The World Needs Your Story

The World Needs Your Story | Lemon and the Sea: Your story is so important to your personal brand s because it share the bigger message behind your why and connects with your audience.

Remember when you had to give presentations in school to practice your "public speaking skills?" You would get docked points for saying "um" too much (which my sister has pointed out that I do), you were graded on making eye contact, and you had to keep up with your time so it wasn't too long or too short.

For many of us, both speaking and listening was a nightmare because everything was so robotic and formulaic. Looking back on it now, the torture of giving and listening to speeches wasn't because the information was boring, but because there was no story behind it.

Story is a driving force.

The best speakers share stories to engage their audience and connect the dots of their message with the real world. If you've ever listened to a really good sermon, you know the pastor will combine personal stories and his Biblical teaching.

Without those stories, you would just be listening to a list of dos and don'ts. (And you'd probably be trying hard not to fall asleep.)

Story is a driving force for any message - whether it's for a presentation, a teaching moment with your kiddos, or a business. People want to know that you've been there, that you understand, and that you aren't just spouting facts with no real purpose behind them.

You have something unique to share, even if you don't think you do.

Your story - how you got to where you are now - is unique. It may not feel like it (I mean, there are a surprising number of graphic designers who started out in architecture), but even if the basic building blocks of your story are similar to others you've heard, you have something no one else does - your perspective.

It's like when psychologists have a group of people all watch a video of the same car accident. The facts of the accident may all be the same, but each person saw it a little differently (which is why eyewitness testimony isn't very reliable, but that's a whole other topic).

So even if you're in a crowded market like design or photography, your story gives you a unique viewpoint on what you do and why you do it.

Your Story Informs your why

We talk about finding your "why" a lot as creative entrepreneurs, but it isn't always as easy as following a formula.

Your "why" isn't some vague reason that you pull out on the home page of your website - it's part of your story. For example, my "why" is to help other women build businesses they love and that let's them focus on their families. I didn't come to this because it seems nice, but because I've worked for businesses that I don't believe in, done jobs that take me away from my family, and I've decided to build my own business in a way that's different.

I believe that God has brought you to this place and time for a reason. It may not be clear yet what that is, but He's developing your story so you can share it with others.

Someone needs your story

It can feel like you're shouting into a crowd when you're trying to reach your dream clients and share your message and that turns many of us off of even trying.

But I promise you (and I can do that because I've seen it) that someone out there is watching and listening to your story. You may not be aware of them, they may never reach out to you, but they need to hear your story.

Maybe they are a few steps behind you and want to learn. Maybe they're going through something similar to your experiences and just need the encouragement that this too shall pass. Or maybe they're at the very beginning of a new path and they're struggling to find their own voice.

No matter what, even if you're sharing your story with only one person, it's worth it. Because it does make a difference.


Lemon and the Sea is a branding and website design company located in Richmond, VA. I specialize in making the branding process personal. I work with creatives who enjoy being involved in every step of the process to help them update their brand and website so that it better reflects who they are and what they do.  From logo and collateral design to Squarespace websites, I work closely with small businesses to help them dig into what makes them unique, share their vision, and build a brand that represents them.


My Favorite Non-Business Books that Have Impacted My Business

My Favorite Non-Business Books that Have Impacted My Business | Lemon and the Sea: I'm sharing some of my favorite books that have impacted what I do and why I do it in my business.

When I was in high school, I spent hours every week in the library. Most of the year, I had swim practice after school, but there was about an hour between when school let out and when I had to get to the locker room. So everyday, I would grab my book bag, and walk down to the public library, and read by myself for an hour before I had to jump into the pool.

If you've spent any time with me, you probably now that I love to read. I carry a book (or now my Kindle) with me everywhere I go in case I can find a few minutes to read a few pages of a good book. My favorite part of my job as a lifeguard was that I was able to read on rainy or cold days. And the thing I miss most about having a regular 9-to-5 job is the time I had to read during lunch or at the end of every day.

Now that I'm running Lemon and the Sea, I have less time to read (I listen to a lot of podcasts while I work), but it's still one of my favorite activities. Books inspire and refresh me more than anything else because I can get lost in someone else's world and learn about my own.

Why I don't Love Business Books

When I first started Lemon and the Sea, I would read every business book that someone recommended. And they taught me a lot. But over time, I realized that I was consuming so much information and filling my entire day with business - I had no time to relax and step away from the hustle. So I decided to intentionally stop reading business books except on very rare occasions and then only a little at a time.

Because reading is so impactful for me, I'm better when I read for escape and pleasure instead of education. Sure, business books have there place, but when you're always thinking about your business the way I am, it's nice to get away from it every evening.

What I've learned from my intentional step away from business books is that my business is impacted just as much by non-business books - the stories, lessons, and characters all have something to teach me.

Today, I'm sharing some of my favorite non-business books that have impacted my life and business, as well as what I learned from each.

The Magnolia Story

by Chip and Joanna Gaines

If you haven't read this book yet and you're a fan of Fixer Upper, I highly recommend it. I love watching Chip and Joanna interact on their show because they're so real (plus I love the open floor plans and white kitchens), but it's easy to think that they have it all together all the time. This book gets into their story and how God has lead them to where they are now.

I was reminded of so many lessons I've learned in my own business and encouraged to know that I'm not alone in the sometimes messy, sometimes scary, always a blessing journey of being an entrepreneur.

Find it here.

Hissy Fit

by Mary Kay Andrews

This book is why I decided to pursue architecture and spend my time "abroad" in Charleston instead of traveling to Italy or Spain. It's also where my love of refinishing furniture and interior design was solidified. These are some of the lessons the book taught me:

  • do something you  love, even if it doesn't make sense
  • find people you can depend on
  • historical architecture and antiques are awesome!

Find it here.

Just Listen

by Sarah Dessen

This was one of my favorites in high school and I've shared it with my sister a few times as well. Sarah Dessen really knows who to write stories that relate to what every teenager is experiencing and capture some amazing life lessons.

This book didn't have as much of a direct impact on my business, but it did teach me the importance of getting to know someone's story before jumping to conclusions. As I work with clients in all different industries, I love hearing their stories and how they got to where they are now, because each is unique.

Find it here.

Gone with the Wind

by Margaret Mitchell

Yes, I'm aware that this book is a little controversial now, but I still enjoy it. My mom gave me this book to read sometime in middle or high school and I've read it at least 5 times since (I had to buy her a new copy because I read the one she had so many times it fell apart).

What I love about Gone with the Wind isn't so much the circumstances as the characters. Scarlett's story has taught me a lot over time (and I've gone from really disliking her to admiring her and back a few times).

  • You can do hard things when you have to care for the people around you
  • There is value in the place and family you came from
  • Taking care of yourself isn't always going to look the way people want it to, and that's okay
  • Don't be afraid to pursue the things you're good at

Find it here.

Christy

by Catherine Marshall

I recently read this book again after years of seeing it sitting on the shelf and it spoke to me in so many ways. Christy's story isn't something I can directly relate to (I'm not teaching children in the food in the midst of illness and feuds), but it served to remind me that while God's plans don't always make sense, but they are worth following and that God will provide in amazing ways if we simply ask.

Find it here.

Of course, every book and every story has something to teach us, so this doesn't nearly cover all of my favorite books. These are a few others that I return to over and over:

Tell me: what are your favorite books that have impacted your business?


Lemon and the Sea is a branding and website design company located in Richmond, VA. I specialize in making the branding process personal. I work with creatives who enjoy being involved in every step of the process to help them update their brand and website so that it better reflects who they are and what they do.  From logo and collateral design to Squarespace websites, I work closely with small businesses to help them dig into what makes them unique, share their vision, and build a brand that represents them.


Why Your Brand Needs to Reflect Who Your Are

Why Your Brand Needs to Reflect Who You Are | Lemon and the Sea: Your brand is so much more than a color palette or logo - it's how you share what you do and how you work. And when your brand is authentic, it's easier and more enjoyable to work in and grow your business.

Your brand is so much more than a color palette or logo - it's how you share what you do and how you work. And when your brand is authentic, it's easier and more enjoyable to work in and grow your business.

Authentic is a big buzzword right now and it's gotten muddled up in lots of ways, but to me, being authentic means that you are being yourself - no faking, no pretending - in everything that you do. Sure, you should probably dress up to meet with clients instead of wearing your yoga pants, but there is no reason to wear a suit if that's not what you spend most of your time in.

As creative business owners, we spend most of our days in our brands.  We're always representing our message - on social media, in our content, while networking, during client communication - so it's vital that your brand be authentic to you.

Your Brand is Sustainable

So why is an authentic brand important? Because it's much more sustainable over time than a brand that doesn't fit you.

When your brand reflects you, it's sharing your bigger why, your message, with the people who are coming into contact with you. It's something that you can talk about for hours because you're passionate about it.

Your brand shouldn't be something you chose because it's trendy or seems like it's what people want from you - those brands fail quickly because the people behind them don't really believe.

And when your brand message is true, you have so much more flexibility in what you're doing because the why stays the same. You can go from offering one-on-one services to courses, or move from client work to education because the basis for what you're doing never changes.

You Brand Supports You

I recently had a meeting with a potential client who is a little different than the people I normally work with. It would have been easy to change my brand and my process to make myself fit into what I thought they wanted, but instead I decided to stick with what I do best. When they asked me to send a proposal, I spent a little time tailoring my sales slides to their needs, but I stuck to my message, my way of working, and my brand.

I'm sure they weren't expecting a teal and gray document full of branded images because most design proposals are fairly boring Word documents, but I knew that if I booked this client based on a proposal that wasn't authentic to my business, I would be starting our working relationship out the wrong way.

The best part of running your own business is getting to decide how you want to work. You set the hours, decide how communication will take place, and set the schedule so that you can serve your clients well. And your brand should support that.

You do a disservice to your potential clients and yourself if you change your brand to fit what you think people want in order to book that big client or attract that wholesale account you've been eyeing.

When you stick to your message, you're going to attract people who believe in what you're doing because they know why you're doing it - and they'll respect you because they know that you're an expert.

Your Brand Doesn't Dictate Your Life

When your brand reflects who you are, it fits into your daily life. You don't have to worry about having the perfect house or always wearing stilettos if that's not you. It also means that if you want to have a Tutu Tuesdays just because you love wearing tutus, you can because it's a part of your brand.

An authentic brand also allows you a lot of flexibility in your business. You don't have to follow industry standards or do what everyone else is doing - you get to decide what works for you. You can shift and change as your business grows and as you learn more about what you're truly passionate about.

And when you show up as yourself in your brand, people know what they're getting when they meet you. We all know people who act one way in front of certain people and another when they're somewhere else (personally, I think that would be exhausting). When you're always putting on a front, people don't get to know the real you - the one that will come out in client meetings or late night emails. But when you're true to yourself from the very start, people feel like they know you before you even meet.

What is your message?

If your brand isn't feeling like a good fit, ask yourself a question.

Is it my brand visuals or my message that aren't authentic?

I've found that often when I'm struggling to feel like my brand reflects who I am, it's has less to do with my logo or color palette and more to do with the fact that I've lost my why.

I want to be known for helping my clients communicate who they are through brands and websites that are authentic, for a process that makes it easy for them to get what they need so they can focus on what's most important - family, and for educating and empowering my clients to have control over their brands.

And it's those three things that help me decide what services or products to offer and how I work to serve my clients and myself best.

So, what is it that you want to be know for?


Lemon and the Sea is a branding and website design company located in Richmond, VA. I specialize in making the branding process personal. I work with creatives who enjoy being involved in every step of the process to help them update their brand and website so that it better reflects who they are and what they do.  From logo and collateral design to Squarespace websites, I work closely with small businesses to help them dig into what makes them unique, share their vision, and build a brand that represents them.


Stop Sharing Your Squarespace Password - How to Set Permissions

Stop Sharing Your Squarespace Password - How to Set Permissions | Lemon and the Sea: Step-by-step instructions for giving permissions to contributors, designers, and assistants

In a digital age when sharing passwords is common for running an online business, it can be a little scary to give that information to someone you haven't known every long and may have never met in person.

As a Squarespace website designer, I work with many clients who are already on the Squarespace platform, but are ready to hire a professional to make updates or finish their website design because they are overwhelmed. And almost every time, the client asks me if they should give me their Squarespace user name and password.

Luckily, Squarespace makes it easy to give someone access to edit and update your website without sharing your login information. This also means that it's easy to remove someone from your website if you stop working together without having to change your password.

How to Give Permissions

First, log into your website back-end so you can make changes. You will need to have Administrator permissions to add anyone else to a Squarespace website.

Stop Sharing Your Squarespace Password - How to Set Permissions | Lemon and the Sea: Step-by-step instructions for giving permissions to contributors, designers, and assistants

In the main menu, navigate to Settings.

Stop Sharing Your Squarespace Password - How to Set Permissions | Lemon and the Sea: Step-by-step instructions for giving permissions to contributors, designers, and assistants

Open the Permissions tab and choose Invite Contributor.

Stop Sharing Your Squarespace Password - How to Set Permissions | Lemon and the Sea: Step-by-step instructions for giving permissions to contributors, designers, and assistants

Enter the new contributor's name and email address and assign which type of permission they have. Once you save this information, they will receive an email from Squarespace notifying them that they have been invited. Then, they can either log in to their existing account or create an account.

Stop Sharing Your Squarespace Password - How to Set Permissions | Lemon and the Sea: Step-by-step instructions for giving permissions to contributors, designers, and assistants

Depending on the type of Permissions a user has to your website, they will see different options in the menu limited by what they have access to.

Updating Permissions

If you have given someone access to your website, you can always remove them or change their permissions. To do this, go back to Settings > Permissions and click on the user's profile. A box will pop up allowing you to modify or remove permissions for that person (unless they are the owner of the website).

Working with Multiple Squarespace Websites

If you have been granted permissions on multiple Squarespace websites, you can navigate between them without having to bookmark each site individually. When you log in to one website, click on your profile image at the bottom of the menu and a list of all the websites (live and trial) that you can access. Then, choose the website you want to work on and it will open in a new tab.

Types of Permissions

  • Administrator - this gives the user full permission to access and change everything on the website. When I am designing a website, both I and my client have Administrator permissions.
  • Content Editor - this allows the user to edit website content, but not to change settings. This is useful for allowing a virtual assistant or copywriter access to your content without worrying about them changing the settings.
  • Billing - this lets the user update the credit card information on file for processing payments to Squarespace.
  • Reporting - this gives the user access to the website statistics and reports. This can be useful for a VA or social media manager who wants to see which pages are the most popular and where visitors are coming from.
  • Comment Moderator - this allows the user to edit, approve, and add comments as a contributor and website administrator instead of as a website visitor. A VA who helps to monitor and edit comments can be allowed access to the comments without needing to adjust any settings.
  • Trusted Commenter - this lets the user bypass comment moderation, meaning that their comments are automatically approved. This could be useful if you have a business bestie or tribe who regularly comments and you trust.
  • Store Manager - this allows the user to receive store notifications via email, manage custom orders, and edit website content, including products. If you want to have an assistant help you manage orders, they will need to be given Store Manager or Administrator permissions in order to receive order emails and update products.

How I Use Permissions with my Clients

When I'm working with a website design client, I get access to their website one of two way - either I create the website as a trial version myself (and am the owner of the website) or my client invites me to their already existing website.

Either way, as a designer, I need Administrator permissions so that I can add and design pages, update the website styling, and add any custom coding. I also recommend that my client has Administrator permissions as well so they can get used to the back-end of their website before it goes live.

As an Administrator, I can also give permissions to my team members if they need access to the website without the client needing to worry about it. This is really helpful for the copywriter and social media strategist who are a part of The Lemonade Collective. It also means that I can set up my client's VA, office manager, or blog contributor for them.

If I've created the website, I will transfer ownership to my client once the final invoice has been paid and the project is complete. Then they can choose to leave me with access to their website to continue offering on-going support or remove me if they no longer need my help.

Are you using Squarespace Permissions with your clients or employees?


Lemon and the Sea is a branding and website design company located in Richmond, VA. I specialize in making the branding process personal. I work with creatives who enjoy being involved in every step of the process to help them update their brand and website so that it better reflects who they are and what they do.  From logo and collateral design to Squarespace websites, I work closely with small businesses to help them dig into what makes them unique, share their vision, and build a brand that represents them.


Squarespace SEO Tricks You Should be Using

Squarespace SEO Tricks You Should be Using | Lemon and the Sea

What is SEO?

If you've been online in business for a while, you've probably heard the term SEO (or search engine optimization). Basically, SEO is how search engines such as Google find and rank your website when people search through them.

If you've searched for something on Google (I'm sure you have), you type in words for phrases that you think will help you find what you're looking for. Google's job is to give you the most accurate results so that you find the answer you're looking for in the first few websites you visit.

For example, if you were to search for a lemon bar recipe, you except to find a variety of recipes pop up. You certainly don't expect to see a website about how many lemons are grown each year and you'd be really confused if a website was telling you all about the benefits of yoga.

That's why SEO is so important - it helps Google give you the best results - and they reward you for doing it right by ranking you higher on their listings.

SQUARESPACE AND SEO

One reason so many people have stayed away from Squarespace websites is because they aren't sure how SEO works with Squarespace. Since it's a template and you don't have access to all the back-end code, you can't add SEO in the ways that website developers are used to (coding it by hand).

However, there are lots of things you can do to make your Squarespace website SEO friendly and rank higher in the Google search results - without having to dig into a lot of code.

You can learn more about how Squarespace is making SEO easy here.

Page Creation and SEO

If you're designing and developing a website from scratch, you would create each page individually and include information like keywords, page names, and descriptions for each. But with Squarespace, you have an easy-to-use interface that allows you to make those changes without knowing code.

Page Titles

When you first create a page (or edit it), you'll see that you can customize the Navigation Title (what shows up on your navigation bar) and Page Title (what shows up when you search) separately. This makes it really easy to give Google lots of information about your page without creating a really long title in your navigation bar.

For example, my Navigation Title is "Home," which is standard and short for people moving around my website, but my Page Title is "Lemon and the Sea Home" which makes it easier for search engines to find my website and tells searchers what they will find on the page. I could also make my Page Title something like "Lemon and the Sea Graphic Design Richmond VA" for even more information.

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Page URL

You can also customize your Page URL so that it matched the Navigation Title or uses some of your keywords. Squarespace automatically defaults the URL to the Navigation Title, but you can change it (just remember to update anything linking to that page).

At the very least, your URL should include some keywords or a basic navigation name instead of a string of numbers and letters that mean nothing to Google.

Page Description or Meta Tag

Squarespace also makes it easy to include a page description for each page you create. You can do this by typing a description of your page into the Description section of your page.

However, depending on your template, this description may appear on your header image, so if you want to have a description without having it display or if you want to include more information that is on your header, you can add it yourself with a little code.

Simply go to the Advanced tab of your page settings and insert the following code, and update the description text:

<meta name=“description”content=“INSERT YOUR PAGE DESCRIPTION HERE” </meta>

Creating content with SEO in mind

Google has learned that the most important part of SEO is the actual website content. That means that all the content you're creating for your website is important - even if you don't have lots of website visitors yet. (This is also why so many people talk about the importance of blogging.)

Find your keywords and keyword phrases and use them

The first step to creating content that helps your SEO is to find keywords and keyword phrases that fit your products or services. These are the words and phrases that people will type into a search engine to find the answers that you're providing.

For example, my keywords may include Squarespace designer, Squarespace website, brand design, and graphic design. These are the terms that closely describe what it is that I do. From there, my keywords phrases may be Richmond brand and website designer, brand and website design, website design for creative entrepreneurs, and Squarespace design tutorials. These are the phrases that people are going to type in when looking for answers.

Once you know your keywords and keywords phrases, you want to use them throughout your website. The more often a word or phrase appears, the more Google will take notice.

Don't try to trick Google

Just remember that Google is smart and will punish your website if you try to trick it into ranking you higher. Google knows that people value high-quality content, which means it looks for information that is useful, not just packed with keywords.

Basically, don't try to trick Google by typing your keywords over and over in a text color that won't show up or by adding phrases where they don't naturally fit.

Squarespace, Blogging, and SEO

One of the best ways to create quality content and build SEO is to blog. Since you're probably going to be blogging about topics relevant to your product or service, you get to create useful content and use your keywords to help search engines find you.

Squarespace makes it easy to create SEO-friendly blog posts by allowing you to customize your post title, URL (under the Options tab), and post excerpt.

Squarespace also makes it easy for you to add Categories and Tags to each post so you can tell Google and your website visitors what each post is about and make it easier for them to search for posts in certain categories or about certain topics that interest them.

Creating SEO-Friendly Images

When creating and uploading images to Squarespace, there are a few ways you can make them SEO-friendly.

Start by giving your image a file name that uses keywords. For blog posts, I like to use the post title as my image name.

When you upload your image, make sure to update the Filename to include a description of the post or page. Not only will this give you some additional SEO, it will also be the description that displays when someone pins your image to Pinterest.

Finally, add a caption to your image. That gives you even more SEO content and you can hide it by changing the drop-down menu to Do Not Display caption.

take advantage of squarespace's seo options

First, make sure to connect your website to Google Analytics and submit a sitemap to Google. Squarespace makes both of these steps easy and you can follow their tutorials for step-by-step instructions.

Next, make sure that you include your business name, address, phone number, and other relevant information in the Business Information section (Settings > Business Information). Google rewards you for inclduing this information and it can automatically display it in the search engine results, making it even easier for people to get in contact with you.

You can also easily add a website description (Settings > Basic Information), which is a short description of your website .

Squarespace also makes it easy to add a search engine description separately from the other descriptions (Settings > SEO). This is the description that will show up under your website name on Google. In this section, you can also change how you page titles are formatted for Google. (I added "Branding and Website Design for Creative Entrepreneurs" after my website title for some added SEO and to make it clear what I do when someone finds my website through a search engine.

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Other tips and tricks

Finally, remember to create a custom 404 (or redirect page) for when someone navigates to a page that doesn't exist. That way, you can direct them to other options instead of just giving a generic "page not found."

Start by creating a page that you want people to go to automatically when one of your pages can't be found. I used my Home page and simply added a "Sorry we can't find the page you're looking for, but here are some other options you might be interested in" blurb.

Then set that page as your 404 page by going to Settings > Advanced > 404 Error / Page Not Found and using the drop-down menu to choose the page you created.

Now that you know how to take advantage of Squarespace's SEO settings, be sure to make these updates and continue building great content as you grow your business!


Lemon and the Sea is a branding and website design company located in Richmond, VA. I specialize in making the branding process personal. I work with creatives who enjoy being involved in every step of the process to help them update their brand and website so that it better reflects who they are and what they do.  From logo and collateral design to Squarespace websites, I work closely with small businesses to help them dig into their what makes them unique, share their vision, and build a brand that represents them.