business

6 Reasons to Hire a Designer (Plus a Bonus)

6 Reasons to Hire a Designer | Lemon and the Sea: There comes a time in business when you should consider hiring a designer, even if you've DIYed your brand before. Designers can help you build upon your current brand and better reach your clients without having to figure it out on your own.

Hiring a designer can really help you build a brand and website that reach your audience and reflect your business. Of course, I'm all for figuring out things on your own when you're just starting your business, but as your business grows, it can make sense to hire out tasks, including design so that you can focus on working on your business.

1. Designers are Experts

Just like you might hire a Virtual Assistant, Copywriter, or Accountant because of their expertise in a field that you aren't as familiar with, you hire a designer for the same reason. Of course, you need to check out a designer before deciding to hire them to make sure that they are going to be professional and deliver what they say they can (check out their portfolio, testimonials, and blog posts), but once you find a solid designer, they can complete the work a lot faster and make it super simple for you to make updates in the future (if that's what you're looking for).

You also need to figure out what you want help with - not all designers do everything. Some just offer brand design, other website design, and others will create packages that include both. You also want to consider the platform that you want to use (such as Squarespace or Wordpress) and find a designer who focuses on that platform.

Many designers have a degree, but not all do. In order to really get a sense of the level of design, make sure to check out their portfolio and ask if you can talk to any previous clients. Even if a designer doesn't have a graphic design degree (mine is in Architecture), they still may have design education that really contributes to their work.

2. Designers can push you

Before I start the actual design work on any project, I give my clients some pretty in-depth and thought-provoking questionnaires. Now, some of the questions are simple, like what colors they like, but others are designed to push past just visual trends into a deeper understanding of my client's business. These include "how you you connect with your ideal clients?" "how is your process unique?" and "what do you want your branding to accomplish?"

By asking these questions, I help my clients dig into their business and really think about what they need out of a brand or website. Many of my clients come back with answers that they didn't expect because they had never thought of those questions before.

3. Designers can see past today

This can be true of a lot of professions - coaches, copywriters, etc. - but I find that as a designer, I have a great outside perspective into my client's business. I get familiar with their message, their ideal audience, and how they work, so that I can tailor their brand and website towards the future instead of where they are today.

For example, if a client wants a website and doesn't think they want e-commerce, I try to think of anything that might need to be sold online in the future. I don't do this because I think they should sell that way (although for many businesses it makes sense), but because I want to build a website that can accommodate growth in the future.

4. Designers become a member of your team

Depending on the designer you hire, many offer priority spots to previous clients. This means that even after your larger project in complete, you can come back to your designer and have them help you with a smaller project without a long wait. Of course, you have to pay for the work, but it can be really helpful to have a designer you can count on who already knows your brand and can build upon it instead of having to go over everything with someone new.

Many of my previous clients consider me as a part of their larger team and they know that if they need something designed, they can reach out. And because I already know their brand and business, I can quickly turn around the project. They don't have to worry about how they're going to design something when they would rather be focusing on growing their business.

5. Designers go past templates

It's no secret that I love Squarespace for website design because it's so easy for my clients to learn, but Squarespace does have some limitations in it's template design. That's why I work hard to customize every website to fit my client's larger brand instead of just accepting the template's limitations. (I wrote a post about some custom CSS you can use on your Squarespace website here.) I may not be able to work around everything - although I will try - but I can do a lot of custom work that transforms a template into a website that represents my client's business.

6. Designers save you time and money

This may seem a little counter-intuitive at first because hiring a designer can be an investment, but it can ultimately save you lots of time, money, and frustration. Most of my clients come to me when they are fed up with trying to build a consistent brand and website on their own. Many are using website builders that either require coding knowledge or have very little flexibility. When I come on board, I'm ready to go on their project because I already have the knowledge I need to build their brand or website (and if I don't, I'm using my time, not their's to figure it out).

Of course, the up front investment can seem like a lot because not only do you have to pay for good design, but you also have to be available to work with your designer and give feedback, but in the end, you get very clear guidelines on using your brand assets and a clean, user-friendly website with a back-end that you can understand.

Designers keep your brand consistent

In a world full of brands and visuals, staying consistent is extremely important if you want people to begin to recognize your work. A designer helps you with that - from setting a color and font palette to laying out exactly how you should use your design assets - your designer will set you up for success.

When I design for my clients, I always design with templates in mind. That way, when they need to update a blog post image or are planning a yearly event, they can use the work I've already done and simply update it with the new information. This keeps everything looking consistent with the rest of their brand with very little effort.

And when it comes to website design, I make sure that all the fonts and colors are set to match their brand so that they don't have to figure out what to use where. Every page is going to be similar to the last (at least in terms of basic design), so that even if they want a sales page that stands out, it still feels like part of the overall site.

Tips for finding a designer

When you're ready to hire a designer to help you build your brand or website, there are a few basic things to look for.

  • Check out their work. And not just what's in their portfolio, but also what they share on Instagram, their blog, and what you see on their previous client's websites.
  • Take a look at their services. Before you fall in love with a designer, make sure that they offer the types of services that you need. Some designers offer a wide range of options while others stick to just one thing.
  • Learn their process. Many designers have a specific process laid out for their projects. You want to find out how they communicate with you, how involved you will be, and when you can reach them. If you work a 9 to 5, but your designer only has meeting times available while you're at work, it could be difficult to work together.
  • Get to know them. If you're interested in working with a designer, make sure that you talk to them before signing the contract. I always set up a Skype meeting with interested clients before getting into pricing and contracts so that we can get to know one another and make sure we vibe.
  • Ask questions. I encourage my clients and anyone interested in working with me to ask questions. This helps me learn about how they think and what their needs are and it helps you to get the assurance that the designer you hire can do what you need. Don't be afraid to ask questions and listen to how they are answered (even if the answer is "I don't know," you should feel that the person you hire will find out for you).

If you're looking for a designer to help you dig into your brand and help you take your business to the next level, check out my services and see if I would be a good fit for your project.


Lemon and the Sea is a brand and website design company located in Richmond, VA. I specialize in making the branding process personal. I work with creative women who have a heart to serve others grow their businesses so they can focus on what's most important - family.   I work closely with small businesses to help them dig into what makes them unique, share their vision, and build a business that genuinely represents who they are.


Introducing Process to Profitability

Introducing Process to Profitability | Lemon and the Sea

I'm starting a podcast!

On Process to Profitability, I'll be chatting with creative entrepreneurs and small business owners in every industry about the tools, strategies, and processes that they've used to serve their clients and grow their small businesses.

Since starting my business, Lemon and the Sea, over two years ago, I've discovered the key to building a business that you love and that is profitable is serving your clients and customers really well. 

This is something that I have implemented in my own business and that I've helped my clients set u pin their businesses. Now I'm excited to show you how you can create a business that showcases your heart to serve and still allows you to grow and build a business that fits you and reflects who you are.

Each episode will feature either a guest or will be a solo show with me talking about the processes that I use in my own business. I'm going to encourage to listen and then take what you've learned and apply it to your business in a way that's going to match what you do and the people you serve.

Every one of us is on a unique journey, but that doesn't mean we can't learn from each other. So I'm excited to bring on some amazing guests who can teach you what they have learned over the years and how you can apply that to your own business in a way that works for you.

New episodes will be published every Thursday and I have a great lineup of guests that I'm really excited to share with you.

The show premieres on June 1st and I hope you join me on this journey from process to profitability.


Lemon and the Sea is a brand and website design company located in Richmond, VA. I specialize in making the branding process personal. I work with creative women who have a heart to serve others grow their businesses so they can focus on what's most important - family.   I work closely with small businesses to help them dig into what makes them unique, share their vision, and build a business that genuinely represents who they are.


Why Customer Service Always Matters

Why Customer Service Always Matters | Lemon and the Sea

I looked long and hard for a client management software that fit my needs and was within my price range. For two years of my business, I did without because I couldn’t find something that worked with my process. Then I found Dubsado and I fell in love.

Now this post isn’t about Dubsado – although you should check it out – but about why I decided to sign up with them so quickly. Because it wasn’t the normal reasons I choose a service – I had a system that was working for me and my clients – but because when I signed up for an introduction webinar to walk me through setting up my account, it was led by Becca Berg, one of the creators of Dubsado.

And not only did she lead the webinar, but Becca and her husband Jake are also the people you hear from when you ask for help (in their Facebook group or the Help Center). It was the amazing customer service that I received right from the start that sold me – and reminded me how important serving my clients well really is.

Your Clients are the Basis of Your Business

Whether you’re running a service- or product-based business, your clients are the reason you’re in business. They are the ones who see your talent and recognize that they need you to help them. And they’re the ones how will help your business grow – through referrals, reviews, testimonials, and just sharing about you.

But that means that your clients are also the ones who can bring your business down if you aren’t delivering what you promised. (That sounds ominous, but it doesn’t have to scare you.)

Of course, you will never be able to please everyone. We all have customers who won’t be happy no matter what we do, but if you have a solid base of fans, those few negative voices won’t have nearly the impact you’re afraid they will.

Serving Well Comes before Making Money

My clients are important to me – which is why I’m so passionate that serving them well is more important than making a huge profit. (Plus, clients who enjoy working with you will be happy to pay you.)

Yes, there are those who make lots of revenue with not-so-good customer service, but those are usually short-term gains, especially online where there are so many services to choose from. When a business gets a reputation for treating their clients badly, it spreads quickly and can ruin a small business.

The good news is that great customer service will lead to profitability in your business – but it shouldn’t be your main focus.

Balancing Serving Well and Setting Boundaries

Here’s the problem that most small business have when it comes to providing great customer service – we don’t know where (or how) to draw the line between going above and beyond for a client and being taken advantage of.

Good customer services sets boundaries so that you can do your best work and your client knows what to expect. You can start by setting these boundaries early and continue to reinforce them throughout your time with a client so that you can avoid issues down the road. Consider making your boundaries clear in these areas:

  • On your website
  • In your welcome documents
  • In your contract
  • In your emails (signatures are great for this)

Not sure what kinds of boundaries you should be setting with clients? This is a good place to start:

  • Hours of availability
  • Types of communication (don't give out your cell phone number unless you want clients to text you)
  • Number of revisions
  • Non-refundable deposits
  • Consequences for client not following through
  • Consequences for you not following through
  • How and when you get paid
  • Scope of work
  • How to hire you for additional work

You’ll add your own boundaries as you work with clients and find areas in your business that need to be protected. (For more about setting boundaries, check out this episode of the Being Boss podcast.)

Find a Service Focus

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to be the best at every part of customer service (don’t you wish that was possible), so choose what areas of customer service you will focus on (this will depend on how you like to work and who your dream client is).

  • Extras and gifts
  • Working hand-in-hand with clients
  • Education
  • Becoming friends with clients
  • Connecting people

Your service focus is how you’re going to stand out from the crowd and find your dream clients – because they need exactly what it is that you’re going to help them with.

But remember that even if you focus on serving in one area of business, there are still things that must be done well, no matter the client or business. Efficiency, communication, knowledge, leading your clients, and meeting your commitments are the basis of great customer service and are non-negotiables. (You wouldn’t believe the number of clients who tell me that their previous designer took their money and totally disappeared on them.)

As you become known for your customer service, people will want to share your work to their friends. And when difficult times come – when you might fall behind or miss an email – clients are more likely to be understanding because they know it’s out of character.

To-Do for You: Evaluate your current customer service and see what areas you could improve. Then find ways - like automation and templates - to make that as easy as possible.

* If you're interested in trying Dubsado, you can get started for free. Then, if you love it, get 20% off your first month or year using the code lemon (and I get a free month as well)! I wouldn't recommend it, if I didn't love it.


Lemon and the Sea is a brand and website design company located in Richmond, VA. I specialize in making the branding process personal. I work with creative women who have a heart to serve others grow their businesses so they can focus on what's most important - family.   I work closely with small businesses to help them dig into what makes them unique, share their vision, and build a business that genuinely represents who they are.


What I Do In My Time Off and Other FAQ's

What I Do In My Time Off and Other FAQ's

How did Lemon and the Sea get it's name?

Long story short, God gave me this name very early in my business (like, before my business was even a real thing) and I've stuck with it ever since. For more details, check out this post all about the story behind the name and how Lemon and the Sea got it's start.

Who do you work with?

We love working with creative women with a heart to serve. It doesn't matter is you are in a "creative" industry as long as you're willing to think about the box and push past what's "normal." We've worked with wedding professionals, interior designers, authors, bloggers, accountants, dance instructors, and even an agronomist and we've loved them all! If you have a passion for serving others well and want to build a business that supports the life you want to live, we're on-board for that!

WHAT IS BRANDING, EXACTLY?

Your brand is you, especially if you’re running a one person business. It’s what you’re about: your values, your message, and your approach. Branding is how you present yourself to the world: through email, social media, blogging, and anything else you do. Design takes all of that and makes it visual. This can include your logo, your color palette, your website, or your print documents. Your design should match your brand, not the other way around. This is why I take so much time to get to know you and your business before I jump into creating.

WHY DO YOU ONLY DESIGN WEBSITES ON SQUARESPACE?

I love Squarespace! I want to make things as easy as possible for you as your business grows and you need to update your website. Squarespace makes updates and changes super easy. I can set all of the visuals in place and you don’t have to worry about a new page or blog post not matching the rest of your site. It’s easy to use and works really well because you never have to worry about plug-ins or updates. Squarespace also has a great customer service if you ever have questions.

WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND?

I’ve been creating and designing since I was old enough to hold craft supplies. I knew that I wanted to pursue a career that allowed me to combine my love of creating with my passion for organization and helping others. I attended Clemson University and studied Architecture, where I learned a lot about design in general. My favorite part of every project was playing around with concepts and figuring how to mesh beautiful design with practical experience for each different client. After graduating, I took a job working for a family run business where I handled everything from everyday administrative tasks to updating and photographing products for their online store. I was able to design for every aspect of business from email marketing graphics to real estate advertisements, from product photography to website additions. When the time came to relocate for my husband’s career, I was excited to have the opportunity to take everything I’d learned and the projects I’d done to build a business that allowed me to design for people who are just as passionate about what they do as I am about my own work.

Do you have kids?

Okay, maybe this one is mostly from people I meet in person, but I do get asked this a lot since my husband and I have been married for 4+ years now. The answer? No, we don't have kids, but we do have a goofy little dog named Gambit who hangs out in the office with me every day. Check him on Instagram at #gambittheweshi.

What are your business values?

We believe in serving well. We believe that we’re all at our best when we’re serving others with our talents and skills. That’s why we focus on creating processes that make communication easy and work efficient.

We believe in meaningful projects. What we do matters. That’s why we choose projects that we can execute well and that speak to our mission and vision. And you should too.

We believe in authentic design. Design should be a reflection of who you are, not what’s trendy or normal in your industry. We aren’t afraid to think outside the box.

We believe in family time. You know that idea that you have to hustle all the time? We believed it too for a while. Then we learned that we’re at our best when we can invest in the people who matter most - our friends and family. So we take time to make them a priority - and you should too.

We believe that growth is important. We love continually learning in growing, both in business and personally. We’re always testing out new systems and making investments in our future.

What do you do in your time off?

What time off? Just kidding! I've learned the hard way that it's important to make time for myself and my family if I want this business to be sustainable.

When I'm not working, I love cooking dinner with my husband, binge-watching Netflix, hanging out with local creatives and my church life group, and spending time exploring Virginia. I'm a big reader, so I always have a book by my bed and I'm all about DIY projects for my house.

My favorite shows include Criminal Minds, Veronica Mars, Firefly, and Gilmore Girls. My most watched movie is probably Legally Blonde (my sister and I watched it everyday for an entire week once), and my favorite (non-business) podcasts are Myths and Legends, Crime Writers On, Casefile, Generation Why, Invisibilia, and These are Their Stories.

Want to know more about me? I'm always sharing behind-the-scenes stuff on Instagram.


Lemon and the Sea is a brand and website design company located in Richmond, VA. I specialize in making the branding process personal. I work with creative women who have a heart to serve others grow their businesses so they can focus on what's most important - family.   I work closely with small businesses to help them dig into what makes them unique, share their vision, and build a business that genuinely represents who they are.


How Lemon and the Sea Got It's Name

How Lemon and the Sea Got It's Name | Lemon and the Sea: The story behind the name Lemon and the Sea

Almost every time I mention the name of my business - Lemon and the Sea - the other person asks me what it means. This happened when I had my first freelance client start writing checks (yes, they still do that) to the business instead of to me, when I registered my LLC, when I opened my business bank account (and found out that the only other company with the name Lemon in the state of Virginia made cookies), and all the time at coffee chats and networking events.

I don't have a big story or grand meaning behind the name - no grandmother that it's named after or childhood business that I played make believe too - so usually I give a generic answer.

"It just came to me."

"I like the way the two words don't seem to make sense, but still fit together so well."

And those things aren't untrue, they just aren't the whole story.

My First Business Name

In 2013, after I graduated from Clemson and was still hoping to find an architecture internship, I decided to create my own portfolio website and name it [SAM]designs. I even still have the html files saved on my external hard drive. Sam is my nickname and my initials, so I thought it was the perfect name that would allow me to share all kinds of design - from my architecture work to the side projects I was doing since I graduated,

I was all set to launch that website, but when I went to buy the domain (my very first), [SAM]designs and all it's variations were taken. I knew enough then to know that I couldn't have the same name as someone else, so I made a simple website on Wix, launched it, and kept working as a administrative assistant.

How Lemon and the Sea Really Got It's Name

Then in 2014, because I was always reading blogs and doing DIY projects for our apartment, I decided to start a blog (my second - the first had one post about my review of Romeo and Juliet). I loved the idea of creating a little extra income by sharing my projects online and hoped that I could share our journey through unemployment (I clearly had no idea how making money from blogging worked).

As I was laying in bed thinking about all the projects I could share, the name Lemon and the Sea popped into my head. I honestly have no idea why those words or that timing, but as I kept thinking about creating that blog, I couldn't get the name out of my head.

God had given me this name and I knew that I had to use it. I started with a logo - I sketched out the lemon and wave design, chose colors I loved, and kept playing with it until I loved it. It was the most difficult thing I had ever designed in Adobe Illustrator up to that point, but I created a logo I loved and that fit me.

From DIY Blog to Business

Once I had a logo design, I decided to jump in with both feet and actually purchase a domain and start posting through Wordpress. My first blog post was about some how I had painted candle holders as Christmas gifts.

At the time, I didn't have much to post because I was living in Pennsylvania working and searching for a job so that I could join my husband in Richmond. 

Eventually, after six months of living apart, I decided that it was time to join Jay even though I didn't have a job yet. Instead, I started freelancing for the company I had just left and starting researching how to make money online. In a small apartment with no room for a workshop, I knew I couldn't keep up a DIY blog, but I started sharing all kinds of posts - recipes, design, home decor.

Over time, I learned - from webinars, reading other blogs, and trying things out - how I could turn my little blog into a real business by offering graphic design services. In the summer of 2015 (right before I left for a week long vacation with my family), I got my first inquiry from someone who was interested in a logo design.

That one didn't work out, but I was hooked. I knew that I could turn my skills and passion for helping other people build businesses that supported them into something that could support my family and that I would be excited to spend time on every day.

And the rest, as they say, is history

Just kidding. Running my own business is a constant experiment. I'm learning how to market my services, how I can best serve the people I want to work with, and refining my skills in design and administration.

But the name Lemon and the Sea has kept my going through it all because I know that God gave me the name for a reason  and that He's still at work in my business and my life. That's why I haven't considered changing the name or giving up when things get tough - I know Lemon and the Sea has great things to accomplish.

How did you name your business?


Lemon and the Sea is a brand and website design company located in Richmond, VA. I specialize in making the branding process personal. I work with creative women who have a heart to serve others grow their businesses so they can focus on what's most important - family.   I work closely with small businesses to help them dig into what makes them unique, share their vision, and build a business that genuinely represents who they are.