B250 L06 Weekly Reflection

It has been a crazy week learning about legal structures, licenses, and taxes.  There are several legal structures to pick from including sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, and corporation.  Each costs a different amount to register and has different items you must complete before you can register them.  In Washington it cost $180 dollars to register an LLC or corporation.  I would like to have the legal protection one of these structures provides, but I do not have the funds for one.  Consequently I will be using a sole proprietorship.  I will need to report my income on my taxes and make sure that I don’t do anything that would cause someone to want to sue me as my personal assets would be on the line.

There are many many licenses and taxes to take into consideration when starting a business.  They can include state, county, and city licenses; federal and state income tax; business and occupation tax; property tax; and sales tax.  Not all of these apply to every business and not all apply in the same way.  It is very important to look them up and find out what regulations you need to follow for your individual business.

Setting up a shop is also much more time consuming than I thought it would be.  I have spent hours trying to get my shop ready and keep running into snags.  I have had to search for plugins to get the usability I want and then learn how to use them.  It seems like every time I get one thing figured out there is something else that isn’t working.  Starting a business takes a lot of time and energy whether it is brick and mortar or online.

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B250 L05 Weekly Reflection

This week I learned about site design and credit card payments.  Site design has a huge effect on your customers.  You need to set up your site so it is easy to navigate, easy to read, has the information your customers will be looking for, and so the design doesn’t overwhelm or compete too much with your products.  Having multiple levels of menus and filtering options can really help your customers find what they want.  It is a good idea to look at sites that sell similar things to get ideas of what all you need to include as well as to see what the competition is doing so you know how to make your site stand out.

For credit card payments, I looked into PayPal this week.  They have a lot of options, but I’m unsure if they can accommodate all the things that I need.  It is a good idea to see what they have and determine if it will work for your site.  It is also important to look at their fees and their liability information.  The third party will only protect you in certain ways, and it is good to know what you will be on the hook for if something does happen.  There is a lot to consider, and it is very helpful to look through all their FAQs to find answers to questions you didn’t know that you had.  I will also be looking into what is included with WooCommerce as they are a plugin that will work with my site.

B250 L04 Weekly Reflection

This week was picking a site builder and a hosting company.  It seems like there are endless options out there, all with fine print and partial information.  For a site builder, there are three different types of builders to pick from.  First, the drag and drop option.  A lot of these builders are very generic and don’t have a lot of options, but they are easy to use.  The learning curve is very low.  Builders include Weebly.com, Wix.com, Webstarts.com.  The second kind is a content management system.  This is the in between level that is good for those with some experience, but not tons.  They include WordPress.org, Squarespace, Joomla, and Drupal.  These builders have a higher learning curve and can take some time to get used to using.  However, they are more flexible and allow you to do more customization and have a unique site.  The last category of builder is the WYSIWYG/html editors.  They include Trellion, KompoZer, and Dreamweaver.  To use these you have to know how to code.  Picking the right builder really depends on level of experience, time available, power and flexibility needed, and uniqueness wanted.

Hosting services are just as many and varied.  Several of them seem to have the same offerings, but their pricing is very different.  It is important to know up front how long you want to have your site for and what special requirements you have.  Making sure things like Adwords credits and e-commerce options are available can kick you up a level from the lowest, thus costing more money.  You also have to make sure you look for the fine print that may say certain options aren’t available unless you pick a specific plan.  Additionally, it is important to look at reviews to determine a company’s track record and if they are a good option.  Finally, it is helpful to look for discounts.  They are all over the web and often you can get them just by using a specific link.  This can knock a nice chunk off the price, so it is always wise to look around a little.

B250 L03 Weekly Reflection

Affiliate vs dropship.  This can be a tough choice.  They both make it so you don’t have to deal with inventory, greatly reducing your costs and time involvement.  However, they have some pretty big differences.  The way to make the decision is to look at your end goal.  Do you want experience, lots of profit, fast profit, no customer interaction, etc.  The answers to these questions can help you decide which is the right choice.  With the affiliate model, there is no customer interaction.  You provide content, your viewers click on supplied links which direct them to someone else’s site, and you make a commission if they make a purchase.  There is no headache with communications and returns.  You don’t have to worry about bounced funds.  It’s pretty nice for getting money without too much effort, other than providing great content on a regular basis that draws return and new visitors.  The problem is it takes time to build a reader base and make any money.  Lots of people read, but not a lot click, and even fewer buy.  Depending on your site, you could end up making a lot of money, but not for a while.  Then there is the dropship method.  You still have to have a site that draws customers, but they are buying directly from you now instead of from someone else.  This means you have customer interaction and will need to work through errors and other problems, as well as keep up your reputation as a company.  You also have to have relationships with your drop shipper and manufacturers.  This means you will get lots of experience in the business world.  Things you have to be careful of are fake drop shippers that leave you and your customers high and dry, and additional handling fees that may be tacked on.  It is easier to make a profit faster, and a higher amount of profit.

Other options to consider other than affiliate and drop shipping models are if you want to use a domestic supplier or an international supplier if you are setting up a merchant model business.  Once again, there are advantages and disadvantages to both and the right decision all depends on your goals and constraints.  There is a very large international market of suppliers that have low prices.  The things to consider are price, shipping and processing time, minimum order amounts, variety, and shipping amounts.  These factors along with the goals of your business and what you find personally important will all play into the decision.  I’ve found it really helps to knock around ideas with others because often they will think of things that you don’t think of that could be major factors.

B250 L02 Weekly Reflection

I’ve learned a lot this week about business models, products, demand, and competition.  The first thing you have to do when creating a business before making any decisions is to specify your goals.  Once you have set up your goals, you can more easily make the other decisions.  The business model is the first thing to decide, which will be based on what your goals are as some models will allow you to reach your goals better than others.  Then you can decide on a product that will fit into the chosen business model.  The Google Keywords Planner is very helpful when choosing a product because you can see the demand and competition for specific searches.  There are a lot of factors to consider when making the product decision.  It can be hard to know if you should go with a product that has low demand low competition or high demand high competition if those are your only options.  With one there is the concern you won’t get a lot of business because there isn’t much demand and with the other there is the concern you won’t get a lot of business because there is too much competition.  Looking at the profit for each product could help make the decision.  It may be better to make less profit on lots of sells than it would be to make more profit on fewer sales.  However, if making a large profit is not one of your goals, it may not matter so much which product you choose.  It all goes back to what you want to accomplish with your business.

Project 9: Portfolio

Project Corrections/Time Spent:
I corrected the spelling on my photodesign project – 2 minutes
I updated the markings on the pattern piece on my letterhead and business card so they would be accurate because it had conflicting markings – 5 minutes
I enlarged the photo on the flier, shifted the title bar to overlap the photo, and adjusted the alignment for the date and time information. This improved the white space shape and overall layout – 20 minutes

Message:
To professionally show my work and show that I am detail oriented and structured with personality and character.

Audience:
Potential employers and clients, especially those looking for someone who has an eye for detail.

Top Thing Learned:
How to use master pages in a document for easy updating of multiple pages.

Future Application of Visual Media:
As a web design and development major, the skills I’ve learned are invaluable. When I combine them with my eye for detail and alignment addiction, I will design and layout sites that will be pleasing and functional for my clients and theirs.

Color Scheme and Color Names:
Analogous
Green
Teal
Blue

Title Font Name & Category:
Black Jack – Script
AmerType Md BT – Slab Serif

Copy Font Name & Category:
AmerType Md BT – Slab Serif

Thumbnails of Images used:

stock_watercolor_texture_by_mayshingblue-and-green-paisley
Sources (Links to images on original websites):
Watercolor: http://fc00.deviantart.net/fs71/f/2010/033/5/2/stock_watercolor_texture_by_mayshing.jpg
Paisley: http://blogs.lowellsun.com/daleydecor/files/2014/02/blue-and-green-paisley.jpg

Project 8: Brochure

P8 Jocelyn Tucker Front
Front
P8 Jocelyn Tucker Inside
Inside
P8 Jocelyn Tucker Back
Back

Description:
A two sided (duplex) folding brochure with an original logo.

Process:
I set up an offset layout in Adobe InDesign that would allow an image from the inside to show when the brochure is closed. Then I made a curve for along the right edge of the cover to give interest and allow a little more of the inside image to be seen.

I created a logo in Adobe Illustrator using the pen, pencil, shapes, anchor point, and type tools. When my logo was complete, I changed all drawings and text to outlines so that they would scale properly when resized, and then “placed” it into my InDesign file.

I created repetition in my design by using the colors and fonts from my logo for the colors and fonts of the text in the brochure. I also repeated the green curve on the right front of the brochure on the inside and the green dots from the logo to separate the phone number and hours on the back. I also picked photos for the classes that used colors from my color scheme.

After selecting all my photos, I opened them in Adobe Photoshop and made adjustments to the levels and colors to make them match my color scheme better. For the tomato photo on the front, I used the lasso tool to select the main image and create a feathered opacity around it. I then used a mask and “painted” away the bottom edge of the photo with the brush tool at 50% opacity so the bottom would gradually fade away. I also deleted the background so the photo would blend in with my background on the cover of the brochure. For the dahlia on the inside of the brochure, I used the quick selection tool to select the background and then delete it. Then I opened the refine mask dialogue box and smoothed, feathered, and applied contrast to the edge of the flower. This made it have a softer edge that didn’t look so cutout on my brochure. I then “placed” the dahlia into my brochure and used the text wrap option to wrap my text around the petals by selecting the alpha channel option. I also copied the dahlia and added it to the back of the brochure, positioning it so that it looked like it wrapped around the edge of the brochure. This helped tie the back to the inside and add color and interest to it. For the background image, I found a high resolution photo of leaves and added a mask with a filter using a Gaussian blur. I then “placed” it in my InDesign file. I changed the opacity to 10% to make it more of a texture than a photo. When I did this the photo went very white. To adjust for this, I put a block of light green at 80% opacity behind the photo.

While arranging my photos and text, I applied the rules of body copy. I did this by aligning the bottoms of the columns, aligning text horizontally across the columns, placing headers closer to the text they introduce, adding more space above headers to separate them from previous text, using consistent paragraph styling, and getting rid of any widows or orphans.

Programs used: Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop

Message:
Thompson Nursery & Garden Center has planting workshops specifically for growing items in the Pacific Northwest.

Audience:
Anyone wanting to know what gardening preparation is needed or what grows best in the Pacific Northwest.

Top Thing Learned:
How to cut out an image in Photoshop, refine the edge, and wrap text around it in InDesign.

Color Scheme and Color Names:
Split Complementary
Green
Violet
Brick

Title Font Name & Category:
ChelthmITC Bk BT – Oldstyle
AvantGarde Bk BT – Sans Serif

Copy Font Name & Category:
AvantGarde Bk BT – Sans Serif

Word Count of Copy:
309

Thumbnails of Images used:

tomato-plants-with-large-red-tomatoesstrawberries-SS-560x400herbsbugbanedouble red columbinedahlia seductionHedges0050_1_L
Sources (Links to images on original websites):
Tomatoes: http://images.wisegeek.com/tomato-plants-with-large-red-tomatoes.jpg
Strawberries: http://gardenclub.homedepot.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/strawberries-SS-560×400.jpg
Herbs: http://static.seattletimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/2009315592-300×0.jpg
Bugbane: http://images.meredith.com/content/dam/bhg/Images/2012/03/SIP929229.jpg.rendition.largest.jpg
Columbine: http://getgrounded.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/20090315_red-columbine.jpg
Dahlia: http://yourparadisecreator.com/dahlia%20seduction.jpg
Leaves: http://www.cgtextures.com/thumbnails/textures/nature/Hedges/Hedges0050_1_thumblarge.jpg