When You Don’t Need a Website

When You Don't Need a Website | Most businesses need a website. Learn about the exceptions here! | Jenn Wells Design

I wrote before about why you need a website. But… honesty compels me to write this follow up and confess. There are a few, very, very occasional situations in which I would NOT recommend someone create a website. Gasp!

Diving right in.

You Don’t Need a Website If…

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Client Spotlight – Bike Delaware Cycling Jersey Design

Bike DE: Event Branding | Design process for a nonprofit event flyer, t-shirt, and cycling jersey | Jenn Wells Design

The Client: Bike DE

One thing I love about working with Bike Delaware is that it takes me out of my comfort zone. I’ve worked with Drew twice now, and we usually begin our jersey designs by taking a look at the work done in previous years. We analyze what he liked, what he didn’t, and how this year’s version should be different.

The thing that strikes me every time is how urban and artistic the previous designs have been, which is not my usual style.  To compensate, I make the craziest, most graffiti-like design I can and then it’s a nice, minimalist version of what Bike DE usually does.

This year, Drew was looking for a cycling jersey design, as well as a poster and a t-shirt.  These pieces were all part of the same promotional campaign for the Amish Country Bike Tour.

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Business vs “Busy-ness”

Business vs "Busy-ness" | Ditching busywork so you can get more done with less effort in your life and business | Jenn Wells Design

Everyone is busy.

It always shocks me when I come across someone who seems to think “busy” is a novel way to answer the question, “How have you been?”  We’re slowly becoming aware of the drawbacks of being constantly busy, but it’s still often seen as a badge of honor.  It makes us feel important, or special, or deserving of praise and sympathy.  But the truth is, busy is a choice that the majority of us are constantly making.

Parents are busy, students are busy, people who run clubs or organize societies are busy.  I know literally one person who has ever told me that she’s not busy.  And it was a very deliberate choice on her part to avoid the constant temptation of activities and invitations.

So, fellow business owners, we are far from alone in our levels of “busy.”  But that’s not the main point I want to make today.

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My Objections to Multi-Level Marketing

Multi-Level Marketing | My objections to the business format and sales tactics used by MLMs | Jenn Wells Design

“Isn’t that a pyramid scheme?”

You can imagine how enraged a coworker was, after I naively asked this question about his wife’s new business.  He gave me a rundown on multi-level marketing which, frankly, left me a little confused about the difference between the two, but gave me the verbiage I needed to not offend other MLMers.

My personal opinion has wavered.  Initially I was wary, and maybe a little frustrated at the explosion of advertising in my Facebook newsfeed by family and friends.  Then it started to seem like a good opportunity to get into entrepreneurship for people who might not have the initiative or capital to strike out on their own.

And now…

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5 Misconceptions About Working for Yourself (at Home)

5 Misconceptions about Working for Yourself at Home | Annoying things people assume about you and your work when you work for yourself at home | Jenn Wells Design

“But you set your own hours, so you can do whatever you want.”

If you work for yourself, you work at home, or you’re self employed, I’m sure you’ve heard this. Along with other, equally annoying, misconceptions.

It can be frustrating, as a small business owner, to explain what you do and how you do it. You have to explain that working for yourself is still a job, and not every task is enjoyable, even though you choose to do them.

Sometimes you feel like you can never complain. After all, you chose this…

So let’s address some of those misconceptions and how to explain them to well-meaning friends and family.

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My Business Ethics Manifesto

Business Ethics Manifesto | The values and beliefs behind our business | Jenn Wells Design

People often say they want to make an impact, make their mark, effect change, etc.  But what does that actually mean?

The actions each individual takes may differ but the underlying desire is the same.  To leave the world better than we found it.  People who want to create change in the world see a problem and then take steps to improve it, instead of complaining and continuing on about their day.

I recently read an amazing article over at Yes and Yes about building ethics into your business.  I’ve had some vague ideas about values that were important to me, in and outside of my business, but I’ve never vocalized it or built it into my mission statement.  Remedying that now!

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Balancing Business and Baby – My Tips

 

Balancing Business and a Baby | My top tips for working from home with an infant | Jenn Wells Design

My number one, top tip for working from home with a baby is DON’T DO IT!

Seriously.

If you’re like me, you probably won’t listen to this advice, but you can better prepare yourself than I did. So I’ve made a list of things you should know before attempting this and some tips that might, hopefully, be of help.

Plan on a VERY Segmented Work Day

Babies “sleep a lot” but newborns also need to eat every 2 hours or so. It also takes 30 minutes to feed them, if you’re lucky, and upwards of an hour if you struggle with breastfeeding like I did. Plus changing diapers and soothing and so on. Realistically, you can plan for maybe 30 minute chunks to try to get work done.

As your child gets older, you’d expect those time blocks to increase, but the number also decreases. At 6 months my son takes 2 naps – a 30 minute one and a 60-90 minute one. So attempting to work during a nap feels like roulette. Will this be the long nap or the short nap? Can I get this project done in this time or should I just answer some emails?

Babies DO Need a Lot of Attention

I emphasize this because I scoffed at a friend when he said it. Surely he was just spoiling his child? Nope. Our pediatrician emphasized that you’re supposed to talk to your child once every 60 seconds that they’re awake. For the record, I find this quite impossible, but you see my point. Kids do take up much more time than you expect and they don’t “play quietly.”

As a 6-month old, my son has gone from needing constant feeding to just wanting attention all the time. I can’t even tell you how many days I’ve spent bouncing back and forth between my computer and the baby, feeling guilty because I’m not following the stupid 60-second rule. But even if he doesn’t really NEED a constant flow of chatter from me, he does need stimulation and interaction to grow. So even if you’ve got ears of stone and an iron will, you can’t count on leaving your baby to entertain him/herself while you work.

It Changes Constantly

You can’t make just one plan because babies are different month to month and sometimes different week to week. I had a couple good days during the second month where I rotated the baby through the feeding/sleeping schedule every 2 hours like clockwork and got in several 30-minute segments of work and felt on top of the world. Then his nap schedule changed.

Even now that we’re on something of a routine, I can’t with 100% certainty count on any block of time to do work unless someone else is watching the baby. The one night I sit down prepared for an all-nighter to meet my early morning deadline, he decides to wake up every 2 hours. Another day I just need a few minutes to get through my email and let my clients know that, Yes I’m still here and I haven’t forgotten you!, and that’s the day he’s so fussy I wonder if this is what teething is like. You just never know.

Give Yourself MORE Time Than You Think You Need

I tend to plan for the minimum. I budget the minimum I need to live, plan travel based on the fastest I’ve ever arrived somewhere, and price my projects based on a best-case scenario. It’s not good planning and, especially in the case of postpartum recovery, could be setting yourself up for a lot of misery.

I planned to take 6 weeks off from going into any offices, and started picking back up with my clients after 2 weeks. Phasing things back in worked fairly well for me, but I had an easy delivery and my body recovered quickly. If anything has gone wrong – a C-section, additional tearing, or even just a colicky baby – my plan would not have worked. It barely worked as it was and if I have any more children in the future, I absolutely plan on taking a full 3 months.

Your Brain Won’t Function as Efficiently

I’ve always rejected the idea of “pregnancy brain” or “mom brain” but, blame it on hormones or sleep deprivation, my brain is still recovering. The first couple months were absolute chaos. My husband and I noticed that we can count the number of photos we took those months on one hand, versus the mountain we take monthly now. Because we were too busy surviving to worry about whether we were “documenting the moment.”

None of which is to say you can’t keep working, but plan on being less efficient and effective and don’t beat yourself up when you can’t think of the word you want, or you know there’s a better solution to a problem. It happens.

Naps are Good for You Too

Severely sleep deprive anyone for long enough and they’ll go insane. Studies have been done. Having a baby won’t drive you to that point, but it can reach dangerous levels of cognitive dysfunction. I’ve had moments when I thought, “I shouldn’t be driving right now” and I’ve made plenty of stupid mistakes.

If you’re like me, naps make you feel crappy BUT according to a few different studies, a short nap once or twice a day can drastically reduce some of the side effects of sleep deprivation. Don’t force yourself to work every single time the baby is sleeping. Use some of those naps to get some sleep yourself.

Resources

And my last piece of advice is to find other resources! My experience will be different from someone else’s will be different from yours. Don’t expect your baby to fit into a mold any more than you yourself do. I’ve read tons of advice about “wearing” your baby while you worked – my son hated being in the body sling. Loved being held, just not in anything hands free. Go figure. So you can’t expect any one or even 10 people’s advice to work for you. You have to just keep experimenting.

I found these 2 resources particularly useful:

Hopefully some of this is helpful but if it’s not, the real point I want to leave you with is this: working from home with a baby is hard and it’s different for everyone. Don’t beat yourself up and don’t feel like you have to go it alone.

Have you tried working at home with kids? Do you have any extra tips from your experience?

Sales Tactics for Soft Selling

 

Sales Tactics for Soft Selling | How to sell your products and services without being sleazy | Jenn Wells Design

I’ve read lots of blog posts with titles like, “How to Sell Without Being Icky.” I agree that selling and sales tactics can often feel sleazy, or “icky,” and it doesn’t always have to. But I’ve also drawn a line at what I will and will not do, morality aside.

I had someone refer to my business persona as a “soft sell” and I kind of like that phrasing. I’m not on Facebook posting in groups every day about my super special deal, available for a limited time only! I’m there to get to know people and I post when the topic interests me or I know the answer to someone’s question.

Honestly? I’m much more active in my graphic design group than any others because I personally have more fun there. It’s a side benefit that I learn a ton about how to more efficiently run my business.

So when I make decisions about how to promote myself, I always ask, “What would I, as a consumer, think of this if someone else did it?” It’s simple, but having that small check before I try out some kind of promotional tactic makes me feel more confident in my business’ integrity.

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Going to Bat for the Oxford Comma

 

Going to Bat for the Oxford Comma | The real reason we need the Oxford Comma | Jenn Wells Design

MLA, APA, Chicago, Turabian. There are a lot of best practices and formatting guides out there. They don’t necessarily agree with each other and it’s not always clear which is best in which situations. Often it comes down to personal preference, as it does for the hotly debated punctuation mark I’ll be discussing today.

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The Value of Yes AND No

 

The Value of Yes AND No | Why saying yes and saying no are both equally valuable in your life and business | Jenn Wells Design

Yes is typically seen as a positive and no as a negative. That seems obvious. “Do you want some cookies?” Yes = cookies! No = sadness.

But what if I told you no could be just as much a positive as yes? That both have equal import in your life and business? I’ll start with yes.

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