Squarespace, Social Media

7 Reasons Why We Chose Squarespace (Over Wordpress, Muse, Wix, Godaddy, etc.)

We have been around the block once or twice online and have tried our hand in many platforms, hosting services, and domain providers, but when it came time to rebrand we were stuck. We pondered for months over who or what we should choose, but once we finally made the decision we never looked back! Squarespace is by far the easiest platform to use, with the cleanest interface. Choosing them is hands down the best decision we’ve made for our business and blog. Here’s why…

We have been around the block once or twice online and have tried our hand in many platforms, hosting services, and domain providers, but when it came time to rebrand we were stuck. We pondered for months over who or what we should choose, but once we finally made the decision we never looked back! Squarespace is by far the easiest platform to use, with the cleanest interface. Choosing them is hands down the best decision we’ve made for our business and blog. Here’s why…  |  Think Creative Collective

Modern Design (With Esc Key)

Having an updated look was absolutely crucial to us when it came time for the switch. We have previously dealt with having our own custom coded website (DIY), large custom content management systems (in the corporate world), and WordPress, using various themes. Squarespace offers the cleanest selection of themes. Sure, there aren’t 100,000 options, but the 40+ they offer have extreme flexibility and can quickly become personalized. We spent hours combing through WordPress templates, only to be left disappointed. There are some awesome ones out there that offer great flexibility, but I have found them to be time intensive to set up and not always that user friendly (as they are built by many different people).

Don’t like the theme you picked on Squarespace? Press the Esc key and you are flown directly into editing mode. Press save and your site is back in action. Also, you can even try it totally free for 14 days – any theme, and can even switch to a new one halfway through!  

There came a time in our business when we feared we may have outgrown Squarespace. We were running a multiple six-figure business and needed more customization than the typical templates allowed for. But to our surprise and delight, we found out that if you can find the right team to support you, Squarespace has a robust backend system that can be manipulated with custom code, allowing for almost endless possibilities.

We’ve been nothing but pleased with our transformation – and because we didn’t budge and only improved usability, our SEO rankings continue to soar!

Easiest User Interface…. Ever

Being in design but having coding knowledge makes this a bit of a catch 22. Sure, I know how to manipulate code to move something to a different column, but I am visual, so having the flexibility to just drag it over to create a new column was genius.

We love the user interface. It is easy to understand – sure, there may be limited options, but each choice leads you to a new set of choices to fine tune the end result. An hour of coding to create a custom slider turns into seconds with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Even after paying for a very custom website, we still needed the flexibility to add pages, adjust the ones we had and continue to make changes into the future without the need to bring in the big guns. Having this interface allows ANYONE on our team to make changes on the fly with no background and it looks great, every time.

Compatible Across All Platforms and Devices

I am going to date myself here, but the first custom website I built…. was before EVERYONE had a smartphone, tablet or some sort of crazy mobile device. I wasn’t worried about making it responsive or easy to view on a phone, it just needed to be functional.

With today’s society, having your site be fully responsive is crucial. On an average day, nearly 50% of our site traffic is from mobile devices. Many WordPress templates are responsive, but no matter what, with Squarespace you always have that flexibility built-in. We could absolutely create a custom site on Muse without knowing code, but all of a sudden we are responsible for making the tablet and phone friendly versions separately on our own time and must update them independently.

Goofy things that you might overlook, like increasing the font size for phones or rearranging photos so the page flows, are automatically taken care of for you right inside Squarespace!

Social Integration

Many sites offer functionality to link to social sites, but we love the customized widgets that make the social streaming feel like it is apart of the original design. We have easily linked Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. P.S. You really ought to just follow us across the board!

But the even cooler thing, is that it isn’t just for the typical social stuff anymore. Are you a restaurant who takes reservations? What if you could integrate with an app like Opentable and have people reserve seats online without bogging down your phones? Yeah, you can do that too!

Security

Now many people don’t think about this, but having a secure place to host is extremely important. In the past we have had issues with WordPress allowing loopholes in some of their widgets that offer opportunities for the not so great people to sneak their way in.

I even ended up in a situation where a site I was managing was hacked and someone was selling black market drugs utilizing the back end of our high traffic site. Sure, this may be an extreme situation, but we like that all apps/widgets, etc. are Squarespace controlled. Of course that means less variety, but they are backed up by the Squarespace team so we have complete comfort in knowing they have taken care of these loopholes we may or may not be privy to.

Support

Real support offered by real people. Unlike many other service providers, there is chat and email functionality to channel questions through. In many other platforms, especially if you are utilizing home grown tools, i.e. custom themes or widgets, you must rely on user forums if you run into a problem or have questions.

Granted, it is so simple to use, we haven’t even needed support! Whereas in the case of other service providers we have used we were stuck after 15 minutes when something wasn’t rendering correctly, we needed custom code to overwrite something, or, even more frustrating, we had no idea where to even look to make the change we needed.

Integrated E-Commerce

Super simple integration with Stripe and PayPal makes it a breeze to list and sell products online using Squarespace. It is perfect for delivering digital downloads (for free or paid), selling physical products, managing shipping and more.

Did we mention that Squarespace didn’t ask us to write this? We just genuinely love their product and we think you are going to think it is pretty great too.

Bonus Resources!

Squarespace Pricing
Why It Is Worth It
Squarespace 101: Website Block Basics
Squarespace 101: Adding Your Instagram Feed to Your Website [Video]
Squarespace 101: Setting up a Free Opt-in Inside Your Shop [VIDEO]
Can I do that with Squarespace? + a FREE Video Ecourse
Wix vs Squarespace vs Virb vs Weebly vs WordPress Theme Builders

What other questions do you have about Squarespace vs. other service providers?



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Business, Marketing

21 Tips to Rock Your Next Trade Show and Make the Most of Your Investment

It’s Trade Show season!! Trade Shows are one of my FAVORITE ways to build wholesale business, grow brand recognition and connect with retail stores. There’s a special magic that happens when you get to spend a few days with similar small businesses, in a booth that was once only a concept on a piece of paper.  You make tons of new friends (even though yes, they are technically the competition) and get to connect with some of the BEST buyers and retailers throughout the country. It’s as exciting as it is exhausting!

It’s Trade Show season!! Trade Shows are one of my FAVORITE ways to build wholesale business, grow brand recognition and connect with retail stores. There’s a special magic that happens when you get to spend a few days with similar small businesses, in a booth that was once only a concept on a piece of paper.  You make tons of new friends (even though yes, they are technically the competition) and get to connect with some of the BEST buyers and retailers throughout the country. It’s as exciting as it is exhausting!   |  Think Creative Collective

Trade Shows can cost your business thousands of dollars, so when you decide to take the leap you want to be as prepared as possible. Whether it’s your first show or fiftieth, the key to a successful show is plenty of preparation. These are my top 21 tips to make sure you rock your next trade show and make the most of your investment!

Budget like a BOSS

There’s no question, a tradeshow can do some serious damage to your bank account. You’re spending a lot of money upfront in the hopes that the orders will more than make up for it. Be really price conscious and create a budget for yourself now, because expenses add up FAST! Here are some must-includes to help get you started:

  • Booth Costs
  • Hotel + Transportation Costs (taxi/uber/rentals/train/plane and such)
  • Samples
  • Special supplies
  • Any giveaways you plan as a show special
  • Printer costs (business cards/catalogs/press kits/order forms)
  • Special Signage (so buyers can easily spot your booth!)
  • Postage (for any pre-show or post show mailers, thank you notes etc)
  • Meals (especially important if you’re traveling!)
  • Miscellaneous Expenses (to cover anything that pops up!)

Read the Terms + Exhibition Guide

Every trade show location has specific exhibitor terms that you’re accepting when you sign up for the show. They include everything from what is and is not allowed in your booth, show logistics (when you can move in/break down), lighting and power guidelines (sometimes you have to pay for power — no joke!), acceptable fixtures (they probably need to meet fire codes) and more. There is nothing worse than sinking a lot of time and money into your booth, only to find out it doesn’t meet the requirements for the show so please, pour yourself a glass of wine and read the guide before you dive into your show prep!

Have a Pre-Show Marketing Strategy

Building anticipation for the show generates excitement for your brand and products! Your pre-show marketing strategy doesn’t have to be complex. Here are a few ideas to get you started that are relatively inexpensive!

Social Media Sneak Peeks

People love to know what is coming around the corner! Share a sneak peek of a collection that is being debuted at the show, new designs, or new products and get your audience excited!

Create Show-Specific Hashtags

Use show-specific hashtags along with your usual relevant hashtags and use them consistently. Seek out your favorite stores online and learn from the tags they're using and tags from posts they liked.

Types of tags to include:

  • Trade Show related hashtag — tradeshow name, your booth number
  • Industry related hashtags (stationery, gifts, home decor)
  • Business related hashtags

Pre-Show Mailer

Everyone loves getting snail mail! Send a beautifully designed mailer that invites buyers to your booth. Your mailer should include your company name, the tradeshow you’re exhibiting at, your booth number, any social icons).

Set Show Goals

You’ve invested so much time and money into your show, you want to get the biggest return on your investment possible! In addition to monetary goals (like getting $25,000), you’ll want a concrete list of goals you want this show to accomplish. They may include:

  • # new stores you are looking to open
  • sign X # sales reps
  • meet and befriend X number of small business owners
  • connect with X # publications

Book Your Accommodations Waaaay in Advance

You’ve got a lot on your plate, and keeping a roof over your head shouldn’t be stressing you out. Most trade shows will partner with local hotels and offer discounts to exhibitors. Even in major cities where it seems like there are endless hotel options, be proactive and book that baby asap. The more you can cross off your list in the beginning, the more time you’ll have to focus on the important stuff.

Bring a Binder with all of Your Important Paperwork

When you sign up to do a show, your inbox will be inundated with paperwork. Keep track of your contracts and agreements and have a copy on hand in your booth. Most shows have strict rules and regulations, and if a question is asked you’ll want to have the proper documentation with you to reference. There are companies that contract out components of your booth (everything from additional lighting to actually building your booth for you) and when you arrive there’s always a chance something may be missing or incomplete. Having all the important documents in one place will make dealing with a difficult situation much easier. While you can always have a copy on your laptop, keep in mind that WiFi service can be slow and spotty!

Bring a Drive with Important Docs

While you have probably already printed your catalogs, line sheets, press kits and order forms, there’s always a chance you’ll need more! Pack a flash drive with any important documents in case you need to make a quick Kinkos run. The drive takes up zero space and you’ll be happy to have a backup.

Pack Your Samples and Include Some Extras

With hundreds of people walking through your booth each day, your samples are going to get touched often and can become worn quickly. All it takes is one dirty hand to trash your newest notecard. It’s also great to have a few extras on hand to fill the shelves if they look a little sparse. While you may spend months planning every inch of your booth’s display, once you’re actually in the space those plans can change quickly! In some instances, your samples will simply disappear. There is always a risk of theft but every once and awhile someone inadvertently walks away with a sample and is too embarrassed to return it. Prep for the worst case scenario and you’ll be covered no matter what happens.

Bring Plenty of Catalogs, Line Sheets, and Order Forms

You’re going to encounter two types of buyers: those ready to write you an order on the spot and those who collect information and bring it back home to review before writing. Either way, plan on passing out a ton of sales material.

When it comes to order forms, I’ve found that it’s helpful to create one that details each item in your assortment. Filling in a generic blank order form by hand takes a lot more time than having one where you can circle styles, fill in the quantity and add the final cost. When you are working the booth all by yourself, you want to write orders as quickly as possible to avoid having other buyers wait too long. A buyer kept waiting may choose to come back later, but then get busy and you’re either left trying to track them down or end up missing the opportunity to work with them altogether. Make order writing as easy as possible for both you and your buyer!

Have a Press Kit

Buyers aren’t the only ones walking industry trade shows! Major and local magazines, publications, and influencers visit shows to look for the latest and greatest. Be prepared if a major magazine walks into your booth and likes what they see by keeping a few press kits on hand. Some shows have a specified press area where you can also drop off your kits.

Have a Show Special

Nothing says “buy now” like a little extra incentive! Reward and thank your buyers by offering them a special for the order(s) they place at the show. This may be some sort of discount or really cool gift with purchase. Use this opportunity to get as creative as you’d like!

Be Prepared for Frequently Asked Questions

While you may painstakingly detail your terms, conditions, and shipping windows in your catalog, most people won’t flip to that page — they’re simply going to ask! Be prepared to answer some of the most common questions which include:

  • What credit cards do you accept?
  • Do you have a show special?
  • When is this available to ship?
  • What's your minimum opening order?
  • What are your minimums per style?
  • Where are your products made?

Take Notes on Business Cards

It never fails — there will be hours when nobody visits your booth, then all of a sudden it becomes packed with buyers! In the hustle of trying to talk to everyone, it’s easy for one conversation to blur with another. When you exchange business cards, take a moment and make a note on the back of your buyer’s card that will help you remember who they are and the conversation you had. Maybe your buyer was wearing a dress you loved, or she mentioned a big upcoming event. These little details matter when you’re crafting your follow up emails because it shows the buyer you were paying attention and helps you recall your meeting.  

Recap Each Day THAT DAY

After 12+hours on your feet, you probably just want a glass of wine, a real meal and to go to bed  (I’ve been there!). It’s so important to take some time to review your notes, orders + business cards (because they should have notes too!) to look for any discrepancies and make a list of anything that stands out in your mind (order questions, leads, opportunities, follow up notes). As much as you tell yourself that you’ll remember, chances are, you probably won’t. These days are long and can easily run together, so take a moment while the day is still fresh in your mind to recap as much as possible. Doing it NOW will save you major headaches later on. Plus, it gives you an opportunity to see how many orders you wrote, how they compare to your goals and help you start working on an inventory tally for orders.

Bring Snacks

Chances are, even if you have someone else in the booth with you will be lucky to snag a bathroom break. Pack a few protein bars, some nuts, and lots of water to help you stay focused throughout the day. While most convention centers have food, options are usually limited and lines can be long, meaning you may miss a key buyer in your booth!

Leave the Heels at Home

Those convention center floors are hard, so it’s best to leave your heels at home and opt for a pair of fancy + comfy flats. We’ve all had that pair of shoes that we thought would be super comfy and turned out to be a nightmare, so break in any new show shoes ahead of time! If heels are an absolute must, pack a backup option so you can swap them out when your feet start to hurt.

Decide on Your Sales Rep Strategy

Chances are, you’ll meet a few sales reps who are head over heels for your line and want to rep it. Decide in advance how you want to handle reps. Do you want to add them to your team? Or do you want to keep everything in house? Have a plan in place to handle the requests as they come through.

Encourage Visitors with a Sweet Treat

Buyers usually spend 1-2 days at the show, meaning there is a lot they need to pack into each day! In many cases, they don’t really have time to eat. Setting out a small bowl of candy or sweet treats (individually wrapped, please — there will be a lot of hands in there) will give them a reason to pause. They will spend those extra few seconds checking out your booth and when they do, chances are they will see something that gets their attention! Buyers are pretty polite and in most cases will ask before they take. This gives you the perfect opportunity to chat them up. It may seem silly, but I can tell you from experience that this little act of kindness goes a long way!  

Have a Post Show Plan

Once the show is over you’re probably going to want to take a long vacation. There is so much to do that it’s easy to become overwhelmed and check out for a few days. Developing a post show plan beforehand allows you to come up for air without anything accidentally slipping through the cracks. Here are a few post show planning ideas to get you started:

  • Decide when you’ll answer outstanding emails from your time out of office
  • Organize show expense receipts
  • Calculate new stock order units
  • Decide when you’ll place the stock orders
  • Determine how you’ll follow up with and thank buyers who placed orders
  • Have a plan for following up with buyers who showed interest but didn’t write
  • Decide how you’ll collect outstanding payment info (not everyone is comfortable leaving their CC info with you at the show)
  • Processing any orders that need to ship immediately

And there you have it! I hope I’ve made the process a little less scary and overwhelming so you can cross that trade show you’ve been considering off your biz bucket list!



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Trello, Video Tutorial

How to Use Butler for Trello So You Can Automate More Things

Are you ready to fall even MORE in love with Trello?!

Yes?

Well ok then, buckle up buttercup.

Butler for Trello is legit like a BUTLER for Trello. It makes things more automated and more awesome in general, and really fills a gap that you didn’t even know existed.

The basics: You give Butler a command and it does it automatically for you from that point on.

Are you ready to fall even MORE in love with Trello?!  Yes?  Well ok then, buckle up buttercup.  Butler for Trello is legit like a BUTLER for Trello. It makes things more automated and more awesome in general, and really fills a gap that you didn’t even know existed.  The basics: You give Butler a command and it does it automatically for you from that point on.  |  Think Creative Collective

Some examples:

  • Have a master calendar and have anything added to ANY other board in your Trello account automatically go to that calendar with the same due dates, etc.
  • Have a board just for your team and have any card that they’re added to in another board added to that board too.
  • Move things from a “future” board or list to a “this week” board or list when it’s due in 7 days or less.
  • Have cards auto-archive when marked as “complete”.

That honestly just scratches the service with Butler and Trello — they’re like the perfect freakin’ couple. #couplegoals

To get started, it’s actually crazy easy:

  • Go to ButlerforTrello.com and sync your Trello account to Butler.
    • You can select which boards you want to add Butler to (you can add as many or as few as you want).
    • This will add a “Butler” list to the boards you sync it with that houses instructions.
  • Head over to https://trello.com/b/2dLsEE9t/butler-for-trello to view basically ANYTHING for Butler inside a Trello board (that alone is great marketing, right?).
    • The two most important things here are both in the “instructions” column:
      • How to use Butler.
      • Command Builder ←-- this is uber important.
  • Head over to the command builder (link in that Trello board above AND in your “instructions” card in the Butler list on your synced boards). Or, ya know what, let’s make life easy — you can also click here.
  • Build your prefered command (refer to the video below for more here).
  • Insert your command as the TITLE of a card in the Butler list.
  • You will get the big green checkmark and an “understood” comment if it’s a command that is understood by Butler. If not, try again homeslice.

NOTE: Make sure that your list/board titles are written exactly (punctuation, capital letters, etc.) as they are in the boards in your commands — if not, you’ll still get an “understood”, but it won’t actually fire.

I’m telling you — this is a game changer and such an awesome tool for Trello users.

Eeek — go play for yourself!



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Website Traffic, Blog

10 Ways to Maximize Your Blog Posts and Increase Your Traffic

How many times have you heard that you need to blog regularly? All the time, right?

And whether you are a natural or reluctant blogger, you need to ensure that you are optimizing your blog to maximize the visibility of each post, your blog, and business.

How many times have you heard you need to blog regularly? All the time, right?    And whether you are a natural or reluctant blogger you need to ensure that you are optimizing your blog to maximize the visibility of each post, your blog, and business. | Think Creative Collective

Does this scenario sound familiar?

⏳ You finally write an awesome blog post that you are so so pleased with.

💻 You lovingly publish it on your website.

📲 Then you share on your social media profiles once…and then you stop.

🚫 You wonder why no one is reading it, no one is leaving comments, and you’re not getting traffic to your site. Zero…zilch…nada.

“Why?” We hear you cry,  “What am I doing wrong? Is it the content? Is no one interested? Do I need to change what I am writing about?”

Well, maybe.

But no, what you really need is a social sharing strategy. Ok, we know it’s another thing to worry about but trust us, this works. Basically, you need to have a systematic approach to sharing all your new content multiple times and re-sharing your old content again, too.

Again, imagine if the one time you shared your blog post someone missed it or they were too busy to take a look. And let's face it, not all of us have necessarily got the type of blog (yet) that someone will just log into every day on the off chance that you have written some awesome words (besides, this kind of blog reading behavior is soooooo 2007).

Or, you shared it to Facebook and only 1% of your audience saw it anyway.

What you need is your own sharing strategy, as well as a method to get others to share your content more easily.

So let's get started on a social sharing strategy. Follow these simple suggestions and you’ll be doubling your blog traffic in no time:

1. THINK ABOUT SHARING YOUR NEW CONTENT MULTIPLE TIMES ON ALL OF YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS.

Set up a schedule that makes sense for you. For instance, you can share more frequently on Twitter than on Facebook and your audience won’t switch off. Think about what works best on each platform. We personally use Post Planner, and love their feature of recycling old posts to repeat forever.

2. CONTINUE TO SHARE OLD CONTENT.

You should continue to share old content – some of our most popular posts were written over a year ago. There’s no reason we can’t shout that from the rooftops from time to time. You’re constantly gaining new readers and growing your audience and you need to remember that they haven’t seen everything you’ve ever put out so it’s okay to remind them.

3. ENSURE THAT YOU HAVE INTERNAL LINKS IN BLOG POSTS THAT LINK TO OTHER CONTENT YOU HAVE DEVELOPED – IT SPARKS THE INTEREST OF READERS TO GO CHECK THAT OUT TOO.

Remember that you’re adding value and creating an experience for every reader. If there’s another post you’ve written, a post someone else has written, a great news article or resource that might add value, be sure to link it up. If your readers know that you are a source for valuable content, they’ll keep coming back for more.

4. MAKE SURE YOU POST COMPELLING HEADLINES.

When you post to social media channels, mix your headlines up across platforms. As you begin to share multiple times, you'll begin to figure out what works best.

5. REPURPOSE YOUR CONTENT IN VARIOUS WAYS.

This could be as an infographic or a podcast, an intense course or a quick email series. Different things work for different places, so remember that when you are repurposing.

6. BE CONSISTENT WITH YOUR BRANDING AND MAKE IT LOOK VISUALLY APPEALING AND INTERESTING.

We know how enticing it is to want to change up your blog layout, the header, the graphic or even your logo. But every time you do this, you’re potentially taking a reader who recognizes you and confusing them. Create consistency across the board by trying not to change anything for 6 months (at least).

7. MAKE IT EASY FOR OTHERS TO SHARE YOUR CONTENT WITH TOOLS SUCH AS:

  • Clicktotweet: Clicktotweet is the easiest and simplest way to promote and advertise your blog, website, and business on Twitter. Highlight a message you want to promote, generate a Clicktotweet, and you have an instant way for others to easily share your content.

  • Sumome: Sumome share toolbar is a tool that makes it easier for your readers to share your blog posts on their own social profiles. Sumome also has an email capture tool, so you can build your email list at the same time. Bonus!

8. ADD GRAPHICS TO ALL YOUR SOCIAL UPDATES.

Tweets with images are, on average, shared 180% more than those without.

9. USE A SCHEDULING TOOL TO SET UP YOUR POSTS SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO THINK ABOUT IT.

Again, we use Post Planner to share out content across Twitter and Facebook. We utilize Later to schedule our content on Instagram.

10. DEVELOP YOUR OWN CHECKLIST OF THE MULTIPLE TYPES OF CONTENT AND PLACES TO SHARE (SO YOU DON’T FORGET ANYTHING).

Something like this might work initially (it's in Trello, of course!) and once you get going you can add more steps.

Try implementing these simple steps and sharing your content multiple times and see what effect it has on your blog traffic. Spoiler alert: it’s going to help it a ton.



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