A reader recently asked me for advice on creating a business card as a student. Still in College and finishing up a degree, but ready to start the ever present process of networking she wanted tips and ideas for creating business cards and identity as a student that will be taken seriously in the workforce.
A specific question that came up was whether or not to use the University provided service of business cards with the University branding. While there may be some pros for the students, there are also some serious cons to this approach. First of all, it doesn't brand you as an individual, but rather as an extension of your University. Without knowing how your University may be perceived to your potential employer or networker this may be a negative thing.
Let's suppose for a moment that this employer recently had an employee that graduated from the same University and they were fired for poor job performance. Waltzing in as an extension of that same University can possibly backfire on you. On the upside, if a recent employee from that University was a star, it could help. However, by creating your OWN brand you eliminate this risk. So, let's discuss. If you're a student, chances are you haven't established a brand. So then what? How can you create a business card that will promote YOU and not some fictitious business or alter ego. What if you've not really "done" anything yet so to speak? No problem. Keep in mind that the primary use of a business card is to CONTACT you. So all you HAVE to include is valid contact information. Let's look at some ideas of things you CAN include on that card to give you credibility.
1. Your name. This may seem obvious, but as a student, with no "business" to be prevalent on a business card, Your NAME is the most important asset you have. Display your name predominantly on the business card to take the place of a business name.
2. Your field of expertise. Again, as a student you may not feel that you have yet established "expertise". But what did you study for? If you are a PR/Ad major then that's your field. If you're a Journalism major then obviously you write. Determine what your niche is and claim it on your cards. If you're still trying to find your exact niche, keep it broad. For instance, you might use "Communications" or "Marketing" as generic terms to avoid pinning yourself down too tightly.
3. Basic contact information. Be sure to include your city/state on the card as well as a current phone number. A word about phone numbers. Keep in mind that now that you are entering the employment pool you may need to change some of your previous habits. For instance, be very careful about your voicemail greeting on your phone. Screaming/singing into your voicemail message may have been cool in college, but once a potential employer tries to call you, it is an immediate turn off. Be sure to re-record your voicemail message to something more professional. "Hello, you have reached So-N-So, I'm not available at the moment, but please leave your name and number and a brief message and I'll return your call as soon as possible".
4. Email Address. Again, in lieu of something that used to get you by and have personal meaning such as "[email protected]" trade in your address for a new professional one. I strongly suggest Gmail accounts for a professional email address. Try to get something specific and relevant to you. Avoid numbers and make it as easy to remember as possible. When possible, use your name: "[email protected]" or "[email protected]". Creating a separate professional account will also help you to separate your professional contacts from your personal buddies.
5. Social Media contact information. Chances are a potential employer is going to look you up online. By including your social profile information on your business card, you show them that you have no skeletons in your closet and are beating them to the punch. Include your Twitter name and direct links to your LinkedIn or Facebook accounts. However, be sure that your content is employer friendly. Never use a social media outlet to bad mouth a previous boss or coworker. Keep your accounts clean and wholesome, understanding that you WILL be judged by what you allow to associate with your name on the web.
6. Blogs or Websites. Did you create a blog or Web site as part of a class assignment? If you did, and it's good, and you update it frequently, then feel free to add that to your card. However, if you don't feel that it's a good representation of your best work, or if you never update the blog, then you are better to leave it off. In order for it to be effective it must be current. Printing and Distribution. So now you have your information and a basic idea of your card.
The next step is getting them printed. My personal favorite for printing great, professional quality business card at a low price is OvernightPrints.com. Overnight includes a web based card designer, so if you'r NOT a designer, or don't have the software, you can use their Web site to still create a top quality card. And their quantities and prices are small and very reasonable. Staring at just 25 cards for $2.98 plus shipping.
Another option is Vista Print. A word of warning however, Vista Print's cards are "free" with the exception of shipping fees, but the backside of the card is Vista Print's logo and contact information. And the card quality is much cheaper and does not include a UV gloss finish, like Overnight does. So now that you have your card printed and designed, who do you give them too?
In short: Everybody! 90% of business success is networking. Never despise even the smallest connections that you might make. Stay especially alert at conferences, seminars and learning environments. All in all, put your best foot forward and establish your own professional reputation and you'll go far!
creative director/graphic designer
Jones is currently the Creative Director at Kenneth Hagin Ministries a.k.a. RHEMA Bible Church in Broken Arrow, OK. She is also the owner of Paige1Media, a graphic design firm that works with domestic and international clients on projects ranging from basic logo development to magazine and book design. Her firm is also contracted in conjunction with Collipsis Web Solutions. In her spare time she serves as an adjunct instructor at Oral Roberts University, teaching classes for the Communications Department. Jones has been designing professionally for over 8 years and immerses herself in the current trends and technologies emerging in the industry.
Collipsis Web Solutions
Early interest in application programming developed into a love for all things web driven. Nicholas Clayton has created and managed internet marketing sites, delving into CGI and web application programming, developing fully integrated database driven web applications for over 10 years and has spent 6 years as a web master. Meanwhile, he has an incredible eye for creativity and has had the opportunity to work with branding specialists on a variety of projects.
After using the technical side of his brain as a Systems Administrator for 10 years, working with companies such as the University of Houston and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Jason Holland decided to develop his creativity. 3 years later, Holland's photography speaks for itself. With an eye for design, Holland's portfolio boasts images that are both inspirational and pensive. Holland's photography can be viewed here.
senior graphic designer
Kenneth Hagin Ministries
With a solid degree in Communications, Amanda King found herself exploring her creative nature through an internship with a ministry in Tulsa, OK. Quickly her innate creativity was revealed as she was assigned more and more tasks and today, the rest is history. King's responsibilities include creative branding for a variety of groups and ministries. She frequently finds herself working on print projects ranging from letterhead to magazine layout.
As a professional proofreader and writer, Jeff Bardel is in the unique position of watching the design team develop ideas around his copy. This gives him the opportunity to participate and redirect the flow of the piece with a few simple words. In the industry for over 8 years, Bardel has worked with ministers across the United States.
Networked with ministries and companies around the world, Mark Burleson has had the opportunity to analyze and critique branding solutions, network systems and marketing operations throughout the industry. Owner of Redeemer Consulting, Burleson is also a Network and Systems Administrator at LifeChurch.tv. in Edmond, OK.
People ask me what the best part about being a designer/marketer/wearer-of-all-hats is—normally I stare at them blankly through a lack of sleep and coffee induced haze—however, when I do have time to formulate a response it’s generally this: the profession is always learning and as a professional I am always learning.
That’s it in a nutshell. Regardless of how long you’ve been designing, how many products you have successfully marketed, ultimately, you will never get to stop learning. So, if you’ve never liked school, bow out now. But, if you love a good challenge and like pushing the envelope, you’re in the right place.
Last week I was asked to speak at a conference. The conference, specifically a Tech Fest, was geared towards programmers, developers and system support gurus, but there I was teaching two sessions in the Design track. Between my sessions, I looked forward to attending a “Tips and Tricks” of Photoshop class. The room was full, attendees were beginning to fidget and I realized the speaker was AWOL. As the only approved conference speaker in the group I felt a responsibility to step up and do something.
After checking with the event coordinator and confirming that they could not in fact, locate the speaker, I was asked to step in. YIKES. Not, that I haven’t been using Photoshop for years. Even back before there was such as thing as “Creative Suite”, but to approach a room full of Photoshop users armed with questions was a humbling assignment. No prep time. No prepared files. No idea what I was going to talk about.
I announced that I would be filling in for the speaker, who was MIA. I invited the attendees to leave and check out another session in one of the other tracks. To my astonishment, only two people got up and left. I asked if anyone had any Photoshop tips they’d like to share with the others. No one said anything.
So, I did the unthinkable: connecting my laptop to the overhead projector I opened Photoshop CS5 and asked if anyone had any questions. A few timid hands came up. And then in rapid fire succession questions began coming from all over the room.
If you’ve ever tried to work with someone over your shoulder, you’ve probably experienced a very common designer ailment: STUPIDITY. Try as I might, with my screen broadcast before the entire room, the shortcuts my brain had memorized didn’t want to work. I did the only thing I could—laughed it off and used the menus for EVERYTHING. From questions ranging about resolution to text paths, we covered a wide gamut of Photoshop quandaries in that hour and a half.
Did I have all the answers? Certainly not. In fact, I even walked away with added knowledge about Photoshop that I didn’t possess previously. ALWAYS LEARNING.
This would be a good place to insert that old adage, “If Life Gives You Lemons—Make Lemonade” but instead I’ll leave you with this. In the creative industry, we can never afford to think we have all the answers. As soon as we do, we’ll be asked to do the unthinkable— and in front of witnesses no less. Regardless of your level of competence you can always learn from others. That’s what truly makes this profession so great. We’re ALWAYS LEARNING.
If there is anything that bonds designers, writers, programmers and other freelance careers together, it’s the “C” word. CLIENTS. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. We’ve all had them. They come in varying degrees of trouble or joy, but ultimately when we are dealing with others, we’re always in for some surprises along the way.
Can we do anything about it? Short of moving to a deserted island I don’t think so. But, the thing that we can do is watch for the warning signs during meetings and along the path of a project.
The other day, over lunch a designer friend and I were swapping stories. Before we knew it we had developed a “Quiz” for clients. No, this is not something I’d really give a client, but I can attest that ever question on this “quiz” is based from a real life client experience. Things that are hard to believe, but true.
The good news is, for all the bad clients out there, there are also great clients out there. Just for grins, join me now for “The Client Quiz”.
1. When your designer tells you they require the project communication to be conducted via email you . . .
A. Call your designer at 8 AM
B. Text, because you don’t want to be rude by calling too much.
C. Email, but then you call them to confirm they got your email.
D. Email your designer and wait for their reply.
2. When composing an email to your designer you. . .
A. Ignore ALL punctuation because this is casual communication and write the entire thing in ALL CAPS to add emphasis.
B. Use random punctuation, change your text color to red, Capitalizing OFTEN with lots of exclamation points because you are excited!!!
C. Use texting slang and avoid punctuation creating an entirely long run-on sentence of sorts.
D. Compose a well written, intelligent email to your designer with your request.
3. When requesting a quote from a new designer you . . .
A. Keep details vague yet pressure the designer into quoting it.
B. Confuse the designer and change your mind several times during the initial conversation.
C. Provide the designer with a ‘mock-up’ you created in Word.
D. Give the designer clear, concise information on what you’re looking for and leave the details to them.
4. When looking at other designs for inspiration you . . .
A. Email your designer with the link to what you want to be your new website, just with your logo instead of the current one.
B. Call your designer with the names of 20 websites you want to copy.
C. Email your designer scanned pages out of your niece’s coloring book colored with “the best color combinations” you’ve ever seen.
D. Send your designer several links of the style and colors you would like and ask for their feedback.
5. When discussing project budget with your designer you . . .
A. Show up in a Rolls Royce and explain how you will pay no more than minimum wage for this project as it’s “just fun for the designer”.
B. Make a point of letting the designer know that you have a lot of other bills and prefer to work on a “cash” basis (and don’t need a receipt).
C. Carefully scrutinize every dollar figure on the contract and repeatedly ask, “What does this cover again?”
D. Show the designer the courtesy of respecting their time and efforts
by offering to pay them well for their work.
6. When you receive an invoice you . . .
A. Ignore it and call to discuss a new set of changes you are sending.
B. Put a “check” in the mail that happens to get lost.
C. Send a check on the day the balance is due.
D. Send your payment to arrive on or prior to the date it is due.
7. When you determine that you want to change a project you . . .
A. Send the designer new directions demanding changes immediately.
B. Subtly send the changes in a series of emails as if they were part of the original agreement.
C. Apologize for the changes but ask that they “bear with you”.
D. Send the changes and ask what the revision fee will be.
8. When you come across a picture of your great-great grandparents, but discover your grandmother’s face has worn off you . . .
A. Send a scanned version of the old photo and ask the designer to touch it up and replace your great-great grandmother’s face.
B. Email a scanned version of the old photo and then a photo of your grandmother right before she passed asking the designer to “go ahead and rebuild her face”.
C. Ask the designer to come meet you to pick up the photo so they can touch it up.
D. Send your designer a scanned in version of the photo and ask them if they can touch it up.
9. When you meet with a new designer at a coffeeshop for the first time you . . .
A. Wait awkwardly for them to offer to buy your coffee and then order the most expensive drink in the shop.
B. Refuse any coffee or drink, because you only drink “folgers.”
C. Allow the designer to buy your drink but thank them and order a moderate size
D. Insist on buying the designer’s coffee as you appreciate them taking the time to meet with you
10. When you discover a problem with the final design that you didn’t catch you . . .
A. Call them screaming, ranting, and firing personal insults at them
B. Write them an email in all caps (because you ARE angry) and threaten to not pay them the balance, blaming them for the problem.
C. Call your designer and demand they make the adjustment and pay any extra costs
D. Email your designer, inform them of what you have discovered, and see what your options are.
A dog runs out in front of your car. . .
A. You speed up to try to hit it
B. You start screaming and swearing at it to get out of your way
C. Wait until the very last minute to swerve out of the way almost hitting another driver.
D. Hit the brakes and pray you don’t hit the dog!
What Can You Expect?
A’s. A designer will say, “I’m sorry but we will be unable to fulfill your needs and requirements for this project.”
B’s. A designer will say, “I’m sorry, at this time we just can’t take on any new projects. Let me give you the number of. . . .(muahahahaha).”
C’s. A designer will say, “We will be sending you a quote with a built in fee for the therapy we will need if this project takes a turn for the worse.”
D’s. A designer will say, “Here’s my business card please email me the specs of your project and we will get you a quote!”
Like what you see? Tell others about this post or feel free to refer to it on your own blog. All I ask is that you refer to this post and send readers here for the download.
Thanks for reading and good luck with your clients!
With the holiday season in full swing, it seems that everything has sped up to a frantic pace. My client's jobs have been no exception. While most of them maintain a great attitude actually getting work produced is often a huge struggle during this time of year. From emails that don't get returned to phone calls and increased traffic while commuting to meetings, it all but makes you want to throw in the towel and close the office doors for the season. So what can you do to help deal with the added stress of balancing your work, your clients and the holidays?
I've recently been reading a great book written by a Creativity Coach that I am honored to know, Romney Nesbitt. In her book, "Secrets of a Creativity Coach" Romney shares some of the tricks and tips she's found to staying 'centered' as you deal with the stress of this time of year, or busy work days etc.
The past couple of weeks I've been having migraines. Now, I've always been prone to headaches but recently my stress level has seemed to go through the roof and the resulting cycle is more headaches and I can get less accomplished, equally LESS productivity which causes more stress resulting in more headaches. It's a vicious cycle. Get it?
Well, because of this, I've done some research on stress relief and everyday things you can do to eliminate or expel stress. Yesterday I took a day off work both formally and client side for the most part and spent the day treating myself to recovery. And today, I can honestly say the results have paid off big time! I feel amazing! So here are some of the things I did . . .
1. Take a vacation day just FOR YOU. That's right, try to make minimal plans so that you can simply do what YOU want to do. For me, this was a little difficult, as when I finally decided to do this, I already had scheduled 2 client meetings and an oil change. The oil change I was able to reschedule but I went ahead and kept the meetings, they were with some of my favorite clients anyway.
2. Sleep in and then just lay there. I had no problem with the sleeping in part until my phone starting ringing off the hook and alerting me to new emails and texts. Yeah, unfortunately I actually had to get up. Take my phone to the other end of the house. Even on silent, the phone still vibrates ever so slightly and I realized even that sound of work piling up was NOT going to help me relax. By the time I got up at about 10 I had already received 4 phone calls, 3 client texts and 24 emails. After I had finally decided there would be no more sleeping, I went back, found my phone and made some calls, chatting with family members and catching up on things that were happening. Snugly under the covers. For me, that in itself was relaxing as I'm normally talking on bluetooth or earbuds while accomplishing other tasks.
3. Take a long bubble bath with aroma therapy and spa supplies. Now, obviously if you're a guy this is probably not on your list of "relaxing things". If it is . . . well, don't tell me . =P But for me, I took the time to relax, gave myself a pedicure and a facial and treated my hair to a leave in conditioner as I was getting ready to go to lunch with a client and my business partner.
4. Enjoy the sunshine. Yesterday in Tulsa was a beautiful Spring day, at 71 degrees and sunshine I was able to drive my convertible. The sunshine made such a difference on my outlook! Days like that certainly make a difference. If you don't have a convertible, consider opening your windows, sunroof or just go for a nice long walk out in the sun to get the right chemicals awakened in your brain.
5. Sing at the top of your lungs. This was something that I read during my research last week, but singing at the top of your lungs, whether in the car or in the shower, will actually alleviate stress! Try it . . you'll be amazed how much better you feel.
6. Wash your car. Did you know that a seemingly simple task, such as washing your car can be very relaxing and rewarding? It can. Not only will you be subconsciously proud of how your car looks afterward when you're driving, but there is something about "cleaning" that affects our brains. We expect things to be clean and when they are we have peace. Between errands I spent about 45 minutes washing/waxing and vacuuming my car I felt so good
7. Express yourself. As an artist, it had been a really long time since I've done any traditional art. So I bought some new small canvases yesterday and spent the evening painting. It was not only therapeutic and relaxing but also used an entirely different skill set for me.
8. Drink hot tea. Yeah, it may seem strange. But if you're not normally a tea drinker take the time to slow down and enjoy a good herbal tea or something a little stronger like a nice black tea. Yesterday I picked up Chamomile and Earl Gray.
I'm sure the list could go on and on, and we all have things we "do" to get ourselves back on track, but don't overlook the little things you can do to really set yourself right. Not only will your designs show that you are relaxed, but I'm sure your customer service will improve as well.
Early on, my plans of art and the design world were almost thwarted. Looking back, I can see many opportunities throughout my life that I had to allow rejection to shake my confidence and send me in another direction.
My first bout with this client-induced distress came when I was 10 years old. As a small child I had grown up in a family of crafters. My parents build very nice wooden children's furniture: table and chair sets, rocking chairs, step-stools and desks. My mom eventually began painting on the pieces, the latest children's characters, teddy bears, tractors or trains; she had a large repertoire of designs.
Chances are if your living in the twenty-first century your using email for most of your business transactions. Unfortunately, regardless of age group or email experience I still see tons of emails lacking the basic "requirement" of good email correspondence. I'm sure we all have our own pet peeves but I am going to address some of the most common mistakes I see or have been guilty of in the past.
1. Salutations. Much like a traditional letter, your email SHOUKD contain a proper salutation. Now, just in case any of you are not familiar with this term the saturation is the way you address your email. Unlike a letter, it's not normally addressed as "dear _____". Simply using the person's first name is acceptable in most cases: "John," "Jane," or "Mr Smith" are proper ways to begin an email. Why is this actually important even though often overlooked? I'm often copied on long email strings through my business without clear salutations it becomes increasingly confusing who is actually being addressed in the correspondence.
2. Names. While we are on the subject of names let's talk briefly about the importance of getting the names right. In email correspondence you have the advantage of being able to really check your facts before pushing send. Make sure your have double checked the name of the person you are emailing. Check for proper spelling and versioning. For instance do they go by Daniel or Danny? Calling someone the wrong name in an email is aside fire way to make a negative impression In a hurry.
3. Capital letters. Unless you MEAN to shout or specifically need extra emphasis avoid using all caps in an email and certainly NEVER WRITE COMPLETE SENTENCES IN CAPS. See how annoying that is??
4. Run on sentences or no punctuation. Seriously this one blow me away. Poor grammar is one thing but If you refuse to use punctuation in an email then don't expect me to attempt an interpretation. This may seem farfetched but I've received countless emails totally laving any type of basic punctuation. It's lazy and it's unforgive-able.
5. Responses and communication. The lack of communication in email correspondence is surprising. If you receive an emai, acknowledge it. Even if you aren't in a position to really 'answer it' at least let the sender know that you received it in a timely manner.
Because email correspondence seems a bit more "casual" and laid back it's easy to overlook some of these things in your communications. The next time you peruse your inbox keep these things in mind and craft your emails carefully and with diligence.
For those of you just visiting the site, this is the third post in what I affectionately refer to as my "Idiot Series". Chances are, if you do anything that requires that you deal with people then you've ran across a couple of "idiots."
As a freelancer or even as an inhouse designer working with other departments or personnel it's very easy to get discouraged when your client just doesn't seem to "get it". You know the ones I'm talking about. They come in and they want you, the designer, to create something for them. Then, instead of letting you help them to achieve visual greatness, they want to continue adding elements, tweaking things or making changes.
Today I'm going to step away from our normal line of articles and participate in Blog Action Day 2008. Today, October 15th, bloggers from around the world are uniting to share their hearts on a common subject: Poverty. Each blogger, will talk about this subject from the perspective of their field.
As designers, how does poverty effect us? Or do we have the opportunity to affect change ourselves? One of the hardest things for me is knowing how to price my work. Too many times, I've seen clients get taken to the cleaners by a designer or developer who convince them that they must spend thousands of dollars to get top quality work. Often this venture leaves the client broke with no real success to show for it.