hi guys! i am out of town this week teaching in san francisco, but katie is going to take over for me this week and answer today’s advice question: “what do you look for in a designer or intern?”
i look for a solid portfolio that shows a variety of print and web, a nice sense of color and layout. their site is usually straight forward and easy to navigate. when i contact them it’s nice when they respond in a timely manner. don’t keep people waiting or they’ll move on to the next person.
when i’m looking for help i also reach out to people in my network to see if anyone has a good recommendation. i keep in touch with one of my favorite professors from MICA and she always has someone’s info to pass along. every designer she has sent me has been hired. note to students: keep a good relationship with your classmates and your professors. think of them as your coworkers and your boss. they will be one of your most important assets when you graduate. your classmates will go off into the real world and get real jobs. when their boss says “we need help, know anyone?” they will think of you and if you showed up to class on time and if you presented killer work.
when i look at students i think it’s great when they take their project past what was required. i’ve seen some start with a packaging project. then they turned it into a lifestyle shot and then a social media campaign. it’s so great to see people thinking about the big picture. it’s also a major plus when a candidate has lots of skills vs just one. they are more valuable because they can help with so much more.
when it comes to the interview i like it when people look me in the eye. i also like a firm handshake. nobody likes a wimpy one. i know i shouldn’t but when someone gives me get a weak handshake they go down a couple notches in my book. i like when the person laughs or makes me laugh. i like to be around happy people so don’t forget to smile. i like when people ask me a lot of questions (makes me feel better about asking them a ton). i want them to be curious and have an extreme hunger for knowledge. it shows me they’re ambitious and eager to work hard.
(illustration by katie evans. read more freelance advice posts are over here!)
today’s question: “how do you invest in your business?”
i’m not really at a point to invest in my business yet. as soon as i get there i would probably start renting a studio space to work out of. it would be nice to separate home and work. and! with that comes the adventure of furniture shopping!
i’d also like to find an accountant that works with freelance designers to make sure i’m actually doing everything the best i can. i currently work with a lovely H&R Block woman named barbra for my taxes. she told me she was proud of how organized i was this year vs. last. she is great but i just wonder if i’m getting the best freelance advice. i would also get a lawyer and have him/her go over all my paper work and make sure my business is set up the best way. since i wrote this post about getting paid i’ve had a couple of sticky situations come up. it would’ve been nice to have some heat backing those emails i was sending.
i assume that if i’m profiting enough to put money back in my business i’d be crazy busy. i might want to hire an intern to help out a couple days a week. i’d try to find someone from a local art college to help out. i love working with students. they’re so ambitious and excited. i like to think that i’m helping them on their career path like my mentors once did for me. my mentors help me make my career. every big job came from someone recommending me. it’s really all about word of mouth.
so…one day…that’s the plan.
i have definitely learned the importance of putting money back into the business. sure, we’d all love to get a paycheck in the mail and take it straight to the bank…and then to the mall. but it doesn’t really work like that.
i am going to focus on the expenses of a blogger for this one…
1. employees & contributors: my biggest expense! in the beginning this expense scared me the most because it’s sure not cheap! but when i was really able to evaluate the income before i had the extra help and then after, i realized the value right away. i needed to free up some of my time so i could think further into the future and stop spinning my wheels.
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here are some links today that you hopefully love!
ok before you start clicking away, here’s a little tip in case you didn’t know. hold down the command key on your keyboard when you click the links and they will all open in a new window. i usually go through and open a bunch and then go through them. hit command W when you want to close that tab. we are all about shortcuts around here, give them a shot! here’s some combined links from katie and i this week…
cool office accessories: i’m sure you’ve checked out kate spade new york’s new brand saturday by now. i bought the circle sticky notes, days of the week pencils and these colorful nesting bowls. the shapes are so nice and clean. they’re lookin real nice on my desk right now. how about this wooden geometric keepsake box? or this cute striped laptop bag (that also supports a good cause!) this jonathan adler desk lamp just arrived and it is sharp! last but not least, how about this bright red accent chair for your office?
new find: have you heard of hukkster? a coworker of mine just introduced me to it and i’ve been… hukking? all day, every day. it’s a free service that you use to email you when products you like go on sale. right now you can only be alerted when it goes on sale but eventually you’ll be able to put in your size and color too. also, have you heard of mailbox? you have to wait in line once you download it (it takes about 2 weeks) but the app IS pretty awesome for organizing your gmail. you can easily categorize with just a few clicks. no more crazy inbox numbers. i was playing with it this morning and it seems like it’s only for gmail (which is kind of a bummer if that’s true, considering that’s not all i use.)
latest inspiration: kate spade new york is celebrating their 20th anniversary this year. to celebrate they came out with a beautiful coffee table book. two of my dear friends wrote and designed the book and i’m so proud of them. each chapter is about something that inspires the brand. there are charming facts sprinkled throughout the book and drool worthy imagery sure to get your creative brain going. this flickr photostream is also pretty amazing! (how cool is this!)
wearing to work: it’s just starting to feel like spring and almost summer here in new york. i’ve packed away the puffer and boots and am trading it in for this lighter jacket and these sandals. in los angeles, it’s been bright and sunny…this yellow lace madewell top is the perfect shirt for work. it’s more professional for a meeting than just a basic tee, but just as quick and easy. i’m also loving this perfect hat!
(illustration by katie evans. read more freelance advice posts are over here!)
let me start by saying i am no “event” expert. i have been sort of thrown into it because we are constantly planning blogshop events, or events for designlovefest. i have learned a LOT along the way (because it is not easy!) and i thought i’d share a little bit with you. i think having events is really important because we spend so much time on the internet as bloggers…we need to connect face to face and have a little fun. i’m working on putting together more DIY events and even little contributor brunches hopefully soon. let’s get started on the 10 tips…
1. the venue. this one is very top priority for me when i am planning an event. i can’t visualize the scene if i have no idea what kind of space i am using. so i start here usually. think about your party…do you picture it outside, children frolicking in the grass while the adults sip on fruity drinks? or is it more of a dance party in a loft space? what are your needs? for instance, with blogshop, we need the space to have a lot of light for photos and energy…but we also need the space to easily get dark (curtains, shades) for when we are projecting the computer screen on the wall. this means we usually are on the lookout for photo studios that can transform for our needs. think about who you know! do you have a friend with a killer backyard? is there a park you could use? do you have a friend with a loft space? use your resources! we have used stores before (it’s good promotion for them too!) i have had a lot of luck reaching out on twitter and facebook as well…don’t be afraid to ask!
and one more note when you first start planning…if you can’t afford custom invitations in the mail, try paperless post! if you have a huge event and need to manage the RSVPs, we use event brite. it’s free!
2. the vibe. now you need to think about the vibe of the event after you have chosen your venue. if i was having an event in austin texas (natural materials, food trucks etc), it is probably going to look a lot different than if i was holding the event in miami (lots of white, beach vibe). you need to set the tone of the party with all the decor (we will get to that soon). also, think about the music that will be playing! (i always use spotify at blogshop) but i can’t stress enough the importance of a DJ or at least a good playlist. we use this jambox because it’s portable and sounds pretty awesome too!
3. the decor. man oh man is this vital. i usually call in for backup on this one…let someone help you that LOVES doing this and has lots of ideas to bring to the table. one major lesson i have learned is to be HYPER specific (if you are picky like me). without putting them in a creative box, you need to give them a direction. do you hate lime green? well you gotta tell them that. do you love a certain color scheme?…show it to them! after teaching more than 50 blogshops we have recently come up with a PDF that outlines colors, themes, shapes and ideas as a good jumping off point for them. the more detailed you are, the less slip-ups in the final hour.
4. the florals. they add SO much to an event, believe me. they don’t have to be crazy expensive…you can do simple arrangements on the tables. make your guests feel special. florals at the entrance, in the bathrooms (always a nice touch!) and at their tables. if you want to make a pinboard of your favorite arrangements, it sure can’t hurt! and think of florals as a place setting or a party favor…flowers are only going to make your event shine. speaking of bathrooms, i have always liked when people stock their bathroom with necessities…mints, hair spray etc. people appreciate those touches.
5. the entertainment (aka the food & drinks!) my favorite kind of parties have pass around trays with finger foods. sometimes the best appetizers are very simple, fresh ingredients that don’t take a ton of prep. think about your glassware…can you find some that fit the theme? can you DIY some plastic cups to make them cuter? if you are serving water, put it in a pitcher with cucumbers or fresh fruit. everything is a photo opp (and as you know, people love taking pictures of cocktails and food) don’t skimp on the garnishes, straws and napkins. (i love those little bamboo plates for appetizers.)
people stay longer at an event if there are options…whether that’s switching up the music, or having the appetizers change to desserts, or bringing out champagne to spice up the dance moves. a party should really flow. as a host you should keep an eye out for people’s needs. do they seem bored? put on a missy elliott song or something. does everyone look like they are standing around and staring? create a seating area where people can gather and talk to each other. it’s really all about monitoring the crowd!
6. the setup. you don’t need the stress on your big day. start setting up way early. you WILL run into snags and you need time to fix them. for blogshop we setup two hours early no matter what. sometimes we are done in twenty minutes and sometimes we are racing against the clock (we would setup earlier if it wasn’t 5am and we had to teach all day!) you want to have time to look at everything all setup, make changes and take photos of the space before it gets filled with chaos. prep as much as you can before the day of!
7. the arrangement. like i said earlier, it is important to create areas for people to mingle easier. if it’s a picnic outside, having blankets with oversized pillows and snacks will encourage people to gather. i like to think of it like setting up “stations” for people to rotate. i’ve been to parties where there is games on the table…but a candle and a flower arrangement goes a long way. and as you can see, it’s always fun to bring items from IN your home, outside. just because it’s a pool party doesn’t mean it has to be pool chairs. some of my most successful events have been when you can make people feel comfortable and chatty from the start…they meet people…they stay longer and enjoy themselves. look for vintage rentals and keep your theme in mind.
8. photos! people are definitely going to take them (especially if you are around a bunch of bloggers.) that’s the hope, right? set up vignettes for people to snap photos of. create a #hashtag on instagram so people can get involved and look through other people’s photos from the party. have a photo backdrop that encourages people to jump in and take photos. a photo booth is fun pretty much every time. this means you have to think about props too! and having a photographer document the event is always a special bonus.
9. the outfit. you know i had to bring this up. as a hostess you want to feel comfortable and confident. the last thing you want is to be worrying at the last second that you have nothing to wear or hating your hair for the evening. treat yourself and book yourself a drybar appointment and go out and get a new dress. i am not sure about you, but i always feel better in something new, even if i have to borrow it from a friend!
10. the content. as a blogger, it’s funny…you start to think of your life experiences in blog posts. sure, not everything needs to be shared. but it’s great when you put so much effort into something and you are able to share it with your readers and score some original content while you are at it. with a lot of the events we have been doing we incorporate recipes, DIYs and contests that go hand in hand with the event. for instance, this splendid event…we are making lots of striped props, and floral hair accessories. it’s important for me to be able to tie some of those things back to the blog in an instructional or purely entertaining way! if you spend a ton of time making appetizers from scratch and you’re feeling proud of them, by all means take a few photos of them and share the recipe! then people can look through your party pics and take something away from the post too.
this is obviously a very intense topic…full of information! this is only scratching the surface. hopefully you found some helpful tips and can get involved in the comments with some of your favorite event planning secrets. i always love to hear from ya. -bri
(see all of our event photos and the venues we have used here. want more blog outta your car advice posts? go here! photos by angela kohler, bonnie tsang, jen gotch, amelia lyon, and kim genevieve)
today’s question: “do you ever get lonely working from home? what do you do when you need to bounce an idea off someone?”
i’ve always been in an office environment so i can’t speak from experience, but i have a ton of friends that are on their own. my friend julia works from home and skypes with her friends in chicago all day. they just leave it up and will holler if they need to talk to someone. i bet that kicks any of the lonely feelings. i have other friends that rent desk space at studiomates in brooklyn. my friend jonnie just wrote about being in a co-working space there and how it’s given him a ton of new connections and jobs he wouldn’t have had if he was at home (the article also includes some fantastic freelance advice!). renting a studio space as a freelancer starting out feels like a luxury to me, but high-five to jonnie for taking the leap. i would work from home one or two years until this became necessary/possible.
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