How to Launch Your Own Brand
Since launching this blog, I’ve received so many inquiries from friends and new acquaintances about how THEY can get started on their own website or blog too, which I find very exciting. The funny thing is that as a brand strategy consultant, I’ve helped clients around the world design multi-million dollar online ventures & can do it in my sleep….but doing it for oneself (everyone’s toughest critic & client) and on a shoestring budget - that is hard
I have gotten here through trial & error & am still very much in learning mode….but here’s a list of what’s worked for me & some resources to get you on the right track. Good luck! You’ll crush it.
Step 1 — Go to GoDaddy.com & find a good name for your site. Put your dream name in the “find a domain” box on top of the homepage. I personally only wanted a .com address (btw, another name for your site’s address is the “URL”) & my bias is to stick with the .com for business or .org for non-profit. There are a lot of other new URL structures but since you’re a new brand, my recommendation is that you go with what people know & recognize.
NOTE: As you go into the name game, it would be great if you had some ideas about what your business does or will do, its values & brand positioning.
THAT SAID, I find that many people get to a decent working business name faster when they play with the domain namefinder on GoDaddy. It instantly eliminates about 90% of your dream names because they are already taken, so it gets you working more quickly on realistic names. It then recommends alternate names you might not have thought of. AND, perhaps most important, especially for some reason for women — it gets you into the real-world mode of compromising & picking a name & getting it DONE, vs. mulling/analyzing, which are frankly kind of a way to hold back and avoid exposure/failure, but hey, that’s another topic! Trust me: just pick a name & get on with it. If you still have doubts, show your top 3 finalist names to a group of trusted friends/advisors.
Once you have your name, reserve it in GoDaddy for a good period of time - say 3 years. It’s cheap. Do not worry about signing up for all the ancillary services (vanity email addresses, etc.). You can go back & do that later once you’re established. You have other things to focus on now!
Step 2 — Go to Squarespace.com & oggle their amazing website templates. This is equally useful for a blog or a website. As someone who has been working in digital media for years, I am astounded by how many clean, modern designs are available now to the average joe & josie. Squarespace separates the templates by business category, etc. so you can really visualize your business in different ways. Figure out what rough kind of functionality you need for your business & which template looks generally the way you’d like yours to look. Don’t buy anything yet. Just write down names of 1-2 different styles.
Step 3 — Go to Upwork.com, an online marketplace of freelance professionals, & get ready to hire someone at very reasonable rate to help you pull your site together! You can post a job (which I recommend) &/or surf around to see what web design/development providers are on the site. In my case, I did both.
I posted a blurb that was 100% honest saying here’s what I’m doing & what I want to do, here’s what I know & here’s what I need help with…all in plain English, no jargon. I gave a budget of $300 to complete the job. I immediately got back a dozen or more responses.
My preference was to work with someone in the U.S., so that made the pool of applicants smaller. I reached out to the top 3 people from there and had 10-minute phone interview with each of them to see who would be best fit for me.
Hire that person & get going! My person was AMAZING and I’m sure you can find someone great too. She is in L.A., I am in DC & we have never met in person! We’ve gotten it all done via phone & email/text.
You are going to use your Squarespace picks as a starting point with your Upwork designer to help them see what you like and what you want. The designer will be assembling your site from this template but they may have suggestions on how to further customize it. Listen to him/her but try to stick with Squarespace because they have great resources and customer service you can continue to use on your down down the line.
Step 4 — Ok, at this point you think I’m crazy & impulsive and what about a logo, right?? I have not forgotten that, I promise. But I have seen SO many people sit in their home office doodling on a dreamy logo for an impossible name & in the end if they’re lucky all they have is…..a logo. You need to stand up the digital pieces asap to help you make this real. BUT now that you have done that, think about your logo. In my case, the web designer I hired via Upwork had great flair & so she devised a font style that we could use in my name. Doing the website/blog template first helps you realize what kind of format your logo will live in….The designer can then create alternate sizes/treatments - ie; for your business card, email signature, favicon (social media icon), etc.
If this is not in your designer’s wheelhouse, try putting up another Job Posting on Upwork to find someone who really specializes in this. You should also check out Lindsay Humes’ amazing site, White Oak Creative which has premade blog templates you can buy and lots of great content about how to pull your branding together (FYI, my blog is on Wordpress & that is 100% what Lindsay designs for)….You can also get great ideas by searching for logos and brand packages on Pinterest.
I’m a huge fan of Fiona Humberstone’s book on branding, “How to Style Your Brand” . It will give you a lot of inspiring and common sense ways to bring your brand to life. Fiona has a new book coming out in May called “Brand Brilliance” — should be equally interesting!
Step 5 - Go to Moo.com to take your new logo/designed materials & get yourself some business cards and collateral. Your designer can help you format them but Moo is great, affordable resource to start with production of these materials. I’ve also used Paper Source because we have a store 10 minutes from my house & I needed the experience of holding the paper in my hand to get a sense of weight/texture and visualizing the size. If you “graduate” to next level, I’m obsessed with Sugar Paper in LA.! It has more premium card stocks and inks but is very worth it if you are sure what you want.
SUMMARY: I realize I’ve been flying through these descriptions but hopefully it is enough to get you oriented. If I’ve confused you & you want more leads, email me at Lee@ElegantMayhem.com. So excited to see what you will do!!