Layla's Illustration Studio
Layla Meyer is a North Carolina-born illustrator and author who still calls North Carolina home. Layla earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts with a focus on Studio Arts from North Carolina Central University and an Associate’s of Fine Arts from Wake Tech.
What is the best method of developing or generating an email list? I have opt-ins, freebies, and have begun a blog as a funnel. However, it is super slow, and though I can practice delayed gratification, I would prefer to build up an email following sooner than later. Let me know what your methods are (successful or not). Thanks!
hey  Layla ! I'd recommend checking out my interview with Anne-Laure Le Cunff. She's built an email list really effectively in a short amount of time!

I struggled with this throughout 2020.  I have the pop-up opt-ins too.  For 2021, I am going to try a different approach.  I am refocusing to first fully identify my audience.  Then, I am going to create one offer that fits a problem that audience has.  Then, I am going to focus everything to funnel to that offer such as website, ad campaigns, social media, etc.  My goal is to build an audience of email subscribers.  

The main traffic driver is going to be paid advertising.

Sorry not a proven strategy but I needed to change things up so hopefully this helps.
Tom Peracchio replied
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 Layla  Exactly! Many years ago I wrote a Christmas poem for my kids and had it on my website.  Someone shared it to a Mom's website and I got a ton of traffic on my website. I had a few pages about Christmas and the history of Christmas.

I wasn't even selling anything but I created a membership for the forum just so I could go on it to thank them for the link back to my website. So that's what I mean by you need to hang out at places where your potential target audience hangs out.   
I just completed my second children's book (not released yet - probably later in January after I receive a proof from Amazon) - 'Differences are Great' (for young or very new readers). I also formed an Art class (remote via Zoom) of seven very cute girls (ages 4 to 8) and parlayed this class into scheduling others as posted on my website. I also wrote a blog and am planning others. Very busy ya' all!
 Layla  congrats on the second book.  I hope to finish a book at some point and want to self-publish which is what I assume you did using Amazon.  would be curious on any lessons
Layla replied
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You’re making some big moves Layla ! Congrats! so awesome to hear that you have a whole class coming together!
I found this as I was looking for interview tips, though this is specifically for Instructional Designers, which I think is a profession that has picked up since the pandemic started.
Thanks for sharing! As a course creator, I try to learn more about instructional design all the time. So I really appreciate it!
First, stepping out and asking for feedback on my website, yes, that was hard to do because I'm still use to the 'academic grading philosophies' of so many of my past instructors (like they want you to fail!?).  I also have uploaded my first Youtube videos and am working on my third.

More wins for the week, sold three Spanish versions of my book without doing any special promotion or marketing to Spanish-speakers. I guess I need to get busy brushing up on Spanish. 
Super cute! And great video. Great idea to have the video sped up and comment about your process, definitely makes it more interesting to watch.  
Being a young, recent college graduate, I find myself always fighting the 'Imposter Syndrome' feelings. Any good Youtube videos, books, or movies that can help me stay focused on the prize? Thanks,
Although I can't think of any resources to give you right away, I'd like to tell you a story....My niece, who's just a little older than you, just got a promotion and award from her job at the largest PR firm in Nashville (where I'm from).

My point is, try not to think about your youth holding you back. Your work is incredible and will speak for itself.

I completely relate to your "Imposter" feelings though since I've been going through bouts of "She's a genius and I am not" a lot lately.

But just this morning, a LinkedIn contact said to me, "The moment you realize you're a special person with plenty to give to the right audience is your first big win."

I'm letting that buoy me and hope I never forget it.
You're very talented, professional, and worthy. So let that sink in.
This isn't a perfect fit, but I think could help...


Here's the thing, there's this idea called the Dunning-Kruger effect. And basically the Dunning-Kruger effect says that the more you know about something, the more likely you are to realize that there is a LOT you don't know, and so we doubt ourselves.

Inversely, the LESS you know about something, the more blind confidence we tend to have.

So actually having doubts, having imposter syndrome, is an indication that you are better at something than most other people. Hard to wrap your head around, but just realize it's a signal and lean into it!
Layla replied
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Hey Layla,

This is a good podcast on imposter syndrome.
As a preface, a critique is a subjective review so please take my thoughts as just my personal opinion.  If you have a design aesthetic reason for doing something on your website, don’t listen to my ideas.  😉 
I looked at your website around 9:00 PM on Dec 17 in case you are currently making changes.  I looked at using Chrome on my desktop computer. 

  • The logo word of “Illustration” is hard to read because over a dark green image of a tree.
  • The menu doesn’t dock at the top of the browser which is a little difficult once I scroll down a page to have to scroll back up to the top to explore further.
  • The menu button to get a free guide goes to the contact page.  I was expecting a landing page to either download the guide immediately or to get a dedicated form to give you my email address to then download the guide.  
  • I like the home page layout.  It is a great overview of your illustrations.  The links to your book, portfolio and collaborate work fine.  I see your signup for the guides at the bottom works too.  The only small point is the “email me” button seems out of place under the portfolio.  The only major suggestion would be add more text to each section.  It would be great to have some description of the book, your portfolio and why I would want to collaborate with you.  Additionally, you mention at the top that you teach and do commission artwork.  But, I missed that on the first pass of your website.  I guess I thought you sell a book.  So, maybe a better flow to what you are trying to communicate on your home page.  Your home page is an opportunity to present everything about your company, brand, etc.  The foundation is there but could use more details and a flow.
  • About page is awesome.  I really get a sense of who you are.
  • Portfolio pages are awesome too.  But not sure on your call to action.  “Contact us” probably should be “contact me”.  But, there are a number of buttons throughout the website with different terms like “contact”, “collaborate” and “connect”.  These terms mean something different but maybe a single call to action would unify what you want someone to do once they have browsed your website.
  • Books/Merchandise has a newsletter signup at the top.  This seems like a sales page so that seems confusing at the top.  Maybe the newsletter link could be at the bottom of all web pages.  Small point, maybe just rename this page “shop” or “store”.  
  • Contact page is fine.
  • In the footer there is a link to “explorer” and “books and merch” which are broken.
In summary, you have great imagery, of course.  😊  But, I am not sure what you want a visitor to do on your website.  You are selling a book but wanting to collaborate too, I think.  So, are you selling a service of some type?  I think if you could clarify your selling proposition that will help tie the whole website together.  But, you do have a website so congratulations on that.  

PS.  It looks like your website is hosted on Squarespace so I assume it has some analytics.  Otherwise I would recommend setting up something like Google Analytics so you can track website visitors and learn how they are interacting with your website. 
Layla replied
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Hi Layla, I really loved how your header drawing takes me to a different place. Beautiful. I also liked the drawings and photos in your bio copy. Now following you and Instagram. 
Hey  Layla ! I think you're off to a great start. So please take the points below as opportunities to improve, not just me pointing out the "bad stuff!"

  • Your upper navigation is a little crowded. This is partially because the items are a little long "Art/Illustration Portfolio" takes up a lot of space → you can just say "Portfolio"! And your button can just say "Free Guide"
  • Your headline "Layla's Illustration Studio" is really close to the top of that section; add some padding so there's a little more white space at the top
  • love your About page

Big philosophical question – what do you WANT site visitors to do?
  • Right now the whole site feels a bit like a portfolio
  • If you want people to buy the book, optimize more for that
  • If you want people to hire you for commissions, optimize more for that

Happy to help more if needed!
Congratulations, Layla! I love the streamlined/uncrowded look of everything. Huge success to you....which I'm sure is coming.
Layla replied
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It looks so great  Layla ! I love that you brought the llama up into the navigation/header (and footer) of the website! Great work!
It's a challenge being a new grad in 2020, but out of crisis comes opportunity as I took the time in quarantine to create and publish my first (more coming) children's book. Its title is Rami, the Travel Llama or in Spanish Rami, la Llama Viajera and available on Amazon. It has taken off and I am now working on books two and three. 
This is so awesome! Share the link to the Amazon page please!
Layla replied
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That's awesome, Layla! Cheers to many more!
Hi, my name is Layla Meyer, I am a fresh graduate of the Pandemic year (yay - no fun graduation parties though). I have a degree in Studio Arts from NCCU and recently published my first children's book (Rami, the Travel Llama). My goal is to be a full time children's book illustrator/author, but I need to eat until that happens. Looking forward to learning from pros like those in this community.
That's awesome! And the llama is so cute. It's nice to meet you, Layla. As someone who has babysat a lot, I have read quite a few children's books and we need more good quality ones! I also want to be involved in the book market, only to edit them. But hey, the next time you're working on illustrating a book, I'd be happy to help edit it. 😀
Layla replied
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Can't imagine graduating into the workforce during this unprecedent times.  Best luck.

If you have any website questions, glad to help.
Layla replied
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Welcome, Layla! You've accomplished so much and you're headed for even more. And Rami is adorable. 
Layla replied
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