STIR-IT-UP - Vol. 6

Regina Garay 

Hi, Everyone! Hope your summer has gotten off to a great start! My brother (who is my biz partner) and I recently attended a seminar hosted by Google. Amidst their workshop lessons, they also reviewed a few great basics available to small businesses. I thought I’d share those with you today. 

Google wants to help small businesses in three ways: 

  1. Making sure you are found by local customers
  2. Making sure you are found on all devices
  3. Helping you be found with online advertising


When looking for info about local businesses, consumers use a search engine 80% of the time. (That number is closer to 100% for me!) This means that setting up your Business Listing with Google is key. To tell you with this, they’ve set up the GYBO site – this stands for Get Your Business Online. You can enhance your listing with everything from photos to posts to messages directly for consumers. The site offers a beautiful amount of knowledge for small businesses, from free online lessons to local upcoming workshops on enhancing your Business Listing. By the way, if you can’t find a local workshop, there are recorded workshops available, too.


When working with Google, your listing can be found on desktops, mobile phones, laptops, and tablets. Of course, this all revolves around one of the most important aspects of your business: your website. If possible, take the time to see what your website looks on all those devices. Take the time to fill out forms, search your site, and/or any other prompts you provide for visitors. You want to experience what your future customer is going to experience – and if it’s not good, you now have a working plan on what to improve. Work with a good website designer that also understands Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which can only enhance how fast your site is found. 

If you are stuck finding keywords for your business (which is important for SEO), head on over to Google Trends. This site helps you find popular search terms on Google that you can use on your site. You also need to ensure that your site loads quickly, as most sites lose half their visitors if it takes too long to load. If you’d like to test the mobile loading speed, head to Test My Site. You can also support the promotion of your website with social media marketing, email marketing (newsletters), and content marketing (news updates or a blog). 


Ads with Google appear on searches and on partner websites. [Have you searched for something and then seen ads on websites you visit? There you go.] Much like with social media ads, you can also define your goals, your audience, and your budget with Google advertising. AdWords Express is a great site where you can learn more and also start the process for your business.

The best way to analyze which of these works best to lead traffic to your site? Google Analytics. It lets you know everything from what sites and efforts bring you traffic as well as how long your potential customers are there and what pages they are engaging the most with – and oh so much more.

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed this primer on Google. I’m particularly happy that most all of the Google resources are free, so let me know what you found useful! I’ll be touching more upon these at my social media workshop at IDAL. Will I see you there?

Board of Directors
Retreat - Play-by-Play


Messy weather in Chicago - 2 delayed flights, 1 cancelled flight, 1 rerouted and 2 by car, while Kathy Carroll waited patiently in the Windy City.


Your travel weary board of directors headed to Kathy’s studio, minus President Diane Williams (remember the cancelled flight), to get started on “the past, the present and the future of IDAL” and review all paperwork from the past; 16 banker’s boxes worth of paperwork that has been in storage for several years.

The day began with brainstorming, project assignments, budgeting, and Cindy Howard, our social media chair on speaker phone, giving us an update and proposal for convention advertising.  After setting 3 alarms for a 4am wake-up for her rescheduled flight, Diane arrived just in time for lunch, a mere 19 hours late.

Lunch was delivered to the studio for a quick break and then back at it.  We used our projector to display a spreadsheet and all things ‘convention,’ with a day by day, almost hour by hour review of the schedule. The who, what, when, where and why of convention week is no easy task!

Greg, our trusty webmaster, arrived to interview the board with some very important questions: Why join IDAL? What do we gain by being a member?  Stay tuned for these important answers!

Wine time. We deserved a cocktail at this point. No worries though, we kept on working. We finished with a trip to Emmett’s Brewery to try the highly anticipated brussel sprout bruschetta. Thumbs up from all tasters.


We started with a silly photo of your board members and “The Boxes.”

We were putting on a brave face because that stack of boxes was daunting. We were determined to conquer the overwhelming pile.

After we cleaned up all the packing peanuts, we set up work stations around the studio:

  • A review of the newly updated IDAL Manual. Many thanks to Rik Lazenby, our past president for his time and commitment to making this happen. 
  • A mission/vision/benefits statement area to review and update these important items. We have to thank Anita Yeh, a past board member, for sharing her expertise and advice on this subject with us.
  • All paperwork concerning our chapters went straight to Cari Vawter, our IDAL chapter contact.  
  • Robin Belisle, our education chair handled all info related to classes and teachers. 
  • Tracie Weir, our secretary, and Kathy Carroll, our membership chair and insurance liaison, scrutinized our past financials to make sure we scanned relevant records. We practically chained Beth Warnecke, our treasurer, to her chair at the scanning station and we kept her ridiculously busy with the amount of records we needed to scan for safe keeping. 
  • Lori Wilson, VP and Diane Williams, President weeded through the boxes on the history and structure of IDAL. 

Noon - The Heartland chapter arrived at the studio for their monthly meeting and to host a beautiful lunch for the national board members. It was perfect, and we had a great discussion about current and future plans for IDAL. We truly appreciated our time with the chapter members and their thoughtfulness for bringing lunch.

We got back to work, continued our progress on the boxes and re-chained Beth to the scanning station chair. A quick dinner break consisting of amazing lunch leftovers was enjoyed and we called it a day around 9pm as our eyes were spinning in circles.

Monday at NeoCon:

NeoCon serves as the commercial design industry’s launch pad for innovation. It’s a trade show all about all things commercial design. 

We left our hotel around 8am to head to the train station into downtown Chicago. Diane got very nervous about missing the train and fussed at Beth for fixing an English muffin when we were supposed to be out the door. Stress comes with exhaustion! We were in such a hurry that we told Robin to park in the first place we saw. No one noticed the no parking sign, so we returned to find a ticket on the windshield.

Diane downloaded the app to buy 5 round trip tickets and we arrived around 9:30. After standing in the crazy long line to get scanned in, we headed straight to the paintings and coatings area. The line for the elevator seemed to go on for miles so we opted for the stairs. We were up and down to the 7th floor more than a couple of times that day.

The most important part of our day was the amazing reception we received from the major paint retailers we visited.

Sherwin Williams was our first stop. They were giving away the BEST tote bags, hand-painted brush strokes, and we all NEEDED one. We met the designer of these bags who happened to be a friend of Lori’s through the Color Marketing Group.

PPG was our next stop. There was a coloring table set up so you can guess what we did while getting to know Ruthanne, the marketing director. She was so receptive to learning about IDAL and how PPG could work with us in the future and at our convention. 

The Benjamin Moore booth also offered a pretty great tote bag and we were introduced to their new product, Notable Dry Erase paint. Wait until you see it! Ben Moore needs to bring it to our convention for all of us to see and sell.  We were also invited to attend a talk on their new Century product, a small batch, soft touch paint and we came away with a cool goodie bag.

Next came the Behr booth where we found a giant patterned bear sculpture that people were painting on. We needed to get in on that too. Robin said, “Beth wants that elephant at convention.” The group laughed, “Robin it’s a bear, the Behr bear!” Still laughing.

Our work was done and we had a little time to explore the rest of Neocon and swing by the Sunbrella booth to hug Cathy Rinn’s college roommate. Our day ended with rub-on tattoos, tired feet, sore backs from all of the swag bags and a train ride back.

Tuesday:  At 8:30, we held our official monthly board meeting. Diane and Tracie headed to the airport at noon, and the others took their leave later in the day. 

So much progress, so much friendship, so positive for IDAL.  #IamIDAL

School's Out
(What did I learn this year?)
by Aaron Wade Bailey

Summer! Depending on who or where you are, the time of pool parties, backyard cookouts, and heading to the beach has finally arrived.

This time of year when you also could be hoping for a decent report card, entering into the job market for the first time, or trying to figure out how to stretch your existing business a few more years to reach retirement. Or you could be anything in between. 

At 42 (and if you tell anyone I'm that old, we will have words) I am in between completely freaking out about not knowing who I am (midlife crisis, I suppose), freaking out about my business (wondering if I should just give up and get a “regular” job so I have more stability until I retire), or freaking out because computers and those blasted millennials are going to replace me in the next few weeks. Basically, I can freak out...or crawl in a hole and hibernate until artists become so rare I am a commodity again. Neither sounds likely.

I know many of you are at different crossroads than I am, but it doesn't matter. The point is, we all freak out for different reasons, but we don't hibernate. We are artists, and we go to work, because we are badasses.

So, my article this month is a gut-check. I am going to review the first few resolutions I made in the January article this year, and grade myself. What follows is my original resolution and my grade of how I performed. I urge you to reflect on your year as well. But maybe be nicer to you. I am about to get real.

  1. I want to get better at posting and promoting on social media:  I have completely failed at this. I have tried, but I am no better. My only excuse is I have a fear of saying something I can't take back. I am literally stuck in the middle of young people and old people. I remember thinking a calculator is magic, and now think a smart phone is basically a calculator. 

  2. I need to be a little more confident and worry a little less about what other people think.  I feel like I've been better at this. What do you think? If you think I've gotten better, or not, kindly send me an email. Or not. But you looked like you might send me an email. No? Okay. you think I did okay?  

  3. I want to keep trying new things.  I've actually done okay at this one...I've examined welding and other skills that are outside my normal repertoire. I've painted some new pieces for my home and some things my wife really wanted me to do. So, I guess I did pretty well.  C
    The bottom line? I'm getting better. I'm pushing to improve who I am, like you are. And even if I fail, I am trying to grow, and I bet many of you are, too. By planning your trip to conference, you're making a major step to improving your skill set, your business, and your life.  And for that...I get an A.

How is your report card?

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Phone: (407) 618-3272

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