Tag Archive | business

Take Stock – or maybe not!

There’s a new Stock library revolution on the horizon. We’re all fed up with cheesy, staged photographs used in the corporate marketing world. The real, grassroots businesses – the local ones – are revolting! No, not in the disgusting sense, they’re merely turning their backs on happy family pics and sterotypes, they’re embracing real life imagery. That’s got to be a good thing.

When it comes to getting your business out there, why not have pictures of you doing your stuff. It makes sense right? Who is going to have faith in the carpenters who don’t have any photos of themselves with a hammer in their hand? Who’s going to hire the designer who can’t demonstrate their own design skills throught tangible examples of them in situ, at their computer using design software, in a client’s sitting room sorting out their interiors… you get the idea.

(Little bit of self indulgence! Photo taken by my daughter, she’s not a photographer, but I am a designer – you get the idea.)

Be done with the expensive stock library options that don’t represent your business, find yourself a good photographer. If they’re any good you’ll know because they’ll have a portfolio of happy clients with examples of their work. Make your job and your business appeal to a wider audience, show them that you and the work you do is real. 

Don’t get me wrong, stock libraries have their place, I use them myself and actually contribute to one of them (Adobe Stock). But when it comes to actually showing what you do, who better to be in the photos than you!

Seize the Moment!

Photo by Tom Fenner at the BBC

AN ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS EXPERIENCE.

As one gets older, you start to recognise that experiences can only happen if you decide to seize the moment and go for it. I don’t mean ridiculous, dangerous things, like jumping out of an aeroplane (that’s my idea of hell, but I’m sure it’s someone’s idea of exhilaration and excitement), I’m talking about seeing an opportunity and acting on it, right there and then. If you’ve got your ‘business’ head on at the time, you may even consider the moment to be one that could propel you into another realm of business success. If the possibility of that is in your head, then why can’t it become a reality. You’ll never know unless you try.

People who know me, know that I am quite outspoken at times, but I’m also not one to need that ‘centre of attention’ feeling. However, sometimes without thinking too much about it, I find myself not only centre of attention, but on national television. Yep, it’s that moment of madness/excitement/opportunity (insert your own word here if you like), that can be the one to open up an experience that you’d never normally dream of considering.

Back in June 2016, I was slobbing on my sofa one Monday night with my daughter, watching the lovely Alex and Matt on The One Show. Towards the end of the show they were talking about a silly game that they were going to play with one lucky viewer the following night, with none other than the Absolutely Fabulous (clue there), Jennifer Saunders and Julia Sawalha. It was obviously all about the release of the new Ab Fab Movie and as a die hard fan from years gone by (back in the early 90’s), I felt well equipped to go for it! All the ‘viewer’ had to do was email in and say they’d like to play the game and confirm that they were free for the following two nights. I wrote a quick email, hit send and thought nothing more of it.

Hi Alex & Matt, Definitely a fan of AbFab & can definitely be in London Tues & Wed! Would love to play your AbFab game. Cheers, Cathie

theoneshow-preshow-1To cut a long story short, The One Show rang me the following morning to see if I’d like to be on the show. It wasn’t a long moment between the question and a very excited reply of YES! Various emails followed about where to be and when, what to wear and what to expect when I get there. Before I knew it I was on my way to London to be a guest on The One Show. How excited was I? Ridiculously!

I arrived early at BBC Broadcasting House in the heart of London’s West End and hung round in the local coffee shop, people watching and collecting butterflies in my stomach before heading to the studio. The next couple of hours were spent in the holding room (only celebs get to go into the Green Room) with other normal guests, discussing our purpose for being there. In comparison, my reason wasn’t quite so high brow, but a hell of a lot more fun.

The time finally came to be escorted to the studio, I was introduced to Alex and Matt (as lovely as they appear on the telly) and waited until my moment in front of the camera. My piece was to be the last 5 minutes so the wait was a killer – the butterflies had turned up there fluttering by now – industrial strength wings in action. I stood there watching Matt and Alex interview their guests, and the obvious stars of the show, Jennifer and Julia, waxing lyrical about their new movie, old episodes of Ab Fab and life in general.

My moment finally arrived. I was introduced as ‘Super Fan Cathie’ (hilarious) and was lead over to the sofa to sit myself next to Matt. Being introduced to Jennifer and Julia felt so surreal – the whole moment felt surreal. What to come was even more so. I was given an eye mask and Jennifer had to describe members of the cast of the new film and I had to guess who they were. I did myself proud, guessing most of them. But that wasn’t the shining moment. Next thing I know, Jennifer Saunders is personally inviting me to the World (yes whole wide world) Premiere of Ab Fab the Movie the following night at the Odeon in Leicester Square. Gobsmacked, speechless and ever so slightly wanting to scream with excitement, I expressed my sincere gratitude and the show was over. Credits started to roll, a little chat with my new friends (not really friends but for that moment it was nice to think so) and I asked for a few photos, which they kindly agreed to and well, that was it. It was all over. My 5 minutes of fame, my 5 minutes of excitement and a lifetime of memories and opportunities.

Needless to say, the next night at the Premiere with my good friend Jan (who had booked tickets for us to see the film at the Aylesbury Odeon on the night it was released on the following Friday), was a night to remember. In simple terms – glamour, glitter, celebrities in abundance, gorgeous ladies, equally delightful men, half the transvestite population of London who were simply fabulous and two birds from Hertfordshire.

Thanks to The One Show, I’ve got a story to dine out on for many years to come. Boring my friends with the details over and over again – not being able to get my head around it actually happening.

If I’d not bothered writing that email, it would never have happened. If you see an opportunity and think, I’ll leave it, not worth the effort, it’ll never happen to me, think again – there’s as much chance of it happening to you as it did for me. And you simply don’t know where any opportunity might lead you. The thing is, 6 months ago I was on the telly, people stopped me in Boots in my home town the next day to say, “Did I see you on the telly last night”, my kids friend’s parents saw me, blah blah blah. That was one moment, no one apart from me (and my long suffering friends) even remember that item on The One Show that night, but what it did was open up doors for me (hence this blog piece). I’ll always remember it and I’ll never regret sending that email.

An over used phrase maybe, but ‘Seize the Moment’ is definitely something I’ve done many times in my life and quite honestly, there’s always been more good than bad come out of it. Be your own marketing guru and be brave. Go on, give it a try! You may just enjoy it.

50 Resume Designs That Help You Get Dream JobDzineblog360 – Design and all about it!

When you’re a creative and you spend hours every day working for other people, coming up with ideas to help them represent their business in the best way possible, you sometimes forget about your own business. You may find the creative juices are all used up and there’s nothing left for yourself.

Here’s a few really cool ideas for your own CV to help you get out there and be found. It’s always great to see what others are doing and be inspired by their designs. Nothing is ever original – we all take inspiration from our surroundings, there’s no shame in being inspired!

Enjoy and let me know which is your favourite. Mine has to be Sara’s – love the idea of the tree imagery – very clever.

 

The following samples will help you think out of the box in creating your next resume designs for dream job. Each of the sample is a creative resume designs

Source: 50 Resume Designs That Help You Get Dream JobDzineblog360 – Design and all about it!

Game changer

When you find your life has all of a sudden taken an unexpected turn, it’s a bit tricky to be rational about choices and decisions. The first step to getting over this is to acknowledge when the irrational is merely a consequence of one’s situation and at that point, you need to grab it by the horns and battle the anxiety & angst head on.

One thing that I’ve learnt about myself over the last 20 years (from dealing with marriage, children, divorce, re-educating, new career, relationships, friendships…) is that you can never plan things, not really. Yes you can feel smug that you’ve got your diary filled with wonderful social events, meetings, work commitments and the odd holiday or weekend away; but when it comes to it, none of these are certain. Keeping an open mind about things not going quite to plan is a healthy way of dealing with life in general. If we’re too caught up with sticking to those diary entries, it becomes a relentless personal challenge to attempt perfection.

What’s so wrong about trying to get things right? Nothing, but sometimes it’s the getting things wrong that leads us to making better choices in the future. If we can come to terms with the mistakes that we make then we can learn from them and improve on the decision making process when faced with new challenges.

I love my work, but it’s not always as creative as I would like it to be. Recently I’ve realised that some of the work that I’ve been doing isn’t really challenging me in the way that allows me to grow my skills as a designer. It’s all about finding the balance and sometimes you have to say ‘no more’ and make that decision to change things. I did just that. I finished a job that was leading nowhere. When you look around, after three years, to find evidence of all your hard work and really can’t find it, you have to question whether your hard work is really what that business wants, despite what they  might need. Sometimes you have to deal with attitudes that are not prepared to accept that the world is changing, that they need to embrace those changes, enjoy them and reap the benefits. The penny finally dropped, I was wasting my time and energy, and my creativity was being stifled.

Time to exit. Time to move on. Time to think rationally and time to turn my life back around to a place that makes me happy and makes my kids happy. Looking after number one maybe a selfish thing to admit to, but it is necessary. My game changer moment has been a tough one, but certainly not something that I regret.

Being able to smile and laugh at life is sometimes a challenge, but one that should have a firm appointment in all our busy diaries. Have a damn good day!


 


 

2013!

Well here it is, another year…

What will 2013 have in store for us? No Jubilee, no Olympics and hopefully no major natural disasters. I must say, I’m quite looking forward to this year, not really sure why, I just feel it’s going to be different with lots of positive business challenges and opportunities.

What about Resolutions? They are always a bit of a sore point for me, I make them in my head and mostly don’t stick to them. By keeping them in my head, it’s only me who gets annoyed when they aren’t fulfilled. There is one that I would like to share and that is my determination to get my business heading in a direction that provides greater security for me and my wonderful children. I’d love to find a contract that would offer me regular work, something that I can rely upon every month and proudly fulfill. Being freelance has many benefits, working my own hours, fitting work in around my life, rather than the other way round, being able to work from the comfort of my lovely little home on a daily basis. However, it would also be nice to know that every month I have a job to do that guarantees financial security.

One thing I really want to get my teeth into is social media. My first experience of social media and graphics crossing paths was a fortunate opportunity that came my way via local recruitment firm Ten2Two. When they contacted me back in May last year to see if I could do some web banners for a Royal Mail group, Simple Ways To Grow, it became the first of many small jobs for me. I went on to produce their Facebook & Twitter graphics (covers/header/profile pics), a printed brochure for their products and an e-brochure to be viewed through their website. A very exciting, new and useful opportunity to gain knowledge of yet another area of design.  I now feel I could easily provide a range of clients with reasonably priced options for their social media platforms and hope to move into this on a grander scale this year.

I’m really hoping that I can move forward with web design, social media and other such digital options in the coming months and look forward to getting out there and marketing myself in a different way. Joining a networking group will hopefully help with this. Once a month I’ll be meeting with other local business people at what must be the most un-intimidating  network group around – An Afternoon In The Pub. No shoving business cards down each others throats, no standing up for 1 minute singing my praises and trying to find something interesting to talk about. Just a casual meeting to see what other people are doing, see if we can help each other out in anyway and even indulge in a sociable glass of wine. My perfect sort of networking group.

So, for 2013 I’ll be marketing, networking, working hard at expanding my business and above all and why I do all this, looking after my beautiful children. Bring it on! I’m looking for a challenge and hopefully this year will offer me plenty of positive ones.

Happy New Year!

Freelancing decisions

How do designers know when to say no to a client? 

It’s too easy to take everything that comes your way even when you know you’ll be over stretched and working every hour available. The life of a freelancer is a precarious one. One day you could get the contract that will keep you in work for the next six months, the next your doing paperwork because the work has been a bit slow lately and you’ve got time to finally catch up on the tedious tasks. One thing I’ve found is that not everything that comes your way is worth saying yes to. It’s good to go with your gut feeling and say yes only when you are comfortable with the client, their needs and the work that is required. Just because the work is potentially a good one financially, it may be the bane of your life if the client isn’t prepared to accept the terms of the contract and is constantly questioning what they are getting for their money.

Am I speaking from experience, you may be asking? Yes! Earlier this year a previous client recommended me to someone they knew. Not a good friend or anything personal, just an acquaintance they came across in their own daily work. My client kindly pointed this person in my direction, for which I was initially most grateful for. However, what happened after that wasn’t exactly a pleasant working experience. This is where the ‘gut feeling’ should have kicked in, but sadly I was thinking about the earning potential of this job and decided to bite the bullet and go with it.

The whole experience turned out to be a rather large headache. I set out each item of work very clearly and priced it accordingly. The client agreed this brief  with the costs involved so I set to work. My ‘gut feeling’ moment was definitely during the first meeting with the client and I should have said there and then that I didn’t think I was able to fulfill the task within the time frame required (as an excuse to get me out of it, the reality was that I could deliver what was required, it would have been tight for time, but it was definitely possible). When your client tells you that they don’t really care what the logo looks like, alarm bells should be ringing rather loudly. For me, they were a dim chime in the background that I was refusing to acknowledge; to my detriment as it turned out.

To cut a long story short, the alarm bells finally rang like a team of campanologists in my head, when I was mistakenly sent an email from one of my clients minions, requesting a cheaper quote from someone else. This was a rather annoying moment, as you can imagine, but for me it was also the defining moment. I eventually parted company with the client, not without a battle though. I was threatened with letters from a solicitor, a rather feeble attempt to scare me into handing over the logo files I had created without the payment that I had requested so far. Fortunately I didn’t buckle, I stuck to my guns and eventually handed over the files once the full amount owing to me was deposited into my account.

Rightly or wrongly, I conducted all communication via email so to ensure that I had a written account of the whole process. It is far too easy for someone to deny something said in person or over the phone, having words in writing is definitely the best way when things get tricky. Of course not all clients are difficult, most are genuine, appreciate the costs involved when dealing with a professional service and are happy to pay for the service provided. As long as delivery is of a high standard, managed in a professional manner, time scales are adhered to and costs kept within a reasonable margin of the estimate, there shouldn’t be any need for a client to be unhappy.

The frustrating thing about working as a freelance graphic designer is that you are not always taken seriously by some clients, my point in case with this experience. Working from home at my kitchen table maybe a great thing for me, but maybe not the look that some people envisage when considering me as a professional. I don’t have the overheads of an office to rent, so I can keep my prices down quite considerably, so being freelance not only benefits me, but also my clients.

My parting words to the difficult client were as polite as I could possibly muster under the circumstances. I expressed disappointment regarding the email that was mistakenly sent to me requesting another quote after I’d spent hours on researching quotes for printing costs, designed the logo and started various other elements of the work commissioned. I also pointed out that I do not provide a ‘Vista Print’ service, and if that was the quality of design required it may be best to use that service rather than me. Enough said. I finally got the money owing to me, handed over the files that he required and never looked back.

A lesson in being cautious about the work I take on, that ‘gut feeling’ is there for a reason and in future, I’ll be listening to my gut with a lot more respect.

More Beauty of Beads…

Having just finished the website for Beauty of Beads, I’ve moved onto some more printed materials for them. As they work on a party basis, it made sense for them to have invitations that their clients could use to invite people to the parties. Every little detail like this adds to the overall image of the business. Consistency within a brand is something I truly believe in. It makes such a difference.
I like to think that when I start a project from scratch that I can help my client build up their branding along the way. Little additions like these invitations help to reinforce a professionalism and consistency across the brand.
I produced two versions of the invitation, as I did with the gift tags. Having two colour ways for the logo opens up more design options and has proven to be a positive move for future marketing materials.
This has been such a lovely project to work on, my client Marian has been wonderful to work with and thankfully has been really pleased with my work. I must say, I’m quite pleased with it myself.

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