The first official interview episode features award-winning graphic designer Beth Marchant (Woodward).
Beth and I initially connected in the Small Business Owners of Southern Ontario Facebook Group. Even though she has quite a few things on the go, she made time in her schedule to chat with me on the podcast about graphic design and running your own business.
There is a lot of theory behind graphic design, such as knowing what are the color trends and how do certain colours make people feel. Many people assume that your logo is your brand, when in fact it is only a small part of it. The logo is just the visual identification. It also involves the emotions that people feel when they interact with your brand.
Other Talking Points
We discuss getting what you pay for. What is your time worth to you? There may come a point when you’re better off outsourcing various services versus trying to do everything on your own.
What kind of reputation do you want your business to portray? Investing in high-quality print materials such as business cards is always a good idea. People can get the impression that your business is professional, credible, successful just by the feel of the card.
Having A Business Plan, Having A Strategy
It’s one thing to have the skills and knowledge to do something. It’s a whole new ball game when it comes to running a business. Beth shares how enrolling in the BLISS Program – a business, life planning and strategizing course helped her move forward in her business and get the right things done.
The Importance of Body Positivity
One of Beth’s most recent design projects included designing the cover for Average Girl: A Guide To Loving Your Body. Average Girl is a Self Help Guide/Photography Art Book For Tween, Teens and Young Adults by Burlington based photographer Emily Dick. It showcases various women of all shapes and sizes to help promote positive body image and self-love.
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Read the transcript version below:
Karen (Host) 0:25
Hello, and welcome to another episode of the bacon bits and bytes podcast. So I’m very excited today to have my guest, Beth Woodward. So I’m just going to give a little brief bio about her before we get started. So hunting things of beauty has always been a deep passion of Beth where she really excels is in the creation and sharing of beautiful things that represent your brand and business. Beth was nominated for Young Entrepreneur of the Year through the Oakville awards of Business Excellence, and she has won for Readers Choice Awards in the past two years, she’s happy to help with all your graphic design or small business branding. She also has a long history in graphic design and print collateral for corporate clients, as well as small business owners, and has developed a solid love watching brands market their business through unique methods. So the crazier the better. Wow. Welcome, Beth, thank you so much for being on the show.
Beth Woodward (Guest) 1:17
Oh, thank you for having me.
So I just wanted to also talk to the listeners about how we met. So I believe it was through the Facebook group, small business owners of Southern Ontario. So she is one of the admins of the group and she has grown it into quite a very large online community. So not only is it a very large community, it’s a very engaged community. And to be honest, I’m in a lot of Facebook groups. And I think it’s actually one of the few Facebook groups where there’s a lot of engagement and conversation going on.
Yeah, well, you know, what we’re very proud of our members for that, like we started when there’s maybe under 100 of us, and it was originally Burlington, and then it kind of exploded, I took it over about two years ago in July. And we when I took it over, we’re at 600. And we’re now at 2700.
That is amazing.
Always growing. But we do have a great engagement rate. And everybody’s really involved with helping support everybody as they grow. And a big part of it too, I think is they don’t, we don’t allow self-promotion. So the only people who are really in there and engaging are the ones who are in it for the aspect of community growth and actually sharing experiences. So it makes it a lot more valuable.
Okay, so let’s get into the questions. So these days, we know there’s a lot of free design tools available for small business owners, such as Canva, or a lot of people are now like designing their logos and designing their graphics. So at what point do you feel that a business should hire a graphic designer?
So most of my clients that hire me, they either go, they’re either just starting and they know that they don’t have, like, they’re just not an artistic mindset, they don’t want to try doing it themselves, they’re just ready to start their business on the right foot. The other type of person I work with is the businesses who did it all themselves. And now they’ve hit a point where they’re growing, and they need to be significantly more professional than they are. So what ends up happening is they kind of hit that magic point where they recognize that they’re going to make way more money if they focus on running their business and not trying to learn how to use Canva or how to use you know, those Do It Yourself graphic design programs. There’s a lot of that type of thing where they just kind of realized, you know, what, it’s my time is more valuable than what it would cost me to have it done professionally than I typically take over.
So when they’re looking for the right graphic designer, what are some questions that they should ask before hiring one?
So a huge thing with graphic design industry is there’s a lot of people with zero training who haven’t done you know, like they’ve taken like a do it yourself course online, or they’ve, you know, they’ve just Googled things. And that’s great, that’s great if you’re doing it for your own purposes. But there’s a lot of education that goes into graphic design, whether it’s like the actual artwork theory, or you know, the tools and all that and standards of practice. So there’s a lot of that type of stuff is huge to know that your graphic designer knows what they’re doing. And there’s because there’s so many do it yourselfers. And there’s not really like a way to really tell you should really be looking at their portfolio and like the legitimate businesses that they’ve worked with, and also looking at their education and their schooling, because realistically, what will take a professional a few hours will take somebody with no training infinitely longer, and you might be paying for that time.
Interesting. So in your response, you mentioned two things known as art theory and standards of practice, do you mind them explaining those in a little bit more detail?
Sure. So with any type of art study, and that kind of thing, you learn a lot about colour theory and how it affects like your target market and that kind of stuff, as well as how to recognize the trends and the colours that are popular for the seasons, and all that kind of stuff. And you learn how to get all the proper information for the colours so that it’s consistent across all of the branding. And there’s a lot of that type of education where it’s industry standard. But if you’ve never actually participated in the education side of the industry, you’re not going to necessarily know that information. And you don’t know what you don’t know, right. So as far as graphic design goes, there’s lots of things you can Google anything, but you don’t know to Google how colours make clients feel. Google, you know, the accessibility information for PDFs and what you need. If you’re making online things like if you don’t know, to Google that you’re never going to know it. So when you go with somebody who hasn’t had any formal training, they don’t necessarily know, they don’t know what they don’t know which is what it boils down to. So and don’t get me wrong, a lot of them are very talented as far as the graphic side goes. But there are those things that from a business standpoint are more important than just sheer talent, right? And that’s just unfortunately, the way it is. And part of it as well, that I find is there’s a lot of, especially in the graphic design industry and a lot in the photography industry too. There’s a lot of people who do the whole well, anyone can be a designer, if they have Adobe Photoshop, right. So there’s a lot of that type of thing where it’s the industry is kind of getting lowball by people who have done it for like a month. And they’re like, Oh, I’m a graphic designer, I took a YouTube course. And now I’m going to do it professionally. So then they charge significantly less than a professional designer would. And it’s not a sustainable business model for them. So it doesn’t work well for the industry to have that low level of standards, because then when that $50 logo is the same as everybody else’s $50 logo, because you don’t have that quality. And you don’t have that, you know that standard in there. And you end up with that person who paid the $50 for the logo going, Oh crap, everyone else has this. And now it’s no good for my business anymore. So then they end up having to pay again to get it done professionally. Unfortunately, like something that comes up fairly often, where they come back after having already hired another designer. Yeah, and that’s always sad, you always feel bad about that.
You brought up a lot of good points mentioning that. And that’s kind of like how I felt about writing and then writing for other people, because I felt people were charging significantly less. And then like the quality of the content wasn’t as great. So then when I would give out my prices, people would be like, that’s too expensive. But again, like they don’t realize the amount of work that goes into putting in out you know, decent quality content. So I feel for you.
Well, and part of it, too, is being able. So typically what I do when I’m having a consultation with a client, I like I encourage them to go and talk to like three or four other designers and I have a list of other designers I refer them to go talk to as well, because there’s such a difference in, in style. And in you know, like personality, and all that kind of stuff. And when you’re doing something as personal as working on somebody’s business brand, it has to be my main thing, working with small business owners and their business is their entire life. So I need to get along with them really well on a personal level as well as a professional level because what I’m doing is so personal to them.
Yeah, that’s a good point.
So I recommend that they go and they talk to other designers. And they make sure that like I don’t ever get hired by somebody who’s like, Oh, I guess I’ll use you. Or my clients hire me, they’re like, I’m so excited to work with you. Because they’ve already done their research, they’ve checked out the competition, they looked at my portfolio, we’ve had a conversation, and by the time they decide to do it, they’re ready to invest. Because they know what I’m bringing to the table is, is the best of what they’ve looked at. Right? And the best for their business. And, and sometimes it’s not, sometimes I’ll have a consultation with them. And I’ll be like, you know what, I think maybe you should go talk to these other people as well because their style is more similar to what you’re looking for. And that works beautifully, too. So I’ve had a lot of like, really good relationships with other graphic designers, where it’s like, you know what, I’m going to send you over to her because she kind of you know what I mean, this is her realm, and like, that works really well, too. Because in my mind, there’s not really competition as far as that kind of stuff goes, right? Because everyone has such a different style. It’s like with art, there’s obviously huge differences in what you personally prefer.
So I’m just curious, as to you mentioned about like colour trends and popular colours. So for this year 2019. What would you say are the popular colors?
Well, the big color for the color of the year through Pantone is the coral. And that is like super fun, because it’s like nice and bright and summery. But the best part about the colour trends is they’re all released like a year and a half in advance. So if you went to like Pantone.com, they have all of the colour theories, the colour trends for fashion and interior design and all of those things. And they put them out a year in advance, when they write their colour, like their colour trends or whatever, that’s what then goes out to the fashion industry. And they that’s what they design all the clothes for the next year off of. So it ends up being like, it’s not even really like best designers that have to go, Well, these are going to be the in colours, there’s like an entire organization that tells us what’s going to be popular and what’s going to be in the mainstream media. So it’s you know what I mean. Sure there’s definitely trendy things that come up where I’m like, Ooh, that’s fun. But as far as like the colour theory behind that goes like they release it and they say this is what’s coming out next year, this is what the big colours are going to be these are what the fashion houses are using to design their collections for the fall and the winter. Like that stuff’s already out. It takes months and months to manufacture clothing, right? So so like they let you know ahead of time. Like, it’s super easy as far as that goes. But being able to like put them together. And a big part of as nice as it is to know the trends, you can’t design your business off of the trends because they change. And I’ve had so many clients who are you know, they come and they’re dead set on, they want marble and rose gold. And then six months later, they were like, okay, it’s everywhere. Why is it everywhere? And it’s like, because it was a trend. And now the trend is everywhere. And then the trend is going to go away and your brand, you know what I mean? And then your brand is not it’s not that it’s bad, but it’s not on trend. So I tried to steer people away from the stuff that’s really trendy, and get something that’s a little little more solid and more timeless that can actually grow with their brand, especially as their business grows, a lot of people might end up needing, you know, secondary logos or complimentary things for different programs or different, you know, different branches of their business as they grow. Right. So being able to build in the logo that kind of goes with that is huge.
That’s awesome. So let’s talk about print quality. Does actually matter?
Yes, yes, it matters.
There is a very big difference. So for me, I find and like there’s all the whole thing like oh, well print is dying. Print is dying as far as like putting flyers in a mailbox. In my opinion. When was the last time you took a flyer out of the mailbox and read it instead of throwing it in the recycling bin?
Oh, it’s automatic. Always in the recycling.
It’s always automatic. So unless the only time I find that works is if you are in that if you’re dealing with homeowners, like if you’re specifically selling like lawn cutting or you know, things like that, like landscaping, sometimes it’s effective because they’ll sometimes read it, but 90% of time is going to recycling. So I try to urge clients not to do that. But the quality does matter. Like if you’re picking up depends on who your client is, like if you’re dealing with higher executive business, like businesses and business people, the quality of your print hugely matters because you go to a networking event and they ended up with 20 business cards in their pocket.
Does yours feel nicer? Does it look nicer? Is the colour actually your brand colours you like the print quality, there really matters because your business card is essentially competing with all the other business cards in their pocket. And the same kind of goes with like flyers, people are very visual, and they’re very tactile right?
So if you pick up a card that has a little bit more weight to it, and it has a nice lamination and or it’s you know what I mean? You have that perceived value of it, where it’s like okay, well, even if it’s not super expensive, it’s still that well, this is nicer than that piece of 14 point basic uncoated stuff that I got, right? Like it just gives you that that different feel where you’re like, Okay, this is a little more expensive. This card is more expensive, therefore, the value of this business, they’re like, you know what I mean? She must be doing well she can afford such fancy cards. It’s not even necessarily the case.
Yeah, I totally agree with you on that. Like, of all the business cards I have, like, I really like the feel of it. And like the ones that are like thicker card stock. I just like got a really good impression, like yeah this seems solid, like this seems like a solid, strong person.
Well, and a solid business to right. Like, it’s weird that that’s how we work. But as humans, like, we want that weight, we want to feel like okay, this, this card has substance, like therefore that business must have something good going for them. Right?
Mm-hmm. So I’m curious to know, as you know, being a creative entrepreneur, you’re constantly designing, constantly creating, do you find it hard like? Or do you ever feel like under pressure to create things like under specific deadlines? And like, Do you ever get that creative block?
Oh, my God yes. A hundred times yes. Right now is probably the most under pressure I’ve ever been just because, like personal stuff, and then my employees, I have my first employee starting soon. But she’s not starting until the end of the month. So I’m kind of in that whole, like, can you please just start earlier? Now would be great. But it’s in the process of ramping it up. So I have enough work for her? I’m kind of in that whole like, Okay, well, I’m going to just buckle down and have a good amount of time. So it’s just yeah, there are definitely those days where it’s like, Okay, how am I going to get it all out. And there’s, there’s definitely been nights where you do the whole, like, pull an all-nighter just to meet your deadlines. And that’s part of running a business, but it’s worth it. So I can’t really complain.
So what are some common misconceptions about branding? And then what are some mistakes you find that business owners make when it comes to branding?
So there are so many people that think that branding is just your logo, they’re like, I need my brand developed. And then you talk about, you know, brand development and all of that stuff. And they’re like, okay, but how much for just the logo, and then you have to explain the whole process. But realistically, I don’t do just logos. And I will not ever just make a single logo and not provide branding standards of, okay, these are the fonts you’re going to use and the colors and the spacing for your logo and all that kind of stuff. Just because I feel like avoiding that and doing just the logo kind of sets them up for failure. Because then they don’t, then they have to figure all that stuff out on their own. And if you’re trying to build a business that has a backup, or like, you don’t mean the weight behind it to actually keep the brand consistent, you have to give them the tools to do that. Right.
But yeah, a lot of people think that their brand is just their logo. And it’s really not like your brand is like you know, your voice, your vision and your visuals. And like the visuals is such a small part of it when you’re thinking, large picture branding, right? The amount of people that come to get their logo done, and they’re not really sure who their target market is they’re not sure they don’t have a mission, vision, values yet. They’re not sure what their businesses even really doing except, you know, like, Oh, I make caps or t-shirts or whatever it is. But the actual, like background information of who their business is, and what their business does isn’t really there yet.
So when I do logo development, I always do like a really in-depth branding consultation with them. Figure out like, Okay, well, where are you in your business plan? Are you do you have a business plan, you have a strategy? Do you have all that kind of stuff? And if they don’t have a strategy, and they don’t have a plan and all that kind of stuff, then I kind of and I probably end up sending them to Jillian at Highjinx. Come back when you know what you want.
First, go see her then go see me.
First, go see her and then come see me. But it’s tricky because there’s a lot of people who just it’s new, right? Like it’s a hard thing to start a business. And you might be spectacular at whatever your business is. But the actual running a business is a whole other like a whole other can of worms.
Oh yeah, for sure.
So trying to find out like where to do that is kind of tricky.
So you have something really exciting that you’re working on, you’re in the process of designing a soon to be released book called Average Girl, A Guide To Loving Your Body. Are you able to share what the book is about and how you came up with the cover design?
I’m working with Emily. Emily Dick. So she is a photographer, local to Burlington, and she’s written this book. And it’s absolutely fantastic. And what it is, is it covers it’s like a whole guide for young women and teens and all that kind of stuff on how to love their body the way that their body is. So she covers absolutely everything from you know, the mental health side of it, eating disorders and the pressure to just feel how media expects you to feel. And in the process of her writing the book, she photographed hundreds of women for this book, every different type of body lifestyle, like imaginable like there’s, it’s amazing. And she talked to them about what they thought about their bodies and societal expectations on beauty and all of that kind of thing. So through that she like she just she’s written this beautiful book and provided all these gorgeous pictures.
And it’s such a cool thing to be involved in. And like just doing the layout and like the covering and all that for it is like really, really super great because I like I have an 11-year-old, right? So like I’m reading this and I’m like, all right, I need at least one for like every girl in my daughter’s school. And just like pass them out. It’s amazing. The one thing I find really great about it and about her, her whole perspective is the whole body positivity thing is a really huge thing right now. It’s really like it’s super trendy, which is thank God, that has to happen. But the big thing that I find is there’s zero shame put on anyone on anyone’s thought process or anyone’s idea of beauty. A lot of the body-positive books and stuff like that there’s almost like an underlying bit of like, well, if you’ve had plastic surgery, or if you’ve gotten tattoos, or if you have hair extensions or whatever, then you’re not loving your body.
So in this, I am finding it amazing that in Emily’s writing and stuff, there’s nothing in there that devalues anybody, it’s literally you are beautiful, regardless of anything, however you decide you want to be It’s beautiful. And that to me is like it’s just fantastic. I just love how inclusive. Which obviously it should be.
So with respect to the design, did you find it was a different process with respect to you, like, you know, designing logos and cards?
So she, like she already had a, she kind of had a brand in the sense that she had her she kind of knew what colour she wanted, she knew, obviously, all her photos had been taken somewhat of a feel. So it was really, it was really great to be able to like take that kind of feel and actually, like, bring her book to life. Like she had done up a bunch of like mock-ups and like that kind of thought stuff. So it’s kind of like, Well, I think this is kind of how I want it. But then for me to actually be able to like take it and run with it was fantastic. It’s been a really big process. This is my first like full-length book that I’ve ever laid out. I’ve laid out lots of like manuals and like training, and like small books and like ebooks and stuff. But this is my first like full out hardcover thing that I’ve ever laid out. And it’s spectacular. Like it’s such a fun process. It’s so it’s just so well written. So like even as I’m editing it, I’m like kind of reading it as I’m editing it. And then so every time I close the project, I’d like have all the warm fuzzies.
I’m like, Ooh, that was that was good. Like it’s soul work. It’s really great.
That’s awesome, you’ll have to let me know when it comes out. So I can also let the listeners know. It sounds like an amazing book.
She does have them open for pre-order, just loveaverage.com. And there’s all kinds of great stuff on there. There’s blogs, she’s got information on the book coming. And then she has an Instagram where she like has been posting like the photos of all the girls that she’s taken pictures of and like their little quotes and stuff.
Alright, so for those of you who don’t know, actually, Beth, she appeared on the makinthebacon blog interview series. So I just want to kind of revisit one of the questions. You mentioned that you were very or not you were you still are very competitive, and how has the competition mindset helped you with your business? And then say, if you also obviously, like encountered, like any struggles within your business, how have you found like being competitive help?
So I’m, it’s funny, I’m competitive in the sense that I’m normally competitive with myself, which is kind of funny, but the way that I find it grows, my business is I’ll look at my last month, but now that I’ve been in business a year, I’ll look at last year and be like, okay, where am I sitting now that my business has grown? How much more should I be doing? Because realistically, when you’re in your first month of business, you’re kind of just like, I didn’t have a business strategy then. I didn’t have a marketing strategy. I didn’t really have any of that until December, so I just kind of flew by the seat of my pants for the first year. And now that I have like solid plans, I can do that whole “Okay, well, where am I going to be? What am I going to do? And how much better can I make my business for myself”? And I find that, like the competitive side of it is not so much competition against other designers. Because like I said, it’s a very personal kind of thing for business owners to pick and I’m definitely not going to be the right person for everybody.
But the competitive level in like, just in business in general. Like I have a brother who owns a construction company, and he does fantastic with it. But with it, it was like when I quit my day job it was because I was kind of baited by saying, Oh, well, your baby brother’s doing it. He’s doing it really well. So like, what are you doing? And then I quit my job. I was like, well, it’s my baby brother’s doing it, I better do it too. And that’s like, for me, like that’s super motivating to be able to say like, Okay, this is what I’m doing. And we’re going to run with it and then being able to like drive myself through that to be like, Okay, well, I didn’t that my month this month, but I’m going to do twice as much next. And I’m very good at like self-motivating, right? And like, if you’re running a business by yourself, you 100% have to do that, like nobody else is telling you what to do.
Exactly. Okay, so what is one thing that you have learned recently that you can share with listeners? Any final words of advice?
Well, I took the biggest thing that I’ve done from my business and like it sounds funny to like, just, you know, be on a podcast and plugging somebody else. But I took Jillian’s like BLISS course, which stands for business and life inevitable success strategy, and it literally what’s your how much you want to work on your business, what you want your business to do, and it builds the plan for your business to grow that way, even necessarily have, you know, we’re not working a bazillion hours with no strategy. So each week, I have like five things I have to do to grow my business. And like five things to do a week is not, is nothing, right? Like it’s super attainable. Yeah. And you build it knowing Okay, well, I’m only going to be able to work like realistically when my kids are at school, that’s when I have time to work. So I’m going to build my whole business strategy planning on me only working six hours a day. Realistically, I always work more than that. But it gives me a way for me to grow my business without having to spend endless hours deciding what to do. So that was huge like that, like get a strategy is super big.
And as far as branding, like, the biggest advice that I would have is recognize the amount of time that you’re spending on it. And the amount of time you’re spending on your graphics and your postcards and your print and look at what that’s costing you and time, like yes, you will always be able to find like a 50% off coupon for Vistaprint to get your business cards done. But how long does it take you to design your cards? And how long does the time? Or does it you know, take you to deal with them and get it shipped? And you know what I mean?
Like all of that if you look at the amount of time that that takes you and, you’re realizing you’re spending way more time on that than you are on running your business, then you should just call me. Right. Like that’s kind of like a big point for a lot of people is when they get to the point that their business is better spent running their business than it is doing whatever else they’re trying to do.
Because we’re business owners, we all think we can do everything. But whether we should or not is the whole other thing.
Yeah, it’s like superhero syndrome.
So where can people find you?
So I am online everywhere at BethMWoodward. So whether it’s my website, bethmwoodward.com or any social media platform, it’s always the same handle, bethmwoodward, always there or you can come hang out in the Small Business Owners of Southern Ontario Facebook group. And you can ask pretty much anything and there’ll be you know, 2700 people listening who can hopefully help you too.
Awesome. So thank you so much for taking your time was really great chatting with you.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai