Why the 100 dollar start up is a book designers should read

The 100 dollar start upChances are you will have heard of Chris Guillebeau and his recent book the $100 startup, but here’s my view on why I think it’s a book that designers should read.

Let’s face it, work is harder to get than it was a few years ago for us designers, so we have got to start thinking differently. We have a wealth of skills at our finger tips, and not just to create work to fit a client’s brief. We have the ability to create new designs, products, websites and probably have numerous ideas for apps amongst other things, if we only knew how to harness our talents.

This is where the 100 dollar start up (aff link) comes in. Chris Guillebeau, interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs, but not of the get rich quick internet millionaire flavour. These are people who have created businesses that make them a good living, but not necessarily a fortune. After each entrepreneurs story Chris Guillebeau has identified key take away points to help you with your business ideas.

One of the stories which will probably interest you, is about 2 graphic designers who were a little bored of their normal design work. The duo were going on a trip and wanted a nice map to plan their journey, but couldn’t find one, so they designed one themselves. In order to get it printed they had to get a small run made. They gave a few to friends, and then thought they would see if they could sell the rest. The map was a success and their map business now supports them both.

There are plenty more inspiring and yet attainable stories in the book. Now it’s just a case of working out how you can apply it to your work and talents.

A product designer recently said to me “It’s about being creative by using our talents in a non-predictable way. You need to develop products!” I think he’s right.

Buy the 100 dollar start up here (aff link)

Finding Graphic Design Freelance Work

A guest post by Tom Savage from www.3desk.com

this way
You pick pixels and place them in perfect patterns: Graphic designers are some of the most commonly used freelancers or temporary workers in the market. Yet there are also a lot of them around and sometimes that creativity doesn’t always stretch to winning business.

At 3Desk we have more designers than any other type of freelancer. In this article I will explore some methods for helping you find work in your local area:

Use Twitter

Twitter is very powerful.

It’s not so much about who you’re following and your followers. Engage in conversations rather than start them. Use platforms like TweetDeck – and Hootsuite, which have search features in order to identify relevant opportunities in your area. i.e. graphic design London, or HTML Bristol

Identify keywords that are relevant to your work. Start interacting with people you think are the movers and shakers. If you’re looking for work, ask for people to retweet a tweet asking about work, you’ll be surprised how helpful people will be.

Use Klout and WeFollow (Klout scores are also calculated in Hootsuite) to determine who is worth interacting with and keep a column (meaning a filtered group of Tweeters) of the people in your area tweeting about your sector. Make sure you communicate with them, praise them and show them some love.

Twitter also enables you to interact in a way that you wouldn’t by email – just to say things like ‘love your work’, or ‘can you keep me in mind if you see something like this’.

Twitter is best used a little and often, to keep your network alive, should you need to top up your work.

Use Networks

There are some great platforms to help you showcase your work, which recruiters and employers will use to find people. Try Dribbble, Behance and of course Linkedin.

Most employers now use Linkedin, so remember that although it’s not design specific, it’s very useful. Just because you can’t upload images, doesn’t make it invalid. Use your address book and other networks to maximize your connections. Remember how people ‘search’ on linkedin, so ensure your skills and summary are up to date.

Don’t post everything you’ve ever done on these sites – less is more. You want to leave enough to pique interest, but not so much that someone might decide they like some, but not all of your work.

Your own website

No-one is going to hire you on the back of your own website – they’ll communicate with you first. Too often I’ve seen websites that are poorly put together. This can do more harm than good. Make it minimalist. Link to your other networks and remember to hold stuff back to wow people when they get in touch.

There are plenty of great blogging platforms like WordPress that can be used to present your work in a clean format. Employers are more likely to look at the work you’ve done for other clients, rather than the quality of your site when they are making decisions.

Your CV

Unless you can really improve on the CV format, don’t bother designing something too fancy. It’s better to focus all your attention on one place (like your designs themselves). Also remember that if someone is looking through 10 or 20 CVs, if they’re long or all different formatted, they can be more confusing than they are helpful. You might not even have to write a CV if your website, or your other profiles are good enough.

Good luck and if you have any additional tips, please do comment below.

tom savagerTom is an award winning entrepreneur and runs a site for local freelancers called 3Desk www.3desk.com. He also blogs on simplicity at www.simpletom.co.uk.

Make Design Business Dreams Come True – Set Goals

A Guest Post by Mhairi Gordon-Preston from Suit Free Business Help For Design Companies

Business dreams are fantastic; they can fire-up your enthusiasm and make the planning and work feel worthwhile. What’s even better than business dreams? Watching them become your reality.

Studies show that setting precise business goals makes business dreams a lot more likely to become real. That’s because the right goals keep your drive high, focus your mind, and get your creativity flowing.

1 “Begin with the end in mind” (Stephen R Covey, author & speaker)

What changes would you like in your design business? Examples could be “I want clients who really get my style” or “I want to earn an additional £800 a month”.

Note down your answers to the question — don’t analyse them, just let them flow out.

2 Highlight one answer that feels like it would have the biggest impact on your business at this moment

(There may be lots of things you want to do, that’s wonderful — remember you can always come back to this process as soon as your first goal is finished, or on-track.)

3 Make your goal do-able, but exciting

Don’t underestimate yourself with a half-hearted wish like “It would be nice to have one new client by March next year”; you have more talent than that in your little finger! Your goal should be something you’d go for when you’re on a high or having a good day — it should stretch you a little.

4 Get into the nitty-gritty

Make your goal specific, an example could be: “I want four new clients, giving me work totalling £600 per month, by 9am, eight weeks from today”.

Don’t be tempted into fuzzy phrases like “I need more clients”. Put actual dates & numbers in, even if it feels challenging. Dates & numbers will really increase the chances of your goal becoming reality. And remember: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it you will land among the stars.” (Les Brown, speaker & author).

5 Finally, “Ink it, don’t think it” (Mark Victor Hansen, business coach & entrepreneur)

Write your goal down; perhaps turning it into a desktop background, design or collage. Whatever format you use, make sure you place it where you can see it every day in your work area.

For an extra boost, put a credit-card sized version in your purse or wallet. Studies show that, funny though it sounds, carrying your goal on you really increases the chances of it becoming reality.

I look forward to your achievements — do feel free to share your success stories with me.

Mhairi Gordon-PrestonI’m Mhairi Gordon-Preston and I help design business-owners & freelancers become more profitable and more fulfilled. Get monthly tips from me, plus a gift ecourse at SuitFreeBusinessHelpForDesignCompanies.com. I worked as a designer for 10 years, have run my own businesses for 10 years and am an Enterprise Champion in my local town, helping small businesses connect with each other

Setting up a WordPress Blog Free Guide for Beginners

Free guide to set up a wordpress blogA while ago I wrote a post called 8 Reasons Why Designers Should Blog. This post explained how designers can use a blog in many ways to promote themselves and their work. In the time I have been blogging I have learned a lot about how a blog can help you get found on Google and so have put together a guide for complete newbies into how to create your first blog.

If you have never set up a blog before this guide will literally take you step by step through the process of setting up your first blog. It also has tips for choosing a domain name that might help you get found more easily.

You can download the pdf guide here (no sign up or email required).

Setting up a WordPress Blog Guide Contents

Step 1 – Choosing a domain name for your blog
Step 2 – Checking domain availability and buying domains
Step 3 – Purchase your web hosting
Step 4 – Pairing up your domain name with your webspace
Step 5 – Installing WordPress to power your blog
Step 6 – General Settings
Step 7 – Setting your permalinks
Step 8 – Choosing a theme for your WordPress blog
Step 9 – Installing plugins on your WordPress blog
Step 10 – Writing your first posts and pages
Step 11 – Setting your home and blog page
Step 12 – Using Feedburner
Step 13 – Backing up your WordPress blog
Finding free and cheap images for your blog

4 Things to Focus on to Snag That Art Director Position

A guest post by Elysabeth Teeko

ElysabethElysabeth (with a nickname of Teacup) is slowly diving headfirst into the world of blogging to show her love of technology. Her friends consider her the Betty Crocker of the internet. She doesn’t argue with it. Her Twitter is @Elysateek

As an art director, you’ll be responsible for the visual representation of your company’s major products including advertisements, websites, packaging and other promotional materials. Of course, you won’t normally accomplish this feat single-handedly; you’ll have a team of creative geniuses at your beck and call.

To turn your vision into a career, follow these tips to land a lucrative position as an art director:

1. Develop Your Skills

Unless you already have a strong foundation in both art and management, it’s time to invest in yourself before reaching for the stars. Many online schools have courses, such as art direction, that provide just the right type of preparation for the aspiring art director.

While you’re at it, don’t forget to include a few more courses if you’re lacking any skills necessary to become a well-rounded candidate.

This could include art history, business management, marketing, or even a creative writing class. If you have the time, volunteering with non-profits to direct their art programs would be a valuable resume builder and talking point during your interview.

2. Brand Yourself

Because most art director positions are in advertising agencies or marketing departments, you might as well learn everything you can about effective branding. To start, brand yourself by creating a strong resume and a portfolio to highlight your accomplishments.

In this electronic age, a catchy website with a good ranking won’t hurt your chances either – just make sure to keep it professional and consistent. If you have anything embarrassing on Facebook or any other social network, now is the time to make it private or hide it behind positive postings.

Also, I’m assuming if you’re going for an Art Director position, you probably have a portfolio. Look into sites like Dribbble and Behance – social communities where you can share your portfolio and get feedback to improve.

3. Find the Right Company

Instead of simply applying everywhere, research the companies that hire art directors to find one where you really want to become a part of the creative process. If you know someone who’s already employed there, this can work to your advantage.

Otherwise, simply apply for the job if its open, or submit your resume anyway if it’s not. If you really want to get this job with this company, don’t hesitate to take a lower position to get your foot in the door. Once you’re there, you can prove yourself and work your way up.

You never know where hard work and ambition can take you.

4. Rock that Interview

Once you get an invitation for an interview, do your best to demonstrate that you’re a good fit for the company. Show that you know about the firm, but make this discussion more about what you can do for the business rather than what you want from the job; talk in terms of solving problems instead of accomplishing tasks, and give concrete examples when possible.

As with any interview, dress the part. While you want to look nice, make sure you also look like you’ll fit in with your co-workers. Also, if you’re using the sites mentioned above (Dribbble, Behance) then make sure to bring your laptop with you to show your portfolios within these communities.

If you’re going for a Director position, you need to be on top of every available opportunity, and this will demonstrate that.If you play your cards right, you’ll be an art director in no time. However, this job isn’t all fun and games; it’s hard work.

What kind of creative job do you dream about?

Graphic Design Resume – Resources and Inspiration

I remember putting together my design resumes/curriculum vitaes in the past, I never quite knew how creative, or not I should make it. Mine started from the downright bizarre creative resume when I was in college (a pop up of my head) to something more formal with the addition of an icon or logo. Designing a resume for yourself is one of those things that’s always tricky, just like designing anything for yourself. You are your own worst client who doesn’t have a proper brief 🙂 .

And just in case you were thinking about it, DON’T send a covering letter like this (apparently a real covering letter sent by fax for a graphic design job 😉 .

bad graphic design resume letterFound via www.information-technology-career.net

I have put together some resources I have found which may help any designer currently putting together their CV

CV Shelf as its name suggests has samples of Graphic Design CVs/Resumes

graphic design resume samples from cv shelf

Flickr has a large selection of graphic design resume examples for inspiration

design resumes and cvs on Flickr

One of many Design resume examples at Deviant Art

graphic designer resume on Deviant Art

Some other posts about Graphic Design Resumes

A great graphic design CV found over at the TrulyAce blog.

The Graphic Design Resume Guide
A comprehensive blog post, going through everything you need to consider when designing your resume from choosing paper, layout, typograpy and required content.

Graphic Design Resumes: Plain or Different? Part I
Another debate on how creative a CV/resume should be with examples.

How Creative Should A Designer’s Resume Be?
Another argument for the creative resume with some design examples.

Graphic Design Sample Resume
For resume content rather than style.

Graphic Designer Resume Sample
Again for content rather than style.

Graphic Designer Resume Tips
Tells you the information to include in your resume and what order it should go in (not for design style).

If you want to promote your self as a Graphic or Web Designer also take a look at the book mentioned in my previous post 10 Steps to Powerful Online Self Promotion for Creatives