The years that are not about business (and the years that follow).

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Early morning at the coffeeshop near my house — more accurately, my husband’s house, now — in New Hampshire. Sending the last few invoices of this year & prepping a few things to send over to my bookkeepers, I took a peek at my income for the year to date.

2015 was the first year since launching my business that I didn’t see a growth in revenue. In fact, if you want to be really specific, I made about $17,000 less this year than I did last year.

It was also the first year that I didn’t set a financial goal, so I suppose that follows.

I don’t feel any shame surrounding this.

This year was not about my business.

That’s a difficult thing to own. When the lines between our individual identities and our businesses are so thin, it can be really challenging to make the space to focus on our own needs and our personal journeys. I didn’t, for a long time.

And then, when 2015 hit, I found myself feeling… dissatisfied. I desperately needed to make major changes in just about every area of my life.

I am a firm believer that every few years one needs to shake one’s life through a sieve, like a miner in the Yukon. The gold nuggets remain. The rest falls through like the soft earth it is.– Amy Poehler (via Mara’s newsletter)

This year, instead of growing my business, I…

… moved across the country. From Portsmouth, New Hampshire to Portland, Oregon. Alone. And then I made Portland my home. I met amazing new friends, got to know the city, and felt myself flourish there. I turned my studio apartment into the sweetest little sanctuary & my favorite place I’ve ever lived.

… traveled. Because my husband stayed in New Hampshire, I traveled across the country about once a month. I generally spent about 6-8 weeks in Portland and then 2-3 weeks in New Hampshire. (Rinse, repeat.)

I also went to San Diego to visit my client & friend Michelle, and to New Orleans for the Being Boss vaca with my friends Elise & Megan of Pixels & Pulp.

… saved my marriage. This is a very personal matter, of course, and I’ve been pretty quiet about it online. A big part of moving was to give the relationship some space, to evaluate whether we were meant to remain life partners, or just business partners and best friends. I’m happy to say that things are in a really good place. You don’t hear those stories a lot (or, at least, I haven’t) — the stories about relationships that almost ended, but came back stronger and in greater alignment. I’m planning to share more on this subject soon, but for now I’ll say that I’m very pleased with our progress and exceptionally grateful for the partner that R.T. continues to be.

… got healthier. I hired a personal trainer, started strength training, and lost 25lbs over the course of the year. I transitioned to a mostly-paleo diet, which has done wonders for both my physical and mental health. Speaking of my mental health, my diagnosis was downgraded from depression to seasonal affective disorder.

… did some of my best work ever. I worked with some really amazing people this year and launched a handful of sites I’m really proud to say I had a hand in. I’ll be profiling some of those clients in the coming months, but in the meantime, these are a few of them: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

And, even though I didn’t grow my business directly, I did lay the foundation for growth in my business. I learned how to delegate the tasks that are not my job. I hired a lawyer, a bookkeeper, an accountant. I incorporated, started using a payroll service, joined a small mastermind, had weekly meetings with a business accountability buddy, and hired consultants to work on my own branding & positioning. There were some big investments of time & money all-around.

2016 will be the year I reap the rewards of all of that foundation-laying.

I genuinely feel like I’ve used this year to become the best possible version of myself. I’m not checking off the “self-improvement” box, of course — there’s always room to keep growing — but compared to how things looked a year ago, I’m an all-around healthier person. And my business is going to be better for it.

Maybe 2015 wasn’t a year of business growth for you, either. Maybe it was an inhale year like mine. Rather than focusing on what you didn’t accomplish, make a list of everything you did achieve. You almost certainly transformed in some major ways. Celebrate that!

If, like me, you’re gearing up for everything 2016 has in store for your business, I have two(!!) special offers for you.

Special offer #1: In early 2016, I’m launching my first ever e-course, Ready to Rebrand. I’ll be launching at a (super affordable!) special beta price, so if you’d like to be one of my first students, get on the list here.

Special offer #2: Did you guys know that, in addition to SixteenJuly, I own a website maintenance business, Website Refinery? R.T. runs it, and he does just the most amazing job. We have a special yearly WordPress maintenance offer available right now: 3 hours of maintenance per month (can be used for code changes, plugin configuration, layout tweaks, content entry, etc), plus core & plugin updates, security monitoring, and weekly off-site backups. It’s a $3,120 value, and you can lock in now for $1997. (Bonus: It’s a tax write-off!) Learn more.

The brilliant women on my team

Yay, Friday! It’s the end of week 4 of my 100 Days of Blogging challenge! I’m more than 25% of the way through!

This week was really productive! I’m feeling super jazzed about a few major things that I accomplished. Three of those things involve bringing several incredible women into my active orbit to help get shit done.

I hired Elizabeth Potts Weinstein – I’ve had ‘hire a lawyer’ on my to-do list for awhile, and finally having one is a huge relief. She’s helping me get some stuff squared away both with the legal/tax filing side of my business and helping with contracts/policies, etc. I’ve followed Elizabeth for years and I’m really thrilled to be working with her now.

I signed on to do some work with Braid Creative. I’ve admired Tara and Kathleen’s work for awhile, and my interest was piqued when I found out that they love working with other designers. They won’t be doing any visuals for me (or, at least, that’s not currently in the plan), but it’ll be fantastic to have fresh eyes on my business as I gear up to make some big changes.

My designer-bestie Elise and I decided to start our own little GSD club/mastermind. We’re doing weekly Skype check-ins & mid-week accountability texts. SO AWESOME. I really miss her, so this comes with the nice bonus of being able to see her face on video once a week.

I’m almost six years in, and my investments in my business have been pretty minimal to this point. These bigger investments in both money & time are really significant to me. (Read: I feel like an ultra legit badass.)

Also worth noting, as I’m working with folks with businesses similar to my own, that I don’t really believe in competition. I think we have nothing to lose and plenty to gain from teaming up and sharing our experiences.

Who’s on your team? Who supports you in moving forward in your business? Is there anyone in an industry similar to yours that you might team up with for insight/accountability?

3 simple ways to show your personality in your brand

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As a designer/developer/digital strategist, my work evolves all the time. Design zeitgeist and web technologies change so rapidly that I have to be constantly learning + reshaping the way I serve my clients. I love that about my work — I strive to always be a student of the world. That’s probably the main reason why design and development has held my interest for more than half my life. (At 31, I’ll celebrate my 16th anniversary of creating for the web later this year.)

Still, while so much else changes, the real root of the ‘why’ behind my work is based on one thing: my passion for guiding women in bringing their deepest, core selves to their brands. I’m talking everything from silliness to hidden talents to secret fears. From your penchant for dubstep or your love for alpacas, my goal is to help your clients see the real you. (Because to know you is to love you, right?)

I recognize that it’s easier said than done. How do you know how much to share? Where’s the line between ‘open’ and ‘messy’? I understand.

Here are a few really simple steps to get you started:

1.) Photos of you (that actually look like you)

me-exampleI’m not talking about shelving the selfies that are unrealistically flattering. (I almost always prefer my selfies to someone else’s portraits. I’m just that vain.) I’m talking about photos of you that instantly tell a story about who you are as a person.

If I may be so bold, I’ll reference my new sidebar photo here. It’s not particularly polished. I typically look put together, but I have a pretty casual style. (Or, at least I did before StitchFix.) But, it is completely and unabashedly me. It was really important to me that I have photography in which some of my tattoos were visible. I didn’t want to be over-the-top about it, but my tattoos are a big part of my identity.

Maybe you wear really bright colors or a lot of layers. Maybe you have a piece of jewelry that you don’t feel quite complete without. What’s something that the people who see you in your daily life recognize about you that might be missing from your persona in the digital space? Own it!

2.) Lifestyle photography – Photos of things that are meaningful to you

Whether on your blog, your website, or just on Instagram, photography that tells a story about you, your tastes, your lifestyle, and the things you love is absolutely invaluable in giving your viewers a sense of who you are & what you’re about.

Instagram is my favorite social media platform at the moment and one that I encourage my clients to use because you can show rather than tell.

mara-example

Bonus: take a cue from Mara (who does this expertly) and incorporate those Instagram shots (or other lifestyle-inspired photographs) into other areas of your branding.

3.) The right color palette

Color is so powerful. One hue of pink can say something vastly different than another just a few shades away. Our favorite colors don’t always communicate the message that we need our brands to tell, which makes choosing colors palettes even more complicated.

What’s the best way to bring in colors that represent your personality & communicate the desired vibe + tone?

One of the first exercises my clients do for me (whether we’re working on identity discovery or a website design) is to answer the question: If your brand were a person, what would she be like? Of course, after they answer the question, most folks come back to me and say something like, “Oh, that was clever! You got me to tell you about myself without the awkwardness of talking about myself!” (Yep. Secret’s out.)

Start there. Write about what your brand would be like if she were a person. What do her clothes & accessories look like? What does she do for fun? I bet you’ll recognize her.

Then, take it a step further. Do the same exercise but about your reader or potential client. If the two of you met for happy hour, what would she be wearing? Is she wearing a denim jacket over a palette of neutrals? Is she wearing a blue dress and a yellow scarf?

Think about the colors that were present in both of those visuals and begin to craft your palette from there. Leave out the colors that aren’t a match between your own personality and that of your clients/readers.

Need palette inspiration? I love Design Seeds, but I’m also a fan of just searching ‘color palette’ on Pinterest

Wondering about next steps?

This is a really strong start and something that everyone can do (even my beloved DIYers). But it is just a start. You’ll want to really focus on your voice & tone in your copywriting, for example. The goal is to have all of these match up & be really cohesive. (That said, it’s best to start & refine than wait for it to all be perfect.)

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, my Creative Identity Discovery package is a perfect place to start. I’d be so thrilled to work with you on this.

Questions?

Leave a comment here, or email me: evan@sixteenjuly.com


Gentle Metrics of Success

gentlemetrics

In the early days of my business, success meant able to make rent. Then able to take random afternoons off. Then, if we’re honest, back to able to make rent. Then able to support my partner. Then, as each of those things became easily attainable, earn six figures a year.

I think that’s where a lot of us land. 2012 was meant to be my first six figure year. My second full year in business, and my first 100% self-employed (no part-time nannying, no contract coding gig). As each month ended, I found myself noting how close I was, how easy it would be to hit that milestone. On December 27th, I wept in my partner’s arms as I realized I would close my books for the year at $97,548. I had failed. Nevermind how hard I’d worked, or that that was more than twice what I’d made at the agency job I’d left to start my business, or that I’d enabled my partner to not have to work that year.

In 2013, I did it. In fact, I passed the six figure mark in early October. Mission accomplished.

Except, to be honest with you, it kind of sucked. It wasn’t the life I wanted. It was time to re-evaluate. It was time to tear it all down.

My goal for 2014 was to step back and get really clear on my intentions for my business. I began asking myself questions like:

Why am I doing this work?
Who can I most help?
How do I want people to feel during and after working together?

and

What makes me feel successful?

There had to be a more gentle metric than six figures.

I knew that to figure that out, I would need to work with fewer clients. Go deeper with them.

Making a website or building a brand is about more than perfectly placed pixels and a darling aesthetic. It’s about connection and conversation.

I realized how important — essential — it was for me to talk to my clients regularly. In 2014, coaching & strategy sessions were optional. I learned so much about my work from those sessions, from the clients who elected to do that hard work with me. My work became meaningful to me in a totally new way.

Being in the trenches with my clients meant that I needed to create space to be gentle with myself. Any sort of coaching work requires a really intense exchange of energy and it’s essential to fill up your own tank pretty regularly.

So, that meant self-care practices like:

  • slow starts to my mornings (no guilt about not getting to my desk until 10am) or,
  • mid-afternoon Netflix breaks on the sofa to let my mind rest, and
  • a commitment to move my body, drink more water, make more art

That lead to working mostly 6-hour days, compared to the 12- or 14-hour days I’d been working since starting my business.

It became a cycle that fed itself – I worked less, so I had more time to rest and create, so I had the energy to do better work.

I fell so deeply in love with my business. I would have been content to earn a lot less than I had in 2013 – I didn’t care about earning six figures anymore. To my surprise (though maybe not to yours, wise one), I didn’t earn less at all. I continued to have more five-figure months than not, and closed my books for 2014 well into six figures.

I finally feel successful, and it’s not about the money. I feel successful because I’ve gotten better at treating myself well, at finding that elusive work-life balance, and at making a major difference in my clients’ lives and businesses. I feel successful because I know that the work I’m doing in the world is important, and I don’t have to run myself ragged to do it. (In fact, just the opposite. We have to put on our own oxygen masks first. Of course.)

Six figures isn’t the right metric for me. I can comfortably earn less or more than that and maintain the lifestyle that I most want to have.

In fact, as I was reflecting on success and cooking up this post for you this week, a new metric of success appeared. On Tuesday, I had the thought that I wanted to move to Portland, Oregon for awhile. On Wednesday at dinner, I mentioned this to my partner. By Thursday night, I’d rented a place in the city. I’ll be there for most of February and all of March. That’s success to me – having the freedom and resources for that sort of experience. (More on this upcoming adventure soon.)

As you dream & scheme about the year ahead for your life & business, I encourage you to define your own, more gentle metrics of success. Reject any standard that causes you stress or bores you or just doesn’t make your spirit come alive. If you’re not sure what success looks like to you, go back to the most important question: Why am I doing this work? All of the answers come from why.

Be a Difficult Client

difficultclient

“I know I’m being really nitpicky here, but…”

“Sorry that I’m getting hung up on this detail…”

“You probably think I’m such a pain in the ass…”

These are things I hear from my clients pretty often.

There’s a culture that exists among creative service professionals and their clients that tells us that clients are unreasonable, and their feedback is annoying and draining. Sites like Clients from Hell are a good example of this. As a result, the people who hire us for these things can be so afraid of being clients from hell that they often fear advocating for themselves.

Let me assure you: You are not a difficult client.

And on the off chance that you are a difficult client, I’d like to point out that you’re allowed to be difficult.

When you hire someone to create something for you, you’re investing your trust and cold hard cash in that relationship. It’s fair to expect your hired professional to tweak that shade of blue for you or change that line of copy (yes, again) in exchange.

I didn’t always feel this way, and I know that, sadly, not everyone does. One of the topics that I’ve been discussing with my clients a lot this year has been all of the fear that goes along with rebranding or creating a new website. It comes up for a variety of reasons, but one of them is that, as a client, it can be really challenging to criticize another person’s creative work, or to push back when something doesn’t quite line up with your vision. But, as a creative professional, it’s my responsibility to create a safe place for dialogue and collaboration. Revisions aren’t tedium – they’re an integral part of the process.

If you’re considering hiring a creative professional (a designer or a copywriter, for example), here are a few things that I want you to feel confident in doing:

As a client, you can and should:

  • Interview potential providers until you find someone with whom you just click
  • Provide “too much information” (and expect us to know what we do and don’t need)
  • Ask questions, especially “why” (Why did you pick these colors? Why did you put my opt-in there?)
  • Get input from your partner/friends on whether what you’ve been shown represents you well
  • Keep your customers in mind above ALL else

Of course, this isn’t a license to kill. Don’t abandon all social graces or act like a bully. Your project likely has a clearly defined scope that you can expect to operate within. But you knew all that already. You’re a reasonable person. So is your chosen service provider.

So, go head. Be a difficult client.

Have you struggled with the fear of being a difficult client? What are some things you wish you’d known before hiring someone? I’d love to talk about it on Twitter.

A letter to myself after five years of self employment

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Dear Me on July 16th, 2009:

I am not you anymore, but I remember what it was like. I still see you so clearly. You are laying on the sofa with a cold rag on your forehead, sobbing. Hyperventilating. You have just rather unceremoniously quit your stable, well-paying job to start your own business. You have $1600 in savings, and that’s not enough to take care of your responsibilities for any length of time. You have no backup plan.

There’s so much I want to tell you. So much I wish someone had told me.

The first thing is this: It’s still hard. You’ll still get exhausted and cry and feel like you’re doing everything wrong, even when you’re not. Other people will often make it look easy, and you’ll always admire that but never relate. On the other hand, people will sometimes tell you that you make it look easy, and you’ll love those people, but suspect they are a little crazy, or just being polite. (Still, say ‘thank you’ and offer something encouraging.)

The second, and perhaps most important thing: It gets easier. It gets so much easier. Eventually you will stop thinking that quitting your job was stupid-brave and come to believe that it was the absolute smartest decision. You’ll learn so much the next few years, and every single thing about your life will be different as a result.

You will initially supplement your income by nannying, by taking a (fortunately short-lived) shady website maintenance gig, and with a part-time development job. Don’t feel ashamed to not be standing on your own yet. You’ll get there. No use starving in the meantime.

You will come to understand the ebb and flow, and not only plan for it, but embrace it. Then the ebbs will cease — because what you worry about will find you, but what you trust will find you, too. I wish you would learn that lesson early. Don’t be afraid. All fear has ever done is hinder your progress. State your goals, believe in them, make them happen. That’s never failed you – not once.

Make your goals big for that reason.

You will find yourself on track to earn your first six-figure year, but as that December ends, you’ll fall $3,000 short and you will grieve. Heavily. As though $97,000 makes you a complete failure.

You will think in black and white this way often. It’s not good for you. Stop doing it.

You will far surpass your income goal the following year, partially just to prove to yourself that you can. But you will be tired and you’ll re-evaluate, and that’s the smart thing to do.

You’ll discover that there is more than one way to be successful.

You will find out firsthand that there are a few things that you can’t just “wing”, and one of those is taxes. Before that, you’ll underestimate one year and have to start a payment plan with the IRS. After months of torturing yourself with shame, you’ll learn that almost every business owner you admire has done the same thing. You’ll caution others not to do the same thing.

You will recognize the value of being vulnerable in business. You will see that we’re all in this together, and there’s no need to keep your cards close to your chest.

You’ll understand the importance of community, and that there is no such thing as competition.

You will make mistakes and be better for them. You will experience the difference a heartfelt apology can make from either side. Be humble when you mess up, and gracious when someone else does.

Don’t get me started on boundaries. (Okay, just this one thing: figure out what yours are. Soon. Stick to them. Be kind about it.)

You will work with truly, truly amazing people and many of them will remain good friends long after their initial projects end. They will change your life, and they will tell you that you have changed theirs. You will rejoice together when they land that contract, and cry together when they get divorced or lose a loved one. You will often feel that the process of creating something together is more than the sum of its parts, and that will fuel you. That will be the stuff that gets you through the patches of 15-hour days (which will almost always hit in April, for some reason). You will start to cultivate those relationships. Clients will tell you they hired you because they felt it in their gut, and those will be the best connections. (I know that sounds a little kooky now, but you’ll see.)

You will realize that any knowledge you possess today is just the foundation for everything you’ll need to learn tomorrow.

You will spend the first two years learning how to be a small business owner, the next two years basing all of your priorities on being a small business owner, and the year after that learning how to be more than just a small business owner.

You’ll start making art again, exercising again, and going on retreats. You will learn to take weekends off, but it will take a long time. You may not ever learn how to take a vacation. You haven’t yet, anyway. Get your shit together. (I didn’t say this was a love letter.)

It will always be hard, but in truth, you will love it more than anything. It will be the best thing you’ve ever done — the most challenging, the scariest, but definitely the most fulfilling.

And, you know something? Five years later, that $1600 will have never left your savings account. You will have never missed a rent payment. That cold rag was for nothing.

I hope you’ll pause to celebrate before moving on to the next thing on your to-do list. You’ve done a great job. Keep going.

Love,
Me on July 16th, 2014

Turning 4, a new biz name & launches galore!

16julyannounce

It’s my birthday!

Well… sort of. Actually, today is the anniversary of the day I started my business — July 16th, 2009.

To celebrate, I’m revealing the studio’s new name (!!) AND launching our sister company, Website Refinery!

Let’s talk about that first.

Website Refinery was born from a need within my business and within the WordPress development community as a whole. I’ve put together a fantastic team of brilliant geeks to help keep WordPress sites running smoothly. They do backups and light maintenance (from content changes to plugin installation and beyond). I’m taking the role of silent leader on this one — R.T. will be your point of contact. If you have a WordPress site that could use a little love, check them out.

Now! Let’s talk about the new studio name!

First – why the change? LeahCreates was an accidental business name. Way back in the day, I used LeahCreates as my personal/art blog. When I took the plunge to freelancing, I just tossed up a services page and that was the hanging of my proverbial shingle. It’s served me well as a business name, but I no longer feel like it represents the business I’ve built in the last four years.

SixteenJuly is a hat-tip to the day I started my business back in 2009. When you take a look over yonder, you’ll discover some amped up offerings in both the web design and branding categories. Otherwise, it’s the same studio you know and love. I’m still a mostly-solo operation: when you hire SixteenJuly, I’ll be the gal answering your emails, slingin’ pixels and wrangling code to create the brand and website of your wildest dreams.

visitsixteenjuly

What about LeahCreates?

Pretty much what you see is what you get. This will be my creative hub & my happy little home on the web. I’ll continue blogging here. (Someday I might blog at SixteenJuly as well — I’m not sure yet.) My posts here will continue to be of a more personal nature & hopefully I’ll start featuring more of my personal projects/artistic endeavors.

I’d love if you’d check out SixteenJuly and Website Refinery. Questions or concerns? email me.

Defining success after 4 years in!

tdoyexcitedI was really pumped when I was asked to write about success this week. First, I just knew The Declaration of You was going to be ballin’ all out of control. (Er, that’s a phrase I picked up from R.T. — I don’t really know what it means, but I do love things that are out of control.) Second, it was really great timing. Early next week, I’ll celebrate the 4-year-anniversary of quitting my Boring Day Job & striking out on my own.

So, let’s talk about success.

When I was 18, I wanted a dog so badly and couldn’t have one — because I was a renter, because I was almost too broke to feed even myself… the list went on. I decided then that I would consider myself successful when I had a dog of my own. I got that dog when I was 25 — a few months before starting my business, in fact — and he was terrible. Living with him was terrible. Lesson learned: That dog was not my version of success.

My idea of success has evolved a lot since then.

Early in my journey as a small business owner, I defined success mostly in terms of numbers. “My business is successful because I made $6,000 this month.” or “My business is successful because I signed two new clients this week.”

I needed the words, “my business” at the beginning of that sentence because I didn’t have have the confidence to say, “I am successful because…”

That’s changed with time. Not because time has passed (although, that’s part of it — I’m certainly not 25 anymore!), but because I’ve shown up every day and done the work, made mistakes, and learned hard lessons from every moment of it. All of that has shown me that I have the freedom and the right to begin sentences with, “I am successful because…” And it isn’t because I’ve cleared some bar — it’s the realization that we all get to define success on our own terms.

These days, success looks a lot like:

  • Constantly dreaming and scheming, innovating, rolling around ideas for new packages and programs — or, to put it succinctly, never being stagnant
  • Messages and thank-you notes from grateful clients
  • Working only 6 hours a day, most of the time, and not working weekends, most of the time
  • Taking time to care for myself in the form of exercise routines and healthy eating (this is a new development in my life and I’m feeling grateful for finally making space for this)
  • Saying “no” to people who aren’t just the right fit for me
  • An amazing partner-in-all-things who doesn’t have to work a Boring Day Job anymore
  • A cozy home in an overpriced apartment in one of the most charming little cities in New England
  • Accepting — no, embracing — the ebb and the flow (and having more flow than ebb!)
  • An attitude of gratitude! (I kind of wish I hadn’t written that, but I did, and I’m leaving it)

Back to that idea about never being stagnant — you’ll see some big changes here next week. First, I’m changing the name of my web studio. Yes indeed! BIG change! LeahCreates will remain my creative hub and my blog, so don’t go anywhere. Second, Website Refinery is launching on Tuesday! That’s the biz I talked about launching wayyyy back in January. I’m only just now doing it. (Success can also mean being way too busy and letting important stuff fall through the cracks… I just made that up. That’s not success, that’s just regular life.) So, check back on Tuesday to find out the new name — and I’ll probably be offering up some sort of special discount for those on my list, as I am wont to do.

Speaking of checking things out, you should totally check out The Declaration of You. As you can see in the picture above, I love it so much that I made a crazy face and put it on the internet.

TDOY_bloglovintour_banner

The Declaration of You was published by North Light Craft Books this summer, with readers getting all the permission they’ve craved to step passionately into their lives, discover how they and their gifts are unique and uncover what they are meant to do! This post is part of The Declaration of You’s BlogLovin’ Tour, which I’m thrilled to participate in alongside over 100 other creative bloggers. Learn more — and join us! — by clicking here.

Gearing up for 2013, LCWS-style

Song for the new year. #sentiment

Happy new year, everyone!

I hope your holidays were filled with lots of coziness & eating way too much junk food.

My December was filled with resting, hooping, designing, coding, and spending time with my family. December is usually very, very busy for me — but this year, I’d finished nearly all of my projects for the year early in the month, and I spent the last few weeks just gearing up for an incredible 2013.

This meant, of course, a rebrand.

I’ve been telling people that this new look is to demonstrate my brand having “grown up”.

In 2013, I’ll be focusing on quality vs. quantity.

I’ll be doing only 24 custom websites this year — and I’m calling them (re)Brand Experiences now, because they are about so much more than design and code. (You can learn more about them here.)

Starter sites as a 2-week process no longer exist. I’m now only offering them as a single day intensive. This is better for me, and it’s better for you, EVEN if the idea of spending the entire day focused on getting this thing done is kind of scary. (It’s fun. I promise.) I’ll have a few openings a month for Starter Site Intensives, either on Wednesdays or (less often) on Saturdays.

I’ve made it even easier to work together.

I designed my new services page to give you a clearer idea of what the process of working with me is like. I know it can be nerve-wracking to spend a significant chunk of change on what can feel like a hope and a prayer. I want to make that process less scary. If you’re still in the trenches of making a decision, you can get on my list to receive a free copy of my 2013 How to Hire a Designer Guide.

Working with me specifically means: We’ll be talking a lot about strategy — content strategy, social media strategy, smoothie-making strategy, if you want. (I love a good smoothie. Disclaimer: I can’t teach you how to make money off your smoothies. Sorry.) We’ll communicate about our project mostly via Basecamp (my project management system of choice — I recently made the switch to the *new* Basecamp, in fact, and I love it even more). When necessary (or whenever we feel like it), we’ll jam via phone, Skype, or Google Hangout, but only by appointment. (I require appointments because I hate breaking out of “the zone” to answer my phone, and nobody wants an “uh huh” zombie who isn’t giving them their full attention.) We have to be able to have fun.

I’m launching a sister company.

Last year, it became very obvious that one of the toughest things to keep up with was website maintenance. Obviously, the more successful launches my business has, the more maintenance clients I’ll have. My partner-in-all-things, R.T., has been helping with website maintenance for nine months or so, but we recently realized that we need more availability for our own clients and that there’s a great need for skilled people willing to provide general WordPress maintenance to the world at large. We’ve teamed up with one of my very best friends (a gal named Jessica) and we’ll be launching the Website Refinery soon. So soon. Hopefully next week. The Website Refinery will handle all of your site maintenance, backups, WordPress installations, plugin integration, etc., R.T. is the Shop Foreman, so you’ll correspond with him more often than anyone else, but as Operator the Most, I’ll be handling the high-level stuff, so you can trust that you’re in good hands.

I hope this is the year we work together.

I’m making an effort to book those 24 custom sites — er, (re)Brand experiences — sooner than later, so please get in touch if one of those spots should have your name on it (especially if wait lists aren’t really your jam).

I also have strategy sessions available if you just need to chat about things & get a little clarity.

What do you think of my rebrand?

I’d love to know what you think of my new look, either in the comments or via e-mail (leah@leahcreates.com).

Have you forgotten the old one already? Here’s a screenshot to compare.

lc_redesign_2k11

A Christmas Relaunch!

relaunch

Things look a little different around here today! This rebrand & new website are my Christmas gifts to myself, my little business, and all of you.

As you might gather from looking around, I have some great stuff up my sleeve for 2013! I’ll be back on January 2nd with more details.

In the meantime, I hope you’re enjoying a warm and love-filled holiday season and that your new year gets off to a great start.

Here’s to 2013!