Client Showcase: Boon Boona Coffee

With all the tech businesses booming around us in Seattle, and my inability to understand half of what these businesses are doing, there is one business we all understand—COFFEE. Quarterly, I showcase a client that I’m really excited about what they are doing. This month it’s Boon Boona Coffee—owned and managed by Efrem Fesaha. We have a long working relationship where back in 2008 he came to me for a logo and then decided to put his project on hold. He came back to me in early 2016 to restart his Business Identity. Now Boon Boona is going strong. You can see Boon Boona Coffee in Seattle stores, coffee trade shows, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Boon Boona Coffee Home Page

Design and development work I did for Boon Boona Coffee:

  • Logo
  • Packaging
  • Website
  • eCommerce

Boon Boona’s roasted coffee supports small farmers in Rwanda and Ethiopia, including an all women coop called Hingakawa Women’s Coffee. Boon Boona Coffee not only offers roasted coffee, what most of us are used to. Additionally, traditional to Ethiopia and Eastern Africa, he offers green coffee—unroasted coffee that you roast at home. Efrem gave me a personal tutorial on how to roast the coffee in a frying pan on the stove as it is commonly done in Ethiopian family’s homes today.

Support small businesses and East African coffee bean farmers. Please support Boon Boona Coffee.

Search Engine Optimization: SEO with Holmes, Poirot and Marlowe

Search Engine Optimization is one of the most important aspects of a business’ online marketing. Search Engine Optimization could be a full time job, and is for some people, but what I prefer to do is offer it to a select few clients while I maintain my focus on being a web designer. Here are just some of the particular SEO tactics I use, to bring more business to you:

  • WORKING TOGETHER. A big part of improving SEO is we work together on specific tasks. I can’t get results without the client working with me. This means modifying page content, being willing to writing blog entries, and trying social media advertising.
  • ONLINE TOOLS. I use Google Webmaster Tools, Google Analytics and if you have a WordPress site—Yoast. My biggest advantage over using these free tools on your own is I use a paid service from Moz.com that reveals the ways we can improve the SEO on your website and how to maximize the results of the most important keywords for your business.
  • WOMAN POWER. My assistant Leslie Timmons helps analyze the statistics with me, so that we can brain storm the most appropriate approaches for your particular business.
  • MORE THAN SEO. To strengthen the results of your SEO, I consult and work with you to create a multi-layered approach of email newsletters, social media, online advertising, and other tactics outside of, but linked to your website.
  • PERFORMANCE BASED COST. Except for a non-refundable deposit, most of the cost is based on reaching particular goals we agree upon. You only pay for the goals that are reached. This is very different from advertising in a magazine, where you pay the full amount weather you drive up business or not. For example, if there are 6 specified goals and only 4 are reached, after the deposit, you pay two thirds of the cost.

I’m a designer first and foremost, creating well-designed websites and business identities for my clients. If you want someone who specializes in SEO only, I can recommend an expert to you. But, for most small businesses, institutions, non-profits, and creative projects, one of these three packages will provide the results you seek. The three SEO packages I offer use similar tactics to bring more people to your site, but are each different in how thorough I am with the work, the duration the work lasts, and of course, the cost.

Before commencing my work, I provide a contract with the stated goals and keyword phrases I recommend. Your feedback is integral in modifying the contract until we both agree that these are realistic goals I can accomplish and my goals will bring you more business.

 

Philip-Marlowe-engrave-color-2Philip Marlowe SEO

Deposit: $400
Number of general goals: 6 (valued at $50 each)
Number of keyword goals: 6 (valued at $50 each)
Minimum Package Cost: $400
Maximum Package Cost: $1,000
Appropriate for: Non-Profits, Individuals, Creative Projects, Small Businesses

Named after the fictional private detective Philip Marlowe, from Raymond Chandler’s “Big Sleep”, Philip Marlowe SEO is your budget short term SEO where I spend approximately 20-25 hours over the course of two months analyzing, optimizing your site’s code, modifying content, and marketing. After 2 months, we look at the state of your site’s ranking, search results and presence to see how it has improved. Following are examples of goals I suggest for the success of your business:

  • An increase in the average Organic search results
  • Total Weekly Visits increases at an agreed percentage
  • Domain Authority Increases at an agreed percentage
  • You pick 6 keywords that are important to your business and I will maximize the code so that your site moves up the search results to an agreed upon page rank
  • Possibly adding of one or two “wild card” keywords that we discover along the way will help your visibility online
  • Social media advertising
  • Getting your website in the Google Local 3-Pack
  • Increase landing pages from organic searches at an agreed percentage

Specific percentages and amounts are determined and entered in the contract specifying the bullet points above, to fit with your particular goals and your industry’s level of competition. My contract is a collaborative process where the client and I come to an agreement that the goals are fair, attainable and will bring you success. This package has 2 weeks of initial measurements, then 6 weeks of my SEO work. The project is 8 weeks in total. A $400 non-refundable deposit is due at the start of the SEO project. The total payment at the end of the project depends on the goals reached. After the deposit, the cost ranges from no cost to $600, and never totals more than $1,000 with the deposit. At 2 months, after finishing my work, and determining how many goals were reached, the remaining balance is due in relationship to the goals reached.

 

Poirot SEOHercule Poirot SEO

Deposit: $700
Paid Advertising: $200
Number of general goals: 9 (valued at $75 each)
Number of keyword goals: 9 (valued at $75 each)
Minimum Package Cost: $900
Maximum Package Cost: $2,250
Appropriate for: Non-profits, Small Businesses & Institutions

Named after the fictional private detective Hercule Poirot, appearing in many of Agatha Cristie’s novels, Hercule Poirot SEO is an ongoing analysis of your website over the course of 16 weeks, optimizing your site’s code and content, and applying some external marketing tactics. 4 weeks of measurement, writing new content, planning and strategy  precede these 16 weeks of SEO work. The total project length is 20 weeks. You need to be willing to work with me to change the content of your website, and add a blog or additional pages. We may need to create a marketing campaign outside of your website, doing work externally with email newsletters, social media or advertising to improve your SEO. Some off these added marketing tools have monthly costs that are not a part of my cost. The goals are higher, and improvements take longer, in 20 weeks, we look to see if our goals have been reached. What determines the success of the work is based on these principles:

  • An increase in the average Organic search results
  • Total Weekly Visits increases at an agreed percentage
  • Domain Authority Increases at an agreed percentage
  • You pick 12 keywords that are important to your business and I will maximize the code so that your site moves up the search results to an agreed upon page rank
  • Possible adding of two or four “wild card” keywords that we discover along the way will help your visibility online
  • Increase landing pages from organic searches at an agreed percentage
  • Two additional goals to be determined by the client

A 1/3 non-refundable deposit of $900 is due at the start of the project. The range of cost after the initial deposit is from no cost to $1,350. The maximum you can pay for this package, including the deposit is $2,100. The balance of the total cost is due 2 weeks after the 16 weeks of work is complete. The total amount owed is in relationship to the goals reached. These goals are clearly stated in Schildbach Design’s SEO contract that is worked on collaboratively with the client so that both the Schildbach Design and the client see the goals as fair and satisfactory improvement. After the job is complete, Schildbach Design provides the client with a final report that states the successes and failures, and suggestions in to the future as to how the client can continue to improve their SEO.

 

Holmes SEOSherlock Holmes SEO

Deposit: $1,200
Paid Advertising: $400
Number of general goals: 12 (valued at $100 each)
Number of keyword goals: 12 (valued at $100 each)
Minimum Package Cost: $1,600
Maximum Package Cost: $4,000
Appropriate for: Medium sized Businesses & Institutions

By popular vote, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes is still arguably considered the best fictional detective of all time. Sherlock Holmes SEO is a 6 month long-term extensive analysis of your site’s SEO optimizing your site’s code and content, and applying some external tactics. You need to be willing to work with me to change the content of your website, and do some work externally with email newsletters, social media or advertising to improve your SEO. The goals are the best I can do (Remember, you only pay for the results accomplished), and improvements take much longer. In 6 months, we look to see if our goals have been reached. What determines the success of the work is based on these principles:

  • An increase in the average Organic search results
  • Total Weekly Visits increases at an agreed percentage
  • Domain Authority Increases at an agreed percentage
  • You pick 12 keywords that are important to your business and I will maximize the code so that your site moves up the search results to an agreed upon page rank
  • Possible adding of two or four “wild card” keywords that we discover along the way will help your visibility online
  • Increase landing pages from organic searches at an agreed percentage
  • Four additional goals to be determined by the client

A 1/3 non-refundable deposit of $1,600 is due at the start of the project. The range of cost after the initial deposit is from no cost to $2,400. The maximum you can pay for this package, including the deposit is $4,000. The balance of the total cost is due 2 weeks after the 16 weeks of work is complete. The total amount owed is in relationship to the goals reached. These goals are clearly stated in Schildbach Design’s SEO contract that is worked on collaboratively with the client so that both the Schildbach Design and the client see the goals as fair and satisfactory improvement. After the job is complete, Schildbach Design provides the client with a final report that states the successes and failures, and suggestions in to the future as to how the client can continue to improve their SEO.

Client Showcase: Richmond Beach Yoga

Since 2011, Schildbach Design has worked with Richmond Beach Yoga, a yoga studio that offers classes, workshops and yoga teacher training. The work I’ve done for the business covers their entire identity from their business card, to their logo, and two generations of their website and online presence. I started first coding their website within the Concrete5, but abandoned the CMS due to it’s instability. In 2016, I developed a second website design for RBY in WordPress and the improvements are many. Now, the client has a stable site, that is easy to update themselves. (By the way, Concrete5 is even easier to update for a non-tech savvy client, but WordPress is so much lighter on it’s feet with faster page loading, and a versatile system that allows for any kind of customization.)

Richmond Beach Yoga looks forward to their Yoga Teaching Training, March 4th to June 17th. But, before that event, do not hesitate to try one of their classes if you live in the Seattle area. They are just north of Seattle, and have affordable prices and a wide variety of classes and quality teachers—from hatha yoga to vinyasa yoga to yin yoga to meditation classes. If I lived just a little closer, I’d be there all the time. Yoga is an integral form of my healthy lifestyle. It provides for me exercise, body health, mental health, and spiritual connection to the great unknown.

Happy New Year, 2016! Using Dada instead of Data for a Successful Business

It has been a successful year for Schildbach Design. I reached some personal goals for the business in 2015. And, while data continues to perfect the answers to our business questions, I’d like to credit my personal success to welcoming a touch of Dada (not data) into my business plan.

For those of you who don’t know what Dada (or Dadaism) is, it is many things, but is summed up on Art Factory as a “form of artistic anarchy born out of disgust for the social, political and cultural values of the time. It embraced elements of art, music, poetry, theatre, dance and politics. Dada was not so much a style of art like Cubism or Fauvism; it was more a protest movement with an anti-establishment manifesto.”

Adding Dada to large companies would probably take that company down, but the beauty of working for oneself is you can write some of your own rules, and have flexibility to use more unconventional tactics to find your personal successes. Below are 12 tips I’d like to share.

12 Dada Business Tactics: How To Get Web Design Work, Graphic Design Work, and The Secret To One Freelancer’s Success

  1. Eat honey instead of sugar. Let’s face it, sugar is crack. Switch to honey and you will feel your body chemistry change, and suddenly honey businesses like Urban Bee will need you for your specialties. Even businesses that have a bee in their logo will need you, including orthodontists. These orthodontists will also be attracted to the fact that you have gotten off the sugar drug, and ask you to help design the collateral for their Halloween Candy Buy Back Program.
  2. Reminisce often about how much you enjoyed college. Dada has shown that 937% of people who went to collage were happier overall than they were in their 40’s while doing dishes, filing their taxes, or changing diapers. Sentimentalism about your 20’s and collage will guarantee some college or university will contact you. In my case, it was repeated calls from the Pathology Department at the University of Washington. Although, with this opportunity to relive your college years, be prepared to have to remember acronyms like MMTP, CPDx and PANUC, and be required to memorize and understand them.
  3. Become fascinated with your clients psychologically. Clients are not good clients or bad clients, their minds are simply fascinating! Once you see it this way, psychologists and therapists will now trust that you can do their business identities, as Solstice NYC and CBT Westport requested I do theirs.
  4. Do yoga regularly. Yoga not only flexes the muscles, it flexes the mind. After one hundred sun salutations, yoga studios like Richmond Beach Yoga and yoga practitioners like Cosetta Romani will call you for your specialty.
  5. Thank your mother. My mother is entering her last years of her life. Panorama Library, Speaking of Dying and others, know how difficult this can be, and want to make the last years of our mother’s life as pleasant as possible.
  6. Talk to the crows and raccoons. Stop criticizing animals that eat your trash. They are smarter and more like you than you think. Once I started talking to them, they agreed to get me website work with Bird Ally X.
  7. Raise a child or act like one. Children take up a lot of our personal time, but schools and PTA associations will thank you with web design work, for the time you spend with your child, just as Broadview Thomson K-8 PTA did for me.
  8. Meditate regularly. Then, the Northwest Dharma Association will ask you to rebuild their site, and produce quarterly newsletters. Also, more Buddhist non-profits like Dongyu Gatsal Ling Initiatives will ask you to work with them in 2016.
  9. Curse the companies and nations that disregard the environment due to their greed and apathy. While your thoughts are stewing, the ghost of Seattle’s past (or a ghost from your home town) will come to you to show you how much worse it was at the turn of the 20th century. At the same time, this ghost will lead you to people who are working on projects like The Lake Washington Ship Canal Centennial and Miles Lost Miles Gained to bring awareness to the past, and in turn, our environmental future.
  10. Marry a harpist. One harpist is a doorway to the whole Seattle music scene. A foolproof tactic to getting web design work with music schools, music organizations, and musicians.
  11. Obsess about traveling to other countries. As the character and ethics of our nation unravel, dream about the countries you want to travel to and possibly live in. For me it is Italy, India and Poland (among others). In return, you will start working for clients who where born in those countries. Don’t be disappointed if they tell you they left your dream country for good reason.
  12. Read a book that takes place in Africa. While reading the novel, “What is the What“, Seattle City of Literature thanked me with web maintenance work for expanding my horizons beyond the western world and my rides to the airport conveniently provided by Hayat Town Car Service.

Now that I have given you my secrets to freelance business success, this hopefully inspires you to create your own. Have a successful and prosperous 2016! But, be careful what you think about, and who you talk to. Because, your thoughts may come back to you in the form of a mustache on the Mona Lisa or a murdering airplane.

Being A Graphic Designer and Web Designer in Seattle

When you hear about a web designer also claiming to be a graphic designer, you my question whether they are spreading themselves out too thin, or you may want someone who specializes in graphic design. For business identities, often you are going to need a web designer and a graphic designer. If you are a small business, you may not be able to afford a team from a design firm. Schildbach Design is the perfect fit when you are a small business, a non-profit, a department of an institution, or an individual with a creative project.

It is a small disappointment when I am hired to develop a client’s website only, and I am handed a design for the website, or the logo, from another designer. Sometimes new clients will not know my background is in graphic design and illustration. Sometimes they find another graphic designer first, have them do the design, then realize they need a web developer, and hire me for the web development. I can understand why this would happen.

When a new client recognizes I do both design and code, often I find myself merging the two skills. Both my Seattle clients and national clients who run small businesses will call me for a package of abilities. The graphic design skills are utilized for both the website and print. I have several clients who have asked me to design their logo, business card, brochure, print ads and other print collateral, while at the same time designing and developing the website. When I say designing and developing, this means I’m coding the website in WordPress, and using HTML, CSS, jQuery and PHP. I work “under the hood” when I develop your website. I don’t use cookie cutter templates. This is what separates me from someone who is a graphic designer only. I merge my design skills with my coding skills.

But, if you are simply needing a graphic designer for print design or other design projects, don’t hesitate to request a quote. I’m available for most graphic design projects.

I’m A Logo Designer Too—A Portfolio of Logo Designs

Lush Floral and GardenBeing a logo designer has two main challenges. The first is expressing a company’s essence in one simplistic graphic, the other is getting people to see the value and importance of a quality logo created by a professional graphic designer. The process of doing a logo takes several hours, because much more is involved than what appears on the surface. Logos are put under a microscope by the creator, the client and the public. I really enjoy making logos for my clients. One small disappointment I have faced more than once is being mistaken for being a web designer only, when I’m just as much of a logo designer. Clients sometimes will come to me with a logo from another graphic designer they hired without knowing that I have a longer history of being a logo designer, graphic designer and illustrator than being a web designer.

Here is my process: First, the client and I brainstorm together. Then rough black and white sketches are presented and a couple are chosen out of several options. Next, many variations are created from the first one or two chosen options. At this point, color is only now introduced and integrated in with the design. Along the way several fonts are presented and matched up with the imagery. Sometimes typography is customized. Finally, micro-adjustments are made to logo and several versions are created for the website, print, in house printing, and possibly, merchandise. I’ve spent 30-40 hours on some logos not because it takes me that long to make the image, but the whole process from idea to the public involves a lot of decision making and discussions along the way.

See my rates page for the prices and the kind of logo you may need.

Below is a list of my top 10 logos I’ve designed for clients since starting my business, Schildbach Design, in 2008.

  1. Keith B. Wong, orthodontist (illustration by Keith B. Wong)
  2. Home and Comfort (never used)
  3. Center for Precision Diagnostics, University of Washington
  4. CBT Westport, clinical psychologists
  5. Speaking of Dying, a film about end of life planning
  6. Majdor, clothing and accessories
  7. Miles Lost Miles Gained, Washington rivers project by Zac Corum
  8. Wendy Woldenberg, jeweler
  9. Solstice NYC, psychiatrist
  10. Lush Floral and Garden, floral and garden designer

Testimonials

“Working with Stephen is a pleasure and a great learning experience. He is warm and compassionate, has an amazing memory for detail (at least partly because he is such a good listener), and is truly interested in creating an aesthetically pleasing, highly functional website that reflects the character of the business it represents. Stephen is clearly personally invested in our success, in our feeling great about our website and confident in our ability to manage it on an ongoing basis. He is constantly learning and seems to be a step ahead of industry changes, so he chooses the most effective, cost-effective, and sustainable options for creating and managing our online presence. I feel inspired to keep learning and updating our website, in order to maintain the professional standard that Stephen has set for us.”

Angeline Johnson, owner of Richmond Beach Yoga

“I appreciate all your hard work so much, and think the end result is awesome.  I think the business identity and logo and everything together presents very professionally.   I’m very happy with the result.”

A. Caron, PHD

“My website continues to reap benefits.  While I was on tour in the Marshall Islands, I did several workshops in schools in addition to several concert performances.  Many of the people I met at shows, and kids from the schools, went on my website and even used the contact form to write me emails.  It’s so convenient and satisfying to tell people “check out my website” knowing that it actually embodies my work and is something I can be proud of.”

Jeremy Jones, Drummer and Composer

2015 Clients

I want to thank all of my 20 plus, 2015 clients help make Schildbach Design have it’s best year to date. My repeat clients and new clients cover a dynamic range of professions (therapists, scientists, orthodontists, musicians, yoga teachers, etc…). Work that spans web maintenance to business identities. This year’s client list:

BIRD ALLY X: Oil, LA, A New Website, and the Wonders of Travel

The only way I can begin with this amazing client, BIRD ALLY X, is a story. My family and I are on vacation in Los Angeles spending a day on a Malibu beach. Sounds pretty posh doesn’t it? Well, let me take a step back.

A couple of days before that, my family and I are on Venice Beach and we see a meandering line of black sludge on the beach and it takes us only a couple of minutes to realize that it is oil run ashore from the Santa Barbara, CA oil spill. Hardly anyone is on the beach, but not because of the oil spill, because it is freezing cold in June on the shore. The winds are gusting, the beach sand is flying, and few people want to go to the beach today because of it. Although, my daughter doesn’t care. She can enjoy the situation to it’s fullest because she is experiencing two of some of her most favorite things—sand and water. We avoid the trail of black sludge, not only because it is toxic, but also because I remember someone saying, “You can’t get the stuff off your skin”. I and my daughter missed the oil land mine that day but my wife landed her heel on the goo, and it took a lot of natural solutions and scrubbing to get it off, and her sandals were now garbage.

Back to the Malibu beach part of the story, a couple of days after the Venice Beach experience. I call my friend Laura Corsiglia to see if she is in Los Angeles (she told me previously she would be on assignment for Bird Ally X, in Santa Barbara, caring for birds effected by the oil spill), and she says she is in Santa Monica—in between us and Los Angeles (LA is where we were headed back to anyway). So, I say, “Let’s have lunch!”. We drive to Santa Monica and have a Mexican dinner with Laura, talking about old times, the times, and how hard she worked on caring for birds effected by the disaster.

A few months ago, my friends Laura Corsiglia and Monte Merrick also became clients. They asked me to redesign the website for Bird Ally X. Being a non-profit, they would not have been able to afford my services without a grant. I too donated a small portion of my time to make a really exciting site. They are the ideal client for me: laid-back, but passionate about what they do; having an artistic sense, but with the maturity to know that we also have to build a user friendly site; and, they are doing something important in the world. They are caring for animals that sadly run into human behavior and creations that are destructive to the environment. If you too care about birds and cleaning up the environment, please consider donating to Bird Ally X.