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Tips to Start a Freelance Business


freelance

How to start a successful freelance business?

One of the widely popular types of employment nowadays is freelance because it allows organizing one’s schedule and simply being your own boss. Those who are willing to start such business, probably already know about all the perks of this carrier. Here are simple steps to take for launching an impressive carrier.

  1. Know What to Achieve

It is better to see and visualize a final goal first of all. You need to be sure in what you want to achieve, whether it is a full-time freelancing or using it as a tool to get to another goal. You can even make a plan of the nearest steps and conduct research regarding the industry you are interested in. it is also extremely essential to find what sphere is interesting for you and focus on it. Do you like writing? Maybe you are into graphic design? Plan out what can you do and what services can you deliver.

  1. Find your Place and Audience

There is always competition and people willing to charge less. It is more efficient to narrow down your specialty to one particular sphere and become an incredible professional in it. Find the right niche for your talents and try to define your target customers. Who are these people or companies? Why do you want to work with them? How can you interest them?

  1. Choose your Path

There are many ideas and opportunities for freelancers. Some of them choose to work for companies as writers or put their information on a platform providing freelancers with clients. However, if you want to build a successful freelance business it is better to work on your own, create a website promoting your services and invest in marketing.

  1. Learn about Taxes

Depending on the governmental requirements there are several things you need to do. First of all, get a license or permit to provide services regarding the legal requirements of your place of residence. Prepare yourself to separate business and private expenses and pay tax quarterly. It is better to know all the legal details and consult on what exactly should you do.

  1. Make an Inspiring Portfolio

When launching a website it is necessary to have examples of what you can do, whether it is article or pieces of design. You need to promote yourself and interest clients in what you can deliver. It might also be necessary to give a word about yourself, create a resume. You can use resume services or look at the examples online. Put an emphasis on the actual experience and the innovations you’ve made.

  1. Set reasonable price

Do not go for the lowest rate, there will always be someone charging lower. Base the price for your services on a quality. And do not too much exposure projects.

 

Freelancing might seem challenging at first, but with reasonable planning and organization, you can achieve all your goals.

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Best Ways To Start Business When You Are A Teen


teenage business

Teenage business

Teens are often considered to be little children. Parents treat them as dependents. However, there are things that teens can do to ensure that they save enough money for themselves. College is certainly not cheap. A student needs to make sure that they have enough money to cater to their needs while at college. With a job, a teen can make enough money to help them survive their first year in college. Remember that just because you are a teen it does not mean that the taxes and other rules of business operation do not apply. This article will ensure that you understand what it takes to start a teenage business and the ways to start your own business.

Etsy

For teens with a creative mind, it is easy for them to take advantage of these characteristics and create something that can be sold. One can make jewelry, candles, edible goods, jam, swag, and even paper goods. These are great because the payment-processing fee at Esty is small and it requires a small listing. The best part is that they offer you payment collection and a complete storefront. To ensure you make maximum profit from the teenage business, you need to find a source of low-cost materials so that the price you charge will cover the production costs and time spent.

Tutor

Instead of looking for speedypaper review, do the essay yourself. That will help you learn as much as you can about the dos and don’ts of essay writing. It will be easier for you to tutor other high school students and help them succeed in their education, at a fee. This is also an excellent way for you to study enough to pass all your exams. Actually, you do not just have to tutor them on their academics, you can teach computer, piano and other instruments or SATs.

Social media consultant

All teenagers today have grown in the internet age. This gives them some serious advantage over the adults. When it comes to understanding the web, search engines, networking and blogging, no one understands it better than teenagers. There are companies who pay good money for people who have expertise in this area. You can make good money as a social media consultant.  If you are unsure about what you need to do, you can always read a blog or a book about it. You can also sign up for a course with Udemy. It is a job you can also do while in college because it is flexible and can be done from anywhere.

Baby sitting

This is one of the great ways to start earning money, especially if you have younger siblings. If you are good at it, you can earn money. The best part about this job is that you do not need to have any start capital. To have an added advantage, you can get some CPR training and a certificate in childcare so you can get all the calls.

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Tips To Grow Your New Personalized Portrait Business For Less


portrait business

30% of new businesses fail within the first two years, according to the Small Business Association. As such, when you’re launching your own personalized portrait business, you need to have solid marketing in place to attract customers. Additionally, you’ll need all the stock and tools required to create an original, quirky, and colorful piece that your customer will treasure forever. But, how do you ensure that you don’t overspend and ruin your growth potential?

Buy Materials in Bulk

Before you even consider launching your personalized portrait business, you should produce a detailed business plan, highlighting how you plan to grow your business and cover your expenses. As part of this plan, you’ll need to thoroughly research how and where you’ll purchase your materials from. In general, buying canvases, paints, and pencils in bulk will save you an average of 45%, according to one wholesaler. However, you mustn’t let the lure of ‘buy more to save more’ tempt you as you’ll have to sell more portraits to make a profit. So, ensure you carefully plan how many portraits you can realistically produce in a three-month period initially, and only buy the materials required to cover this output.

Offer More to Earn More

When you’re starting out in the custom portrait business, it can be tempting to offer customers portraits in standard sizes and formats to keep your costs down. However, customized goods are typically given as gifts, and this presents a great opportunity when you’re keen to get your business off the ground. By offering portrait cards, gifts, gift wrapping, colorful frames, and the option of adding a personalized message to your portrait, your business will stand out from the rest. Of course, this will increase your initial expenses. So, when you’re considering your business costs, you may need to borrow more capital in order to earn more income.

Be Accessible

Customers are prepared to pay high for personalized portraits as a unique and fully customizable design is something you can’t put a price on. But when consumers are sending you images, color swatches, and specific requests, they expect to be able to contact you as and when they need to. It’s, therefore, crucial that you have multiple methods available for them to contact you on. If you’ve met up face to face, handing out a business card is wise, whereas, being active on social media, having an easy-to-use contact form on your website, and an email address is crucial. By providing a good first-time experience, you’re much more likely to get repeat custom, positive reviews, and referrals.

Launching a personal portrait business takes a lot of enthusiasm and investment. But, by being smart with the way you launch your new venture, you can keep costings to a minimum while growing your business at the same time.

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How to Create a Killer Marketing Strategy To Sell Your Art


marketing strategy

One of the biggest challenges in transforming your passion for art into a business is marketing your work. As a creative soul, you are not necessarily naturally talented when it comes to promoting and selling your work. In fact, many creative find this area particularly challenging as it requires skills which are pretty much the opposite of the artistic and creative skill-set.

The good news, however, is that you can learn these skills and teach yourself to be stronger at marketing. Here is a step-by-step guide to developing a marketing strategy for artists, to let you successfully market and sell your art even if this area is not your forte.

  1. Set Goals and Objectives

The first step in developing a marketing strategy for your art is to define your goals and objectives. This will be the foundation of your strategy, because everything you plan to do follows from what you are looking to achieve.

Start by identifying your goals for your business. You goals should be the broad, overall things that you want to achieve. This could be to make a certain amount of money (either a set figure or enough to be financially sustainable, for example), to create a profile as an artist (locally, nationally or internationally), something else, or all of the above.

From there you can work out your objectives, which are the smaller, more concrete things which will bring you closer to achieving your goal. For example, if your goal is to create a public profile as a well-known artist within your area, an objective may be to attract a certain number of followers on social media.

  1. Define Your Audience

An important part of any marketing strategy is your audience. Every business’ audience will be different, and you need to know what yours is, as this defines the marketing methods and tactics you should use.

In order to define your audience think about your ideal customer: this is the person that is most likely to buy your product for the price you are willing to sell it. Your ideal customer will have an interest in your art, and the financial means to be able to buy it. Think about who this person is, down to factors like age, gender, profession and locality.

From there, explore the lifestyle and habits that person is likely to have: do they spend time on social media and if so what platforms? Are they likely to pick up flyers at community events or read the notice board at local cafes or other businesses and which ones? All of this will help you know how to market to them.

  1. Know Your Brand

As important as knowing your customer is, it is equally critical to know who you are. Every business has a brand, and if you are marketing yourself as an independent artist, you are that brand! Your brand expresses who you are as an artist, and how you want people to see you. This is really up to you to decide: your brand could be professional, playful, fun, quirky, traditional, classic, or something else. Whatever you decide, everything you do in your marketing should reflect this essence.

  1. Pick Your eCommerce Platform

These days the easiest way to sell your art is online. You may also choose to sell your art in person, either in combination with online sales or exclusively in store. However, assuming that you do want to sell your art online, you have a few options. There are a number of sites such as UGallery, Saatchi Art and Artfinder, which specialise in selling art from independent artists directly to the public. There are also sites like Ipicasso which specialise in niche types of paintings, as well as more general ecommerce platforms such as Amazon, eBay and Etsy.

Another option is to create your own website and sell your art through there. This option involves more work, both in terms of setting up and maintaining the website, and also in marketing in order to drive traffic to your site (compared to other platforms which already have potential customers using that site). However, the advantage of using your own site is that you will receive 100% of the profits rather than giving a percentage to an ecommerce platform, as well as having full control over the process.

  1. Roll Out Marketing Tactics

Whether selling your art through an online art marketplace, a general ecommerce site, or your own website, you need to promote your work and yourself through marketing tactics in order to attract attention from potential customers. Social media marketing is a highly effective marketing technique for artists, especially Instagram. Because this is a visual medium, it is a great way to show your art to a whole new audience, and build a following which could turn into a customer base.

There are also a number of “ghost marketing” tactics which you can use to subtly drive traffic to your site or ecommerce listing. Ghost marketing’s strategies include SEO (search engine optimisation), digital PR and content marketing. It is a good idea to pick one marketing tactic to start and focus on this. From there, you can skill up in other areas and roll out additional strategies as your business grows.

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How to Handle Tough Clients (And Not Want to Punch Everything)


stress

Business can be stressful, especially when you add agitated or angry customers to the mix. Every once in a while, you’ll come across someone who is particularly vile. Maybe they call you names, refuse to treat you with respect, make lofty claims or refuse to pay for goods and services.

It’s not an easy situation to deal with, but we’ve all been there. The most important thing is to keep your cool in the moment so that you don’t lose yourself and damage the brand’s reputation. It’s almost always true that others are watching — including like-minded clientele — and if you explode, it’s not going to be good for anyone.

I’ve had my fair share of dealings with testy customers, and I’ve discovered many ways to make it through to the other side.

Relax, Don’t Do It

Frankie Goes to Hollywood said it the best: “Relax, don’t do it.” Of course, the song has other connotations when you get further in, but the hook sure fits because first, you need to relax. When emotions are running high, it’s not the time to make split decisions or react to others around you, at least not without calming down. That’s when you make mistakes, which can lead to harsh reactions or responses.

I’m not going to spill some mantra about finding your center, going to a happy place or doing yoga right then and there — although yoga and exercise can help. Instead, I’ll share a few tips that help me calm down in just a few minutes, like a spot treatment. If you’re susceptible to panic attacks like I am, you’ll want to remember these.

  1. Sit Down and Close Your Eyes

The eyes are the window to the soul, or so they say. They’re also the main point of sensory stimulation for your body. By sitting down and closing your eyes for a moment or two, you can give your brain a much-needed break, severing an endless stream of sensory input. That's likely why people who are stressed find comfort in sleeping. Besides feeling great, it also gives them a break from the outside world for a small time. And since some people are more sensitive than others, it definitely helps.

It’s rude to close your eyes without saying a word, of course, so just ask for a moment to compose yourself, then retreat to a remote office or isolated area. Sit for a moment, close your eyes, and let your body simmer down. Your client(s) can wait.

  1. Take Deep Breaths

Breathing exercises are phenomenal for reducing stress and anxiety. Close your eyes, inhale deeply for about three to four seconds — letting your diaphragm expand as much as possible — then exhale for the same amount of time. Take it slow and repeat it as many times as you need to calm your nerves.

  1. Relieve Stress Tension

Lots of people squeeze or play with actual stress balls — they feel and work great. But if you don’t always have one lying around, remember that tennis balls are just as effective. Roll it around in your hand to tighten up and stretch your muscles. Doing so will help to release tension.

  1. Use a Fidget Toy

Fidget spinners are a bit ridiculous to some, but others swear by them. I prefer something a little different. It’s still a toy, mind you, but it plays on the idea of euphoric sensory input. It’s a cube with a variety of buttons, toggles, switches and interactive elements on it. When I’m really stressed, I just palm the toy and play around with it a bit. You can use the same toy or find something different, as there are tons of options for adults.

  1. Try a Music Break

You can’t do it right in front of the customer, but when you get a moment to yourself, return to your desk or personal area and put on some of your favorite music. It’s even better if you get up and move, dancing to the beat. It doesn’t matter whether you’re listening to Beethoven, Five Finger Death Punch or Lady Gaga — just get up and move.

  1. Go for a Walk

If you’re agitated or feel uncontrollable rage, it’s probably best to just get away entirely. It's a good time to take a walk, which will increase your circulation, especially if you’ve been sitting most of the day. Walking also releases a lot of built-up static energy.

Relaxed? Good, let’s move on.

Dealing With Your Tough Clients

Since many different situations can play out — all clients are different — it makes sense to specifically look at what’s happening. For example, what you should do when a client doesn’t pay on time or flat out refuses to collaborate is different from handling a micromanager.

While freelance is one of the most frequent places to find these tough clients (and more), they exist everywhere, even in retail. It helps to know how to deal with them and proceed with your work so that you can stay focused on the finish line.

Keep in mind that sometimes it’s not worth dealing with these clients at all. If you have the power, it may be necessary to cut them loose. If that’s the best option, I’ll point it out first. Don't worry, I've sent many a client packing myself — it's something we all need to do every now and then.

Here are some of the most common troublesome clients and how to deal with them.

1. Clients Who Don't Pay on Time

The client approaches you for your help, you discuss the project and finalize a deal. Everything goes swimmingly until it’s time for the client to pay up. They flat out don’t pay, drag their feet or continue making excuses. In the end, you deserve to be paid for your work, and you invested your time, so what can you do?

  • Always draw up a contract at the beginning of the project and be sure to include a statement about late fees. Absolutely collect the fee when a client doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain.
  • For larger projects, get payment up front, or at least collect a portion of the total compensation.
  • Stop working for the client immediately.
  • Don’t stop contacting them. Continue sending emails, reaching out via direct messages, texting or even calling. The more persistent you are, the more difficult it is for the client to forget or brush you aside.
  • Find other contacts at the company or other forms of contact if you’re getting no response. Sometimes a simple callout on social media can light a fire under their butts.
  • Start factoring right away.
  • If all else fails, seek legal action.

It’s a smart idea to cease future projects with the client even if they pay well. Once they start giving you trouble with payments, it’s time to move on. There are exceptions such as emergencies or major personal events, but that’s up to your discretion.

2. Clients Who Micromanage Too Much

Sometimes, the client thinks they know best — better than you — and will lob an endless swarm of suggestions, requests and comments at you. Incorporate what you can, but remember, they came to you for help. At some point, you’ll need to use your own judgment and experience to decide what happens next. What you know absolutely trumps what a client “thinks” they want — but don’t tell them that!

Don’t placate the client every time. Follow the process that you think is best for the project and its outcome. Politely explain to the customer that you have more experience. If they do not understand or continue to fight you, it may be best to set them free.

3. Clients Who Communicate Poorly

Poor communication is never good. Whether the client is not sharing enough about what they want, sharing too much or being incredibly vague, it can certainly grind a project to a halt. Find ways to meet with the client in person and be specific when you're asking questions or trying to collect ideas. Show them visual examples or past work and try to glean their likes and dislikes as early as possible. Doing so will help you avoid major revisions later.

4. Clients Who Disappear

Poor communication is one thing, but when clients disappear altogether, that’s another. It’s even worse when they’re missing and a big decision needs to be made. That situation can result in your entire team waiting around to complete work or continue.

Of course, you won’t know the client is going to disappear beforehand but get as much information about the project as you can upfront. If you come to a crossroads and they’re not around, move to another part of the project that you do have information about.

5. Clients Who Continually Alter the Project Scope

The client seemed a dream, you’re nearly done with the project and you approach them with what’s ready. Suddenly, they decide the work you put in is not good enough and they want something entirely different. If you continue, you’ll need to go back to the drawing board.

If you made a mistake that caused the change, own up to it. If no mistake was made and they’re just being demanding — which happens more often than I’d like — make it clear that you kept to the original plans and you expect to be compensated. Be firm, be persistent, but don't be rude.

Explain to them that the costs will increase for the new approach and that the work will take longer to complete. If the client cannot understand that changing the scope near completion causes too much extra work — and may even ruin the deadline — it’s not someone you want to be working with long-term anyway.

6. Cheap Clients

I get this all the time in freelance. Clients don’t want to pay my rates and often tell me I either charge too much or have an inflated sense of self-worth. They want to pay an incredibly low price for lots and lots of work. If you’re not careful, they’ll continue to increase the workload as time goes on, but they certainly won’t pay what it’s worth.

If you notice the clients are cheap up front, just walk away. Take a moment to explain that the cost is the cost and you won’t budge. If they can't accept that they have to pay for quality work, they don’t need to be seeking help.

“I can do that in X time so much better!” Great, go do it then, bud.

7. Multi-Team Clients That Cannot Make Decisions Effectively

With larger teams — organizations especially — managers aren’t truly managers, at least when it comes to making decisions. Generally, they have to go through a system of checks and balances. This process means consulting others on their team, including alternate executives. Dealing with these kinds of clients is challenging because getting a straight answer is rarely possible.

Make time at the beginning of the project to sit down with everyone involved, get the appropriate input and collect all the necessary contact information. In some cases, it may be necessary to go right to the source, asking outright what they want or what should be done, as opposed to going up the chain of command one by one.

8. The Clueless Client

The client wants something and may even be specific, but they have absolutely no clue what kind of work, value or time is required to get it done. Maybe they want you to complete an incredibly difficult project in half the time you usually do, or perhaps they’re offering a fraction of the overall cost. Again, this is best left to your discretion. Is the compensation they're offering worth all the trouble? If not, walk away.

I have found that the best approach is to educate the client using industry-specific examples as evidence. Show them your past work and explain how long each project took. Point out the value in your efforts and politely explain why the costs are higher than what they want or why it will take longer. Smart clients will recognize right away that you know what you're talking about.

Remember to Protect Yourself and Your Team

You probably can't afford to turn away every difficult client. Sometimes, even I have to accept the undesirable client to make sure I can pay my bills on time, that’s just the nature of the business. That said, it’s not healthy to build an entire portfolio with these types of clients. Avoid working with them on future projects when you can, especially if they don’t pay, change the scope of the work entirely or remain unsatisfied with your work. Some relationships just aren’t meant to be.

When you're choosing what clients are good to work with, assess the impact on you and your team's health. If they're too difficult and it's going to cause stress for everyone, it may not be worth the trouble.

 

 

 

Lexie is a graphic designer and typography enthusiast. She spends most of her time A/B testing websites and creating style guides. Check out her blog, Design Roast, and follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

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11 Branding Ideas to Keep You Ahead of the Game


brands

Whether you have an existing company or are planning to start your own business, branding strategies are key to surviving a competitive market. Market conditions are constantly fluctuating as every industry continues to get more saturated with more competition. With that growth comes the challenge to make sure your brand and your company stand out and are capable of countering your rivals.

 

Branding initially seems like a simple idea, but it is anything but simple. Branding requires a bit of thought and intention, and more often than not, it can deliver high rewards. Branding is how you create a positive audience perception that establishes trust between you and your customer base. This trust is what keeps people coming back to your brand and that is what you, if not all, businesses desire.

 

Below, we have compiled a list of branding ideas that can keep your brand name ahead of the game.

 

  1. Upgrade Your Logo

 

When you are branding for your company or for a product, you are essentially trying to tell your company’s story, goals, and mission in little to no words and in a very concise and eye-catching design. You do not want people to feel unengaged or take your company as unprofessional because of a dull logo design.

 

Revisit your logo design to see if it is influential and effective at drawing positive attention. How does your logo look on packaging, on merchandise, and on letterheads? Does it look effective on a big billboard? What about on a laptop screen or a small cellphone screen? Could it still be clear if you put it on a moving vehicle? If not, your logo may need a bit of a refresher. Pinterest is a good place to find ways and inspiration on how to spruce up your logo. Play with your design. Maybe your logo is too busy and needs paring back. There is nothing wrong with making good use of white space in your designs. Perhaps, it needs a new color palette. For example, Colourlovers is a great place to find trendy color palettes that fit your brand personality but also draw the consumer’s eye.

 

As the market is always evolving, your logo should tweak and change with it. Whatever you do, your logo should represent the spirit of your brand so strongly that people know immediately who you are at the sight of your logo.

 

  1. Spread Your Logo Everywhere

 

logo

Once you have a logo that is fresh and unique, make sure to use a variety of ways for people to see and interact with it. If you are selling a product, your packaging should be something appealing and memorable. The first thing consumers are drawn to is the packaging and ensuring it matches the tone and personality of your product and company is important in keeping their trust.

 

Get your brand logo printed on business cards, brochures and postcards. First, it is a strong traditional move of professionalism to have business cards and brochures. Also, sometimes the best way to get your brand out there is by putting it right in people’s hands. Having something substantial to hold does bear quite a bit of meaning to people. Websites like MOO and Primoprint are online printing services that can help you get your logo out there.

 

Another great way to get your logo out there is to put your logo on the things you work with every day. Get your logo printed on your office supplies. Seeing your logo on letterheads, coffee mugs, mousepads, pens and pencils, notebooks and more show people that you are in support of your own brand. People are able to trust you when they see how much you back your own name. You should try to be your brand as often as you can because it instills a sense of confidence in yourself and in your brand. Sites like Artik and Avery can make custom office supplies and personalize your letterheads, among other things.

 

  1. Promotional Swag

 

It goes without saying that people really enjoy getting custom swag. As such, promotional products are another great way to spread your brand. T-shirts, keychains, magnets, glasses, water bottles are among some of the things you can get your logo on.

 

An interesting option is lapel pins. Vivipins is a great website where you can order customized lapel pins. Get your logo on these high-quality lapel pins and watch them end up on teenagers backpacks and bags as extra decor. You can also give them to your employees and co-workers as a sign of gratitude as well.

 

Custom swag is an effective way to create a network of people who help create interest in your brand. The people who were your logo will likely share it with other people. Thus, your consumer pool grows. Look at websites like Vistaprint  and Artik to create custom swag for your business.

 

  1. Create a Personalized URL

 

Make your website or brand standout by making a URL that features the name of your brand in the web address. It helps for marketing and search engine optimization so your website or brand name is likely to come up first when searched online rather than getting lost or overlooked.

 

  1. Identify Your Market Archetype

 

In fairytales, fables and parables, archetypes are the character types that we see so often that they become easily recognizable to us. Who knew the same concept would apply in marketing?

 

Now you do not necessarily need to blast this to all of your customers, but even on the marketing playing field, everyone fulfills a type of role. Identifying what role you play in the greater branding narrative, ensures that you create a compelling personality for your brand that users can identify no matter what.

 

  1. Grow Your Social Media Presence

social media

Social media’s importance to how people relate and connect with each other continues to grow each day. In the context of marketing, the very same still applies. You must understand which social media platform is important to your brand. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other sites all have different target audiences. Make sure you are connecting with the right audience for your brand.

 

Instagram is one of the ways brands connect with the younger generations. It can curate the best and most stunning images of your brand more than a paragraph of words can and create a spark of interest in an instant. Images give off moods and suggest a number of things to your audience. As such, you might consider investing in a social media manager or a photographer to capture the best images of your brand. Also, watermark your Instagram pictures with your logo. It will help people associate your high-quality images with your brand name.

 

If having multiple social media accounts is not doing enough for your brand, brand influencers are a good way to go. Brand influencers are social media stars who are connected to your industry. Research who your customers are following. Find the top names on social media, especially those who line up with your mission. An influencer can not only bring more exposure with their large following, but they can also help create a sense of personalization for your brand because if a person’s favorite social media star is using your brand then they gain a sense of trust in you.

 

Custom hashtags are also a great way to grow your social media footprint. Creating a unique hashtag that embraces your company’s mission is a great way to share your brand in an online language that everyone understands and knows how to share.

 

  1. Blogging

 

Blogging is a great way to better engage with an audience about your brand. Blogs usually have a very casual and personal tone, giving them a sense of individuality and personalization that maybe ads or professional articles lack. People flock to blogs because its seems like real people talking to real people. Starting a blog about your brand too will show your audience that you are a professional about your field, and it can unite text and visuals in a great engaging way.

 

  1. Create Brand Videos

 

videos

People have short attention spans so people are more likely to engage more with video content than to read a long post. The world of YouTube has quickly brought video culture to a high where being a youtuber is now a viable career. Not to mention how much of our entertainment consumption is done through videos. Videos on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, it seems like the internet is just a constant loop of videos. Just think about how quickly and easily people are likely to send funny videos over their phones or share it. Now think of how well your brand might do if its brand video was handed the same exposure.

 

Visual media is an immediate form of connection that people can understand and translate faster than reading. Beautiful graphics, illustrations, and vibrant colors present your brand in an engaging way that is easy to access, understand and share.

 

  1. Stay On Trend

 

trends

One great way to stay on track with trends is to ask your customers questions. Issue surveys and get feedback. This shows that you value what your consumers think, and it keeps you updated on what they want to see from you next.

 

On that note, stay on top of what is trendy in the world. Content Gems is a website where you can research different topics and find relevant content based on your particular field of interest of your company. Similarly, Buzzsumo is also a place to discover what people are “buzzing” about online. You can also conduct research on this website to find what people are currently sharing or talking about. It is also a great place to see where your brand falls among trending topics. In another way GoogleAdWords allow you to see relative search keywords that can help you create ads or content that target particular niche markets.

 

  1. Branding Starts At Home

 

As much as your branding efforts has everything to do with your audience, your branding efforts start from within your company. Just as you want to build a trust with your audience, build a trust with your coworkers and employees. They are your first line of action when it comes to branding, and you want to ensure that they are all on the same page as you, ready to not only support your brand but also share their positive experiences with other people. Again, it looks good when real people who work for a company or brand really get behind it.

 

  1. Get Personal With Your Audience

 

People, consumers especially, like to feel valued and wanted. People can tell when they are being sent the same mass correspondence or when they are not being treated as an individual. Give any email correspondences a sense of individuality by signing off them with your name and your logo. People want to feel like they are talking to real people. Whenever it is possible, be personal, warm and friendly with your customers. Allow the opportunity for your customers to want to connect with you and trust you as a friend.

 

Conclusion

 

These are some unique and effective ways to show off your brand to the world. The methods mentioned above strive to not only empower your logo in a competitive market, but they also bring you closer to a strong, trusting audience. Earning and keeping your audience’s trust takes some time so be patient with yourself. It is important to pick the methods that fit best with what you are offering the world. There is no one right way to do it. However, you should always remember that you have plenty of options that work for whatever stage your brand might be at.

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3 Unconventional Tips to Scale Your Freelance Design Business


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It’s a tough world out there for freelance designers. You have to fight off agencies, other freelancers, and increasingly, design tools to get new clients.

Your skills and knowledge can only take you so far; to survive in this hostile, ultra-competitive environment, you need some business hustle and marketing chops.

This is where I come in. In this quick guide, I’ll share 3 tips and tactics you can use to explode your freelance career. Whether you’re a practicing freelancer or looking to start after getting inspired by ColourLovers, you’ll find these tactics more than handy:

 

  1. White-label your services to agencies

Imagine that a client comes into an agency looking for a new website. Halfway through the project, he decides that the company’s current logo is too bland. So he asks the agency to design him a new one.

The trouble is, the agency has never offered logo design services before. But since it doesn’t want to turn away the client to a competitor, it happily agrees, even though it has no clue how it will actually deliver the logo.

This is where you can come in. As a freelance designer, you can “white label” your services to agencies.

White-labelling means that you’ll do the entire creative work, but the agency will take credit for it. In exchange, the agency will give you bulk work without having to deal with the problem of finding and serving clients.

For freelance designers, this is as good as it gets to a guaranteed income. If you can stick to the creative brief, agencies will love to offload their work to you. This is also a great way to build relationships and start creating your own agency.

 

  1. ‘Productize’ your services

Pricing services by the hour is standard practice in the creative industry. For agencies, it has its advantages – they can calculate costs easily, distribute resources across projects, and bill clients quickly.

For freelance designers, however, hourly billing isn’t always the best way to go. By exchanging your time for cash, you essentially limit your income. After all, you can only bill for a maximum of 24 hours in a day.

The solution? ‘Productize’ your services. This means moving away from hourly billing to a fixed-fee model.

In this model, you sell each service (such as logo design) for a fixed-fee. Clients also get a list of “features” with the service (such as 2 revisions or guaranteed 5-day deliver). This effectively turns your service into a ‘product’ that clients can purchase with the click of a button.

Productizing your services offers several benefits:

  • You can scale easily since you’re not limited by the number of hours.
  • Productizing can hide the actual effort involved in delivering a service, allowing you to charge more for less work.
  • Products are easier to sell since there is no lengthy sales process or consultation call.

If you want to scale your income, productization should be high on your priority list.

 

  1. Use project management best practices

Have you ever felt overwhelmed while running a project? Do you regularly lose track of key objectives? Do you struggle to juggle clients and change requests?

If yes, you might be suffering from project mismanagement syndrome.

So many freelancers fall into the trap of focusing so much on their creative craft that they completely neglect the project and business side of things. They use ad-hoc processes to break down complex projects, eyeball project estimates, and use email to keep track of open issues.

This might be fine when you’re working on tiny projects and small clients. But as your practice grows, you’ll realize that neglecting managerial best practices makes it impossible to run complex projects. In fact, you’ll even find that larger clients expect you to know the basics of project management.

While project management is a massive discipline in its own right (the PMP exam requires about 7,500+ hours of active project experience), here are a few things you should know:

  • How to break down complex projects into their constituent deliverables
  • How to develop communication and stakeholder management plans
  • How to create a change management plan to track issues and requests

Refer to this guide to project management to get started. You don’t have to know everything in it (you can skip ‘project management methodologies’, for instance), but even understanding the basics will help you stand out.

 

Conclusion

Being a freelance designer is difficult in this day and age. As much as you’d want to focus on your craft alone, you can’t ignore the importance of knowing business and project management tactics. Follow these three tips to take your freelance design business further than it’s ever gone before.  

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How Colors Change on the Web (or Don’t)

How Colors Change on the Web (or Don’t)


As individuals, we change our colors often. We reflect our inner palettes in what we wear, what we buy, where we cast our gaze. We have the freedom to engage unlimited combinations whenever we see fit.

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But what about the colors of the websites we visit daily? Do websites shift in these same ways, or even at this rate? Over the course of a year we change our color preferences untold times, but looking at how websites evolve over a similar time period indicates something quite different.

I recently examined a representative sample of websites that have gone through a significant redesign in the last year to analyze just how much, if at all, these websites changed in terms of their inner color palettes. These few examples represent a trend I noticed - that some websites have gone through massive shifts in layout, usability, and general structure. In comparing their palettes, however, you don't see such shifting.

In the example of target.com below, you can see that there has been an obvious overhaul of structure, reorganizing the site completely. While there is a subtle increase in a practical implementation of color 'coding' (notably pink to indicate a 'spring' item and brighter link colors), the base of the palette remains the same. This shows that Target knows the importance of evolving functionality (and product) independent of base branding colors.

Another great example of a structural overhaul is bankofamerica.com. Here you can see they've moved to a centered layout and are using a few brighter blues for specific calls to action, but again, the remainder of the palette remains unchanged.

Another website I took a look at was twitter.com, which went through somewhat of a transformation last year. Save for a button color change (for the better) the base of their palette and branding remains the same.

Of particular interest this past year were the transformations undertaken on dennys.com. Around July last year they went with an overhaul not just of structure but of color as well. I don’t think the color portion of the overhaul was that successful, as a look around six months later shows they've reversed their direction. They've gone closer to what they had previous to the saturated yellow look, dialing back to a more traditional food-friendly palette of light tans/browns and creamy whites. Did Denny’s find out how much is too much? Was bright yellow too much of a stretch from what is traditionally a red-dominated industry?

In the case of our recent Purple.us redesign, you can see that we’ve maintained the base of the palette, only adding a select aqua to draw emphasis to the site’s informational hierarchy. Again, you can see how important the core of a palette is to the site’s overall presentation.

It is important to understand that while sites adapt and alter in various ways and degrees, there are some decisions that must be absolutely correct in early stages of development, namely color. Color delineates brand. Color can define a site. Color resonates in the mind of the user, whether they notice or not. Color is vital. If a website requires modifications, initial color choice and primary concepts must be considered just as vital.

Feeling inspired? Find more ideas at Creative Market.

  

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Contemporary Wallpaper Pattern Trends & Inspiration

Contemporary Wallpaper Pattern Trends & Inspiration


Wallpaper of today is definitely not what it used to be with the installation process and the choice of patterns or images available. Ghastly florals and patterns of the past are replaced by reinvented, contemporary florals, patterns and palettes of the present.

This article is presented by InkShuffle.com offering you beautiful Easy Off Wallpaper – perfect for renters. Millions of designs in categories like vintagecityscapes, and room openers.

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We recently published a post about wall stenciling, also a booming trend and a more budget-worthy route than wallpapering, but could also be more work, depending on what you chose to paint. Wallpapering can also almost ensure a very clean, accurate and even more elaborate finished wall as well. At the end of the day, both have their pros and cons like anything else, it's just a matter of budget and preference.

source

I'm falling fast in love with Kreme wallpaper patterns. Very Moroccan-inspired design work with fabulous palettes. The example above is one of their more minimalist designs called, Painted Gate.

"Painted finishes, although great in some spaces, don't equate to the luxury and opulence a few rolls of wallpaper can provide." - Cadee Wilder of Kreme

Sourced from slideshow in Kreme Wallpaper California Collection 2012

Contemporary wallpapers are sometimes so graphically reinforced with such dramatic design work. This type of pattern design is so intricate that paint just couldn't replicate (or could, but with a lot of effort).

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COLOURlovers Interview & Giveaway with Jessica Sprague on The Art of Poster Design

COLOURlovers Interview & Giveaway with Jessica Sprague on The Art of Poster Design


Poster design is a really fun, inexpensive and unique way to explore your creative side. From the 1,000's of fonts, variety of poster sizes, and layouts, sometimes, it's difficult to know where to start!


Once you master your design techniques visit Next Day Flyers for fast poster printing at great prices.

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Today we are interviewing Jessica Sprague, design guru and owner of JessicaSprague.com. In February, Jessica is heading off a four week Poster Design course. She is also giving away not one, but TWO seats to this really awesome class! I couldn't be more excited about the class after taking Jessica's Subway Art class. I'm a busy mom, so I don't have a whole lot of time to join in a live class, which is why I love Jessica's classes- they are self-paced and available forever!

Follow Jessica: Twitter & Facebook

Can you tell us about yourself, how long have you been designing? Teaching? Do you have a job outside of JS.com?

In my former life I was a web & user interface designer for a software company, so I've been designing in some form or another for about 14 years. I started teaching digital scrapbooking, Photoshop, and graphic design in 2007 when I opened  JessicaSprague.com. Since then it is my full-time job, and I love it!

What three (or less) singular colors do you most identify with, why?

My favorite color is green - I love it in almost all of its shades from lime to olive. It's the color of growth and regeneration, of calm energy, of prosperity, learning, balance, and harmony.

If you had to describe yourself [currently] as a five color palette, what colors would they be? Could you provide me with HEX codes so I can create a JS palette for you? :)

I feel like I am a blue, two greens, and a red, coupled with a dark grey. Hex: aed835, d9ea65, 81c9c0, a90c19, a90c19

The greens I've already described. The blue is an ocean representing responsibility, stability, trustworthiness. The red represents fire and emotion, and the dark grey brings some gravity, but also represents the dark that balances the lighter, fresher colors.

Jessica_Sprague

If you could be a shape, what shape would you be? (i.e. a polygon = triangle, hexagon etc...)

I would be a 5-pointed star. :)

 

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