Archive for the ‘ADVICE’ Category

02.14.13

NEW COLUMN ABOUT RUNNING A BLOG!

so the other day as i was driving around i realized i had the entire contents of a DIY shoot in my passenger seat. my back seats were filled with bundles of tulle, clothes and shoes from a style shoot and my trunk was stuffed with supplies for an interior shoot. it was at that point i fully realized it…i’m running a blog. out of my car.

things with designlovefest have happened so fast, and creating all this original content hasn’t been easy. it is getting easier, but there are so many things i had to figure out on my own (and so many i’m still figuring out!)

although putting in all this effort has been so rewarding, i would have loved a resource when i was starting out. some advice and tips on the things i was trying to do, and some sage guidance on what pitfalls to avoid.

i wanted to start this new column because it’s something that would have helped me tremendously, and there are just so, so many things i’ve learned that i want to share. from producing your own shoots, to staging and styling, to working with brands and managing a team of contributors, so many elements go into creating your own brand and business. i really hope to demystify some of these things, and i want to know, what are you wondering?

please comment with your questions and i’ll try to answer as many as i can. i will be sharing things from my point of view and sprinkling in wisdom from my friends, contributors and other experts on the subjects at hand.

this week we’re going to cover DIY shoots and what you need to make it happen…

• have fabric on hand to lay down for overhead shots. it can be a tea towel, tablecloth or just scraps. i’ve shot on curtains, rugs, you name it. when you’re taking tight shots, all that matters is that it looks clean on camera. everyone needs a neutral canvas or linen backdrop.

• i like to shoot between 7 and 10 am to get the best natural light. it’s important to find a bright, but shady spot. try to work in direct sunlight. this means looking around for whatever room gets the best light…sometimes it’s my bedroom, sometimes the living room. do a couple tests in each room…sure, you can fix the brightness in photoshop, but it’s best to start with that beautiful light!

• it’s much easier to style when you can do it in frame. by this i mean looking through the lens to see what the photographer sees, or have it set up to see the shot immediately on a laptop. you get much more control and can ensure the final product is the best it can be when you can adjust as you shoot. a lot of the times i shoot a quick photo on my phone to show the photographer the angle that i am envisioning. they can take it or leave it.

• think details! , who photographs all our make it posts says, “I’ve learned that it is really important to capture each step of the process as you’re doing it, even if you don’t end up using each photo. Most bloggers are naturally visual people, so the more visual details the better!”

• while you can certainly shoot with an iphone, having the right equipment helps. says kim, “I always use a wide lens because it’s easier on the eyes to see a wider perspective of the process rather than basic close-ups. oh, and one more thing, GET COMFORTABLE WITH A TRIPOD!!” this will help make sure the framing is consistent in each shot. kim definitely learned to love the ‘pod through working on our DIYs.

• keep a kit on hand. we have a big tupperware bin filled with the essentials that come to every DIY shoot. the canvas blanket, scissors, pens, glue, etc. this is helpful for cleanup too – just throw it all back in the bin! and speaking of supplies…we like to invest in good looking ones. for instance, having  around is going to make your photos look snazzy. see!

• based on , people pin the finished shot the most (by far!) so put in the most effort when you are styling that shot! people like to pin or an that incorporates the item. when you are choosing the shot to use, look at the image small. does it read clearly in thumbnail form? then that’s the one you want to use! is just a bunch of tiny images and you want to make yours read in a sea of photos.

• for ease of shooting & time saving, it’s best to prep the project so it’s ready to shoot in different stages. for example, natalie shows up ready with several different versions on the craft: finished, half-finished and all the supplies to make it. you don’t actually want to be making the craft the day of!

• a lot of effort goes into actually posting / linking / adding graphics / writing the DIY posts. i require that the photos are due at least 2 days before the post date so I can prep everything in advance.

• plan out your ideas! i am always thinking about how i can style the environmental shot the night before so that i am not wandering around aimlessly, wasting people’s time when they come over to shoot. natalie is usually setting up her steps for kim to shoot while i am in the other room styling the finished shot (have a backup plan too!)

check out some examples our our make it posts here. have a burning question? comment below!

top photo by:  & s by

02.13.13

ADVICE / 51

today’s question: “how do you tell your existing clients you’re raising your rates?”

KATIE’S ANSWER:
your reason for raising your prices could be a personal matter or maybe you’ve recently looked at your business plan and you realize you’re not profiting enough. when it comes to telling your clients about your new fee, just be honest. be prepared to give a reason or two to justify the increase. explain to them what investments you’ve made to your skills or business that caused the increase. maybe you just took bri’s and now the quality of your work is SO MUCH better. are you faster? do you know more tricks so you can take your videos to the next level? find something to tell them so it doesn’t seem like you’re just making up a number out of thin air.

now that i’m full time freelance i have to raise my rate because it will be my only income. but! instead of the client waiting weeks for rounds of their designs (i was previously working nights and weekends) i can turn it around in a couple of days to a week. higher prices but faster turnarounds. i will also have the time to be available during the day and give them the attention they deserve. if your client is upset you could try to sweeten the deal if by throwing in an extra service if they’re not happy about your new rate. hopefully they will respect you enough as an artist and make it work.

when you’ve figured out how high you’re raising your fees, give your clients at least a months notice so they can work it into their budget. if they give you a hard time or it’s totally out of budget for them it’s your decision how to proceed. do you find a number that works for the both of you? do you raise your fee gradually over the course of 3 months? if you love the work you’re doing with them maybe you’re willing to give them a special rate.

if someone leaves you because of your new rate, don’t sweat it. they probably didn’t appreciate or value your work enough. just keep moving on. use that extra time to find new clients. every year you’re in business, it’s another year of experience under your belt. doesn’t that justify some sort of increase?

BRI’S ANSWER
this can be awkkkk-ward. but necessary. like katie said, it really depends on your current financial situation. if you are trying to make a living on design but your friends keep asking you to do work for them at major discounts (which means you won’t have time for paying jobs) then how is that fair? looking back i’ve noticed a few things…when you are young, just starting out and have potential…people will notice it. they will try to snatch you up at low prices, and you are going to be stoked because you just want to work! believe me, i have had people reach out to me asking “do you know any young designers…ones that will do it for cheap?” this industry keeps it’s eyes out for fresh meat because they are eager, willing and save them a few bucks. it’s just how it goes (but this is just based on my experience.)

then you grow up a little, learn that you have been charging WAY too low, get a lot more experience with pricing and people either go two ways with it. they hire you on big jobs or they move on to the next fresh meat. that part usually has an email that sounds like “i know i can’t afford you anymore, but do you know anyone?” it can be a bit hurtful because you say to yourself…”oh, they just wanted someone who would do it for free or cheap.” but don’t take it personal. people will always try to save a dime. you will have other new clients by then and it won’t faze you.

be up front with people about your rates. you can still offer friend discounts (i do) but just don’t charge a low amount or do a project for free and be resentful about it later.

(illustration by . read more freelance advice posts are over here!)

02.06.13

ADVICE / 50

today’s question: “what do you love about freelancing?”

KATIE’S ANSWER:
well, as of this monday i am finally a full time freelancer! (!!!!!!!) i’ve been freelancing on my nights and weekends for the last 4 years and i finally felt comfortable and confident to go out on my own.

so far i’ve loved being able to pick and choose my projects. there is nobody to tell me what to do. it’s my decision. there are fun and lame projects that i get inquiries for. i no longer drag my feet on projects i don’t like…i just say yes to the ones i want to work on!

i also love meeting new people and collaborating with them. being able to explore different brands and companies big and small. everyone is looking for something different and i love the challenge of designing into different aesthetics. i also keep learning how small the design world is. there is always some sort of degree of separation. if a potential client reaches out to me about a project that isn’t something i like to do, i always try to refer them to another freelancer. and same goes for client to designer. i’ve had jobs comes from past clients referring me to their friends and coworkers.

what i hope to love now that i’m full time is that i can come and go and work as i please. i’m currently working inhouse with kate spade saturday for bit but when that contract is over i’m on my own. i’ve always wanted to take classes at the gym before work but they’ve started too late. soon that won’t be a problem (and now I have no excuse). i’m looking forward to making my own schedule and not being tied down to one thing or place. grocery shopping during the day when nobody is there. leisurely lunch dates with other freelance friends. i’m excited.

BRI’S ANSWER:
when i first started freelancing i remember being very excited that i didn’t have to wake up at a certain time to go to work. very quickly i realized i would be working way more than when i worked a 9-5 job and now i wake up at 7am usually. it’s funny how that works.

but really, i love almost everything about freelancing. (sure, the paperwork, taxes, insurance junk isn’t the best) but i love that i have the time & freedom to execute my ideas. i don’t have to deal with office politics (i used to work under an art director at an old job of mine that was a huge ass 90% of the time.) i can lay on the couch in my pajamas or brunch with my friends in the middle of the day. i can be creative when it feels most natural to me.

after 2 years of being out on my own i feel like i have really found the projects that make me the most happy and learned an enormous amount about myself as an artist. i have been able to connect with more people (lunch dates or phone calls that i couldn’t take when i was at my corporate job.) this past year of traveling and exploring would have never happened if i didn’t take that leap.

as freelancers, it’s up to us to form the life that we want to live. it’s a ton of responsibility, yes. but i wouldn’t trade it for anything. there actually hasn’t been a day that i have regretted going out on my own. for those of you that are close to making the transition, i know it’s scary but there really are SO many wonderful things about it.

what do you guys love about freelance life? and congrats to katie!!! so proud of you, girl. you’ll have to share with us how the transition goes!

(illustration by . read more freelance advice posts are over here!)

01.30.13

ADVICE / 49

today’s question: “do you listen to music or watch tv when you work?”

KATIE’S ANSWER:
i’ve found i’m the most productive when i turn on my “get it done playlist”. you can listen to it  (you’ll need spotify). it’s a mix of rap, old mariah carey and paul simon songs. yes it’s random, but they’re songs that i can bounce in my chair to. i wear these and i turn the music up really loud and just work. i’m currently listening to it as i’m writing this. i’m shaking my shoulders to jay-z.

sometimes i will have a movie or a tv show on in the background but i always catch myself stopping to watch. depending on what i’m working on it’s fine, but if i have a deadline or i’m working on a project hourly, that doesn’t work.

i recently moved my desk in my apartment to the living room from my bedroom. i’ve been forcing myself to sit at it instead of lounging on the couch or in bed. since i just moved my desk it’s really clean…there isn’t much on it. it seems to be working. i feel like i’m being more productive but i might just be telling myself that.

BRI’S ANSWER:
my job requires a lot of emails, multi-tasking, and planning…so sometimes i need total silence in order to be in the zone. but that can get boring, so if i am just browsing around for blog content, or designing then i like to have music on in the background. for some reason headphones don’t work for me…i feel like i can’t think! i love using and crossing my fingers that my employees like what’s playing while we work.

if i did like wearing headphones i would wear this pretty . my boyfriend worked on the mechanical design for them, so i get very proud girlfriend syndrome about those.

i also put together lots of playlists to put on during blogshop. music is such an important part of an event! (totally random but i like them all – scroll down to see the whole list.) don’t judge…i listen to soul, cheesy pop, rap, and throwback 90’s jams…

(illustration by . read more freelance advice posts are over here!)

01.23.13

ADVICE / 48

today’s question: how do you present your work?

BRI & KATIE’S ANSWERS (mixed together this time!)

in an interview…

when i was about to graduate college i was interviewing left and right. my book was 8.5″ x 11″ (perfect for fitting in my bag) sturdy (it was touched by so many hands) and made of orange plexi with sheet protectors on the inside. it was really easy to rearrange or make edits if i changed my mind later. there was minimal copy in my layouts because i think its better to talk about my work vs. having the interviewer read it. i did have friends that went above and beyond with a printed and bound book. they looked really great, but they would get so frustrated when they decided they wanted to add a project. last year i transfered over to an ipad. it’s cleaner and i’ve found that people love to be able to zoom into projects to get a closer look. i don’t have to worry about getting my pages nicely printed and can update it so much faster. i also got a nice bright red case to match back to my resume and it usually matches something i’m wearing.

and be confident in the way that you speak about the work…you should be able to say a few sentences about each project in case they ask you specifics about them. if you don’t have anything to say about the project, it probably means that you don’t love it…so take that one out. a few things to think about when explaining a project: your inspiration, why you loved it, an interesting back story, the vibe you were trying to capture…

and how about something you can leave with them? we get our blogshop magazines printed at (affordable & pretty good quality!) you could make a little magazine with examples of your work, a little about you, and your resume in the back. just a fun idea to think about.

to a client…

i work with most of my clients over emails ands. for each round of delivery i place their files on a with my logo and information at the top of each page. i include the date, deliverable round, brief description and my info. sometimes the elements need some descriptive copy that i include off to the side. and! i always watermark everything just incase. i’ve never experienced a client running off with my work (knock on wood) but i’ve hear horror stories.

no matter what, always present your best and favorite pieces. it will really show by the way you talk about it or just by how amazing it looks. don’t overwhelm the viewer with too many options.

always remember, you want this process to be a creative experience. you want them to feel engaged and excited when they see an email come in from you! so if that means going the extra mile and photoshopping the logo option that you love on a shopping bag so they can envision it, do it! the 5 minutes that took you to do will often seal the deal!

(illustration by . read more freelance advice posts are over here!)

www.alt-energy.in.ua

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