Sisters Share Graphic Design Secrets for Small Business

Davina and Caroline in the spotlight

Cas talked to sisters Davina and Caroline about their quest to help bootstrapping businesses wrangle graphic design.

Tell us a little about the person behind the business?

We are two sisters, the wrong side of 50, both now single, and we live 80 miles apart. Caroline trained in hotel management and Davina trained as a social worker specialising in mental health.

Neither of us have had any formal training in graphic design or art, in fact Caroline will tell you she consistently came bottom in art in school.

We both have a number of varied interests but what we have in common is an interest in photography, photo manipulation, silk painting, colour and shapes. In addition, we are curious people, ask a lot of questions and we enjoy learning new skills.

And now a little about the business itself?

After exploring a number of different ways to develop an income online, 18 months ago we came up with our present idea.

We wanted to do something which involved our mutual interests of shapes, colour, photo manipulation etc and we had been taught to research the niches to make sure there was sufficient interest and income potential before spending time and money setting up a business.

We realised that people wanted  to learn how to use Gimp and Inkscape – two Open Source programmes – to create simple graphics for their businesses or personal use.

Part of our research involved checking out tutorials on these programmes on YouTube.

Whilst there are one or two teachers who provided excellent tutorials, there are an awful lot  that either do not have a narrative to back up the visual information, do have a narrative but you cannot understand it, loud background music, or poor quality visual information. Thoroughly frustrated, we felt sure we could at least try and provide a better standard of tutorials and that is where we started to create Useful Graphic Design Tutorials.

As you can imagine, it has been a huge learning curve, particularly as 3 years ago we had no idea what the terms html, search engine optimisation, and auto responders meant. The thought of creating and maintaining a website was…well lets say it would have been easier to fly to the moon.

To date, our business invites people interested in learning how to create simple graphics to subscribe to our Free Tutorials which provide clear, step-by-step instructions, demonstration at a comfortable pace, and a screen so you could see what the demonstrator is referring to. We also encourage these people to contact us if they get stuck or have any questions, so we are gradually building a community of like-minded people. We are exploring the possibility of setting up a forum so the community can help one another.

We have also created a pack of graphics which people can buy to use in their projects, both on and offline. In addition, Caroline has written a book giving tips and ideas of how a graphic can be made to ‘stand out from the crowd’.

Needless to say the business is ever-evolving because we want to respond to the changing needs of our subscribers and also any changes that occur on the Internet such as Facebook’s introduction of the Timeline Cover.

How did you come up with your business name?

Caroline–Well, to be honest it sort of just tells people exactly what we do, and we didn’t really feel the need to make it more complicated than than. We wanted people online to be able to find the site easily and as soon as they came to our site, quickly understand what it was about.

What made you want to begin a WAH business and how did you get started?

Caroline –For me, it’s the flexibility & control that working from home brings. I want to be in a position to be able to earn income wherever I happen to be in the UK or elsewhere. With a traditional business, very often this isn’t possible, but with an online business it is definitely possible.

Also I love a challenge and it certainly is this.

Davina– For me, it was the opportunity to work alongside my sister (as I am the eldest, it is a way of keeping an eye on what she is up to!), developing an income whilst we were travelling around different countries.

How we got started – We stumbled across something called – “ The Challenge”, run by an irrepressible Australian from Melbourne called Ed Dale. Ed’s goal was to show people how to make a dollar online in 30 days and we found the site the night before it started, on 1 August. We had no idea what we’d found, and no idea what we were doing, but we were excited and found it fascinating. We’ve progressed from there.

What inspires you to keep your business going?

  • The positive comments we have received.
  • Sales.
  • The sense of achievement.
  • We enjoy what we are doing.

Do you have a current best-selling product or service? If yes, tell us about it.

Caroline–Yes, we’ve recently launched a 40 page guide called Impact with Images. The reason for writing this was that we know many people find it tricky to come up with ideas on how to make images look good, catch the eye and be share-worthy, and so I wrote the book to help them.

There are over 35 ideas, all illustrated, with the goal of making images that:

  • help people trust you, and your business
  • show your breadth of service
  • get a reaction
  • get re-pinned
  • give you credibility
  • and leap off the page

The guide has been aimed initially at Pinterest users. However, anyone that uses images in their online ventures will get great ideas from it.

You can get more information from:

http://usefulgraphicdesigntutorials.com/offers/images-on-pinterest/

How do you advertise your business and which methods have proven more successful?

We haven’t spent much money on advertising in the traditional sense.

However, we have used the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) techniques, building relationships on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, all with the goal of driving traffic to our website.

The most successful method has been people subscribing to our free graphic design tutorials, building a relationship with them and offering a product that will help them in their business.

How do you juggle your family and your WAH business? Any tips for other WAHPs?

Davina–

  • Keep one room or a space in one room as your “office space.”
  • Block your ‘work’ time in your journal (diary).
  • Block time with the family/work if you have a job/in fact any commitment as this will help you be organised and also quickly see what you have to juggle.
  • Create a list of ‘to dos’ at the end of the day,and next day prioritise 3 tasks and make sure they are the tasks you do that day.
  • Have fun and reward yourself. For example, decide what reward you would like when you complete your three priority tasks. It could be to eat ice cream, watch a film, do something with the family – something you would enjoy.

And finally, what advice would you give to anyone wanting to start a WAH business?

Davina–

  • Know why you want to start a business, because when you hit a slump (and you will), you do need to know why you are putting yourself through the agony.
  • If you want the business to make money, do market research into whether there is a need for the product or service you want to provide and whether money can be made.
  • Set out short, medium and long term goals and put dates by them.
  • Find someone you relate to and would like to be in the position they are in (mentor) and follow their advice.

Connect

Name Davina & Caroline Jones
Email sisters @ usefulgraphicdesigntutorials.com
Business Name Useful Graphic Design Tutorials
Website URL http://usefulgraphicdesigntutorials.com
Facebook URL http://facebook.com/usefulgraphicdesigntutorials
Twitter @GraphicDesTuts
Location North & Mid Wales, UK
Cas McCullough About Cas McCullough

Author, speaker, activist and prolific blogger Cas McCullough empowers women as mothers through her startup Mumatopia, and she empowers women solo business owners (and a few enlightened men) to drop the sales pitch and harness the power of content marketing through her Content Marketing Cardiology program. Cas is the author of Diving In: Practical tips for starting up and growing your home based business and writes a regular column on home based startups for www.startupsmart.com.au. Find Cas on Google+