Today our town hosted Caffeine and Carburetors, a car show held several times a year by the local coffee shop, Zumbach’s. I’ve always loved cars and my morning coffee so I went to admire the many exotic and vintage cars throughout New Canaan, CT, where I live and work.
Photo by B. Christopher
I invited two of my siblings and we had a really nice time wandering around, catching up, and having lunch at the local diner. We are all in our own creative businesses and so can commiserate about our ups and downs. My take on the car shows is that they bring people together as well as bring business to the coffee shop and other businesses and restaurants in town. I like the creativity of following a passion like the love of cars and using it as a way to promote one’s business. It works so well because it provides a kind of a service to car lovers. My brother says this is always the best car show around that he’s seen. He’s come a few times to see it.
In my last two posts I explained the first two reasons to learn something new:
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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, 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.)
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.
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!
I was recently at the dentist and I saw a sign that said: “You don’t have to floss every one of your teeth, just the ones you want to keep.” When it comes to graphic design, not all businesses need it, just the ones that want to keep going! That’s because without it that business is presenting an unprofessional face to the world that sooner or later will hurt it and maybe even cause it to sputter out. Not all businesses will die out. I have a client that has had a title search business for several decades. He works with other businesses that need his services. By word of mouth, a steady stream has come his way so no logo or other branding has been needed. (He calls me because I tutor him in Word 2010.)
But his is an exception. Most businesses need branding to show they’re serious about their service or product. I’ve done the graphic design for many different well-known brands over the years. I use those experiences to bring graphic design help to small businesses, individuals, and entrepreneurs. It provides the professional edge to companies, giving them the confidence to go after better clients and gain loyal customers.
I floss all my teeth because I want to keep all of them. (I’m funny that way.) If you want to keep your business going then we can help you with that. And I promise working with us will be a lot more fun than flossing!
Did you know how important it is to brand your company consistently with web, print, and social media? Get this right and you will have a company look and feel that will reassure customers and potential customers that you take your company seriously.
I understand how difficult this can be. I started my company back in 2010 without a plan for how to brand it. I of all people should have known better since my business plan was to brand small companies! But it’s easy to get caught up in the moving parts and forget to look at the overall picture. I created a look I liked for my business card and some print materials.
Then an ad opportunity came along so I created another look for that.
An Ad for My Company from 2010 or 11
I had a website to match for a while that I based on a template I liked.
My old Website
But then I wanted to add WordPress to my skills and the theme I liked was a different look again. It may be time (Ok it is time) to use my skills to create a consistent brand for myself. I will keep you posted on that.
How should you do it?
That’s where I encourage you to learn from me and not do it the way I did. Instead let Pat Creedon Design give your brand the look that suits it, or work with the one you have to get that professional consistency across all your materials whether printed or online. With a website (preferably with a blog), a Facebook page, a Twitter page and your LinkedIn company page branded with the logo, colors to match your brand look and feel, consistent fonts and a good photo you’ll be on your way!
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!
And it may be the difference between gaining business and losing out.
There is a fact that most business owners don’t know that is critical to their marketing. I have an example below from a major company that should know better.
Have you ever seen something printed that looked jagged and strange? This is from a flyer I got a while back:
It was an obvious mistake since we all know that logo is not supposed to look like that.
But what caused it to print like that? The problem was low resolution of a bitmap image.
There are two types of images used in printing, vector and bitmap. Vector is done in programs like Adobe Illustrator and it can be resized up and down with no issues. Bitmap images have to have a certain number of dots per inch (or resolution) to reproduce in print correctly (usually 300 dpi or more). Many people pull a logo or other graphic off their website send it to their graphic designer and say here, put this on my print materials. They don’t realize that the resolution on the web is much lower (usually 72 dpi) than what is required to print something with ink on paper. Of course why should they know that? It’s a piece of knowledge we graphic designers need to do our jobs right but other business owners are very often not aware of it.
Why is this important to any business?
It’s important because knowing the difference between vector and bitmap can make or break your marketing materials. With the wrong type of image or the wrong dpi in logos and images your print materials and ads can go out looking very unprofessional, hurting your image and potentially hurting your bottom line!
If dpi, vector, bitmap, resolution are like another language to you then allow us to keep your print materials looking as perfect and professional as your business deserves!
I received a printed copy of the book Liquidity and You. I designed the printed book’s interior. If you would like a quote to have your book designed just send me an email and I’ll get in touch.
Book Design, Chart
Book Design, Chart Design