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Category Archives: Goals and Resolutions

Same Products, Better Look!

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Back in March, on my Facebook fan page, I announced that I would be working with Marie of MCM Portraits to give my invitations and products a better look.

To take a quick step back, one of my goals for 2011 was to research and determine which DSLR camera I was going to purchase.  The reason for this goal was that I wanted a more professional look for my products in their listing pictures.  Well, after researching my options and evaluating my knowledge and abilities (or lack thereof) in photography, I decided it would be best to outsource this goal.

That is when I turned to Marie of MCM Portraits.  I have known Marie for quite a while.  She took my engagement pictures and captured my wedding (oh so beautifully I might add) when I was married back in 2008. 

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I have been able to watch Marie’s business successfully grow over the years as well (she is just about to move into her new studio).  Marie is very passionate about her work, does an amazing job, is so friendly and fun, so I knew she was going to be the right photographer to work with.

I am extremely excited to be able to show you pictures of the first design I had MCM Portraits photograph!

The first set I sent to Marie was the Grace design in a Hot Pink, Black, and White color combination.

One of the things I asked Marie to do was find a background that we would be able to hold consistent with every product that we photographed.  My goal with having a consistent background is to achieve a more consistent look on my website, on my blog, on my fan page, and in my Etsy shop.

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Marie found a way to incorporate a black background (something I had tried to do previously, but completely failed at; one more reason I am outsourcing this aspect of my business life).  I love how much the pink color pops and is evident in the invitation.

Another request I had was that one of the pictures have a close-up of some aspect within the design (it could be anything, just something to give a more “in-depth” look at the invitation set).

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I also threw out the idea of using props of some sort (once again, nothing specific in mind, I left it up to Marie).  Marie found the perfect props and found a way to make a very flat invitation have a more dimensional feel to it.  She has mentioned some other ideas she has in mind for future sets and I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next!

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With every product and design I send her way, I have asked Marie to allow me to have five total pictures to use in my product listings.  I chose the next option as my fifth picture for this design – I liked the change in background (still very elegant).  I also liked how the set looked like someone had just received it in the mail, opened it up to take a look, and set it back down on the table.

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Now, most of these pictures will be cropped into a square shape (required for my Etsy shop), but I just had to share the full fledged options!

As I mentioned, Marie is currently building her new studio (she anticipates being moved in before the month of May is over).  However, if you are in the Milwaukee, West Bend, Beaver Dam (Wisconsin) areas and are in need of a photographer, I highly recommend Marie of MCM Portraits.  I do believe I saw on her Facebook fan page that 2011 weddings are almost booked, however, so do not wait too long to book her or you may miss out!

Check out the MCM Portraits website at:  http://www.mcmportraits.com

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Not just a website under construction

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One of my goals for 2011 is to finish the revamp on the Invites by Jen website.  Had I just gone ahead and completed the new website design with only the elements from the old website, I would be done.  However, as you can see from my list of goals for the year, I plan on adding many new products and designs.

So, I decided to create my website with these new products in mind.  Even though this means my website will be “under construction” for a while, you will at least continue to see previews and glimpses of wonderful things to come!

For instance, the new lines were just introduced on the website:

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On this page you can read the description of all the lines that will *eventually* be offered.  The plan is to have a scrolling sideshow for each line (such as was done with the Classic Line).

Once you click on the button to your preferred invite line (for instance, if you clicked on “Classic Line”), you will see the different designs I have to offer:

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You will then be able to click on your preferred design to read more about it:

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At the bottom of the page for each design will be a scrolling slideshow that shows different ways other clients have customized that particular design:

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Also added today is the ability to request a sample of some of the designs shown on the website!

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Other exciting news is that this week I started working with Marie of MCM Portraits out of Allenton, Wisconsin.  She will be photographing my invites so that I can provide you with a beautiful look at your future invitation set.

 

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Eleven Goals for 2011

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I will admit it.  In the past, most of my new year’s resolutions fall off the radar well before Valentine’s Day.  However, I do find that even if I didn’t follow the precise goal exactly as laid it out, I will have adopted some form of the theory.  Therefore, this year, I am giving myself broader goals and some that do not necessarily involve new daily rituals.  Some will be Invites by Jen (business) related, some will be personal goals, and I am sharing them all with you!

I have also discovered that having someone else hold me accountable gives me that extra push to proceed.  That is where you come in!  Help me stay on track this year — whether it be a simple comment on my blog or a quick email asking how things are progressing, do anything to help keep me honest.

Therefore, without further ado, here are my Eleven Goals for 2011:

1.  Blog more consistently

I do not have a certain number of post per day that I will be trying to reach.  But as my previous post details, I would like to have 100 new posts on my blog by December 31st, 2011.  That averages out to about two posts per week…..but, I am not necessarily going to post two times and two times only for the week.  If I can get ahead, why not?  If I need to catch up, well then I better hunker down and get to it!

2.  Publish and/or sell one of my own graphics

For the most part, I utilize the services of an independent graphic designer to give me the base for the graphics on my invitations and stationery (I then tweak and customize them myself from there).  However, occasionally, I will need a graphic I cannot find anywhere else and I end up designing and creating it myself.  One of my long-term business goals include expansion into the graphic design arena (specifically for weddings), so this would be the first step!

3.  Finish my website

Recently I embarked on the mission of updating my website.  I knew it was going to be a long, slow process, but didn’t realize how quickly my time would be gobbled up with other matters.  Therefore, I just need to do it — just finish the website!

4.  “Travel” 150 miles on the elliptical

I would like to be able to set a goal for myself to exercise three times per week for at least 30 minutes.  However, I know if I hold myself to this hard and fast rule, I will never make it the entire year.  So, if one week I am super busy and I end up cramming in a really long workout on one day, I am going to call that a win.  Plus, it is more fun to track a goal such as this!

5.  Finish the studio

We are 90% of the way there!  The staircase and some of the trim needs to be finished, but the majority of “finishing” the studio is getting the rest of my goodies moved up, organized, and put away.

6.  Reseach and determine which DSLR camera I would like to purchase

Photos are one of the main ingredients to a successful online business.  A better quality camera + a little experience = amazing photos for samples and proofs.

7.  Launch a DIY Invitation Kit line

I have been thinking about this one for a while.  It is just another one of those things that I just need to go ahead and do (rather than only dream about it).

8.  Find or develop a program to recycle and reuse leftover materials

It should be no surprise to hear that when I make an invitation, I end up with little paper scraps (and I am not talking just a few pieces, but literally thousands of little pieces that fill up many totes within one wedding season).  I have already taken a few steps to help reduce and compensate for the leftovers during production. 

….I have spent quite a bit of time ensuring that I am maximizing the usable space on a piece of cardstock (based on the order and placement of different cuts along with adjusting printing methods)

….I currently donate to the Arbor Day Foundation — with every invitation order, a tree is planted in the couple’s honor

….I recycle and reuse all of my printer’s ink cartridges (less plastic waste)

So although I am doing my best to replenish the Earth with the resources I currently use, I feel there has got to be more that I can do!  I am not sure what that is yet (I am open to suggestions), but it has got to be one of my goals for the year.

9.  Add an eco-friendly product line

This goal directly relates to #8.  Not only have I found very good sources with 100% recycled cardstock available, I have also been looking into making my own recycled paper.  Natural, sustainable, environmentally friendly products are always favored in my household (it is something very important to my family), so I am moving full-steam-ahead in being able to offer products that fall into this category.

10.  Add 12 new designs for the year

As with any industry, it is important for me to stay on top of wedding trends and offer producst that brides and grooms want for their wedding.  Therefore, I would like to showcase 12 new designs throughout the year (yes, this does average out to 1 new design per month, but if I can develop and introduce all 12 in January I am going to do it…….P.S. I will not be able to introduce all 12 in January so definitely stay tuned).

11.  Offer fun DIY wedding tutorials

Every now and then I will come across something so unique and fun for a wedding and will automatically think, “How easy would that be to make myself?”  The tutorials I have planned will most likely not be invitation related, but there are so many other fun and crafty things that can help personalize your wedding, that I want to be able to help in that area.  I love all different types of crafts (besides designing stationery, I sew, crochet, knit, and scrapbook), so a break in routine every once in a while will be such a treat!

After taking some time to think about my goals and then actually sitting down to write them out, I am very excited for the new year!  I hope I have peaked your interest and you look forward to hearing about the progress of my Eleven Goals in 2011.