Generally speaking, by the time a prospective client reaches out to me, they have discovered their “pain points.” They realize they need a new look for their brand in the form of updated marketing materials, web site or logo. Or they need updates for their brochure, or a new brochure entirely. Or maybe they have an event coming up and need some materials designed to promote it. Sometimes, a project snowballs into other projects once the client realizes that the new piece looks so much better than their other marketing materials. I’m not going to lie, I really enjoy those! But often, the client doesn’t realize their materials are out of date and need some design love. So I’m here to pose 5 tough questions to clients. [Read more…]
Put Yourself Out There
Have you joined the local chapter of your relevant trade association(s) yet? If not, I highly recommend you do this. Even if there isn’t a local chapter, you can still join the association online and reap most of the benefits of being a member. Many of those benefits include discounts for various services and businesses relevant to yours, job listing bulletin boards, training in your specific field, being listed in their provider directory, networking with like-minded professionals in your line of work, and even equipment for your business. [Read more…]
Co-working For The Work-At-Home Professional
By definition, co-working is the use of an office or other working environment by people who are self-employed or working for different employers, typically so as to share equipment, ideas, and knowledge.
“The whole idea of coworking is to bring bright, creative people together and let the ideas collide”
A little change in scenery does the body good. And sometimes getting up from your desk to let the dog out or answer the door doesn’t quite cut it. Does anyone else besides me sit and stare at the computer screen for hours doing mindless tasks, but then as soon as you head out the door to exercise or take a ride in the car, suddenly you are struck with creative genius, full of ideas and inspiration? I get this frequently. And I wish there was a way to harness that inspiration and recall it when I return to my desk, because sometimes it’s fleeting.
But there are times when I pack up my phone, laptop and notebook and head to a coffee shop or co-working space to join a colleague, and even though I might be working on the same tasks as I had been at my home office, it’s different. I can’t really put my finger on it, but I know it has to do with the changed setting. There’s something to be said about switching it up.
At home, we don’t have a water cooler or copy machine where we can stand around and catch up on our coworkers lives. We have our Skype, or our email, or our phones. We don’t even have to leave our desks. Ever. And it’s really easy to forget to get up and step away from the screen for a few minutes once in a while for a “brain reset”.
Maybe a great solution a few days a week, give or take, is to “take it on the run” like REO Speedwagon and spend a few hours or the entire day co-working. That could mean going to a wifi-equipped coffee shop, or a designated co-working office space with like-minded need-to-get-out-of-the-house folks, or even pay for a dedicated private space which includes a door and a phone. Whatever it means for you, know that your only option isn’t sitting in that same chair in that same home office day after day.
In addition, there’s another perk to co-working. You don’t have to work in solitude every single day. It can help just being in proximity to other humans who are doing what they do, to make you realize you’re not as alone as you thought. You can strike up a conversation with them or not, but just knowing they are there can be a help. I’ve been doing this work-from-home thing for 8 years and I’m here to tell you, it can be pretty isolating. I love my dog and having her there at my feet every day is one of my favorite parts of working from home. But once in a while being one of the “worker bees” amongst my “tribe” provides a unique feeling of solidarity that can’t be achieved alone in my home office.
If you feel your productivity or your creativity is sometimes slipping, perhaps it would help to get out of the home studio once in a while.
Just, stop. What’s worse, stop letting your clients noodle your work until it’s no longer your work. When you send a draft to a client, accept the markups for typos and the things you feel are valid feedback, but don’t let them ask you to tweak your design to the point of it no longer being your work, but their piece of garbage attempt at design.
Remember, they hired you. Remind them if you need to, and ask (politely) that they respect your design decisions and explain (politely) why you feel that certain feedback won’t look good or won’t work with the vision you had. They will respect you more for speaking up than they will if you cow to every single tweak they suggest. Just because they are suggesting it, doesn’t mean it will look better.
I recently fired a client that noodled my work to the point that I will never ever show anyone this work in a portfolio (it’s no where on this site either) because in the end, it looks awful. I allowed them to turn it into crap and I resent them for that. I hate the work I did for them, and I wish it didn’t have to be that way.
So that is why I’m passing this advice along.
If you feel confident in your skills as a graphic designer, you need to believe in yourself and ask permission to have creative license. Once that is granted, if it’s granted, please don’t let others make your beautiful work turn into a beast, like I did. If that permission isn’t granted, give some serious thought to whether to continue with them as a client. Stand firm and be true to your designer side.
In the end, you will be grateful you did. No designer should ever resent their work.