]

UC: Let’s say I’ve got a website for my business and I know it needs a copy overhaul, but I don’t think I have the budget for it and I want to try to rewrite myself. Do you have any advice for me? Where do I start? How do I know when it’s time to call in a pro?

KG: Just write it! That’s always the easiest and hardest writing advice. Getting started is the hardest part. Remember the basics: what your customer wants, and why you are the best person to deliver it.

Write it. Leave it for two days. Edit it. Have a friend come look at it.

Are people confused about what you do after they read your website? Are you getting the wrong kind of leads? Are people not taking the actions you want? You might need help.

To be honest, most people don’t have the cash for professional copy when they’re first starting out. When you’re ready to go to the next level, give us a call. I also happen to have super affordable consulting packages to help people get their brains wrapped around projects like this. I’m here to help!

UC: Do you have a preferred coffee shop or similar for working away from home?

KG: More like a small rotation of coffee shops. I’ll shout out Jet Black, my walking-distance vegan coffee shop extraordinaire, with the friendliest staff and usually cute dogs on the patio. Then there’s Hungry Heart Bakery in Montavilla. Get the banana walnut muffin and/or the chocolate chunk cookie. No, seriously. They are both extremely good.

UC: Is this the right time for the story of your book about roller derby?

It’s extremely the right time! Somehow, it’s been six years since I played roller derby and the book is out of date/not being published. But, lately, I’ve been thinking about how it’s exactly the kind of writing I want to do more of. Taking something overwhelming and breaking it down to easy-to-follow steps. Encouraging people to do the thing. Writing that’s easy to read and keep reading. Helping people! I don’t want to literally hold your hand, because you know, sweaty, but I want to make hard things easier and more relatable.

If you’d like Kelley to make hard things easier for you, give her a holler via her website. We definitely recommend it!


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.


Mar 27 2014

Your Brand is Something to Lean Against

Branding is an important part of running your own business, but it’s hard to do when you’re first starting out. Your vision might not be 100% in-place, but don’t let yourself believe that you’re “not big enough” to build an effective brand! There are plenty of reasons to start putting the pieces of your brand together sooner, rather than later.

portland-rebranding-agency_branding-lean-againstI had the privilege of sitting in on a talk by prominent designer Frank Chimero not long ago, and he briefly touched on the challenge of designing when you have no constraints, and how designing for particular platforms–such as tablet e-readers, in his case–can actually be helpful, because the constraints of those platforms can give you, “something to lean against.” It helps give you direction, when you otherwise might not have one.

Your brand can be a lot like that, too. Branding is more than just design: it’s also how you talk about your business, how you communicate what’s unique about and important to you, and how you make sure that your potential client hears it and remembers it. It’s everything from color and style to the words you choose, and when you use them.

Have you ever been asked about your work, and felt completely unsure of what to say about it? “Oh, I make bags, all kinds of bags, shoulder bags and also little clutch bags… oh, and I make them all with recycled materials, because I really believe in upcycling and making the most of all materials! And I’m at some shops around town, but I also have an Etsy store, and…”

If you don’t have your brand outlined in your head, you might come out of it feeling scattered, and realize you haven’t even told them the name of your company, so they can actually find and buy your work!

This is a time when having constraints can really help you, rather than hurt you. When you have too many options, it can be paralyzing, because there are so many directions to go in. Something as essential as a color choice on a flyer, or a 30-second elevator speech, can feel like stumbling through the dark blindfolded, when you have no constraints and nothing to frame your thinking with.

By starting to outline your brand, you can identify the key issues that are important to you, and important to your client, and give yourself that Something To Lean Against. Even when you’re out of sorts, you’ll have those key points to fall back on, so you can share your work with someone effectively, even in hectic moments where you don’t feel 100% prepared for it.

If you haven’t put much thought into your brand yet, now is the time to start! Then, whether you’re planning for your future, or spontaneously sharing what you do in the present, you’ll be able to rest a little easier–you’ll have something to lean against.

Portland branding design – Portland web design – Upswept Creative