Art and Words: A Match Made in Heaven

Art and Words: A Match Made in Heaven

There’s no dispute. A well-crafted story gets more sales every time. Convince your reader to know, like, and trust you, and you have a recipe for success. Continue to offer well-written stories to your loyal customers and you’ll continue to see sales. It seems simple, but there’s more to storytelling online these days, particularly when it comes to incorporating imagery into the text. Let’s take a closer look at why pictures plus prose is a match made in heaven. Why the Combination? If you’re anything like me, you have an appetite that could make a soldier blush. Food is my love language. Specifically, ice cream. After all, I live in the hot Arizona desert, so it makes sense that a cold treat is my go-to comfort food, right? When I look for new flavors to tantalize my taste buds, I do what anyone does these days – I go online to search for places in my area. When I land on a website to check out a restaurant, I expect to see something to get my taste buds tingling, like on this website:

Photo Credit: TheScreamery.com

NOTE: I have no affiliation with this restaurant other than I L-O-V-E their ice cream.

In this specific image, those ice cream cones look ready to dig into with a spoon, don’t they? They’re the perfect amount of melty combined with the perfect amount of crispy in the waffle cones. And those colors! You can almost taste the flavors looking back at you, right? But nothing about this image makes the ice cream any different than the Baskin Robbins down the block. What does is what’s written above it. When you read the copy placed neatly on top of decadent looking image, you get a sense for why you should choose this ice cream shop over the dozens of others in the area.

  • Not only is the business local but so is their pasteurization process (read: it’s fresh).
  • They use grass-fed dairy and natural ingredients, so you’ll never get that chemically taste like you get from other ice creams.

If that’s enough to get your mouth watering, the next step is to pick your flavor. The call-to-action lends itself perfectly to that, allowing you to see their full menu in one click. It’s not the image that sways you. It’s the combination of storytelling over a delicious looking picture of rich, flavorful ice cream that gets you wanting a scoop or two. This effect doesn’t only work with food. If you’ve ever looked at a puppy or kitten and said, “I just can’t handle the cuteness!” then you know the feeling of image overwhelm. It takes over your senses and you have a sudden urge to squeeze those adorable animals until they pop. At least that was the case for participants in a Society for Personality and Social Psychology study. People almost “lost control” when looking at adorable, squishy faces of cats and dogs. The cuter the picture, the more likely the study’s participants were to pop bubbles on bubble wrap. They physically couldn’t control their excitement over the adorable animal. When it comes to your creative website, don’t you want to inspire the same knee jerk, can’t-help-but-melt/squish/consume, reaction? Yes. And to do so, you need to combine images with your words. Images That Tell a Story Here’s an interesting fact– the image you choose matters a lot when it comes to determining the reaction you spark from the reader. In that same Society for Personality and Social Psychology study, participants were shown neutral looking animals (an older dog with a serious expression). Their bubble popping reaction decreased substantially. Yes, it was cute, but was it the kind of image that sparked an almost uncontrollable response? No. That’s probably not earth shattering information, but it’s important to note. When it comes to pairing your images with your copy, you need to choose the right one for the job. The image you choose depends quite a bit on where you’re adding imagery. Here are a few ideas to get you started sprucing up your copy. Photographs

Let’s start with the obvious one, shall we? Photographs are an easy way to get your reader to want to take action.

I already covered the reasons why above but here’s a quick synopsis (for those of you scanning, which is totally fair). The photograph you choose catches the eye and inspire an illicit response. The words you use differentiate your image from your competitors, giving people a reason to choose you over any other Joe Schmo in your industry. If you’re writing content for SEO, adding images can break up the monotony and make your posts feel more personal and enticing, rather than written to please a robot. Sprinkle these in and you’ll get more of a reaction from your reader, which in turn will make Google a little happier to feature you on page one. Infographics

Screenshot: Hubspot.com

Sometimes, the story you want to tell is based around numbers. Numbers of subscribers. Numbers of customers. Numbers of members. Numbers of attendees. Whatever the number, using an infographic to highlight the text and make it easily digestible is complementary to the copy you’re using to frame the story.

Here’s a great example from HubSpot. This company offers software and uses social proof to sell their concept. Just listing the numbers in the copy wouldn’t have a strong impact. Showcasing them in this way draws the eye and immediately generates trust. Anytime you have complex or bulk information that you need to break down into an easy-to-consume format, use an infographic. Gifs

Gifs are the latest Internet rage. Why? Because you can tell such a strong story with such a short snippet of movement. There’s no audio. There’s just imagery conveying an emotion. The use of this imagery doesn’t have to be limited to Facebook comments and text messages. It can also be used to enhance your copy.

If you want to draw your reader’s attention to a part of your blog post or a fun sales page, this is the type of image to use. The movement catches the eye, but the lack of sound or lengthy engagement keeps the person reading your content. It’s the image that sucks them in and the words that tell the strong story to keep your reader interested in learning more.

Where to Put Your Images Sold on putting images into your content? Great! But now the question becomes where? As a creative, you know the importance of not plopping images haphazardly into content. There’s a strategy behind it. Here are a few rules of thumb to follow as you start. 1. Align Right When You’re Complementing the Text

Looking to make your story stand out? Align right when you’re using an image to complement the text.

As humans, we naturally read from left to right. If you break the pattern by putting your image first, you could disrupt the reading experience and lose your audience’s attention.

Case in point: Check out where I inserted that complementary picture of the adorable puppy in a mug. It’s there to add context but the real meat of the text is next to it. 2. Justify Center When Illustrating a Point

If you’re using an infographic, justify center and don’t wrap any text around the image. That’s because, the info in the image is the main takeaway – not the image itself.

Infographics are great for showcasing a lot of information at once. They can easily stand on their own.

3. Or, Justify Center When Aiming to Stop a Reader in Her Tracks

Sometimes, you want to attract attention to a part of your text. Sometimes, you want to get the people scanning your content to stop and pay attention. In these cases, GIFS are excellent imagery to use. But because of the movement in them, they can stand alone.

Put your GIFS in a line all by itself to stop the scroller from scrolling and get her reading your content instead.

A Match Made in Heaven

Words support images just as images support words. When used right, this tandem approach can add more punch to your copy and more possibility to your content.

What ways have you found to incorporate images into wordy pages?

  AUTHOR  

 Kimberly Crossland

Kimberly Crossland

Owner/Operator, Savvy Copywriters

9 Apps to Help You Stay Productive

9 Apps to Help You Stay Productive

In the busy and connected world of today, we need to get more organised in order to smash our goals. There are people who still feel they are better off with pen and paper, similar to myself – you can’t beat a notebook or a planner for certain things, but I do rely on apps a lot too. For those of you who like to work in the cloud, there is so much choice for apps and sometimes finding the best ones feels like hard work. I can’t tell you how many apps that I have downloaded that sounded amazing but ended up being deleted because they just didn’t work for me. Being organised is the key staying productive, so here are the apps that I use on a daily basis to create and keep track of tasks, schedule meetings, manage files, send emails and create graphics.

#1. Letterspace: This beautiful app allows the use of hashtags to manage notes. It is available for £3.99 and is miles better than the free IOS notes and Android equivalent as you can keep your notes organised with hashtag categories. The app has a nice looking interface with easy navigation which is always a bonus.

#2. Wordpress: This app is for those of you who have a WordPress Website. You can manage your site when you are on the move; upload a new blog post, rearrange a page, put your shop into holiday mode, update pages and a lot more. The possibilities of the WordPress app makes this one of my favorites in this list. If you don’t have a website, I highly recommend getting one set up using WordPress.

#3. Facebook Groups: The standard Facebook app is great but what is even better is being able to keep your personal profile separate to any groups that you may be part of. The interface of the Groups app is great. It doesn’t take long to find the group you are looking for and you can use all of the same features of the Facebook website such as searching for groups and within a group, events and file upload/download.

#4. Asana: This is my top choice for To Do Lists. Plus if you like celebratory unicorns flying across the screen when you complete a task then this is the app for you. Unicorns aside, I love that I can integrate this with my google calendar. Plus, if I don’t manage to get a task done, it will stay inside Asana where I can see it rather than disappear from view which is great as it means that I never miss a task and gives me a sense of panic when the deadline date shows up in red. I will be going more in-depth on this app soon so look out for a post on that in future.

#5. MailChimp: When I first started working for myself I didn’t realise how important having a mailing list was. I started out using the MailChimp ‘Free Forever’ plan, and it was brilliant as a small business owner. When you first start building a list, this is definitely the app to use. You can download two apps; ‘MailChimp’ and ‘MailChimp Snap.’ Both are great for different reasons. With the standard MailChimp App, you can manage your subscribers, view email campaigns and reports. MailChimp Snap is where the fun of creating email campaigns on the go begins. If you not on your computer but have some exciting news that you want to get out to your list, then this app is those moments. If you want to take your mailing list a step further then just sending out quick updates, check out ConvertKit. This is what I currently use for my mailing list but I will go into this further another time.

#6. Canva: This is a must-have app for creating awesome images for social media, blog posts or emails. It is the perfect partner for MailChimp. If you are not confident with using Photoshop or other image editing programs, this is a great way to get started with creating impressive images.

#7. Dragon Dictation: Ideas can come at any moment, usually when we are doing the grocery shopping or are sitting on the train. It is easy to have a lightning bolt moment and then allow it to slip away because we didn’t have a notebook nearby. Dragon Dictation is for those flashes of inspiration.

#8. OneDrive: Everyone who has social media accounts must have a cloud drive, with all images of their work inside. I have one folder dedicated to social media, so I always have everything that I need to hand wherever I may be. 

#9. Google Calendar: This is so versatile as you can integrate it with the calendar app on Macs and the Asana to do list app which for me makes a powerful combination for staying on track wherever you are. I also like that you can create different categories for different tasks which means that you can separate work from personal life. Hooray for that!

Top 3 Ways to Keep Your New Year Intentions on Track

Top 3 Ways to Keep Your New Year Intentions on Track

Setting your intentions is the easy part. Taking action towards them can be tough, so, here are three great ways to help you stay on track with your new year intentions.

 

1. Create a Goal Card

This one is super simple and won’t take you much time at all if you already know what you would like to achieve during the year.

First of all, choose some thick fancy handmade paper or a card with a nice inspirational quote on the front. (Hint: There are some beautiful downloads right here)

Next, list out each goal that you would like to achieve on the back of the card or paper then put in it somewhere that you will see it every day.

It has to be somewhere that you will see it, otherwise it will go by the wayside and we don’t want that, do we?!

If you are a planner kind of girl like me you can keep your goal card in the front of your planner (See mine below)

 

2. Keep track of your big wins

One of my personal favourite ways to keep myself motivated is to get myself a beautiful notebook and sit down in a quiet place and celebrate all of the amazing things that happened during the week. Even if they are small things, I celebrate each and every thing, after all they all contribute my bigger goals.

Celebrating the wins in this way, makes me feel really good about where I am and the progress I have made on my goals which in turn keeps me focussed on the journey to that end goal.

 

3. Stay inspired with Desktop Backgrounds

Another way I keep myself on track and motivated to keep on pushing through is a little extra inspiration that sits on my desktop. It is the first thing I see when I switched my computer on every morning and it gets me excited for the day I have planned ahead.

I make a point of changing my background at least once a week and aim to align it with whatever I want myself to remember throughout the week. For example, as it is the first week of January as I write this, my background is a lovely reminder that I can do whatever I set my mind to – This year is going to be pretty spectacular and I can’t wait to share it with you.

Be sure to check out the collection of Desktop Backgrounds that we offer here and enter the competition below.

 

4. Bonus Tip – Willpower

Willpower has a massive impact on whether we complete our goals – If we truly want them, we will take them. If we don’t then we will be a little less focussed on the journey to that goal.

Ask yourself if the intentions you are setting yourself are truly aligned with who you are and how you want to live your life.

Are you setting intentions for the sole aim of pleasing someone else?

If so, stop and find the path that you want to take. Life is about creating happiness for yourself as well as others so aim to please your souls journey and the rest will follow.

 

Extras:

  1. Enter the Giveaway below.
  2. Download our gorgeous Goal Card to keep you inspired. (See below)

 

[Giveaway Closed]
9 Goal Setting Tools to Help You Succeed

9 Goal Setting Tools to Help You Succeed

You can, of course, use an old-fashioned paper and pen to map out your goals but what if you had a more convenient way to get organised on the go?

Today there are so many wonderful online tools and software that can help make goal setting fun and easy – When something is fun and easy, you’re more likely to stick to it and what is more important than that when running a business?

Here are 9 really great apps to help keep you on track with your business goals:

 

Goal-Buddy – Using this cloud-based software you can name, set, and manage your goals easily. It leads you step-by-step through questions for what your goals are so that they are S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and timely) goals. Then you can use the system to track your goals through milestones that you set as the days go by.

Mint – If you need to get control over your finances, want to set up goals such as establishing a six-month emergency savings account, start a business and other goals, you can use this software to track your financial success and projections.

Basecamp – This is really a project management system, but any goal has to have actionable steps involved or milestones and tasks to take to reach success. You can use Basecamp for any type of actionable steps and it will even email you a reminder to do the task. This can work with your business life or personal life.

Google Calendar – Where were we before Google Calendar came along? Unorganised, that’s for sure! This is such a handy calendar that you can use for the most important areas of your life. Be it family, personal, financial or physical you can set your goals and work your way back inserting actionable steps and tasks to do each day. You can then let it email you a daily task list so you never leave anything out.

Asana – If you need somewhere to track individual projects Asana is for you. It is designed for teams to keep track of their work but there is no reason why it can’t solely be used just for you to track your own progress. You can set up various projects under one roof and even integrate with other software like Dropbox and Chrome. I personally use Asana and have integrated it with Google Calendar which then integrates with iCal so that I get notifications on my phone and computer when something is nearly due to be completed then I also have a Slack integration which is an instant messaging app so that I can message team members directly whenever I need to.

Lifetick – If you want a very in-depth goal setting software, this is it. It helps you traverse the four important areas where you should be setting goals and then view how they overlap and work with each other. This software helps you define your core values and develop S.M.A.R.T. goals as well as track everything.

GoalsOnTrack – This software is a lot like Lifetick but has features that help you ìchunk downî any goal into reasonable and easy-to-follow steps. Their whole idea is that you want to do less but get more. This softwareís features encompass the 80/20 rule and puts it to work for goal setting and achieving.

Goalscape – If you like to visualize your goals in pictures, charts, and graphs then you might like Goalscape. Youíll create a kind of wheel with your goal in the middle and everything you need to do to reach the goal will circle it. So you can see it in one glance.

Smart Goals Templates – If you prefer templates to apps, these downloads are perfect. You can get them for free and use the goal setting templates and fill in the blanks for your goals. They will help you go over the various goals setting steps needed to achieve results in both your personal life and career and business life.

 

Whichever type of software (if any) you feel you need to use for goal setting and goal realization is up to you. The important thing is that you visualize the results of any goal, write it out, and then take steps toward achieving the goal.

Designers Anonymous: Seeking Help And Knowing What To Ask

Designers Anonymous: Seeking Help And Knowing What To Ask

The air conditioner is set to a cool 65 degrees, but you’re sweating profusely.

You look around the room. Can they tell you’re sweating? Probably not. Everyone is secretly worried about themselves. Your hands are shaking as you take one last look at what you’ve brought in. Self-doubt looms over you like a dark cloud that won’t go away. Well, it’s too late to turn back now.

You stand up clutching your project. Everyone is staring at you. You can feel them judging every drop of sweat that pours down the side of your face. There’s no point in delaying the inevitable any further.

“Hello. My name is (your name here), and I’m looking for design feedback today.”

Asking for feedback is scary for everyone. You’re showing your work to people whose opinions you value, and there’s a chance they might negatively criticize your design. Seeking help leaves every designer in a vulnerable position, and it’s frightening to imagine.

But don’t be scared. Feedback is a wonderful thing, and even negative feedback can still be used to improve your work. The idea of asking for feedback is often much scarier than it actually is. You just have to know who to ask and what to ask them.

Feedback Is Crucial

Your artistic freedom is important, and you put so much time and effort into tweaking every minute detail of your project, you can’t help but become attached to it. Showing it to others, then, can be daunting. What if they disapprove or offer negative criticism?

However, you still want to improve as a designer. You want to challenge yourself and take your designs to new heights. This is why feedback is so important.

All types of feedback, both positive and negative, are helpful. It’s easy to get tunnel vision when you’re working on a design. Hearing other people’s perspectives and opinions on your work will open your eyes to all kinds of possibilities. Maybe there’s something missing from your design, but you can’t put your finger on what it is. Someone else might be able to look at it through the lens of their experiences and tell you what you need to hear.

Sometimes asking for help will not only improve your design, but it’ll change your perspective on future designs. Just be careful of whom you ask.

Avoid Fellow Designers

Let’s pretend you’re the CEO of McDonald’s. All of a sudden your McNuggets aren’t selling nearly as well as they used to. Would you go to Burger King or Wendy’s and ask them what you should do? Of course not. Burger King and Wendy’s each have their own unique way of making products, so their advice won’t help you.

Take caution when you ask for help from other designers, especially if they’re working on a similar project as you. They might be so wrapped up in their work that they don’t see your design for what it is. Instead, they’ll only give you specific things they would do, and this might completely change your design.

Designers can definitely help your design. Just make sure you differentiate feedback that’ll help elevate your work from feedback that’ll change everything about the design. After all, it is your design.

Ask People in Other Fields

Designers might be looking for specific elements of your design that other people might not necessarily care about. It’s important to get feedback from all types of people who work in completely different fields.

What is the purpose of your design? Are you designing a logo for a pet shop? Ask for feedback from pet store owners and customers. They might have feedback that isn’t specific to the creative process of making the design. Instead, they might give you suggestions based on the brand or people who visit the store.

Try to seek feedback from marketers. They know what people respond to, and they might give you suggestions that’ll get more people emotionally involved in your design. Marketers often work with graphic designers to bring ideas to life, so they’ll know what to look for in your design.

Look For Constructive Feedback

When you start asking people for feedback, you’re going to get a lot of different opinions. Some might be vague like, “I think it’s great,” or “I don’t like it.” This feedback should be ignored because it doesn’t help you improve.

Always look for constructive feedback. Even if someone absolutely hates your design, hearing the specific reasons why they hate it can help you in the long run. If someone loves your work, getting specific reasons why they enjoy it will help you implement the same features in your next design.

All feedback is helpful if you can learn how to find the golden nugget in each suggestion.

Ask For Negative Comments

Elon Musk specifically asks for negative feedback. It’s worthwhile never to doubt Elon Musk.

Much like how you might be scared to share your work with others, other people might be scared to give you their honest opinion. They don’t want to hurt your feelings, so they’ll passively tell you they like your design.

You can take this pressure off them by asking for negative feedback. Ask them what they didn’t like about the design. Let them know they’re in a safe space and can be honest. Once they feel comfortable enough to give you negative feedback, you’ll get a lot of helpful information you might never have received otherwise.

Find a Mentor

One reason why you might not be getting honest feedback is because you’re sharing your work with people in your safety bubble. These are people might be close friends or family members who will compliment you no matter what.

Find a mentor that’ll tell you what you need to hear. This person should be more experienced than you are and have a good understanding of your design style. They should also get to know you as a person so they know the motivations behind your designs.

A mentor will share their knowledge with you and help you improve as a designer.

Trust Your Gut

Feedback will take your designs to new heights but know when to listen to it. You should ultimately trust your gut and produce work only you can do.

  AUTHOR  

Lexie Lu

Lexie Lu

Designer and Writer

Lexie Lu is a designer and writer. She constantly researches trends in the web and graphic design industry. She writes weekly on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

What Creatives Need To Run A Business

What Creatives Need To Run A Business

**This blog post contains naughty words so if you don’t like that, then please kindly refrain from reading 😇 **

When you make that “crazy to everyone around you” decision to go for broke and start your own business, there are so many things to think about. All that research that you have to do to find out how to even get started in business and the amount of overwhelming advice being given all over the internet is so draining that it can make it super difficult to get your head around it all. In this post, we are going to break it down into the most digestible chunks as possible so that you can start honing in on the things that you need to get done to move forward.

Side note: Check out the Ultimate Creative Business freebie at the end of the post, I promise it super awesome and breaks down a lot of the yucky stuff which will save you some time with researching it yourself.

 

#1 – A reason why

Ask yourself why you are starting a business? Is it just to make a quick buck? Or, is it because you have a fire in your belly and cannot think of anything else but your reason WHY?

Scenario:

Potential Customer: Why did you start Business ABC?
Business owner: Because I wanted to quit the job I hated…
Potential Customer: …

The conversation ends here because your customer likely couldn’t give two about the shitty job you once did. They want to know the ‘why’ behind the creation of your business. Why do you make what you make? What is your story?

 

#2 – An ideal customer

So, who is your customer? If you haven’t got a clue, then you are likely not moving your business towards its big goals.

Look at the bigger picture, for example, imagine you create floral watercolour paintings with inspirational quotes. What type of person likes floral illustrations? Why do they want them? What are they going to do with them? Who is the quote on the painting directed at? Who would it inspire? Who would buy your product? Give that person name and have them in the back of your mind when you are selling your work.

 

#3 – A consistent brand

When you look at all the big brands, there is pure consistency across everything that they do, and this honestly is one of the big foundation stones that is going to set you up to go the distance. Lack of consistency from the customer’s point of view is so confusing and looks like you are not in it with your whole heart. You want to be in it with your whole heart, right? So, use the same logo everywhere, use the same fonts and always been precise and consistent with colours.

 

#4 – A shit hot website

When starting a business, it is so easy to tick things off your to-do list because “they can be done cheaply.” This is one of the worst mindsets to have when you want to create a business that works. Sure, there are many people who have done this, but it is not without a huge amount of stress and time wasted. Believe me, investing in a damn good website will be one of the best things that you can do for your business. One of the top reasons why people will leave your site is because it is slow to load or it looks terribly out of date. For me, a slow load time is the main reason I will click away. If your website looks like it was built in 1999 or has a banner telling me to get myself a “free website” – I will 9 times out of 10 leave and move on to something with the looks and the load time.

 

#5 – Paid Advertising

A bizarre myth has developed in recent years which has made many people think a lot of things should be free and this rings true for new small business owners who think that Facebook should be free. A massive part of the platform is, of course, free but the idea that Facebook should promote someone’s business for free is not dissimilar to an artist being asked to work for free for the “exposure”. Facebook is a business that now sits in the public domain on the stock exchange, so they are never going to promote your business for free. Imagine if they did that!? The stock price would plummet, and the whole platform would go down the drain. That would be a waste, wouldn’t it?

So, here is what you need to do… Learn how to do Facebook adverts properly. Don’t dismiss them because you don’t think it works, or you think Facebook doesn’t care, or that they just want your money. This is especially important if you have already tried adverts and you did not get you the results you wanted – There is a heck of a lot more to Facebook adverts than meets the eye.

Top Tip: Do not use Facebook adverts until you know exactly who your ideal customer is. (See point 2)

 

#6 – A mailing list

What if you could not connect with your followers on Twitter because there was a problem with Twitters server or Facebook went down (heaven forbid)? How are you going to let people know that you just launched a new product or are having a flash sale?

Your mailing list! It is absolute key that you have one. Get this written down on your to-do list… Now… Go on…

The point here is that you can’t build your audience solely on rented social media land as it can be taken away at any moment. There are, of course, many other great reasons to get started with building a mailing list but here are just a few of them: 

Customer relationship building, customer loyalty, higher reach than social media as email generally has a 90% delivery rate, email is the preferred channel of communication, email will always be around.

 

#7 – The ability to outsource

You might not like this one, but honestly, the whole do it ALL yourself approach will to hurt you in the long run. Whether that is through time lost messing around with a website plugin, losing time building your whole website and then spending your time learning WordPress. Or designing a logo and wasting precious time trying to figure out how the hell to use Adobe Illustrator when you could be creating a brand new line of products and driving your business forward. Don’t waste time.

Invest in a logo, invest in a professional website, invest in advertising, invest in proper business cards, invest in a copywriter to write your products descriptions and…

 

#8 – Invest in yourself

Self-Development is an absolute no-brainer in business. I am always learning something new, whether that is learning a new system that helps me make my workflow seamless or learning a new marketing strategy. Nowadays it is so easy to find out about pretty much anything so embrace what the internet has to offer – find an online course that helps you drive your business forward, get a mentor, listen to some podcasts, read more books, meet new people.

Create a mindset that allows you the freedom to INVEST and GROW your business in a way that makes you happy and ready to take on the next challenge. Be forward thinking. Be ground-breaking. Be yourself.

 

 
#9 – A support network

Starting and developing a business can be tough especially when you are doing it alone. Sure, your family understand that you are creating something but do they truly know the extent of what you are doing? Having someone to talk to about your business is going to change the way you do business whether that means getting advice, help with creating new ideas and building new systems to get your business running super smoothly or just having someone to bounce ideas off whenever you need to. So, think about this…Who do you have to lean on and get advice from when it comes to your business? (Answer: It’s not your mum or your best friend 😉 )

⬇️

Click HERE to join The Creative Business Hub on Facebook.

Pinterest Image Dimensions

Pinterest Image Dimensions

What are the ideal dimensions for making your Pinterest account look awesome? I put this little cheat sheet together to help you get your Pinterest looking perfect.

The Creative Business Support Hub

The Creative Business Support Hub

We have just opened up brand new Facebook group solely for creative businesses. We would love to invite you to join us!

It does not matter what area of creativity your business falls into. Creativity is creativity, right, so whether you are an artist, writer, web developer, bakery owner or whatever come over and join us!

Group Hashtags:

Use the below hashtags when you want to share something in the group. There is no specific day that you need to use these (except #MotivationMonday, of course)

#MotivationMonday:
Show us what you are planning or working on this week.

#BlogInspiration:
Share a blog that you recently read and loved that you think will inspire the rest of the group.

#CelebrateWithMe:
Got something to celebrate? Go ahead and tell the group so we can celebrate with you.

#GotYourBack
Use this hashtag when you could do with some support from the rest of the group. This can be anything from a new idea, a new design, to branding your business, copywriting, marketing or website design.

#BizTip:
Learnt something new that you think would benefit the group? Share your thoughts and ideas with us.

See you there, creative entrepreneur! [Click the image below to join]

 

What I learnt from my time as a Freelancer

What I learnt from my time as a Freelancer

Freelancing is not as easy as it may look and there are plenty of misconceptions about what is it is really like working on a freelance basis for organisations and businesses, big and small. In this post, I break down the things that I have learnt and the pros and cons I found during the two years I spent freelancing as a graphic designer, website designer, and social media manager.

The most important thing I learnt that I have taken forward into my own business:

  1. My time is precious.
  2. I deserve my creative freedom (I worked my ass off for it)
  3. Having a proper chair is super important.
  4. Creating systems is the key to good business.
  5. I can say NO without pissing anyone off.
  6. Working for people with political agendas is a nightmare.
  7. I can say no to jobs halfway through (yes, that client was an ass, and I was in charge of my day) – Let it go.
  8. Being creative truly feeds my soul, and I want everyone to have this opportunity.
  9. Ideas come thick and fast when I can fully immerse myself in my business.
  10. Having experience in customer service is pretty handy.
  11. Serving projects that don’t suit my beliefs are not as rewarding.

So, after saying goodbye to the corporate 9-5 slog and doing it for myself, here are some of my pros and cons. Remember – only you can decide if the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to freelancing. We all have different visions for our lives, and mine was to freelance for as long as I needed before I could move on and start turning it into a business and start helping others to get their own creative freedoms.

One of the biggest things that being a freelancer gave to me was the opportunity to be directly responsible for everything. It gave me a huge insight into what it is like to run my own business, so for that, I will always be grateful.

 

Pros:

  • A sense of freedom like no other.
  • Wake up whenever you want.
  • Work from anywhere in the world.
  • You are the boss.
  • You can choose your projects and clients (See tips)
  • You can make really good money.
  • The only limit is your creativity.
  • You can wear whatever you want – no more ugly suits.
  • You can leave your office whenever you want.
  • Choose your working hours.
  • You get the opportunity to learn something new every single day.

 

Cons:

  • You need to make sure that you have all of the tools you need to do your work. – If you have an issue with your internet connection or your computer breaks, you are responsible.
  • Not working in a team.
  • No guarantees on how much money you are going to make.
  • You are responsible for all decisions.
  • Clients could pay invoices late.
  • Working hours can vary. One day you might be doing a 15-hour hurdle to get a project done, and the next day you might need to do only 2 hours of work.
  • You have to wear more hats than just the bosses hat: accountant, social media manager, marketer, customer service, etc.

 

Tips:

  • When you first get started tread carefully with each new client – You can learn a lot from slowing down and taking everything in.
  • Treat every project as your best piece of work.
  • Create a working environment that inspires you. Separate your workspace from your personal life. (Maybe consider a co-working space)
  • Set up a system and schedule your days.
  • Get an accountant.
  • Some clients can be very vague about what they want so always ask questions.
  • If you are not sure about something, do not assume.
  • Set goals – both business and personal.
  • Don’t eat unhealthy snacks all day.
  • Get testimonials.
  • Never stop learning and building your skills.
  • Always under promise and over provide.
  • If you are overwhelmed with work get another freelancer on board – It is ok to not do it all by yourself.
  • Compare your prices to other industry professionals – Market research is important.
  • Be careful that you don’t take on more than you can chew.
  • Leave time in your schedule for projects even if you have already delivered them – your client may want some changes!
  • Get full confirmation from your client that they are 100% happy once you have completed a job.
  • If the project does not excite you, don’t take it on.
  • If you feel that the client is not someone you want to work with, don’t take on the project.
  • If you are asked to work on a project that goes against your own beliefs, say no.
  • If you do not have time for a project, no matter how amazing it sounds, be honest with your client about your schedule.
  • Join a community of freelancers or business owners so that you can chat with others, get advice and maybe even collaborate (Facebook & LinkedIn Groups)
  • Never underestimate your client’s knowledge of your area of expertise. Below is a great example for website designers.

 

 

If you are thinking about freelancing and want some more insight, check out ‘The Art of Freelancing’ by Noah Bradley.

 

Do you have any pros, cons, and tips to add to this list? If so drop a comment below.

7 Productivity Hacks for Creative Business Owners

7 Productivity Hacks for Creative Business Owners

Being a self-employed creative in this day and digital age often means that you need to have the skills of a website designer, graphic designer, marketer, sales person, blogger, social media manager, customer service guru as well as someone with a life outside of business, so this post is totally dedicated to every creative who gets super bogged down keeping on top of everything.

This list of 7 hacks are so easy to implement and are super handy for getting rid of distractions as well as increasing the number of things you can get done throughout the day.

 

1. Use a timer

This works every time! How many times have you logged into Twitter or Facebook to post a new piece of work then wasted an hour browsing? If you can’t even begin to count how many times this has happened to you, then you better get yourself an E.ggtimer and start allocating your time. This means time for creativity, right? (Bonus tip: Bookmark the timer)

 

2. Top 5 Tasks

Sit down for half and hour every week and decide what your 5 most important tasks of the week are, then break these down into smaller tasks. If you only have small tasks get them listed out of the way so you don’t have any little tasks festering at the back of your mind. If will free your mind and make you way more productive on the bigger things. Don’t forget to grab your free planning sheets below – these will help you with creating your top 5 and task breakdowns)

 

3. Turn off your notifications

Yes that may sound like a crazy one because you know, you might miss something, right? But what if you are in the middle of a brain wave or you are on an absolute roll with your project then your hourly email notification pops up to say you that you have just been hit by 47 emails or social media is going wild, you are likely to get distracted by it and lose that amazing bit productivity that you just had. So save the excitement of new emails and social media to allocated times of the day and you will find that you are flying with your creative work which is what it is all about, right?

 

4. Tidy your workspace

I am pretty sure everyone has been guilty of this one. You will feel much better if you put them away, plus you’ll gain a little bit of extra space inside that creative brain of yours as you will no longer have to look at the mess and procrastinate on getting it sorted out! Woohoo, high five!

 

5. Eat and drink water

Take a time out and grab some food and have some water. This can be tough when you are really immersed in productivity so make sure you always keep some snacks and a drink in your workspace – that way your creative brain will be fed and you won’t need to worry about cooking until you actually feel like you can put down your paintbrush. (Please don’t put off eating for hours and hours though – artists gotta eat!)

 

6. Use a planner

This one goes hand in hand with point two. Organising yourself so that your creativity can flow easily can be tough but once you get into it, you will really start to fly. So… bunch smaller tasks together so that you can sweep them out of the way in one go (this is likely to be much faster than if you were to complete them spread out over a week or two) Plan ahead – Don’t just plan out your tasks as they come each week… Map out your 90-day goals, then organise them to fit into a monthly plan, then expand on your big goals week on week. This process will really make you think about what it is you want to achieve in the months ahead.

 

7. Make all of the above a habit!