How I Scaled My Business with Website Templates & a Digital Shop

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Despite popular belief that Instagram is where it’s at for getting clients to book you, in fact i believe one of the most important assets in your business when it comes to converting people that are interested in you, into buying and booking your services, is your website. Angela from Saffron Avenue is the queen of creating beautiful websites – she comes on the podcast today not only to tell you how you can create the most gorgeous websites of your very own but how to make sure they actually do their job and make you money!

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How I Scaled My Business with Website Templates: Podcast Feature

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My friends, I am so excited to share that I was over on The Creative Luxury Podcast recently to talk all about my creative journey and how I scaled my business with website templates! Not only that, but towards the end of the episode, I share some website tips and website mistakes!

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MY NOTES FROM THE INTERVIEW

My Creative Entrepreneur Journey

As a little girl! My mom was so creative & artistic and always had us doing crafts. My grandma taught me to sew clothes for my dolls. One of my older brothers did photography and wax sculpting. My sister (basically my twin) went to school for interior design. And my dad went to school for architectural engineering (and is SO good with landscaping/gardens/etc).

At 13, my dad let me rent The Wedding Planner and from that point forward I decide that is what I wanted to do. I started saving money from that day on to buy a one-way ticket to California after I graduated.

I Planned baby showers in H.S., got wedding planning books for birthday gifts (yes, in High School), planned every birthday, event, etc in college.

I worked at a window factory a few summers after HS and remember sitting on the machine for hours (repeating the same thing), looking around and said to myself. I will never, ever do this again in my life. I’m going to finish college and move to California. 

In my junior year of college, I desperately wanted to intern for a local wedding planner. I remember where I was making the call, looking up the number in the yellow pages, and was SO NERVOUS to talk to her.  I said I had to interview a local business for a college project (a complete lie) and then snuck in the end ‘do you take interns’??

I got the internship (turned into a part-time job) and on Sundays and weeknights I snuck into her office to teach myself InDesign & Illustrator and literally spent hours trying to replicate invitation designs (by JL Designs and Cici New York) – NOT TO COPY, but to teach my self spatial layouts, text layering, shapes, etc.  I then made my boss a birthday card one night and left it on her desk. The next day she asked if I made its myself and quickly told me I need to start designing invitations for clients (still in college)

– Fast forward to 2010, working part-time planning (and planning friends’ weddings) and part-time as an office manager for a live sound company.  I HATED it. I missed being creative, I was working in an industrial metal shed with 5 guys, and I decided to just start a blogger blog called ‘witty’.  

– I would sneak blog posts in during work using the word on the computer {got in trouble} and soon decide I NEED TO MOVE. I already knew I wanted to go to the Coastal town of Wilmington NC, which wasn’t too big or too small.

– within the next 6-8 months I started making plans, went to my childhood home, and grabbed all the cash I’d been saving since I was 13 (which was a few hundred ;). In early 2011, I put in my notice at work, found a roommate/apartment on Craigslist, told my family and friends I’m leaving in a month, packed up my car, and placed out. 

With no job lined up, no friends, no family, no clue what I was going to do and prayed my roommate wasn’t going to be crazy. But, I was going to move there, find a job, and become a wedding planner.

P.S. Mind you, my naive self didn’t realize we were still in an economic crisis and in a terrible job market. – And, my roommate was the sweetest person and a nurse (truly lucked out).

– I gave myself  3-4 months to make it happen. Landed a job at a local cake/cupcake design studio as an office manager, but soon started designing cakes/dessert bars. {designed one for mouth / minkus }

– And a job at a marketing company owned by a big law firm.

– Between these 2 jobs (and starting my own Etsy shop,) I was making it happen. I switched my business to Saffron Avenue, started doing small brand projects and I soon realized graphic design was my happy place.

– The designer and I there (Sara from Salted Ink) were planning her wedding and we saw a gap in the market for ‘wedding branding’ so we started a company called MINT 102 and focused on just branding weddings and websites.

In the next year I was teaching myself calligraphy and coding. I knew I wanted Saffron Avenue to be a brand and calligraphy studio and was ready to go full time.

– So, in 2012  I did it. Saffron Avenue was more than a blog and I was officially a brand & website designer.

– I still LOVED weddings and did dabble in a lot of stationery through the years. When I got engaged I was actually one of the first couple ‘Blogger Brides’ for Style Me Pretty, so I created monthly blog posts for them about my planning process. IT was amazing :) 

My Current Revenue Streams & What I’m Focusing On Now

–  Custom Branding & Showit Website Design

–  Digital Shop: Semi-Custom Brands, Website Templates, Workbooks and Digital Calligraphy Items

–  Affiliate Program: My own program that past customers can signup for

–  Wax Seals: in 2017 I reached out to a company Wax Seals (now Artisaire) and asked if they would ever be open to partnering with me and creating a modern calligraphy collection because there just wasn’t any to be found in the market.  We were both new to it, but together we created a modern calligraphy collection and partnership. Over the years they started to grow, get more designers, and have an amazing amount of designs to choose from. – I’ll have a couple of new ones in their Spring Collection!

Why I started a digital shop & selling website templates

– In 2016 I actually started to design website templates because I desperately wanted to offer templates to those who couldn’t quite invest in my custom project.  BUT, the development of a WordPress template was INSANE. We had to develop a whole new backend, we ran into issue over issue, it was tough to make any edits. And knew I couldn’t handle the support of a WordPress template. So, I had to let it go. 

– In the meantime, the first iPad Pro came out and I instantly fell in love with Procreate. I started creating so many brushes, and calligraphy designs, you name it. The more I shared, the more people wanted it for themselves. 

– I launched a digital shop with all kinds of Procreate brushes because again..there just wasn’t much out there in the market at the time. It was so new. With that, I created digital lettering guides (from the calligraphy workshops I did). 

– Right around that time I finally took a weekend to play with this magical platform called Showit. And it has forever changed the game for me. I was able to design and create a website in a weekend.  I instantly knew my discarded templates finally had a future home. So, I started teaching myself everything about Showit and soon launched my own collection. 

– I knew I also didn’t want to just pop up some quick templates for a $200-$300. I spent so much time making sure each page felt unique and each template felt different. I also wanted my customers to not feel left in the dark (as so many template purchases feel that way).  So, I actually record new tutorials for each of my templates. Going through step by step how to make edits on that exact template they purchased. That has made such a difference in customer experience. 

– Not only that, I try to reach out personally to each new template customer. Saying thanks and letting them know they can shoot me their site before launch so I can do a once over ;) 

Digital products created an outlet for me. A place to create something of my own, from my heart.

still love custom projects, but my goodness, designing semi-custom brands and creating showit templates fueled my soul. I could design it however I wanted to. And the best part, I was finally able to provide my own designs to those who are just starting out…without having to pay the $8k price tag for a custom one.

Why It’s Important for Creatives to Have a Beautiful Website

– Not only beautiful but strategic.  Because having just a beautiful site doesn’t equal conversion.

– For us creatives, it’s important for us to have our own identity and style online (another reason why I love the customization ability of Showit). In order for us to stand out and provide that personal connection that is key to ‘selling’ and converting. 

– It’s that first impression (because it does matter)..That’s what pulls people in, especially in the creative industry.  – You have to understand who your ideal ‘visitor’ (client/customer) is and how much they value aesthetics and are persuaded by the first impression.

A Good Example

A bride (or groom) is browsing for a wedding photographer on Instagram, she/he know what style photographer they are drawn to the minute the see the photo (very timeless, ethereal, classic, clean). 

– They save 3 photos from different photographers, all very similar photography styles.

1. They click on the first one’s profile link and it’s just a link tree linking to a portfolio and contact form for pricing. They like the photos, but unsure who this person is, they X out.

2. They click on the 2nd and it’s straight to the homepage. The site is a bit busier with a handful of colors, hard to read some of the lettering text, the photos seem a bit outdated. They do like some of the photos in the portfolio, so they decide to reach out for pricing.

3. The click on the last one, it’s a clean instagram landing page and has links to various pages including ‘experience’, about us and portfolio. (Bonus points). The click to the ‘experience’ page and it’s an easy to navigate, has white space, beautiful overlaying images of past clients and their gorgeous (and timeless weddings).  – They get to the bottom, click on the button that says “we would love to get to know you” and then after submitting they dive into the portfolio and throughout the entire site. 

But wait, they hear back from both of them and see that the price difference between the 2 isn’t all to different, a bit more for #3.  I would have to guess, but 90% of the time. THEY WILL CHOOSE THE LATTER. 

People will invest in creativity and art.

We know that. Have to almost think of it like this: If your not investing and putting energy into your own brand/website.. do you expect your ideal client to invest in you? 

They want to see you care and care about the details. A website that reflects your style and who you are will reflect theirs too… thus ‘pulling them’ and giving them the best first impression

5 Tips for Creating A Website That Converts

1. Copy: Having copy that relates and aligns with your ideal client {and helps them ‘solve their problem’} will make such a difference. This lets them know they are in the right place. (Also makes customizing a template 1000% times easier). 

2. Visually Appealing: Like above, this is your ‘hook’. A site that is in line with their style, vibe, etc will pull them in to keep scrolling. A study noted that 94% of first impressions were design-related (in terms of products, sites, brands). It was also noted that 75% of consumers make judgments on the company’s credibility based on their actual website design. 

2. Keep it clean and use space: Having too many options or too much text/images can overwhelm the visitor. I recommend getting HotJar or a similar tracking app to see how far visitors tend to scroll and where they seem to ‘x’ out.  

4. Clear Call-To-Actions:  Easy to see, click, read buttons/text that takes the visitor to the next step. Ex: if they are scrolling through your portfolio, the first thing they should see as they get to the end is a button  ‘want to work together, reach out or ‘get our guide’. These buttons depend on your overall page goal). — P.S. I have a website planner for this ;)

5. Speed: Optimize those images! Having too large images or videos will not only slow down the site but take it longer to load. And for portfolios that are photo-heavy, that could definitely hurt conversion.

Common Website Mistakes

1. Not having a clear Value Proposition (ie: what you do, who you do it for, and how you can help)

2. Mobile: Hard to navigate and Hard to exit pop-ups. Especially mobile nav and/or email signup or ads.  Easy to X out of

3. Not having clear CTAs, leading them to the ‘next step (especially on the homepage ;)

4. Not listing their contact info (location, contact page), especially in the footer.

5. Not updating it yearly and using SEO!

6. Don’t forget internal pages (Thank you, signup page, etc)

What’s Next for Saffron Avenue!?

– My 10th Annvierary Rebrand!  I’m working on launching a completely new look, new website, new service and products in April.  As a listener sneak peek, I’m slightly pivoting into providing resources and mini-trainings for designers and artists who are starting their creative businesses. 

– So yes, you’ll be seeing a bit more ‘tips’ and tricks coming from me in the next few months :) 

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