Tools and strategies to use across social media, aid in brand development and optimize marketing efforts.
This post is not sponsored and does not contain affiliate links.
A bit of a disclaimer: I’m not writing from a position of authority, but I am drawing on experience.
I have personally used every single one of the items on this list, and can trace significant improvement in most aspects of my creative career back to them. Besides a strong liberal arts background, I’ve had zero formal education in areas such as social media marketing, website development, SEO, advertising or content creation. I was constantly embarrassed by my novice efforts and how they might look to anyone who had, for example, a degree in graphic design or mass communications. But discovering these tools over the past couple of years shoved my self-doubt gradually in to the back seat. I’ve learned so much and cannot wait to show you how to do the same!
- Principles of Design
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Studio (Over)
- Books by industry leaders
Principles of Design
Meg Reid of 99designs explains that principles of design are, “rules a designer must follow to create an effective and attractive composition,” in a 2019 article. I couldn’t sum it up in a more helpful way. If you’re a maker or a creative, keeping these guidelines in mind will simplify your decision-making when it comes to making design choices. And these aren’t exclusive to artistic disciplines. Sudden Impact Marketing promotes effective design by translating these principles into a version for marketers to reference.
That being said, if you want to learn more about this topic I recommend these:
- Patrick Butler’s blog post on Split Complementary from 8/31/12
- Seth Godin points out how critical “design rules” are to the creation of goods or services that sell well in his TED Talk
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engines (like Google) rank your website higher or lower on the results page largely based on how much text from your site matches the user’s query. But why does that matter?
Think about links you click on after searching Google for yet another word you’ve totally forgotten. They’re usually within the top 10 results, if not the top 20. More users are viewing results on the first page compared to subsequent pages. More views translates to more clicks, which means that you’re increasing the number of opportunities customers have to make a purchase. The best part? You have some power to influence how your shop is ranked by tweaking the wording and structure of your listings. Among other pretty technical tweaks I won’t get into right now, this is a free tool you can utilize to stay on top of the competition.
If you haven’t been exposed to SEO in the course of starting a business, you might not believe that this is generally accepted as a standard practice in digital marketing. And while algorithms do change, this Forbes article will explain how SEO continues to be extremely relevant in the world of business.
Even though I’ve been using better and better SEO strategies for around 2 years, I continue to find myself back at Marketing Artfully, a blog by entrepreneur Tara Jacobsen.
- Tara breaks SEO and keyword marketing down as broad topics
- provides free Etsy SEO worksheets to help whittle down your copy, find the perfect keywords and increase traffic
- “Ultimate Etsy SEO Guide” lists free tools you can use to better understand engagement with certain keywords, searches and your individual listings
Although she uses her Etsy shop as an example throughout most of the video and written tutorials, Tara’s approach to keyword marketing/SEO can be applied to any sort of digital marketing.
Marketing Artfully is a very accessible resource for new ecommerce business owners who are looking to optimize their product listings for higher search result rankings and for targeting their ideal consumers.
Full disclosure: I fell in love with Skillshare after I signed up for a free one-month subscription. Admittedly, it wasn’t something I could afford long-term, but the amount of useful information I managed to soak up in three months was life-changing. I was skeptical that this platform could provide me with access to tutorials that went into detail and demonstrated specific technical skills I needed to improve my product photography, digital art, or creative workflow. But I found a number of classes that catered to people in all skill levels. There are hours of guided walk-throughs, tutorials, and many classes include projects tailored to hone each new technique.
The topics featured on Skillshare are particularly helpful for creators of all types; photographers, painters, copywriters, print-makers, designers, crochet artists and web developers, to name a few. But they also have a fabulous library of classes that focus on personal skills like productivity, fighting procrastination, healthy eating habits, etc. If you’re not willing to pay month after month, I suggest you get an idea for what subjects are available, make a list of topics and techniques you want to learn more about, and subscribe for just a month or two. The knowledge you gain will be priceless.
Studio by GoDaddy (formerly Over)
This app is everything you need to make professional-looking and branded content on every platform. If you’re semi-savvy with a smart phone, you can save money by making all promotional material yourself, from logomarks to color palettes to coordinated Instagram stories and Facebook page covers. The free version works much like Canva, but the premium subscription comes with access to Unsplash’s and Pixabay’s entire catalogs of stock photos and videos, an extensive library of both classic and new typefaces and their fonts, aesthetic themed templates, and advanced editing capabilities. Studio recently debuted a desktop version for the previously mobile-only app, and premium users get to use both with project syncing across devices.
This app helps the average person maintain a cohesive brand presence on social media, all e-commerce platforms and through those physical touchpoints such as business cards and packaging inserts. I’ve used this app for my business’s branding, freelance branding for other businesses, content creation, and to make digital art prints. The premium subscription includes limited commercial licenses which allows users to create unique art with graphics provided by designers and sell hundreds of digital downloads of their unique art. Passive income, anyone?
Books by industry experts
There is no better tool for improving your small business than a book written by an expert in your industry. Invest a little money and some time into reading- or listening to- what the foremost minds in your field are writing about. What are best practices? How do they tackle big projects? Where do they find the best resources? How do they maintain a healthy work-life balance? Or, when your area of expertise is a craft, what techniques do these makers employ that they’ve developed through years of trial and error? The practical knowledge you gain from reading- for example- any of the books I listed in this post will instantly boost your skill level and overall understanding of the craft. It also enables you to innovate during the creative process later on.
There is some wisdom behind the saying, “work smart, not hard.” Meaning, don’t recreate the wheel if you don’t have to. Learn from your predecessors’ mistakes and avoid wasting time, money and energy by reading books written by industry leaders.
Like this post? Pin it!
Butler, P. (2012, August 31). split complementary: New and improved Elements and Principles of Design icons. Split Complementary. https://splitcomplementary.blogspot.com/2012/08/new-and-improved-elements-and.html
Jacobsen, A. T. (2019, July 23). Ultimate Etsy SEO Guide. Marketing Artfully. https://marketingartfully.com/seo-for-etsy-sellers-ultimate-etsy-seo-guide/
Marketing Artfully | Marketing For Etsy Sellers, Authors, Real Estate Agents, & Rebel Entrepreneurs. (n.d.). Marketing Artfully. Retrieved March 9, 2021, from https://marketingartfully.com/
Stephanie Harlowe. (2007, May 17). How to get your ideas to spread | Seth Godin. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBIVlM435Zg
The 7 principles of design. (2019, May 7). 99designs. https://99designs.com/blog/tips/principles-of-design/
Valencia, A. (2020, March 10). Council Post: Why SEO Still Matters In 2020. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2020/03/10/why-seo-still-matters-in-2020/
9 Principles for Effective Design. (n.d.). Sudden Impact Marketing. Retrieved February 12, 2022, from https://www.simarketing.net/content-creation/9-principles-for-effective-design/