Is the business card dead?

Interesting thought about business cards, are they really dead? I think this one is a matter of opinion, but in this graphic designers mind, they are most certainly not.

Social media dominates our world. All you have to do is look at the phone book that was recently delivered. That book is an old dinosaur to most folks. I used to sit on the directory as a child when I needed to be higher up to the table, and it weighed quite a few pounds. The recently delivered telephone book was about the size of a journal. The bigger questions is how many times do you refer to that book in your daily life today? Never would be my answer because I go online and search for what I need.

This leads me to the topic of conversation, the business card. Will it soon join its friend in the land of the dinosaurs? I don’t believe so and here is why.

Let’s do a little scenario. You are at a networking event and have to introduce yourself quickly to multiple people. What is the quickest way to do that? Business card.

Second scenario. You have been invited to speak at a monthly meeting, and these people could be your potential clients. You have 3 minutes to leave a lasting impression, and you can hand out materials. Leave the brochure, leave the rack card but make sure you leave the business card too because that is what will get kept. It may go in a bowl or a Rolodex, maybe even thrown into a drawer but it will be there and when they think of you and what will they search for? Business card.

Third and final scenario. An existing client has a meeting and meets someone who could use your services, but you are not there. They chat about you, talk about what a fantastic business you are, it’s a perfect fit. Luckily what does the supporter have to pass on to this possible new customer? Business card.

Ok, I think that is all the role playing we need for now. Hopefully, you are beginning to see my point. In our world today I still firmly believe you need a card to identify and remind people what you do. A friend recently told me she heard a podcast where they were discussing why you no longer need business cards because social media was your story. I believe that is partly true. Social media is a great tool for showing people what we do on a daily basis. However, the beginning of the story, the cover of your book starts with you and your business card.

Hurricane Survival, What this Designer Learned

Hurricane Matthew, what a nightmare! I lived in Florida forty-three years before relocating to Georgia, never have I ever evacuated. Please know that I am not a rebel who refuses to leave, we just never got to that point where it was a mandatory evacuation. This time, it was no joke and with kids in tow, we weren’t taking any chances.

xxx

Wednesday, October 5th – Storm is approaching. People ask the Floridian (me) if she is evacuating. I jokingly say, “Nah, I am a Floridian, we don’t leave for hurricanes.” Seriously though, I was kidding when I said this but truly in my heart I never thought it would get to the point where I actually considered leaving. Some of our neighbors already started to leave in the neighborhood. Electricity is still on.

xxx

Morning of Thursday, October 6th – Storm is flipping huge and it’s coming to us, directly in our path and it’s a category 4 storm. Now, I am considering leaving. By noon nerves are completely shot with worry. Thoughts like did we get enough insurance, did we wait too long, why did I say I was working on this day when I can barely think, should we just hunker down or go now? And by the way, the “hunker down” word currently makes me cringe because until you actually have to do it, it has a completely different meaning. Facebook posts are running wild at this point with people posting that they are leaving. A Mandatory evacuation of Zone A in Glynn County comes over the news, we are Zone B. Real worry sets in. No work done. Electricity is still on.

xxx

Afternoon of Thursday, October 6th – Our neighborhood is windy and overcast, many have already left. We are preparing to leave. We hadn’t fully committed but we were packing and getting things ready so in our hearts I think we were ready to go. Two kids, two dogs, the cat and two very nervous parents. Around 1:30 p.m. the mandatory evacuation came over the tv, we decided to listen and leave. We took my husband’s car, it’s smaller than mine but I need new tires and didn’t want to make a long trip longer. We only had room for the living things in our home, important papers, hard drives and a couple nights of clothes. The good things, the things you really wanted to take like my grandfather’s 100-year-old toolbox, had to stay. Although I know what matters in life and that this is just a thing, it is still a memory and it was difficult to leave it and many other items as well like photographs, just in case. We evacuated to Florida of all places, my hometown of Inverness. No work done. Electricity is still on.

xxx

Morning of Friday, October 7th – Mentally exhausted from the whole ordeal and the trip that took almost six hours instead of the normal three. The hurricane is still moving at a snail’s pace in our minds. Spent the day trying to entertain the kids and checking in with the neighbors who stayed. Went to the movies with the kids, did a little shopping, never acknowledging the fact that there was a tropical storm warning in the town where we were staying, that explained all the wind. Checking Facebook, storm is still moving, would make landfall that evening at our home in Georgia. Those who stayed kept in touch. No work done. Electricity still on.

xxx

Afternoon of Friday, October 7th – Lots of news channel watching, we were like deer in headlights as we watched these colors move across the screen. It was moving with the shape of the coast, slowly. Reports coming in of damage it left in it’s path. St. Augustine, one of my favorite places, took a monstrous beating. Our neighbors at home sent video of the wind and our house before it actually came. I worried, I wanted to know if the pines in the backyard would still be standing when we returned. Nightfall came and at 10:35 they lost power, the storm was at full force. No work done. I barely slept.

xxx

Morning of Saturday, October 8th – It was gone. We waited patiently for those at home to report and no damage. We were so relieved, we had a home to come back to. There was no flooding, at most we would loose the food in the fridge. A sense of relief came until we started watching the news. Those around us were not as lucky. Shrimp boats sank, trees on roofs, they wouldn’t even let people back into their homes, we were one of the lucky ones. We packed up, anxious to return but State troopers blocked the exits into the county. Again, social media is our friend and with these reports, we sat tight because we didn’t want to pack up the circus only to be turned away. No work done. Electricity still off.

xxx

Afternoon of Saturday, October 8th – Still determined to leave to come home. Unpacked and decided to go early morning instead. Better safe than sorry, poor husband is officially sick. No work done. Electricity still off.

xxx

Morning of Sunday, October 9th – We are going home. Packed up everyone headed out. Many trees down along the way. Closer to home we see power lines down, homes with trees, very large trees toppled over, some were not so lucky with trees on roofs. After seeing this I am glad we left. We set an example for the kids and they understood why we did go. Our house is fine, our neighbors are fine, their houses are fine, everyone else has started coming home. We shared things like stories and food, we took care of each other, any differences of any kind were put aside. The kids played together outside, the sky was clear and the temperature was in the 70’s. We couldn’t have ordered a more perfect day after all that chaos. I felt connected to living here, I felt like this was my home for the first time since we moved here. I wanted to paint a wall. I know this will sound ridiculous, but I have never moved into a house that didn’t need something. This house was complete when we moved in, we bought it so we wouldn’t have to do anything since we worked so hard on our last house. However, I never felt like I owned it or that it needed me until we returned home. Tragedy, of any kind, whether you actually experience it or were grazed by it affects us all in the oddest ways. For me, this was something that I did not expect. Living here now instead of just being here. I found my place, right here where I had been all along. No work done. Electricity still off.

xxx

Evening of Sunday, October 9th –  The sun went down and we had lost light for less than an hour, candles were going and the kids were putting on a show to pass the time when the electricity came back on. For a moment we were pioneers, it was nice. To my surprise they were disappointed, I was too. We lost power for a less than 48 hours, thanks to the awesome folks at Georgia Power.

I lost two days of work, just two. Many businesses couldn’t even open once they finally got back to work until a week later, some had damage and lost two weeks or more. For any small business, one day lost is huge, more than that can be crucial.  This act of mother nature, while it put things into perspective for me, affected so many people up and down ourFlorida and Georgia coast financially. It was a lesson on many levels and I asked myself what I had learned in all of this. The people, the places you worry about while you are gone, take note of those. Support those businesses after they are back up and running. We can’t do everything alone, but we can support each other by going to dinner at a local restaurant, by buying gifts in a local store, hiring professional services locally, it’s the little things that really add up. Have your friends and family come and visit where you live this year for their vacation to help put money back into this area, support the trusted people you know. At the end of the day we are all in this together. We are a community that supports each other. Electricity is back on and I am picking out paint colors.

 

What Do Graphic Designers Do?

Many people have said to me lately “I don’t know exactly what you do.” When I hear that I get worried. I think to myself am I not doing something right to communicate to my clients what I actually do? What can I do better? Have they not been paying attention to my posts on social media? But then it dawned on me, I truly don’t think people understand all that graphic designers do.

zzz

If you Google this question here is your answer:  “Graphic designers create visual concepts, using computer software or by hand, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, and captivate consumers. They develop the overall layout and production design for various applications such as advertisements, brochures, magazines, and corporate reports.”  But what do graphic designers, freelancers like myself actually do? There is a long list so get a cup of coffee, sit back and be ready to be amazed! Ok, we don’t have to go that far but here is the list.

zzz

Logos. Branding. Business Cards. Packaging. Menus. Brochures. Rack Cards. Promotional Items. Consultation for Non-Creatives. Invitations. Blog & Website Concept Design. Digital Banners & Ads. Letterhead. Custom Stationary. Billboards. Appointment Cards. Post Cards. Surface Pattern Design. Signage. Folders. Mailers. Stamps. Stickers. Posters. Printables. Thank You Notes. Tote Bags. Wrapping Paper. Gift Boxes. The Label on Your Favorite Salsa. Your Favorite Dress. Umbrellas. T-Shirts. Get Where I Am Going With This? We Are Literally Everywhere.

zzz

My, my where do I start. There are truly so many things we are capable of. However, many of us have a strong point. Something we love in this crazy design world more than anything else. For me, it’s a logo. But it doesn’t just stop with a logo, I love all the things need for creating an entire brand such as business cards, letterhead, I love to make it all work together. Many times before people ask why I enjoy it so much and the truth is, I can’t stop it. I drive by businesses every day and think to myself, “How would I have done it differently.” I know that sounds crazy but I do believe there are some things you are just really good at in life. This is mine. Now, with this being said, this does not mean I won’t do anything else. Of course, I will! I have the skills needed to design and have printed many items on paper or digital or any surface really. We are the folks who set up the things you need for your life with programs you have no idea how to use. Like a plumber who comes to fix a leak in your house that you also would not attempt to do yourself. Hire a designer, be proud of your results. Hire a designer who is an actual person you can talk to and not someone somewhere who you will probably never meet or know their name. Hire someone who wants to make you and your business better, who invests in you equally as much as you invest in them.

Graphic designers have a skill set of style cultivated through many years of education, along with many aches and pains…kidding. Critiques are rough y’all! But we are flexible, we want to help you with various projects, not just your logo but also that menu that has the logo we helped you create on top of it. We know a lot about printing and could probably give you some money saving advice without compromising the vibe of your business. I highly encourage you to create a relationship with a designer you know. You just might find a sensible friend at the other end of the line.

Thank you for signing up to receive my newsletter! Every month I will send my latest blogs, work and a few little juicy secrets to help your small business grow.

zzz

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

 

 

Digital

 

 

Pro BoNo!

For any designer or artist, this topic is difficult. At the beginning of a freelance career, it is very common to be asked to do a project for free or pro bono. Here is the interesting part, it is also common in the middle of your design career and from what I understand until the last day of your design career. People honestly think they are doing you a favor by giving you the opportunity to create something for their business based on recognition only, no payment. It baffles me. I also don’t think people are not trying to be malicious. I believe they genuinely feel like they are helping you in some way. In my head I have the conversation with myself when this question arises, “You wouldn’t ask a plumber to come over and fix a leaking pipe for free, so why do you ask me?” Ironically, Jon Acuff had this same thought as well and wrote a fantastic blog and did a video about it too, take a look at both of those later on. The question arises here, how to say politely no when asked to do something pro bono and still get the work. It’s a thin tightrope to walk, but here are a few ways to think about it. It’s time to consider if you are ready to put your acrobatic skills to work!

When should you and when shouldn’t you do pro bono jobs for clients or potential clients.

When it benefits you

If the potential client has an audience that you cannot reach other than by doing this project, consider it. For example, a non-profit that you support. Non-profits have strict budgets, but they also have business owners who donate money and can afford your services. If they see you are a like minded business owner, you may find yourself with a few new clients in the long run. My advice to you in this situation is you need to set parameters in the very beginning. I have worked with many non-profits, all said and done exposure is good. If you get your name on a step and repeat or on a flyer that goes out to 5,000 people that’s considered good exposure but it doesn’t always mean you will get a job out of it. Keep it in perspective and if there are many people on a committee making decisions, make sure you have one contact only within that committee. You DO NOT want to be part of an email war about why the guy in finance wants the design to be purple when the vice-president loves blue! The power struggle there is not yours to deal with. They can elect one person who is your contact, I urge you to be upfront about this in the beginning. Also, be VERY clear about what services and time you are gifting them. If there has ever been a time for open communication and being clear, it’s time to get crystal clear!

Long-term client who pays consistently

If you have a client who pays on time and gives you consistent work, I say do it. It is a kindness that says hey, I appreciate your business. Now, this doesn’t mean create an entire book or a logo for free but if it is something that can be done quickly and within reason for them personally, this is where to do it. Words cannot express how much I value the constant client, and they deserve special treatment. I promise you this is where the pro bono comes in very handy, and you won’t regret it as long as you and they are realistic about what you are doing for them. Cover your bases as always and communicate that this is a one-time favor.

Because the design is just that bad and you see it as a challenge, yes, I just said that out loud

First off, never tell your potential client this is why you took this low paying gig. And when I say low paying, there needs to be some type of barter or small fee here. I have often driven by a business that I love and want to walk in the door and just say, “I will help you for free, just don’t close your doors because I can’t live without your product or services.” However much in your head that is a compliment, I assure you it’s not. Conversation is the key here. If you frequent a local place, and they are a start up business, most likely they are just trying to make it like the rest of us. If you have an opportunity to discuss this matter face to face, I can assure you this conversation will go well if you start off along the lines of “I love what you are doing here, have you chosen a design company to work with yet?” This is the time you use to feel them out. Who have they spoken to and do they have any money at all for advertising? If you feel like helping this business will come back to you, meaning they are going to grow, and you want in, this might be a perfect pro bono situation.

Family & Friends

This one is tough. Mom wants a fantastic Christmas card in your spare time and cousin Sherri is turning 40 and wants to invite her besties to her party and only needs ten cards, can you help? The list is long, and you may want to strangle them because they are family but try hard to resist. At the end of the day if you want to help, do it. If not, tell them you have too much on your plate, and you can’t manage it at this time. Be honest and move forward.

At the end of the day, there are many other situations for the pro bono experience. I have learned, more than once, that you have to go into it knowing you may be burned. I don’t like saying that, but I want you to be aware. I remember a t-shirt design I was supposed to do for a volunteer type project. I spent a lot of time trying to make everyone happy ( so many cooks in the kitchen) and when the t-shirts were delivered there were changes to my design that I didn’t exactly know about. Surprised? Me too. It turns out, the person in contact with the printer requested those changes and the printer did it without my consultation. I guess they didn’t think it mattered to me. Shame on me for this one, lesson learned.

On the flip side, when I believe strongly in something I do give breaks in regards to design. Not all of my experiences have been bad. Non-profits imparticular hold a special place in my heart since it is where I came from. I do believe it is good to help others but I also believe we should protect what we create and don’t abuse it by giving it away. Pay it forward when you can because good karma is important my friends! Pro BoNo? Maybe Pro BoYes?