How to Run a More Productive and Efficient Tech Company

You’ve heard it said that time is money, and this is particularly true when running a tech company. The more productive and efficient your company becomes, the better you’ll fare in this highly competitive field.

Some of the big tech giants, such as Apple and Google, run companies that are about 40 percent more efficient. Over time, this results in more profit and these companies edging out the competition. Fortunately, you can repeat their success by adopting some of their tactics, as well as a few other smart business standards.

1. Group “A” Players Together

Every company has a few stars in their employee pool. These are the people who are the go-getters. They have ideas, and they make things happen. They likely graduated near the top of their class, have internship experience and a passion for what they do.

In most companies, these “A” players are put into various roles throughout the company, working with all different levels, including employees not performing well. However, at Google, the “A” players are put on the same team and allowed to work together to accomplish amazing things. Not only does this spur on the others in the “A” group, but other groups look to them for inspiration.

2. Get Rid of Processes That Slow Things Down

Every company has certain processes that are cumbersome. Sometimes these processes are well intended, such as keeping management in the loop about important decisions or limiting how much money executives can spend.

Companies lose about 25 percent of their productivity to organizational processes that prevent work from getting down. People have to stop and get permission or are unable to complete a task because of all the rules in place. Even though rules protect your company, also include a way around the rules when it’s in the best interest of moving your business forward.

3. Improve Your Company Culture

A strong, positive company culture does several things for your business. First, it promotes a spirit of teamwork. If Manager A isn’t quite sure how to complete a big project, he will feel much more comfortable consulting Manager B if he knows that person well and has participated in teambuilding activities.

Reward hard work and good attitude, and your employees will lose their fear. Celebrate small and big successes together. Keep everyone on the same page with short meetings every morning. All these little things add up to a company culture that teaches employees to thrive instead of simply survive.

4. Audit Your Program

Some industries rely heavily on high quality and remaining competitive, such as aviation. Take the time for a program audit and figure out how you can improve various processes as well as decrease costs. A good audit will also identify ways to move forward and give you a solid plan of action for the future.

Audits have other benefits as well, such as opening up new business ideas, improving quality control and finding issues in the supply chain. An audit isn’t a one-time occurrence, though. A thorough audit should be done at least every year or two.

5. Automate Tasks

Take the time to really look at your business and what tasks require hands-on work and which ones could potentially be automated. If you require employees to file lengthy reports, is there a way to generate the report more quickly or shorten it the process?

The more tasks you can automate, the more time you free up for your best employees to innovate. In a tech company, you can easily automate and outsource customer service tasks. Just make sure the service is still up to your standards. This frees resources you can then point toward creating new products.

6. Stop the Multitasking

Multiple studies show that multitasking is not efficient and actually lowers productivity. Most people simply can’t multitask. Instead, their brains are moving from one task to the other, bouncing back and forth rapidly, but losing momentum in the process. A very small 2.5 percent of people can multitask with any success. That means the rest of us are just spinning our wheels.

Encourage your employees to focus on one task at a time instead of trying to do multiple things at once. Stress the importance of this and share the studies with your workers. Create a company culture that rewards focus rather than quantity of tasks completed in a day.

7. Ban Unplanned Short Meetings

One of the biggest time-wasters in many workers’ days is the “hey, do you have a minute or two?” meeting. This is when someone has a question and they pop over to the other worker’s desk and ask a few questions. The person’s work is interrupted and it takes several minutes to get back into the flow of what they were doing.

Encourage people to shoot out an email instead that the person can answer at a later time. Few things are as urgent as they seem. Teach employees to figure out the difference between urgent and important and to keep unplanned meetings for only those tasks that truly are urgent.

8. Engage Employees

Investing just 10 percent more in employee engagement improves your bottom-line revenue by about $2,400 annually per engaged employee. What are some ways to engage employees, though? First, cultivate leaders in your company. A strong leader can inspire employees and will make them feel part of the team.

You should also allow an open forum where employees present their ideas, reward the effort and provide plenty of team building and company teamwork opportunities. Reserve one day a month for mini-retreats and one day a week for recognizing stellar work and effort.

9. Seek New Tools

When it comes to running your business on a day-to-day basis, embrace new software and tools. More and more people use Instagram today. Is your marketing department focused on an Instagram presence? Does your target audience live there?

Don’t be afraid to try a new tool, new way to promote your business or new software. A tech company should be on the cutting edge of new innovation more so than other types of businesses. You can always return to the old way of doing things if needed.

Successful Tech Companies

The most successful tech companies start with innovation and a unique outlook on the world and never stop innovating. Apple didn’t just create a smartphone and leave it at that. Instead, the company constantly releases new updates and phones with better features. If you want your tech company to be the next Google, or even just successful in your own little corner of the world, you must open your eyes and mind to doing things differently and encourage your employees to do the same.

5 Best Time Tracking Tools in 2018

Over the past couple of years, time tracking has become a big deal, as it very well should be. Though we’ve had these capabilities for quite a while, neither freelancers nor clients used the practicality of time tracking tools quite as much as they should have, often opening the way to invoice disputes and freelance time management issues.

These days, there are so many time tracking tools available that it’s become difficult to pick one. We took a look at what’s available on the market and picked our favorite apps, based on various freelancing needs.

Time Tracking Tools 2018

Toggl

Though this list is in no particular order, we had to include Toggl somewhere on it. Toggl has become one of the most popular time trackers for freelancers in recent years and it’s obvious to see why. The tool is available for almost all platforms and is very easy to use, although it isn’t a good choice for managing large teams or freelance designers working on various devices at once. Toggle does offer these options, but there are more competitive choices in that range today.

The upside is that Toggl offers plenty of options in its free version for small freelancers or those just getting started. For those working with larger teams or who have more projects to toggle than they can count off the top of their head, the full package paid version of this time tracking app may be the best choice.

Hubstaff

Speaking of teams and robust time tracking tools created for managing more complex projects and teams, Hubstaff has it all covered. This extensive tool is much more than just a time tracking app and includes screenshots, activity levels, setting of limits for each team member and project, GPS and location, invoicing, and even a payroll system that allows team leaders to pay freelancers with just one click when all is said and done.

Obviously, this is a tool for top tier freelancers or small agencies who manage entire teams of freelance designers. As further proof that Hubstaff was built with growing teams in mind, one of its best features is the scalable pricing they offer, including the option to make users active or inactive – and pay accordingly – making freelance time management incredibly easy for project managers.   

Upwork Desktop App

Instead of randomly listing just any time tracking tools available, we’re making another exception on this list, to include time management tips for freelancers and remote team project managers. The Upwork Desktop App is, needless to say, exclusively linked to Upwork, the most popular freelancing network today. The platform’s time tracking and work diary features are also exactly what has made it so popular, creating trust for employers and ensuring that freelancers get paid.

Getting paid once a job is done is a plague that freelancers have had to deal with forever. Using time tracking tools for bothe time management and to record work hours is essential, but adding a system in which getting paid is almost guaranteed turns it into a full package deal. Using Upwork is highly recommended for freelancers who are just getting started, along with all of its tools and its time tracking desktop app.

Qbserve

Qbserve, an automatic time tracker for Mac that includes team management and invoicing, is a more recent favorite and a dream come true for busy design pros and freelancers of all types. Typically, busy freelancers will forget to turn on their time trackers or switch between projects, while time management at work or in the home office becomes more important than ever. And that’s just if the freelancers are working independently. Add a team to all of those projects and busy schedule, and things really turn into a nightmare.

The team behind Qbserve seems to have thought of everything and provided a solution to it. Qbserve keeps track of activities on a Mac and provides constant feedback on productivity, helping freelancers and remote teams to develop better work and time management habits. It can also automatically generate invoices based on data, along with a slew of other settings that can be adjusted for design freelancers who want to focus more on work and less on managing stuff and typing up reports and invoices.

Timely

Less a time tracking tool and more of an all around time management tracker, Timely links directly to your calendar and planned events to help attain an overview of your work hours, downtime and everything else going on. Essentially, your schedule becomes your time tracker.

In this app that combines scheduling and time tracking in one place, freelancers can use their calendar and the app to out different times of your day to work on different projects, then use the app to pick a project or task, start the timer and get to work. Obviously, this isn’t a tool for managing remote teams, but for the individual freelancer, it literally allows designers to see which hours made money and which went to waste.

Hope you find these tools! You may also like our post on Must-Have Tools for Digital Marketers

How to Take Your Inbox to Zero

How to Take Your Inbox to Zero

A Designer’s Guide to Pricing

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?
Avoiding “Busters”
Do I need an accountant?
What’s a “Kill Fee”?
Pitching.
How do I send invoices and track sales?

What should I charge?

hi_fi_by_gomedia.jpgThis 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

Chrome Extensions We’re Addicted To Lately

Here at Go Media, we’re all running on Google Chrome and rely on lots of extensions to make our days a lot more productive (and fun). Here are some of our favorites. Have any to share with us? Please do in the comments section below!

Best Chrome Extensions 2017

Awesome Screenshot – screen capture for all or part of any web page. Add annotations, comments, blur sensative info, and share with one-click uploads.

Clear Cache – Clear your cashe and browsing data with a single click of a button.

Colorzilla – Advanced eyedropper, color picker, gradient generator and other colorful goodies

DO IT! Add Shia LeBeouf on web pages! He delivers the most intense motivational speech of all-time.

Drag: Transforms your Gmail into organized task lists

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Eye Dropper – an open source extension which allows you to pick colors from web pages, color picker and your personal color history

Google Keep – Easily save the things you care about to Keep and have them synced across the platforms you use.

Best Chrome Extensions 2017

Hootlet – Post to multiple social networks with one click, saving time and extending your reach.

Jot – Quick note taking extension to replace the new tab page.

Best Chrome Extensions 2017

Muzli 2 – Stay Inspired – the freshest links about design and interactive, from around the web. A designer’s must!

Page Analytics (by Google) – The Page Analytics Chrome Extension allows you to see how customers interact with your web pages.

Panel View for Google Keep – This extension serves as a shortcut to keep.google.com, but also much more.

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Rather Nice – Receive a wonderful compliment, each and every time you open a new tab in Chrome

Sortd Smart Skin for Gmail – Effortlessly organize emails and tasks in a simple Gmail workspace

Tracking Time – enhance your preferred web project manager with the time tracker button, track working times and get automatic timesheets

Tupacsum – a lorem ipsum generator for the web designer that keeps it real

font

WhatFont – the easiest way to identify fonts on web pages

Window Resizer – resize browser window to emulate various screen resolutions

WiseStamp – Email Signatures for Gmail

…how about you?

5 Ways You’re Screwing Yourself

Productivity Tips for Designers:
5 Ways You’re Screwing Yourself

No one is perfect, not even the graphic designers here at Go Media. Faults are what makes us human, after all. But there are definitely some things that we do to ourselves that we definitely don’t need to and being able to stop these thoughts or habits in their tracks will make us better designers and will help us to stop being a jerk to ourselves.

1. Procrastination

Everyone procrastinates. It’s a fact of life. But it seems that creatives procrastinate more than others, and it’s probably due to overactive imaginations. Creatives tend to dream up situations in which what they need to do will somehow go negatively. Putting it off or not doing it altogether seems like a better option than having a negative experience.

It’s difficult to give up a habit that seems to get you what you want now. Procrastination is almost like instant gratification, which is way better versus the long term satisfaction of not having a burden on your shoulders in a procrastinator’s eyes. You think, “I have a ton of time to do that. I’ll definitely be able to get this project done in the amount of time that I’ll leave myself to complete this project,” which typically, is pretty optimistic.

But what does procrastinating really get you? Stress, anxiety, loss of sleep, and you’re being a jerk to yourself. If you don’t feel like doing something and you put it off to tomorrow, it’s almost like you’re thinking that tomorrow it won’t necessarily be you that will be doing it, but someone else. You’re expecting the tomorrow you to clean up your mess, do your homework, and get that project done.

But is tomorrow you really that different from today you? Will a night of rest really be all that you need to motivate yourself to do what needs to be done?

Giving up procrastination is easier said than done, especially if you’re surrounded by other procrastinators.

Some tips:

  • Don’t give in to your own excuses, and don’t let other people help you in those excuses, either.
  • Reward yourself when you complete your task; the thing that you’re using to put off the job at hand is a good start for a reward. Or, you could even reward yourself with something from the Go Media Arsenal.
  • Change your negative thoughts with positive ones on future happenings; there’s a 50% chance of things going wrong, but there is a 50% chance of things going well, too. Why not focus on the positive thing that might happen instead of the bad?

2. Not Getting Enough Sleep

Sleeping isn’t what it used to be. Before it was a societal norm for people to have to report to a job, most people slept in intervals. People would go to sleep when the sun would go down, go through a REM cycle, wake up, maybe read a book, then go back to bed and wake with the sun. It wasn’t uncommon or seen as a problem if you didn’t sleep through the night. I’m sure many of the designers at Cleveland Design Firm Go Media do this on the weekend!

In fact, some highly creative and intelligent people didn’t even get a full 8 hours of sleep. Leonard Da Vinci followed the Uberman sleep cycle in which he would take 20 minute naps every 4 hours, equating to 2 hours of sleep per day.

But that’s not how we sleep now, and many people seem to have trouble having a restful night sleep.

It’s easy to think that you’ll catch up on sleep later. Unfortunately, that’s not how sleep works. Once you lose sleep in a 24 hour period, you don’t “catch up” on it. The effects are felt, and oversleeping won’t help you fix it. Essentially, you’re just screwing yourself out of sleep.

Some tips:

  • Go to sleep the same time every night; yes, even on the weekends, if you can. This way, you develop a healthy sleep pattern and can fall asleep around the same time every night.
  • Avoid electronics an hour before bedtime. The light from electronics can sometimes mimic morning light which forces your body to stay awake.
  • Create a habit that you only do right before bed, such as reading a certain book or doing a certain activity. Your body will start to get sleepy when you keep up the habit.

3. Talking to Yourself Negatively

You believe the things that you say to yourself, especially if you say them to yourself all the time. But do you remember where those things that you think about yourself came from? A majority of the time, you weren’t the first person to tell yourself the negative thoughts that you put in your head. There’s a difference between knowing what your faults are and actively trying to fix them, and bashing yourself down for things that probably aren’t even faults. Talking yourself down isn’t necessarily the first or healthiest step you should take in becoming a better and well-rounded person and graphic designer.

What are some of the things that you say to yourself on a regular basis? If a friend were to say those things to you as often as you said them to yourself, how long would you stay friends with them?

If we don’t want our friends to talk to us in this fashion, then why do we allow ourselves to drag us down? It probably has a lot to do with habits that we learned from adults as we were growing up, or other people’s comments that we’ve heard over the years. Either way, those negative pep talks that you give yourself aren’t making you more humble or perform better. You’re just bringing yourself undue stress and anxiety for thoughts that probably had nothing to do with you in the first place, and what a jerky thing to do to yourself.

Some tips:

  • Talk back to your negative thoughts with positive back talk. If you talk back to your thoughts, you can almost personify it into something apart from yourself. At first, it might be difficult to come up with things to say back to your negative voice, but after some practice, you’ll be able to talk it down to the point where the negative voice no longer has anything to say.
  • Be kind and generous. If you do good actions and say good things, typically, that makes you a good person. If you’re actively pursuing being a good person, negative thoughts about yourself are easier to push aside or ignore.
  • Be grateful. Instead of focusing on things that you can’t do, focus on things that you’re grateful for. With gratitude, a general sense of positivity follows. Keeping track of things that you’re grateful for can also make it easier for you to combat negative thoughts about yourself that can come your way.

4. Not Practicing Enough

You’ve heard the old adage, “Practice makes perfect.” There’s a reason that people say it, especially among creatives. If you don’t practice your craft, you’re likely to lose it, and if you’re making a career out of your creativity, it’s something you need to keep up. I’m sure you’ve also heard that to be considered an expert at something typically takes 10,000 hours or 5 years doing it full time. Luckily, that isn’t necessarily true. Psychologists haven’t actually been able to agree on broken down numbers or time spent on an activity to be considered an expert.

But, practicing does needs to be deliberate. If you’re going to practice something, you need to be sure you’re practicing the right habits, or you won’t be able to move past your current skill level. So why wouldn’t you?

Some tips:

  • Take 15 minutes a day to brush up on something you need to get better at. A quick 15 minute sketch can help you place what you need to work on.
  • Ask for some help or critique. Sometimes we just go on our merry way without getting input from others, but asking for an honest critique and being able to take that critique can open you up to things that you might not have realized you were lacking in.
  • Ask others how they practice or what they think they need improvement on. This is a good practice because people are more likely to be more honest on things they can improve upon and ways to do it than if you’re strictly asking for feedback on something you’ve done. A good place to start is with the Go Media Arsenal’s video tutorial section.

5. Not Trying New Things

A creative’s career, especially a graphic designer’s career, depends on staying current. Knowing trends, the newest tricks, the best ways to get peoples’ attention now, are all skills that we need to constantly keep updated. Along with practicing our skills, we need to learn new ones.

But it’s so easy to just come home, be lazy, go out, relax. And we all know, procrastination is easy for us creatives. Now, don’t get me wrong, relaxing is a necessary part of being healthy and happy, but, learning new skills keeps your brain young, and can help you to live longer. Learning new skills can have a huge impact on things that you don’t even realize; you can adapt to your career, help your self-confidence, decision making, and much more. So really, new skills don’t have a downside.

Some tips:

  • Read and/or watch a tutorial once a week on something you don’t know. Ohio branding company Go Media has plenty of tutorials that you should take a look at!
  • Take a class on something that you don’t know anything about. There are plenty of discount or coupon sites that can help you find classes on things such as glass blowing or even beer education.
  • Ask someone you know to teach you something that they know. It’s a great way to bond with people by creating a common interest and shows interest in them as a person. Plus, it’s free!

If you follow even some of these tips, you’ll be well on your way to stop screwing yourself.

benefits to waking up early

11 Ways Artists and Designers Can Benefit from Waking Up Early

Jeff Finley’s (VP of Cleveland Web Design firm, Go Media) new book Wake Up: The Morning Routine That Will Change Your Life comes out Tuesday, April 14. In anticipation for the big release, here are 11 ways artists and designers can benefit from waking up early every day.

  1. Time to Draw

    Finally, give yourself some quiet time to draw and let your right brain do the work. This is especially convenient that you can start drawing immediately after you wake up from some vivid dreams. Before you get started with the left-brain, logic oriented work-day, start off the day illustrating your dreams and imagination!

  2. Uninterrupted Time Without Distractions

    As creatives, we flourish when we are left alone to focus intently on our work. What better way than to get out of bed before everyone else and tackle that difficult task without anybody bothering you. Don’t forget to turn off distractions like email, social media, or wi-fi!

  3. The Sunrise is Beautiful

    Take time to bask in the beauty of the planet. Sip your coffee or tea as you watch the sunrise without any pressure to rush off to work. Realize that this happens every single day and you’re missing out most of the time. As artists, we are especially attuned to recognizing beauty and letting it inspire our work. Start the day off by breathing in some fresh air and watching mother nature wake up.

  4. Get Your Exercise Out of the Way

    If you’re like me, exercising doesn’t make it high up our priority lists. I’d rather be making music or working on my creative projects. However, waking up early lets you get your workout in early so you don’t have to think about it for the rest of the day. I found myself enjoying yoga in the mornings as it went well with my other morning routine habits like meditation and journaling.

  5. Reflect on Your Life

    The mornings are a wonderful time to reflect on your life. Are you on track to your goals? Are you happy with where your life is headed or are you spinning out of control? Do you like your job? The habit of journaling is one that has allowed me to become a better writer and pave the way for realizations, aha moments, and astonishing life lessons. I use Day One app for Mac to write in my journals and I’ve logged over 1,000 entires since I started two years ago.

  6. Reduce Stress and Anxiety

    Waking up early sets the tone for the rest of the day. Not only do you get more done, which allows you to feel more at ease the rest of the day, but the early mornings are calmer and more peaceful. Combine this with mindfulness meditation, I recommend 5-10 minutes per day, and you will notice more clarity and inner peace throughout your day.

  7. Establish a Morning Ritual

    One of the best parts of waking up early is creating your own morning ritual. What does your ideal morning look like? Here’s mine. What activities would you do? Would you wake up and check your email right away? Would you make a big breakfast? Go for a walk, ride your bike, meditate, write in your journal, plan the trip of a lifetime? Use your mornings as a launch pad to creating the life of your dreams.

  8. Stop Procrastinating

    The mornings are often the most predictable parts of our day. Look at your current morning routine, you probably do the same stuff day in and day out. If you woke up early, you could add a 90 minute distraction-free focus block to work on your important projects. Finally finish your website that you’ve been putting off! I’ve notice that I get more done when I tackle the important stuff right away before I check email or social media. Check out my 2 hour podcast episode on Procrastination!

  9. Be More Productive

    When you’re not procrastinating, you’re being more productive. Combine this with silence and eliminating distractions and you’ll be getting more done before 8 AM than most people do during an entire day. Spend the morning taking action on your biggest goals and aspirations.

  10. Discover Your True Self

    One of the most life-changing results of my wake up early habit was the discovery of my true self. In other words, I woke up to a deeper sense of meaning and purpose in my life after practicing meditation, journaling, and yoga combined with my voracious appetite for learning – a whole new world opened up. Waking up early can help you begin a path to self-discovery and self-mastery.

  11. Learn Anything You Want

    When you’re up early enjoying the sunrise and sitting in silence, why not read those books you’ve been putting off? I think I read something like 30+ books during the my first year waking up early. It was insane! I also listened to audiobooks and podcasts while I worked out or took walks in my neighborhood. Follow your curiosity, what do you want to learn that you’ve been waiting for “the right time” to learn? Practice your guitar, learn a language, watch 100 documentaries, etc. You get the idea!

Bonus: 12 Get into Lucid Dreaming or Astral Travel

This is a personal favorite of mine. If you start waking up early and keep a dream journal, you increase your chances of having lucid dreams, out of body experiences, or astral projections. Say what? If you don’t know what this is, I’ll let you look it up. I had my first out of body experience by accident. It got me totally hooked on the topic! As creative types, we have a proclivity to explore the dream realm. If this resonates with you, I really encourage you to follow your curiosity here!

Are You Ready to Wake Up Early?

That’s 12 ways you can benefit from waking up early. What if you woke up early for a week straight? Or a month? Or a year!? Imagine what you would get done or how your life would be different? I woke up early for a whole year and it drastically changed my life!

Jeff Finley’s new book ‘Wake Up: The Morning Routine That Will Change Your Life’ comes out April 14th. It will teach you how to establish the wake-up-early habit for yourself, build the perfect morning routine, and help you begin your path to self-discovery and self-mastery. Look for it on his website MakerMistaker.com or on Amazon.

How to Become a Master Typographer

How to Learn Typography:
a Quick Guide by Your Friends at Go Media, the source for website services in Cleveland

Welcome to the Go Media’s Zine!

Are you a passionate creative, student, designer, entrepreneur?

You’re in the right place.

Inside you’ll find the tools you’ll need to successfully do what you love. We’ll share real-world practical advice, solid business techniques, step-by-step tutorials, as well as educational podcasts and webinars to take you to the next level.

We give all of our secrets away and cultivate an open environment for the sharing of insights and inspiration.

Join us.

When you’re ready, we would also love for you to be a part of our community. Please comment on posts, become an active member of our social media community and/or email to find out ways you can contribute your own designs or tutorials to the GoMediaZine.

Quick Guides

With hundreds of posts in our archives sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin. Our Start Here page is a great place to get started. This page holds 7 quick guides to becoming the creative you’ve always dreamed you’d be. You’ve landed on one of these lists so let’s get started, shall we? Read on to learn how you can:

Become a Master Typographer:

1. Become a Master Typographer: How to Choose the Perfect Typeface
2. Become a Master Typographer: 19 Expert Secrets to Creating Custom Lettering
3. Become a Master Typographer: Pro Tips – Making and Breaking the Rules
4. Become a Master Typographer: Playing with your Food (And Other Ways to Get Creative with Type)
5. 100 Top Resources for Typography and Hand-Lettering
6. Typography Shortcuts: ‘Custom’ Type Treatments for the Lazy Designer

Rules of Graphic Design

Become a Master Graphic Designer in 7 Easy Steps

Rules of Graphic Design:
a Quick Guide by Your Friends at Go Media, Cleveland’s best website design company

Welcome to the Go Media’s Zine!

Are you a passionate creative, student, designer, entrepreneur?

You’re in the right place.

Inside you’ll find the tools you’ll need to successfully do what you love. We’ll share real-world practical advice, solid business techniques, step-by-step tutorials, as well as educational podcasts and webinars to take you to the next level.

We give all of our secrets away and cultivate an open environment for the sharing of insights and inspiration.

Join us.

When you’re ready, we would also love for you to be a part of our community. Please comment on posts, become an active member of our social media community and/or email to find out ways you can contribute your own designs or tutorials to the GoMediaZine.

Here are our Rules of Graphic Design:

With hundreds of posts in our archives sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin. Our Start Here page is a great place to get started. This page holds 7 quick guides to becoming the creative you’ve always dreamed you’d be. You’ve landed on one of these lists so let’s get started, shall we? Read on to learn how you can:
Become a Better Designer in 7 easy steps.

1. Become a Master Designer: Rule One: Limit Your Fonts
2. Become a Master Designer: Rule Two: Limit Your Colors
3. Become a Master Designer: Rule Three: Contrast, Contrast, Contrast
4. Become a Master Designer: Rule Four: Spacing Is Your Friend
5. Become a Master Designer: Rule Five: Add depth to your designs.
6. Become a Master Designer: Rule Six: Motion
7. Become a Master Designer: Rule Seven: Putting it all together.

New Designer and Developer Resources – August 2014

At Go Media, I’m a front-end developer, a podcaster, a content creator, a designer, and a maker. Just like you, I like to wear a lot of hats and I like to keep up on the current trends, tools, and resources that hit my inbox and Feedly every day. Almost once a week, I sign up to be a beta tester for a new app, or install a new extension to see if it betters my productivity on certain tasks. When I find something awesome, I share it with various members of our team, depending on what issues it’s solving.

And, I figured it might be time to share that with you as well.

This Month’s Resources

Here’s what I found this month (and earlier, since this is the first edition) that has helped me in my daily work, both in and out of the office.

Twibble

twibble

Twibble is a new service that allows you to hook up any RSS feed and tweet new posts from it. While I haven’t quite worked this into my work at Go Media, I’ve been using it for another podcast I run. Any time we release a new YouTube video, a new podcast, or post on our Facebook page, we can promote it on a schedule to our Twitter account. Now we can keep active, and keep our followers on Twitter aware of all the content we’re producing, without the “manual labor”.

My Current Favorite IFTTT Recipe

I LOVE IFTTT! I use it to transfer “saved for later” articles in my Feedly to my Gmail. I use it to push content I’m creating to a Buffer’s distribution schedule. I’m using it to send me an email reminder every Thursday to move $50 into a “for a rainy day” checking account. And, I also use it to push content to WordPress and our Tumblr blog.

ifttt

But, a huge bottleneck in my routine is trying to also keep a growing Facebook Group I help run active. Since I do most of my reading on my phone, and the Facebook app has it’s limitations, I couldn’t easily do that. In comes IFTTT and this recipe. I can share a story (either from our own feed or from other sites we’re reading) from Feedly to Pocket. That story is then collected by IFTTT and pushed to the Facebook Group. Now, I can start a conversation with the community without skipping a beat.

Being More Productive With Ambient Noise

We talked about the topic of ambient noise with Donald Wooten at WMC Fest 5, which you can hear on Go Media Podcast Episode 26. Ambient noise has added to music over the last 10-15 years to make it feel more authentic. A lot of us add noise to our daily lives so that we get distracted less while working.

But for me, I layer ambient noise behind music I stream over Spotify. It gives me a constant sound and keeps me moving because I’m not waiting for a song to end. Most of the time, I get so focused that I lose track of the transitions. 2 hours later, it’s hard to tell how many different songs, different styles, or different artists I’ve listened to. Or, if my playlist ended while I was so far in the zone that I missed it.

ambient-noise

Coffitivity

The main source I use is Coffitivity. It started off just as a long, streaming mp3 of background noise from a coffee shop. You’d hear the low murmur of people talking, cups hitting the table, and spoons dropping into the bottom of mugs. They’ve also added more options, from low murmurs to bustling chatter of a lunchtime rush, to the sounds of students on campus.

Elmnts

Another Ambient Noise maker has entered the scene and it’s a Chrome plugin that works offline.

Elmnts is an elegant ambient sound generator for improving focus and calm. Whether you’re studying, working, or just relaxing, the sounds of the elements make everything better. Works offline, so you don’t have to load a website to hear these high quality sounds, they’re yours to listen to anytime.

Five of the six audio choices are nature-based. You can listen to the rain hit your window or sit next to a fire. You could enjoy the chirping of birds and other woodland creatures or stick your toes in the nearby creek. You could even listen to the waves crash onto the beach as you hustle towards vacation. Or make your own combination by layering the sounds together.

How To Insert Featured Images Easier in WordPress

Whether it’s a new blog post or a new page, we’re always uploading featured images to WordPress. And, if you do it a lot, it can become a hassle (albeit minor) to do it efficiently. But, we have a few new options now, which give us the freedom to multitask without slowing down.

Instant Featured Image

featured-image

What if you wanted to upload a featured image but also wanted to insert it into your post? To do that, you’d have to set the featured image first, then get back into the media menu to insert it. Why the extra step? With the Instant Featured Image plugin, you can save those clicks and just insert and set the featured image with one click.

Automatic Featured Images From YouTube Videos

Another personal project I have involves creating YouTube videos and sharing them to WordPress. While it’s easy to upload the thumbnail to YouTube AND then to WordPress after the video publishes, that takes too much work. With this plugin, you can insert the video URL into your post like normal. Then, put your description and hit save or publish. Once saved, WordPress pulls in the featured image for you.

Easy and Efficient PDF Compression with SmallPDF

smallpdf

We all work with clients that have these HUGE PDFs filled with large images. A normal PDF we receive to put onto a site is between 5mb and 40mb. Definitely not good for the ever-growing mobile market that these sites are reaching. So, we could go back to the client and ask them to compress them, or we can try and run it through Adobe’s built-in methods. But, SmallPDF can compress a PDF in the cloud for free and it does a heck of a great job at retaining quality.

This week, I used it to compress a 6mb, 2-page PDF, into a version under 1mb. HUGE improvement.

Can Email Be Responsive?

ink

Over the last year, we’ve seen an increase of requests to develop an HTML email template for our clients. AND, it’s becoming more clear that the client expects those emails to be responsive. Unfortunately, most of our clients are a mix of B2B and B2C, therefor Outlook is a must. And, if Microsfot used anything above Word to render their emails, we might be able to feel better about the prospect.

While HTML emails are awful to build, there are options out there to help you get through it while still making something cool. Jason Rodriguez from A List Apart put together a good run down of what you can do to make emails responsive, or at least fluid. There’s also some good tutorials from MailChimp, our preferred email marketing service.

And, Zurb, the creator of Foundation, which is our responsive, front-end framework of choice, released a responsive email framework called Ink. We’ve used it on a few projects and have had a lot of success with them.

Write clearer with The Hemingway Editor

hemingway

If you can figure out how to get me talking, you know I can ramble on, and on, and on. It’s a similar experience when I write. Sometimes I get to the point. Sometimes, my point just isn’t clear. With the Hemingway Editor, I can paste my stream of consciousness and know exactly what I need to fix before I hit the publish button.

Plus, as Earnest Hemingway taught us, “the first draft of anything is shit.” We’re both lucky to have a resource like this between my first draft and you.

And then I was like…

output20140417-4409-1avf58d[1]

Need a quick GIF of your reaction to something? All you need is a webcam and this site. Maybe not work-related, but still easy to use and perfect for just about every scenario.

Thanks to @skullface for sending this my way.

On My Radar

Here’s a few more resources that I’ve bookmarked, but haven’t quite found a use for just yet.

Make eBooks from Google Drive

liberio

If you’re an Arsenal user, you may have noticed that we’ve started to release some new graphic design ebooks over the last few months. We’ve been designing and building those with Illustrator and InDesign, however, since a lot of our content is already on Google Drive, maybe this could come in handy. I’ll be playing with that idea this month.

High Quality Tees with No Upfront Costs

While not a new service, I got introduced to TeeSpring.com at WMC Fest 5. We spoke with Jimmy who was manning their vendor table on the latest podcast. After doing a bit of research, I really liked the idea and started putting ideas together for the podcast.

And that’s it.

That’s this month’s resources and tools that I’ve found useful during my day to day goings on. Hopefully you find them useful as well.

If you’ve got something you want me to check out, leave a comment here on the Zine. You can also tweet me @bryangarvin and drop me an email.

How We Made Our Dream Job a Reality and the Tools We’ve Used Along the Way: An Interview with The Bubble Process

Thoughts from Weapons of Mass Creation Fest 5 Designers, The Bubble Process (written by Rez. added to by Sean)

Written like a voice over from the Wonder Years.

Hello! We are The Bubble Process, an ongoing, 8+ year, dream job that still started and remains a glorified dream hobby. When we met each other we had no idea we would be where we are, doing what we do. We being Sean Higgins (Sean) and Nicholas Rezabek (Rez).

We all, yes all, met at KSU in a dorm called Koonce Hall. Part of a complex called Tri-Towers…AKA “The Bubble.” Named this way, because everyone that lived there never left. It was a self-sustaining dorm. Had a cafeteria and a grocery store. No need to go out, except for class, to party and to skate.

There were 5 of us that met on the 7th floor. We all skated and liked to party, so that is what we had in common. We were all big fans of the music scene as well, so we quickly bonded. Sean and I met in the elevator. He said, I hear there is a kid with a mowhawk that skates here too. I said that’s me, and took off my beanie. Done deal.

Calexico Poster | The Bubble Process
Calexico Poster | The Bubble Process

I goofed off the first semester, and my grades showed it. Sean was in the VCD program. I saw what he was doing and decided to catch up over the summer. When he got back, we were primed to be the “Beavis and Butthead” of our program, as we found out later on through our tenure. I’d prefer Bill and Ted, but both are equally spot on.

Well, we used to play this game in illustration classes called “the Kill game.” Draw something, then draw something terminating the previous’ existence. Some people took notes, (passed notes?). We drew. It was fun. We thought so anyways. We both got pushed pretty hard to keep going at illustration separately in school by William Quinn, Doug Goldsmith and our main man Jerry Kalback. He saw the “talent” but we saw a partner in crime. He made us what we are and can’t thank him enough for that.

Long story short: party, party, skate, work, draw, work, work, fall down the stairs, party, party, work, work, party. Graduate.

I went first, BFA in design and pretty much all the drawing courses as well. I moved to NY and carved out a gig at a wine magazine. Sean was close behind-a BFA in illustration and dug his feet in that sweet, Ohio soil. Next chapter.

After about two years of grinding in design stuff, we kept waiting for those sweet jobs – the ones in the design and illustration annuals – to show up. Well, they didn’t. So Sean reached out and said lets just do something. We agreed, immediately on posters, and that is history. Cleveland needed some visual love and we were ready to try.

We decided to play the kill game, long distance…our “Process” and give credit to where it is due, where we met – “The Bubble”.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Poster | The Bubble Process
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Poster | The Bubble Process

That’s how we work and that is who we are. We come up with ideas, sketches, jokes, you name it. Send them back and forth over the web and “kill” each others work. Add to it, change it, push it to the next level. It is always amazing to get an email of a screen shot that just gets your gears turning. You pretty much try to re-arrange your time to get back into some BUB work.

And time is the caveat. We did all this, and still do, with real, full-time jobs. Like real ones. We keep it as a hobby, because that is what it is. We love doing it. We make time to keep it going. We keep our “prices” low, because we would rather you have extra coin for a beer, or to get a bands 7″ or shirt after scoring our posters, and honestly when it becomes about money, it sort of takes the wind out of the sails for us. We just need enough to get us the equipment for a better end product, and maybe a trip to Europe, Pitchfork or SXSW to sell some posters. Really those trips are big excuse to see each other. If we go bust, NBD. We probably had the best time out of anyone there. That is what friendship is about, and that is cool by us.

The Head and The Heart | The Bubble Process
The Head and The Heart Poster | The Bubble Process

If we could give some advice to anyone reading it would be this.

Quit waiting for that dream job. It won’t come unless you make it happen.

Quit waiting for that dream job. It won’t come unless you make it happen. The work we do as a hobby gets us in the door 90% of the time because it shows we like to do other things that keep us fresh.

MGMT | The Bubble Process
MGMT Poster | The Bubble Process

A List of Supplies that Make our World

First of all we would be nothing without the Web. The better the tech gets, the quicker we can do what we do. We used to host all of our stuff on our websites (yikes!) to send. It was archaic, but it worked. Dropbox is our dream machine now. And Instant Messenger is our phone line. We talk pretty much every day, but will go months without even hearing each other. It is kinda weird. But it works. We are only in each other’s hair as much as we need to be. If we get heated, we can step away, take our time, and reach back out tomorrow. It might not work for everyone, but it works for us.

My Morning Jacket | The Bubble Process
My Morning Jacket Poster | The Bubble Process

/* Music */

You can probably find us on Spotify if you looked hard enough. We listen to everything. If we could narrow us down to two it would be DEVO and Creedence.

/* Food */

Huge food dudes.

Taco Tanto’s Burritos – our Main Vein for burritos in Kent, and a go to place for Sean

Pizza. Every kind, everywhere.

Vampire Weekend Poster | The Bubble Process
Vampire Weekend Poster | The Bubble Process

/* Coffee */

A Definite.

/* Beer */

Happy to endorse all flavors of beer.

Our Tastiest Pals include:

Great Lakes Brewing Company (all flavors)

Sierra Nevada (awesome stuff)

Coors (both Banquet and Silver Bullet)

Old Style (when in Chicago)

Feel free to reach out to us directly to send us samples. Or to do some work. We are waiting! :)

Neil Young Poster | The Bubble Process
Neil Young Poster | The Bubble Process

/* For Doodling */

~~ Pens / Pencils / Markers / Sticks ~~

We tend to use everything. The worst is when we forget to close the caps though. :(

Pilot G2.

Nothing fits our grubby mitts quite like that gem of a pen.

Micron .01 / .05 – So Smooth. A tad pricy, but can’t beat the consistency. These get dried out though when we are in the heat of a drawing. Caps seem to just disappear.

Ticonderoga pencil – They are the jam.

Pencil Sharpeners

Electric and xacto blades. Both have their merits.

Paint / Brushes / Ink

Winsor Newton Water Colors / inks

If we are gonna break those out, we want the finest. Plus we have a boat load still kickin after college, so the throwback aspect is a nice stroll down memory lane.

Winsor Newton Sceptre Gold  / Sable Brushes – Pushed by our great friend Jerry Kalback, those are our big boy brushes. They hold a bead like no other. Just a drag when we leave them on the light table and they get hard. :(

Light Table – Oversized. A MUST when doodlin’ and layers are your forte.

Scanner – A USB 2.0 (or better is a must) I think I have an HP photo one? Those old ones were like turtles. No time for slow scanning.

Paper – Reams of the lesser quality white copy paper are the finest for what we do.

Washed Out Poster | The Bubble Process
Washed Out Poster | The Bubble Process

/* For Printing */

Exposure Unit – Built from scratch by Sean’s Dad AKA Old Man Higgins. Features 8 UV black light bulbs and has screen storage below.

Squeegees/Screens

Victory Factory Screen Supply. Great prices and great dudes in Brooklyn, NY.

Vacuum table – Custom built vacuum table top by Andy MacDougall of Squeegeeville fame. Table frame and height adjustment apparatus also built by Old Man Higgins.

Inks – A mix of Speedball ink and Sherwin Williams (Cleveland Represent) paint which we score “Test Quarts” for under 5 bucks. The dudes there will mix up any color on the wall for me. Also a touch of Floetrol added to each ink to keep it smooth. All other chemicals are from Multicraft in Cleveland.

Drying Rack – Salvaged this from an old sign shop in Medina, Ohio. Still smells like stale cigs and I almost lost an eye to a broken spring.

Paper – French Paper, 100lb Cover Stock – various

We couldn’t do what we do without them. Fast delivery and amazing packaging.

Clamps – Speedball hinge clamps– 4Eva.

Yeasayer Poster | The Bubble Process
Yeasayer Poster | The Bubble Process

/* For Shipping */

Tubes – Uline 3″ Tubes filled with tons of extra stuff to make it worth your while.

USPS – Still gotta root for the classics here. USA.

 /* For Coding */

TextMate – Game changer.

 Bootstrap3

Look out for the next wave of digital TBP as soon as I can dust off those archive CD ROMs and get those assets. Taking forever.

The Internets

The code is out there.

______________________________________________________________

Want more of The Bubble Process?

Buy Tickets to WMC Fest!

Learn More: The Bubble Process | Gigposters | Etsy | Pinterest | Twitter | Facebook

8 Secrets to Battling Burnout & Tools to Help You Kickstart your Day

Battle Burnout: Tips for Designers, Managers, Entrepreneurs

This is an excerpt from Go Media President William Beachy’s book, Drawn to Business. Drawn to Business is the best reference for those looking to start their own million dollar business.

Building a business requires massive amounts of focus and energy. It’s perfectly natural to have moments where you feel absolutely fried. You won’t feel motivated to lift a single finger. Finding ways to motivate yourself are key in business and in life. Here is a list of motivators I’ve used to keep myself productive:

8 Secrets to Battling Burnout

1. Start with the low fruit. It’s always easiest to start with simple tasks and build up to larger ones. So as you look over your list of everything you need to do, pick something simple to get the ball rolling.

Block out the noise with these apps:
Anti-Social: blocks social media sites which take you away from what you need to be doing
StayFocused: an extension by Google Chrome which increases your productivity by limiting the time that you can spend on time-wasting websites

2. Make checklists. I’m not sure why exactly, but checklists have always been a motivator for me. Perhaps it’s because I can see a well-defined list of the things I need to get done. Or perhaps it’s the visceral satisfaction of crossing items off my list after I’m done. Whatever it is, I believe in lists.

Try Teux Deux: a straight-forward and simple to-do app
Lift App: employs coaching, community and data to help get things done
Any.do: a task list app available on Google Play and the Apple App store
Wunderlist: an easy way to manage and share your to-do lists
2Do: allows for color coding of tasks, scheduling, notifications and tags
Todosit: enables you to access your tasks anywhere as well as collaborate on shared tasks

3. Break down your large to-do items into smaller tasks. Sometimes when I’m having a difficult time getting started on a particular project, it’s because the project is large with lots of work required to finish it. The size of the project alone is what’s intimidating. “Well, I know I’ll never be able to finish that project today—so why start? That won’t be very rewarding.” But any large project can be broken down into smaller steps – baby steps. Focus on one of the baby steps and give yourself a reward when you’ve finished it.

4. Make a game out of it. This works particularly well when faced with boring repetitive work. How many widgets can you design in an hour?

Try Carrot App: a task list with attitude
My Minutes: rewards you when you meet small goals, nudges you when you’re taking too much time

5. Make a story out of it. If the context of your project is boring, then you need to use your imagination! Imagine for a moment that your logo design project is not for the local private school, but for a covert military organization. This shift in perspective can really boost your enthusiasm. Also, it can push your design to a higher standard.

quote

6. Find Inspiration. Read a book, talk to other entrepreneurs, or browse the web. Do whatever it takes to reignite the fire in your belly. When illustrating was the focus of my business, I would drive to the local comic book shop to get inspired. These days it’s a good business biography that inspires me the most.

7. Do Nothing. When nothing else is working, I will turn to this technique. Now, I know this might seem contrary to what you’re hoping to accomplish, but let me explain. Sometimes if I’m having a really hard time focusing and working hard, I just don’t. I just stop. I’ll take a nap, watch TV, go for a walk or browse the web. In my experience, if I just let myself take a little break, my motivation will come back on its own. It’s only when I try to force myself to work hard when I’m not in the mood  that I feel really bad.

8. Set a time limit. Before you try the “Do Nothing” technique, try giving yourself a short-term goal. Like: work hard for one hour. Sometimes you just need to get the ball rolling and before you know it, three hours will have passed. So, pick something manageable—maybe even break it down to 15 minutes. I’m going to sit and write my book for 15 minutes (yes, I’m using this technique right now)!

Rescue Time: tracks time spent on applications and websites, gives you detailed reports about your day
Toggl: tracks time, showing you what you spent your day on and for how long you worked on each task
ATracker: for iPhone and iPad – tracks your time and reports via pie chart, bar chart and data export
Eternity Time Log: for iPhone and iPad – tracks and times your daily tasks with a simple start and stop feature

What tricks and tools do you use to keep yourself on track?

Purchase Drawn to Business now – $35

Must-Have PSD Mockups: The Paper Mockup Templates Pack is Here!

I’m going to teach you how to bring your logo to life in 5 easy steps.
(This is a trick used by actual Go Media designers. A good lookin’ crew, huh?)

designers
Adorbs.

1. Purchase the templates of your choice from our Arsenal. (Home of the World’s Best). The tag used below is from today’s release, the Paper Mockup Templates Pack!

2. Open up the PSD you’d like to work with.

3. Place and clip your art into place.

gm

4. Change the product and background colors as you wish.

color

5. Save out the final image.

Round-tag_Arsenal

Heck yes, it’s that easy.

I want the paper pack, like, now!

Let’s check out today’s release.

  • Envelope mockup: long back (front view)
  • Envelope mockup: long back (back view)
  • Envelope mockup: triangle (front view)
  • Envelope mockup: triangle (back view)
  • Greeting card mockup
  • Magazine Cover mockup
  • Magazine Interior mockup
  • Magazine Interior (with clips) mockup
  • Notebook mockup
  • Photo card mockup
  • Rectangular Card mockup
  • Rectangular Card Stack mockup
  • Rectangular Tag (Angled) mockup
  • Round Tag mockup
  • Square Card (Flat) mockup
  • Square Card Stack mockup
Envelope long back
Envelope long back
Envelope long front
Envelope long front
Envelope triangle back
Envelope triangle back
Envelope-triangle-front_before_after
Envelope triangle front
Greeting_Card_before_after
Greeting Card
Magazine_before_after
Magazine Cover
magazine_open_before_after
Magazine Interior with Clips
Magazine-open_before_after
Magazine
moleskin_before_after
Notebook
Photo-Card_before_after
Photo Card
Rectangular-Card_before_after
Rectangular Card
Rectangular-card-stack_before_after
Rectangular Card Stack
Rectangular-tag_before_after
Rectangular Tag
round_tag_before_after
Round Tag
Square-card-flat_before_after
Square Card Flat
Square-card-stack_before_after
Square Card Stack

Now off you go!

I said: Gimme the Paper Mockup Templates Pack! (Please)

Why Working from the Beach Could Double Your Income

So recently I took a couple of months out from design to go travelling around South East Asia. Get me. I’d love to peg it as an adventure where I was searching for the lost city of whatever to find the hidden treasure of something something, but this was really just a straight up holiday.

I really don’t do holidays that often. I don’t really feel the need to – I love what I do for a living so why would I ever need a break? That being said, I’d had one too many big projects with tight deadlines in a row and even I was starting to feel like I was getting worn a little thin.

However after just maybe a week of exploring the Orient I genuinely started to pine for my wacom. I missed designing. I’d told myself that this was going to be a proper refresh for me, so I’d brought no laptop, no drawing pads, not even a pen! “Anyway”, I told myself “Bangkok really isn’t the kind of place you could sit down a get a really productive days work under your belt”, and so I tried to put it out of my mind.

tumblr_mzgz9vJ1CK1st5lhmo1_1280

So I meandered on, from country to country, collecting currencies and filling up my passport with oversized visas, until I got about halfway through Vietnam, to a little city called Hội An.

I spent the first couple of days in Hội An doing the tourist thing, I wandered around the temples, ate in the ‘secret’ restaurants, I even had a very nice suit made. Hội An is a remarkably beautiful city, and there’s a real European vibe that comes from all the colonial French architecture that lines the river running through the city. There’s none of the hustle and bustle that I’d found in some of the larger Asian cities and it was also one of the cheapest places that I’d visited so far (I’m talking a beer for $0.14 cheap).

After those first few days though I had a realisation – I’d had WiFi connection everywhere I’d been.

I’m not just talking bars and restaurants here (although each and every one of those has their own network), the whole of Hội An actually has a giant network that you can connect to, just to make sure you’re still able to send those tweets between cafes. One of the days I actually decided to rent a motorbike (which was all of $3 for the day) and see if I could find the coast. It took me maybe ten minuets to reach a stunning almost deserted beach and guess what I found? Free WiFi.

It was insane, I was in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited, I couldn’t seem to actually spend my money everything was so cheap and I could genuinely have worked from the beach.

And this wasn’t the only place I stumbled on in my travels where I could have happily and easily set up shop; Chiang Mai, Luang Prabang, Vientiane, the list goes on. All beautiful, all cheap to live (even in hotels), all with excellent WiFi and amenities.

The more I though about it, the more sense it made too. I’d put my entire business on hold to go on this trip, but there really wasn’t any need to. In fact I could probably have had the same number of free days and just stayed away for longer using the extra revenue from my work to pay my way.

tumblr_mzgz92BX471st5lhmo1_1280

I know I’ve stumbled onto nothing new here, Tim Ferris coined the phrase ‘geoarbitage’ long before my epiphany, but what was perhaps new to me was just how possible it really was. You always hear stories of people packing in their 9 to 5 and living the good life, sipping coconut milk on a beach, and it kinda goes to the same part of my brain that emails from wealthy African princes go; the ‘bullshit’ section.

No doubt you’re reading this and part of you is thinking just that. Bullshit. Trust me, it totally isn’t. It’s totally totally possible. The fact I feel like a total idiot for not doing it is testament to that.

It doesn’t even have to be that mega life changing event either. Ask yourself really, what’s stopping you from leaving for say six months? Even three months? Are your clients all going to abandon you because you want to do a few meetings over Skype? Can you really not work without an office filled with stuff? Is that second monitor absolutely critical?

I’m not talking about changing your nationality here, just give yourself some new scenery for a bit.

There’s an article by Tim Gregg that I read that recommends renting out your home whilst you’re away, and it makes a lot of sense. Some of these countries are so cheap to get by in, what you make in rent could probably cover your mortgage and your day to day living expenses. Add to that the fact that you’re working and earning, and there’s a very good chance you could come home with a bigger bank account than when you left.

There are tonnes of places you can do this too, Thailand, Malaysia, Mexico, Panama, Ecuador, Argentina, Turkey, India, Indonesia, Romania, Uruguay, just loads. All with a very high quality of life and a very low cost of living.

So the next time you’re thinking of taking a holiday – be professional, take a sabbatical instead.

On Developing a Dedicated Sales Team

Building a Sales Team You Can Trust:

One of the best part of our jobs here at Go Media is connecting with fellow creatives.  Recently, Jeff Gapinski, Co-Founder and Creative Director at Huemor Design in Farmingdale, New York, reached out us. Jeff had some great feedback about Drawn to Business, as well as some questions about developing a killer sales team.

We thought we’d share the exchange with all of you. Enjoy and please feel free to continue the conversation with us in the comments below!

Image shared by Huemor Designs
Image shared by Huemor Designs

Lead Your Sales Team to Success

Jeff Gapinski:

First and foremost, I would like to thank you for the time and effort you took to put together the book “Drawn to Business”.  I honestly wish I would have had the book when I started out, it would have made my journey to this point a bit easier, but none-the-less there was still insight to be gained from the read, even though we’re slightly beyond start-up stage.

I often found myself going YES YES THAT’S EXACTLY HOW I FEEL throughout the book, which was extremely reassuring because:

1.  It made me feel like I’m not crazy

2.  I’m not alone

3.  I have to be doing something right if I’m following the same path

That being said, I do have a question that perhaps you could shed some further light on. Towards the end of the book you discuss always having an active sales team, and I have to say, in terms of my business, it’s definitely a weakness of mine.  We’ve been lucky enough to always be busy from the start, but it’s a huge fear of mine that the work will run out, and when it does, we won’t be prepared.  My question specifically is, who did you seek for your sales roles?  Did you find individuals with a background in sales for our industry, or did you find someone with a knack for sales and show them the ropes?  I’m finding it especially difficult to find qualified individuals I feel are worthy of being the “face” of my brand that aren’t myself, or my business partner.  Problem is, we both wear a lot of hats, and it’s especially difficult to actively pursue new leads on top of our 100 other tasks.

Image shared by Huemor Designs
Image shared by Huemor Designs

William Beachy:

Hey Jeff! Thanks for the feedback. I’d be happy to shed some light on the latest and greatest insights I have on using and developing a sales team. Let me start by saying I was also terrible at developing and properly using a sales team. It’s only been in the last two years that I’ve gotten it right. 2013 saw a 75% growth in design services – directly attributable to our new sales team and how I used them.

You should be afraid of running out of work! That’s healthy. It’s easier now, while you are busy, to ramp up your sales efforts than it will be if you run out of work. Being out of work and trying to spur sales is a stressful place. Make this a priority now! Use your strong cashflow to get marketing and people in place to push sales.

Find a good salesperson, not necessarily someone who knows the design industry. At the end of the day, sales is about communication, relationships, being competitive/self-motivated and having a knack for closing. None of these traits are specific to the design industry. Go Media’s top sales person didn’t have a background in design. We had to teach her. Of course, it’s a bonus if you can find someone with that knowledge base, but it’s not necessary. I would recommend finding someone with sales experience. Ask to see their track record and talk to their previous managers. And of course, all new employees need to be a cultural fit for your company.

Image shared by Huemor Designs
Image shared by Huemor Designs

Turn your salesperson into a clone of yourself. I completely hear your concern about your salesperson not being “worthy of being the face of your company.” So, here’s the solution: MAKE THEM WORTHY! You don’t hire a salesperson, give them a little dull sword and throw them into the lion’s den! You have to spend a long time training them. By the time they go sell for you on their own, they should have a full suit of armour, battle ax and mace! I think the best way to do this is to have them mirror you. Take them on sales calls with you. CC them on all your client e-mails. Have them on the phone with you. The salesperson needs to learn your “pitch.” They need to learn your personality, style, company culture, company story, anecdotal business stories, jokes – everything. Your salesperson is going to become a mini-you, a clone. This doesn’t happen overnight, but we’re starting from the premise that your sales pitch is working. So, you want to teach them what’s working. Did you see the movie The Wolf of Wallstreet? He became successful because he taught other sales people his pitch – he gave them a script!

So, how does this look in the real world for your sales team? The salesperson starts as an assistant to you. They take notes in the sales meetings. They listen and learn. They write the proposals – which you review. Bit by bit you let them do more and more of the sales work. Every step of the way you read what they write and listen to how they talk. You give feedback on what’s good and what needs modified. And of course, you teach them about the design industry. Once you’re confident in them, you start letting them lead the sales meeting and you simply sit and listen. Eventually they start going out on sales calls without you.

Over time a good salesperson will shed some of your personality and infuse their own. They will learn ways to get sales that you didn’t even think of. The education will go back and forth between you and your sales team. But your sales team needs to learn the rules before they can start breaking them. In the past I failed at building a sales team because I “put them on an island” and expected them to just sell without my help. That was completely wrong. Now I hold their hand, put words in their mouth and teach them all I know. The results have been dramatic.

Image shared by Huemor Designs
Image shared by Huemor Designs

Not chasing down all your leads is leaving money on the table! The owner of a company will ALWAYS be wearing many hats. I also have a hard time chasing down leads. This is exactly why you need a person (or two or three) that are only wearing one hat – the SALES hat. This way, when you are out networking and someone offhand mentions a slight interest in your design services – a lead that you might otherwise let pass you by, now you have someone to pass that lead along to – a hungry salesperson!

Don’t forget about developing your existing customers! Chasing down new leads is important, but even more important is developing the customers you already have. If you’re too busy to chase new leads (and wearing your many hats), then you’re probably not developing your current customers fully. How often do you call to check in? How often do you ask them what upcoming needs they have? How often do you pitch them on new services? Are you being a proactive salesperson or a responsive salesperson? If you only send proposals when your customers ask for them – you’re leaving money on the table.  This is where your dedicated sales team shines. This is exactly the kind of work that you don’t have time for, but a dedicated sales team does.

More about Jeff: Corporate Portfolio | Behance | Dribbble | Twitter

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Purchase Drawn to Business now

Go Media’s 100+ Must Have Design Resources

One of the top questions we’ve been asked recently is: “What tools, resources and programs do you use in your everyday lives over there at Go Media?”

Our creative studio here in Ohio City is filled with awesome, handy tools that keep us cranking out creativity, programs that keep us organized, and treats that keep our energy pumpin.’

Here’s a list of our favs.

bills

Physical Tools

Windsor and Newton #2 Paintbrushes and Higgins Fountain Pen India Ink: Bill’s go-to tools for work like this.
Wacom Intuos 3 Tablet: Gotta have it.
Microns: Awesome for detailed work
Strathmore Bristol Vellum paper and
Staedtler Mars technico mechanical pencil with HB leads: paper and penning
Canon Rebel T3i: Photo and video of the days of our lives
Dell Optiplex 9010 and Dell Optiplex 980: our PCs
Dual Dell Ultrasharp 24″ Monitors
Dell mice and keyboards
Targus Lap Chill Mat: Laptops stay cool with the help of this and two USB powered fans and elevated air circulation
Cisco phones: chatting with clients
Murphy Chair Co. Swivel Office Chair: vintage sweetness
Urbanears Forest Green headphones: Chris‘s favorites
Logitech h800 with customized vinyl ear pads: All of Wilson’s tunes and calls are delivered via Bluetooth or Wireless USB via these headphones
Sony MDR NC7 Noise Cancelling Headphones: When the office gets out of hand…
Field notes: Filled with brilliant ideas…
Post-it notes
Sharpies

zine
We <3 WordPress.

Gettin’ Shit Done

WordPress: For every site we produce that will be updated on a semi-regular basis
Zurb Foundation: Greatest HTML/CSS/SASS/JS Framework ever
Notepad++ with various plugins: for all coding and writing needs
Netbeans: Preferred IDE of our VP Wilson Revehl
TortoiseSVN: Super easy to use
XAMPP: Free, super popular PHP dev package
FileZilla: A free FTP solution
MySQL GUI Tools: Integrated tools environment
Google + WP Codex + Stack Overflow: Used at least 50x per day. Takes up majority of our browsing history.
Chrome and Chrome Developer Tools: See bugs, fix bugs, in browser
Rackspace Cloud: For hosting applications and websites
Beanstalk: Code hosting
Amazon Web Services: Durable, reliable
Adobe Master Collection CS5: We get asked this a lot and yes, Adobe is our go-to
Final Cut Pro 7: For making nonsense like this: Make It Bigger

bryan
Audacity is to thank for the smooth sounds of the Go Media Podcast. (Bryan, too)

Audacity: for all audio editing and recording of our Go Media Podcast
Pipedrive: our #1 sales tool!
Smartsheet: For anything and everything: general project planning and organizing our lives in general.
Outlook: Our email solution
Google Calendar: Super helpful for scheduling client reviews, keeping track of deadlines
Google Hangouts:  For inter-office communication
Trillian: Inter-office communication choice 2
Google Drive: This is where we hub all of my client meeting notes, proposals and more. And, it allows for easy collaboration with team members.
Google Keep: For organizing lists, notes and photos

Hello Wilson!
Hello Wilson!

Skype: For chatting with our Arsenal guest artists and other friends
Dropbox: Sharing is caring.
Proof Lab: For assigning projects, sharing designs with clients, & logging time (Exclusive to Go Media)
Open Office: the rival to Microsoft Office. It’s free folks!
Hightail: For file-sharing goods like Drawn to Business and Thread’s Not Dead
TeuxDeux: a great to do list app!
Quickbooks Pro: The best in bookkeeping
Basecamp: Project Management, great to-do lists
Stamps.com: Super easy postage printing
Primo PDF: PDF converter
Mailchimp: Huge fans of these guys. All of our emails are created here.

drawntobiz
Gumroad is super easy, super awesome.

Gumroad: Super easy way to sell our products
PayPal: Easy exchange of money

Daily Vices

Flickr  The Go Media User Showcase Pool

Flickr: Where we go to check on our Go Media User Showcase (so much inspiration!)
Design Cuts: Amazing dudes. Awesome deals.
Feedly: All the feeds we need
Sidebar: The 5 Best Design Links of the Day
Blog.Spoon.Graphics: Check in daily to this one just because we love Chris Spooner.
IFTTT: Have a recipe that any post I save to Feedly is emailed to, so I’m reminded to go back and read it.
Tweetdeck for Chrome: Allows for the seperation of @mentions, lists and important search queries
Google Now: For quick access to set reminders, check the weather and see traffic

Learn Web Design  Web Development  and More   Treehouse

Team Treehouse: For those of us in the office learning code
Hootsuite: The dashboard of a social media manager’s dreams
Buffer: For scheduling posts. As easy as 1 – 2.
Shirt Mockup: A Go Media resource we love
Mockup Everything: Avoid design disaster. Mockup your designs and send them over to clients in seconds.
Go Media’s Arsenal: We’re working on the Arsenal V3 daily. Making it better, smoother, sleeker. What do you think?
Behance: We not only update our page, but check out all the talent and often grab some to showcase on our social media channels and the GoMediaZine
Social Media: We love talking to the community, so we have to mention: Go Media’s Facebook | Arsenal Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Instagram | Google+ | Pinterest, all of which are monitored by Google Analytics

jakprints

Favorite People and Places

Jakprints: Our go-to printing company
Kelley Green Web: Sales and marketing gurus
Muse Content Group: Brand positioning and content strategy
Sharon Toerek: A reliable lawyer is an absolute must.
Straight Shooter Photography: Dan Morgan is our favorite photographer. #highlyrecommend

Reference

How to Draw the Marvel Way by Stan Lee
Logo Lounge by Catherine Fishel and Bill Gardner
Drawn to Business by William Beachy
Thread’s Not Dead by Jeff Finley
Making and Breaking the Grid: A Graphic Design Layout Workshop by Timothy Samara
Logotypes and Letterforms: Handlettered Logotypes and Typographic Considerations by Doyald Young
(for more of our favorite references, purchase Drawn to Business)
Lean Startup
Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port
Authority Ebook by Nathan Barry
Trust Agents by Chris Brogan
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink
How Pleasure Works by Paul Bloom
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

Design Currency by Jenn and Ken Visocky O'Grady
Design Currency by Jenn and Ken Visocky O’Grady

Design Currency by Jenn and Ken Visocky O’Grady
The Voice of Knowledge by Don Miguel Ruiz
Getting Things Done by David Allen
The Art of Non Conformity by Chris Guillibeau
Mindfulness in Plain English by Gunaratana Bhante Henepola
Rework by Jason Fried
Brains on Fire by Robin Phillips, Greg Cordell, Geno Church and Spike Jones
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
How to be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul by Adrian Shaughnessy
Good to Great by Jim Collins
Built to Sell by John Warrillow
Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
Hiring the Best by Martin Yate
96 Great Interview Questions to Ask Before You Hire by Paul Falcone
The Talent of Edge by David S. Cohen
Accounting Made Simple by Mike Piper
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

To Get Us Through:

A wonderful problem to have.
A Go Media addiction.

LastFM: Jams
Spotify: Bryan‘s daily routine: every day, I grab new albums from Pitchfork’s Review app and add them to a “Listen Today” playlist. Slowly building a “Garvin in your ear” playlist.
And Kim has been working on an electronica playlist.
Rhapsody: Heather and Bill’s chosen music player
Numi Savory Teas: For keeping warm during these freezing afternoons
Campbell’s popcorn: We did the logo for this delicious Cleveland sweets factory and now we’re addicted.
Keurig: Keeps us trucking!
Nutella: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Thermos Vacuum Insulated 18-Ounce Hydration Bottle: Gotta keep hydrated!
Love…

We love eachother.
We love eachother.

What tools are in your everyday arsenal? Please share with us in the comments below!