Small Biz Chats: Kory Woodard.
For this edition of Small Biz Chats, I'm chatting with Kory Woodard. She is a brand and web designer with a simple, chic style, and writes a great blog with tips on business and design, and she's all about creating a community. Today she has some great insights to share: take it away, Kory!
What is your business, and why did you start it? I run a design business where I help passionate, driven women create brands and web based designs (think: blogs and websites) that help them accomplish their goals and work towards their dreams! I started my business in college to sort of see if I could do it long term. I saw my peers online with the freedom to determine how much money they made, when they worked, and what they did. It seemed like the ideal scenario. At the same time I knew my parents weren't happy with their jobs, so I was really trying to see if I could make a business happen where I was doing something I enjoyed and that made me happy! Lucky for me, it's really worked out!
What were you doing before you launched your business? I was in college! Some people may not know this about me, but I launched my blog and my business while in college. My business came a little bit later in the year, but before I launched my business I was just a plain ol' college student. For about 7-8 months I was the editor-in-chief of an online art/music/lifestyle magazine. That really propelled me into this online work of Twitter and blogs and it was my first design job (though it wasn't paid).
How did you find your first paying clients/customers, and what really helped you to grow your business? Ah, so I've told this story before, but I love sharing it, especially with people looking to get started in my field. I don't know what made me think of it, but 3 years ago I looked up the #blogdesign tweets. I don't remember if I was hoping to find work or what, but I found this gal from the UK who wanted to get a new blog design. I remember, I responded to her and said hey I can do this! We emailed back and forth and I ended up doing the project for about €50. From there, I started responding to almost every single person who mentioned that they needed a new blog design. Through doing that I was able to start establishing that I was doing that, so some of the people who'd been following me online already started reaching out, and it just kept growing from there!
What tools are most important to help you stay organized and on task? Oh, goodness! I have been trying to keep things pretty simple, lately. I use my WD My Cloud to stay organized with my client work. It helps me be able to work from either of my computers at home or out at a coffee shop. I've been going back and forth as far as planners/to-do list apps are concerned, but I'm currently using an Emily Ley notepad + the Simplified Planner to keep track of what's going on all week and getting things done. I love the notepad because I jot down everything for the whole week on one sheet (guest posts, to-do's, dinner, random notes) and the planner to keep track of what happens each day.
What aspect of your business is your absolute favorite thing that you do? Two things: My favorite part of my process is probably branding. I absolutely love working on moodboards and working with my clients to create a whole new identity for their brand that will help them accomplish their goals. In general, though, my favorite thing is to help women who are passionate about what they're doing. It's so encouraging and it really warms my heart to see my clients move forward in their businesses or blogs and really start accomplishing their big goals and working toward their dreams.
Do you have a dream project type or client that you'd love to land someday? In college, several of our projects were packaging, including two big personal projects I took on for my final classes. I had so much fun thinking about physical designs instead of just web based work like what I usually do. It was so much fun to start with branding and thinking about different types of packaging for certain things. I think one of my dream projects would be to do that for real products. I don't know if I have a preference for the type of product (my college products were tea + dog food), but I think regardless of the product it would be fun!
What do you think is the biggest challenge that creative small business owners face today? How can we handle it? It's information overload, no questions asked. As blogging has changed over the last couple of years to less lifestyle posts and more advice posts, it's become really hard to decide whose advice to take and what to move forward on. I can see it in my community, and it's really frustrating. The best thing I can recommend is to pick a few people that you trust their advice and then shut out the rest of the noise online. You don't have to read every single post about branding or every single tip on growing your business.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to launch his/her own business? I know so many people get stuck in the wishing and hoping phase and never actually get around to making the leap. I was fortunate enough that I went straight from college to being a business owner, so I didn't really go through that. I can commiserate, though, as I know a lot of people in my community are trying to make that leap themselves. So, my advice would be create a plan and then just do it. If you need to work a little more at a 9-5 to save money, if you need to build up your client base, whatever it is, just create a plan to transition and then do it. Otherwise, you'll never make it happen.
And finally, what is your favorite mid-workday snack? Ooh, my husband and I discovered this pumpkin spice bread at the grocery store a few weeks ago, and it's absolutely amazing. I usually have a couple of toasted slices as a snack!
Thanks to Kory for sharing her story! See all the Small Biz Chats posts here.
All images are property of Kory Woodard.