Friday, January 28, 2011

On getting stuff straight

There are people that are super organized, always on the ball, have the super organized lives.  Well I'm not one of them.  Most people are a little too busy to worry about organization.  So I've developed a few tactics for getting organized and getting a little bit ahead.  I'm not necessarily talking about your office, just life in general.

Illustration via sxc user sraburton

1.  Find 15 minutes a day to get organized.

Whether its a matter of filing papers, picking up clothes off the floor or organizing your inbox, it all helps.

2.  Don't add to the mess.

When you bring new items into a cluttered area, take the time to put them away.  Even if you aren't done working through the old mess, it helps not to make it bigger.

3.  Once the area is straight, do something to clean it.

Dust off a desk, vacuum a floor, do something to clean a little.  If you do something to really clean more than just clear clutter, you'll be more likely to keep the area clean longer.

4.  Work on getting ahead.

One thing that I've found is that you have to be interested in being organized.  If you're behind, try to set aside 15 hours a week to work on catching yourself up on whatever it is.  Online classes, cleaning up clutter, anything!  Yes, this might tap into your "personal time" but your "personal time" is probably what got you behind to begin with.

5.  Go shopping!

While that may sound silly, it really is important!  This a two step process.  I find the easiest way to stay organized is to buy things that keep you interested in being organized.  If binders work, get them.  If its pretty folders, hanging tabs, whatever.  Buy it.  Sure, some of it may seem expensive, unnecessary, etc but if you think it will help in the long run, do it.

The second part is to reward yourself.  When the job is done, its important to reward yourself for the progress.  Go out for a nice dinner, get a manicure, something special.  I'm a firm believer in rewarding yourself when you do something well, otherwise you're likely to slip into old habits because there's no reason to preform the good habits.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The smartest ad I've ever seen

Ok so first off let me say that this will most likely shatter any image of me being a responsible, mature adult.  I mean I truly am, but this will be an exception.

One hard part about marketing (which is honestly a whole new world for me) is knowing your target audience.  The obvious first reaction when considering your target audience is going "Well I want everyone to buy my product!" you really don't.  Just trust me.

So the back story behind this is that I was eating at Wegman's yesterday with some friends and we started discussing this new Diet Dr. Pepper ad where they apparently say...Enis.  No really.  That's what they said.  I didn't drop off a P.  But it totally sounds like it.  The link is below (please let me know if it dies and I'll try to find another), please know that this is not my video and I don't recommend anyone under 13 or with highly sensitive ears watching it ok here it is:

Doesn't it sound like they say p....?!  I'm trying to keep this G-rated but seriously!  But talk about knowing your target audience!  That commercial will make anyone with a slightly immature sense of humor laugh and replay it several times and then pass it onto their friends.  Hello...viral videos are one of the BEST ways to spread information about your marketing!  Not to mention that gets "Have you seen that DIET DR. PEPPER ad?" buzzing around in everyday conversations...great product placement!  Well done.  Even though its so wrong.

Also, I'm still aiming for 2 blog posts a week, but I think I'm revising my goal to be 110 posts this year total, which should beat the 2 a week average by just a few.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I'm back!

I truly never meant to not blog this long.  Actually it was a goal of mine to blog twice a week every week this year and the second week in, BAM I got an awful cold.  Which led me to realize that the best tissues are in really ugly packages and that the medicines that I pick, I associate by color (red=for coughing, orange=for congestion, purple=tastes good but isn't really that effective...) which makes for a bit of a hard time when trying to get someone to pick you up the right medicine from the store.  The cold is mostly gone and I believe that I'll be adjusting that resolution to be blogging twice a week for 50/52 of the weeks of the year.  Let's get real.  Stuff happens.

Which is what today's post is about.  Stuff happens.  Life gets in the way sometime.  With freelancing, its not as easy to have a fluke as a normal day job (which btw I was fortunate enough to have some paid time off to cover the time I was off for my cold).  In all honesty, Sunday was the first time I thought in a week.  I'm sure you're going "What does that mean?!"  Well I'll tell you.  The Sunday before this past one, I was very groggy after waking up from a nap which either means that I A. overslept or B. am getting a cold.  Of course I didn't realize this until Monday when I started making my "I'm sick" face at people, getting told I looked awful and all around felt like that.  In fact that's what my loving boyfriend (we'll call him T.) started calling me and asking lovely things like "How is Death doing today?"  But I digress.

As a freelancer, when life gets in the way there's only so many options that you have when things come up.  You can be honest with the client and say that you really can't do your job due to X, you can lie to them, or you can just hope that they don't notice something is wrong.

I had a fantastic teacher in college who made it clear that it was important to follow through with your clients and meet deadlines no matter what and that the only time she hadn't met one was when she was in the hospital and she had another designer finish the project.  That my friends is the type of work ethic I would love to be known for.

I'm not there yet though.  That might not be the best thing to admit, but I pride myself in being honest about my work.  Its hard for me to manage school, full time work and freelance work.  I have this theory that only 75% of your life can go correctly at a time, the other 25% slips over time.  For example, if your love life rocks, your work rocks and you're balancing all your relationships might be hard to manage getting to the gym because you're spending all your time balancing everything else.  The same certainly applies to me.  I'll admit that I'm playing catch up on some schoolwork that I had loosened my timeline on to make time for freelance work.  It will be a lot easier once I only have work and freelancing but right now I feel like a bit of a circus doing all this juggling.  So when a client asked last month if I had time to work on a project the next week I said no.  I explained I didn't have any openings until mid-January but if he got in a pinch, I recommended a few freelance bidding sites.  Why?  I guess I wanted to be honest and even though I was hoping he wouldn't jump to a bidding site (which he didn't) when life gets in your way and you have a client, you need to not through a rock in their way too.

So yeah, here's my first post of the week, which means that I need to either do one tomorrow or Saturday to hit my goal.  I've totally got this!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Truth

The truth isn't always the easiest thing to explain but it does certainly leave a good foundation if nothing else.  This is not the usual style of my blog to admit something that I'd rather not admit but here it goes.

The truth is that I never meant to start a freelancing company.  There.  I said it.

I'm sure you're thinking one of three things.  Either:
1.  Who cares (well you're the one reading this, aren't you)?
2.  Why would you admit that (it goes to the foundation laying...just go with it)?
3.  How did you "accidentally" start a freelancing company?

The third answer is a little more complicated.  I had no intention at all of starting up a company but it more or less ended up being a bit of a necessity.  I have a friend that works with a furniture company who called up in summer 2010 and asked if I would be interested in some freelancing work.  The answer I should have given would have been no, I'm swamped with schoolwork and adjusting to my fabulous new job.  But this is me, little Miss Entrepreneur, so I had to say yes.  Its like I enjoy not having free time or something.  So the first meeting something came up making the meeting relatively unproductive. The second meeting was better until the owner was saying that he would need my EIN.  My who?  Fortunately, I have an acquaintance who is an accountant and was able to inform me all about getting your EIN (also known as a business tax ID number...if you want to know how, just ask) and on my way to deciding between a LLC or a sole proprietorship.  Again...note the dumbfounded stare.  So before I made my choice, I did a bit of research online and basically here's the difference (please note I'm not a lawyer or do I know all the little details...this is simply the blog of a graphic designer):

If you get sued by your customer (let's hope not but just in case)...
...a LLC license (in Maryland at least) will cost about $100 and the suer can only go after your business assets.  Mine are still at a laughable amount, although I'm a big believer of the "better safe than sorry" theory.
...a sole proprietorship costs you nothing but the suer can go after all your belongings...personal or business.

Now there are some instances where you might not need that protection.  I personally prefer it though because while I have an iron clad contract with my clients and am very careful of copyright laws, I don't always know that they will be.  Not everyone is familiar with copyright laws and attributions on images for example, so while I make a best effort to find out the licensing on provided image, nothing is there to stop a client from simply pulling a picture off Google and saying its legit!  Like I said, better safe than sorry.

So that is the story of how Line-ily LLC was born.  Not the most romantic story in the world, however I had always thought about becoming a freelancer on the side of my full time work (I love working with a group of people more than by myself so I will always have a full time job outside of freelancing), I just didn't expect it to fall into my lap so suddenly.  There is obviously a far longer story than this of the start up of Line-ily LLC, but that is another story for another night.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Oooo la la how French!

No, I don't mean those French...I mean these French!  I ordered what I thought would just simply be a swatch book or two, but no!  I actually got 8 books full of delicious colors and some of the most wonderful papers I have seen!  Now for those of you who may not know, I am a bit of a paper junkie.  Ok that has to be the understatement of the year.  I have 3 filing boxes of paper swatch books that I have collected during/after college...none of them are duplicates.  I'm dead serious... French Paper has to seriously be one of my favorites though, since I saw a sample of their paper in an issue of How magazine, way back when in 2006.  So I believe that I've figured out exactly which colors and what not I'll be using on my friend's baby announcements in the near future!  Really, it will be super fantastic!  Especially when my new styling paper trimmer/cutter comes in.  I should probably start thinking about where thats going to live!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year everyone!  I know that everyone is blogging about their New Year's resolutions, so I thought I would throw my hat in the ring.  Instead of telling you all the personal ones (really there are only so many times one should have to read "I want to lose weight" or "I'll go to the gym more"), I've broken this into 20 goals for the business and 11 items I would like to purchase with business funds in 2011.  I'll do my best to keep this updated as I go through the list.  Are you ready?  Here we go!

To Do:
1.   Redesign (done 2/3/11)
2.   Finish classes with all A/A+grades...this one is semi personal but will GREATLY benefit the business
3.   Post a blog at least twice a week for 50 weeks (1/50 complete) 110 times this year (13/110)
4.   Order business cards
5.   Set up a Facebook account for Line-ily
6.   Relocate
7.   Buy a PO box
8.   Gross $2000 minimum
9.   Avoid purchasing unnecessary items with business funds
10. Make custom thank you and holiday cards
11. Improve the Website Grader rating to at least a 70 and be in the top 35% with Alexa rankings (current ratings are 58 and 23.41% respectively 3/5/11)
12. Get Etsy shop up and running
13. Participate more actively in the design community
14. Figure out how SEO works and attempt to implement strategies
15. Do at least one "fun" project
16. Take more (good) pictures
17. Attend a design conference or lecture OR make serious plans to attend one in 2012
18. Tweet at least 3 times a week, without tweeting too much (10/52)
19. Attend at least one paper show
20. Organize work area and keep it that way

To Buy (or build):
1.   A magazine subscription to How (I miss reading it)
2.   A drying rack for screen printing projects
3.   A paper organizer of sorts for the mass amounts of paper I've collected over the years
4.   A new desk
5.   A new desk chair
6.   Several work related books
7.   A bookshelf for the massive quantity of books that I already have
8.   A new Mac
9.   CS6 (if it comes out in 2011)
10. Inks, emulsion, other supplies for the Yudu
11. A stock photography subscription