Why Small Businesses and Bloggers Need Private Cloud Storage

Why Small Businesses and Bloggers Need Private Cloud StorageCiera-Design-Studio-DeskCiera-Design-Studio-DetailsCiera-Design-Studio-Computer Ciera-Design-Studio-Workspace

Today I want to tell you about why you should set up your own private cloud for your home office or creative business, but first a story.

My business has been going through quit a bit lately. Some good, some bad. Let’s get the bad out-of-the-way. I have been having some serious computer issues. I limped it along for months but finally had to send it off for repairs. As y’all know, my computer is a major part of how I make a living and it’s really not possible for me to get much done without it. Luckily I was able to borrow a computer but it still hasn’t been easy. I had to save all my files to a drive making sure I didn’t forget any fonts, graphics, working files, estimates, etc. Not fun.

Another challenge is that I’ve always worked from a laptop. I like the versatility but it’s not ideal as my only computer. I have been contemplating getting a desktop but I wasn’t sure how I’d work on both without constantly sending files back and forth.

Now the good! Something else going on behind the scenes right now is that I’m bringing on some part-time help in the design studio, exciting but scary! I’m so used to working alone. Everything is organized in my head but having employees means that everyone needs to be on the same page. So I’m working on some new processes and implementing some new technology. We all need access to the same files, otherwise things will get very confusing.

I wasn’t really sure how to achieve all of this seamlessness that I was after. Then with absolutely perfect timing WD, a Western Digital Company saved the day by providing me with a My Cloud EX2 to use and review… serious dream come true. This is what I was looking for and I didn’t even know it. Personal cloud storage! Basically, it is a physical hard drive connected to your Internet that you can access from anywhere. Totally ideal for small office and home office businesses.

 

Why I Love Private Cloud Storage

  • one-time cost – unlike many public cloud options, the My Cloud EX2 just has a one-time cost, purchase the drive and you’re done. You can also add as many users as you need!
  • easy setup – plug it in and go through the simple setup and you’re up and running with an intuitive interface
  • security – allows you to set up permissions-based folders so you can give an employee or family member limited access to access or upload files
  • peace of mind – knowing your data is backed up and secure with cloud storage for small businesses makes it easier to focus on other things to make your business successful
  • wireless back ups – the drive gets plugged into a power source and your internet during setup but never directly to your computer so your backups happen without you even thinking about it
  • file sharing – easily generate email links for files or folders. When a client clicks on the link they are given a zip of the files you selected. This allows you to send files that are too large for emailing.
  • anytime, anywhere access – with mobile and desktop apps you are not limited to what you can fit on your phone – if you download the app you can view all files from your drive at home. You can connect multiple computers and devices for seamless integration.
  • automatic transfer via camera - you can connect your camera directly to the My Cloud EX2 and it copies files automatically
  • storage space – photos from my blog take up a lot of space and I NEVER delete client projects. Luckily the My Cloud EX2 provides several capacity options, up to 8TB, to choose from.
  • speed – files load much faster to the EX2 than they do to a remote cloud.
  • working remotely – I want to be able to travel and I want employees to work from anywhere. My Cloud EX2 is such a huge benefit when working in multiple offices, computers or on the road.
  • streaming – stream videos and photos to connected TVs, media players, gaming consoles

If you have a small business, you really need to get one of these systems! I can’t believe I’m only now setting one up! Be sure to check out more of the features at Western Digital’s website and share this story with other small business owners, this knowledge is major!

Many thanks to WD for letting me try the private cloud with the EX2. Thank you for supporting this blog by allowing me to post occasional sponsored content. All sponsored posts feature products or services that I truly feel would be of interest to you and all opinions are my own. The two photos of me are by Hannah Hudson Photography.

On Speaking at Alt Summit

On Speaking at Alt Summit 3

When I was at Alt last January I remember saying that I would NEVER be able to speak in public, and definitely not at a conference like Alt, with so many other bloggers and creatives that I look up to. I’m much more comfortable talking to people one-on-one and I get incredibly anxious in large groups of people, especially when I’m front and center. I’m an introvert so attending events like Alt are already out of my comfort zone, let alone speaking at one.

On Speaking at Alt Summit 1

When Mariah suggested that we pitch a panel idea together with Melissa, PJ and Tan, for some reason I said yes, secretly hoping we didn’t get picked, but to my surprise, they loved our topic idea and here we are, a year and a half after saying “I would NEVER”, I did it, I spoke on a panel at Alt Summit!

On Speaking at Alt Summit 7

It was the scariest thing I have ever done, but because of that, one of the most rewarding. I believe that if you are not pushing yourself or doing scary things then you are not going to grow as a person or grow professionally. One of my favorite quotes from Alt this year was from Emily McDowell “fear is an asshole and a liar” and I’m so glad I didn’t give in to my fear! I mean, I got to speak at the same conference as Martha Stewart!

On Speaking at Alt Summit 2

Our room was packed and it was awesome to see everyone so engaged and to hear how much people appreciated the content and hard work we put into making our panel special.

On Speaking at Alt Summit 6

On Speaking at Alt Summit 5

On Speaking at Alt Summit 4

On Speaking at Alt Summit 8

On Speaking at Alt Summit 9

I am so thankful for the opportunity. If you missed it, you can see the recap of what I spoke about, Growing Your Blog by Positioning Yourself as an Expert.

Photos by Justin Hackworth or Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit.

Growing Your Blog By Positioning Yourself As An Expert

Just two weeks ago me and these lovely ladies got up in front of the Alt Summit crowd and chatted about growing a small blog.
Alt SLC Summer Thursday Morning

If you came to our panel at Alt Summit, here is our slide show as promised! And if you were not there, or need a refresher, here is an overview on what I spoke about, growing a small blog by positioning yourself as an expert! You can download the worksheet we handed out, and then work while you read this post.

Growing A Small Blog

I’m sure y’all have all heard the advice to blog about what you know and love – it’s usually the first piece of advice you’ll get for blogging and I don’t think anyone will deny that as a great starting point. But I want to take it a little further by talking about positioning yourself as an expert. One of the main ways I’ve grown my blog is by sharing tips from my experiences in graphic design, social media and running my own small business.

I use the term “expert” loosely, because obviously I don’t know everything about these topics, but I am passionate about them and I do have a degree in graphic design and have been working in the industry for eight years. So I probably know more than the person opening Photoshop for the first time or who just signed up for Twitter last week.

So basically, you don’t have to wait for somebody to call you an expert in order to give expert advice.

Give Expert Advice

I’m always getting questions through email, on social media, and even from friends and family, whenever there is something design related they know they can come to me. And I’m sure the same happens to y’all from time to time. Maybe people are always asking you about how you put your outfit together or asking for your recipe when you cook for them. That’s people showing that they value what you know and trust your opinions.

So if you find that people are consistently asking you a about the same topics, it’s likely they would become a reader of your blog if that’s what you focused on. As your name starts to get associated with a specific field, then your network will start to grow.

Ok, let’s move onto a strategy for coming up with content:
First you have to figure out the types of problems that your readers are having in your field. So, using the worksheet in the download, jot down a few things that you enjoy doing and that people always ask you about. What do you know that can benefit other people?

What Do You Know That Can Benefit Others

So for example, I’d be writing down that people ask me about the fonts I use and other design related questions and how I made the switch from working at an agency to full-time freelance. Remember – no problem is too big or small to write down.

Then, once you know the challenges your readers are having, you can come up with a plan to turn those problems around into solutions.

Growing Your Blog Content Strategy

Here is an example of how I determined my readers problems and then solved them by writing an additional post that I didn’t originally intend to:

When the Facebook layout was updated two years ago to the timeline it was a pretty major change. It was much more design oriented with the large cover photo and app tabs. If you remember, they even allowed users to preview their changes before they had to commit for good so that everyone could ease into the new design. I decided to jump right and update the few different pages that I manage. As I was designing the cover images and doing the updates, I anticipated that my readers may want to hear some ideas on how to keep their pages consistent with their blog or business branding, so I wrote a blog post Design Tips for your Facebook page.

I ended up getting tons of questions beyond the design aspect of people wanting to know how to actually install the apps I was using. So every time I got a question, I was stopping in my tracks and individually responding to them all with detailed instructions in an email.

As much as I’d love to be able to answer every question one-on-one like this I realized it just wasn’t realistic or a productive way to work. So I decided to write another post with step-by-step instructions for installing the apps which has ended up being one of my most popular posts. Turning reader questions into blog posts is now one of the ways I build my editorial calendar.

If you find people still have questions after you write about it, you can take it further and create a blog post series or even teach a course or write an e-book focused on digging deeper into certain topics. That’s actually something I recently did, I wrote a guide on planning a local event series because I needed to go more in-depth than a blog post would allow. And this helps even more to position yourself in your field.

Now I know some people are new to their field, so if you are just getting started, you can write about things that you are interested in learning more about, classes you are taking or things you are teaching yourself along the way. You can have this learning experience with your readers.

Have A Learning Experience With Your Readers

But you never want to risk losing credibility. So if you’re not quite certain of something, just let it be know that you are experimenting and figuring it out as you go, because you don’t ever want to put incorrect information out there – you don’t ever want to lose your readers trust.

Do Not Lose Your Readers Trust

Now I’m going to give you guys a few formats and examples that I find work well for showcasing your expertise:

- how-to posts or videos
• Merricks Art
• Pugly Pixel

- provide valuable resources
• I’ve shared resources like My Favorite WordPress Plugins
• I love to share my favorite fonts

- curated posts
 theme thursday from Oh, What Love
• round ups like products used to create on-the-go on The Fresh Exchange

- featuring others
this is a great way to show support and recognize others doing a good job in your field

- lists
these are really easy for your readers to share, especially on Twitter
• ByRegina
• Elembee

When you’re able to solve a problem for someone, they feel like you’ve given them insider tips & tricks and in turn form a stronger bond which makes them more likely to come back for more because people appreciate free advice.

People Appreciate Free Advice

But don’t feel the need to do it all or try to imitate somebody else. Don’t post what you think people want to hear if it’s not something you truly enjoy writing about.

I don’t really know anything about fashion but do share style posts from time-to-time, because it’s fun for me, but that is not how I have grown trust from readers and my readership over the past four years. It’s been by positioning myself as an expert. It’s not easy and it won’t be an overnight success but as Stan Smith Says, people need experts.

People need experts. They have value because they have done the research, legwork, and training that we can’t do on our own.  Not only that, we rely on experts to see further down the road than we can.  We cherish their insight and lean on their wisdom.  Having an expert means that you can shortcut the process and achieve your goals quicker.” – Stan Smith

So now, looking back at what you wrote earlier, write down a few topics that you could write about that will help to position yourself as an expert.

Because before you look to other blogs for things like guest posts, advertising or giveaways you need to get your own blog in a good place. Consider what you do really well and what you love and start sharing that compelling, informative and unique content.

Share Unique Content

Download the full slide show here and then head over to Mariah, PJ, Melissa and Tan’s blogs to read all about their parts of the panel!

PJ Feinstein – Growing a small Blog through Self Promotion and Networking

Mariah Danielsen – Growing a small Blog through Guest Posting on Other Blogs

Melissa Bahen – Growing a Small Blog through Collaboration

Tan Rutley – Growing a Small Blog through Social Media Collaborations and Giveaways

Do you have questions or tips of your own? I’ll answer them in the comments!

first photo was taken by Justin Hackworth for Alt Summit • slides by me

The Business Cards of Alt Summit 2014

Hi y’all, I’m back from Alt Summit! I know I said I was going to take a blog break while I take in all the information but I couldn’t wait to share some of my favorite business cards from the awesome bloggers and brands I met while in Salt Lake City. I have linked to all of their sites at the bottom so click around for some awesome new people to follow, I still have some exploring to do myself! I’ll also pop back in soon to tell you all about the panel I spoke on, Growing A Small Blog!

Alt Summit Business Card InspirationAlt Summit Summer 2014 Business Card PartyAlt Summit Summer 2014 Business Cards Black White GoldAlt Summit Summer 2014 Business Cards - Oh What Love StudiosAlt Summit Summer 2014 Business Cards LetterpressAlt Summit Summer 2014 Business Cards - The Collaboreat

Everyday ReadingPaper Bandit Press / A Girl Named PJ / Demi + Olive / Christina Williams / Love Grows Design / Simply Sadie Jane / Peter Loves Jane / Fresh & Happy / Carlsbad Cravings / Oh, What Love / See Jane Blog / And We Play / The CollaboreatHudson and Emily / Candice Stringham / AVE Styles / Spitfiregirl / The Nectar Collective / Lynn Byrne /  Celine Navarro / Annie ReevesSquirrelly Minds / Delineate Your Dwelling / A Thousand ThreadsCourtney Khail / Janna Wilson / Capella Kincheloe / Design Improvised / Red Poppy Photo / The Glamorous Housewife / Hollyhocks & Honeybees / Wendy Walker Cushing / Collectively / Fry Sauce & Grits / Marigold Haske / A Ruffled Life / Antisparkle / if we met and I missed you here, please let me know!

P.S. If you went to Alt and are missing out on all the fun, like I am, why not start a smaller scale gathering in your city! I’ve compiled all the lessons I learned when starting The Made In Mind Social into a new e-book — The Meetup Guide: How to Create, Plan and Host A Local Event Series. It’s now on pre-sale with a super discount! If you want to start your own local event, this e-book will guide you through the whole process, start to finish.

The Meetup Guide: How to Create, Plan and Host Your Own Local Event Series

The-Meetup-Guide-Presale-Image

Ever wish you could get together with inspiring, like-minded people right in your city? Maybe you’re looking to network, collaborate, or simply make some new friends. If that perfect local event doesn’t already exist, how about starting your own?

Sounds like a lot of work, right? Well, there’s no need to start from scratch.

I’m sure y’all have heard me talk about The Made In Mind Social here on the blog before. If not, it’s a local event series that my sister and I created last year. Every other month, we gather creatives from around the area to meet and mingle, celebrate and connect.

Prior to founding Made In Mind, I didn’t have any experience with event planning. I had to ask a lot of questions, do tons of research, and learn through my own experiences. I really wished I had some kind of how-to guide to lead me through each step of the planning process.

So after a year of hosting events, I created an e-book to do just that! The Meetup Guide: How to Create, Plan, and Host Your Own Local Event Series, walks you through the who, what, when, where, why, and how of starting your own local meetup.

The-Meetup-Guide-Overview

The book launches in July but pre-sales are open now at a super discounted price! It’s over 50 pages packed with actionable information, valuable insights, tried-and-true tips and worksheets to help you get organized and make things happen! It even includes tips and interviews with other creatives who have started events like Chelsea Foy of Lovely Indeed and Shauna Haider of The Blogcademy!

Simply put, if you’re looking for a resource to guide you through the process, this is it! Ready to plan your own local event?

Purchase The Meetup Guide

Don’t want to deal with naming and branding your event? Starting a Made In Mind chapter in your city may be a great option for you!

The Made In Mind Social Chapters

 

Darby Smart Studded Baggu Tote DIY Kit

Ciera Design for Darby Smart Studded ToteI’ve got some fun news today! Have y’all heard of Darby Smart? They work with a fabulous community of designers to launch simple DIY projects based on the latest fashion and home trends. They turn these projects into kits that include chic materials and simple instructions, and send them right to your door! Such a great concept, right?! Well I have partnered with Darby Smart and designed their latest DIY kit, the studded Baggu tote!

Ciera Design for Darby Smart Studded Tote Styled

What better way to amp up your everyday tote than with a rockin’ new look? Choose from 5 colors and with some studs and trusty E6000 glue, you’ll be looking extra stylish in no time! The kit is on sale now for $31, which includes shipping (such a good deal)! Yep, no shopping around for the perfect materials. Click, buy and a box of all the supplies arrives at your door. So head over to Darby Smart to order your kit!

Ciera Design for Darby Smart Studded Tote Outfit

CLICK HERE TO ORDER THE STUDDED TOTE KIT

Ciera Design for Darby Smart Studded Tote Box