Small Business Tips

15 WordPress Themes for Your Next Event

15 Event WordPress Themes
Building a website from the ground up isn’t usually in the budget when producing an event. Luckily, there are some good WordPress themes available to use as starting points, and each template offers quite a bit of customization.
Here’s a roundup of La Sirena’s favorite themes for events:



I want to give a special shout-out to Showthemes because their support and documentation has always been excellent. I took them for granted until I was trying to customize a horrible theme called Fest. The event producer and I had a terrible experience with Fest and ended up returning it and using a theme by Showthemes instead.


Fudge 2.0

Highly responsive and very attractive, this theme is well-liked for a reason. If your message and and content are simple, it’s hard to go wrong with Fudge 2.0.


Conference Pro

Modern, easy to use, and very flexible.




This theme comes with the option for an extensive navigation menu, covering whatever your needs may be (ticketing, schedule info, photo galleries, your various social media, contact info — you name it.) Each link in the menu gets a dedicated page on your site, versus having everything crammed into one long, endlessly scrolling page.



Check out how we worked with our client, Bold Hat Productions, to customize this theme for Fremont Oktoberfest and Kirkland Uncorked. Like some of the other themes, it is worth noting that there is an option to prominently display and link to sponsors, should that be a requirement for your event.




I like this one because it has the potential to be really simple and clean and it’s clear right off the bat how customizable and mobile-friendly it is. Check out how we worked with our client, Bold Hat Productions, to customize this theme for Fremont Solstice, a weekend-long music and arts festival in Seattle.



I’ve personally never used these themes, but they look promising and my curiosity is definitely piqued. If you have any positive or negative feedback from personal experience working with them, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!



Mesh 2.0

This one is specifically tailored towards music and concerts, but if that’s what you need then you should take this theme into consideration.




Eventum seems like a good option for when the info you’re trying to get across is pretty basic and potentially even sparse, allowing you to spruce it up with a decently stylized design and imagery, letting it punch above its weight class.




Includes a registration form and ticketing. Seems like a good balance between images and text, for when your event requires a more text-heavy marketing / informational approach.



Another theme that seems like a good fit for when you have a limited amount of content and want to give it a larger voice by packaging it in something stylish and impactful.



Really simple. Nice schedule layout. Seems like this is designed more for mobile viewing than desktop viewing.




Good for the dissemination of a high volume and variety of info. Probably not your best bet for an annual event or events that occur at a lower frequency than ongoing weekly bookings.


The Keynote

Seems like a good option for when your event DOESN’T have a wide swathe of imagery to use and you need something more text-heavy.




Stylized, seems like it’s best for concerts and similar types of events that don’t require much explanation and whose format most people are familiar with.




Not specifically designed for events, but this one seems highly adaptable. This theme would be of use if your event doesn’t need options for registration, ticketing, or a display of a schedule or itinerary.




Similar to Skyline in that it’s not designed specifically for events, but appears to be highly adaptable should your events page not need a ton of typical event resources (although this is still set up to include some of these options.)



  • Themes are a good starting point but you will need to be a bit tech-savvy or hire a designer/developer-type to install it, make it fit your event’s style/branding, or customize the template.
  • You have to do regular maintenance and updates on your WordPress site every few months. You can’t just leave it laying around or you might make your site vulnerable to getting hacked.


Within the next year, I’m hoping to develop my own WordPress event theme.
Do you have any specific requests or features you’d like to see in an event theme?
Let me know in the comments below.

One Way to Battle Your Day-to-Day Overwhelm Monster

Your Day-to-Day Overwhelm Monster

Have you ever noticed how a simple task can turn into the thing that pushes you over the edge?
Do you ever find yourself having the same annoying thoughts over and over again, like:
  • Which hex color is that supposed to be?
  • Where did I put the password for my WordPress login?
  • I wish Tara hadn’t gone on vacation, she’s the only one that knows the printer we used for last year’s T-shirts.
  • What are the dimensions for Facebook’s cover photo?
On their own, none of these things are difficult to manage or figure out. But they become overwhelming and frustrating because they’re like a series of speed bumps that you encounter over and over again.

One minute you’re looking for the contact info for the T-shirt printer, then you notice on their website that they’re now offering stickers, and then “BAM!” – you’re down the rabbit hole and it takes you 10-15 minutes longer to do the one simple task you were supposed to be doing.

All of these things add up and by the end of the day you feel like you’ve barely scratched the tip of your to-do list.

I catch myself in this cycle all the time and it drives me bonkers. The same little questions or tasks keep resurfacing. Things that I don’t do often enough to remember, but they come up enough that it’s frustrating when I have to go digging through my email, files, the internet, or the trillion sticky notes all about my workspace.

They are all things that should take a second or two to find and not completely interrupt your flow.
Finally, I realized: Hey, why don’t I start keeping a list of all the “things” that keep resurfacing and put them in one place that I can easily access?

But even after I realized this I never made time to do it until I was recently forced to! After hiring a new team member, I realized that it’s even more important to have have all of these things in one place.

So now, every time I encounter one of these speed bumps I’m writing it into a “Business Organization Note” in Evernote.
My only problem is that I’m not sure what to call it.

It’s not quite a wiki, not quite a knowledge base, not quite a standards and practices, more than a brand guideline, more than a directory…

What would you call it?
Click here to get the template.


I’m hoping you will find this template helpful for managing your day-to-day business and marketing tasks, and that it will get you one step closer to defeating overwhelm and distraction.

I imagine you could use this for:

1) Yourself

2) Your small team (you could even allow others to edit the document)

3) When you work with contractors

You could break it into sections and put it in a folder or keep it all in one note. Make it work for you.

I’d love to hear from you if you find it helpful and I’m also interested to know what other categories you add. Leave a comment below or message me.



One way to grow your business (without sacrificing every weekend)

You start your business, you make enough money to support yourself, things are pretty awesome. Day after day you’re putting in ALL the hours possible into your business (because that’s what you did in the beginning, and it’s become the norm). But now it’s starting to feel different. You notice things aren’t evolving like they used to, you’re starting to feel like you physically (and maybe mentally) can’t keep up this pace for much longer, that nasty word “burn out” starts creeping into your vocabulary.

If you’re like me, it’s probably because your business trades time for money, and once you hit a certain level you run out of available hours to trade.

Once your realize this you might start freaking out. All of those BIG goals all of a sudden seem impossible. How are you going to afford that new house? How are you going to take that dream family vacation? How are you going to retire your husband? How are you going to spend a few months in Spain and then move back to the Pacific NW in the same year? (Okay, that last one is mine.) 

How do we get past this plateau without sacrificing every single family get together or girls’ night out?

There are a few ways, but for the past year I’ve been focusing on this one:

Stop being such a control freak, tone down my “I can do it all by myself” attitude, and start asking for help (which is very hard to do when you’ve been this way your entire life).

There are also a lot of ways we can ask for help.

The one that works best for me is:

I say “hire a professional” instead of a more general “hire someone to help” because I need to trust the people that are helping me just as much (or more) than I trust myself. I need to really lean into them for support. I don’t want to be stressing out about whether or not they know what they are doing, or worrying about what kind of quality of work they are going to produce. I want professionals who are equally skilled and passionate about their work.

This doesn’t mean that the work they do has to be directly related to your business.

For example, hiring full-time childcare is probably the greatest contributor to growing my business this year. (She’s more than a professional, she’s pretty much my personal angel.) Having childcare has allowed me to work many more hours, which has brought in more money. I was then able to hire a housecleaner, which opened up more hours and brought in more money. And most recently, I’m joining forces with someone who is going to be helping me directly in my business so that I can finally make moves to grow my business. (It’s kinda crazy how it all accumulates.)

How can you apply this to your business?

What are some things you can hire out and let go of? You can start super small. Even if it’s just hiring a gardener for few hours each month, that’s still hours you didn’t have before. Use that time to work on your business, learn a new skill, or just rejuvenate yourself so you don’t burn out.

And here’s a short bio about my newest professional angel, Harrison:

Harrison picBefore joining La Sirena, Harrison spent nearly five years honing his design and traffic coordinating chops at comiXology, an Amazon company. Prior to that, he worked with several small businesses and assisted in launching one, doing everything from managing, ordering and inventory, training staff, sales, copywriting, SEO, fabrications and repairs, customer service… you get the idea. Harrison knows what it’s like to be a part of a small business, and this is where his passions lie. More Davids, less Goliaths. This is said with gusto.

Harrison’s heart is set aflame by: Sequential art. Typography. SNES-era RPGs. Pork in its myriad in-carne-tions. Puns. Hoppy, resinous IPAs. Wearing a denim jacket while listening to Thin Lizzy. Coniferous trees. Breakfast foods. Long, meandering bike rides. ‘The X-Files’ and ‘Twin Peaks.’



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Don’t Overlook the Root of Your Marketing Materials

Don't Overlook The Root of Your Marketing Materials

The next time you feel like a design project isn’t working or looking how you think it should, but you can’t put your finger on why, take a moment and make sure that both you and your designer are thinking from the AUDIENCE frame of mind.


Imagine this:
You hire an intern to manage and create graphics for your wine tasting event’s Instagram account. Your attendees are 30-45 year old women of mid- to high-income that love food and wine. Oh, and they live in a fancy-pants part of town. Your intern is super clever and knows how to use Instagram to its fullest and is well-versed in social media, so you are confident that the project is in good hands. A few weeks pass, and with the date of your event on the horizon you decide to look at the Instagram account to see how things are going.

“The needs and tastes of the audience should lie at the root of any design solution. Begin there and grow outward.”

–  Jim Krause

Uh-oh. The feed looks like a clone of your football-loving, latest-meme-posting, 20-year-old male college student intern’s personal account (with the word wine sprinkled here and there), not your event’s account. At least not what you imagined it should be.

What happened?! It looks “good”, but it’s just not right.

It’s probably because you forgot to tell the intern about your audience. You didn’t tell them to step outside of their own point of view — where they’re coming from and what’s important and interesting to them — and to put themselves in the perspective of your attendees. Maybe you forgot to mention it because this is something that seems so obvious to you that you never really thought about it. (Remember, what is obvious to you might not be obvious to your designer.) Or maybe it’s because sometimes you are guilty of the same thing and forget to think from your audience’s frame of mind too.

For some of us, we really relate to our audience and it takes very little effort to know or learn the media, lingo, style, colors, fashions, and trends they are into. But for others, becoming attuned to your audience’s culture can take much more thought and research.

Remember, everyone on your team needs to:

  • understand who the project is speaking to
  • who you are trying to connect with
  • what value you are providing to your audience

This will help clarify the design of the project and create a more unified, impactful, and meaningful message.

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Four Not-So-Obvious Things to Think About Before You Start Working with a Designer

Four not so obvious things to think about before you start working with a designer // From

What do you do when you set out to find the perfect match for your design project?

Obviously, you do the standard thing and take a look at the designer’s experience and portfolio.

But then what?

Here are a few not-so-obvious (but important) considerations you should take into account that can make or break your relationship with any designer and ultimately the work you produce together.


Unless you’re hiring a designer with the stated expectation that they will be helping you figure out your mission, strategy, and branding you need to have these things nailed down. Making these important decisions and doing this work on the fly while simultaneously working with a web developer to create your website, for example, is a big NO-NO. I’ve seen so many hours and so much money wasted when small businesses work this way. You don’t want your team members stepping on each other’s toes, starting their projects from scratch because of branding changes made weeks in, or doing each other’s work. Plus, your web developer is probably not the best person to design your logo anyway, which brings us to #2…


We toss the word “designer” around a lot without being specific, which can confuse things. I know I’m guilty of it. When people ask me what I do I usually say, “I’m a designer.” In the moment, during these casual conversations, I completely forget that “designer” applies to SO many different jobs. It’s not until someone asks, “Oh, like interior design?” that I actually clarify exactly what type of design I do and who I do it for.

So remember, just because your cousin John is a PowerPoint presentation pro doesn’t mean he knows anything about designing billboards, or product packaging, or the differences between designing for print or the web, etc. Consider what kind of work you need done before you reach out to your nearest “designer”.

Consider what kind of work you need done before you reach out to your nearest “designer”. Click To Tweet

Knowledge of tools and techniques isn’t everything when choosing the kind of designer you need. If you’re already set on exactly how you want your design to look and nobody is going to change your mind, then you’ll want to hire someone who is comfortable with working this way. Not every designer is going to want to take on a job where all of the big decisions have already been made. Some designers prefer to be a part of the conceptual phase, while others enjoy executing designs from strict instructions and don’t want anything to do with idea generating or decision-making.

SIDE NOTE: If you need someone who does a little bit of everything keep an eye out for the phrase integrated designer. This type of designer is more likely to have experience with everything from the conceptual phase to the preparation of the final materials, and will have worked on a mix of both print and digital projects (covering everything from your logo design, brand colors and fonts to your email template designs, print work such as business cards and brochures, and any other marketing collateral.)


My stepdad LOVES talking on the phone. He can’t help himself. He doesn’t even need a reason to talk, he does it “just because.” My little sister, however, hates talking on the phone and prefers to text her way through a conversation. They are always butting heads over this. Their communication styles just don’t mesh. You don’t want to feel this way when you’re working with a designer (or anyone, really).

Ask yourself if there are any communication styles that drive you nuts or if there are any you really love — In-person meetings, phone calls, video chats (i.e. Google Hangouts, FaceTime, Skype), email, a project management app, etc. — they all have pros and cons. Some people could care less but if you feel strongly about one tell your designer up front. And ask them if they have any preferences, too. Find what works best for you, come up with a schedule if need be, and stick to it! Nothing delays progress on a project more needlessly than a poor system of communication. On that topic…


If you’re a one-person shop you can skip reading this one, but if you’re working with a team it’s something you need to delegate. If you skip this step, it can result in some costly mistakes.
Imagine one of those meetings that goes on and on and on. But now imagine that you are paying your designer extra to sit in on those meetings. I have seriously sat through meetings of over several hours only to ultimately find out that they covered nothing relevant to my role in the project. Sure, I got paid for my time, but why was I there incurring this unnecessary expense?  In general, workflow is better when one person is in charge of compiling and relaying all of the info and feedback to the designer. If a bunch of opinions, corrections, revisions and emails are flying around things can get challenging for the entire project very quickly. You also don’t want to find out the day before your materials are due that your designer wasn’t aware of an updated deadline, because everyone on your team thought it was someone else’s responsibility to inform them!

Hopefully, these four things will save you some headaches in the long run. Let me know if you have any questions or have any other tips in the comments below.

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Quick Q&A With My Fave Neighborhood Small Biz Owner


Where do you feel more at home than any where else (besides home, of course)? For me it’s the coffee shop. I spent pretty much all of my late teens through my early 30s in a cafe. Whether it was for studying, sketching, using the wifi, reading, writing, meetings, all-ages hip hop shows, dance and music showcases, picking up a copy of The Stranger, listening in on other people’s conversations, reading the community bulletin board or maybe even just to actually chill and have some coffee with a friend.

I love the community vibes of a cafe; you can feel the ideas buzzing around you.

Then I moved to New York. Quickly I realized there wasn’t a neighborhood cafe on every block and that I had taken Seattle’s coffee culture for granted. I didn’t want to go to… ugh… Starbucks! Noooooo…. But I couldn’t find anything that felt like “home.” I could lament for hours on this topic but let me jump ahead to last Fall when I saw a sign in a storefront window just a few blocks from me. It stopped me in my tracks and filled me with hope. Could this be it? I eagerly awaited the opening and yes, it was IT!

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 10.37.22 PM

Cream Coffee and Tea has been open for almost a year now. Without them I don’t know how I could have gotten through my 2nd year of motherhood (while running my business). They don’t know it but they’ve brightened my most dreary, sleep-deprived days. I decided to ask the owner, Ping Lu, to answer some questions about opening his cafe in Bay Ridge (Brooklyn) – partially because I’m nosy and LOVE to hear all about other people and their business stories and partially because I’m starting a new blogging bootcamp and this is our first assignment! I also think it might be a little helpful to anyone thinking about opening a brick and mortar shop in Brooklyn. So here you go:

20 Questions with Cream Coffee & Tea Shop’s owner, Ping Lu:

1) Is this your first business venture?

This is my first brick and mortar venture. Before that, I had a small business selling retail goods on eBay, as well as a small IT consultant company.

2) Have you always felt “drawn” to owning a cafe? Or was it a bolt-of-lightning moment? How did it come about?

At first I wanted to launch an internet based tea business. I really wanted to get into blending my own tea and selling traditional teas from all over the world. After many months of deliberation, one idea lead to another and it ultimately led to a brick and mortar café. The more research I did into coffee, the more intrigued I became. That’s when we decided to do both coffee and tea! The best of both worlds.


3) What was the biggest challenge making Cream a reality?

The biggest challenge was definitely working with our small budget, wrangling with time constraints and dealing with our inexperience in the food industry. With our budget, getting everything that we needed was a daunting task. Especially looking for a location for the storefront. The rent was extremely high, the landlords requested way too many things in the lease, and the locations that fit the budget were less than ideal. We spent an enormous time physically scouring through the city until we stumbled upon this little gem in Bay Ridge. We also spent countless, countless hours on the internet and on the phone with many city departments finding out all the rules and regulations to running a store in the food industry. Do it right, or don’t do it at all.

4) What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned about yourself or running a business since you’ve opened Cream?

The biggest lesson I learned was how to deal with all the stress. One hundred hour weeks, seven days a week was absolutely brutal. With all of the sleepless nights and super long weeks, I was forced to evaluate how to handle the stress of running a business and the unexpected problems that constantly reared its ugly head. I am a happy go lucky kind of person with everything and I felt the business was changing me for the worst. I was a little more jaded and bitter as each day went on. I realized quickly and learned to not stress about things you cannot control. When things go awry, just accept the situation for what it is and quickly find an efficient solution to the problem. It’s an endless boxing bout, the punches will keep coming – just have to dust yourself off and keep progressing forward.

5) Do you drink coffee or tea every day? Same thing or a different thing every day?

I just drink iced coffee everyday. Even the winter doesn’t stop me. I would prefer to drink cold brew all day everyday but I might as well close shop now because I would go completely bankrupt drinking that liquid gold – haha.

6) How did you decide on Stumptown Coffee? (They are one of my faves.)

We loved the experience and support that Stumptown was offering us. They sold us on their dream of artisanal coffee along with their vision of providing the ultimate customer service experience. It the perfect fit for what we wanted to do. And their nitro cold brew is just bonkers. One sip sent me to heaven. (Sidenote from me: IT’S TRUE, IT’S SO GOOD.)

7) Do you have any short- or long-term goals you’re working towards (personal or business)?

Currently, I want to keep adding to the menu and provide new experiences for the customers. With so many things up in the air, it’s hard to progress forward and easy to hermit into survival mode. For now, the main focus is to get things settled down with staff and training. Then I will be able to do more with the menu.

8) Where do you go (online or offline) or what do you read for small-business, cafe-running, or marketing advice?

I completely nerd out; I am always reading different science publications and I am on frequently. For anything pertaining to business, I roam blogs and websites of other entrepreneurs. It is great to see what others are doing and blogs give a lot of insight to as what they are doing.

9) If you were a beer, wine, or cocktail what would it be?

Anything tequila. I am always just trolling people, haha

10) What was your all-time fave Halloween costume?

My favorite costume would have to be Captain Morgan. It was just way too much fun when I went out as the captain. Posing with random people while standing on an imaginary barrel was great

11) What do you do for play or when you have down time?

I usually just catch up on sleep. Lately, the motto for myself has been sleep times are best times LOL

12) Who or what keeps you motivated?

My parents. They wholeheartedly lived their lives for my sister and I. They have been working tirelessly for 30 years with us as their goal and I want to do the same for them. It will happen one way or another!

13) What music do you turn on when you need a dance break?

There are just too many to name. Mainly old school hip hop and R+B.

14) Do you have any daily rituals that make you feel like “you got this”?

I wake up feeling like death, dreading the 14+ hour day ahead of me. After I finish getting ready, I take a 5 minute nap on the couch before I go out the door. I feel like I can conquer the universe after the power nap.

15) If you were to let someone order for you at your fave restaurant who would it be?

My mom. She always wants to cook for me and she knows what I would like to eat.

16) Who knows how you take your coffee?

Mostly my close friends. Iced coffee, black.

17) What are your Can’t-Miss TV shows?

Battlestar Galactica, Top Gear UK, and Sherlock are some of my faves.

18) True or False: Outer order creates inner calm.

I’ve learned that inner calm creates outer order =D

19) Where is the most beautiful place you’ve ever been?

The terracotta soldier exhibit I went to see in Xi’an China was simply breathtaking. To see all the statues standing there in the excavation site was mind boggling.

20) Any words of advice for those considering opening up a brick and mortar shop?

Jump off the cliff and do it. If you’re already considering opening a brick and mortar, I am pretty sure you have most of your marbles collected and polished. Face the fear and take a leap of faith for yourself. The best advice I ever got was from my high school teacher. She told me to “dive in head first for college” and I have taken that approach for nearly everything.

Thanks, Ping! I love the answer to question #14.
I have never heard anyone say they take a quick power nap before work. Nice.

What about you? Do you have any You-Got-This Rituals? Or where do you feel at home more than any place else? Share your answers to these or any of the other questions in the comments below.


My Top Tools: How Evernote Helps Control My Monkey Brain


Another app? Really?

I don’t need another app do I?

Why am I downloading this?

That’s what ran through my mind as I clicked the download button on Evernote‘s website. But you know what, this app is JUST WHAT I NEEDED. It has saved me so much time and allowed me to focus more than any other thing I’ve purchased in the past few years and I’M USING THE FREE VERSION.

I am notorious for having notebooks scattered around the house and in all of my bags. I’m the type of person that can’t leave the house unless I have a pen and a notebook. If an idea strikes I want to jot it down immediately before I forget it. I am also a chronic list maker. Lists keep me sane and help me feel in control when work/life get a little crazy. The only problem is that sometimes (okay, all the time) I can’t find which notebook I wrote things a particular idea in, or I misplace my list (ugh, that is the worst!). This is where Evernote shines for me and saves me lots of time – NO MORE LOSING LISTS, IT’S SEARCHABLE, and no matter where I am I can access or write a note on ANY DEVICE!

Basically, this is how it works for me:
I create a notebook and then I have the options of either putting more notebooks into that notebook (they call it a stack) or creating a note. I like to think of the notebooks as binders and then within each notebook I can create folders for different subtopics and put my notes into each category.

I’ve used Evernote for:

• clipping recipes

• travel (research, itinerary planning, clipping restaurants to go to, routes, hotel information, packing lists)

• to-do lists (and pretty much any other kind of list imaginable)

• planning and drafting blog and newsletter content

• journaling

• making long emails not so overwhelming (Example: If a client has a lot of feedback I’ll take their email and paste it into Evernote. Then I assign check boxes to their different points and check them off one by one so I make sure to resolve each topic/change or respond appropriately.

• general idea collecting and research (Example: I’m working on creating a best practices guide for small businesses/marketer managers on how to work with a designer. Every time I have an idea I write a note. It can be a simple one-liner or it can be a more developed idea where I will write a few paragraphs. Or it could be some article that I want to reference online – you can clip articles!)

And that’s just the beginning. I know that there are so many more things you can do with it that I haven’t even tried. Like setting reminders, sharing with a group, recording audio notes,  taking snapshots, attaching items to your notes… and I’m sure there are many more that I’m not even aware of yet.

But wait, how does it help control my monkey brain?

Here’s what I mean by that:
I tend to have lots of random thoughts. While working on one project I’ll see or be inspired by something that I think would work great for another project. (Or most likely, I’m on social media for business but then get distracted by some kind of delicious recipe that I have to look at right away!) I used to let the distraction take me away from what I was trying to focus on, but now I just write a quick note or save the article with web clipper and then I can put it out of my mind because I know it will be waiting for me later, when I’m ready to work on that project. I don’t really know why this works for me. I guess there’s something about acknowledging the distraction that allows me to not let it take over.

I do still jot down notes by hand. I am still in love with tactile objects – nothing feels better than a good pen and paper. But I sometimes take those notes and put them into an Evernote notebook if I think it’s something I will want to reference later.

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