Archive for Technology

Take Stock of Your Photos

Yay, its a new year and now everyone is focused on “out with the old and in with the new”, right? This is a great time to look at your company’s brand, to see how well your maintaining it and review your collateral material. How often have you sat in a meeting and just as you hand out a brochure you glance down at it realizing the second that it leaves your hand the information is old and stale? I know, you’d rather not admit it but it happens to everyone.

So, while you’re reviewing your collateral material why not also take a good, long look at the photos that you’re using on your brochures, flyers and web site? Chances are you’ve grabbed some stock photo off of a cd or purchased it from a web site (PLEASE don’t steal them off line -that’s a WHOLE other story!) and just had them strategically dropped into the design. But do your photos reflect your company? Are they the same photos that you’d find on similar materials in other companies in your city? Are they working for you? Do they make your company stand out? After all, you know the old saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words”.

Why are you even using stock photos, anyway? Now, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against stock photos and even use them in some instances. I just don’t use them all the time.

There are so many talented photographers available that its worth a little extra money to take good quality photographs of your business location, of your actual employees in the workplace to represent your company. Have you ever considered using a working action shot of the CEO or owner of your company? I love that so much more than a standard head shot. Everyone’s got a head shot, I want to see the guy or girl with their sleeves rolled up working away.

Get the picture? No, really, get the picture! You’ll be so glad that you did.

Debby is a working writer, designer, artist, photographer and guest lecturer in Southern California. If you are interested in hiring her she is available for ghost blogging, strategic marketing planning, graphic and web design, photo shoots and more. You can email her at djohnson@debrongraphics.com

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New Beginnings – Plan Your Year

2011. A new year and new resolutions that won’t be kept. I have to say, I think at this point in time resolutions are really over-rated. I’m not resolving to do anything at all this year. Shocked? Don’t be.

While I’m not making resolutions what I am making are both personal promises to myself and a concrete business plan that I can really follow throughout the year. One of my first promises to myself was to step up my business and add a few more things to my plate. I know that initially concerned a few people in my life who were probably wondering where that would leave time for them. However the good, no the GREAT news is that with my business plan in place I’ll be taking more control over my time and my life and adding more hours essentially into my day.

I am so excited to be able to do this. The reigning post-it queen I am making a huge effort to work more efficiently by incorporating more digital lists (I do love several note apps I have on my phone and iPad for their new usefulness in my life) as well as making plans for every month in advance. As an example, I have a list of blog topics by week for the entire next year. Yes, that means I’m going to blog at least once a week on a consistent basis and share more marketing and design tips and tricks but the better news is that I won’t waste time while I ponder which idea to write about and wonder, “did I just write about that recently?” at which point I’m forced to go back and re-read all of my blogs for a while, killing whole hours in my day. Plus, and here’s a big plus, I can still blog spontaneous topics on other days of the week. Impulsively blogging is so much fun and I can still do it but now I WILL blog regularly. Wish you could see my smiling face! : )

Maybe even more exciting to me are the business plans that I’ve written for clients. Yay! We have a whole year of ideas that we can utilize to move their businesses forward. But you know what else we have? We have a plan…deadlines to get things off to print well ahead of an upcoming trade show. We have less stress in my life because all I have to do is look at the calendar and remind them about the project or be proactive and design it sending them off a draft that’s ready early. I positively love this because that just put me back into control in my life, gave me hope of more than one weekend off a year and extra hours into my day. Deb is a happy designer!

If you need help creating your marketing design plan for the year, let me know. I now have plenty of ‘extra’ time to help you with your work and reduce the stress in your life. You can email me at djohnson@debrongraphics.com.

If You Build It They Will Come

Its true of course, isn’t it? All you have to do is build your website and put it on the world wide web and like magic visitors will flock to your business and you’ll be rich beyond your wildest dreams. While its true that getting your website on the internet is an important first step in success on the world wide web, its a bit more complicated than that.

So, what things do you need to know to achieve a high search engine placement on the internet?

  • Search engines use “spiders” and “robots” to go out and scour the internet for websites. These spiders and robots report back what they find to the search engines will all of that information dumped into a giant database. Different search engines have different criteria for search engine placement.

  • Building your website with good solid HTML code will assist those tiny search engine spiders and robots in their job. If they can easily read your site’s code thats another hurdle that you’ve cleared. A good web designer will know the things that throw up a read flag to these information scavengers and will build your website to avoid these pitfalls

  • By now you’re probably asking yourself what part actual content plays in this process. And that’s where we come to relevance. So, what’s relevance got to do with it? Well, those same little spiders and robots will read the actual words on your site devouring all of that information to pass back along to the database tracking their websites.
  • if you want to be found under a search for fashion photographers in the Southern California area, its important to have those words in your text. The spiders are matching the meta tags, which are tags built in to the code telling them what your site is about, with the actual text on your page. If they don’t find those same words, well, that affects your placement on that particular search as those sites with the most relevant page content will come up at the top of the the search.

Ok, so I’ve taken all of those things into consideration but my site still doesn’t come up at the top of the search. AND I’m getting emails now telling me that certain companies guarantee a top 10 placement, so why can’t you do that for me too?

Its simple. Nobody can guarantee that. There are options for paying some search engines to be placed on the top of their list. That is a very expensive option. And even if one of the companies promoting that they will get you a number one placement is lucky enough to have that happen, you’ll quickly see yourself slide down on the list

There are a lot of people who want number one, maintaining that status without paying for it is next to impossible. There are other “tricks of the trade” that we can employ, but they are outside the cost of basic website development.

If you really want to see your site grow, there is something simple you can do yourself. Put your URL on every piece of marketing material you produce. Put it in your email signature on your emails, put it in the signature block on your regular correspondence and most certainly be sure that its on your business cards. These things don’t cost you anything but the rewards are great!

If you would like to download a .pdf version of “If You Build It They Will Come” you can get that at:

You Know You’re a Geek When…

Its another gorgeous day in Southern California! The sun is shining, the sky is blue and already this morning I can hear the neighbors outside cutting the grass and the sound of children playing in the street.

And its the weekend!!!! What more could you ask for???

So…..why, you ask yourself am I roaming around my house lost and unsettled? Dazed and confused? My server is being upgraded and my websites are down. No email. How long will this last?  (Its only until about 2:00 p.m. EST) Dread fills my being. “I can’t stand it,” I silently scream. I need my email. I must have my email. I’d even take spam at this moment. Even the horrible, disgusting spam I complain about all the time. Those offers to enhance body parts I don’t even have.

Oh, no!

And then it hits me. Like a ton of bricks. Like heartburn at 3:00 a.m. and there’ s no antacid in the house. That’s when you know for sure. The nagging thoughts solidify into a concrete realization.  You can’t run and hide. Denying the truth is futile.  “Face reality,” I tell myself. And that’s when I truly knew I was a geek.

Once Upon A Time Versus The Internet

Close your eyes and listen  closely and you’ll  hear the idyllic voice softly reading the words “Once upon a time…” and, you know the rest. The handsome prince rescues (again) the damsel in distress.  After which the handsome prince and beautiful princess  live happily ever after, of course.  

That’s the formula that most childhood stories were made of. Its a great model destined to make for a very happy ending. So, where’s your prince, or princess? Haven’t found them yet?  Why not, don’t believe in fairy tales you say?

Hmmmm……………….seems to me that lots of people still do! And they aren’t looking in the top of the highest tower for their happiness.  So, where are they looking? The internet. Duh!

Come on, just look at the proliferation of internet dating sites such as eHarmony, for example. You can find your ‘true love’ by simply logging on. Only thing is sometimes internet dating is about as much fantasy as your favourite fairytale. Try reading between the lines in almost any chatroom or IM conversation. It goes something like this:

Miles, our 29-year-old dashing hero with blonde hair and blue eyes (aka Norman, a 15-year-old geek) : Yes, I’m independent. No woman has been able to tame me yet! But I’d let you try, chuckle, chuckle.”

Translation: I can’t get a date and my mother won’t let me stay out after 8:30 p.m.

Bambi, also 29, our princess, also with blonde hair and blue eyes (after all, doesn’t everyone online have blonde hair and blue eyes???), waiting to be rescued (aka Myrtle, a 49-year-old who doesn’t wear her age well at all, divorced mother of 3 teenagers) : “Giggle, giggle. Well, I’m just the woman to do it! No man has been able to resist me. I don’t have to work so I have plenty of time to spend with you!”

Translation: No man has ever been able to resist my nagging. I live off of my ex-husband and don’t work which gives me all the time in the world to nag you and get into all of your business.

Wow, depressing huh? So, does that mean that there is NO hope????? Of course not! Sometimes fairy tales do come true!  After all, I found my Prince Charming!

[Music begins to play softly in the background, as I ride off on the back of a beautiful stallion, hugging my Prince, waving, as my long blonde hair (and yes, blue eyes!!) flows gracefully in the wind.]

“May all of your wishes come true!” (just be careful what you wish for!!)