How To Find the Right Graphic Designer

A great graphic designer can take your business further than you’ve ever imagined. Strong design and branding can drive your sales, and create your lasting impression on the world. You’re paying for more than the final products – you’re paying for the experience. Your designer can influence your brand with their creative-thinking, visual conception, and strategic consultation that empathetically resonates most with your audience. A bad graphic designer can leave you with wasted time and efforts that, as a small business owner, you simply cannot afford (nevertheless, a sucky logo!) But finding a graphic designer is an ambiguously daunting task. Here’s why.

The graphic design industry is mature, meaning we’ve seen all kinds of trends come and go. However, in the past couple of years we’ve seen a challenging trend that is here to stay: the globally outsourced designer. With so many websites like elance.com and fiverr.com offering prices as low as $10/hour, it has become tempting to cut your budget for a “good enough” job.

In the graphic design and web design / development industries, the playing field has never been so level. Everyone can compete with everyone. People want to be sure that they are getting the very best design and functionality for the absolute least amount. Which is perfectly fine, so let’s review what points you should consider when hiring a graphic or web designer in the vast world of the internet.

Local vs. Overseas

You just can’t beat the prices you will find for globally outsourced graphic design. While it’s not to say there aren't talented and hard-working creative professionals in 3rd world countries, there will be more barriers to get what you want. Time differences, language barriers, cultural understanding and involvement will directly impact your design, and experience in the process. You may lose the ability to communicate back and forth about your specific needs. Your designer may not understand what you mean by “make it easy on the eye” or “make it pop,” let alone have the capacity to create a flawless user experience for your website's intended audience in say, Denver. There are legal ambiguities as well – even if you are happy with your $50 logo, there’s nothing to say is hasn’t been sold dozens of times before.

Freelance vs. Agency

It makes sense that you might look for a local, freelance designer to hire to work with your small business. You might search for something like “where do I find a good U.S web designer?” The first 5 links are advertisements for freelance designer websites. Most of these sites allow you to work with a budget of less than $200 – a clear indicator that the site is saturated with overseas workers. On the flip side, you google “best graphic design agencies” and you find beautiful websites and impressive portfolios, some of the world’s most reputable agencies. These agencies do amazing work - for no less than $15,000 a project. The clients that work with these agencies are corporations with seemingly unlimited marketing budgets. Wouldn’t that be nice!

Full Service vs. Niche

Okay, you’ve searched and searched and have found a few local graphic designers who understand your business and ideas, and are within your budget. One is a freelancer who specializes in logos; an illustrator and graphic artist - exactly what you need right now. The other is a small team that offers a plethora of design services. As always, it comes down to what you need. Are you building a new business from the ground up? We have one piece of advice for you:

Beware of the ad-hoc brand.

This means that one designer did your logo, your friend’s cousin built your website, and you bought a couple of generic infographics online. This rarely adds up to a strong, cohesive brand. And you’ve probably spent a good amount of time figuring out how to get these things done. Prepare yourself to be ready for the growth your business deserves.

Remember, when it comes to hiring and paying for a graphic and web designer - you’re not just paying for the design, you’re paying for the experience. Phone calls. Listening. Ideas and consultation. Creative thinking. Customization. Involvement. Do yourself a favor, and invest in a local, full-service agency from the start. Your business will thank you.

Zodiac Advanced Technologies: Advanced Technology and Aerospace Industry Consultants

With over 60 years of combined experience in aerospace consulting, Dr. Roman Herschitz and Alex Bogorad have decided to launch their own mission. That is mission Zodiac Advanced Technologies, to be exact. Zodiac is a Colorado startup, providing services ranging from space weather analysis, space threat immunity research, and component engineering materials design.

Zodiac came to Hearthfire Creative in need of:

  • Brand identity/logo design
  • Beautiful, responsive website design

Check out the project:

 
 
Zodiac Advanced Technologies Custom Logo Design in Colorado
 

Custom Business Card Designer for Hire in Colorado - Zodiac Advanced Technologies

Responsive Squarespace Affordable Website Designer Colorado

Want to to know more about our design process?

Check out our custom logo design process here and our in-depth website design process here.

Spotify playlist for creative flow: 12 songs to get in the zone

Waking up, mentally preparing for a productive day, it can be nice to have a little musical inspiration. No distractions, just me, my dogs, and my Spotify playlist. First, I take a moment to feel my feet on the ground, feel my booty in chair, feel the chair supporting me, my desk supporting my tools (my computer and pens), connect with Mother Earth, breath in - count to seven, breathe out - count to eleven. I'm grounded in my creative powers and ready to tackle my next creative project.

Here are 12 songs I love to get in the creative flow

In case you don't have Spotify or don't want to play these songs in your browser, here they are:

  1. "My Only Swerving", El Ten Eleven
  2. "Mountains", Message To Bears
  3. "Gone Wanderin'", Jackie Greene
  4. "Space Walk", Lemon Jelly
  5. "So Far To Go", J Dilla
  6. "Fever To The Form", Nick Mulvey
  7. "It's The Chemicals", Inspired Flight
  8. "Hibernation", Random Forest
  9. "Lucky 1", Avey Tare
  10. "The Light", The Album Leaf
  11. "Waiting For The Clouds (feat. Substantial)", Nujabes
  12. "Circle of Life - From "The Lion King"/Soundtrack", Carmen Twillie and Lebo M.

What are some of your favorite songs for creative flow?

I'd love to hear!


Get monthly inspiration by signing up for our mailing list!

Marketing Your Startup: Budget Breakdown

Starting a business is exciting, nerve-wracking, rewarding, and challenging all at once. In the beginning stages, many entrepreneurs are unsure what kind of marketing budget they should have prepared - they're miffed when it comes to business startup costs. At Hearthfire Creative, we value transparency, so we’ve put together a handy-dandy list of startup marketing costs, including all of our recommended services, along with our pricing.

The All-Inclusive Startup Marketing Budget Breakdown

☑ Logo Design | Your logo lays the foundation for the rest of your branding and marketing efforts. It is worth investing the time and money here. Read our earlier blog post on why some logos cost $100 and some cost $10,000. | $1,250

☑ Stationery Design | Every business needs on-brand business cards, letterhead, professional envelopes, and custom thank you cards to send out to their clients. While these materials may not be used as frequently as they were 10 years ago, they add an extra level of professionalism to your business when they are used, making sure your clients and colleagues take you seriously. | $500

☑ Leave Behind Design | Depending on whether you’re looking for a basic post card, a folded brochure, or a bounded book, it’s important to have a marketing piece you can leave behind with potential customers when you attend events. Design pricing varies a little based on complexity. | $250 - $1,000

☑ Printing | It’s important to remember actual print costs as well - you’ll want to have that stationery and those leave behinds printed by a professional printer. We help consult with our clients about the best local printer, or online printer, for their print fulfillment needs. This number varies based on quantity and quality of printed materials. | $250 - $1,000

☑ Content Creation | Copy is a critical component of your brand. The content you share on your website and marketing materials is very much worth investing in. Develop your tagline, message, elevator pitch, and more. Hiring a professional alleviates a huge burden and allows to stay focused on your operations. | $2,500

☑ Photography | Photography is another critical component of your brand. Your logo, copy, and photography all work together to communicate your message to potential customers. You MUST have a professional business portrait (a.k.a. a headshot) and you should also have brand photography to use on your website, in your blog, on social media, and in your advertising efforts. | $550

☑ Website Design | As we all know, if you don’t have a website that’s mobile friendly, you look like a dinosaur. Whether you want to generate leads online, or just want customers to be able to check out your site after they hear about you word-of-mouth, it is imperative to have a strategic website with a clear call to action. This number varies based on complexity - if you’re looking for more advanced features and functionality, expect the number to fall on the higher end. | $2,250 - $5,550

☑ Hosting & Domain | Don’t forget about costs associated with purchasing a domain name for your website and hosting for your website. Domain names usually cost no more than $15 (unless your domain is already owned by someone else and you have to pay big bucks to obtain it). Hosting varies based on the website platform your site lives on and on how many visitors you anticipate having on your site at any given time. | $100 - $300/year, $15

☑ SEO Setup | As big of rebels as our team is, we recognize the importance of playing by the rules when it comes to search engine optimization. As you start researching SEO, you’ll find several different methodologies. Take caution whenever an SEO firm promises top page results - those promises are usually only attainable by companies who practice unethically and rarely will your top page ranking remain in tact. SEO Setup is one part of the equation, but regular, monthly efforts must be taken to rank high in Google searches (more on that in Ongoing Support below). | $1,850

☑ Marketing Setup | Once the foundation has been laid for the look and feel of your company, it’s time to starting thinking marketing strategy. Creating a well-researched marketing plan, setting up and designing out social media pages, creating and editorial calendar (and more) are important next steps. | $1,650

☑ Promotional Video | Video is one of the best ways to grab and maintain attention from website visitors. Having a professional company video really helps you stand out from the competition. It’s also a great tool to leverage if you can post video series on YouTube. Leverage that platform to establish trust and credibility and point people back to your website once they’ve watched your vid. | $3,000

☑ Blogging | If you don’t have the time or energy to commit to writing one blog post/week, you need tohire it out. Blogging (and all kinds of sharing of original content) are mission critical to your SEO efforts. Don’t let all the work of SEO Setup fall by the wayside because you don’t have time to write a blog. Hire a pro to take care of it for you. | $100/post

☑ Ongoing Support | From design updates, website updates, marketing implementation, social media advertising, print advertising, and all things SEO-maintenance, it is a relief to have monthly marketing support. This price will vary depending on how much ongoing work you have. | $360-$960/month

All in all, you should anticipate spending between $14,150 to $19,165 for all marketing startup costs and around $1,200/month to ensure the longevity of your business.

A little sticker shock? Must be your first time ;)

Most agencies will work with you to find a solution that fits your budget, even if that means cutting out or minimizing some of the normal steps in the process. They'll also work with you to figure out suitable payment terms. For clear projects with a fixed deliverable, many agencies bill 50% down, 50% upon project completion (though we’ve seen other models, too). Some agenices even offer payment plans - we do! At Hearthfire Creative, you can spread your payments out over 4 to 8 months, depending on all the services you’re packaging together.

And while sure, you can always hire your nephew who is in high school for cheap (don’t worry, he totally took a computer class after second period last year), we’ve noticed that entrepreneurs who go this route usually end up frustrated at a lack of communication and without quality end deliverables. Most end up hiring a professional agency in the long run anyway, so take our advice: do it right the first time.

We’re happy to take care of all the items on this list for you.

9 Awesome Social Media Platforms for Marketing Your Business

There are seemingly countless social media platforms out there.

Keeping track of them all and knowing how to utilize them effectively is extremely beneficial to your company’s success. There are billions of users that you can access with a few clicks of your mouse. Knowing the demographics of the audiences on these platforms, and how to reach them creatively, is key.

According to CNN Money Facebook had “1.86 billion monthly active users as of the end of 2016” and the number is continuing to grow. Twitter claims 3.3m active monthly users. And last year Pinterest hit 150m active monthly users. Obviously you want to take advantage of these platforms in your marketing efforts but it can be daunting figuring out where to start. We at Hearthfire Creative are here to help.

These are my 9 favorite social media platforms for businesses:

  1. Nextdoor is a free private social media platform, centered around your neighborhood. Trade services can have great success on this platform utilizing a company page and referrals from users. In the past 6 months over 40.7M visitors have used the site.
  2. Facebook - EVERY business should have a Facebook company page. Post all kinds of online content, blogs from your website, upcoming, events, and status updates. Consider boosting some of your posts and creating ads. Your page should be kept up to date with regular posts and monitoring your information to ensure it is accurate. This keeps your business popping up in feeds, thereby increasing top of mind awareness for your business. If you're looking to reach millennials, you'll have to move outside of Facebook, as the platform is leaning more and more towards being populated by baby boomers. Millennials are on FB, but they more regularly use other platforms.
  3. Pinterest - utilize Pinterest to telling you brand’s story with visuals. Pinterest users are active and it doesn’t cost anything to promote your business on the platform. This is a great avenue for increasing your brand visibility, especially if you're targeting stay at home moms or creatives of all types.
  4. Instagram was the fastest growing social media platform in 2015. Use this platform to show your company's worldview, culture, and values. Engage your followers by sharing their photos on your website and crediting them. Cross promote your business partners on your channel for extra credibility. If you're marketing a physical product of any kind, you've got to get on Instagram.
  5. Twitter – the average Twitter user makes at least $50,000 a year. 37% of Twitter users are between 18 and 29 years while 25% of users are 30 to 49 years old. Use this platform to post content, interact with potential clients, answer questions and make announcements. Twitter is a great way to reach or follow celebrities and politicians... it is also a great way to tarnish your name or reputation if you don't think twice before sending out that tweet ;) Twitter limits the amount of characters you can include in a post, so be thoughtful, accurate, and concise. Twitter has a very active user base. Capitalize on this!
  6. LinkedIn is unquestionably the most polished, professionally-focused social media platform out there. The site supports 24 languages has over 400 million users. LinkedIn is great for connecting with people and businesses. While you should have a company page on LinkedIn, it may be a better use of your time to focus on your own individual profile here, while building relationships with other individuals.
  7. Tumblr is a social blogging platform, where users can post their own articles, then interact with others'. It can be a bit overwhelming; it hosts around 200 million blogs. I suggest considering Tumblr as an added SEO strategy after you've seen success on some other social media channels. If you're an author, poet, or musician, you should have a presence on Tumblr.
  8. Yelp is also great for the trade and service industries. Yelp has, on average, 1.4 million unique visitors a month. Yelp's review feature is what makes them unique - your business can collect reviews from happy clients in order to build a positive online reputation. Most people, in today's day and age, resort to user-submitted reviews to make decisions on restaurants, lawyers, and therapists. If you own one of those three types of business, you should consider leveraging Yelp.
  9. Reddit is composed of multiple Subreddits where users geeks out on specific topics (from Bitcoin to Broncos to Spirituality). Most Redditors don’t appreciate self-promotion; they don't want you to directly market your business here. To wade into this platform you need to invest with relevant, quality content. Engage in conversations, provide real value to users, and build your reputation as a helper and a teacher. If you're an expert in your industry, consider doing an Ask Reddit where users can submit questions and you'll provide educated answers - this is a great way to build your credibility. At 234m unique users, this community is a fun platform to explore. Reddit is great to leverage for anyone in tech and cutting edge industries. Or, you know, just jump on the Denver Subreddit to keep in touch with our great city.

There are some great tools out there (like Hootsuite) that can help you in your marketing efforts. If you don’t have the time and bandwidth to do it yourself and would like to talk to us about our SEO & Marketing packages shoot me an email. We’d love to help you roll out your social media marketing campaign!

Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching: Fun to Fast

USA Triathlon Certified Coach, Sonja Wieck, is filled with passion and experience. Her business, Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching, takes a unique stance on triathlon coaching, bringing light and fun to the forefront of the rigorous training.

For Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching, we were hired to:

  • Design a spiritually charged, compelling logo
  • Design on-brand business cards for the whole team
  • Design professional stationery
  • Design promotional materials for print and use on social media

Check it out:

 
 
Best Logo Design Company Denver, Colorado
 
 
Brand Identity and Graphic Design
 
 
 
Letterhead and Business Card Design

Not sure about your brand position?

Reach out to our founder, Lexi, for some guidance.

A review of Sketch: pros and cons of the latest UI/UX tool for designers

First released in 2008, Sketch has come a long way in the world of design software.

Most of us designers were strictly taught to use Adobe Creative Suite in college (Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, etc.), but Sketch is making a name for itself as a viable new tool for mobile and web interface mockups in the design community.

After using Sketch on 2 projects (a mobile app UI design and a data-driven web dashboard UI design), here are a few pros and cons I’ve found:

Pros

  • Cost Sketch costs just $99. That’s a huge savings compared to Adobe Creative Suite’s, Creative Cloud monthly fee of $19.99 for one app, $49.99 for all apps.
  • If you know Illy, Sketch is easy to learn Most of the tools you’re used to using in Illustrator are readily available in Sketch, they’re just organized differently. It’s quick to learn if you’re accustomed to using Illustrator. Watch some tutorial videos and leverage Sketch’s Documentation and you’ll pick it up real quick like.
  • Great for web and mobile layouts Sketch keeps us designers accountable to pixel perfect layouts. It leverages grids, snap to grid functionality, and snap to pixel functionality so you never encounter half-pixel renders or imperfect alignment - critical in a world of responsive design/multiple screen sizes and resolutions.
  • Vector based Rest assured your graphics will scale beautifully, because Sketch provides vector outputs. This is true for Illustrator, as well, so this point may be moot if you’re comparing Sketch just to Illustrator, but many UI/UX designers I know still use Photoshop for interface designing and in their case, those raster outputs can be burdensome when it comes to export and implementation.
  • Pre-loaded screen templates, easy to add as artboards This is a HUGE pro for me, as it can be a real task trying to decide on the ideal dimensions to design for, especially considering there are so many different screen sizes and resolutions in the mobile market. Sketch provides a library of pre-built artboards for iOS devices and responsive web design layouts. Just add an artboard and select the device you want to design for, simple as that.
    • *BONUS* There are even libraries with standard iOS icons, Android icons, and Mac icons that you can use in your designs - who doesn't love a little streamlining?
  • Symbols GOLD! Interface designers reuse multiple elements, from navigations, to buttons, to icons. With Sketch, you can set symbols, reuse them throughout your design, and when you modify the master symbol, that modification automatically gets rolled out across your designs.
  • Autosave = fewer heart attacks We’ve all had that “oh shit” moment when your computer wigs out because you are pushing it to the max and everything crashes. Did I save? Are my last 2 hours of work all for naught? Sketch leverages Apple’s Auto Save and your work gets automatically saved every 5 minutes. Phew!
  • Device mirroring This is a real treat for clients. Mirror your designs directly to their devices so the whole team can get a feel for how the designs look right on their own phones or desktops. This is also helpful for us designers, as some of us tend to get a little wrapped up in beauty over function. With mirroring, you can stay focused on usability, making sure that sexy feature will translate well.
  • Sharing in the cloud Another treat for clients and team collaboration, you can share your whole interface up to the cloud and simply send out a link to the team to share your designs. No more sending of massive files, no more trying to figure out if you’re sending the most up-to-date iteration. Just push to the cloud and share a link.
  • “Make Exportable” - shit yeah Convert any group or layer to a slice and export it (or all of them!) as a PNG. This is a super simple way to deliver graphics to developers and a huge time saver for everyone.
  • Community support, custom plugins In one of my Sketch projects, I ran across an issue where I wanted to create a pie chart and couldn’t find any feature in Sketch to accomplish this seemingly simply task. A quick Google search was all I needed to find a plugin for Sketch specifically created to support pie charts in Sketch. (Thanks @abynim on Github for Sketchy Pies!) There seems to a be a lot of community support and resources available, which is exciting and helpful.

Cons

  • Limited illustration - not going to design a logo in Sketch While Sketch is great for mobile and web interfaces, it isn’t sufficient for creating custom logos, complex illustrations, or in-depth print designs.
  • Old habits die hard ("v" is not the hotkey you think it is) While most of the features in Sketch are similar/identical to Illustrator, there are some habits I have ingrained from using Illustrator for years that did not convert well to Sketch. You’ll have to relearn a few hotkeys/workflows in Sketch. For example, “v” does not engage the selection tool.
  • Sharing in the cloud, resolution not so good I also listed this as a pro, but one downside to cloud sharing is that the screens don’t render in totally high resolution. Clients will see pixelation and distortion when they zoom in to your designs, which can be alarming for them.
  • Built exclusively for Mac, sorry PC designers (if you even exist) Sketch is built only for Mac at this point, so if you’re a designer on a PC, you’re out of luck. But you should probably make the jump to Mac anyway ;)

Overall, I still prefer Illustrator for creating more complex designs, and I definitely prefer it for print design projects. It is entirely possible this is simply because of my comfort zone, as I’m sure there are dozens of tools in Sketch I’ve yet to learn. However, at Hearthfire Creative, we are making the switch to Sketch for all mobile user interface designs moving forward. 

Are you a designer who agrees or disagrees with these points?

Shoot me an email - I’d love to hear what I’m missing!

Gotta give a shout out to my cousin and insanely talented UI/UX designer, Erin Nolan at madebyeno.com, for introducing me to Sketch. Love ya. Real talk.

Meet the Team: Courtney

ANTHROPOLOGIST, NERD, TRAVELER

Who likes statistics! I do I do! Geeking out on strategic research that helps propel our client’s business forward is one of my favorite things about this job. That and getting to maintain strong communication and relationships with our clients. While design and technology are something I’ve found a passion for as my career has progressed I started out with a BA in Anthropology from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. That’s right ladies and gentleman I spent 4 years diving into the “holistic study of humankind”. How does that relate to what I do now? In Anthropology you spend a lot of time talking about how people have developed tools and how that has influenced culture. Now, I specifically focus on the tools of design and internet based technology and how they influence our everyday lives and businesses’. Oh man, I am looking forward to doing some strategic research for you next project!

VALUES AND THINGS I LOVE:

courtney-layton-hearthfire-creative-brand-strategist-1.jpg
  • Hard work/work ethic
  • Collaboration
  • Humans!
  • Statistics
  • Traveling

CREDS

  • BA from University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
  • 4 years’ experience in the Tech field
  • Apple Specialist

FAVORITE SOFTWARE AND TOOLS

  • Slack
  • Adobe Creative Suite
  • Trello
  • World of Warcraft

PROJECTS I'M DREAMING OF LAUNCHING IN THE FUTURE: 

  • Publishing a novel
  • Diaper Dash! - A 5k &10k  fund raiser to provide diapers and wipes to families who can’t afford them.
  • I have several crazy business ideas floating around. I'll make one of them happen!

Give me a shout!

Stand out in the App Store, boost user acquisition

So you’ve got an idea for the next big app.

You’re brainstorming, you’re chatting with friends, you’re dreaming… You can already imagine the conversations: “there’s an app for that. Check out <insert your App’s name here>.”

There are several reasons why some apps fail and some succeed. Having the right team in place is usually a differentiating factor between the two. Standing out in the App Store is another. In order to make your dream a reality, there is something you should keep in mind. And it is all the buzz in tech right now: user acquisition.

Acquiring users is the single hardest part of successfully launching an app, and it is also mission critical if you don’t want to sink tens of thousands of dollars into an otherwise fruitless venture. After all, what good is your app if you don’t have any users?

Many app startups choose to launch their app first on the Apple platform - feel free to shoot us an email to ask us why. Here are 9 things to consider from a user acquisition/App Store perspective when launching your app:

  1. Do your due diligence
    • Take time to understand Apple’s latest features and the way the App Store works. Apple adds new features to their core operating system on the reg. They tend to rank apps higher when they are leveraging these new features, and even higher if app pages effectively call them out. The App Store should not be viewed as just a form you fill out after you’ve done all the hard work of design and development - you should have a researched strategy for optimizing your app page within the App Store and it should be incorporated into your plan from the get-go.
  2. Killer UI design is a must
    • The interface design of your app is a fundamental component of user acquisition. A user is more likely to download an intuitive, nicely designed app over an outdated, cumbersome app that is difficult to use, right? Duh! We’ve all done it… downloaded an app, just to open it up, close it, and immediately hit delete. Don’t underestimate the value of user experience/user interface design. It is worth investing in a skilled UI/UX designer if you indeed want your app to be successful.
  3. Strong icon design is also a must
    • Your app icon is the first thing your user sees in the App Store - make sure it grabs their attention. App icons are small. Leave words/phrases out of the app icon design, as the name of your app will display in text below it and you don’t want to waste valuable design real estate on unnecessary text. A strong app icon will also encourage users to continue opening your app, as it is the sole representation of your app on their phone screen.
  4. Custom screenshots are becoming standard best practice
    • Hire a pro to design custom App Store screenshots, which sell your app to potential users. Include iPhone mockups (and iPad mockups if you'll support that) in the screenshots, as Apple appreciates any ode to their devices. Describe the benefits of your app briefly on each slide (for example, “Get paid on time.” or “Stay close with your friends.”). Users in the App Store often scroll through screenshots before deciding to download your app. Make an impression and tell them how your app is going to change their life for the better.
    • Bonus, add a video! Apps that have videos are also more likely to see higher download rates, as users are afforded the opportunity to experience your app without having to take that extra download step immediately.
  5. Be strategic about metadata
    • Metadata is the information you report to Apple and that is displayed on your app page in the App Store. Treat that page like you would a landing page on a website. Take time to research keywords that are being searched for and include those when describing your app. The title of your app should include a couple keywords and your app name, while also being short and catchy: “OWLe - Operations Efficiency for Airports”. Apple has also reported that users tend to appreciate and download apps that are built on-shore (in the USA). If you didn’t leverage overseas developers and contributed directly to your own local economy, feature that in your metadata!
  6. Niche wayyyyyyyyy down for the initial launch
    • Most marketing professionals understand the importance of defining your niche. Don't waste money on broadly marketing your app to "everyone". Instead, start with a distilled down target market. Consider taking our Ideal Customer Persona exercise to help you define this niche.
  7. Release on a Tuesday
    • Apple releases new curated lists for Featured Apps on Thursdays - it is believed that launching on a Tuesday gives them enough time to notice your app, while also realizing that is fresh, new, and hot.
  8. Don’t write off traditional PR and advertising
    • Start out by pitching your app to Apple - ask them to feature it! Send an email to appstorepromotion@apple.com or appoftheweek@apple.com and share with them why your app deserves to be featured. It’s worth consulting a PR pro to help you draft this email. You should also have an integrated marketing plan that leverages outlets outside of the App Store to drive downloads and acquire loyal users. Build a promotional website, advertise on Facebook, reach out to media outlets outside of Apple, and build the hype around your app in other targeted markets.
  9. Keep a close eye on ratings
    • Ever wonder why so many apps ask you to rate your experience? It’s because they want to acquire other users from your positive review! According to Business Insider, “Apple looks at reviews, engagement, star rankings, downloads, revenue and sales, and simple stuff such as whether your app carries the appropriate key words for search, targeted in the right way.” Stay in touch with the people who are reviewing your app, pivot and add new features when your users ask you to, and solicit positive reviews from your mailing list as often as possible. If you give your users what they want, they are more likely to give you a five star rating, leave you a positive review, and help boost your app in the App Store.

User acquisition is only one component of app success. There are several other things to consider when scoping out and planning your app (the MVP model, for example) and having a great team in place can help. Launching an app is just like starting any other business - there are risks that need to be measured, investments that need to be made, market research that needs to be performed, and a willingness to pivot if/when your users give you feedback that they want a new or different feature.

Unsure if the app market is worth investing in?

Global app stores are expected to exceed $139 billion [in revenue] by 2021.
— App Annie

According to App Annie's report from the end of 2016, “2016 is shaping up to be a phenomenal year for the app economy. By the end of December, we expect $52 billion in gross consumer spend on mobile app stores and a staggering $77 billion in gross spend on mobile in-app advertising. Mobile is more mainstream than ever, and businesses from all industries are relying on this channel to bolster existing revenue streams and unlock new ones.”

Yeah, we think your app idea is worth a shot.

We’d love to consult with you. Check out our App Blueprinting process, then give us a shout.

Meet the Team: Elizabeth

Hello!

My name is Elizabeth.

I am a graphic designer, learner, lover, yogi, and cat-momma.

I was born and raised in Philadelphia, and journeyed to Colorado in 2010 as a freshmen at the University of Colorado in Boulder. I studied Marketing in the business school; my two favorite classes were Consumer Behavior and Advertising & Promotion. I was happy with my area of emphasis, I was drawn to marketing because I saw it as the “more creative” side of business. That’s not really true - it’s mostly research, financial analysis, and social consciousness. I couldn’t see myself in these corporate entry-level marketing jobs professors talked about; there was a piece missing somewhere. My junior year I discovered and enrolled in a program called Technology, Arts & Media, and that’s when it began to come together for me. I took classes in typography, photoshop, web design, front-end development; I learned about design principles and inspiration, as well as creating and critiquing professionally relevant design projects. For the first time in my educational career, I felt truly passionate about my classes and was excited to begin my career.

An instructor once told me,

do work that comes from deep in your heart, and nowhere else.

I’m striving to develop my skills to do better work to provide value to things I love.

Values & Things I Love:

YOOOOOOOWASSUP!

YOOOOOOOWASSUP!

  • Authenticity

  • Animals!!!!!!

  • My friends & family

  • Personal Development

  • The Finer Things in Life ; ) [food, wine, whiskey, massages]

Creds: 

  • Bachelor's Degree in Marketing from The University of Colorado
    • Minor in Digital Media
    • Certificates in Advertising & User Experience Design
  • Leader of Creative Connections networking chapter
    • Ambassador of the DaVinci Institute 

Projects I’m Dreaming of Launching in the Future:

  • Continue to develop my thesis project in my digital media capstone. The idea was to try to portray the emotions of young adults who may be struggling with their mental health and feel unable to communicate those confusing feelings. I want to explore this further. You can check out the project here. 

  • I really want to pickle. Maybe even design labels and a product line and sell mason jars or pickled veggies at a farmers market. I’ve been thinking about this for a while.

  • Start a blog with my mom. She has her own dog grooming business, but it’s bad on her shoulder and she can’t do it forever. I’d love to use my skills to transform her business, and work together.

Mountain State Financial Group: Mortgage Solutions to Meet Your Needs

Robert Hoff and Seth Angell of Mountain State Financial Group (MSFG) run a top-notch mortgage firm, specializing in conventional, jumbo, VHA, and FHA loans, and fixed-rate, adjustable-rate, and reverse mortgages. In launching their business a few years ago, Bob and Seth realized they needed a professional, memorable brand that emphasized their financial knowledge and customer-first approach to doing business.

That's where we came in!

For MSFG, we have:

  • Designed a psychologically compelling logo
  • Designed on-brand business cards for the whole team
  • Designed professional stationery and marketing materials
  • Designed and launched a fully responsive website with a custom mortgage calculator

Custom Logo Design

 
Logo Design for Mountain State Financial Group
 

Alternate Logo Mark

 
Alternate Logo Design for Mountain State Financial Group
 

On-brand Business Cards

Custom Business Card Design for Mountain State Financial Group

Promotional Postcard Design

Promotional Postcard Design for MSFG

Customer-friendly responsive website

Squarespace Responsive Website Design for MSFG

Looking for a simple, smart brand and online presence for your professional business?

Bitcoin - What's the big deal?

Bitcoin. What is it?

A basic definition is that it is a global decentralized digital currency.  

OK…. but what does that really mean? How does it compare to cold hard cash and my bank account? Let’s do a little comparing and contrasting.

What backs the types of money?

Financial times defines Fiat money as: Paper money or coins of little or no intrinsic value in themselves and not convertible into gold or silver, but made legal tender by fiat (order) of the government.

The USD is fiat money. The USD is no longer backed by gold. I repeat, the USD is no longer backed by gold. To many of you this will not be news but to some… it may come as a surprise.

Fiat (in our case USD) is backed by goods, services and the economy of the issuing country. Bitcoin is backed by goods, services and the sound consensus of the users.

Who oversees the monies?

Fiat money is overseen by central banks and the governing authorities of the issuing country. Bitcoin is decentralized meaning no one entity oversees transaction but the network of bitcoin users computers verifies transactions.

What determines the value?

Fiat monies are established by governments and are not linked by a physical reserve and therefore carries a risk of hyperinflation. According to Investopedia “Most modern paper currencies are fiat currencies; they have no intrinsic value and are used solely as a means of payment”(Investopedia).  Supply and demand determine the value of fiat. However, governments control the value of fiat by artificially increasing or decreasing the supply.

Bitcoin value is determined by supply and demand. Since it is decentralized and the supply is limited it is a true open market supply and demand situation.

Security

We all know the realities of credit card processing hacks. I’m not going to waste your time diving into this.

Bitcoin uses cryptographic proofs to keep transactions secure… in other words very advanced math keep transactions virtually un-hackable. Your users don’t have to enter their private information to send Bitcoin so in a transaction your information is safe and your client’s information is safe, hackers lose, we win.

There is a plethora of articles that dive deeper into the technology and social implications of Bitcoin.  I will not pretend to be intelligent enough to add to the dialogue on this level. This blog post purpose is to present very simply why it matters to you as a small business owner.

You may be thinking this is all just dandy, but understanding and utilizing Bitcoin it isn’t worth my time.  We’ll, let’s bring some practicality to your business.

There is a growing number of businesses online as well as brick and mortar stores that are accepting Bitcoin worldwide. But does it make sense for your business? There are three really good reasons for you to take into account while answering this question.

 First, and the biggest reason is that you only pay 1% transaction fee or in certain cases much less. You do the math. How much money can you save on credit card processing if you start accepting Bitcoin?

The second reason I am going to point out is the risk of payment fraud is non-existent with Bitcoin. Customers can pay without offering sensitive information and you eliminate chargebacks.

The final reason I am going to give is that there is a growing community of enthusiasts who are looking for businesses to accept Bitcoin as payment. Why not make your business the one they spend their Bitcoin at?

Some major merchants that accept Bitcoin include:

  • Overstock.com
  • 1-800 flowers
  • Expedia
  • United Way
  • Bloomburg

Do you want to start using Bitcoin? Create your own digital wallet at coinbase.com to get started.

AND on that note I would like to point out that Hearthfire Creative accepts Bitcoin! If you're looking to hire a graphic designer that accepts Bitcoin, here we are.


Want to chat cryptocurrency?

Define your niche: FREE Ideal Customer Persona exercise

Many business owners struggle with defining their niche. We all want to serve “everyone” right? While that is a great sentiment, it is a recipe for disaster when it comes to marketing. It’s imperative that as a business owner, you define a very refined niche – that you know and understand your Ideal Customer Persona – in order to see your marketing dollars perform at the highest level.

My good friend and colleague at Mash Marketing, Atalie Taziri, once told me:

Imagine you have a pint glass of water and a large bucket of water sitting next to one another. You drop one drop of food coloring in each. Which one is going to result in the strongest color? The most potency? The pint glass!

This is one of my favorite target market analogies to date. If you only have $40/week to spend on Facebook advertising, you must distill down your audience in order for that spend to even be worth it. Same applies to a larger budget – even if you can drop 100 drops of food coloring into the pint glass and the bucket, the pint glass will still remain more potent.

In order to ensure your messaging is received well by your target market, You MUST become intimate with your ideal customer persona.

Alas, we offer you our Ideal Customer Persona exercise to help you define your niche. The theory here is to create one persona, one personality, one character who represents your absolute ideal customer. Of course, you will work with other types of people… but getting strategic and creating one dream persona that you can center your marketing plan around helps to effectively guide messaging and creative design. This person should be someone that has a budget to hire you, is easy and fun to work with, and has an obvious need for your service or product. In going through this exercise, you should start to feel like you could even role play your Ideal Customer Persona in a play or movie – imagine what it would feel like to be this person, what would they say, how would they act and react, and why they feel the way they do.

Fill out the form, take your time, and at the end hit submit and we’ll email you a custom PDF overview of your Ideal Customer Persona at no charge. Fill in as much as you can - the more detail, the better. Print it out and hang it near your desk to be constantly reminded of whom you are marketing to!

Ready to get started?

We hope you find this exercise valuable! After you complete the exercise, we'll send you a custom PDF Ideal Customer Persona overview via email!

Delicious Nutritious: Nutrition Therapy for Vibrant Health

Master Nutrition Therapist, Catherine Layden, is very special to Hearthfire Creative. As a matter of fact, Catherine’s business, Delicious Nutritious, was Hearthfire Creative’s very first client. Yep, our first client EVER. We have been working with Catherine (and loving it) since our inception.

So far, for Delicious Nutritious we have:

  • Designed a striking, delicious logo
  • Created standard stationery items: business cards, letterhead, business envelopes, and trifold brochures
  • Created more unique print marketing items including: custom birthday cards for her clients, coupons, organizational folders, gift certificates, notepads, custom health report templates, and thank you cards
  • Created her social media pages and on-brand cover photo designs (Facebook, Google+, Twitter)
  • Designed MailChimp templates
  • Designed a custom PowerPoint presentation template
  • Designed and refined a strong, responsive website

Check it out:

Custom logo design for Delicious Nutritious
Custom print collateral graphic design for nutritionist
Business card design for holistic nutrition therapist
Responsive Squarespace website design
Custom logo design and tagline for Delicious Nutritious

It’s 2017! Are you ready to up the ante on your business marketing?

How to give effective design feedback

As a client, it can be a challenge to express your vision for your logo, brochure, ad design, website, etc. When it comes to the design of your next piece of marketing collateral, you probably already have something in mind, or maybe you’re one of those “you’ll-know-it-when-you-see-it” type folks. Either way, once you’ve communicated your initial vision to your designer, there will come a point in the process where you have to critique the first pass that the designer sends over.

Here’s where things get interesting

Giving that feedback to your designer is mission critical to getting the job done well, on time, and on budget. While your designer should have the skills to intuit a lot of what you’re saying, there are several things you, as the client, can do to make sure you are giving effective design feedback and to – as a result – streamline the whole process.

Here are 6 things to keep in mind when you are giving feedback to your graphic designer:

  1. Adjectives are subjective. When you say “pop” the designer hears “high contrast” but you might mean “yellow”. When a different client says “pop” the designer still hears “high contrast” but you might mean “drop shadow”. See what I mean? Master the art of taking a screenshot so you can provide visual references and provide examples to illustrate those adjectives clearly.
  2. Computer monitors can render colors differently. It’s important to make sure your screen is well calibrated and – if all else fails – print the piece with a high quality printer to make sure you are seeing the colors accurately. Your designer may have intended that blue to lean towards aqua, not teal.
  3. “Design by committee” can be very damaging to the design process. As fun as it sounds to involve all of your employees, your grandmother, your father-in-law, and the neighbor next door in the design process, this can be detrimental. Think of the “too many chefs in the kitchen” analogy – when you get too many people involved, the creative message gets lost, the visual impact is diluted, and you lose control over something you actually know the most about: your business. It is your business and you hired a professional, keep the feedback limited to the two of you as much as possible – ask 1 or 2 of your closest colleagues for their thoughts if you must, but no more.
  4. Designers want MORE feedback from you, not less. You may feel like leaving some of your thoughts out of the feedback process, assuming the designer already knows what you’re thinking. More feedback is always better than less. Get specific, and lay everything out there. DISCLAIMER: This does not mean you should send your stream of consciousness to your designer. No one likes reading 10 separate emails, which start with one thought, circle to another, then back again to the first one. Get clear on your thoughts, then provide thorough feedback. SECOND DISCLAIMER: Ask your designer how she prefers to receive feedback and honor that communication platform. Designers work with more than one a client at a time (usually) and you can help them stay organized by keeping all of your feedback on one platform (Slack, email, text, voicemail, choose one and roll with it).
  5. You’re not going to hurt their feelings. During college, design majors go through dozens, if not hundreds, of design critiques – from their peers, professors, and even potential employers. They are used to getting vulnerable, putting their work out there, and hearing “yeah, this kinda sucks” many times before they enter the professional realm. They’ve learned that negative feedback is just as helpful as positive feedback. If you don’t want to go in a certain design direction, they need to know that so they can change gears. Do us all a favor and be honest about how you feel about the design. Ditch the compliment sandwich. We are all adults here. This will greatly help expedite the process and will ensure that you are 100% happy with the finished product. A good designer retains that as their top priority anyway!
  6. The designer may actually know a thing or two about graphic design. When your designer pushes back a little bit on some of your feedback, it usually isn’t because they aren’t open to feedback, it’s usually because they feel that specific piece of feedback might sacrifice the design integrity. Be willing to be pushed out of your comfort zone a bit and trust that your designer has got your back. Ultimately, they want a rocking portfolio piece too!

Bottom line: learn to give good design feedback and you’ll enjoy the process more and you’ll get more bang for your buck!

Looking for a laugh? Check out this this leaked email between Jeb Bush and his graphic designer (fair warning: it's a joke).

The Logo Evolution: A Look at Iconic Brands, and What's To Come

The Logo Evolution: A Look at Iconic Brands, and What's To Come

Your logo is often the first impression of your brand. Creating a strong visual brand is a great way to differentiate yourself from competitors, create distinction, and a sense of identity and memorabilia for your business.

Designers strive to create timeless logos that will create a favorable brand perception and attitude towards a business, and effectively tell your brands story. But even the strongest brands continuous to make efforts to develop their visual identity, as their business and environment changes. 

Let’s take a look at the evolution of these iconic brands, classic and new. 

World Wildlife Fund: An iconic logo for the ages. 

The first logo design for WWF was sketched out with pen and paper, the same year it was founded in 1961. The animal conservation foundation needed a strong, recognizable logo that would overcome language barriers. The founder expressed that they “wanted an animal that is beautiful, is endangered, and one loved by many people in the world for its appealing qualities. We also wanted an animal that had an impact in black and white to save money on printing costs.” And vuala: 

WWF-logo-design
WWF told the design agency, Landor in San Francisco, that the animal should be "not too cuddly, not too ferocious, and certainly not about to go extinct."

WWF told the design agency, Landor in San Francisco, that the animal should be "not too cuddly, not too ferocious, and certainly not about to go extinct."

So they came up with something similar to the black-and-white panda bear we know and love today. The hand-drawn style logo stuck for 15 years, when WWF decided to go to a design agency to create a logo that was more universally scalable. 

This use of negative space in this logo design provokes a sense of involvement from its audience – a chance to fill in the gaps, and visualize the meaning of this simple panda bear. It’s represented foundations brand for 20 years. 

 

UPDATE:  An agency [Grey London Advertising] redesigned the WWF logo to embody a more currently at-risk animal: polar bears. Utilizing more negative space to tell the tragic reality of beloved animals dwindling in numbers. Do you think WWF should take this redesign approach?  

Morton Salt: The Conservative Update.

The Morton Salt Girl was created in 1914 as a literal representation of the advantageous features of Morton Salt: it will not clump around moisture like most salt does. The logo went through 6 different variations over the next 50 years, but we’ve seen the same exact illustration ever since 1968. 

So, when their 100th anniversary rolled around and Morton Salt reflected upon their brand, they decided not to change a good thing, but rather make edits so the logo is more 21st-century-friendly. They rounded the sans serif font, and removed some extraneous lines that looked muddled in smaller scaled versions. Well done, Morton Salt. 

Before [left] and after [right]

Before [left] and after [right]

Instagram: The Minimal Transformation

Everyone loved the polaroid camera that represented Instagram for its first 6 years of its influential fruition. Its realistic and skeuomorphic style was trending in 2010 when it was created – in fact, it was the default aesthetic for Apple and the iPhone at the time. As a company who created a platform for people to quickly create and share on the reg, Instagrams visual brand needed to keep up with the trends and best support how the app is being used. Check out my post on minimal websites and user generated content here.

Instagram decided to embrace the trend of flat design, create a logo that looks amazing on retina display, and embody the most important quality of Instagram: the camera. While there is quite a challenge implementing such a drastic visual change, the nature of the app creates so many brand-touchpoints and brand-impressions users adjusted very quickly.

The redesign created a visual family for other instagram apps

The redesign created a visual family for other instagram apps

Uber: A logo to better represent the brand [logo + full rebrand] 

Uber dives into the metaphysical meaning their new redesign, as well as functionality updates. The original typographic logo, with thinner typeface, was barely legible on a small screen, and the wide kerning forced the logo to be shunken, makes the letters even thinner. The redesign makes the logo look better on smaller screen, where it is most frequently seen. It’s a simple, and successful logo redesign. 

Before [left] and after [right]

Before [left] and after [right]

Uber also created a symbolic logo to support their app icon. The rebranding goes pretty deep, wired does a full scoop if you’re interested. Read it here. 

So, what can we expect in rebranding to come?

  • Digital optimization
    • Designing for screens, logos that look the best in small scale
  • Appeals to the pathos
    • Nostalgic, represent brand personality and mission [rather than literal representation]
    • Trend of handmade-looking logos
      • Speaks of honesty - consumers are demanding more transparency from their brands
  • Kinetic logos
    • Logos that changed but values remain the same
    • Provides freshness, lets people decide what they like, reach as many people are possible
      • Implies diversity
  • Negative space
    • This concept has always been around, but it's so intriguing, provides a challenge, involvement and originality
    • Provides complexity, while maintaining a minimal feel
  • Monolines
    • Evenly weighted lines throughout a logo
    • Looks like honestly, strength, simplicity
    • Also plays well with scalability, and kinetic logos - easily can be used in different colors

Keeping up with design trends is beneficial not just for designers, but for entrepreneurs and business-owners as well. Looking at examples can help you figure out what styles are congruent with your brands personality, and what details can be used for your audience to gain insight and understanding of your brand. Finding a few keywords and examples to describe your ideal visual brand is helpful when working with designers, and telling your story to create a complete and effective visual brand. We like to use Pinterest boards to gather a feel for a new brand. 

Your visual brand is too valuable to not give it the attention and maintenance it deserves. Remember, your business has a spirit, your brand should, too!

A Tale of Two Brands: A Cautionary Tale

Once there were two entrepreneurially minded individuals.

After great deliberation and hard work they both decided to break out on their own and start their own respective businesses.

Business owner A decided early on that branding and marketing was a key part in her business strategy.

Business owner B said that he did not see the point in investing in these kinds of things.

Business owner A contacted a graphic design company and hired them to create a branding package that reflected their services, their voice. Business owner A understood that professional branding gave them a unique edge over her competition. In the meantime… business owner B went to fiverr.com and paid a small fee to obtain a “logo” from a college student located in Russia, or China, or India (he couldn’t really tell which).

After implementing their new brands, Business A began seeing the customers come rolling in.

Clients commented on the professionalism of their marketing and that they felt confident coming to the business. After seeing the value in her branding efforts, business owner A invested in more marketing efforts and created a strong, consistent brand strategy and engaged in monthly marketing and management.

Business owner B was not happy with the logo he paid for, as it did not reflect the spirit of the business, nor the services it offered. Business owner B then attempted to make a logo himself. This exercise proved to be frustrating and fruitless.

Ultimately, the business lacked a brand and clear identity.

B

Business owner A’s business continued to grow. Business owner A thoroughly enjoyed running her business until she decided to sell it a cherished colleague. She had a very happy retirement. Business owner B ended up closing his doors and working for the man for the rest of his life.

Entrepreneur.com defines branding as:

The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products

So what does that mean to you as a business owner? Your brand is your opportunity to make a first and lasting impression on your client. Your brand is your voice, your promise, your spirit in a crowded and competitive market. 

Don’t be business owner B!

Be business owner A and live happily ever after!

Want to read a real life tale of two brands? Check out this article examining Google Vs. Yahoo.


We can help you avoid becoming Business owner B.

Colorado Surrogacy: Conceiving Bright Futures

Our start-up needs all the things.

When Colorado Surrogacy founders, Ellen Trachman and Jennifer White, came to us with the desire to help brand and market their new business, we were ecstatic. We fully believe in the mission of Colorado Surrogacy - to help families who can't conceive traditionally do so through gestational surrogacy. To be a part of a business that offers such a beautiful gift to families in need is all at once moving, inspiring, and also challenging. We worked with the team at Colorado Surrogacy to help them create a warm, yet strong logo and all the marketing materials and website to match.

Do you know a woman who loves being pregnant and has a huge giving heart? Please send her over to the surrogate application process on the Colorado Surrogacy website, located here.

Otherwise, take a peek at the Colorado Surrogacy project below!


Brand & Logo Design

 
Colorado Surrogacy Logo Design
 

Business Card Design

Colorado Surrogacy Business Card Design

Promotional Print Marketing Materials

Print Marketing Material Design for Colorado Surrogacy

Trade Show Banners

 
Trade Show Banner Design for Colorado Surrogacy
Trade Show Banner Design for Colorado Surrogacy
 

Responsive Website Design

Squarespace Expert Responsive Website Design for Colorado Surrogacy

Infographic Design for Social Media & Blog

Colorado Gestational Surrogacy Agency 2017 Resolutions Infographic

Want to chat about getting your start-up branded and online?

Self-care: why it's important and why I'm focusing on it in 2017

The big thing about self-care is this: it must be self-initiated.

That’s where I’ve been struggling, because in total honesty, I have been OBSESSED with my business the last two years and have prioritized basically everything other than self-care. I’ve prioritized client deadlines, Hearthfire Creative marketing ideas, and constantly watching new software tutorials over my own health and wellbeing.

Now that we are officially two years old, it is time to check in on my own health and take the initiative to prioritize self-care. I’ve gained around 30 pounds over the last two years, haven’t had my hair cut in over a year, and have felt disconnected a bit from Spirit. I need to connect more intuitively with my clients and friends, cut out gluten and dairy for good, and get back to a healthy exercise routine. I need to start caring more about me… After all, if I don’t start caring more about myself, who else is going to?

Here are 10 reasons why self-care is so important, especially for entrepreneurs:

  1. If you don’t practice self-care, you won’t feel clear on your goals – or clear on much of anything really.
    • Problem solving becomes more of a challenge because your mind is fogged. There’s no clarity. It is hard to make great strides towards your goals when you don’t even feel clear on what they are.
  2. If you don’t practice self-care, you won’t respect your own boundaries, and your clients will take advantage of you.
    • Getting taken advantage of is commonplace when self-care isn’t a priority. “Sure, I’ll do another round of revisions for free” came out of my mouth more times than it should have these last couple years. When you aren’t respectful of your own boundaries, no one else is going to be either.
  3. If you don’t practice self-care, you’ll be tired and less productive.
    • Without a sense of self worth, depression and fatigue set it. Instead of giving yourself that 30-minute nap, you sit there spinning your wheels for hours and hours without progress…
  4. If you don’t practice self-care, you won’t value your services as much as your competitors value theirs.
    • Simply put, you won’t be getting paid what you should. Truth is, you are a badass. You deserve to make as much money as you need. You are worth (probably more than) the industry standard rate. Without a sense of pride in yourself, you won’t make as much money as our competitors.
  5. If you don’t practice self-care, you’ll let important opportunities slip through the cracks.
    • When you don’t love yourself fully, it’s easy to make excuses. Instead of submitting that proposal for the huge, life-changing gig, you tell yourself, “meh, I probably just wouldn’t get the job anyway.” Instead of following up on with that big potential client, you tell yourself, “they will probably just think I’m annoying.” Taking action is a lot easier when you prioritize yourself and have a strong sense of self worth.
  6. If you don’t practice self-care, your stress levels from work will affect your personal life negatively.
    • It’s easy to pass up that camping trip opportunity, girls night out, or board game session when work comes first. Come on, self! What is life without fun? Work stress should not carry over into your personal life – you must shut down the computer or leave the office a little early here and there. Or at least on time. I got engaged this year – lucky to have such a supportive partner who has loved me when I didn’t love myself – but still I judged myself a lot more than I loved myself.
  7. If you don’t practice self-care, your physical health will suffer.
    • You may gain or lose too much weight, develop an addiction or unhealthy behavior, or even cease to upkeep personal hygiene. Self-care is mission critical for our physical health, which we all know translates into our self-esteem, vibrancy, and energy levels.
  8. If you don’t practice self-care, you won’t feel connected to your community, your tribe, or your spirituality.
    • If you don’t love yourself, it’s hard to believe that others should/will love you in return, and therefore you lose connection with valuable friends and family. But these are the people that want to watch us thrive, support us, celebrate successes with us, and help to pick us up when we experience failure. Connection is important – maybe even a requirement to exist as a human; self-care comes first.
  9. If you don’t practice self-care, you’ll miss out on big (and little) life events.
    • Didn’t make it to your best friend from middle school’s wedding? Probably because you didn’t care enough about yourself to prioritize an event that would bring you great joy. Late to your siblings’ college graduation? Maybe you were thinking they wouldn’t notice anyway – you aren’t that special. You struggle to make commitments when you don’t care about yourself, and you can end up losing friends and/or living with regret.
  10. If you don’t practice self-care, you’ll feel triggered by anything and everything.
    • When you’re not in touch with your heart and soul, you’re fragile. You’re insecure and unstable. This makes it easy for anything to trigger a reaction from your past or present life – sadness, fear, anger, you name it. It’s easy to trigger these difficult emotions without a sense of self-awareness, self-conviction, and love. My triggers cause riffs in my productivity in business, in my love life, and in my relationships. When I’m grounded in myself, caring for myself wholly, I’m in control of my triggers and can move through them with grace and ease.

When we don’t focus on our own baseline needs, we fail to meet the needs of others as well. Classic oxygen mask on yourself first scenario. We all need to stay properly hydrated, properly nourished, active, and clean. You know, basic shit like taking a long hot shower, eating a salad, going for a walk.

Self-care, for me, goes beyond baseline needs. It means being in touch with who you are and making that a priority. Taking pride in your work and yourself. Saying “no” when it’s not a good fit. Not saying “I’m sorry” for everything and instead saying “f*ck yeah, that’s what I meant!” I meant that and I’m sticking to it. It’s caring for yourself enough to make yourself a priority. You deserve it. You ARE worthy.

I’m committing to self-care this year.