Design goes on…

Since the trauma of Adobe announcing the end of life of Muse and Business Catalyst (yes, very much first world problems, but I’m not apologising for that), it’s good to know that there is life after Adobe and it’s not a total rip-off!

Around September last year I came across Affinity Designer (AD) and Photo (AP), just by chance, not because I was necessarily searching for an alternative for Illustrator  (AI) and Photoshop (PS). However, it’s proven to be somewhat of an offering from the Universe (it sometimes knows more about what we want and need than we do). I was interested in the fact that there were people out there who were actually doing something that challenged the big guys and doing a damn good job of it. I kept them in the forefront of my mind as an option to trial between first discovering them and when the Adobe announcement was announced. I’m now an Affinity user and am loving it.

AffinityDesignerAffinityPhotoI can’t pretend it’s not a challenge to learn a new version of something that you’re very familiar with, but to be honest, it’s a pleasure to dip one’s toes into a new pond and discover that it’s not so dark, deep and scary below the surface as you first thought.

On announcement of the Muse and BC death, and the way that it was done, I decided that the £73/month spent on my Adobe Creative Cloud subscription was better spent on software that I could buy outright, still get support for but not feel totally ripped off. I started the search of replacing all my Adobe software as much as I possibly could, so that I could continue to work in my chosen profession, still ensuring a quality product.

The first to go was InDesign – heading back to my roots as a designer, I humbly returned to Quark. After investigating the costs, purchasing options, upgrades going forward etc, I rang them and actually had a converstation with a lovely human being who offered me a very good deal as a past customer (after 10 years they still had evidence of me being a past Quark user and acknowledged my humbleness in returning to the platform that got me started). Quark

Enter Affinity – what a delight! I downloaded the Affinity Photo for iPad app to start with and loved it, it was a natural step to go the whole way and purchase the desktop apps. At £48.99 for each app, it was a no brainer – it’s superb software and does so much more, in a more intuitve way, than AI and PS every did. Yes folks there is software that competes with Adobe.

I could wax lyrical about how amazing the guys at Affinity are, but the only way to prove this is to use it (no, I’m not being paid to say this). I bought both Designer and Photo outright at the same time I went back to Quark – my dock now looks like it’s in conflict, but it’s a lovely, satisfying little takeover. MBP-DockMy Creative Cloud subsctiption runs out in October 2018, so from now until then I’ll be converting as much of the work I’ve done for the past 10 years to AD and AP files so that I can continue to work seamlessly and explore the possibilities of my new software. Although AP & AD both import AI & PS files no problem so there’s no major panic to convert everything.

My last dilemma is replacing Muse. Quite a big one and a rather annoying one. There is simply no other software on the market that did what Muse did. Why oh why is this not up for sale for another company to take over and develop further? Adobe’s arrogance and lack of allegiance to their vast customer base is quite bewildering – the least they could do is offer up this software for someone else to continue to develop. But no, that won’t happen as they would rather see it die than someone else make a success of it.

I’m moving on with what my business is now offering, I won’t be making websites like I used to as I quite simply can’t without bowing down to the techie world of coding. None of the other options out there assume you know nothing about html or css (I know the most miniscule amount of both, it’s hardly worth acknowledging). However, after discovering the wonders of Shopify, I’m now moving in that direction and loving it. Full on e-commerce for businesses big and small.

The upside of Adobe being a total arse is that they have opened an enormous, castle size door for me and my business. There’s nothing quite like embracing change, opening one’s mind to a challenge and grabbing it by the horns. Yes there is life after Adobe – get out there and enjoy it (and if you do, you’ll find you have a lot more money in your bank account every month to throw at the important stuff). Good luck wih your journey into the unknown – it’s not as scary as it first appears.

45 Creative Social Media Marketing Tips You Don’t Hear Every Day

You can never have too many ‘tips’ when it comes to getting the best out of your social media platforms. Sometimes you have to filter through the numerous words of advice to find the gems of knowledge, but those gems might just help you make the change that has a huge impact on your business – increasing awareness and profit.

Here’s a few to kick start your day…

It’s never too late to stay something new!

Social media’s potential impact for small businesses cannot be understated. But if you’ve been using social media for awhile, then you probably already know a lot of the standard tips.

Source: 45 Creative Social Media Marketing Tips You Don’t Hear Every Day

Motivated and ready to go!

When that moment hits you, that you’re actually getting old and the body doesn’t do stuff like it used to it’s time to do something about it. Today I did just that.

I’ve been inspired by my 15 year old daughter. Every morning for the past week, she has been getting up at 6am to do her stretching & exercise regime. She’s doing this in order to achieve the maximum physical strength and agility required for her to reach her goal – being accepted on a dance course for her final two years at school. I used to be like her, ballet, & dancing in general, was my first love, it was my escape and my passion.

I’ve attempted going back as an adult several times, but always end up injured, both physically and mentally. The physical injuries leading to the mental ones – not being able to physically complete an exercise is as damaging to the body as it is to the brain. You feel deflated and fed up, and as a consequence start to wonder why you bother with the whole exercise thing. You can see a vicous circle happening here can’t you.

Anyway, today for the first time, I actually set my alarm for 6am. I must admit I nearly didn’t get up, I lay there for a few minutes until my daughter popped her head round the corner and said she was off to do her exercises. I then lay there for another few minutes trying to convince myself that having another half an hour in bed would be far nicer and tried to go back to sleep. I couldn’t. At that point I conquered the lazy devil on my shoulder and took up the challenge by the motivated, energetic angel on the other one; got dressed and heading out for a brisk half hour walk.

It was fabulous! The sun was shining, there was a nice breeze, and it was quiet – no chance of bumping into too many people. The odd dog walker, a man in a suit heading to the station and me.

I actually felt like I’d achieved something. There was a real buzz about that. I started my day in an energetic way and I intend on doing that every day from now on. Not sure how I’ll go once the dark days or Autumn and Winter come around, but for now I’ll do my best to remember why I’m doing this and what I’m achieving by sticking to it.

It’s as much for my health as it is for my kids – I want them to be proud of their Mum and to know that I’m looking after myself so that I’ll be around for them for as long as I can.

Happy Monday Everyone!

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Sunnyside Allotments

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!