Meet 9 Socially Responsible Founders Creating Change Through Business — Inspiration

Meet 9 Socially Responsible Founders Creating Change Through Business — Inspiration


We are in constant awe of how social entrepreneurs use Shopify to build businesses that don’t just meet consumer needs or fill market gaps but create movements that are driven by the causes they believe in. 

Beyond the products and services they sell, founders of socially responsible businesses and social enterprises are building for the future by creating systems that create change. They operate with moral imperatives that let them navigate business decisions while keeping the community, economy, and environment in mind.

We spoke with nine of these founders to learn more about how they’re providing employment opportunities for the previously incarcerated, directly trading with farmers, creating products with a low carbon footprint, and so much more. 

What does it mean for a company to be socially responsible?

While traditional companies see corporate social responsibility as an additional project outside their main goal of profit, socially responsible businesses maintain lifelong relationships with nonprofit partners and social enterprises, creating ventures that are cause-driven and powered by social objectives. 

Through this new wave of change in commerce, founders like the ones listed below are showing that organizations of all sizes and stages can connect profit with a positive impact.

Beelove is a line of all-natural honey and honey-infused body care products made by Sweet Beginnings, a social enterprise based in Chicago. Sweet Beginnings extracts its honey from the urban apiaries in the heart of the North Lawndale community and employs individuals returning from incarceration, offering a fresh chance at civilian life. 

Founded by Brenda Palms Barber, the organization originally wanted to address North Lawndale’s 40% unemployment rate by providing training for landscaping or small motor repairs, but found its sweet spot with beekeeping. 

People have a fear of bees and getting stung. People also have this perception about people who have been incarcerated.

“There’s an interesting parallel between bees and people returning to society from being incarcerated,” says Daphne Williams, the company’s Chief Growth Officer. “People have a fear of bees and getting stung. People also have this perception about people who have been incarcerated. So having a business that married bees and formerly incarcerated people was a way to take the stigma out of both.” 

Brenda Palms Barber, founder of  Sweet Beginnings poses with some beelove products.
Brenda Palms Barber founded Sweet Beginnings as a social enterprise to address the high unemployment rate within North Lawndale, Chicago. Sweet Beginnings

 

Working closely with the North Lawndale Employment Network, an organization that provides cognitive behavior therapy and training for re-entering the job market, Sweet Beginnings acts as a possible employer to program participants. As Daphne highlights, hiring previously incarcerated individuals “is all about giving people confidence that they can actually go out and start looking for a job on their own” once their work term with Sweet Beginnings ends.

A beekeeper holding up a honeycomb tray.
Taking the sting out of the fear of bees and previously incarcerated individuals, Sweet Beginnings is marrying the two as a way to reduce unemployment. Sweet Beginnings

Sweet Beginnings initially started selling Beelove products in the same community it was caring for. Local farmers markets and events proved to be great places to showcase Beelove’s products and have employees reconnect with the public. Demand from the community also led to co-ops and retailers carrying Beelove products. “It’s really about the alignment and the recognition of the work that we’re doing in the community that has afforded us the opportunity to be in these retail spaces,” says Daphne. As bigger business opportunities arrive and production scales, Daphne and her team are focused on finding the right balance between cause and commerce while putting their community first.

The richness and depth of ChocoSol’s chocolate and coffee reflect the social impact that this education-oriented social enterprise is making. But becoming a bean-to-bar chocolate maker and coffee roastery was almost an accident for founder Michael Sacco. 

“I was working on solar technology for roasting coffee and cacao with Indigenous communities in Oaxaca, Mexico,” says Michael. “But everyone was more excited about the chocolate and coffee than the renewable energy technology.” The pivot from technology to food allowed Michael to use chocolate and coffee as a vehicle for ecological regeneration, education, and economic impact. 

 Michael Sacco, along with Don Flor, one of the farmers in Mexico who works directly with ChocoSol
Founder of ChocoSol, Michael Sacco, along with Don Flor, one of the farmers in Mexico who works directly with ChocoSol. ChocoSol

The ChocoSol team works directly with farmers on Indigenous forest gardens in Oaxaca and Chiapas to improve diversity of their natural ecosystems by focusing on “polyculture” farming, where diverse crops are grown together, unlike traditional commercial farms, which only farm one lucrative crop.

I was working on solar technology for roasting coffee and cacao with Indigenous communities in Oaxaca, Mexico, but everyone was more excited about the chocolate and coffee.

“They’re built into a communal land rotation which gives way to three sisters (winter squash, maize, and beans), forest gardens, and semi-wild forests. This cycle takes place over 100 years,” says Michael. This long-term mentality—keeping future generations in mind—is how Michael carries out all areas of business. From operating as a learning community for knowledge sharing and passing on the art of chocolate making, to ensuring packaging materials are biodegradable and sourced sustainably.

A selection of ChocoSol’s chocolate, wrapped in biodegradable packaging.
A selection of ChocoSol’s chocolate, wrapped in biodegradable packaging. ChocoSol

Working directly with independent farmers is also Michael’s way of bringing economic opportunities to the Indigenous communities of Oaxaca and Chiapas. “Both fair trade and organic certification are a barrier to entry when you’re dealing not with one big plantation but with 150 independent producers in a region,” says Michael. These smaller farmers lack the language and financial resources to get certified, even though their products are already grown organically. ChocoSol has always paid above the Fair Trade requirements to ensure its farmers and families are paid fairly.

A chocolate bar framed with some cocoa nibs and cocoa beans.
Working directly with farmers is a chance for ChocoSol to directly impact the economy of communities in a positive way. ChocoSol

Moving forward, Michael and team are taking up local projects to regenerate farm lands in Canada. Food waste from cacao roasting, which includes the burlap sacks the cacao is shipped in, are used to create a biochar that can be used as an all-natural fertilizer. “We’ll be working with a local farmer near Hamilton, Ontario, to do a series of ecological regenerative planting of polycultures,” says Michael. “We’ll have a tree planted on the north part of the mountain, annual crop planted on the top of the mountain, and a perennial crop of possibly strawberries, mint, fiddleheads, or sweet grass planted on the south side of the mountain.”

TAMGA Designs creates sustainable clothing from trees. Life and business partners Eric and Yana Dales are not just creating fashion pieces but a sustainable lifestyle movement and are sharing the lessons they learn to inspire change within the industry. 

Eric and Yana worked as humanitarian aid workers in Bangladesh, immersed in communities heavily impacted by the effects of fast fashion. “We were seeing many social and environmental problems. We had to start TAMGA to prove that it could be done better,” says Eric.

The TAMGA Designs team: founders Yana Dales and Eric Dales and head designer Anna Valero Domenech.
The TAMGA Designs team: founders Yana Dales and Eric Dales and head designer Anna Valero Domenech. TAMGA Designs

The Dales’ initial undertaking was to establish a socially and environmentally responsible supply chain that goes beyond traditional corporate social responsibility measures. Eric and Yana spent a lot of time searching for alternative fabrics with low environmental impact. TAMGA’s pieces are made with Lenzing Modal, created from sustainably managed European forest beech wood, or Tencel made from eucalyptus wood, a renewable resource that doesn’t infringe on land for food crops. Their Tencel fabrics are also processed into fiber through an award-winning closed-loop process, where 99.8% of the water and solvents used are recycled. Each part of their supply chain, from fabric mills to cotton farms, sewing factories to packaging makers, are listed on their website, not only for transparency, but also to share knowledge with others in the industry. 

A garment worker in a production facility of TAMGA Designs.
Every step in TAMGA Designs’ process is publicly available, for both transparency and knowledge sharing. TAMGA Designs

TAMGA Designs also shares its process for being a carbon-neutral company. By extensively tracking its carbon footprint for shipping to various countries through different methods, it then purchases offsets from Gold Standard. “These projects are not only going to bring back carbon absorption capacity into the environment, but they’re also going to create jobs and benefit the communities where those projects are run,” Eric says. 

Yana Dales models one of TAMGA Designs’ sustainable pieces.
Yana Dales models one of TAMGA Designs’ sustainable pieces. TAMGA Designs

The Dales are staying true to their main reason behind starting TAMGA Designs: knowledge sharing is at the heart of their attempt to motivate other brands to adopt more responsible business practices. Eric stresses that, “It’s important for businesses to understand that investing in sustainability, if done correctly, is a good investment in their business as a whole.”

Satya is a natural skincare company producing products that are plant-based as well as fragrance- and steroid-free. Made with just five organic ingredients, Satya’s line provides relief to soothe and restore dry skin. 

Patrice Mousseau started Satya in 2013, soon after her daughter, Esme, was born and experienced a severe case of eczema. After being prescribed steroid creams and learning the dangers of using it on infants, Patrice leveraged her research skills as a journalist to find a natural alternative. “I made my first batch in my Crock-Pot, and it cleared up Esme’s eczema,” Patrice says. 

With much of the formula left over, she offered some to friends on Facebook. Friends and friends of friends returned to Patrice and asked for more. “I had to make three more batches in the Crock-Pot right away, because I just could not keep up with people asking for it,” she says. 

Patrice Mousseau with the Crock-Pot that started her journey of launching Satya
Patrice Mousseau with the Crock-Pot that started her journey of launching Satya. Satya

Patrice never thought she would be launching a business and wondered if she would fit in the typical business world. But through the increase in demand from friends, she continued selling Satya’s balms on the side. She eventually started selling at farmers markets and events, which led to the attention of major retailers. “We ended up in about 70 stores in the lower mainland around Vancouver, just through word of mouth, and then Whole Foods wanted to start carrying our product,” Patrice says. That relationship skyrocketed Satya’s presence and saw Patrice’s homemade recipe distributed in over 400 stores.

The jar and stick format of the Satya formula for eczema relief.
Satya’s skincare formula, in jar and stick format, packaged in recyclable and reusable containers. Satya

As the brand’s retail presence brought in more sales through Satya’s online shop, and shipping played a bigger role in the business. “Instead of going to a fulfillment house, we hired stay-at-home moms in different regions,” says Patrice. “We ship them products, then they ship out to their own regions, which drops our shipping costs, employs them, and gets the products faster to customers.”

A jar of Sataya's product displayed with honeycomb.
Thinking creatively to benefit local economies, the environment, and her customers is how Patrice ensures each of Satya’s business decisions is as socially impactful as possible. Satya

Satya was Patrice’s way of solving an issue in a more proactive way, and for every decision that followed Patrice has applied the same creativity and determination. When Satya’s stick format had to incorporate plastic in its packaging, Patrice found the Plastic Bank as an offset partner. “We’re paying someone in a developing country to go to their local waterways and pull up plastic and then take that plastic to their local Plastic Bank depot,” says Patrice. “They exchange it for credits that can be used in medical care, educational, or household items.” On Satya’s environmental impact front, Patrice works with the Great Bear Rainforest to offset her carbon emissions. 

Instead of going to a fulfillment house, we hired stay-at-home moms in different regions. We ship them products, then they ship out to their own regions, which drops our shipping costs, employs them, and gets the products faster to customers.

Moving forward, Patrice is working on projects that will support other Indigenous communities and entrepreneurs, like herself. She knows firsthand how representation and support are important for communities to grow their economy and is finding ways to extend her impact back to areas like the one she grew up in, in northwestern Ontario’s Sioux Lookout.

Backcountry Wok makes nutritious and flavourful dehydrated meals that are packaged with 100% compostable materials—a product born out of a personal need for founder Melanie Ang. “My background is in marine biology, where I did a lot of fieldwork in the backcountry,” says Meanie. “I ate a lot of dehydrated camping meals, which were heavily packaged, and they created a lot of waste.”

Melanie Ang, founder of Backcountry Work holding one of her products.
Melanie Ang launched Backcountry Wok out of a personal need to create nutritious and flavorful dehydrated meals that are packaged with 100% compostable materials. Backcountry Wok

Melanie noticed how counterintuitive it was to have meals with negative environmental impact while completing conservation work. She also missed the flavor profiles and nutrition of meals she had at home, so Melanie started experimenting in her kitchen to create the dehydrated camping meals she wanted.

A package of Backcountry Wok's meals backdropped by snowcapped mountains.
Flavourful and nutritious dehydrated meals in biodegradable packaging is Backcountry Wok’s way of making camping more sustainable.  Backcountry Wok

As Melanie started her business journey by cooking, dehydrating, and getting her friends to taste test her meals, she felt a bit unsure about her lack of business experience. “That used to be my insecurity when I first started, but I find that it’s actually an asset,” she says. Leaning into her expertise in sustainability and conversation, Melanie was able to determine the guiding principles for Backcountry Wok and base her business practices and decisions on “a core sustainability component” instead of preconceived notions surrounding how a business should be.

A package of Backcountry Wok's meal backdropped by two campers.
Operating on a core sustainability focus has allowed Backcountry Wok to operate with values in mind for each decision it makes.  Backcountry Wok

Since launching in 2017, Backcountry Wok has come a long way from Melanie’s home kitchen. Moving from incubators to a shared kitchen and most recently a more spacious facility to keep up with demand, Backcountry Wok has seen substantial growth since the COVID-19 outbreak, as limited travel options led to more people camping, while restrictions on brick-and-mortar stores shifted customers online.

Our online sales this summer went up by a whopping 1,300%. 

“Our online sales this summer went up by a whopping 1,300%,” As Backcountry Wok scales, Melanie is incorporating education into its operations by collaborating with local businesses to host workshops on sustainable camping and outdoor practices.

Lauren Singer’s prominence in environmental activism was catapulted when her 2015 TedxTeen talk went viral. Showcasing how all of the trash she produced in the past three years fit into a 16-ounce Mason jar, Lauren shared her journey of carrying out a zero-waste lifestyle, something she documents on her site, Trash Is for Tossers. Moving beyond change on a personal level, Lauren started to look for environmental issues she could tackle on a macro level by creating businesses.

Lauren Singer with her Mason jar that contains all the waste she made in three years.
Often dubbed the face of zero-waste living, Lauren Singer reduced the waste she accumulated over three years to fit into one 16-ounce Mason jar. Package Free 

“I’m a problem solver, and I think the function of business is to solve problems,” says Lauren “More and more the problems of today are starting to center around climate change and the health and safety of our species and our planet.” Lauren zoomed in on the issue of laundry detergent and wondered why it was filled with chemicals that harmed our waterways and came packaged in plastic. 

Experimenting with natural ingredients like baking soda, washing soda, and castile soap, Lauren created The Simply Co., an organic laundry detergent that’s safe for the planet. “It’s my way to bring a product to market that I knew was safe and effective in order to take a stab at democratizing access to cleaner products,” she says.

Lauren Singer with laundry soap under her brand Simply Co. made from three organic ingredients.
Made with less than a handful of natural ingredients, The Simply Co. laundry detergent is safe for the environment and packaged in a reusable container. Package Free 

In the same vein, Lauren wanted to make it easier for consumers to find other alternatives to existing consumer goods that took less of a toll on the environment. As she discovered other businesses creating the products she envisioned, Lauren launched Package Free, a retail and online store that showcased sustainable alternatives to disposable items and household goods. “It’s a way to aggregate all of these really amazing consumer product companies making products that are safe for our homes, our bodies, and the environment,” Lauren says. 

Lauren Singer in the Package Free shop retail location in New York City.
Lauren Singer in the retail location of Package Free. Package Free 

Throughout the years and the scaling of both businesses, Lauren has always maintaineda dialogue with readers and customers on Trash Is for Tossers. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Lauren shared the honest and personal news of breaking her zero-waste lifestyle. “COVID brought on a shift in the hierarchy of my values based on this new circumstance that we’re facing,” she says. “I think values can shift based on circumstance. So while zero waste was my number one priority pre-COVID, my number one priority right now is the health and safety of myself and the people I love, including my employees and my family members.” 

It’s a way to aggregate all of these really amazing consumer product companies making products that are safe for our homes, our bodies, and the environment.

Along with this transparency, the team at Package Free are working toward adapting to the impacts of COVID-19 by sourcing sustainable sanitizer and toilet paper, as well as creating education pieces on sustainability during the pandemic.

Olowo-n’djo Tchala was born in Togo to a large family comprising a collective of 42 siblings. To support his mother, Olowo-n’djo left school in the sixth grade to work on a farm, a common story within his community. 

In West Africa, we have all these resources as well as tradition and knowledge on how to use them but I couldn’t understand how those resources did not lift the poverty that we were living in.

“What I learned growing up in my village in Kaboli is the extreme level of poverty that we live in,” says Olowo-n’djo. “In West Africa, we have all these resources as well as tradition and knowledge on how to use them, but I couldn’t understand how those resources did not lift the poverty that we were living in.” For Olowo-n’djo, this meant a personal mission to find ways for the communities to leverage their resources and create economic opportunities. 

Olowo-n’djo Tchala in front of the Alaffia’s cooperative in Togo.
Olowo-n’djo Tchala in front of the Alaffia’s cooperative in Togo. Alaffia 

Olowo-n’djo then fell in love with Peace Corps volunteer Prairie Rose Hyde, moved to the United States, and completed his education at the University of California, Davis. In 2003, he formulated his idea of lifting Togo out of poverty by launching Alaffia and creating cooperatives to employ and empower women to develop natural resources into skin- and personal-care products, but banks and loan officers were not keen on the idea. 

“Prairie Rose’s brother was kind enough to put his house against the $50,000 loan and that’s what we used to start the cooperative with about just 17 women,” says Olowo-n’djo.

A collection of hair and skincare products from Alaffia.
Some of Alaffia’s top sellers feature African black soap as the main ingredient, as well as coconut oil and shea butter. Alaffia 

Today, Alaffia’s products feature shea butter, coconut oil, African black soap, and other indigenous ingredients, and are sold in major chain, from Whole Foods to Walmart to Target, as well as in Alaffia’s own online shop. Production of Alaffia’s products supports the livelihood of almost 14,000 women. 

The Alaffia Foundation, the company’s charity arm, runs projects that focus on maternal care, education, sustainability, and vision care. A project that empower and aid in education is the donation of bicycles, which enables young women to travel to school. “We have over 10,000 bicycles, mostly given to young ladies,” says Olowo-n’djo. “We see 90% retention in schools as opposed to having a 40% dropout rate previously.”

Team members of Alaffia at the gate of their cooperative.
Supporting the livelihoods of over 14,000 women, Alaffia is transforming natural resources in Togo into economic opportunities for the local communities. Alaffia 

As Alaffia scales even more, Olowo-n’djo says that his biggest challenge is shifting his priorities. “I used to put bicycles in the shipping containers myself, but I realize it’s better if I spend more of my energy working with the Togo government and the American embassy in Togo to facilitate when the containers arrive.” Prarie Rose and Olowo-n’djo both had a hard time letting go of tasks like packing orders and labelling their soaps, but they know it’s a necessary step for Alaffia and its communities to grow.

Childhood friends Pernell Cezar and Rod Johnson had a lifelong series of conversations about how they could serve their communities. “After decade-long professional careers in corporate America, we both, respectively, felt that there was a void in the business world, and we need to ensure that people in our own backyards were given equal access and resources in exchange for their patronage of this business,” says Rod. 

After decade-long professional careers in corporate America, we both, respectively, felt that there was a void in the business world, and we need to ensure that people in our own backyards were given equal access and resources in exchange for their patronage of this business.

The duo founded BLK & Bold as their way of making purpose popular and leveraged the daily ritual of enjoying caffeinated beverages into a way of giving back. BLK & BOLD pledges 5% of the profits from its coffee and tea sales to youth programs. 

Childhood friends Rod Johnson (left) and Pernell Cezar are the founders of BLK & Bold.
Childhood friends Rod Johnson (left) and Pernell Cezar started BLK & Bold to leverage the wholesale of coffee and tea as a way of supporting youth programs. BLK & Bold  

Being one of the first Black-owned nationally distributed coffee brands carries a lot of weight for Rod and Pernell. “Although it is humbling to serve and be in that position, it also makes us wonder why we are the first,” says Rod. “There hasn’t been much representation as merchants by people who consume the beverage as frequently as other demographics.” This platform and business model allow Rod and Pernell to support programs that enhance workforce development, eradicate food insecurities, and reduce youth homelessness.

“We’re very intentional about selecting that vulnerable demographic because of our own upbringing,” says Rod. “Pernell and I were both raised in Gary, Indiana, in ill-resource households. And we were fortunate to have a support system around us that allowed us to overcome the obstacles that we were initially faced with.”

A package of BLK & Bold coffee held by a hand against some retail shelves.
Rod and Pernell are using the platform provided by BLK & Bold, one of the first Black-owned coffee and tea brands to be nationally distributed, to create social change by supporting youth programs. BLK & Bold  

In addition to supporting vulnerable populations, BLK & Bold is showcasing its supply chain. When Pernell and Rod started their business journey, they were meeting suppliers directly and learning to roast coffee in their own garage. As the supply chain was always a crucial component for BLK & Bold The next area they want to shine a spotlight on is responsible farming and trading by showcasing how their coffee and tea travel from farm to cup.

TPMOCS is a community of Indigenous makers who produce baby moccasins. By providing employment opportunities for Montana’s Blackfeet tribe, TPMOCS aims to alleviate some of the pressures the community faces as a result of having a 69% unemployment rate

“My mom was very aware of the poverty and the challenges associated with growing up on the reservation and made a decision to move about an hour away so that we could still be close to our family but have access to better education opportunities.” says TPMOCS founder Maria Fisher Running Jones, who grew up in the Blackfeet community and experienced first hand the disadvantages of living on reservations.

Maria Fisher Running Jones founder of TPMOCS.
Starting TPMOCS was a way for Maria Fisher Running Jones to support her tribe.  TPMOCS  

From that turning point, Maria went onto law school and is now a practicing corporate lawyer. Even though supporting organizations that run programs for Indegenious communities is something Maria strongly believes and participates in, she wanted to create her own hands-on way of supporting her tribe. 

“One thing that the Blackfeet community is proud of and are quite good at is craftsmanship,” says Maria. Combining the arts of moccasin-making and beading, Maria modernized designs and proposed the tribe make baby moccasins, a product that is scalable and has a shorter production time. 

Baby moccasins by TPMOCS in the design of setting suns.
TPMOCS is highlighting the artistry of the Blackfeet Tribe and merging it with modern designs for baby moccasins. TPMOCS  

Since launching in 2014, TPMOCS have gained exposure from a Facebook showcase and mentions by celebrity Nicole Richie, which led to wholesale inquiries from major retailers. “We’ve struggled with a lot of growth opportunities because something has to give,” says Maria. “Large companies sometimes want 50%, but I still have to pay the artisans, pay for materials, and keep the business going, and it just can’t work.” 

Large companies sometimes want 50%, but I still have to pay the artisans, pay for materials, and keep the business going, and it just can’t work.

For Maria, the most important thing is to support the livelihoods of artisans. Her team is working on other projects that will include merchandise that’s even more scalable. In addition to donating back to the community with necessities and setting up scholarship grants, TPMOCS is looking for ways to expand its business model to other tribes, sharing Indengious culture, and supporting more communities. 

Change starts with the need to solve a problem

The founders of these nine businesses might be working in different industries and creating change in separate communities, but they all started because they wanted to solve a problem their own way. These founders might not have even envisioned being carried by large retailers or expanding internationally—they took on challenges step by step and eventually created the movements they are leading today. What are some areas where you envision a change? 



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An Introduction To HTML & CSS

An Introduction To HTML & CSS


It’s never been easier to start an online store. Thanks to platforms like Shopify, you can buy a theme, upload your products, and be selling to your customers in a matter of hours! The barrier to entry is so low that almost anyone can do it.

While it’s that easy to get started, it’s just as easy to take that simplicity for granted. Eventually, you’ll want to add or change something on your store and you’ll realize your theme doesn’t support it. Developers aren’t cheap and the last thing you want to do is have to pay someone else for something you could have done yourself.

What if I told you that you could spend a little time upfront to learn the basics of how websites work and you’d save some time and money down the road?

By the end of this article, you should know the basics of HTML & CSS and know enough to start tinkering in your own store.

So take a few minutes to get ready and let’s get started!

What is HTML & CSS?

HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language. It’s one of the oldest and most important foundational languages of the web. It’s responsible for structuring and presenting the content on this very page!

CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets. It’s responsible for providing the HTML it’s style and formatting.

Together, these are the necessary building blocks of any website. In this article, I’m going to walk you through the basics and show you how to code and style your first webpage.

Since I’m a huge fan of Bill Murray (who isn’t), we’re going to create our own shrine on the web to Bill.

First though, let’s dive deeper into HTML and CSS to really get a well-rounded understanding of their power and ability.

The Anatomy of a Website

We can easily understand how HTML and CSS work together by comparing them to the structural parts of a house.

Behind the walls of every house lies a frame responsible for its structure. Think of HTML like a house frame. It’s responsible for the structure of a website.

Sticking with our house analogy, CSS is responsible for things like paint colors, the dimensions of the dining room, the color of the wood floors, and the shape and style of the dining room table.

Let’s look at some basic HTML markup and walk through it line by line.

HTML Markup Example

Doctype

The <!DOCTYPE html> tag helps the browser know that the document type we want to work with is HTML.

Head

Inside the <head> tag is where we store all the metadata of our document. This data includes things like the title, styles (CSS), description, and more. This data isn’t displayed to the end-user, but browsers use it to determine what the document should be titled or what styles it should use when it does display it to the end-user.

Some other elements found in the <head> of an HTML page could include author information, the page description, or a link to an image used for the favicon (the little icon in a browser tab).

Favicon Example

Body

The <body> tag contains all the markup (code) for the website. This is the only code that the end-user will see when they view our site.

The Tools You Need to Build a Website

To get started writing HTML you might think that you need some fancy, expensive software, but you don’t. In fact, you already have what you need.

If you’re using a PC, open up the program NotePad. If you are on an Apple Mac, open up TextEdit.

Now that you have your text editing program open, follow along with me while we expand on the basic HTML markup above. Copy (Ctrl + C on Windows / Cmd + C on Mac) and paste (Ctrl + p on Windows / Cmd + P on Mac) the following code into your text editor.

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<head>
<title>The title of your page</title>
</head>
<body>
<h1>Hello World!</h1>
<p>This is our first paragraph.</p>
</body>
</html>

Save this file on your desktop and open it in your web browser. You should now see your code translated, or rendered by the browser and it should look something like this:

Code Rendering Example

The Heading element (<h1>)

The <h1> tag is used when you want to bring attention and definition to certain text. In this instance, we want the text “Hello World!” to be larger and more prominent than the subsequent text.

Out of the box, HTML has six different heading tags you can use: h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, and h6.

HTML Heading Examples
The font size will get smaller every “step down” you take; H1 will be the largest and H6 will be the smallest. By default, they will have some margin (or spacing around them) to separate them from other elements on the page and to give the user visual hierarchy.

Take a minute to experiment with changing the title, heading, and/or paragraph tags. Once you make a change, save it, and then refresh your browser. Congratulations, you just edited HTML for the first time!

Looks boring though, right?

Let’s add some style to our page and learn more about the true power of CSS.

In order to add our own styles to these HTML elements, we need to add a <style> tag inside the <head> of our document.

This tag wraps around all our CSS. Think of what’s inside the <style> tag as the browser’s style guide. 

Under the <title> tag on a new line, add a style tag like this:

<title>The title of your page</title>

<style>

</style>

Inside the style tag is where we can enter all our declarations. A CSS declaration consists of a property followed by a value.

CSS Declaration

Let’s make the color of our <h1> different from the rest of our text because it’s the most important and we want it to stand out. Add the following between your <style> tags, save your file, and refresh your browser again.

<style>
h1 { color: blue; }
</style>

You should now hopefully see something that looks like this! You’ll notice that our “Hello World!” text is now blue. Simple, right?

CSS Modification to H-Tag

There, you’ve done it! You’ve successfully changed the style of an HTML element using CSS. Are we having fun yet?

Adding images to our page

There are many other elements you can include on your page, but one of the most prominent on any website is the almighty image. We can easily add an image by including the tag like so:

<img src=“https://www.fillmurray.com/400/500”>

Note: For the sake of demonstration, I’m using an image placeholder service called www.fillmurray.com. You can use an image on your local computer if you prefer that.

Alternate (Pro Tip) way of grabbing an image from a website: Find an image on a website you’d like to use and right-click on it. Click Copy Image Address and the URL of that image will be in your clipboard. Depending on your browser, the wording might be slightly different. I’m using Google Chrome. I’m not recommending the overuse of hotlinking but for this demo it’s not a big deal.

How to Save an Image from a Website

Copy and paste this image element and place it under your paragraph tag so your full code block looks like mine:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
  <head>
    <title>The title of your page</title>
    <style>
      h1 { color: blue;}
    </style>
  </head>
  <body>
    <h1>Hello World!</h1>
    <p>This is our first paragraph.</p>
    <img src=https://www.fillmurray.com/400/500” alt=”image of Bill Murray”>
  </body>
</html>

Save your file and reload your browser and you should now see something like this:

How to Start Coding Your First Website

If you were paying attention, you noticed another attribute on the <img> tag, the alt=”image of Bill Murray”. Since the browser deciphers code and cannot see the rendered output like you and I, it needs some way to know the context of what it’s displaying.

By adding an ALT tag (alternative text) to our image, we can tell the browser what our image’s subject matter is about.

This is also very important for SEO (search engine optimization) and more importantly, this text is read aloud for blind users using a screen reader.

But What About Links?

No intro to HTML/CSS would be complete without covering links! When you’re building a website, you’re going to want the ability to link, whether that’s to external sources or to other internal pages within your own website.

Let’s talk about the anchor element. The real magic of an anchor element is actually its href attribute. Let’s demonstrate the structure of an anchor tag by adding a link to Bill’s Wikipedia page.

<a href=“www.google.com”>Read his Wikipedia entry</a>

This code is telling the browser that when a user clicks on the text: “Read his Wikipedia entry”, take them to www.google.com.

Let’s add this code right under our heading element so our code block now looks like this:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
  <head>
    <title>The title of your page</title>
    <style>
      h1 { color: blue;}
    </style>
  </head>
  <body>
    <h1>Hello World!</h1>
    <a href=“https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Murray”>Read his Wikipedia entry</a>
    <p>This is our first paragraph.</p>
    <img src=“https://www.fillmurray.com/400/500” alt=“image of Bill Murray”>
  </body>
</html>

Hit save and refresh the browser and hopefully, yours looks like mine.

Coding Basics

Taking it Across the Finish Line

I went ahead and styled my little homage to Bill Murray and here is my final result. I will walk through some of the added styles below.

 

 

Drumroll please…

 

 

The Basics of HTML and CSS

Now, you can see that this isn’t anything to write home about, but that’s by design. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how this page could look or be styled. I wanted to keep things simple so you understand what each of the styling methods below does.

Let’s jump into the little CSS I had to add to get us this far.

Styling the Body:

First, to the body of the page, I added:

body {
  background-color: #eee;
  font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;
  text-align: center;
  margin: 25px;
}

background-color
I set the background color of the page to a very light grey using the hexadecimal color value #eee. You can learn more about those and see some examples here over at MOZ.

font-family
I wanted to change the font from the default Times New Roman browsers use. For this, I chose Helvetica as my first choice (if the user has that font installed on their computer), Arial as my second choice (if the user doesn’t have Helvetica, it will default to Arial), and as a final backup, a basic sans serif font.

text-align
I chose to have all the text on my page center-align. There are a couple of other options for values like left and right, but I thought for this it looked best centered.

margin
I added a little margin to the body of the document to give it some breathing room.

Styling our image:

Lastly, I styled Bill’s beautiful face, er, I mean the image element 🙂

img {
  border: 10px solid #41bcd6;
  box-shadow: 2px 5px 5px #999;
  padding: 10px;
  border-radius: 5px;
}

I didn’t do much but wanted to give Bill’s photo some presence on the page.

border
I added a 10px border around the image. The #41bcd6 is another hexadecimal color value which renders a light blue color (part of my secret subliminal Steve Zissou color theme).

box-shadow
I wanted to give the image a three-dimensional feel so I added a light shadow to it. The box-shadow property accepts pixel and color values that dictate the length, blur, and color of the shadow. To learn more about the box-shadow declaration, Moz breaks it down well for you here.

padding
To make the image look more like a picture frame, I added 10px of padding between it and the border.

border-radius
Just to illustrate one of the cooler abilities of CSS, I made the corners of the image rounded by using border-radius. When I started building websites, nothing like it existed, and producing rounded corners on the web was actually pretty challenging. We’ve come a long way since then, and now it’s rather simple. It accepts a value like px or ems, and here I chose just to round it enough to notice by setting the value to 5px.

Conclusion

Throughout this article we worked together to learn the basic anatomy of a website. We also learned some simple HTML and CSS which, ultimately, turned into a pretty amazing little one-page tribute to one of the all-time greatest actors of a generation 🙂

In all seriousness though, I hope you were able to follow along with me and build out your first basic website. Now if Bill Murray isn’t your favorite actor, I challenge you to edit this code to showcase your favorite actor, band, or whatever you’d like.

If you need to reference this code at any time, come back and read this article, or as a convenience, I’ve put it up on CodePen here.

There are so many fun things you can do with just HTML + CSS. Here are a few great resources for you to expand your learning:

We’ve seriously only scratched the surface in this article so I encourage you to read more, take some online courses, and keep pushing your knowledge!



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20 Ways to Find Motivation

20 Ways to Find Motivation


It’s not easy to motivate yourself. If you’re like many people, you know the drill:

  • Set the alarm early… then can’t get out of bed.
  • Write a to-do list… then get overwhelmed and escape into a Netflix-binge.
  • Get excited about goals… then feel guilty for not working on them.

These cycles seem like they’ll never end, right?

All the while, you feel drained, frustrated, full of self-doubt, and – sometimes, just sometimes – like you’ve fallen into a bottomless pit of darkness and despair.

Just me? Ah, okay. Anyway… 

Surely there are ways to find motivation, and – critically – stay motivated? Thankfully, there are.

Here are 25 ways to motivate yourself so that you can become the person you want to be and achieve your goals.

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How to Find Motivation

1. Just Start

Urgh. Don’t you just hate this advice? 

Still, there’s a reason we’ve all heard it a million times: it can work wonders.

You don’t always need to reason with your emotions or rationalize why you need to do something. You can deal with those negative feelings later on, at the right time. Instead, try setting aside all of the negative emotions and simply START.

As the famous writer Mark Twain once said: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

Real Motivation: Mark Twain Quote

2. Break Tasks Down Into Small Steps

Woah… another piece of ground-breaking, never-heard-before advice, right?

Again, there’s a reason so many people recommend that you use this tactic when trying to motivate yourself – sometimes it’s the simplest things done well that work the best.

Remember, you can’t do everything at once. That’s why the painter Vincent Van Gogh said, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”

Here’s a method to help you find motivation to get things done: Write down what you need to do on a piece of paper. Then, write down every single step you need to take to make it happen. Finally, ignore everything except the step you’re working on.

Once in the flow, you may just find it easier to continue with the next task.

3. Create a Positive Mindset

Getting motivated is almost impossible if you’re looking at the situation from a negative viewpoint. On the other hand, positivity can be energizing and help you to motivate yourself.

So, pause and ask yourself, “what’s good about this situation?”

As the author Catherine Pulsifer said, “If we have the attitude that it’s going to be a great day it usually is.”

Getting Motivated: Catherine Pulsifer Quote

4. Create a Feeling of Gratitude

When you find yourself stuck in a rut, it can feel impossible to motivate yourself. So before you try to motivate yourself, take a step back and try to appreciate how you feel.

When you feel appreciation for yourself, it’s much easier to stay motivated.

One of the quickest ways to feel good about yourself is to practice gratitude – it’s almost entirely impossible to feel low and grateful at the same time.

To practice gratitude, start by writing down three things you’re grateful for. These could be anything – from your morning coffee, to your pet, or even the comfortable chair you sit on. 

Ideally, you could make this part of your daily routine to find everyday motivation.

5. Be Kind to Yourself

When you procrastinate or make a mistake, it’s easy to beat yourself up. In fact, if you’re like many people, you may find that you internally “speak” to yourself in a mean way. 

If you notice yourself doing this, pause and try to speak to yourself kindly instead. You wouldn’t speak to someone else that way, so why do it to yourself? You deserve your own kindness.

Try to remember your true inherent value as a human being. Then, allow yourself to gently come back to the task at hand.

6. Be Constructive

When you realize you’ve made a mistake or finally bring yourself back from a procrastination session, you have a golden opportunity to learn and improve.

Ask yourself, “Why did I make this mistake? How can I avoid making the same mistake in the future?”

If you do this and act on what you learn, you’ll transform mistakes into opportunities.

The entrepreneur Arianna Huffington said, “We need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes – understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.”

Everyday Motivation: Ariana Huffington Quote

7. Cut Your To-Do List Down

To-do lists can help us organize our tasks and focus on what’s important. However, they can also overwhelm us so much that we end up procrastinating even more.

So, if you find yourself struggling to stay motivated, cut your to-do list down to a more manageable size.

Each day, choose no more than three tasks and make that your new to-do list. Then, ignore all but the first item. You may find that with time, you can take on a longer to-do list.

8. Set Attainable Goals That Excite You

If you have a goal that feels too big or unattainable, it may make you feel crippled with anxiety and fear. This is a surefire way to prevent yourself from developing motivation.

For now, let go of goals that paralyze you. Instead, choose exciting enough goals to help you motivate yourself, but not so big that you freeze when facing them.

As the politician Theodore Roosevelt said, “Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.”

9. Imagine Your Future If You Don’t Change

This tip can make inspiring yourself easy: Instead of focusing on the change you want, imagine the life you’ll have if you don’t stay motivated.

Ask yourself, “What will life be like in one year, five years, and ten years?”

Here’s a motivational quote from an anonymous wise person: “You can either experience the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The choice is yours.”

Developing Self Motivation: Unknown Quote

10. Reflect on How Far You’ve Come

How often do you pause, reflect, and appreciate how far you’ve come?

If you’re like many people, you probably don’t give yourself enough credit for all the growth you’ve gone through.

Take a few minutes to close your eyes and remember your successes, however small – relive and feel into them.

Do this often to help you stay motivated.

11. Remind Yourself of Your “Why”

Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, said, “Motivation comes from working on things we care about.”

Take a moment to write down three reasons you want to find motivation to get things done. Do you want to improve your fitness, get an education, save money, or start a business

Why?

Keep coming up with answers until you find ones that will help you stay motivated.

13. Eliminate Distractions Mercilessly

Distractions are the enemy of focus. If you want to get motivated, you have to eliminate distractions.

As the billionaire investor Warren Buffett said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.”

The saying goes, “You can have anything you want. However, you can’t have everything you want.”

So, turn your phone off and leave it in a different room. Close the door. Turn the music off. Delete distracting apps. 

Remind yourself that you are not punishing yourself – you’re just focusing on your goals. Then, remember what you truly want in the long-term.

Inspiring Yourself: Warren Buffet Quote

12. Commit 100% to the Deal You’re Making

Remember, nothing comes for free.

When you want something, you have to give something in return – whether it’s time, effort, hard work, or emotional discomfort.

That’s the deal.

Take a moment to recognize and appreciate the deal you’re making. Then commit to it 100%.  Maya Angelou, the activist and poet, once said, “Nothing will work unless you do.”

14. Declutter and Tidy

It’s extremely difficult to motivate yourself if you can’t see your bedroom floor and your desk looks like something has exploded on it.

Have you ever heard the expression, “tidy space, tidy mind”? 

What’s your environment like? Is it tidy, neat, and clean? Or is it messy and cluttered? Work from the outside in and create an environment that helps you to stay motivated.

15. Change Your Inputs

You know the saying, “you are what you eat.” And we consume a lot every day – food, music, podcasts, TV, social media.

So, if you’re finding it challenging to motivate yourself, mix things up a bit. Listen to motivational podcasts, check out a must-read book, or watch some inspiring videos.

This can help you to freshen up, get energized, and find motivation to get things done.

16. Look to People in Your Life for Motivation

Some people energize us, others we find draining.

The motivational speaker Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

So, when possible, seek out enthusiastic, motivated people to spend time with. Let yourself get wrapped up in their positive energy, and you may start developing self-motivation, too.

Things that Motivate You: Jim Rohn Quote

17. Ask for Help From Friends and Family

If you’re really struggling to motivate yourself, consider asking a close friend or family member for help. You could ask them to hold you accountable and check up on your progress.

By expressing your goals out loud to someone else, it can help to make them feel more real. Plus, if you know someone will check in on your progress, you may be more likely to follow through.

19. Follow Inspiring People Who Motivate You

There are so many inspiring people out there who can help you to motivate yourself. Is there an entrepreneur, teacher, musician, or politician you find inspiring? 

You can also learn how people you admire stay motivated, and then apply the lessons to your own life.

As the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates once said, “Smart people learn from everything and everyone, average people from their experiences, stupid people already have all the answers.”

Motivational Things: Socrates Quote

19. Listen to an Upbeat Song

If you need to motivate yourself quickly, try this super-simple tip: listen to a song you love that’s upbeat, inspiring, and full of energy.

For bonus points, dance like a crazy person at the same time.

Then, as soon as the song finishes, don’t pause – dive straight into action. It may become one of your favorite ways to stay motivated.

20. Remember Your Power and Potential

Look, you are powerful, and you have enormous potential. 

You may not feel like it sometimes, and you may even feel like I’m silly for saying it to you, but it’s true.

The author Alice Walker said, “The most common reason people give up their power is because they think they don’t have any.”

So, please, take a moment to dig deep and try to connect with your inner power and potential – imagine what you could achieve.

Become still. 

Then listen to that quiet voice in your head saying, “You can do this.”

Getting Motivated: Alice Walker Quote

How to Motivate Yourself: A Summary

Getting motivated can be tough – and it can be even more challenging to stay motivated. In summary, here are 20 ways to motivate yourself:

  1. Just start and wait for the motivation to catch up with you.
  2. Break tasks down into smaller, more manageable steps.
  3. Create a positive mindset by asking yourself, “what’s good about this situation?”
  4. Create positive feelings by writing down three things you’re grateful for.
  5. Be kind to yourself when you make a mistake, then come back to the task at hand.
  6. Know that mistakes are a necessary part of progress – accept and learn from them.
  7. Cut overwhelming to-do lists down and focus on just one thing at a time.
  8. Let go of goals that overwhelm you and set attainable goals that energize you.
  9. Imagine your future if you don’t motivate yourself.
  10. Reflect on your past successes and use the positive feelings to stay motivated.
  11. Remind yourself of the reason why you want to find motivation to get things done.
  12. Remember the trade-off you need to make to get what you want, then commit 100%.
  13. Eliminate the things that distract you and then focus on one thing to achieve your goals.
  14. Tidy space, tidy mind – declutter and organize your space to help motivate yourself.
  15. Stay motivated by experiencing different food, music, books, or podcasts.
  16. Look to people in your life who inspire and motivate you.
  17. Ask close friends and family to help hold you accountable.
  18. Follow people who inspire you online.
  19. Listen – and dance! – to an upbeat song. Then dive into action when it finishes.
  20. Connect with your true potential – you’re more powerful than you think.

Which item on this list resonated with you most? Have we missed any great ways to motivate yourself? Let us know in the comments below!

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Thomas J Law

Thomas J Law

Thomas is a B2B content writer specializing in SaaS, ecommerce, and digital marketing. To learn more about how Thomas can help you achieve your goals, visit his website at tomjlaw.com.



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Three Free Ways To Drive Traffic To Your Business in 2020: TikTok, Pinterest, Medium

Three Free Ways To Drive Traffic To Your Business in 2020: TikTok, Pinterest, Medium


One of the essential questions every entrepreneur needs to answer is how to reach customers.

The internet and digital media, in particular, have changed the way we live, make decisions, and spend money.

And as competition rises across various industries, businesses are looking for new ways to gain potential clients.

Even though there are platforms that allow us to reach millions of people organically, most businesses fail to do so because they don’t know where their ideal audience is and how to target them.

Paid ads, on the other hand, can have a good return on investment. But there’s a hidden potential of reaching millions of people organically if you know how to use today’s rising platforms.

TikTok, Pinterest, and Medium are a few of these opportunities. 

These are growing at a tremendous speed and allowing creators to tap into new audiences. And the marketers who know how to use them have the chance to reach people all over the globe without spending a penny on paid advertising.

ipad and iphone on table

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TikTok

TikTok is a Chinese video-sharing platform that was founded in 2016.

Over the past few years, it has spread like wildfire and become the most relevant competitor of Instagram.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, millions of new users worldwide joined the social network to watch entertaining or educational videos.

As of August 2020, more than 800 million people are using TikTok every month and the app has been downloaded more than two billion times.

The Content

The maximum duration of a TikTok video is 60 seconds. Yet the average length of viral TikTok videos is around 15 seconds.

Even though its user interface might first look confusing, creating and sharing videos on TikTok is actually really simple.

TikTok favors in-app creations, which means you don’t need a fancy camera or video editing tools to produce excellent videos.

Instead, you can use its internal tools and create stunning videos with ease.

While most people think of TikTok as a platform to share dance videos, thousands of entrepreneurs and businesses actually use the network to share educational content.

The Audience

While more than 40 percent of TikTok’s audience is aged between 16 and 24, more and more older users are joining the platform every day.

Most of today’s popular social platforms first started by targeting younger generations, and once they got used to the network, older generations joined.

Facebook started as a platform for students, yet many of today’s grandparents scroll through their news feeds every day. And the same will likely happen with TikTok.

If you’re serving an international audience, TikTok might allow you to reach more people organically than any other platform.

And if your target audience is younger than 30 years old, now is the best time to create a marketing strategy for your TikTok channel.

Companies such as Spikeball, Vessi, or Gymshark are already using TikTok successfully and reaching millions of new potential customers every month.

However, whether you’re a consultant, coach, or trying to build your personal brand, you might be able to benefit from TikTok’s massive reach. Even lawyers and doctors are using the platform to develop their brands and stand out from the competition.

The Benefits and How to Get Started

Even though TikTok’s audience is growing quickly, new creators still have great opportunities to build an audience through viral videos.

While it’s almost impossible for a post to go viral on Instagram without having lots of followers, it’s still likely on TikTok.

Right now, the app favors new creators and fresh content, so if you join the platform soon and share relevant content, you might get tens of thousands of views with ease. 

And by placing a link to your website or email list in your profile description, you can turn your TikTok audience into subscribers and paying customers.

black iphone on table

Pinterest

Pinterest was founded in 2009 in the US and is a visual search engine.

Even though many people know about Pinterest and have probably even used it as a source of inspiration, only few people understand how to use it as an effective marketing channel.

Yet, thousands of today’s blogs and online businesses rely on Pinterest as their primary traffic source.

The Content

On Pinterest, you create vertical images, known as Pins, to promote an article, a video, or a product.

When people click on that Pin, they end up on your website to read a blog post, watch a video, sign up for a newsletter, or make a purchase.

Pinterest works for businesses that sell physical products as well as those selling digital services and products.

Creating visually appealing Pins and writing engaging copy is what matters most in order to make people click on your Pin and go to your website.

The Audience

More than 360 million people use Pinterest every month. Yet what stands out is that over 70 percent of the users are women with strong purchasing power.

According to studies, 47 percent of Pinterest users browse through the platform to make a buying decision. These purchases are mostly tied to significant life events such as a wedding, a child’s birth, or a relocation.

However, online businesses that don’t sell physical products can benefit from the massive traffic on Pinterest too.

Personal Growth Base, for instance, is a website dedicated to helping people to become their best selves. On its Pinterest page, the brand shares Pins with blog posts’ titles to get people to read its content.

Once you click on one of the Pins and read an article, you have the opportunity to subscribe to a weekly personal development newsletter. And if you like the content, you can join an online course to dive even deeper.

The Benefits and How to Get Started

The main benefit of Pinterest compared to other platforms is that you can easily automate the marketing process.

Once you’ve created the Pins, you can schedule them with marketing tools such as Tailwind.

Pinterest is particularly relevant for two types of businesses:

A) Businesses with a catalog of existing content such as blog posts or YouTube videos. These companies can create a lot of content for Pinterest easily just by designing Pins for their existing content.

B) Businesses that sell products that are particularly appealing to women. Even though more and more men are joining the platform, it’s still dominated by females.

That’s why Pinterest is particularly promising for companies that target middle-aged women.

woman using laptop

Medium

Medium is an American online publishing platform that allows anyone to create and share written content.

The platform was founded in 2012 by Evan Williams, the co-founder of Twitter. Today, Medium is one of the 300 most visited websites and anyone can sign up and share articles in a few clicks.

The Content

Medium is dedicated to writing and consists of blog posts and stories of various forms.

While it might be hard for a fashion brand to grow a significant audience on Medium, it’s an excellent place for businesses that rely on content marketing through educational articles.

If you, for instance, launch a mindfulness app, Medium can be the perfect place to share articles about self-care, mindfulness, or meditation. Those who read your posts will likely be potential customers for your product or service.

Just like on Pinterest, Medium is also a great place to grow an email list for a knowledge-based company.

And if you’re selling online courses or a digital coaching package, you might find an interested audience on Medium that you can turn into subscribers and customers through a simple call to action at the end of your articles.

The Audience

What distinguishes Medium from other platforms is that more than 90 percent of its users are college graduates. While TikTok is all about attention-grabbing content, Medium readers want more in-depth knowledge.

Even though Medium is a platform with a worldwide community, most of its users are located in America and Asia. However, its European audience is growing at a particularly quick rate.

The Benefits and How to Get Started

With more than 100 million monthly readers, Medium is a massive opportunity for those who share high-quality written content.

Certain niches such as self-improvement, tech, or entrepreneurship are particularly popular. So if your business operates in one of these areas, you have the opportunity to reach your ideal customer by publishing relevant content.

In addition to its massive reach, Medium also has a high domain authority. With a score higher than 90, the website outranks most other pages. This makes it relatively easy for marketers to create content that can be found through Google searches.

That’s why it might be better to start your company blog on Medium instead of using your own website. But even if you publish your company’s articles on Medium, you can also republish them on your website and vice versa.

top shot of man, laptop, and marketing books

Final Thoughts

TikTok, Pinterest, and Medium are three effective ways to drive traffic to your website or online store in 2020 and beyond.

Even though these platforms aren’t new, most businesses don’t know how to use them effectively to reach their target audience. That’s why you can have a significant advantage by giving it a try and tapping into these platforms’ enormous audiences.

While all three platforms can be a source of free, organic traffic, your success and reach on each of them depend on your consistency.

On TikTok, you should aim to upload at least one to three videos per day. On Pinterest, you’ll need to schedule a minimum of ten Pins per day. And on Medium, your goal should be to publish high-quality articles at least once per week.

The more content you publish, the higher your chances of success on these platforms. And even though you don’t need to pay for the reach, you’ll need to invest lots of time to drive free traffic through these platforms.

Last but not least, marketing your business on these platforms will only work if you genuinely care about your audience and create content that is worth watching or reading.

With millions of videos and blog posts online, people can quickly distinguish between brands who care about their audience and those that don’t.

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Sinem Günel

Sinem Günel

Sinem Günel is an entrepreneur, coach, and writer. She is the founder of Personal Growth Base and a top writer on Medium.com



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The Journey of a Million-Dollar Customized Jewelry Brand — Podcasts

The Journey of a Million-Dollar Customized Jewelry Brand — Podcasts


Jacob Pazos, Hanna Zameni, and Scott Shin are the trio behind Revival Jewelry, makers of pendants that project images once a light shines through its gemstones. On this episode of Shopify Masters, we chat with Jacob Pazos and Scott Shin on their product development process, tips for crowdsourcing feedback, and ways to reach their target audience.

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Show Notes

Creating your niche: applying a modern twist to a traditional product 

Felix: Tell us about your product and why you wanted to create a modern alternative to the traditional locket.

Scott: There’s a real lack of modern lockets, and that’s how we market our product as a modern locket. A lot of times, you’ll find lockets are old fashioned and dated. Really, this thought came about when I wanted to have a personalized piece of jewelry for my mom when my father passed away, and this was maybe three or four years ago. She’s more of a hip mom, I’ll put it. She’s not going to wear an old fashioned locket, and so I had the idea of making a locket that she would wear. This came about when my sister came to me with an invention she had for a small gem, and it almost looked like a stone you would find in any jewelry. We got together and said, “Hey, why don’t we make some jewelry out of this?” She thought let’s try making some rings, but in my mind, I just wanted to make the one pendant for my mom.

Felix: So your sister came to you with an invention. This is something that she invented, or did she find this invention? What’s the story behind that?

Scott: She and my uncle came up with the idea. I wouldn’t say they came up with the prototype, they came with a lens prototype. But when she got together with me, we figured out maybe we can turn this into jewelry piece sets that someone would wear. Around that time is when I talked to Jacob. We were friends and I knew he grew up as a jewelry designer, and so it was perfect to have him involved. He can tell you about what his first thoughts were and how we ended up getting together.

A model shins a light through a pendent from Revival Jewelry that projects a hidden image.
Revival Jewelry is bringing a modern twist to the classic locket necklace idea. Revival Jewelry 

Jacob: I thought it was a great idea as Scott said. I come from a jewelry background, grew up around it, and started doing jewelry design at 13. I was very familiar with an array of different things of what people like, what they don’t like, and lockets were always that thing where I knew sentimentality was a huge indicator as to what people connect within their jewelry. Lockets have that sentimentality but are very low in terms of style, and they’re very antiquated, so it was always an older audience. When Scott showed me the concept, I immediately was intrigued because I thought, “Wow, this is not compromising style at all. If anything, we can now put this into any context.” My jewelry design light bulb just went off. Rings, charms, pendants, whatever you can imagine, it can go into and have the same level of sentimentality that people want to have in their jewelry and that connection with it, bring even a newer level of personalization that people can have in connection to their jewelry but also not compromise the style at all. So, I was in love with it immediately.

Felix: Can you describe a bit about what you’re bringing to the market, as in, what is the modern alternative? 

Scott: I would survey friends, my mom, and sister, about what kind of jewelry they liked to wear. They often shop at places like Pandora, so they’re all about what’s currently trending in jewelry. Those are the pieces that I thought maybe we can make and put a special image inside of it. That was before we thought we could take this to market and sell it and mass produce it. But we just wanted to see, hey, can we come up with a piece, a prototype that my mom or my sister would like? I threw some ideas at Jacob, and I don’t think they were very good. Really Jacob is the designer here. He threw a few sketches back at me and not only did we survey our family, but we took it to friends as well. When we hit that right, got the right response from friends saying, “Oh, I would wear that,” I think that’s when we decided all right, this is what we need to start making.

Felix: When designing the product, what did you start with and what kind of changes did you make along the way that made it to the final product?

Scott: We started with a piece called the Halo. That was the very first piece we came up with before we decided to start marketing it. The name behind it shares the sentiment of an angel overlooking a loved one, right? We have a halo with stones around it that encompasses a picture, and once we were able to put it together and get comfortable with the nuances of how to make it seamlessly because I knew nothing about making jewelry or producing jewelry. Jacob was the expert on that, so I did a lot of learning from him. 

Jacob: We started with the Halo. It was a very simple design. We were just throwing it out there to gauge reactions, so there was nothing really special to it. It was just this design that we thought was simple, likeable. It started, the concept was really taking off. at the time the design, people were like, “Okay, I could kind of take it or leave it, but I love the concept behind it,” so that’s when we regathered and said, “Okay, let’s actually now step out a little further and try to come up with some better designs.” What we did was we thought through the process of how can we create something that’s hitting different price points for our customers, because I come from a fine jewelry background, so it’s very different from what we’re doing here in terms of price per unit. I thought let’s create something that people can buy at $75-$80, all the way up to $200-$250. We ended up coming up with four designs. One very simple, just octagon without stones so that it was very light, not a lot of metal, didn’t cost a lot, so we could offer that to people at a lower price. The Halo was the next product, and I redesigned it and made it look a little sleeker, nicer. We added a little more weight to it. Women were saying it felt very dainty, the first model. We would have things also where we would just take this to women and show them and just get their feedback and say, “Hey, here it is,” and literally had parties at one time to just show them the product and get their feedback.

Scott: That’s where we thought we could turn this into a business. Because the reaction we were getting from people, immediately they were like, “Man, can you make one for me?I love this.” And these are people who wouldn’t normally wear a locket or anything like that, but some of them would look at the jewelry and say, “I love this piece,” not even knowing that it has an image in it and say, “I want it.” 

Identifying the marketing strategy to suit your business

Felix: How long did it take to get to the point where you both were like, “Wow, this is actually a product that we should start to try to sell online.”

Scott: We were both working at our jobs. I have a background in the semiconductor industry and I was working full-time before I decided to move into this. We were sitting there and saying, “Look, we have a product here, but there are a lot of different ways we could go about marketing this, right?” 

Jacob: If we’re putting it on a timeline, that started 2017. I remember you, Scott, came and initially had the idea with his sister. And so Scott had handed me some designs, early 2017, started making them for him. I was at one point like, “Hey, I’m not a fan of these designs really, but I think we can do better.” We kind of collaborated, that’s where we did the Halo. And then we showed friends and family those designs that weren’t that great. 

Scott: We finally decided that we were going to go direct-to-consumer as the route to spread the message and really market these things. We tossed around the idea of the jewelry party, and also selling wholesale to jewellers. But the issue is the party would have been great because it’s a product that you have to demonstrate for people to get, so it’s not just going to sell itself. But direct-to-consumer online provides you with a website that educates the customer, right? We have that opportunity to do that, and I thought that would be a great way to launch this, even though I’m not sure if Jacob at the time was too keen on it or maybe a few others thought you can’t really sell this online. But I thought, look, it’s the perfect platform because your website can have all the information showing them what it does. Not to digress too much, but that’s our strategy to marketing this is that 100% of our sales is online, and we use Facebook mostly to generate traffic- and Facebook paid ads. For us, I was trying to educate myself on how to do this because I wasn’t well-versed in Facebook marketing and all that. As I was learning about how to market this on Facebook, you’d go online, do your research and people would talk about building your funnel strategy, right? But to me, we take more of a send traffic to our website strategy, and really we’re sending them through the funnel on our website itself. Our conversion happens faster than the average product. Of course, it just varies on what you’re trying to sell online, so if you’re selling services that have a longer sales cycle or big-ticket items, obviously you’d probably want to have a multi-tier approach first on Facebook itself or through sending different touchpoints online. But for us, once we get people to our website, it’s pretty simple and pretty straightforward on how to order, what it does, and so we thought that was the best approach for taking this to market was direct-to-consumer online.

Felix: How did you identify that price point, $70 – $200, as the target market for your product? 

Jacob: The background I come from, it was a lot of custom design, it was higher-priced items, so I knew that those would be few and far between. It would have taken a lot more to gather sales if we were talking about a product that’s real gold and sell it for $7,500 a unit. It’s a lot of having to educate a customer and having to bring them along that funnel just of education alone. To me, it didn’t seem like that was the way to go at all, and Scott knew that as well. We talked about this as a more mass-market type of item. It’s things that when we got the responses, sentimentality played into that a lot of the different reasons people would put these photos in, from in memoriam photos to their pets. We realized this is more mass-market than higher-end stuff, so let’s create designs and be cognizant of that when we’re designing things so we can produce things that are that lower price point so that we can spread it farther for people and make it more available.

Felix: Are you guys also in the gifting market? Are there a lot of buyers that are buying it as gifts?

Scott: Yes. I see a huge percentage of our customers dropshipping it to their friends, as gifts for family members, for special occasions like birthdays, graduations. But that’s about half of our sales are in that and half our customers buy it for themselves.

Felix: How does that affect the way that you market the product either in your ads or when people land on your site? Do you try to encourage people to buy as a gift?

Scott: One of our main ads, it does show that it’s the perfect gift item. So we do have some of that messaging. This is a great gift, but we only recently started making card inserts for our customers because they’ve been requesting that a lot. Usually, we’re talking to our customers after they purchase the product. We’re always learning from our customers, in fact, that’s been from the very beginning. We crowdsource our designs. If you look at our website now, I think we have eight signature designs, and we’re continuing to build more designs based on what customers want. We’re constantly getting feedback from our customers on how to approach the whole gifting side of things as well because I think we along the way provided gift boxes that are nicer. All of our jewelry comes in nicer Revival Jewelry boxes now. Because they were always asking for jewelry boxes. Now, I was surprised to learn that it’s not a common practice for a lot of jewelers when you order jewelry online to send you a jewelry box with your item. When you order stuff, a lot of times it just comes plain packaged. We were very surprised. So, we decided to provide nice packaging when we send you an item as well.

Felix: Your business is customized jewelry. Can you explain the technology and the process that goes on when someone goes to your site and they upload a photo? What happens at that point?

Scott: You go to our site. All the instructions are right there on our page, so it’s pretty simple. Once you find a jewelry piece that you like, you click through to that piece, and then there’s a button that asks you to upload a photo. This is an important piece of how we market this. A good portion of our sales are mobile because people keep all their photos now on their phones, right? If you’re going to our website from your mobile device, it’s really simple to upload a photo that you have already there. We have a little tool that we use, it’s a Shopify partner app that helped us build that solution. You upload your image, then there are tools for cropping, rotating, and adjusting the image the way you want it. It’ll come to you how you crop it, so it’s pretty straightforward.

A model holds a necklace from Revival Jewelry while wearing a off-white top.
Deciding to sell direct to consumer was a pivotal moment for the Revival Jewelry Team to scale their business. Revival Jewelry 

Felix: So you worked with a Shopify partner to create the technology for this?

Scott: Well, no. It’s an app we use. That’s the beauty of Shopify is that anything you need, there’s an out of the box solution these days. We were wary about building a website because we thought, “Look, everything has to be custom-built, all the stuff we want.” But as it turns out, Shopify has a lot of out of the box solutions for whatever you could think of, and so we use a lot of that.

Felix: What was the app that you use for this?

Scott: The one we use is Product Personalizer, but there are a few others. But this one works well for us because we didn’t have a whole lot of SKUs to start.

Felix: How is the actual Jewelry made? 

Jacob: There are two parts to our production – processing and production fulfillment. The processing, we keep as a trade secret because we do have a utility patent pending on the lens itself. Getting the photo in, we have our own in-house lab where we do that. But as far as putting the pieces together, we have a 3D printer here. We print molds on all of our prototypes and then of course we send it out, we have some relationships with people who cast the jewelry. We use mostly silver, 925 sterling silver, but we also use gold. We stuck with silver and rose gold because silver is the one timeless metal that people use for jewelry, and rose gold is a current trend but that’s always been in and out as far as jewelry trends go. Now if we do get requests for custom pieces to cast in different metals, we’ll do that for people, but we do everything in-house. It’s difficult to use third-party logistics for us because it’s a customized, personalized piece, and so we fulfill everything here.

How to use crowdsourcing to optimize your product

Felix: You mentioned a lot of the products on your site are crowdsourced, how do you crowdsource the jewelry?

Jacob: Mostly through social media. We have a social media person, she will put out polls. Any time we have a new design, in fact, we’re working right now on some charm bracelets and charms that she’ll be putting out on our Instagram page and will send polls out. Also our email list is about 8,000, and these are people who are very actively involved and we’ll go to them to ask what they like. We’ll have maybe three variations of a design and then ask them, “All right, do you like design one, two, or three?” That sort of thing.

Felix: Are they physical products, or just mockups at the crowdsourcing stage? 

Jacob: Since I do CAD design with jewelry, it’s pretty easy. We’ll think up an initial concept and our team will sit internally and say, “Hey, what do we want to do?” So far, it’s been pendants only, and so for the pendants, it was “let’s create these.”We knew we wanted different price points, so I drew up some things and then we crafted it internally and then said, “Okay, this is good enough to send out. Let’s post it up.” I got renderings where it looks pretty realistic, the metals look real, the diamonds or CZs look real. It’s all computer imaging, but we just throw it up there on social media and would have the votes and everything like that and people would comment, “Oh, I like this,” or, “I don’t like this about this piece.” One simple thing was from the Halo that we first had to the Halo we have now, it’s very similar, but the common response was something as simple as the stone should be a little bigger. Making them 25% bigger changed the whole look and design of the piece, and it became a much better seller than it was before when it was just slightly smaller. Paying attention to details like that with customers is important. In our Facebook ads, we get comments of, “Oh, I would love to see blah blah blah.” And we get this amazing feedback from customers via email, Facebook, whatever, who say, “Hey, do you think you’ll ever come out with fill in the blank?” We definitely take notes of that. When we see something commonly popping up, charms for instance was one of them, that’s when we go back to our internal team and say, “Hey, what do we think about releasing charms?” That’s where we were at, and so I’m in the process right now of creating charm bracelets and charms for our customers, and that’s going to be going out soon for their review.

Felix: How often do you test these designs out?

Jacob: At first, it was not very often. Maybe once a quarter we would revisit our designs. That was because we were just getting focused on launching and getting the product to a point where we felt comfortable with it. We made little pivots where we had only silver and then okay, now let’s make all the pieces in silver and in rose gold, and then made little additions like that. Now we’re looking to release things that customers really want and men’s jewelry is things we hear a lot and charms are things we hear, so we’re trying to take that a bit more frequently where we revisit what customers want. We’re not trying to kill ourselves with the amount of SKUs we’re wanting to release, obviously. We’re trying to go about it as a systematic approach, but listening to our customers very carefully and trying to make sure we’re pumping out things that they really like and enjoy.

Scott: Our signature line is just going to be there, we imagine for a long time, but we’re always trying to add on to the signature designs by following different trends that are seasonal. We have about 19 SKUs, if you include chains. 

Felix: You mentioned that one improvement that you’ve made from listening to your customers was around the packaging and the jewelry boxes. Tell us about how this happened. 

Scott: We were hearing that a lot of people were gifting this., In fact, some people were asking us if they could pay for a box. So we realized we could raise the price, and we actually did. Our initial pieces, we made the mistake of designing them as necklaces that you couldn’t move the chains from. That’s one of the immediate feedback we got from our customers is that “Hey, we want pendants with removable chains.” When we made that change, we realized hey, it’s costing us more to do that but we can also pass that cost on because it’s reasonable. People will pay for that. As we did that, we also factored in the cost of having nice boxes. It wasn’t like we suddenly doubled the price. We thought we were going to get some backlash or people telling us, “Why did you raise the price?” We didn’t, people accepted it, and that’s great.

Felix: Did designing the jewelry box go through multiple iterations as well? 

Scott: We previewed the different boxes that were available and we designed one and stuck with it. We’ve gotten good feedback on it, so we haven’t really found the need to change the design., But of course, it’s possible we could come up with a different box for different occasions and events. That might be an idea, but right now we just have one standard box that ships with our pendants. Now, we do have l these paper maché type boxes that we send when you buy one of our non-pendant items. We have what we call our Pillar and we have a little piece that looks like a camera. We don’t ship those in jewelry boxes, they don’t come with chains. But sometimes we’ll put them in a box for the customer if they do order a chain with it, but it’s all mentioned on our website so they know what they’re getting.

Identifying your target audience and using Facebook ads to drive them to your website 

Felix: You mentioned you had to learn paid ads from scratch. Can you discuss how you learned and your Facebook ads strategy to generate traffic? 

Scott: I definitely encourage people just starting out to tackle it on their own and learn as much as possible. Early on I tried a couple people who were with agencies and said, “Hey look, we can help you guys out.” But I learned that they weren’t producing any better results than we were. A lot of the conventional wisdom out there is this funnel strategy approach, but for us, we know who our customers are. Just start with targeting who your customers are and build your audiences around those interests. We did that for the entire first year, and once we had around 750 to 1,000 customers, we started using custom lookalike audiences on Facebook. If people aren’t familiar with that Facebook works better when you have more data, so the more data you feed it, the better it works. But around the time when we had 750 to 1,000 customers is when that started taking off. If you’re starting a business, you should know who your customers are, right? Once we figured that out, we could target different interests. One of our biggest groups is pet owners. They buy our products a lot, so we would try to find pet lover audiences.

Felix: How do specific target audiences change your ad copy and the way you create your ads?

Scott: We could probably be doing better, but as far as the return on ad spend we’re getting, we haven’t seen the need to create too many ads. We have two ads, tell you the truth, and there’s one that’s been running for a whole year and a half now. Ever since we started marketing in March of last year on Facebook. That’s been running ever since and it’s been working well. Around the holiday season, the fourth quarter, we were seeing 11 to 22x. Right now, we’re closer to 5x, without having to change anything. We only have two basic video ads out there.

Felix: You mentioned that your main goal with these ads is to get them to your website. Are you driving them to your product page ? 

Scott: In the first year, we did spend a lot of money on buying cold traffic and targeting the top of the funnel. But once we started getting conversions, we switched to having purchase conversions, and ever since we’ve just been doing that and it’s been working pretty well and it’s still pretty popular.

Felix: So once you have enough customers, you’re able to switch over to a lookalike audience and set the conversion event to purchase? 

Scott: Yeah. And honestly, it worked so much better than we expected. We entered into some problems in Q4 when we hit Black Friday and we were so overwhelmed, we hired seasonal help. We were trying to scale production as fast as we could. We actually had to throttle the Facebook ads at that time because we were biting off more than we could chew. So, it was a learning experience.

A model in a green sweater is holding a Revival Jewelry locket while shining a light from her mobile phone to project an image from the gem of the pendant.
For Revival Jewelry is all about learning as they go when it comes to paid digital ads. 

Felix: How quickly does the conversion happen once they see your ad, click on the ad to go to your product page? 

Scott: Lately, it’s been shorter in the past as I review the analytics on Facebook, I’d say about a third of our conversions were within a one week period, and then a third were within the 28 days. Here’s the problem is that resets once you go beyond the 28 days because Facebook only tracks for that long, right? We suspect that it mostly takes up to a week. Right now, as soon as we run a new ad, we start to see conversions immediately because I think these are probably warmer leads. 

Felix: Yeah. What do you do to help that conversion? If they land on your site and it usually takes a week to buy. 

Scott: Honestly we let the Facebook algorithm figure that out for us. In some ways, I’m puzzled as to how someone comes to our website, and on the same day, we’re getting a lot more customers that will convert within the 24 hour period I’ve noticed. These are people who Facebook has already found and they were ready. We’ve had customers say, “You know, I don’t know how Facebook figured it out, but they showed me your ad and they realized this is something I wanted and I didn’t even know you existed.” It’s kind of funny how that works because in most cases, it does take a few days for people to think of what photo they want to upload, but we have a lot of customers that already had their picture ready and they just didn’t know we existed.

Felix: Have you made any changes to the product page or the website to improve conversions?

Scott: Yes. Initially, in our first month, we struggled a bit to get orders, and we learned that it’s because we had to educate the customer on how to order as well as exactly how the product worked. We put that all on our website and we do use a tool. It’s an app called Fera.ai. It’s been helpful for us in terms of tracking the pathway the customer goes to once they come to our website. The main page pretty much has everything you need to make a decision right there. It tells you who we are, what we do, and then how to order. If you spend maybe 10 minutes on the front page, that’s enough time for you to make a decision, because this is really an impulse buy a lot of times. But in many cases, it’s because life events occur and they’re always happening, right? Someone’s always having a baby or there’s always someone graduating. Unfortunately, we also cater to people who have lost loved ones, right? They want a meaningful piece to buy for themselves or to comfort a loved one. I don’t think we ever dry up the list of potential customers.

Educate and impress your customer: the key to conversions

Felix: What are some tactics you use to impress your customers and gain their retention ? 

Scott: We always say we want to constantly impress the customer, delight the customer. Any time they contact us, if there’s a problem they have with our product, we try to get to the core of what the problem is rather than simply issuing a refund right away. But we have a very flex refund policy, and surprisingly, we have a low rate of return on our product. We have less than 5% rate of return, which is uncommon in e-commerce. Once people have the product, it’s just so personal. They also love our product. But we try to delight the customer by going above and beyond, so any time someone contacts us, they request almost anything within reason, we do for them. We constantly get customers asking us to overnight them a product, and we’ll do that whenever we can even though it may cost us 20 bucks to do. Or we’ll add an extra little gift for people because they want to add something more. –

Jacob: Just last week we had two separate customers who asked us to write notes for people, and so we went out and got some cards. One was a birthday and we asked them, “What would you like us to say?” And they typed up a whole message. We wrote one for a graduation. “We’re not going to be able to be there because obviously the COVID stuff going on right now,” but just things like that. We really try to put ourselves in the customer’s shoes and go, “Hey, these are people. They’re more than just customers, and so how can we treat them like that?” We try to go above and beyond as much as possible.

Scott: We also always like to ask customers to share their stories behind their photos as well, because these are meaningful things to them. Just to have a listening ear, because one of our goals with Revival is to create a community for people as well so that they’ll have a place where they can share their stories. We’re really wanting to focus on that these days, so we’re building a social media strategy for that. In the first year, we let social media fall to the wayside because we were just so busy managing the business. Thank God we found someone to do our social media right before all the shelter in place orders went through here in California. Right now, we’d love to hire people but it’s hard to go out there. We do want to grow, social media is so important to us. We’re trying to do that but part of that is building more of a community presence where people can share their stories of the pictures they have in their pieces. That’s one way we delight the customer and also build customer retention. Then we have customers that have bought every single piece. In fact, some customers have bought three or four and they’ll put the same picture and give it to all their grandkids or buy it for their aunt. So, it’s interesting that someone would buy the same piece four or five times, and buy every single piece we have. 

Felix: Speaking of COVID-19, the pandemic, the lockdown, how has your business been affected and what are some ways that you’ve been able to navigate these times?

Scott: Well, it’s stretched our lead times, but we’re fortunate because we’re not using third-party logistics, which I think most 3PL warehouses are up and running anyway, but for us, we have our own warehouse. We’re spread thin these days because of that, but orders haven’t been affected. We thought initially should we scale back our Facebook ads because we did see a drop for a couple of days, this was mid-March, when we first were starting to hear the news. But within a few days, we started seeing orders continue to come in, and we had to think of ways to continue operating. Luckily, you can keep your warehouse operations going, and that’s all we really have. We’re able to social distance because we only have three people – we use a lot of contractors for different things, but we only have three full-timers right now. 

Felix: The first full year, you did $265,000 in sales, let’s talk about that. Where were these first customers coming from for you to be able to crack a six-figure mark? 

Scott: We thought we would first go to friends and family to sell this product, but all of our initial sales came from Facebook. In the first month, we only did $1,000. In fact, the first half, we didn’t do a whole lot. We did 60% of our sales in Q4. I think you’ll usually see that with new businesses. The beginning is slow to grow and it kind of snowballs. In fact, we’re still seeing that right now. Except for March, we continue to see month over month growth. But it was all Facebook. We do get a certain percentage of organic and non-paid shares and Google searches and whatnot, but a vast majority comes from Facebook for us.

Felix: Is there a lot of education around your product? How do you make sure that you’re able to educate your customers that this is a modern take on the traditional locket? 

Scott: Our initial ad shows exactly how it works. There’s a video, we used a model. It’s a friend of ours, she shows you exactly how it works. The first time you come in touch with our brand, you see what it is. Now, once you get to our website and you know that you can upload your picture and order the piece, even when you receive it, once you open the box, we have a card insert with instructions on exactly how to view your picture. In fact, our customers helped us learn that we can do a lot of different things with our piece, and later on, we started educating them more on how to do that, like we’ll tell people, “Hey, you can actually view your photo using your cell phone.” Jacob was the one who discovered that, but we also had customers that quickly discovered that. You can also project your images using a cell phone, flashlight apps. That’s something initially we didn’t even think of, so our customers have been discovering those things. But in any case, we are constantly educating the customer from our first ad they see to when you get on our website to even when you receive the product, we have another card insert with instructions on it. I don’t think there’s ever any step of the way you’re not going to know how to use it. Now, we do still get people who open the box, throw the card away, and they’re like, “All right, I’m having trouble seeing the image,” because some people look at it backward initially because they look at the front gem and don’t realize oh, you can actually look straight into the gem. Because it looks like an actual gem that would go on jewelry.But in fact, that’s the lens piece that you look in to find the picture.

A model in a white outfit is displaying a Revival Jewelry necklace.
Moving into the next stage of scaling, Revival Jewerly’s team is also scaling their ad spend while meeting seasonal demands. Revival Jewelry 

Felix: So, what has changed from your strategy, or what are you guys doing to go from low six figures to cracking a million?

Scott: Now the interesting thing is when you scale your Facebook ads, we’ve learned that when you scale from spending $100 a day to $1,000 a day, you’re supposed to see a diminishing return. But even up to $1,000 in some cases, we’ve seen return on ad spend accelerate. We haven’t reached the mark where it started decelerating yet. We know January and February tend to be slower, except we did have Valentine’s and so we had a little spike there. But we wanted to focus on scaling our production and expanding our operations. We started doing that, we were buying more equipment and things of that nature, but we put that on hold right now because of the whole COVID restrictions. But we plan to move out of our space that we currently have this summer, as long as everything goes as scheduled so that we can bring more people in. Because right now, we’re confident that we figured out how to scale our Facebook and as well as expanding other marketing – honestly the best return we’ve found so far has been on Facebook, but as long as we have everything scaled on the production side of things, we should be able to hit that number. Last year most of our sales were in Q4, 60%. A good portion of that was simply Black Friday through the end of the year. So, we want to be ready for Q4 this year by being able to have enough people and equipment ready to scale production.

Felix: What kind of apps, tools, or services do you use to run the business? 

Scott: Early on we used, and we still do, Stamped.io for reviews because that really helped us with conversions initially to build social proof that way on our website. We also use Product Personalizer. Those are our favorite ones. A tool called Fera.ai as well because we needed a solution for social proof that people bought our product, so you’ll see a little pop-up. Initially, we weren’t sure we wanted to do that because we thought it would annoy people, but it actually helps convert, so we continue to use that. Other than that, those are the ones we rely on. We do use Omnisend to communicate with our email list, and we need to definitely be more active with that because every time we do send out emails that have the highest conversion rate, even better than Facebook actually.

Felix: What do you think is important for you to focus on over this coming year to make another leap in growth?

Scott: We want to expand our marketing presence too. We’ve been testing the waters with some trade shows and building a presence and doing more PR sort of activities. We’ve never really tried influencer marketing, but we want to do that. But the most important thing for me is building the whole community aspect of our business so that we continue to build on our customer loyalty. We have big plans for that, for sure.



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Entrepreneurs Don’t Have the Luxury of Avoiding Comparison — Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurs Don’t Have the Luxury of Avoiding Comparison — Entrepreneurship


Entrepreneurs are supposed to be beacons of independence and representative of the willingness to go your own way. Yet everywhere you look, business owners are being asked to size themselves up against a never-ending list of figureheads for success. Why, in a calling so closely tied with self-reliance, do we find such an obsession with mimicking someone else’s life?

Due to the media’s doubling-down on this shallow entrepreneurial infotainment, there’s an anti-trend forming around avoiding comparison, full stop. Feel-good affirmations in the form of tweets and quote graphics are now equally forceful in insisting you should never compare your output with anyone else’s.

Here’s you feigning surprise that, in reality, both extremes have it wrong: 😱. While comparison admittedly comes with its fair share of emotional risks, the truth is it’s an unavoidable part of building a business. In fact, comparison can even be a useful way to grow.

Comparison as a thief of joy

Theodore Roosevelt’s belief that comparison is the thief of joy isn’t one I’d argue against. I’d only add an addendum: the wrong type of comparison is the real source of the problem.

Unhealthy comparisons act like a balance scale, where an ambitious person weighs their accomplishments against peers or personal heroes. This exercise will always leave you feeling like the perpetual silver medalist. There’s a countless list of candidates to be overshadowed by, and it’s easy to forget what you see in public is a hand-curated highlight reel of positivity. Everyone deals with mistakes, stress, and failure—they just do it backstage.

When you always feel like you’re coming up short, you’re sure to bankrupt your enthusiasm and motivation. But it gets worse: comparison can also be a thief of success. When you become “too inspired,” you move from forward-thinking ideas to a reactive to-do list: “We need to act on this—the biggest player in our space already has!” Meanwhile, at the Legion of Doom their headquarters, a meeting is taking place on how said thing was actually a complete waste of time.

Despite myriad reasons to stay far away from comparison, I’m still not willing to abandon the practice completely. Comparing and contrasting the various traits of what currently exists in the world can be a wholesome way to learn with the right mindset.

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Comparison as a source of learning

Many entrepreneurs start new ventures with a competitive edge already in mind, and all entrepreneurs would do well to develop a moat that differentiates their business from everyone else’s. But if you plan to capitalize on what’s missing in the world, it pays to ask: How can you notice the gaps if you haven’t filled in the areas around them?

Knowing what’s currently out there is the best way to develop a keen eye for quality. From this growing library of experience, you can begin to see what’s tired and overdone, what’s fresh, and what’s missing.

The importance of keeping your finger on the pulse doesn’t go away after you’ve made your first few sales, or even your first thousand. Technology, customer sentiments, and industry trends collectively make “useful,” “novel,” and “delightful” qualifiers that are constantly shifting. Most of what you produce, from new products to marketing strategies, will eventually be copied and, ultimately, become commonplace. Even a purple cow can’t stand out once the whole herd goes lavender.

There’s also the matter of misplaced energy. As Marty Neumeier says in his book The Brand Gap, creative people “describe how [the world] could be. Their thinking is often so fresh that they zag even when they should zig.” That’s a nice self-congratulatory pat on the back, but the message is fiercely true: prioritizing the work to be done in your business also means applying creative rigor where it truly matters.

Sometimes “best practices” really are the best practice, and you’ll only come to know them by studying what other entrepreneurs are already doing. Why force yourself to innovate in an area of your business that you’re not looking to compete in? Why not simply excel by using what’s been proven to work?

Those who build

Businesses that attain any modicum of traction invite comparison of their products, their marketing campaigns, and, if they get big enough, even their stock price. When you start a business few things come cheap, but comparison you get for free.

So instead of fighting the current, why not apply this reality where it makes sense? Compare to learn, compare to earn. But always remember those who build—your kind—are uniquely suited to deliver what the world wants. You shouldn’t let comparison tell you otherwise.

Illustration by Cornelia Li


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