7 tips for using Canva for your business

Launching a online brand can feel like you have to suddenly become a graphic designer and web developer or at least have one on tap to create all sorts of funky designs you didn’t even realise you needed.

Creating a business doesn’t end once you have decide on the look and feel of your web site. You’ll need to make sure your brand’s design aesthetic carries across all your online platforms in order to become a recognisable brand.

As female entrepreneurs, we are constantly reminded of how important it is to have an online presence that is cohesive in content, design, and structure to enhance our client experience and drive brand recognition. But between balancing life and business building, you may find that you don’t often have too much time for creative play.

The good news is that Canva has you sorted. This online software allows you to create professional graphics for your website and social media feeds for free. It even let’s you save templates so you can just tweak the wording and your new graphic is ready to go. You can see I do this for all my blog posts, it keeps it simple for me but also allows my brand to stay consistent and recognisable.

Here are our 7 c’s to using Canva effectively for your social media:

1. The Canva Colour Picker

It’s important to make sure you know the colour “number” code. This is called the hex colour value often seen as “colour code #”. Using the Canva colour picker you can simply type this number into the box and it will match your brand font or background colour, allowing you to design with consistency.

2. Consistency is Key

I recommend you design with consistency in mind. What are the fonts, colours, background images and textures of your brand look and feel? Deciding on your brand style as early on as possible and sticking to these decisions whenever you’re designing in Canva will ensure you create consistent content no matter which pre-made design you choose to work with. It will help to make your brand ‘instantly recognisable’.

3. Create for All Platforms

Canva makes it really easy to select which social media platform you’re working on. Once you choose from a variety of pre-made designs for Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest, you can constantly view “my designs” and bulk design for across all platforms to promote the same update for your viewers.

It’s also a good idea to include your URL address at the bottom of your design, allowing whoever views your content to know where else to find you.

Quick tip: try and design with the platforms you want to share to in mind, for example if you are going to promote something on Instagram stories and in feed you could pick the story template and make sure the bulk of your design is in a square so that the same image can be used in feed. 

4. Create Interest

Canva allows for several design layers, fonts, and images to be combined into one design. Make use of this feature when tweaking pre-made designs to create interest. We recommend you use up to three different type fonts, alter the layer transparency and carefully select your copy that keeps your ideal clients interested in your products.

5. Curate Your Own Backgrounds

While Canva has many styled stock images you are able to purchase, this can get costly. We recommend making use of your own stock library, or creating custom brand images or basic coloured backgrounds that suit your brand, to then upload as you design. This helps with your brand consistency but also with keeping your design costs to a minimum.

You can also grab 5 FREE #girlboss stock images by clicking here 

6. Build Your Community

Canva makes it’s quick and easy to create visually consistent and shareable images for your brand. By following the colour and consistency “rules” while designing to create interest, your site visitors and social media followers will begin to know your style. Seeing one of your designs in their feed will immediately get them thinking of your business and brand, creating the recognition that results in sales.

7. Don’t Play The Comparison Game

With such a wide selection of pre-made designs and ready-to-use stock images, it’s easy to start playing the comparison game when using a program like Canva. Try to get clear on your own style before starting and always stick to your style guide.

It’s useful to sketch out what you need the design for before starting. Planning ahead and design in bulk whenever possible will save you time and effort and free up your creativity to focus on what you love doing for your business.

You NEED a mentor!

We were having a braai (BBQ to any none South African’s) last night with Ian’s cousins and we were talking about the power of having someone in your life as an entrepreneur who is a few steps ahead of you to help guide you through the ups and downs of being a business owner.

These people can be the magic ingredient a small business needs to thrive, the person who tells you to keep at it when you’re at your lowest point, or just someone who gave the right advice at the right time. Whatever the situation, many people owe a great deal of gratitude to their mentors.

And it got me thinking about my own mentors, I have been lucky enough to have several people who have all helped me in different ways but one mentor in particular came into my business at the right time and helped shake things up and got me thinking about my business in a completely different way.

 

Lisa Johnson has been a mentor to me for the about 6 months now, her no fluff approach to business is so refreshing as is her super honest get s**t done as done is better than perfect mentality.

Today marks a huge milestone in Lisa’s own business journey as she has been featured in the one and only Forbes magazine you can check out the article HERE, as any entrepreneur will know this is a huge honour and could be a massive quantum leap forward for her business.

If you are looking for an inspirational story that is going to help kick your butt into gear this is for you! I highly recommend you read Lisa’s story, it shows what pure determination and a bloody strong will can do and just how any of us can succeed if we are concentrate on the parts of our business that actually make money rather than all the ‘other stuff’ that just keeps us busy.

You can check out Lisa’s free facebook group HERE and connect with her on Instagram here if you are intreugied to find out more. 

Let me know what you think? Do you have a mentor? Why not hit the reply button and tell me how having a mentor has positively impacted your life? I love nothing more than hearing powerful stories of women helping women! 

Love Abi x

 

How to use Time Blocking to drastically increase productivity

Time blocking is a type of scheduling that can help you manage your time better. Instead of working by the clock, you focus on finishing big and small tasks one at a time. This will help you limit distractions, get things done faster, and leave you less overwhelmed by lengthy to-do lists. To time block effectively, you’ll need to figure out what sorts of things you need to do each day, month, and year. You can then put a schedule in place and stick to it.

PHASE ONE

Think about what’s most important for you to work on each day. This could be slowly completing a long-term project, or finishing something you have been procrastinating on for a while. Make a list of your top three work priorities.

Make a list of your typical workday tasks. Beyond the bigger stuff, you’ve probably got tons of other things going on that take up time every day. Write down these smaller tasks, noting about how long they usually take you to complete. This could be answering emails or phone calls, promoting your company on social media, or posting an online comment about a book you’re reading in a networking group.

Block time for your hardest tasks when you’re most productive. For most people, this will be right at the start of the workday. Dedicate a minimum of one hour to your highest-priority task. Start there, and then move through to the next time block in order of priority.

  • For example, if you know you work best before noon, plan to spend the block before your lunch break on your toughest task
  • Usually, time blocks aren’t effective if they last more than a few hours.

Make a list of your non-work activities. Think about what’s important to you that’s not work-related. This could be spending time with your family, going on a date with your special someone, or catching a movie every so often. Don’t forget to also note big vacations!

PHASE TWO

Plan to finish tasks, not work by the clock. Don’t think about your workday as revolving around a clock. Instead, you should have several tasks that you set aside blocks of time to finish. Once you finish the tasks, you’re done with work.

·       So rather than having a random to-do list that you have to finish before five o’clock, you’ll have several blocks of time dedicated to completing individual projects one at a time.

·       This doesn’t mean you won’t still be in a routine. Your blocks of time should be consistent from day to day.

Block time for your hardest tasks when you’re most productive. For most people, me included this will be right at the start of the workday. Dedicate a minimum of one hour to your highest-priority task. Start there, and then move through to the next time block in order of priority.

·       For example, if you know you work best before noon, plan to spend the block before your lunch break on your toughest task

·       Usually, time blocks aren’t effective if they last more than a few hours.

Block out the rest of the day by tasks. Schedule the rest of the day in shorter blocks dedicated to one task per block. These blocks should go in order of priority, since your energy level will probably go down over the course of the day. You’ll also feel better if you know the hard stuff is done as early as possible.

·       If you’re the type of person whose energy increases as the day goes on, feel free to reverse the order of the tasks you’re tackling. Make the schedule work for you!

·       So, for example, if you’ve handled the hardest task first thing in the morning, break the afternoon down into two, three, or four blocks of time (each lasting an hour or two).

·       Everyone’s schedule will be different. You’ll need to decide what’s most important for your work on any given day.

Handle lowest priority items at the end of the day. Address less complicated issues late in the day, when you’re tired and probably not feeling particularly productive or creative. These should be tasks that are relatively mindless or monotonous, and don’t require a lot of critical thinking.

·       Lower priority tasks could include answering emails and calls. You should plan to do this at the same time each day.

Add in blocks for planning. Since time blocking is all about scheduling and advanced planning, you need to make time for that too! Set aside one day each year for annual planning (for long-term projects), an hour each month for monthly planning, and an hour each week for weekly planning.

·       This means that all your scheduling and writing of to-do lists should occur only in the blocks you’ve set aside for planning.

Don’t forget to reserve time off. Schedule in time to spend with your family and friends each week. Input a large block of time for a big vacation once or twice per year. Remember to also add blocks for working on your house or cleaning.

Schedule an empty block of time each day for flexibility. This doesn’t have to be a huge block. Try having a 30-minute block and increase it if you need to. This can be for tasks that overflow beyond their set blocks, or unexpected disasters you have to deal with right away.

PHASE THREE

Use a paper or digital calendar to keep track of your blocks. Especially when you first start out, it may be hard to keep track of your different blocks. Use a calendar app on your smartphone with timers and reminders. You can also buy a large desk calendar and label the days, months, and year with your block.

Color-code your calendar. Both paper and digital options give you the ability to color-code, and you should take advantage. Label different time blocks in set colors. You can even match this to priority level. Red can be high-priority tasks, yellow moderate, and green low.

·       For paper, use different colored markers or highlighters. For digital, check the settings on the app or software you’re using and follow the instructions to color-code.

Be open about your schedule with coworkers and family. In order for your schedule to work, other people in your life need to learn to respect it. Consider sending an email to your coworkers about your time blocks so they know what to expect from your workday. You can also tell your family about your plans, and ask them to help you stick to it.

·       Don’t expect everyone to mold their schedules to yours. Before you finalise your blocks, make sure your time blocking doesn’t cause scheduling problems for someone you work or live with.

Commit to the routine for at least a month. Like any routine, you need to commit to time blocking to make it effective. It’ll probably feel overly rigid at first, but give it at least thirty workdays. By the end of the month, you’ll be able to tell whether it’s helped you become more productive.

Avoid distractions when working. When you’re in the middle of your time blocks, it’s important to only focus on the task that’s in front of you. Put your phone on silent, minimize background noise, and turn off notifications for your social media and email – THIS IS A MUST!

Track your productivity to see if time blocking works for you. Time blocking may not be for everyone. Make sure it works for you by seeing if you become more productive once you organize your schedule this way. To track your productivity, note how long tasks usually take you at the beginning and the end of the first month after you put the new schedule in place.

Three Ways Automation Can Improve Your Business

When I decided to start my own business the most important element of any business I was going to create was it had to be flexible around my little boy Henry.

I needed a business that allowed me to spend time with him when he needed me and get work done in the short amount of time when he napped (fingers crossed this lasts a while longer, I feel I’m running out of time with an 18 month old).

WHERE TO START

Before I talk about how I have implemented automation in my own business I want you to consider a couple of things. Ask yourself:

  • What tasks do you find yourself doing repeatedly?
  • What day to day tasks do you find tedious/boring?
  • What things are time consuming in your business?
  • Are there things more than one person to handle in order to complete them?
  • Are there things you’re doing over and over that not only need to be automated, but could also be outsourced to someone else?

1. Email Automation

If you haven’t already set up an email marketing campaign I urge you to go do it now. It is a way you can nurture your audience, getting them to like, know and trust you with out spending too much personal time daily sending emails.

I personally use ConvertKit I found it much easier to use than other email marketing platforms out there. It allows you to create a form which you can embed on your website or link to it on your social media platforms, this form ideally promotes a freebie or blog post which is so enticing it encourages the user to part with their email address to get the freebie.

Once they have entered their email address they get sent an email with the freebie and then they should be placed on what is called a welcome sequence this is usually a 5 email long sequence which introduces the new subscriber to who you are why they should care about you and your product or service and then in the final email you can offer them the opportunity to buy into you.

By doing using a service like this it is a once and done scenario, you write the freebie and welcome sequence once and then promote it continuously across different platforms so it keeps bringing traffic to your site.

2. Time blocking

Whilst this isn’t true automation it means you can get a lot of important work done in a couple of hours meaning you don’t have to spend all day working. If you want to read more about Time Blocking check out my blog post HERE but here is a quick condensed version.

Think about what’s most important for you to work on each day. This could be slowly completing a long-term project, or finishing something you have been procrastinating on for a while. Make a list of your top three work priorities.

Make a list of your typical workday tasks. Beyond the bigger stuff, you’ve probably got tons of other things going on that take up time every day. Write down these smaller tasks, noting about how long they usually take you to complete. This could be answering emails or phone calls, promoting your company on social media, or posting an online comment about a book you’re reading in a networking group.

Block time for your hardest tasks when you’re most productive. For most people, this will be right at the start of the workday. Dedicate a minimum of one hour to your highest-priority task. Start there, and then move through to the next time block in order of priority.

  • For example, if you know you work best before noon, plan to spend the block before your lunch break on your toughest task
  • Usually, time blocks aren’t effective if they last more than a few hours.

3. Social Media Automation

You didn’t think you could read a blog post from me and I wouldn’t talk about social media did you? I have spent a lot of time reading and researching this because I needed all the help I could get initially, I used to find myself going round in circles on various social media platforms and an hour would pass and I wouldn’t really know where it had gone or what I had done.

To stop this time wasting carousel I decided that at the beginning of each month I would sit down and map out my content for social media. By planning my images, captions, hashtags and strategy. This completely changed the amount of time I was spending on social media.

Whilst I still hang out there regularly, I can spend the time engaging with followers and discovering new accounts rather than scratching my head trying to think of a witty caption that helps my overall business plan.

Need a little extra help with what to post? I’ve got you covered, check out my free 30 day content plan guide below. Using this it will help your customers get to know, like and trust you and not over sell your business each time you post which will help to eliminate that feeling of being sleazy selling online.

What are favourite ways to automate your business? I’d love to know.

Love Abi x