Articles by Month: April 2017
Email etiquette for creatives
We exchange emails with clients and potential sponsors on a daily basis. Sometimes multiple emails in a day. It’s vital that these messages mean what they say and say what they mean. Here is a guide to writing emails that make you look like the professional creative you are.
Ask Google first.
Have a question that you think Google can answer? Definitely check there first. There is nothing more annoying than receiving an email or IM and thinking ‘Why didn’t they just Google this?”
Be positive always.
Avoid using negative verbiage in your email. Make sure that everything has a positive spin to it. No one likes an email that starts with: “Unfortunately…” or “I’m sorry to have to annoy you with this question, but…” Either put a positive spin on it or rethink what you’re sending.
Provide value in return.
When you send an email with a request for value, make sure you’re giving value in return. For example, when reaching out to a possible mentor, asking to pick their brain about everything they’ve learned about business in 30 years, you’ve got to:
– Only offer them something valuable right back and
– Give them an easy way out in case they’re busy or uninterested.
Do not put them in the position where they have to feel rude if they have to/want to say no.
Be a unicorn in a field of horses.
Here’s the thing to keep in mind. Time is currency. I don’t know about you, but I have a constant rush of emails flooding my inbox on any given day and it seems like they never stop. The most refreshing emails that I open are the ones that have a few lines or less…what I like to call the magical unicorn of emails. They get to the point and even better, make my ability to respond a whole lot easier.
– If this is an initial reach out with a sponsor or potential partner: introduce yourself, say hello, who you are, and that you see a synergy between your brand and theirs. Attach some information about what they do and ask that they get in contact with you should they agree.
– If this is your ordinary email and you need something or have a question: ask for it, ask it. Be polite, but leave out the fluff.
Pro tip: Leave your social media links in your signature, so that potential clients or brands can take a look at your work if they’re so inclined. This will reduce the amount of material you have to put in the body itself.
Good luck and happy emailing!
We’re proud to have partnered with OneTree.org to create their new site in conjunction with Earth Day. The One Tree site was created using our Designer Sites platform.
One Tree’s mission is to save the planet, plain and simple. Their goal is to help replace as many of the 15 billion trees cut down each year, 11 billion of which are never replaced. OneTree.org represents the single most ambitious reforestation effort in human history, with the goal of planting one tree per person, per year.
We also developed a certificate generator plugin for their Trees for Moms campaign allowing you to name a tree after your mom. One Tree will plant the tree for her and then send you its exact coordinates on the planet.
Happy Earth Day and congratulations, One Tree!
Adobe Illustrator is a vector drawing tool meaning you can easily create unlimited amazing rasterized artwork or graphics with compromising on ideas and quality. It is an amazing tool that provides with a variety of tools that can help you design logos, mascots or any complex graphics. However, its true potential will be kept hidden unless you really learn how to utilize those tools. At Miami SEO, you will get an absolute training to hone your illustrator skills also providing you with link building services.
Here are some amazing tips that you can use turn your ideas into reality.
1. Get hang of Bezier:
Bezier is one of the trickiest and not the most favorite of most people. However, if you learn the tricks it is the most effective and powerful tool. Manipulating points and curves, click on the conjunction next to pen tool of press keywords Alt/shift. Keep on clicking the curve to make more control points to help you define your figures and turn them into the shape you want.
2. Strokes and paths:
Illustrator automatically strokes your path (if it’s formed using the Pen tool or a shape tool, etc.) with a 1pt black (and by default fills the shape with white if the points are connected). You can easily change the color using the swatches as desired.The small stroke and fill tool underneath the main tool pane lets you swap between the two selected objects.
3. Appearance panel:
If you want to have a quick view of the strokes and effects you have applied you can easily check them on appearance panel anytime. You can also quickly modify the stroke and fill type and color from swatches. If you’ve applied any effect that you want to change then you can easily write its name and click the name of it to go back and twist it. Extremely useful.
4. Easy brushes:
You can easily get natural media effects through illustrator. Illustrator offers a huge range of brush library. You can easily go to the brush panel on the left and apply the desired brush, for instance, you want paint strokes to your lines. Also by double clicking on the brush enables you to edit it which will by default reflect on your illustration.
5. The symbol tool:
Symbols are an easy way of making complex artwork quickly. Imagine you want a flock of birds. Simply draw one bird, then click it and using the Symbols board arrow menu, you can make it into a symbol. Then, select the Symbol Sprayer from the tool panel on the right and spray it around your page.
There are other tools that you can resize your symbols, color or rotate them giving a more natural look to your design or artwork.
6. Easy wrapping:
If you have objects that are looking a little uniform, illustrator provides you with effects tools to warp, roughen, pucker, bloat and normally subtly change their look. Use one or each tool (they are brush-based) to moderately warp and tweak your object. By double-clicking on each tool in the flyout, you can play with the options.
Now that tax money is rolling in (with any hope) we’ve got our eyes on some items that will make our lives as creatives a lot easier. (And more fun.) Here is a round-up of items we’re thinking of purchasing with our tax refunds this year.
What do you have your eye on? Let us know in the comments section.
An interactive sketchpad
There’s nothing better than a traditional sketchpad for getting ideas down and drawings out. But interactive sketchpads are pretty darn cool, in that they can transition your notes to files that you can open in PS or Illustrator in the blink of an eye. Try the: Bamboo Wacom Slate.
Tickets to Weapons of Mass Creation Fest
Weapons of Mass Creation Fest, the premier design, art and music conference in the Midwest, is back for its eighth year! Come to see the ultimate WMC Fest experience, as we’re going back to our roots and celebrating the ideals our grassroots festival was founded upon. There will be TED-X style talks, interactive workshops and panels on topics like battling burnout and how to practice understanding, music, meet-ups, food trucks and bowling, too! Learn all about WMC Fest 8 and buy tickets here. Starting at $85 for the entire weekend.
A new desk set-up
The most people spend the majority of their time is at their desks – well, other than in bed, of course. So, it’s worth it to spend a few bucks to make it comfortable. Try the: Jarvis Standing Desk.
A legit flash drive
I don’t know about you, but I have 17 flash drives floating around my desk, each one on its last leg. It’s about time I grew up and treated myself one that won’t let me down. I have my eye on the: SanDisk 128GB Extreme Pro USB 3.0 Flash Drive.
I attempted, with all my might, to make it down to Creative South this year, but was unable due to several flight cancellations here in Cleveland. While I waited, I was shopping for a new laptop backpack that would have gone really well with my outfit. I feel like I deserve to buy this Mancro bag for myself, even though I don’t have any future travel plans. I think it will cheer me up, though it won’t replace the incredible time I missed.
Subscription to Go Media’s Arsenal
We’d be remiss if we didn’t suggest that you join our Arsenal Army and instantly access our entire product library for only $15 per month, including all of our mockup templates, vectors, textures, tutorials, business resources and more. Learn more here.
A fun new keyboard
Anyone else geek out about keyboards? This is a perfect opportunity to grab one that feels great underneath your fingertips, like this Logitech K380 Multi-Device Bluetooth Keyboard, that comes in several different colors and connects with up to three devices simultaneously.
Okay, I know I am a little late to the game on this, but I have just realized how badly I need a planner. I really miss having a to-do list to create, then check off. I found this pretty serious one by Erin Condren. Looks like I’m going on deep.
A donation to…(fill in the blank)
Whatever organization you feel needs help right now. Because the world needs it. Here are some ideas.
Graphic Designer’s Guide to Pricing
To meet the author and learn more about pricing, contracts, collections and more, attend our design retreat: WMC: Off-The-Grid this October 5 -7th. For more information, head to wmcfest.com
A lot of designers ask us what they should charge for their services. I thought I would share with you some financial lessons I’ve learned while building Cleveland Graphic Design Firm Go Media over the last fifteen years.
And be sure to check out “How to Charge For Your Graphic Design Work (& Get What You Deserve)” – another post by Go Media, for more on this topic!
This article will cover:
What should I charge?
Flat rate or hourly billing?
How can I avoid being stiffed?
Should I have contracts?
Do I need an accountant?
What’s a “Kill Fee”?
How do I send invoices and track sales?
What should I charge?
This largely depends on how skilled you are and how many customers you have. Obviously, when you’re starting out you’ll be charging almost nothing. When Go Media started I was charging flat-rates. For example – I was charging $100 to design a flyer. I would spend two days (20+ hours) doing an elaborate illustration for the flyer. So, basically I was making about $5/hr. This sucks, but I was doing what I loved.
Now obviously, with me
Questions to ask yourself when hiring a freelancer
There are a lot of great freelance designers out there. Whether it is web designer, graphic designer, user experience designer or mobile interface designer. Each has different skill set, expertise and knowledge to offer so you can not hire a graphic designer to do user experience design for you.
With the demand of designers, you need to know exactly what you are looking for to find the best candidate for you. You can’t just invite applicants to interview for the position because you might just end up wasting your time or the time of the applicant.
In that sense, you should have a guided list to know beforehand you decide to look for a freelance designer.
Here are our questions to ask yourself when hiring a freelancer:
What do you need?
This is a very straightforward question. You can answer it yourself but there are still some areas you need to look into to qualify what you need. For example, you need someone with related experience working on the project you will assign to the freelance designer.
This is very important to identify before you invite to interview your applicants for the position to know the following:
- What interview questions you will prepare
- How much salary range you will offer
- Work expectations from the freelance designer
Once you have identified this qualification, you will be able to separate the experienced or inexperienced freelance designers to apply for the position.
How much can you give?
Some freelance designers often charge higher than the others. You need to specify the range of compensation you are willing to offer for the position before you hire someone. If you fail to do this, your offer might end up being rejected by the designer you desired to hire for the position.
Unfortunately, the whole application process will be put into waste before you know it. This is a matter of prediction versus expectation. You can’t hire someone with excellent work experience and offer a small rate of compensation because they already know how much their worth.
If you are going to hire experienced freelance designers, you should meet their standard rates before you attempt to contact them. Some freelance designers provide a list of price for the service they offer so this can give you an idea of how much you should be budgeting to hire a freelancer.
How long is your timeframe?
This separates the inexperienced and experienced candidates. If you have a deadline for the project you are working on. You should expect to hire the one with excellent designing experience because the possibilities of making revisions on the output of your designers.
While revisions are inevitable, the is a high difference between work of experienced with inexperienced freelance designers.
One given difference is experienced designers have completed several projects already and they already know what they are doing such as the can easily follow a given instructions with good design humor.
Compare to inexperienced designers, you can expect to get the work done but there is a possibility that you might need to do some quick fix on the output which does not qualify with the time sensitivity of the project.
Do you have time to train?
Another important ask yourself is do you have time to train? If you are hiring a freelance designer to help you do the job, probably you don’t have the time. However, if you have a very limited budget, you can offer the job to an inexperienced candidate and offer to train as added benefit.
This may not be very ideal but if you are looking to save for other expenses, this might be a good tactic to help you find the person you will train with low compensation rate. But you can also save time training by giving document such as Adobe CC cheat sheets.
Do you have time to explain?
This is for both experienced and inexperienced candidates. You will have to do this otherwise. If you hire someone with an excellent experience related for the job, you might just give a documented guidelines to follow throughout the project timeframe.
For example, you can use project management platforms such as Basecamp or Trello to assign the tasks divided into pieces. By doing this approach, you can minimize the time explaining to your freelance designer of what output you are expecting to see because of the work schedule outline on the platforms.
There is a difference between hiring a fulltime employee or hiring a freelancer. But one thing is for sure. You can’t afford to hire the wrong person for the job. No matter what position or status of employment there is to it, you should be know from the beginning who to interview, how much to give and expectations from the people you’ll hire.
Wood Texture Freebie
Join us on Thursdays, when your friends here at the Arsenal take over the Go Media blog to share insights, tips, freebies or other fun to brighten your work day.
Today we’re releasing seven free wood textures for your use in any personal project. Enjoy!
Love our products? Access our huge product library ($11k in resources) and exclusive content for only $15/mth. Yes, seriously. Learn more now.
Here’s what you get:
Have a great day, everyone!