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When and How to Work for Free

creative business, designCara OrdComment

Working for free, a scary thought when you are trying to build your business or start a career. It consumes time which could be used as billable hours, and here is a secret, it is not necessary to ever work for free. It can be useful however to collaborate and build partnerships with pro bono work.

So how do you know whether a free projects is right for you? I have split up my advice into seperate sections because I have a lot to say on the topic. You can read it all or just find the heading which best suits you. Let me know your thoughts and questions in the comments below.

Push past the mid-year slump and get your creative projects done

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It has gotten to that time of year when it gets very easy to give up on our passion projects and goals, pushing things back until the new year, because this year is already half gone. My simple advice to you is don’t, don’t give up on doing what you love and creating beautiful things. Stop thinking about the half a year that is gone and think about the abundance of time you have ahead.

The first step to being productive is to stop procrastinating through stress and obsessing over what we haven’t achieve but looking forward to what we can achieve.

It may seem daunting to get back into the swing of things, but with a few tweaks to out inner monologue and a shift in our planning and environment you can rapidly increase your productivity in your life and your creative projects.

Just taking things one step at a time is a great way to start, but let’s run through some steps that you can do to get yourself in a great place to start being productive:

Constant Growth is the Gateway to Success

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I have recently had birthday. Another journey around the sun and it has made me quite reflective on how I got to where I am in my life. To an outsider I am successful, I have a strong professional presence in design, illustration and performance, a good social life, loving husband and positive outlook for the future. People describe me as “lucky”, but luck has nothing to do with where I am or any accomplishment I may have made. Everything I have was built through constant learning, trial and error and lots and lots of work (and it was nurtured by the love and support of those I chose to surround myself with).

Luck, in my opinion is the hope of the lazy, for if luck exists, what is the need for hard work. I am not going to lie to you and say that if you sit just as you are some day your prince will come, your life will change, that some one will hand you the keys to the kingdom and as if by magic you will have everything you have desired. Unfortunately, this is not the case. If you have goals, passions and desires then my only suggestion to you is to work hard and be diligent and this will give you the greatest chance to be successful in your endeavours.

Now this is a pretty vague piece of advice, ‘work hard and you will be rewarded’. However it has never failed me, even when the ‘reward’ came in a form which was completely unexpected or planned.

So below I have listed some steps you can take to grow your talents, and make your own ‘luck.

The beauty of the internet, and collaboration.

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Today you can do anything online order food, get a lift, buy anything and everything and you can also communicate with anyone from anywhere in the world. We spend so much of our time on the internet we grow an identity on the platform, we live there. With the thousands of uses for this fantastic tool it surprises me why people don’t utilise more often for work and have scepticism of remote employees when everyone is so accessible.

As a designer I have worked in-house, studio freelance and remote and at first it surprised me how little my work process changed. I became quickly aware that I can do my job at exactly the same standard from anywhere, and that having the freedom to be anywhere actually made my work better and gave me more resources to my disposal to make things happen. 

Get the Design Quality you Deserve

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There seems to be an ever growing myth that design is easy, with more and more digital programmes and apps now available on the market more and more people are taking it into their own hands to “whip up” designs for their brand, business and community. But before you jump down this rabbit hole I want you to stop and think about the potential damage you could be doing to your brand, and how a damaged brand could impact your lively hood.

It is true, anyone can design, with the proper tools and training, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be good at it. Design is not just combining images, colour, typography and text into a visual product, design is problem solving, it is about more than just aesthetic. It is due to this that I implore you to consult a professional when endeavouring on creating assets for your business or developing your brand.

Create a Portfolio that gets you hired

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A designers biggest tool to get hired is their portfolio. It is your first impression and can make or break your chance of getting a job.

The difference between a good and bad portfolio can be subtle and I want to help you make yourself as hireable as you can. Every creative has unique skills, and a talent which is gold for the right career. I want to help you highlight your assets and market yourself to get your dream job in your industry. 

5 tips to make your designer love you and avoid extra work and expenses

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I have been a designer for several years and have worked with a huge range of clients, from brides to big corporate business, I have dipped my two into projects of all sizes. Some projects went amazingly well, the client was happy, I’m happy, it’s on deadline with no problems. Then there were others which were to say the least... problematic.

I really do care about my clients and the work that I do. I don’t want anyone to have a bad experience, but sometimes things get out of my control, frustrations come along and the project begins to suffer because of it. 

I have learnt a lot about client relations and project management and can pretty much deal with anything that comes my way. 

So I thought I would help you out with some simple tips to make sure your projects run like clockwork and keep your designer happy so they produce the best work they can for you. 

The Benefits of Remote work for you and your employer

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As a designer I have worked in a multitude of environments, from corporate offices, to boutique studios and large commercial business. Each place I have worked I have been seated at a desk, put in with the marketing crowd and done a 9-5 job. I enjoy going into an office and doing the hard yards, talking with the team and having a physical presence.

However over the past couple years I have expanded as a designer to become a freelancer and remote worker, being able to work at any time from anywhere and, I have to say, that this has not had a negative impact on my work at all. In fact it has made me a more dedicated and hard working employee.

The Beauty of Letters

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Words are beautiful and complex things. A random collection of letters conveying unique meanings with each reassembly. I love the art of writing and reading the work of those which are so much more eloquent than I am.

I may not be a beautiful wordsmith but I do love the art of letters and the visual appeal of good typography and calligraphy. 

As a designer I work in typography, arranging texts and creating appealing and readable products for clients. From brochures, business cards and ebooks to websites and magazines. Typography is such a vital part of all design and should be carefully considered and taken care of. I take the readability and presentation of text as one of the most important aspects of all design and work with my clients to highlight their most important message and add to the quality of their words.

Running your own Business | 5 tips to help your business thrive while keeping a healthy mindset

designCara Ord

Often when you run a business it is your baby. It is personal. Anything that happens to your business directly impacts you and so you feel like it is part of you, an integral part. Being a small business owner myself I understand this feeling, but don't get trapped. Yes; your business, how it runs and whether it thrives effects your livelihood and income. However it is not you. A bad review of your business should not feel like a personal stab. In reverse a personal crisis should not impact your business (with the exception of emergency changes in open hours). 

Running your own business. Make sure you keep a clear definition of what is personal and what is professional.

Self employed and entrepreneurs are abundant and passionate but often fall into the trap of being too emotionally invested. This often leading to the detriment of them and/or their work. Although it is definitely not all that is needed a good rule for success is not getting too attached. A business is a job and should be run efficiently and diligently. Being too emotional in it's workings can lead to poor decisions and the slow inevitable road to ruin. 

Do not consider your work as a part of you or as a friend or baby, it is a business partnership (literally). No matter what your business is, whether it is an Etsy shop for craft ware, a personal training company or a parts supplier, the same rule applies. Logic wins over sentiment.

Now to clarify I am not talking about changing your brand. If you brand is all about being close and personal with your clients and being 'like' a family figure then that is great, but your brand is the face of your business and shouldn't be your personal persona 24/7. I am talking about cutting emotional ties with your work. It is not only poor work practice but negative for your health.

Being too emotionally invested in your work and business can cause major stress and can be a trigger for anxiety and depression. You cannot keep all your eggs in one basket. A business is there for financial support and as an expression of passion, you cannot also use it as an emotional crutch or replacement for a life and relationships. Lead a balanced life. For your business to prosper it cannot be everything to you. For it to work it needs to have the opportunity of failure without ruining your life.

I am a work-a-holic, I know what I am talking about. I have been career minded since high school and I used to get my sense of pride and worth from work. I would for go relationships and friendships because I didn't think I needed it and the only way I felt successful is if I was over worked because then I knew I had given my all. This is such an unhealthy way to live. Although i didn't know that at the time.

So how did I get myself to flick the switch and get out of this unhealthy situation before it was too late? Well I didn't. I was stressed, overworked, started pulling all nighters and became a sufferer of anxiety and depression. It sucked. Only once I hit my low did I realise what I was doing wrong. By this point I did have a relationship (with my now husband) and he was the blessing which helped me most on getting back on track. But here are a few tips for helping you seperate your emotional dependance from your work or business before it becomes too late, tips to help you lead a healthy balanced life while being the super human you are making your business work.

  1. Have someone to make you accountable - now family is great for this but they can be too close. I recommend having a great group of out of work friends to go to where you can let out some steam and get advice as well as let down your hair with. Now introverts like me may be balking at the idea of socialising, I understand the pain. However it isn't hard. If you don't have one or a couple friends out of work, join a club or do classes for something you love. In a structured environment it is ten times easier to hit it off with someone and that way you will have dedicated time once a week to be social and catch up.

  2. Exercise daily - Now before I start sounding like a life guru or a personal trainer (which I am not) I am talking about light exercise. The kind which simply gets you out of your chair, your office, your shop and gets you moving. I take walks every morning before I get down to business and it helps to calm my mind, and most importantly seperate my ‘me time’ from my ‘work time’ giving me a healthy transition task to do before I get into my email inbox.

  3. Do not be your brand - I sort of touched on this earlier. But it is so important that you are not the brand of your business. I talk about Brand in my free ebook which you can grab here. You and your business are both individual personalities. Your brand/business does not have opinions like you do, no political/religious sway, it does not favour the food you do, do it's hair like your or like the same music. Your brand does not hit snooze, or read the books you do or go shopping. Your brand is not you so don't make yourself your brand. Your brand is the face of your business, you're its spokesperson, make sure that you make a definitive separation between the two (especially if you have employees). If you need help with your brand and making it work for you let me know, we can chat using the form below.

  4. Schedule - it is so, so easy to make your business a 24/7 thing. Having your email right there on your phone and everything literally a hands stretch away can make it so easy for you to work work work. This is why it is so important to schedule your time. Running your own business gives you freedom to live how you want to, it is not a license to work all the time. Schedule out when you want to work and your me time. This could be setting a simple 9-5 schedule for yourself or be more complex and having 4 hours of work split throughout the day, 7 days a week. Whatever you decide make a work schedule and stick to it so you have the opportunity to let yourself switch off.

  5. Make sure you have a hobby which isn't work - I am the type of person which seems to turn all of her hobbies and passions into careers; design, illustration even iceskating have all become jobs for me. My advice is to have one hobby that will never be a job. At the moment for me this is reading, and in the future when I work with books (as an illustrator/designer) it will be knitting (I am so bad at it I know I can never make a career out of this hobby). Have something you can do that you can relax with and you don't have to do as part of work.

I hope my little bit of advice can help you relax. Please seperate yourself and your business. Your business cannot be everything for you, it is an impossible task, and you can't be everything for your business. Have fun and enjoy life. That is why you started this venture in the first place isn't it?

Till next week,
Cara

What is graphic design

designCara Ord

many people I come by, when they first find out I am a designer think I mean interior design. When I mention that I mean graphic design they quickly get confused or lose interest. People either think I doodle for a living or make websites. Graphic design is so much bigger than that.

so… what is graphic design?

Graphic design in short is visual problem solving. It goes over a wide range of medium from print to digital and umbrellas a large range of skillsets. When someone says they are a graphic designer they are giving you a broad and easy context into what they actual do. A designer can be a coder, book designer, typographer, content creator, social media specialist, interactive designer, video editor, the list goes on. I am proud to say I am a graphic designer and I do multiple of the listed trades (to know more on that check out the services listed blogs). 

This is an example of graphic design. A very simple piece created for social media. The problem solved here is creatively ask a question to attract a response.

This is an example of graphic design. A very simple piece created for social media. The problem solved here is creatively ask a question to attract a response.

I label myself as a designer and illustrator and again this confuses people. Can’t all designers draw? The answer is actually no. You don’t have to be able to draw to design, you just need a good aesthetic mind and visual language. Illustration is a completely seperate skill set. Many designers can be illustrators but they are not one in the same thing.

Illustration is the use of drawing and artistic techniques to tell a story through imagery. My personal preferred mediums are watercolour, acrylic, pencil and digital illustration. It is such a diverse field there are literally hundreds of ways to illustrate and I love exploring the captivating beauty of each individual artists take on the world. I follow many illustrators and I am lucky enough to have interviewed some great talents, you can see these in the inspiring illustrators tab beside.

A quick illustration depicting sea creatures I found at the aquarium.

A quick illustration depicting sea creatures I found at the aquarium.

I hope that this short blog helped you learn what graphic design is and distinguish between design and illustration. It is important you find the right person for the job (as not all people can do both). Design is using visual aesthetic to problem solve and illustration is using drawing and pictures to tell a story.

If you have problem that requires a multi-disciplinary solution of illustration and design try seeking out a multi-disciplinary designer like myself or contacting an agency to match you with the talents you need.

I hope you have a good week and I will see you in the next blog.

Happy Easter. 

How to grow your Business | Giving back to your Customers

designCara Ord

It is so important to not be a taker but to be a giver. A business which just takes will eventually die out because you are not nurturing your audience. Think of a rainforest ecosystem, if the large trees just sucked up all the nutrients but didn't shed their leaves to mulch the earth the will eventually take all the good things out of the ground and die out themselves, strangling the young plants around them. SO giving is really important. The question is, how to grow your business? How do you give? You already sell great products and services, what more do you need to do? 

Well giving free advice and sending out free resources is actually a fantastic way to nature your audience. It helps you to build a community. Even if you are a 'teeny tiny' business like mine there is always something you can give. That is why I try and do a weekly blog, to share my insights and professional knowledge to help you.

Recently I have been thinking about small business, and what I can do to help out those of you who are independent creators and business owners. The first thing I thought was I want to support you and give you something that will help you promote and grow your business, expand your clientele and hopefully improve your revenue. That is when I decided to make my free resource 'A Guide to branding for small business'. It is a simple short eBook that you can use to help you get on your way in branding your business. The eBook explains what branding is and how it can help you market what you are offering. It even includes 5 tips to start branding your business, or improving the branding of your business yourself.

ebook: how to grow your business

ebook: how to grow your business

But then I thought, I can do more. Sure I just made this great resource (which you can find here) but I can help you one step further.

This is when this months brand new Skillshare class came into play. I had given back to you and I thought you might want an easy way to give to your audience. So along comes my new class:

'Creating an eBook | promote your business and give value to your customers'

how to create an ebook

how to create an ebook

Through this class I will take you step by step through the creation of a simple and effective eBook. I also add an abundance of tips on branding, content writing, social media promotion, creating visuals for your business and more. I am so excited to share this with you as it is brand new and I hope really helpful for you in your business journey.

If you would like to check out the class head here.

I hope both these resources are helpful to you and help you grow your business. if you have any questions feel free to contact me. I am here to help you out. 

Have a great week and I will check in with you next week.

Design for Sentimentality | Wedding invitations, stationary and personal projects

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Graphic design isn't just for corporate clients, we don't just make logos and advertisements, there is so much more. When you think of graphic designer often what comes to mind is a corporate hipster drinking overly priced coffee and pretentiously gloating about branding and UX and their next high-class client. However not all of us, or many of us designers actual fit that bill. Yes I may like a nice Starbucks once in a blue moon and yes I do branding for my share of corporate clients but that is not all I am about. 

My biggest group of clientele are actual ordinary people, brides with upcoming weddings and mothers who want a special design for their baby dedication. These clients don't want a flashy logo or branding that grows their reach or attracts profits. They have nothing to sell, they simply want something beautiful and meaningful for them. As such you should not treat these lovely people as if they are a business. 

When doing what is considered standard graphic design we are doing 'problem solving', finding the best visual and experience solutions to answer a clients problem. However designing for sentimentality is more than this. You are not solving a problem but seeking to bring happiness, and this means that you should take care in every step of the process. Treat your client as a friend, or family. Respect their wishes and tastes, this project is purely for them and them alone. Unlike other design projects you only have 1 person who has to be happy at the end of the day and that is the client standing right in front of you.

I offer wedding invite and stationary design and personalised illustration for weddings and families as part of my eclectic services. I love being able to find that perfect design to put a smile on a Brides face. A bride just wants to know that you get it. That you understand what she wants. Wedding planning is stressful and any tension you can take away from that is a blessing. 

I like to add the personal touch with hand crafted illustrations in all my wedding invite designs

I like to add the personal touch with hand crafted illustrations in all my wedding invite designs

When designing or illustrating for sentimentality the biggest thing you can do is listen. Listen to what your client wants and do your best to provide it. On top of this go the extra mile, have a conversation with your client, you may be able to help them out in more ways then just design. Maybe you can direct them to a great photographer or recommend colours for a beautiful bouquet. Trust me, your client would love that you have gone the extra mile and respect you for it. Being attentive to your clients adds value to your service, a value which sadly is not widely available.

Designing for personal projects remember to treat each client as an individual. Never box them in or categories them. When working with a personal project, where the clients heart and soul is in it a template will never do. Respect their passion and their time and effort put into this project. They haven't come to you to be cast aside or handed off, they have come to you for your expertise and advice. They just need your help crossing the last hurdle to their happy finish line.

If you are a possible client reading this. Please do not allow yourself to be under valued. Yes hunting for the cheapest price may get you a quick design but I can guarantee the designer on the other side is just wanting to do a quick slap up job to gain some quick cash. When hunting for someone to make your wedding invites, or a poster or mural for your home, don't settle for someone who doesn't treat you like you are your own person. When clients quote through me, I strive to make sure that I have added value to their lives. Sometimes the budget may not fit the project but we work together to create something out of it. Whether it be by creating the dream piece they wanted, giving them helpful tips and advice to help them with their plans or by educating them about the design world and what steps they will need to take to complete their project.

I hope this little piece has helped both designers and clients and that both parties earn the respect they deserve. 

If anyone may need my assistance in a sentimental design project, whether it be a personal endeavour, party/event invites or wedding stationary please contact me through the form below and I would be happy to lend a helping hand, or share any advice I can offer.

Have a lovely day.