I’m a nerd, and one of my favorite things to do when I’m faced with a big project or a big goal is to map out a plan and work that plan until I accomplish it. I know, that’s some serious nerd alert there. So when it was finally time to re-record my entire online course, The InDesign Field Guide, I knew I needed a good plan.
Raise your hand if you’ve had a launch, are in the middle of a launch, are planning a launch, or have one on the back burner? I’m gonna guess your hand is up…? Thought so. Launching in online business is being talked about so much these days – things like strategy, and list building, and promotion, and all the things. But what about practical stuff that goes on during your launch period? Like, oh I don’t know, eating food and going to the bathroom?
Small business owners these days wear a lot of hats. We tend to be our own assistants, accountants, advisors, marketers, copywriters, and now even our own designers. When it comes to designing for your business, you’ve probably quickly learned that there are... 1 — there are tons of things that need designing within your business, and, 2 — there are tons of software options to make those designs.
Are you new to the world of digital products? Or, maybe you've been thinking about adding some to your shop but haven't quite figured out what to offer? In either case, I've got one word for you: ebooks. These little babies are the perfect segue into the digital product world. Never created an ebook before, you say? I gotchu. I've designed many-an-ebook in my day. To make it as easy as possible for you, I've compiled this list of pages to include (and helpful tips!) so you're not just staring at a blank InDesign file. Get excited, you're about to create your very first ebook! (And stick around til the end, there's a brand new mini-class to help you learn even more about our good friend, Ebook.)
If you’re creating a digital product to sell online, a big “ freezing” point for you might be choosing what platform to house it all on. I did SO. MUCH. research on this when I was working on creating my first online course. I got ALL the free trials and read ALL the reviews and clicked Next on ALL the Google pages. And lemme tell ya, there are quite a lot of options out there. They each have their pros + cons, and this is certainly not an end-all-be-all list, but I’ve rounded up some of the platforms I think are the best on the market.
I’ve seen this question asked about a thousand times in about a thousand places, so I figured it was time to shoot straight. This topic can have some varying opinions, sometimes controversial about which way is better. But after trying both methods in the last couple years, I’ve discovered it all boils down to a few different factors to consider.
Online courses. Er'body's making them. They're a great way to share what you know about specific topics, while earning some passive income in the process. But online courses can be beasts. I've said it before – "passive" income is a bit of a misnomer because it glosses over the amount of work that goes into creating the product in the first place. For each of my online courses, I spent a good 4-6 months creating the content + promotion that went into those product launches.
There’s no doubt digital products are on the rise, and a common question among newbies looking to break into this billion dollar industry, is where the heck do you sell them? That question elicits tons of answers, and it all depends on your personal preference, your product type, and your selling style as to which one you should host your products on. When most online entrepreneurs list off the best digital product websites, there’s one that doesn’t get included very often but deserves a spot on the list – Etsy.
Digital products are a way of creating passive income for your business. They are basically any type of information product you deliver electronically rather than physically ship. Some popular examples in the creative entrepreneur world would be online courses, video workshops, e-books, PDF guides, worksheets or printables, or design resources like icons, illustrations, stock photos, templates, and more. (See the mega list of digital product ideas included at the end of this post!)
Printables, worksheets, workbooks, planners, guides, PDFs — whatever you want to call them — they’re everywhere. You see them as opt-in freebies for email lists, content upgrades on blog posts, even entire shops full of them (hint, hint…). But you know what you also see a lot of, unfortunately? Bad design. Printables that are overworked and unprofessional, and as a designer, that’s a bummer! I know the creator worked hard on the content, put thought (hopefully) into how the printable could be useful to the customer, but the design lacks function and actually makes it harder for the customer to use the product in the first place.
Anyone who’s considered building an online course has certainly gone down the rabbit hole of searching for the perfect platform to deliver it on. I’m a research junkie when I start a new project, whether it’s for me personally (like buying a car or finding a place to live), or for my business (like creating a new product or trying out a new tool). So when I decided to build my first online course, teaching other creatives how to use the program Adobe InDesign, I did my research. I pretty quickly formed a list of the available platforms for course creation, along with some pros and cons for each. And I just kept coming back to one: Teachery.
Today is a big day for me, guys. Five months ago I started work on a project that would keep me up to ungodly hours. It would involve hours upon hours of planning, creating, writing, designing, strategizing, and more strategizing, and a little more designing, and then some more writing, and writing again. It’s been such a wild ride that had my mind racing with non-stop ideas since the beginning. And then the last two weeks, I hit a wall. I’ve prepped as much as I can prep, quadruple checked that everything’s ready, and I think it’s all catching up to me now. I’m tired, unmotivated, and would rather take a nap than write one more email campaign.
I was just telling my friend Jamie the other day: you can take the girl out of the stationery, but you can’t take the stationery out of the girl :) This is my premise for using gift packages to promote launches or projects I’m working on – I LOVE giving gifts. I love curating the perfect collection of items that I think the recipient will love, especially when it’s centered around a specific theme or for an event – like a launch! Since I scrapped my physical product line earlier this year, I was itching to work something physical back into my business and sending these launch packets has been the perfect solution.
Online courses — they’re so hot right now. Interactive, self-paced online learning seems to be the way of the future, and how cool is that? You can learn anything from anywhere from just about anyone. Watch someone practicing the exact skill you want to master, and learn from their secrets. But if you’re an entrepreneur who’s considered diving into the world of online courses, beware it can get overwhelming. There are tons of new resources and services popping up daily, and all this content can make it tough to actually get started on creating that course idea you’ve had stuck in your head.
As a creative business owner, I’m guessing you have a million ideas shooting through your brain at all hours of the day. Don’t worry, you’re not alone :) I can't seem to get my brain to shut off either, and I recently found myself feeling scatterbrained and unable to move forward with business ideas or decisions because there was so. much. stuff up there. Google Drive was overflowing with random, unorganized notes and lists, and my desk was overrun with scraps of paper and post-its. Enter Evernote.
Long time, no blog post! Last week I was on the road, moving from Missouri to Tennessee with my mom, two dogs, and a one-year-old – can you say exhausted?! Yep, I’m wiped. But I’m slowly getting back into the swing of things and wanted to share a great post today about how to choose, pair, and apply typefaces for your design projects for your own business or for client work. These are some great principles that can be applied to whatever program you’re using, and will help you take your projects (no matter how big or small) to the next level.
In 2010, I was a poor college student. My design classes were boring me, and I just wanted to dive into some real client work. My brother’s business was just taking off, and he quickly turned to me for design work as his business developed. One day, he called me up and told me about a book he was wanting to write. Then he asked me if I would design it – cover, interior layout, all of it. I immediately knew three things.
In the last couple years, Etsy has grown by leaps and bounds as it works to keep up with changing technology in the world of e-commerce. Selling digital products on Etsy is easier than ever before with a simple, automated system that lets you make money in your sleep. About half of my monthly income comes from passive income from products I have on Etsy. I hesitate calling it passive income, because it really does take a lot of behind-the-scenes and upfront work to get to the point where the income becomes passive. But it is a possibility if you create a unique product that customers actually want.
Squarespace is gaining popularity quickly these days, and by no surprise. It’s sleek design, incredible user-friendly interface, and straight-forward approach to web design is irresistible. Some complain that Squarespace is too limited in what it can do when it comes to integrations and customization. I beg to differ.
Today is a big day for Paper + Oats! Today is the day I scrap all my previous design services and packages, and shift focus to a new, more specific niche. If you follow me on Instagram, you saw some sneak peeks of the new design services all last week, but today is the official “switch over,” with a couple new pages on my site. This decision came with lots of thought, research, advice from other entrepreneurs, and just a gut feeling that I needed to pivot.