Three Reasons to Learn Something New (Part 3)

In my last two posts I explained the first two reasons to learn something new:

1. It Opens Up New Opportunities
2. Helping Others Helps Us

So now on to reason number three:

3. We Can Make New Friends

When learning web design on my own, besides creating a website for myself to practice, I saw a chance to design one for a non-profit I was interested in. I offered and they gladly allowed me to do a whole new design and keep it updated for them, both really valuable experiences. While I was working with the group I made friends with one of the other volunteers there. She and I had the group in common but it grew from there when we realized other things we both enjoyed things like foreign films and travel. She became my main movie-going buddy and she also took a trip to San Francisco with me to see a friend I had out there when my husband wanted to stay home. The website was a success while the non-profit lasted and our friendship has outlived both!

Wildlife Rescue Groups' website

Design and development of a local wildlife rescue organizations’ website.

Have you thought of other good reasons to learn something new? If so, please talk about it in the comments. Whether it leads to new opportunities, ways to be more helpful or lasting friendships as it has in my case, or none of the above, you still have learned something new!

Three Reasons to Learn Something New (Part 2)

The second reason to learn something new is for helping others. As I mentioned in my last post the​ InDesign skills that I learned mostly on the job at my business made me the go-to coworker at my day job. In other words, because I had gotten pretty good at the program I was then able to help people who needed it.

2. Helping Others Helps Us

Back when the internet was new to most of us, I was working for an advertising and promotion agency. I foresaw that learning web design would be a useful skill to have. My boss at that job was not seeing it that way so I had to learn it on my own. Eventually I convinced him to cover the cost of a course on HTML. With that class (on a series of CDs) I was able to get up to speed enough to design our first website.

Marketing Company Website

A previous employer’s first website.

Once the site was up and running the Account Execs could sell the agency’s “expertise” to our clients. It wasn’t long before I was designing the first website for Hellmann’s Mayonnaise, one of our biggest clients.

 

web-designs-Hellmanns

 My design for Hellmann’s first website.

That says to me that learning something new can have real career advantages, even if you do it mostly on your own time and on your own dime. I was at that job 10 plus years after that and I look back on the experience when I need motivation to invest time and money into learning something new today.

 

Next Week: Reason Number 3 To Learn Something New!

Three Reasons to Learn Something New

In my own business, I have to be open to learning something new pretty often. It’s because opportunities come up that require a different skill than I have but that I can acquire without much effort if I want to. That brings me to this blog post on three reasons to learn something new. The first is below. The next will appear in my next two posts so stay tuned.

1. It opens up new opportunities

Like I said, sometimes I get offered a new assignment that is not something I’ve done before. So I open up my Lynda.com account and search for the courses they have on it if available. Then I start learning!

Learning by doing

I just got a job revising an ad created by another designer in a program named Sketch. It’s a program I’d learned about once and knew would be a good one to add to my skill set. I would need to get the program to do the job and luckily my client agreed to pay for half of the cost. Then I dove into the online course on it and learned enough to do the project.

Sketch welcome

Sketch, a Mac-only program

Learning has career benefits

Up until 2012, I had only a beginner’s knowledge of Adobe InDesign. In a past job, I worked in QuarkXpress. That was great because it helped me land a job at a corporation’s in-house advertising department that used that program. In my business though, I knew I needed to get up to speed on InDesign, which seemed to be becoming the industry standard. So I learned it by doing all my client work in it. As it happened I was getting several projects that involved longer documents like white papers and ebooks. That helped me at the day job when they gradually switched over to InDesign. I was quickly becoming the go-to expert my co-workers relied on when they couldn’t figure something out.

Thanks in part to the way learning something new opened up opportunities for me I was able to take on the challenge of growing my business, enough to do it full time now!
(To be continued.)

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Do you drive away customers inadvertently?

You may have a website that is fine and informative and otherwise gets the job done but there may be areas in it that could improve. Is it responsive—meaning adaptable to smaller screens like smartphones and tablets? If not that can turn away customers since over half of internet traffic comes from mobile devices these days.

Modern tragedy, pastel of cracked iPhone

Don’t have a site that breaks on mobile devices!

 

Or it may be something small and not that noticeable that bothers the people you are trying to target. Do you drive away customers inadvertently?

I know that when I encounter a site that takes too long to load I’m out of there. Or if music or a video starts to play the moment I land on the site and I didn’t expect it I’m gone. Then there’s the website that has the navigation in a different place on every page. That could definitely frustrate a would-be client/customer. These are some of the examples of ways your website could be driving away the people you want to attract.

If a feature is off-putting to your audience it’s not worth keeping. We can look at your site and recommend the tweaks needed to remove anything getting between you and your customers. It may be an easy fix and just the thing to get your business website helping instead of hurting you!

Why DIY doesn’t work with Graphic Design

Unless you are a Graphic Designer!

DIY is big. It even has a cable channel (that I watch all the time). But Do It Yourself design of logos, ads, brochures, and even websites when it’s the branding and promotion of your own business? Not a good idea.

Would I write my own song? No!

I just got a music composer as a client. She has been my client before when I designed her first CD cover and insert. I’ve never written a song, whereas Monica has written many. I wouldn’t know where to begin.

Well maybe I’d try to learn an instrument first or learn to read music! But even with some rudimentary knowledge like that I doubt a song will be penned by me anytime soon.

Have computer, will DIY your design?

If you’ve never designed a brochure, logo, website or ad where would you start? You have a computer and know how to use it, but is that enough to start designing your business materials? Maybe not. If I needed a song written I would not rely on myself to do it. I’d definitely find an experienced songwriter. If you need promotion or branding, your business will definitely benefit from hiring an experienced Graphic Designer. It’s worth it!

Thoughts on DIY Design

I’ve never written a song. I wouldn’t know where to begin. Well maybe I’d try to learn an instrument first or learn to read music! But without even some rudimentary knowledge like that I doubt a song will be penned by me anytime soon. If you’ve never designed a brochure, logo, website or similar where would you start? You have a computer and know how to use it, but is that enough to start designing your business materials? Maybe not. If I needed a song written I would not rely on myself to do it. I’d definitely find an experienced songwriter. If you need a design to promote your business or brand then find an experienced Graphic Designer. It’s worth it!

Learn to Update Your WordPress Blog

Smart business owners have both a blog and a website. Often it’s combined in an easy-to-update WordPress website. I brand these for some of my clients and they love them. They have built-in SEO and can easily have a custom URL attached to them. The great thing about these sites is that it’s something the site owner themselves can update.

There’s a bit of a learning curve to get used to the interface on the “dashboard” of WordPress. But once you get the confidence in your own ability to update your website it will only help your business. That’s because search engines are always looking for new content to rank websites higher. In other words, if you have a WordPress website and blog, keep it updated and you will have a definite edge for business growth!

Land Customers with a Landing Page

 

So is a whole, multi-part website more than you need or can face right now? Then try a landing page. It’s a single page website that gives your company’s basic information like name, address, hours of operation, directions, a list of products or services, etc. It’s great as a way to stake out a place on the web if you don’t otherwise want or feel you need a full website. Or are so busy keeping up with your business that you don’t want to keep up with a website too. (Lucky you!) It’s important to have some web presence though, if only because it’s expected these days and you want to have clear and accurate information available. It’s amazing how much inaccurate information can start to accumulate on the internet if you don’t take control with your own URL and a web landing page at the very least.

Custom Websites, Worth the Investment?

In a previous blog post I made the point that websites are today’s business cards. If that’s the case, do you want a business card for your business? Of course. Then you  should also want a website that reflects your business. Being infinitely malleable your website is a much more flexible tool for describing your business than a business card. What would you pay for that?

Custom websites come in all price ranges but the web designer you end up with should be someone you feel comfortable with and can contact easily for changes, troubleshooting and updates. I often run into people who hired someone to do their website and now that they need them they don’t know how to find them. Or their web designer won’t return calls. That’s pretty frustrating. Pat Creedon Design is very accessible. I also offer graphic design so I can do the promotional materials, ads and direct mail for your business as well. The consistency in having one graphic and web designer on it all, plus the reliability of one contact, makes for a pleasant and smooth process for getting your new custom website.

Blogging to Draw a Crowd to Your Website

Blogging is easy if you take it on like any marketing project for your business. You know your business. You talk passionately about it and your industry whenever given the chance. Now just write all that down. For me, the best bet has been to come up with several topics I want to talk about then flesh them out in a Word document. After I have a few I copy them into my WordPress Blog and schedule them to appear every week. I’ll also put in some extras in between if the mood strikes but at least I know my blogging SSM (Social Media Marketing) is taken care of.

The idea of course is to get more crowds to your website so first you need a blog. I’ve found that the two can be easily combined for most businesses by having a customized WordPress website and blog. Pages such as About, Services and Contact can be added and worked seamlessly together with the Blog page. WordPress even makes suggestions on what to blog about if you’re stuck. Some people find a trending topic and put a spin on it that ties into what they do. Others find that posting great testimonials on their blog keeps it fresh. Search engines love new content so get out your pen and paper or that blank Word document and start blogging!