Design Lab: BRAND + WEB DESIGN FOR Once Upon a Time Weddings

When it comes to giving brides an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience, Once Upon A Time Weddings stands apart from the pack. When Erin came to me for a brand and website refresh, I was thrilled to take on a project that was a little bit outside my usual work. I'm so excited to finally be able to show you a little of the behind-the-scenes process!


When Erin approached me to tackle this project, she was looking to create a website that matched the incredible unique atmosphere of her on-site location. Building on Erin's keywords such as homey, personable, feminine, country chic, and romantic, I pulled these images from our secret brand visioning board on Pinterest into a complete brand vision board, including a few tentative colours. How good does that cake look?


Afterwards, I developed a main logo, and alternate logo, and a favicon that could be used across websites, social media, thank you cards, and business cards.

For Erin's supplementary design pieces, she chose a Facebook banner, a thank you card, and a business card.


Lastly, I put together a fully responsive website that showcases not only the beautiful atmosphere of the Once Upon A Time Weddings store, but also their community spirit. Check it out here!


Here's what Erin had to say.


"My favourite part was seeing the design board come to life— seeing our vision spring to life was really fun! Jordanna was patient with me as we worked through the process and her response time to emails is great. Extremely satisfied! I really appreciate Jordanna's insight, lead on the project and we adore our new site!! I would absolutely recommend her."


If you're interested in working with me, head on over to the Design Lab to find out more about my process and how we can work together.



8 Things Your Website Must Have as a Coach

8 Things Your Website Must Have as a Coach + free checklist from The House of Muses. Are website worries stopping you from launching your business? Still wondering what exactly needs to be on your website and how to get those first clients? Here are the 8 website essentials for a new coach.

One of the biggest obstacles and sources of stress for a new coach or a coach launching an online business is— you got it— the website.

I've seen a lot of awesome people will really exciting, big ideas get stuck trying to put together their website.

  • What does it need?
  • How do I get clients to book me?
  • What is most important?
  • Should I start a newsletter?
  • Do I need advertising?

And then the whole launch process grinds to a halt. So many people get bogged down in the details, scared of making mistakes, and their blossoming businesses get put on hold as the overwhelm gains the upper hand.

Since the best thing for a new coach is to get started, get learning, and secure those first clients, I'm going to give you the essentials for your coaching website.



The lack of directionality and clarity that comes with not having a mission statement is one of the flaws I see the most in the websites of coaches and heart-centred business owners of all kinds. Right from the beginning, before they've even had a chance to scroll, you want to be telling your visitors who you are, what you do, and who you do it for.

Read more about how to create a mission statement right here.


The next thing your website must have is a call to action, directing your visitors to what is most important and asking them to take action. When I do my Free Three sessions, I ask all applicants what the number one thing is they want their readers to be doing. Nine times out of ten (yes, seriously), it's not the focus of their website.


Another common problem I run into is sales or services pages that literally have no way for me to hire the coach— except bouncing over to the contact page. When you only have a few seconds to really capture their attention and get your reader to make the sale, any barrier to their booking you is losing you clients.

Once you've shared a bit about your different packages, make sure there is a button your readers can click to either hire you outright, or to book a discovery call with you.

Like this:

4. Contact info & FAQ

If your potential clients aren't able to book right away or have a few questions, you want to make sure they have a very clear way to contact you. I also recommend having a few FAQ on this page to field repetitive emails, and also to give your readers a bit of information they may not have already come across.


Especially as a new coach, testimonials are incredibly important to have on your website in order to build trust between your and your potential client. When you aren't resting on a golden reputation, your future clients need to see for themselves how much other people have really loved your services. 

I recommend putting testimonials on your home page, as well as your sales pages and any onboarding packages you might have.


Clients will hesitate to book you when they don't know what to expect, and what you expect from them in the process. Be sure to outline very clearly what each step of working with you will look like (or include it in an easy-to-download package), and answer any of the common questions they might have along the way.


If someone isn't booking you right away, you definitely want them to be able to follow you on social media, get to know you a little bit better. This way, you stay at the front of their minds for when they are looking to book you, and you can give them tons of extra value in the meantime.


This is a big one that many people forget, or don't take quite as seriously as they should. When someone is buying your coaching services, really, they're buying you. They're buying your time, because they like you, and they trust you. But it's hard for someone to come to trust you when they have never seen your face. Including a photo, or even a short video if you really want to go all out, is essential to starting that relationship with you, and building your brand.


See? How much better is that. It's like we're best friends already.


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3 Collaboration Ideas to Boost Your Sales with Zoe Linda

3 Collaboration Ideas to Boost Your Sales with Zoe Linda. Are you ready to take the next step with your business and collaborate with influencers on blogs and social media? Here are three ways you can make it happen.

When you’ve hit a bit of a sales slump, it’s easy to spin yourself a web of excuses.

“It’s just that time of year…”

“No one has money to spend at the moment…”

“Maybe my products or services are the problem...”

Nope. You have a first-class product or service, your audience just need a little extra push to purchase from you.

So, you can just sit and stare at your PayPal account praying for a new transaction - OR you can up your marketing game and start collaborating with influencers within your niche!

What the heck is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing means reaching out to and collaborating with influencers + authorities within your niche to promote your biz.

But who are 'influencers'?

An 'influencer' is somebody that has an authority and a level of influence within a certain niche. It could be anybody from a human rights campaigner to a local chef to an international superstar. As long as they have measurable influence over their respective audience, they can be considered an influencer.

How can influencer marketing boost your sales?

As the name suggests, influencers have influence over your audience; your ideal customers respect and listen to their recommendations and reviews.

If an influencer recommends your product or service to an audience that is inline with your own ideal customer, you can be sure that your sales will skyrocket! Let’s look at the stats, shall we?

  • 92% of consumers turn to people they know for referrals above any other source

  • 84% of consumers say they trust peer recommendations more than all other sources of advertising

  • Marketing-inspired word-of-mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising

  • Businesses are earning $6.50 for every dollar spent on influencer marketing

That last statistic is AMAZING! You can literally make your money back through influencer marketing - but that’s only if you do it right and implement a killer collaboration.

To get you on the right foot, here are 4 collaboration ideas for a business owner in a sales slump.

Instagram Story Unboxing

This idea is perfect for you if you sell a physical product and you’re in love with your packaging. You should partner with an Instagrammer within your niche to film an unboxing of your awesome product!


Instagram is a GOLDMINE for finding influencers and I give you the exact strategies I use to find them in my course (Influencer Marketing Masterclass). Once you have found and approached an Instagrammer you’d love to work with, offer to send them your product (or a collection of things) in return for an Instagram story of them opening your package and talking about your brand.

Pros: No limit to amount of videos the influencer can post in their story / Can include video, still image, and text / Can include tags and links in text / Easy to measure how many views & replies the content received.

Cons: Users can’t click links within the video / Can’t link to your brand’s social accounts / 24 hour lifespan.

Monthly Favourites Integration

If you watch a lot of YouTubers or read a lot of blogs, you’ll know that ‘Monthly Favourites’ posts are hella popular.

Whatever the niche, the influencer brings together their favourite products/services/brands from the past month and adds links to buy in the blog post/YouTube description. These are very easy to integrate products & services into and consumers are used to seeing this type of content sponsored by a brand.

Monthly favourites are certainly not the most creative collaboration but they are an extremely effective form of word of mouth. I know I’m certainly not the first person to rush out and buy something because an influencer has recommended it.

Pros: Straight up recommendation, which is extremely effective / You can include a tracked link to measure amount of clicks to your site / Works well for products or services / Popular content that fits in with the influencer’s regular posts

Cons: Not a dedicated video around your brand / Can be pricey for a YouTube integration

‘Must-Haves’ or ‘Essentials’ Post

You could always work with an influencer to include your brand in a ‘Must-Haves’ or ‘Essentials’ post.

For example, if you were a jewellery designer, you could approach an influencer to create a collection of ‘Must-Have Fall Accessories’ and include a piece from your brand as the main attraction.

I love this approach because it provides a purpose for the audience. Instead of just solely focusing on your brand with something like a review post, this should solve a problem for the audience in some way. 

This could work on a blog, YouTube channel, or even as an Instagram photo. Give the influencer creative freedom here to create something that they know their audience will love!

Pros: You can easily link to your site in a blog post / Your product or service is positioned as the solution for the audience’s problem / Blog posts have a long lifespan

Cons: Can detract attention away from your brand


But, what about budgets?

You could find that influencers require a fee for any of these activations, which is completely understandable! If you have a high-value product or service, you might be able to negotiate with them a little as you’re providing them costly.

You’re likely to break-even (and then some) in new sales resulting from these collaborations. Just like investing in a Facebook ad, it usually ends up worth investing in the influencer when you see your sales start to roll in!

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We want to know from you! What collaboration idea would you like to try? Let us know in the comments!


Zoe Linda is a social media strategist and influencer marketing expert. Zoe helps passionate small business owners stand out online through clever collaborations and spectacular social media! She also writes about blogging, social media, and business over at

If you want to learn more about influencer marketing, head over to Zoe’s brand new e-course and get an incredible $440 worth of bonuses!

Facebook // Instagram // Twitter // Pinterest


How You Can Set Up a Free Content Library with Squarespace

How You Can Set Up a Free Content Library with Squarespace. Tired of trying to figure out how bloggers and online business owners get their free opt-in content to their audience? This easy tutorial will make growing your email list a breeze.

One of the best ways you can really connect with your audience and build trust is by giving away extra free content. Showing them value is the first-step to building trust, after all. But you might be wondering what they best way is to give this content to your readers? You could post it directly on your website, but you also know that building your list is super important.

Maybe you're not profiting yet, or you're not ready for Leadpages (or, you're like me, and you're just a little stubborn). Whatever the reason, you'll be happy to know there is a really easy way you can deliver content to subscribers for free. If you're using Squarespace, read on! If you're using Wordpress a tutorial is on the way.

Step one: save your opt-in


I use InDesign to create my opt-ins, but you can easily use something like Canva or even Microsoft Word, as long as you're saving to an easy to open format like a PDF. 

You opt-in could also be something like an audio file, a template, a zipped folder of stock photography, or a video— the sky is the limit, really. 


Step two: create a graphic


Next you want to create a cover image for each of your free opt-ins. Here I typically use Photoshop, although you can use InDesign, Illustrator, PicMonkey, or Canva to get a great result as well. 

If you're not really sure where to begin, I have a video tutorial on creating great cover images.


Step three: Create your content library password-protected page


To make sure that your readers have easy access to your content, you'll want to create a password-protected content library page. 

Start by creating a regular Squarespace page. Click the gear icon, then under the 'basic' page, you'll find an area where you can input a password.

To link your exclusive content, upload your cover image with an image block, click the 'Clickthrough URL' box, select 'file' then upload your file. Now, when someone clicks this image, they'll be able to download your file.

Step four: Create your blog-post button

On the blog post where you want your readers to be able to access the content upgrade, you want to add a 'form'.

Delete the extra fields except 'Name' and 'Email'.

On the next page, connect the form to your Mailchimp account, and click the 'x' over email so that signups are not going to your individual email account. On the last page, enable the lightbox mode, and input the text you want to show on your button.

Step five: Create your mailchimp welcome email


Nearly done! The last step is to make sure that folks who have signed up can get easy access to your shiny new content library.

You want to set up a welcome email with Mailchimp— either an automated email if you have a paid account, or a 'Final Welcome Email' if you have a free account (you can find this clicking your list > signup forms > general forms > then selecting 'final welcome email' from the drop-down. Click 'design it', and then you're able to edit the email.

Make sure you include both the password to the content page, and a handy button so they can head straight there and grab your download.


Once my subscribers sign up, they get redirected to a swanky thank-you page with instructions to check their email for the confirmation, as well as my social media buttons so they can follow along (tutorial on its way).

Did you find this tutorial helpful? Click over on the left to share it!

Do you use a content library? How do you deliver free content? Let me know in the comments below.




Why I Switched to Squarespace After Years with Wordpress

Why I Switched to Squarespace After Years With Wordpress. Have you been thinking about making the switch? Are you frustrated with trying to get Wordpress to match your vision for your blog or business? Here are the 5 reasons why I moved my business.

I'd been thinking about it for quite a while...

... but I knew after all of the hours of frustration spent trying to get my website to look the way I wanted (and always having to waste time finding a work-around), that it was time to find something new. 

Recently I've been sharing a bit about my design process as well as a recent branding and design project for Joyce Harrell Wellness. I use Squarespace to design for my clients, but I also decided to use Squarespace for my own online home, The House of Muses. 

You might be thinking:

That's a huge change, and isn't Wordpress the best choice for businesses?

Here's why.



One of the great things about Wordpress is that there is a plugin for everything. One of the horrible things about Wordpress is that there is a plugin for everything— designed by 63752 different people.

I can't count the number of times I've had a specific design in mind, only to go through 4-6 plugins trying to find one that worked the way I wanted, and didn't crash my website.

With Squarespace, all of the plugins are designed by Squarespace, for Squarespace— covering basically anything you would need to design a gorgeous website. And if you want to tweak something? You can jump into the CSS and optimize it the way you like.

Not to mention, you can see all of your changes live— no flipping back and forth to figure out if your code worked.


When Wordpress updates, things can get a little hairy (read as: your website stops working). If the plugins you're using don't update quickly, or if you don't update, you may find all kinds of things going wrong. With Squarespace, I don't have to worry about updating anything, or about my website crashing when updates do happen. Yes!


Whether you're on a projector screen, or an iPod, Squarespace websites are functional, easy to use, and beautiful. See:

You don't have to worry about opt-in forms looking off when someone is viewing your website on a mobile device, or get stuck with a theme that doesn't respond and leaves your visitor scrolling from side to side (seriously the worst).

4. It'll save you money

Squarespace charges a flat monthly rate for a domain name, hosting, and the use of their services, making it super easy to sign up. When I was using Wordpress I was paying for more than one service that Squarespace can do all in one with seamlessly integrated and easy-to-use commerce. 

Now, I no longer have to keep track of separate payments and invoices for different services— just the one.

5. You can get started right away

Even if you're not choosing professional design (which, as a professional designer— biased!), you can use Squarespace to create a pretty darn good looking website in just a few hours.

Yes, seriously, a few hours. 

So when you're ready to launch that business or itching to try out a new idea, you're not going to spend days or weeks trying to get your website to look just so. With that excuse for procrastination (AKA: our old friend fear) gone, you can start making the magic happen, and look professional while doing it (and seriously folks, this matters. Would you buy from a sketchy-looking website circa 2002?).

Did you find this post helpful? Click over on the left and share it!

Have you been thinking of making the switch to Squarespace? Have any questions or fears? 

If you want to give your business a makeover and start attracting your dream audience ASAP, holler at me. The FIRST THREE PEOPLE to book the signature branding + design package will be getting a special launch price ($500 off)!

For more information on the signature branding + design package, head here and grab the welcome package at the bottom.



Hobby Business to Entrepreneur: 3 Key Things You Need to Know with Sarah Shuttle

Hobby Business to Entrepreneur: 3 Key Things You Need to Know with Sarah Shuttle. Transitioning your side hustle to a full time gig is a leap of faith— so we're sharing with you three ways to keep the overwhelm at bay as you make the transition into full-time business owner.

Making the decision to go from hobbyist to full-time entrepreneur is not an easy one; it is as terrifying as it is exciting.

It’s a complete leap of faith (I know, I’ve done it!), but being as prepared as possible is going to help you thrive. Here I’m sharing three things to help keep you from being overwhelmed as you make the transition into full-time business owner.

Socialising Is No Longer Optional

If you’re anything like me, making those connections is a bit like going to a party where you don’t know anyone; anxiety-provoking, awkward, and downright exhausting.

However, there’s no way around this; making contacts is a must!  

You can’t sit and wait for customers to find you. You have to go to them; being a full-time entrepreneur is all about being pro-active.

There are so many different ways to connect with the explosion of social media into our daily lives. Facebook groups, your page, Facebook Live (it’s not so bad!), Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter. You need to network, make contacts inside and outside of your industry, and be able to talk about your business with confidence. Depending on your business, real-life networking events may even be necessary. Putting yourself and your work out there is essential for success… and yes, that means getting vulnerable.

Imposter Syndrome Strikes

I have not met one person in business who has not felt like a fraud at one time or another. Most, if not all, entrepreneurs struggle with lack of confidence sometimes.

There are many ways to tackle it, and one of the things I work on is building confidence in other creatives.

The truth is, sometimes you just have to fake it until you make it.

Look the part, act the part, even if you want to hide. Our minds believe what we tell them, so eventually you will feel the confidence coming from within.

For me there is a direct correlation between design and confidence. I’m unapologetically passionate about branding in business, because I know that the right branding has the same powerful effect as a professional makeover and flattering, sexy outfit has on me and many other women I know. Looking my best taps into a secret river of confidence.

Consistency Becomes Key

Keep talking. Keep sharing. Make people notice you.

An experience business coach told me to keep putting my voice out there even if it annoyed people; that way I would know I was succeeding.

That comment amused me, but it makes a good point. At first you might feel you are talking to no one. That’s okay! But you need to keep doing it. People don’t want to follow someone who doesn’t post regularly. They want some unwritten guarantee they will benefit from following you or interacting with you. You can’t disappear for a month without warning then pop up and expect to pick up where you left off.

So, you’re posting regularly, but consistency comes in once again in regard to content. If you want to be seen, acknowledged and remembered, your business must be recognisable everywhere.

It needs to stay on-brand. That means visually consistent as well as the message and values you are putting out there in your posts.

This may all sound overwhelming, but I can guarantee becoming a full-time entrepreneur is rewarding and exhilarating. I do not regret my decision to launch my own business, even when it gets tough!

>> I built my own business helping start-ups take their first steps, so I know the struggles. I am so passionate about helping budding business women, I have developed Beautiful Brand Bootcamp— a six week interactive course to get you develop brilliant branding at a practical price. Lock down a fantastic early offer by booking your spot today!

Did you enjoy this post? Click over on the left to share it!

And now, we want to know: let us know in the comments below what the biggest change was for you in transitioning from a hobby business to a full-time gig.


Sarah is a brand designer and entrepreneur specialising in working with female creative business owners. In addition to her passion for design and building beautiful brands, she is a fervent believer in being authentic, building confidence and self-acceptance as women and entrepreneurs. When not designing, she will probably be found reading with a cat (or three) around her!

Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Pinterest



My Design Process: Bringing it all together in a website that CONVERTS

My Design Process: Bringing it all together in a website that converts. In the third part of this design series we explore how I bring together all the brand elements into a website that helps attract the ideal audience, grow community, and make more sales.

I could not be more excited...

... to share with you all a few pieces of good news!

Firstly, the new House of Muses website is live. It's been some times since this piece was published on my newsletter, so if you're reading it now, you're already on the new website. It's like time travel!

This redesign has been a huge project, and meant a lot to me as it also accompanies the launch of my signature branding + design services— something I've been dreaming about for a long time now.

I also wanted to share with you the completed brand that we've been exploring over the past couple of weeks as I walk you through my brand and design process— and show you how you can implement some of the steps yourself.

Joyce Harrell Wellness is a blog and business dedicated to helping nurses and wellness practitioners destress and find harmony and wholeness in a hectic life.

In creating this brand, I drew on natural elements for inspiration, including forestry, flowers, and herbs (Joyce is an herbalist, as well).

The House of Muses Design Lab signature branding + web design. Joyce Harrell Wellness home page.

We wanted the focus to be 100% on this fantastic free ebook that Joyce had created for her community, so it's front and centre on the homepage.

The main take-away here? Your opt-in should always be above the fold (which is newspaper speak for 'you shouldn't have to scroll to find it'). If your opt-in is hiding in your footer or the bottom of your sidebar only, move it and watch your number of sign-ups skyrocket!

Joyce's sign-ups went up by 2400% after her new design was implemented.

The House of Muses Design Lab Signature Branding + Web Design. Joyce Harrell Wellness alternate logo.
The House of Muses Design Lab Signature Branding + Web Design. Joyce Harrell Wellness alternate logo.

In addition to creating alternate logos for business cards, stamps, thank-you cards, and other extra materials, I also created some custom navigation icons for the sidebar so visitors can easily browse her content.

The House of Muses Design Lab Signature Branding + Web Design. Joyce Harrell Wellness blog.

So that's it for this design series!

If you haven't scoped out parts one and two, you can read those here and here.

If you want to give your business a makeover and start attracting your dream audience ASAP, contact me about booking a design project ASAP. The FIRST THREE PEOPLE to book the signature branding + design package will be getting a special launch price ($500 off)!

For more information on the signature branding + design package, head here and grab the welcome package at the bottom.

p.s. You should totally come hang with me on Instagram.



How to bring more zen to your business in 4 easy steps with Audrey Holst

How to bring more zen to your business in 4 easy steps with Audrey Holst

When people find out that I am a partner in owning a yoga studio and have a blog where I talk about incorporating mindfulness habits into everyday life, their first reaction is usually, "That's so cool!" and I can almost see the thoughts scrolling by behind their eyeballs. 

"She must be so happy, she must have so much free time, I wish I had such an easy job."

All of this assumes that I sit around contemplating my next bowl of kale while automatically paying my bills with the millions of dollars that people throw at me when they magically show up at the yoga studio.

Which, of course, is not reality.

My Design Process: How to keep your brand consistent with a brand board

My Design Process: How to keep your brand consistent with a brand board. Do you find yourself flip-flopping with your brand every time you create a new product, cover image, or social media post? Here's how you can stay super consistent with a brand board.

So in part one I shared with you how I create an unshakeable foundation for a new client's brand and website by teaming up to creating a brand vision board.

This week I want to take that process one step further and show you how I turn that inspiration board into a logo, colour palette, and collection of fonts among other brand elements— and how you can, too.

Let's get started!

The House of Muses Design Lab signature branding + design brand inspiration board: Joyce Harrell Wellness

1. a colour palette

The next thing I do before digging into logo creation or anything else is to pull together a strong colour palette.

When you're building a colour palette, you want to make sure there are a good range of complimentary colours as well as a range of shades. A colour palette that is LOUD LOUD LOUD LOUD has no nuance.

I love using a website called Coolors to pull everything together. To start, I get the hex codes for the colours isolated on the branding vision board and see how they jive together, and if any of them need to be adjusted to really look harmonious and pleasing.

Then, I look to see if I'm missing anything in the range of colours or shades, and fill out the palette; I usually aim for about five colours, with at least one of those being a good neutral.


2. initial LOGO CONCEPTS

Once I have colours, I have a mood and I can begin to create several logo concepts (the client picks between 2-3 concepts, and then alternate logos are created for the selected design).

Since my client has a holistic wellness business and is also an herbalist, I drew inspiration from flowers, trees and herbs, apothecary labels, and warm natural colours. 

The House of Muses Design Lab signature branding + web design package. Joyce Harrell Wellness

3. logo customization

The client was very much interested in option two (my personal favourite as well), and so I refined this main logo and created a few alternate logos for use in square-proportioned spaces, business cards, stamps, etc.

The House of Muses Design Lab Signature Branding + Web Design package. Joyce Harrell Wellness logo.
The House of Muses Design Lab Signature Branding + Web Design package. Joyce Harrell Wellness logo.

4. font pairing

For me, the choice of gorgeous brand fonts is a bit of a chicken or egg situation. Sometimes, find a fantastic font pairing before a concept for a logo even flirts with me, and I find a way to work one of those fonts into the logo.

Other times, I find one font that works beautifully with a logo, and so I find a second font to pair with it for the rest of the brand and website.

In this case, the logo came first, and I paired this font (Marion) with a contrasting font (Avenir Next).

When picking fonts you want to keep in mind a couple things:

     a) contrast
     b) x-height (the height of the character 'x' in each font)

The fonts in a pairing should not, stylistically, be too similar; for example, you typically want to pair a serif font with a sans-serif font for body text.

However, the fonts should have a similar 'x-height', meaning that one font shouldn't be very tall and slim, while the other is very wide.


5. BRING IT TOGETHER with a brand board

Having a brand board is incredibly useful as you go forward building your website, social media templates, business cards, thank you cards, and any other elements of your business where your branding is present— even simply posting on Instagram.

It gives you a reference point, where you can always look back and ask yourself "is this in alignment with my brand"— no matter what it is you're creating.

Here, I've included some of the inspiring images from the brand vision board, as well as some social media icons for use on the website.

The House of Muses Design Lab Signature Branding + Web Design package. Joyce Harrell Wellness brand board.

That's all for now folks! :) If you missed part one, check it out right here, and stayed tuned for the last part of this series next week.

Starting a blog or business with no room for professional design in your budget? Check out my top design tips for a great DIY website.

Are you ready to start taking your blog or business seriously and attract your dream customers + clients?


Did you find this post helpful? Share it with your friends!

Have you created a gorgeous brand board for your blog or business? Share it in the comments below!


Keep learning...

My Design Process: How you can use a brand vision board to develop a new brand

My Design Process: How You Can Use a Brand Vision Board to Develop a New Brand. Are you giving your blog or business a DIY refresh? Here's how you can kick-start the process + keep things consistent with an inspiring brand vision board. Grab the free template now!

One of my favourite parts of the design process is getting to build a design inspiration board with a new client.

Outside of the on-boarding meeting and survey, it's the way I really get to know about someone's brand, business, and their vision for their future business— it's like a little glimpse right into their mind. 

But the inspiration board process isn't just useful in a designer-client relationship— I use them all the time in designing my own websites and products.

They're immensely helpful in getting my ideas all together in one place, and having an awesome visual reference for the rest of the design process and beyond. 

So today I wanted to show you exactly how this part of the design process works— at least for me.

1. Brand exploration WITH A SECRET Pinterest BOARD

The very first thing I do after the initial consultation where I get to know the client and pass on important brand-building client homework is set up a secret Pinterest board where we can both start sharing images we thing align with their brand.

It's a great way to get a feel for where the client is at, and to begin to see patterns in your selections. 

The House of Muses Design Lab Signature Branding + Design


The next stop is to have a good look at what you've pinned and find similarities between the images in colour, textures and patterns, lighting, and overall mood.

In my selection here we can see soft lighting, bright saturated teals and jewel toned purples, as well as an overall mood of relaxation, mysticism, and nature.

Next, you want to save the images which you feel represent your brand and these characteristics the strongest (make sure you click on the pin and save the full-sized image, not the thumbnail).


Now comes the real work— arranging the images you've chosen into an inspiration board grid. You can make your own, or you can download this template I've made for you right here and get started (it's a Photoshop Document).

The House of Muses Design Lab Signature Branding + Design: Joyce Harrell Wellness


Last but not least, you want to pull some of the most common and stand-out colours from your board and slot them into the narrow spaces (if you're using Photoshop, use the eye dropper tool to select the colour and the paint bucket tool to drop it into the space of your choosing).

These might not be your final brand colours, so don't worry too much about whether or not they're the right ones— but they're a starting place. They give that brand a place from which to grow.


Using the template is easy!

  1. After you open the template, open up one of the images you've saved from Pinterest.
  2. Copy and paste this into the template.
  3. Resize until it's roughly the size of the space you want to place it (edit > free transform, and make sure you lock the dimensions).
  4. With the 'Grid' layer selected, use the Magic Wand Tool and click inside the rectangle where you are placing your image.
  5. Right-click and choose 'select inverse'.
  6. In the right-side menu, switch to the layer of your newly-pasted image, and hit delete (this will neatly trim your image to fit the rectangle.)
  7. Move the layer with your image below the 'Grid' layer.

You're done! Repeat until your grid is full, and add in some colours.

The House of Muses Signature Branding + Design Package: Brand Vision Board

Ready for part two?

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Because I'm a curious gal, I want to know: have you ever used a vision board for branding? If you use this template, link your vision board below!



DIY Design Basics for Bloggers + Online Business Owners

DIY Design Basics for Bloggers + Online Business Owners. Starting a blog or online business, but just not able to fit a professional design into your budget? Here are my top design tips for putting together a great DIY design.

One of the most important parts of what you do online...

... is your website. No surprise there.

It's the place where your readers and potential customers or clients first get their first impression of you. It's how they come to realize that you have something that can help them.

But being able to share those messages and resources with your community depends on having a website that does the heavy lifting for you— a website that is clean, appealing, easy to navigate, and purposeful.

A website that is slow to load, confusing, and a cluttered eyesore is going to have your potential readers running no matter how great your writing or services are.

Luckily,  you don't have to be a design genius to implement a few simple tips that make your visitors' experience a wonderful one.


When it comes to the design of your website, less really is more. There are a ton of tempting widgets out there— especially if you're using Wordpress, but when you really understand your focus and your audience, they're not necessary.

Before adding any feature to your website, ask yourself: is this helping my audience? Is it making their experience easier or telling them something about your brand?


There's really no quicker way to frustrate your reader than by slapping a too-pale font over a light background (I've made this mistake), a text colour only slightly different from the background, or miles of white text on a black background.

Although it might feel boring, your best bet is almost always very dark font (dark charcoal grey is actually better than pure black) on a white background. Coloured text works much better in your logo, or in headers.


You may have noticed the trend lately towards cursive, flowery fonts— and there is nothing inherently wrong with them.

But when it comes to putting together a website that is super easy to read and understand, simple fonts are key— especially in the body of each blog post, the main portion of text. While you might be able to get away with a very neat cursive font for headings, my advice is to keep these kinds of display fonts to logos or page headers only.


Pop-ups get a lot of debate, and it's up to you whether or not you chose to use them on your website.

But let me just say this: there is nothing that will make me leave a website faster than a) an obnoxious popup that is hard to close, b) a pop-up that covers part of the text, or c) a website that has a popup, an exit popup, an opt-in banner at the top, and a slider in the bottom right corner.

If you're going to use a pop-up opt-in form, be smart about it— I recommend placing a sign up form on exit, for minimum annoyance.


When you only have a few seconds to make a good impression with your website, it's imperative that the important content is above the fold.

What the hell does that mean? "The fold" is a term that comes from the newspaper industry, and refers to all the content on the front cover of the newspaper, well, above the fold.

On a website, this refers to all the content you see without scrolling. When you're designing your website, make sure the thing you most want your audience to do is the first thing they see— like an opt-in at the very top of your blog.


Great graphics are an important part of every website— we process visual information way faster than text, and so graphic content like diagrams, photos, and infographics are super-appealing.

What's not super appealing are images that are a) not the right size or b) so big that they obliterate your computer.

Make sure your images are the right size for your blog, and run your images through an image compressor like JPEGmini.

Your readers will thank you for it.


It's no longer enough just to have a website that looks great and functions beautifully on a desktop— it has to be ready for screens of all sizes, especially smart phones.

Even Google takes into consideration the mobile-responsiveness of your website when ranking it.

For this reason, I recommend folks just starting out use Squarespace— it's super easy to create a website, and it's always mobile responsive. Yes!


I want to hear from you: what are your favourite DIY design tips? Let your fellow muses in on the secret in the comments below.



10 Habits of Successful Mindful Creatives

10 Habits of Successful, Mindful Creatives. We hear a lot these days about what it means to be a successful creative. I've talked to a LOT of creatives since starting my business and these are 10 habits for success I've noticed again and again.

We hear a lot these days...

... about what it means to be a successful creative— how we get there, what the view looks like from the top. But we hear somewhat less about what it takes to get there. There are so many ingredients that go into the making of an amazing bread (that's you, you're the bread).

Since starting The House of Muses, I've met and talked to a lot of creatives from all different types of blogs and businesses, and there are a few things that I see again and again that help people become successful in a mindful and creative way.

Ten. There are ten things.

1. They make goals.

Goal-setting, yeah yeah yeah. I'm sure you've heard about this before, but it's so important that it's worth mentioning again. And again. Goals change lives. Goals provide the fuel and the map to getting where you need to go.

Successful creatives break their big dreams down into smaller and smaller manageable goals that they use to build their day-to-day list of tasks, moving them unstoppably towards their dreams.

2. They check in.

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to regularly check-in— I do this weekly, usually on Saturday or Sunday mornings.

Check in with your goals. How are they coming along? Where do you need to make changes?

Check in with your feelings, and your health. Are you stressed? Are you sleeping enough? Are you feeling like you've thrown your life out the window? Now is the time to notice, and to make a change.

3. They get enough sleep.

Successful people sleep. Full stop. I know it can be hard to set work aside if you're already burnt out and overwhelmed, but not getting enough sleep will wreck out. Ask Arianna Huffington.

4. They rest.

Resting is different than sleep. Resting is doing something that isn't work to refresh and heal your mind and body. Resting could be reading, walking or meditating. Resting means getting mindful and understanding what your body is telling you.

5. They're active.

If you're a creative entrepreneur or blogger, there is a really good chance that you spend way too much time hunched over a desk, whether you're typing, sketching, writing, or making some other amazing art.

This works for a while, but eventually, you will start to notice the hunchback. Balance yourself and bring energy back into your days by keeping up a consistent practise of light activity— nothing crazy, a few times a week. If jogging or yoga aren't your things, try weightlifting, dance classes, or aerial silk classes.

I recently wrote about my fitness journey on my lifestyle blog, which you might check out here.

6. They schedule creative time.

Simply put, we can sometimes get too wrapped up in the business part of things. Neil Gaiman once said he knew things were out of control when he was no longer really a writer but a person who professional responds to email.

Don't be that person. Schedule time to make the art that drives your passion. Stick to that space of solitude and creativity religiously.

7. they focus.

Perhaps it's easier said than done, but the real quality work comes when you set aside multi-tasking and simply focus, mindfully, on the important task before you. If you're addicted to multi-tasking, you might try finding your focus with intense bursts of work coupled with frequent breaks (check out the Pomodoro method).

8. they nourish themselves.

I promise you, you are not doing your best work on a diet of ramen, oatmeal, and those 100 calorie Special K bars.

Successful, mindful creatives know that nourishing their body is also nourishing their creativity. Take time to make meals and to enjoy them as their own activity (yes, that means doing nothing else while eating).

In the words of Michael Pollan: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

9. they work when they're not inspired.

Uhuh. In fact, most of the time, creatives are not inspired. Creatives who work for a living are doing just that— work. And much of the time, they don't feel a whole lot like getting on with the business of things.

Successful creatives have the discipline to do it anyway.



10. They focus on themselves.

This is a biggie. The people who are really successful? They're not focused on what other people are doing. Often, they have no idea what other people are doing— they're just doing what they think is interesting, and exciting, and sometimes it fails, and sometimes it's incredibly successful.

Just check out the story of I Wear Your Shirt.

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What habit has been absolutely essential to your journey? Let us know in the comments.



How You Can Create a Business That Feels Good Every Day

How you can create a business that feels good every day. So many of us dream of starting a business that is exciting, challenging, and most importantly fulfilling (and not at all like the soul-sucking office job). Here are 7 easy ways you can begin to build a business that lights you up every day.

SO many of you dream of...

... starting your own business, making money on your own terms. You fantasize of breaking out of a stale office job or soul-sucking sales position, but you don't just want to start any business.

You want something fulfilling, meaningful, satisfying to you every day. Something that gives you the confidence that you're making a difference in the lives of others in your community.

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to make sure that you're starting a business that makes you feel good every single day. Bust out those journals, friends!



What beats at the heart of your business? Your passion fuels your business— if you're not doing something you love, sooner or later you'll feel like you're back in the same place. When something truly lights you up, your audience and your potential customers will feel it.


How you want to be spending your days shapes your business. Do you love customer interactions, and working one-on-one with clients? Do you want to spend most of your time writing, or on social media? Maybe you want to spend most of your time travelling, speaking, or perhaps simply laying on a beach while most of the work happens behind the scenes (although let's be honest, the 'passive' part of 'passive income' is a smaller portion than you're probably expecting).

What core part of your business are you going to have to hammer out everyday whether you feel like it or not? Make sure it's something you can handle even on your worst days.


Relaxed? Ambitious? Seen? Powerful? Loved? Solitary? Content?

Make a list of your core-desired feeling Danielle Laporte style and keep them where you can see them as a reminder to you as your build your blog or business.


It might not be what you expected. You may want to feel successful, but successful to you might not be pulling $50,000 months. What does your definition of these feelings look like? The solution might be simple.


Starting a business rather than working for someone else gives you the perfect outlet to stand up for what you believe in. Contrary to some opinions, I believe that if you care passionately about something, you should share that with your following— you may lose some followers, but you will attract the people who matter, the ones who stick around long term and who really get what you're doing.

What matters to you? What is an essential part of your identity that you couldn't imagine conducting business without?

"If you care deeply about something, share it with your following— you may lose some followers, but you'll attract the people who matter."



What can you do to bring those values to life in your business? How can you give back to your community, either with your time, or by donated to causes that matter?

And what's more, how can you get your community involved, too (If you're curious I donate to through my lifestyle blog. Find out more about that here)? Every small action counts.

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Why do you dream of your own business? What do you want your business to stand for? Respond and let me know!