How to Better your Business through Smart, Cost Effective Visual Communications

Creative Wisdom is a resource for you and your business as they relate to the realms of printing and graphic design.

In plain English, I’m going to share with you the tips and tricks I have learned in my 11+ years of experience in the design, web and print world and help you AVOID the common mistakes that are commonly made.

In the weeks to come we will visit a series of topics regarding logos and branding, the importance of a well designed business card, the benefits of social networking online, what you really need when you start your business, how to plan and budget for marketing, design and advertising, and how to deal with printers and how to get the best deals on printing.

So who am I and what makes me an expert?  Well, I am Leah Dossey, owner of Blueleaf Creative – a design and full service graphic communication company in Spring, Texas.  Blueleaf Creative will be celebrating it’s fourth anniversary this spring (and man are we excited!).  I have recently been chosen as a recipient of the Sam Walton Emerging Entrepreneur Award, I have over 11+ years experience in the design, web and print worlds, and my passion in life is helping business grow through great design and smart planning when it comes to their marketing goals and budget.

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Originally posted on Hunger Games Fandom:

Check out this fan made Hunger Games themed poster.  If you like it you can purchase your very own HERE.  This is a limited edition as only 25 were printed, so if you want one you might want to hurry!

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Source: cinnacouture.tumblr.com

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Secure Your Twitter Name Now (or suffer later)

Keep Your Brand Safe

Keep Your Brand Safe

Get your Twitter name before someone else does!

Even if you do not plan on using twitter as a way to promote your business or brand – you need to secure your twitter ID so that someone else out their doesn’t snag it and ruin your brand reputation.

Think of it as a matter of “brand security”.  It is like abstinence before you are married – it keeps your reputation intact.

Things To Consider When Choosing Your Twitter User Name

1.  Your twitter user name is limited to 15 characters (no spaces).

2.  I recommend NOT using dashes or underscores.

3.  Secure your actual company name if possible.

For example, if your business is Starbucks then your Twitter user name should be Starbucks. If your actual company name is not available then think of appropriate variations.

4.  Secure all appropriate variations of your twitter user name.

Sometimes you need to redirect twitter traffic to your correct username.

Sometimes you need to redirect twitter traffic to your correct username.

Sometimes you will need to redirect twitter traffic to your correct user name.

For example, there is a twitter user named MACvPC (whom I love and recommend to everyone to follow), but to avoid confusion, misdirection, and to secure his twitter identity, MACvPC has also secured the twitter user name MACvsPC. When you go to MACvsPC there is a little message there that will redirect you to MACvPC. This is a smart and appropriate use of securing a twitter name variation  There are no other updates on the MACvsPC twitter page (see left), it merely serves as a digital sign post to point the potential follower to the correct twitter account.

5.  Determine if you will have (or need)  multiple active twitter accounts.

If you are going to have people or departments tweet for your business, determine the naming conventions you want to use now. For example, if you have 3 people tweeting their user names could be representative of the departments they are in: AcmeSales, AcmeService, AcmeTech or they could be more personal like LizatAcme, BobatAcme, and JoshatAcme.

6.  Use numbers in your twitter user name wisely.

Be careful when using numbers in your name. Bob1582 is not easy to remember, but 1Bob is a little easier. If you are Remember911 – that is an appropriate use of numbers in your twitter user name. I suggest trying other variations before you add a stream of numbers that doesn’t have relevant meaning to the masses, and is thereby not memorable.

How to set up multiple twitter account.

DurbinDigital pointed out to me that new twitter users may need assistance in know “how to” set up multiple twitter accounts.  Here is how you do it.

  1. Log-on to Twitter.com (do not sign in with your current account, or sign out if you are signed in)
  2. Sign up for a new twitter account.  (you must have a different email address than the one you are using for your primary twitter account)
  3. Set up your new twitter account and profile.  Add a custom background, etc.  I suggest using the same settings as your primary twitter account.
  4. Post your first and only Tweet.  This tweet should redirect the person to your primary twitter account.  See the MACvPC example above.  Your tweet could say something like, “You are in the wrong place!  Find me @yourtwittername “

How I followed these recommendations above.

My twitter user name and general on-line moniker, is CreativeWisdom – see how that is much easier to read than creativewisdom? I was unable to secure the name BlueleafCreative (too many characters), and Blueleaf was already taken. So I had to think and think hard. This was before the days of my blog, so I chose the twitter id Blueleaf-Gal. (I had already broken one of my guidelines above, but I was new and this was a long time ago, lol). When I started my blog Creative Wisdom, I decided that I would use the same name as my twitter user name. It was available. Excellent! So CreativeWisdom I am! I have since secured the following twitter user names to secure my twitter reputation: Creative_Wisdom, LeahDossey, and Leah_Dossey (see how you can’t see the underscores in my username becuase of the link?  This is why I recommend NOT using underscores in yout twitter user name) I only suggest securing your actual name if it is a part of your business and your brand.  Each of these twitter accounts is branded and collectively they serve as digital sign posts to redirect people to my active twitter account CreativeWisdom.

So secure your twitter user name (and relevant variations now). Don’t let someone else tweet out in “your” name and ruin your reputation!

Happy Tweeting!  If you found this article useful, please pass this information along to your friends, send a “Tweet Out”, Stumble or subscribe to our RSS Feed.

Go secure your twitter user name now. Yes, NOW.  What are you waiting for?

Connect on Facebook, Visit Blueleaf Creative on-line. Contact Leah at ldossey@blueleafcreative.com Follow Leah on Twitter, join the facebook group Creative Wisdom, or become a fan of Blueleaf Creative.

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3 Amazing Organizations & Causes for 2009

For those of you who have met me, you know that I have “save the puppy” syndrome and want to help everyone and every cause that I believe in.  That being said, I have decided that in order to keep my sanity I needed to select a few organizations or causes that were important to me for 2009.  I invite you to select your three most important causes for 2009 and share them with everyone as well.  This initiative should help to create awareness for what we believe in, and thereby help the ones we would like to assist.

Here are the three causes Creative Wisdom and Blueleaf Creative have chosen to support on 2009.

logocmi-1logom31.  Count Me In. is the leading national not for profit provider of resources, business education and community support for women entrepreneurs seeking to grow micro businesses to million dollar enterprises.  The program provides a combination of money, mentoring, marketing and technology tools that women entrepreneurs need to help grow their businesses from micro to $millions.  For 2009 Count Me In will be sponsoring The M3 Race (M3 stand for  Make Mine a Million $ business).  You can learn more about The M3 Race by visiting their site or by reading my blog post Make Mine a Million $ Business.  It was through Count Me In that I was selected as one of 25 women in the country to receive the Sam Walton Emerging Entrepreneur Award.  The support I am getting from Sam’s Club and Count Me In as a result of receiving that award is amazing.  HOW I AM SUPPORTING THIS ORGANIZATON: It is one of my top priorities to share with women business owners everywhere the amazing resource Count Me In provides and thank Sam’s Club over and over again for selecting me for this amazing honor.  I will be sharing information on my blog, answering questions you may have about Count Me In on Twitter, Facebook and via email.

picture-162.  The Emancipation Network The Emancipation Network (TEN) is an international organization dedicated to fighting human trafficking and modern day slavery. They help survivors of slavery rebuild their lives after rescue from slavery, with sustainable income, education and help reintegrating into society. They work to prevent slavery in high risk communities such as red light and refugee communities, by creating jobs for adults and through volunteer trips and donations to our shelter partners for rescue, school fees, emergency needs and reintegration.  TEN imports and sell beautiful handicraft products made by survivors of slavery and persons at risk of being trafficked into slavery.  Sarah Symons, who I have met personally, is an amazing woman who is dedicated to this cause.  You can learn more about Sarah and what she is doing by reading Everyday MiraclesHOW I AM SUPPORTING THIS ORGANIZATON: I will be working with Sarah at MadeBySurvivors.com & The Emancipation Newtork pro bono to help them increase awareness of global slavery and human trafficking.  Look for tweets, blog posts, Facebook updates and more regarding this amazing woman and her work!

3.  Boys Scouts of America My son has been involved with cub scouts for 4 years now and I have volunteered over 800 hours of my time to help this amazing organization.  I recommend everyone with son’s to get them involved with scouts and then volunteer with scouting yourself!  HOW I AM SUPPORTING THIS ORGANIZATON: I will continue to serve as den leader, assistant cubmaster and PR chair for my son’s pack to help him and other boys become strong men in our community.

What are the 3 organizations you believe in?  Please share them and help create awareness!  If you believe in any of the causes I do – please let me know – I would love to work with you on helping those causes through a joint effort!

Much love and prosperity to you all in 2009 and beyond!

Posted By Leah Dossey, owner, art director and designer at Blueleaf Creative.  Contact Leah at ldossey@blueleafcreative.com  Follow Leah on Twitter,  join the facbook group Creative Wisdom, or become a fan of Blueleaf Creative.

Why Blueleaf Creative Featured on Career Girls

candid career advice for twenty-something divas

candid career advice for twenty-something divas

Nicole Crimaldi @ExecutiveVision on Twitter
(http://twitter.com/ExecutiveVision) has featured the Make Mine a
Million $ Race as well as Blueleaf Creative on her blog Career Girls.
You can read the article here:
http://careergirls.wordpress.com/2008/12/22/make-mine-a-million-business-race/

Career Girls is a great new blog that targets “twenty-something” women to help them become successful women with not only their careers, but all things important to that age group.  Nicole has some interesting posts – and I’m looking forward to see what her future posts offer.

Make Mine a Million $ Business Race

Join The Race in 2009

Join The Race in 2009

Ladies as a fellow female entrepreneur I am always looking for ways to increase the revenue for my business.  I have to share with you a unique and very special organization that will help you on your path to success in doing so.  Count Me In – the organization for women’s economic independence is the single most worthwhile organization you should join. Women business owners who participate in their “Make Mine A Million $” business program see increases of revenue up to 40%.  Why?  Because Count Me In provides you with the resources and tools to make your business a success.  Count Me In founder, Nell Merlino (who also instituted Take Your Daughter To Work Day) has partnered the organization with corporate sponsors like OPEN from American Express, JetBlue, Dell, FedEx, Sam’s Club, Reader’s Digest and other organizations that are committed to helping women take their business revenues to a million dollars or more.  (If that isn’t credible, I don’t know what is!)

Starting in 2009, Count Me In will be sponsoring The Make Mine a Million $ Business Race, I encourage – no I implore each and everyone of you to register for this event that will change your business.

HERE’S HOW IT WORKS

Register early, set your 2009 revenue goal at $250,000, $500,000 or $1mm.  Take advantage of our recommended preparation tips before the M3 RACE begins. (You will be given this information once you register)

WHAT DO YOU GET?

Starting January 27, at the click of a mouse, you will have access to experts, resources, and opportunities tailored for YOU!  You are never alone.

* Cutting-edge on-line business assessment with expert advice and education
* Personalized “dashboard” to track your goals and annual revenue
* Social network to find other M3 RACE participants and post questions
* Invitations to three national educational and networking events
* Opportunities to reach new national markets with partners like American Express OPEN, Reader’s Digest, Dell and Sam’s Club
* Promotion through local and national TV, newspapers, magazines, radio, and blogs

Prizes and national recognition for crossing your personal finish line, as well as the chance to win our Grand Prize of $100,000 cash for your business with national PR, advertising and press for your business, and other business-boosting and work-life-balancing prizes for success on the national and state level.

Because of the level of expertise that will be offered to the participants of this program, there is an entry fee.  However, register by December 14th and save $25!

The Make Mine a Million $ Business RACE is an exciting year-long business growth marathon to support you in becoming a successful and productive business owner and help rebuild our nation’s economy.

1.    What is the Make Mine a Million $ Business RACE (M3 RACE)?

No, you don’t have to run.  The Make Mine a Million $ Business RACE is an exciting year-long business growth marathon to support you in becoming a successful and productive business owner and help rebuild our nation’s economy.

Just like the walk/run marathons that you know to benefit breast cancer research and other causes, you can choose your own pace for your 2009 business revenue goal: $250,000, $500K, or one million dollars or more!

Whether you have a business or are just starting one, we will help you “train” by assessing your business strengths and weaknesses, introducing you to coaches, peer groups and experts, increasing your access to new markets, financing and national recognition so you can grow, create jobs where you live and provide economic stability for your families, communities and the country.

2.    Why should I enter the M3 RACE?

There has never been a better time to focus on exactly what you want for your business and what it will take to get it.  Now is your time to stand up and count yourself in.

Enter the M3 RACE to:

* Become a more successful and productive business owner
* Run and enjoy a balanced life as a woman, entrepreneur and/or mother
* Take the mystery out of running a business
* Create your own personal vision for your business
* Manage and control your business and keep it from controlling you
* Delegate to gain the results you want
* Exceed your customer’s expectations so they return and promote you to others
* Find, attract, hire and keep excellent employees
* Achieve and surpass a million $ or more in annual revenue more quickly

3.    What do I get by entering the M3 RACE?

By joining the M3 RACE starting January 27, you will have access to support and assistance that has never before been available to women entrepreneurs.

* You are never alone.  Support, tools and guidance to prepare you for the M3 RACE.
* Online business assessment tool to help you identify where your business stands and what you need to reach your 2009 goal
* Your own personalized Dashboard where you can track your short term goals and annual revenue, find other M3 RACE participants and post questions
* Exposure for your product or service to new audiences
* Access to three national events, which will include intensive workshops and competitions for business-boosting and work-life-balancing prizes
* Opportunities to reach new national markets with partners like American Express OPEN, Reader’s Digest, Dell and Sam’s Club and promotion through local and national TV, newspapers, magazines, radio and blogs
* Prizes and national recognition for crossing your personal finish line, as well as the chance to win our Grand Prize of $100,000 cash for your business and national PR, advertising and press for your business and other prizes for success on the national and state level.

4.    When does the Make Mine a Million $ Business RACE Begin and End?

The M3 RACE starts online at http://www.makemineamillion.org on January 27, 2009, where you sign up to race and declare your revenue goals for the year and get ready for the journey of a lifetime!

Advance registration:  December 1, 2008 thru December 14, 2008
Standard Registration:  December 15, 2008 thru June 30, 2009

The M3 RACE ends on midnight, December 31, 2009 and winners will be announced in February 2010.

5.    How do I enter the Make Mine a Million $ Business RACE?

It’s easy!  Enter the M3 RACE

6.    Who is eligible?

Eligibility requirements:

* Own a business or have an idea for a new business
* 18 years or older
* U.S. Citizen or legal resident
* Female
* Business is at least 50% women owned

7.    What do I win?

You win just by being in the M3 RACE.  On average, women who have participated in the Make Mine a Million $ Business program have increased their revenue and job growth rate by more than 40% within 12 months.

By joining the M3 RACE, you will have an opportunity to be part of a community of women entrepreneurs across the country growing their businesses, creating jobs and providing for their families.  We are in it together.

8.    What are the prizes?

The Grand Prize winner will receive a $100,000 cash prize and a year’s worth of marketing, advertising and press opportunities.

Runner up winners from all 50 states and in 15 business sector categories receive a coveted prize package including one-on-one business coaching, technology products, media exposure, access to financing and new markets, and products and services like grocery delivery services to help them manage their families and household.   Stay tuned for more…

*Prizes are subject to change.

9.     How do I win?

Judging criteria is based on:

* Sales levels (compared to base year)
* Percentage revenue growth (compared to base year)
* Percentage employee growth
* Business net worth
* Profitability after owner(s) draw

Certification of figures: Count Me In will require your assistance in collecting figures to evaluate your business growth. You will be required to enter monthly metrics.  All figures will be confidential and not disclosed or shared with third parties.

Winners will be selected based on company-submitted information, but will not be officially named until Count Me In has received and reviewed either tax returns or CPA prepared financials for 2008 and certification of sales for 2009.  This information must be provided no later than February 1, 2010.

10.     Is there an entry fee?

Yes.  To provide you with the best coaches and experts, a dynamic online business assessment tool, and a national network of women just like you, there is an entry fee of $100.  If you sign up before December 15, you will be able to enter the M3 RACE for $75.

11.    What if my 2008 sales already exceeded $1 million?

Congratulations!  We encourage you to register for the M3 RACE so you can continue to grow your multi-million dollar business.  We will also expose you to media opportunities, send you information relevant to your stage of business growth, invite you to mentor other women and speak on expert panels.

12.    How can men get involved?

Men can support women in the Make Mine a Million $ Business RACE as business partners, vendors, employees and contractors.  As husbands, brothers, fathers, sons and friends, you can pay the registration fee for a woman you know.

13.    Who is supporting the Make Mine a Million $ Business RACE?

Our supporters are growing everyday.  Today, the Make Mine a Million $ Business RACE is supported by our founding partner American Express OPEN, Cisco, Dell, Sam’s Club, and Reader’s Digest.

14.    How do I support the M3 RACE?

There are a number of ways that you can support a Make Mine a Million $ Business RACE.

To sponsor a racer, you can:

* Buy their products
* Tell your friends about them
* Begin a movement in your neighborhood to support the M3 RACE

Click here to make a tax free donation to Count Me In.  Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence is a 501c3 organization.  For information about becoming a corporate sponsor, contact jhamerman@countmein.org.

15.    Why is Count Me In launching Make Mine a Million $ Business RACE?

There are 10.5 million women owned businesses in the United States today, yet only 3%, or 250,000, generate a million dollars or more in annual revenue.  With the right support, tools, and encouragement we can all surpass a million dollars in business revenue, create jobs for our communities, and help rebuild America’s economy.  If one million women grow their businesses to one million dollars in revenue, we will have created 4 million new jobs and $700 billion in economic activity.  Count Me In believes there is no better moment to inspire a movement of women’s economic development.

Through our most successful business growth program, Make Mine a Million $ Business™, we have learned what propels women to grow sustainable and thriving businesses.  That is why, Count Me In is launching the Make Mine a Million $ Business RACE — to pass on our knowledge to help thousands more women entrepreneurs succeed in hitting their goals in a year.  The M3 RACE marks the beginning of a chain reaction that places the strength of one million women behind every entrepreneur’s success.  This is our race to run, and we are in it together.

16.    Who is Count Me In?

Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence is the leading national not-for-profit provider of resources, business education, and community for women entrepreneurs.   We believe in you, and we believe in the ability of women entrepreneurs to create jobs for our communities and provide thriving environments for their families and future generations through achieving and surpassing their goals of business growth.  We also believe that to grow your business, you have to grow yourself.  Count Me In is dedicated to providing inspiration, resources, and the community support women entrepreneurs need to scale their businesses to a million dollars in revenue and beyond.

As one of the 25  first women in the country to be awarded the  Sam Walton Emerging Entrepreneur Award , and a member of Count Me In, I have committed to be one of the Ambassadors to this program.  If you have questions regarding Count Me In, The Race to a Million or just general questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.  If I don’t know the answer, I will find out, or point yo to the person who does.  When you enter, please return here and leave a comment to let me know – we can support each other as we race to increase our business revenue for 2009!

Thanks and much success,

Leah Dossey

If you found this article helpful, please STUMBLE or give a Tweet!

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Posted By Leah Dossey, owner, art director and designer at Blueleaf Creative.  Contact Leah at ldossey@blueleafcreative.com  Follow Leah on Twitter,  join the facbook group Creative Wisdom, or become a fan of Blueleaf Creative.

How to Find People to Follow on Twitter

Find people to follow on Twitter

Find people to follow on Twitter

So you are new to Twitter and you want to find people to follow.  Good people.  People relevant to your industry or markets that you find interesting.  How do you find them?

There are sites that offer tools to help you find people to follow – they are very useful tools in finding new people to follow.

Twellow is cool because you can search for people by catagory.  The services also tells you how many followers a person has.  This is important becuase if they have a lot of followers, then they should have interesting content.  I always check a persons Follwers/Follow ratio.  If they have a lot of followers but they don’t follow many people, then they are likely not going to follow you.  I look for a mutral follow relationship with most of my follows as I belive Twitter is all about creating new opprotunities for building relationships.  Expect to spend some time on Twellow as you will have to navigate from catagory to catagory to find the people that you find interesting.

Just Tweet It Just Tweet It is a directory.  If you want others to find you – sign up!  Then look for other people in the catagories that interest you.  Nice interface and easy to use.

Twubble Created by @crazybob Twubble suggests followers based on who your followers are following.  You can then see which of your followers is following any of the recommended Tweeters twubble suggests.

Finding great people to follow when you start can be difficult, these tools should help make your search easier!  You can always follow me on Twitter as well!

Written By Leah Dossey, owner, art director and designer at Blueleaf Creative.  Contact Leah at ldossey@blueleafcreative.com  Follow Leah on Twitter,  join the facbook group Creative Wisdom, or become a fan of Blueleaf Creative.

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How to Increase Traffic to your Website or Blog with Twitter

Use Twitter to Get Hits and How to Get People to Follow You

Twitter seems to be the new “buzz” word.  So I set up my account and stared at the screen.  Like many of you, I was like, “Really?  How can THIS help my business?”

Then my “Ah-ha” moment happened.

I noticed that Twitter is about sharing information.  All kinds (like what’s for lunch?) but that doesn’t get you new business. So what is the deal?  How does this Twitter thing work?  When I started my blog  I needed to drive up traffic. “Perhaps I could promote via Twitter?”, I thought.  I did – hits went up.  THEN I noticed that I was clicking on links that people posted that I found useful.  So I thought, “Hmmm, what could I post that people would find useful on Twitter?”  So I created a post to my blog called “How to create a twitter background”.  Suddenly my hits went up 10 times!

Bingo – but that was only half of it.  I didn’t have a large follow base.  I had offered some help to a Tweeter I was following Jim Connolly (he has around 7,500 followers) and BAM he put up a Tweet asking everyone to
follow me as a “thank you”!  Now I didn’t offer to help him because he had so many follower – I just offered to help because I wanted to.  Be sincere in your actions on Twitter.  After his tweet, my followers went from 39 to 149 in 24 hours.  Hits on the blog went up 10 times again!  I have gotten two new job requests for my effort in the last 48 hours.

What I have learned from all this – and why I wanted to share it with you-is that Twitter can increase the traffic to your website or blog.

You need 3 key elements to get a successful outcome from Twitter

1. Followers

2. Someone to give you a “Tweet-Out” that links to your website or blog.

3. A URL about your company, product, services, tutorial, guide, etc. That people can visit and learn more about YOU!

Despite the evening news there are still LOTS of good people out there and those good people would love to help you out.  So post relevant, interesting and human tweets and your follow base will increase, as your follow base increases hits to your blog or website should also increase if you tweet the links out to your group.  When someone helps you, help them in return by promoting them (so they get more followers) or hits.  How do you do that?  It is simple.  If someone posts a link you like, then “re-tweet” the link to your group.  Your twitter post might look like this:

How to give credit on Twitter

How to give credit on Twitter

As you can see, The topic of the tweet is clear, the link to the article is next, and then I thank MillerMosaicLLC and problogger for sharing the information.  What this does is that it allows my followers the opportunity to view the post, but it also allows them to click on the two posters names and then they can follow them as well.  Good content, with proper credit will introduce your followers to new people that have relevant content (and the two people I thanked will be apt to do the same for me when I make relevant posts that they like).

If there is someone you REALLY like and they have lots of relevant information you think you group would enjoy, you can ask your group to follow that person and explain why.  Most of the time, but not always, they will return the act in kind either by promoting your tweets or suggesting to their group that they add you!

Suggest Tweeters with excellent content to your group

Suggest Tweeters with excellent content to your group

Twitter is called a Social Media tool for a reason.

Be kind to your followers.  It is all about interesting content.  Don’t just tweet one sales pitch after another to your group.  Get to know your followers, make connections with them, allow them to see you and your business as a real person.  Help other people out, share information that will let others know that you are an expert in your industry.  Your followers may not need your product or services, but they may refer to you someone who does. Be warm and friendly.  Be helpful.  Be interesting.  This is how you gain followers and how your followers will want to support you and your efforts.  It really is that simple.  By doing these things you can accomplish the three things that will help boost your business and make Twitter a tool for free advertising for your blog or website.  Pretty cool huh?  Tweet on!

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Posted By Leah Dossey, owner, art director and designer at Blueleaf Creative.  Contact Leah at ldossey@blueleafcreative.com  Follow Leah on Twitter,  join the facbook group Creative Wisdom, or become a fan of Blueleaf Creative.

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