Let’s face it – as people with creative businesses, there are times when we feel a lack of vision and innovation. Whether it’s because we’re working on projects that leave us uninspired or we just simply can’t get our creative juices flowing, it’s a slump we don’t want to be stuck in for long.
It’s something I’ve been struggling with lately, so I’ve come up with four ways to get re-inspired:
1. Try to remember the time when you were feeling the most creative or inspired.
There are moments in our lives when we feel like nothing can stop us and we can’t stop coming up with great ideas. The key to reliving those moments is to figure out what made those moments so special. Where were you at? What were you doing? Who were you with? What were you feeling? Try to recreate that moment as best as you can and you’ll be on the right track to getting your creativity back.
2. Take a class
We’re often inspired by new adventures and meeting new people, so taking a class or doing a workshop will help kick your creativity back in gear. Make something by hand, learn something new and connect with other creative people and you’re sure to get inspired. Some courses to check out are the Alt Summit Classes, Skillshare, Nicole’s Classes and sign up for workshops like BlogShop and Anthro Events.
3. Visit Your Favorite Places
Our surroundings are one of the things that inspire us the most, and we all have places where we feel most inspired. When you’re feeling less creative than normal, it’s a no brainer to visit your favorite places to get yourself going again. Whether you’re influenced by the displays at your favorite store or by a landscape or park you love the most, take time to visit those places, enjoy them and let them motivate you.
4. Spruce Up Your Resources
Just like buying new workout clothes might help you to get back to the gym, new creative resources can help amp up your inspiration. Download some new fonts, explore new color schemes, try out a new program or let a new design book help you dream up new ideas. Something as simple as a new font to play with can totally transform your mood and your work.
What do you do when you’re feeling uninspired? Share your tips in the comments!
Jasmine and I have been busy planning Made In Mind’s October Social(which is tomorrow, come if you can!) so it somehow took me a month to get this post up, oops!
Last month I got to attend Circles Conference in Grapevine, Texas. As described by the founder, it’s a place to learn from world-changing thinkers and innovators for the creative community. It was amazing. So inspiring. The main message I took away was to design my own life. Figure out what will make me feel satisfied and happy and create that life for myself. You can’t see someone else’s life and say “Hey, I want that life” you have to make it for yourself!
Two days packed with meeting new people and listening to inspiring talks from amazing creatives across multiple disciplines. It was great to meet people who were previously only Twitter friends, as well as make plenty of wonderful new friends.
It turned out that Justin Shiels, a fellow New Orleanian, was attending so we got to know each other better! Blog buddy and fellow graphic designer Patti was nice enough to let me crash in her room. It was really fun hanging out and sharing stories of running our own businesses. I also got to meet Ismael Burciaga (the event coordinator) who has been an online friend for a few years now. It was wonderful to meet him in person, he is so talented and generous and was a great host! And then I met the lovely Joanna Waterfall who happened to be on my flight home for a vacation in New Orleans for a few days!
The thing I loved most was that the speakers told their personal stories. It was very honest and genuine and no one was scared to share their struggles which was very refreshing to hear. It was great to hear so many talented people talking about their personal journey and not just telling us their design process. It was nice to take it all in and learn from their experiences. The intimacy was something you don’t get at larger conferences.
The after party was also a blast, we got some good Texas BBQ and it was great to mingle outside of the conference setting.
Another plus is that Circles is very affordable compared to a lot of conference and since it’s in Texas the travel was affordable for me too! I definitely recommend attending next year! I’ll also be sharing some of my favorite quotes from different speakers on the blog in the future!
All photos courtesy of Bethany Marie Photography, a very talented lady who I got to have lunch with one of the days at the conference!
You know how when you’re on someone’s website trying to decide if you want to work with them or buy from them and you see a group of really great testimonials that convince you that you must have their product? You can have that too.
Testimonials from clients are important for your website because without them, potential clients don’t always know your credibility or what you’re like to work with. It’s someone’s outside perspective that gives them the confidence to buy from you instead of moving on to the next website.
There are a few ways to get really great testimonials:
Reach out to past partners, customers and coworkers
While it’s not always easy to reach out and ask for testimonials, it’s the first step in getting great feedback, especially from clients and coworkers who love you and your work.
To do this, write them a short note on why you’re reaching out to them and what you’re hoping to accomplish from getting this testimonial. Tell them how much you’ve enjoyed working with them and would love to share your experience with future customers.
Then, provide a list of questions for them to answer – questions that will bring out the types of phrases you’d love to include on your site about how the two of you worked together and what was accomplished.
It’s best to reach out to clients while your work is still fresh in their mind, so as soon as you’ve wrapped up your work with them, send them a testimonial request – if they’re happy with your work they’ll most likely fill it out right away!
Pull from Social Media
Another really great way to get testimonials for your website is to pull quotes about your work off of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Lots of times when someone is excited about a new product or service they’ve purchased, they splash it all over the web. If one of your past customers has done this about your offering, ask them if you can use their quote for your site. Since they shared it with everyone they know, there’s a good chance they’ll let you post it on your site too.
Once you Get the Testimonial
When you get your testimonials, there are a few effective ways to display them on your website.
First of all, make sure they fit with the product you are selling or are general enough to be displayed on your site. I work with lots of different types of clients – from brides to small businesses to antique dealers, so not all testimonials from everyone will work on my wedding site. Choose the ones that you think will be most beneficial to future clients.
Then, decide where you want to place your testimonials. Good practice is to have a page devoted to praise, display them on your sales page or have them scrolling in the footer or sidebar.
Also, consider including a picture and a location of the person you received the testimonial from. People make connections with images and locations, so the testimonial will be more credible and believable if there is a face and location to associate with it.
And that’s it! Follow these steps and be on your way to getting great testimonials from past customers that grab the attention of new customers!
A few months ago I started a Pinterest board to collect inspiration for my dream office. I always try to create a workspace that inspires me. Since I am at my desk and on my computer a lot, I need the space around me to be stimulating. So I was pinning away and realized that almost every image had a little pop of pink in it! I have never been that into pink but I guess now I am?!
My office is also my front entry room so I’m always looking for furniture and storage with dual purposes and flexibility. In my pins, I was also drawn to white walls which could really open up my space! You can check out all of my dream office inspiration here and in the descriptions I tell you why I like each idea for my office.
This board was created for a BHG Insiders Pinterest contest and it just so happens that I won! As the winner, I was not required to write a blog post, I just wanted to share my inspiration! I had so much fun making the board. All images are pinned from BHG.com and are linked through my Pinterest board.
Last July I quit my full-time corporate designer job to venture out on my own, and I had so many ideas about how wonderful working from home was going to be. I learned very quickly that working for yourself can be a difficult job – you must have a lot of self-control and focus. Here are some tricks I’ve used to keep myself on track while being my own boss.
1. Set Work Hours
One of the reasons I quit my full-time job was that my husband was tired of me coming home after an 8 hour day and spending 4 more hours working on side projects. And to be honest, I was tired of it too. So when I started working from home, I set a rule that I wouldn’t work nights or weekends anymore.
For the first few months, this was really hard to control. I was enjoying my freedom during the day by going on walks and getting housework done, but I was putting off design work for the evening – which made me quitting my job pointless.
When you work from home, you need to find a happy medium – one of the best things about working for yourself is the freedom you have to come and go as you please, but you need to have the self-control to get your work done during the day.
That’s why setting work hours is a good practice. If you feel more motivated and can concentrate better in the morning, then set you work hours from 9 to 1 and run your errands in the afternoon. Or maybe work a normal 8 hour work day and allow yourself an hour lunch break like a normal job would.
Of course, you’ll have to adjust these hours depending on your workload or when your clients can meet with you, but whatever hours you choose make sure you stick to them so you’re not working when you don’t want to be.
2. Create an Inspiring Workspace
Having a creative space set aside for you to work is another important aspect of working from home. Being able to go to your ‘office’ each morning and being inspired by your surroundings will help keep you focused on your work and away from distractions. Having your own workspace helps keep your work organized, and it will make it easier for you to distinguish work life from home life.
Even if you spend part of your day working from other areas of your house (like your bed!), it’s nice to have a space dedicated just to work. Plus, it’s fun to have a place just for you to keep your pretty design & craft supplies, right?
3. Get Motivated
When you work from home, there are going to be days you don’t feel like getting out of bed. Taking the day off one or two days a month isn’t the end of the world, but taking 3 days off in a row when you have projects due isn’t going to make you a successful entrepreneur.
For those days you just can’t seem to find any motivation, create a playlist of all the songs that pump you up or inspire you. I have a Spotify playlist called Biz Inspiration and anytime I need a pick me up, I listen to those songs and am instantly inspired to get stuff done.
Another way to beat being unmotivated is to get out of the house. I’ve found that if I go to my favorite coffee shop, grab a coffee and put my headphones in, I can get so much done in an afternoon. Being away from the distractions of home helps me focus on my client’s needs instead of my own, and gets me motivated to get more work done.
As hard as it can be at times, owning your own business is one of the most rewarding things you can do in your life, and all the struggle is worth it in the end!
What tips do you have for working at home? Share them in the comments!
Q: What tips do you have for developing a project production schedule?
A: Ideally, your client will allocate ample time for project development, allowing you the luxury of setting your own production schedule. But don’t abuse the situation by keeping the deadline open-ended. Set a detailed schedule and communicate it clearly with your client. Here is a sample production schedule I might send a client after I receive a signed agreement:
Initial Design and Development Delivered by: Wednesday, March 13th
Revision 1: 2-3 business days from when I receive feedback
Revision 2: 2-3 business days from when I receive feedback
Final Delivery of Files: 1-2 business days from when I receive approval
Sending a specific and detailed schedule like the one above sets realistic client expectations and prevents clients from calling you daily for project updates. It also is a tactful way of warning the client of the repercussions of delayed feedback. Nothing is worse than waiting weeks for a client to get back to you with feedback and then them expecting the original delivery date.
More often than not, a client will set a specific deadline. For example, a client needs a sales sheet completed and printed for an upcoming trade show. In this situation, you will still need to send a detailed schedule. Just work backwards from the deadline to set your schedule, taking into consideration printing and/or or shipping timelines.
Q: What do you do when a client needs a project done yesterday?
A: Consider WHY the project is so pushed for time. Do you get the feeling that it is because the client is disorganized and waited until the last minute, or was it more outside the client’s control? If you know the deadline would require pulling all-nighters and working weekends, you may consider charging a rush fee to complete the project in the required time frame. If the client is not willing to pay the rush fee, then my advice is to walk away. These types of clients do not appreciate your time or talent. If you take on the project and do not charge a rush fee, the client will continue to manage future projects in the same manner – rushed and last-minute. In a sense, you would be inadvertently ”training” your client for repeat offenses.
Q: How do you handle multiple deadlines/overlapping projects?
A: As a freelance designer, time management is a skill that needs to be constantly honed. We would all like a steady and consistent stream of projects, but the reality is that there are typically dry spells when you are wishing for more work and then BAM – multiple projects hit and you end up running around like a crazy person. When you are balancing multiple deadlines, I suggest taking out your calendar and prioritizing. Break up the work into chunks and set “mini” internal deadlines for yourself. If you have a 24-page newsletter you are designing, set a goal of completing 6 pages by a specific date. The next day you can change gears and work on another client’s logo. It’s ok to bounce back and forth between projects – just make sure you are still working efficiently and that you don’t sacrifice quality on one particular project because you spent ALL your working hours on another project.
What about you? What has been your biggest challenge in handling timelines and project management?
This time of year it can be hard to stay focused on what you need to accomplish, especially if you work from home. Now that spring is here, staying productive gets hard when the sun is shining and the warmer weather is calling your name.
Today I’m going to share tips on how to stay productive and get your tasks done. Then use the productivity worksheet to help you organize your lists and goals.
Focus on Five
Making a list of everything you need to accomplish can get pretty overwhelming. Instead of focusing on the entire list, pick just 3 to 5 tasks that you must accomplish today. Then focus on completing just those things. If you’ve got time or are feeling ambitious to get more done, then work on more tasks but make sure you have your ‘must accomplish’ things done first.
Break Down Bigger Projects
Have a big project that you keep avoiding? Break it down into smaller, more doable pieces. Once you have it broken down, schedule the smaller pieces on your calendar and little by little, you’ll get the project done.
Find Your Ideal Work Time
Figure out what time of the day or week you are most productive and reserve those hours to get your work done. Maybe you’re trying to work around your kids’ schedules or you might like to take afternoons off. Decide what time you do your best thinking and best work and work during those hours.
List What You’ve Accomplished
Lots of times we focus on what we have to do and not what we’ve already done. Each week, make a list of all of the things you’ve accomplished and you’ll (hopefully!) realize that you’ve done more than you thought. It will make your to do list seem a little more accomplishable.
De-Clutter Your Mind
Ever stay up at night thinking about all of the things you need to accomplish in life? It happens to the best of us. One way to de-clutter your mind is to make a list of everything you need to do – from picking up groceries to writing that book you’ve been dreaming about. Take some time to clear out everything you’ve been thinking you need to do then categorize it into 5 different sections – 1) to get done this week, 2) to get done this month, 3) to get done in the next 6 months, 4) to get done in the next year and 5) to get done in the next 5 years. When you know what’s priority, you’ll get a better idea of what you need to get accomplished right away and what you have some time to work on.
Do What You Love
Most of all, doing work that makes you happy helps you stay productive because it doesn’t feel like work. Try to incorporate your hobbies into your work and it’ll be much more fun. For example, if you hate doing the bookkeeping for your business but you love blasting your music throughout the house, only allow yourself to do that while you’re working on your bookkeeping. This will make the task more fun, and you’ll look forward to that time instead of dreading it.
Hello friends! I’m introducing a new way of working and I want to offer y’all a super special opportunity this week! I have updated my design packages and going forward I will only be taking on ONE branding client each month ‒ this way every project gets the dedicated time that it deserves! So, what is this super special opportunity?
I am giving you a chance to snatch up my May and June sessions at a discounted rate!
If your new business needs a logo or your existing company is ready for a re-brand this is your chance to jump in and book your session! April is already booked so you have the chance to book May or June with the discount!
May & June Discounted Branding Sessions
LOGO DESIGN PLUS: $1350
LOGO DESIGN: $950
How To Claim Your Spot
1. Go here to learn more about the packages. If you are not familiar with my work, feel free to check out my portfolio! 2. Send me an email with the month and package that you want. 3. Fill out this branding questionnaire. 4. If I feel we are a good fit, I’ll send a contract and the first invoice (50% non-refundable deposit) to hold your spot on the calendar!
Remember there are only two months available at this discounted rate and this will be first-come, first-serve. The first two people to email me and let me know that they are interested will get the first-chance at the discount. Even if you have a question, feel free to email me. This opportunity is open until April 2, 2013 then back to normal rates, so don’t miss out!
And if you don’t need a logo, but do need some other design work done, let’s chat!
Hey guys, Lauren is here today with her monthly dose of freelance advice! If you have any specific freelancing question, send us an email and we will answer in a future post!
Have you been dangling on the fence about whether to leave your full-time design job to go freelance? Perhaps you find yourself staring out your window at work (or more likely your tiny, claustrophobic cubicle) and daydreaming of one day being your own boss. Or maybe you calculated what you are bringing home hourly at your current job and feel gypped. Leaving your full-time job (and regular paycheck) is a big decision; you are right to consider it carefully.
I’m going to break the decision down for you into three simple categories: experience, finances and personality.
Don’t underestimate the value of prior experience. In my opinion, you need to log some tough hours in the real world before starting your own business. Use your time wisely while you are working for someone else. Learn from your mistakes (cause you will make ‘em!) Take notes from your superiors. Enjoy the collaborative design process while you have the luxury of working in an environment with other creatives. Don’t jump ship before you have learned the ropes of the biz.
You may think that freelance will be more lucrative. And it can be. But most likely it won’t start out that way. It will take hard work to build up your clientele and earn a steady income. Before turning in your resignation, I implore you to SAVE, SAVE, SAVE. It is a good idea to have approximately 6 months worth of living expenses saved before making the official leap.
Personally, going freelance was less of a strategic career move and more of a quality-of-life decision. I had a goal of being able to quit my full-time job so that I could stay home to raise my kids. My freelance business has afforded me the ability to do just that. That being said, my husband and I started preparing financially a few years in advance. We were very purposeful in committing to a mortgage payment that we could pay with ONE income, not two. We watched our spending habits – we did not let ourselves become accustomed to living on two full incomes. Because of this preparation, it didn’t seem quite as difficult to give up that regular paycheck.
Not everyone is cut out to run their own business. Just because you are a strong designer does not mean that you will be an effective freelancer. Successful business owners share key personality traits; they tend to be organized, self-motivated, driven, goal-oriented, confident, passionate, budget-minded and self-reliant. Keep in mind that you will spend less time designing and more time running the business. This includes networking, pursuing new work, selling your services, meetings with clients, phone calls, invoicing, accounting, etc.
This advice is not meant to scare you or discourage you from pursuing a freelance career. If anything I want to adequately prepare you! Going freelance was one of the best decisions I ever made. I can’t tell you how great it is to finally call my own shots, make my own schedule and choose to take on projects that I am passionate about. I especially appreciate the relationships I have built with my clients.
If you are currently considering going freelance, do you have any specific questions? Or, if you are already working on a freelance basis, do you have any additional tips to share? Love to hear from you!