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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Digital

 

 

Is Blogging Painful?

People often ask me if I like blogging. You may be surprised to hear this but in the beginning, I despised it. Why? Because it use to scare me. I am talking knees knocking; I may be too sick to write this type of afraid when I began. Today everyone claims to be a guru on literally every topic of conversation out there so why would people listen to me? Am I redundant, do I sound educated, will I look like a fool, what can I add that hasn’t already been discussed? These thoughts would snowball in my head and then something that could have taken less than an hour to write takes me a week. It’s self-defeating and a waste of time. So, how does one overcome all of the emotions and move on? I think this is the point of the conversation where you want a quick remedy, right? I am supposed to provide that. News flash, there isn’t one. However, I have some suggestions to make your blogging life a little bit easier and keep those knees steady.

Blog on topics you feel comfortable discussing.

No one wants a lesson they can get from a handbook, but they want to be informed. Try picking topics that you are knowledgeable in but home also some life experience with as well. It’s great that you are a photographer who knows all the rules but can you help me apply them to my daily photo shoots. Give some real life examples and feelings about the subject to want to explain. People are interested in the facts but want to feel a part of the conversation, and it’s important to do that with words.

You may be an expert on a subject.

Experts are great but opinions are too, and that is the freedom of the blog. Speak your truth, tell us what you know but don’t leave out the “real world” stuff because that is what usually drives a reader. How can you help us? What do you like better? Use links, photographs and videos to tell your story. Make it comfortable for the reader and I promise they will be back to read more!

 Time yourself. Painful but true.

Give yourself a time limit and then walk away. Now, if you are on a role and can’t stop, don’t. But if you are writing while Snapchatting, checking Facebook and coloring in your new adult coloring book then walk away. Focus is key and you are not getting through this with a colored pencil in your hand.

 Listen to great music and have coffee at the ready.

Get your groove on! What helps you write? For me, it’s Miles Davis, Kind of Blue. I love Miles and the music just keeps me going, it truly helps. Coffee is self-explanatory. Who doesn’t enjoy a good cup of joe and maybe a scone to nibble while typing away!

Be prepared to have at least 800 words to write. Seriously, don’t kill me, this is 501 right here!

Some blogs will be longer than others. I usually shoot for around a thousand words myself; it’s a personal goal. Just make sure your blog has meat to it, not the kind you eat. You need words to justify those pretty photographs. Plus it is great for your SEO! Try hard to think about what you want to say and before you know it you will have written a hundred words without even realizing it! See, we are already at 583, my time flies by fast.

Give yourself talking points, just like these.

Talking points are helpful because not only do they keep the writer on track, but they let the reader skip to the points they are curious about without having to read the entire blog.  If you break down the blog into mini-stories, it accomplishes more with your reader and lets you connect. Does this defeat the purpose? No, because even if they absorb certain talking points if the writing is of quality to them they will return.

Pay attention to your font sizes and make it pretty.

This is a personal preference, but I believe if you take to time to break down your thoughts and create a fantastic blog you should make it look good. For example, your talking points should be bold or different from the paragraph text. Photographs should be the best quality you can find. Often if I have a photo I love but is not perfect, I try to do a little editing before sharing it. People are visual; they want images along with their text, give them what they want! A photograph just won’t do? Hire a graphic designer, explain what you need and see if they will work with you within your budget. Itl gives you an edge not many have, a unique look.

Find your voice.

Be you, we want your voice. We want your fantastic personality and views to shine. Tell us what you think because that is what we are interested in, that is why we are here.

Check you’re grammar.

Yes, I know that is wrong. I did it on purpose because we make mistakes, all of us make them. However, try to make as little as possible in your work. Check things, question yourself and make sure you check your grammar.

 

Probably the most important, save your work.

We have all been there. Working until the wee hours of the morning, so proud. We step back admiring our work, and the power goes out. Complete panic mode sets in. Why didn’t you spend the extra $5 on that surge protector with battery backup? Why didn’t you save it when you were done 5 minutes ago instead of gazing into your creation like it was the first time anyone in the entire world had ever written something. WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? Now this I have a simple solution for, SAVE YOUR WORK! It’s easy, but we all forget from time to time. I try to save at the end of each paragraph to give you a quick idea of how easy it is. Trust me, it only takes one or two times to learn this most valuable lesson. Ok, maybe three times, but whose counting.

 

So here we are, at the end. Now that I started this blog I realize I could go on, but we have made it to over a thousand words in under an hour. You can create fantastic content in a timely manner but don’t be too hard on yourself in the beginning. People will comment, sometimes complimentary things and then you have the trolls. Ignore it, you need the experience. Answer comments politely and move on. You will be a better person for it and a better writer too. Remember practice makes perfect, or at least pretty close!