So true, Mr. Wonka, and I live by those words. Kind of. Strike that and reverse it into graphic-design land. It’s probably not wise to admit this, but I will do a design favor for just about anyone who asks. Yep, free design! I know, what a ho. But a design ho, so it’s harmless. Except to my bank account. It’s not a goodwill thing, believe me. Karma coins do not pay my bills. I do free design for purely selfish reasons.
Let’s face it, graphic design is not the most lucrative career choice. But I had delusions of grandeur. Sitting in my black turtleneck, smoking cigarettes, discussing the latest color trends, and laughing at people who use Comic Sans. Years later, reality has set in. I score a job, receive a 63-page PDF of stringent brand guidelines, put my head down, and get to work. Twenty rounds of changes later, my ego is in the toilet and my brain is void of any creative thought.
So when a friend calls and ask me to do an evite for an outdoor BBQ with an actual pig roast? I am so in! Your son’s gay wedding with a superhero theme? Done! Why, you ask?
You, my appreciative friend, feel guilty and let me have creative freedom. I do not have to make ten rounds of changes. I do not have to make a logo bigger. I do not have to adhere to the brand guideline encyclopedia from hell. I get to pick my own color palette. My own fonts! I get a heartfelt “thank you so much.” I get satisfaction. I remember why I love graphic design.
So the next time your neighbor’s cousin’s brother-in-law’s college roommate needs a poster for his short film about daisies, definitely give me a ring. I’ll design the crap out of it–and this one’s on me!*
Much less popular, and a virtual tie, were questions in which human resources either tries to get you to spill your deep, dark secrets (“What is your biggest weakness?) or speculate wildly about the future (“Where do you see yourself in five years?”). Either way, we’re sure its no weakness to see ourselves having a great weekend, and we hope the same for you.
A new session of Beth Temple‘s popular class on successful freelancing, Be Your Own Boss, will be held at The Hired Guns Academy next Thursday, May 5th. We thought we’d give you a taste by asking Beth to discuss the three most common questions that have popped up in previous sessions.
“How (and how much) should I charge?” Hands down, this is the top question. Of course, if I had an exact answer to the “much” question I would start a side business and add it to my own revenue line! The “how much” question usually refers to an hourly rate, which affects the “how should I charge?” end result. So let’s break it down.
The classic ways to charge are by the hour, by the project, and by a retainer fee. All methods require some knowledge of what an hour costs you in relation to how much a client is willing to pay for that same hour. Start by estimating an hourly rate based on what you were making at your full-time job using this equation: salary / 2000 (hours) + hourly costs of benefits = hourly rate. Then estimate the hours it would take to complete the project, and charge a project fee based on the total hours multiplied by your per-hour rate. (There are a lot of other variables that can come into play, of course, and I go over them in the class.)
Once you start the project, be sure to track your actual hours. At the end compare the number of hours you thought you’d work with what you did work. You will likely come up short that first time–but over time you’ll easily make that up. Read More →
Happy Friday! Today brings the debut of “Miss Education,” a public-school teacher in the New York area. Until she finds herself a shiny new career and can leave the blackboard jungle behind, she’ll be posting anonymously. We think her struggle to drastically remodel her work life is something that lots of us can relate to . . . . After four years teaching, I’ve had enough. In fact, I often wonder why I stuck with it for the first four days. In 2007, I graduated with a diploma in one hand, a teaching license in the other, and stars in my eyes. I had just one goal: to change the world through the power of literature and my dynamic, witty personality. I didn’t know which school would hire me, which grade I would teach, or even which city I would work in, but somewhere, my first class of middle-school students was gearing up to have the best English teacher of their lives.
Four years later, after working for the New York City Department of Education, I am also working at a second job on the sly, enhancing my resume with other marketable skills and counting down until the day I can quit teaching middle school forever and shred my license into confetti.
I think that I went into teaching for all of the right reasons. None of the perks–summers off, pensions, health benefits, a workday ending at 3:00 p.m.—meant anything to me when I began my secondary-education program at college. I cared about only two things. I wanted to spend most of my day with eager, energetic young people, and I wanted to talk about books ALL DAY LONG. Was there a better way to make a living? Read More →
As I mentioned in my last post, there’s an ongoing shift toward giving readers a more relevant, adaptive web experience. This trend’s power starts with the fact that it’s beneficial for consumers–and soon this relevancy will be a requirement. For those marketers who embrace the trend, it will also be hugely profitable.
The experiences that a growing Web population expects—on-demand access to content of particular interest to them–will largely shape how people come to accept advertising directed their way. Today, I can set up and read personalized news feeds, follow the musings and links of my friends and colleagues on Facebook and Twitter, and access videos of my choice on Netflix and Hulu. Soon, I’ll enjoy a web experience that doesn’t require me to download or interact with separate sites or applications, each with their own notion of relevancy.
But even in the here and now, companies are learning how to speak (and, more important, be spoken to) in a one-to-one way with customers via social media and other tools. Many companies have someone whose job includes following Twitter feeds that involve their company in order to get real-time feedback. I’d argue that the lessons learned over the next few years will lead to a profound change in the way companies market to their customers–ads will have to become more relevant, conversational, and engaging in order to generate attention and drive action. Read More →
“For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.” Ira Glass talks about being creative and reaching the point where your work is “as good as your ambitions.”
This Saturday is the deadline for nominations to Inc. magazine’s 500|5000, its annual list of America’s fastest-growing private companies. Qualifying businesses get a free one-year subscription just for applying.
Earlier this month NPR reported on how “many companies and organizations are encouraging employees to be on the lookout for talent and are offering cash bonuses for referrals that lead to a hire.” As always, it pays to keep your network robust.
For the second of my interviews with blog movers and shakers, I didn’t have too far to look–I’ve known Scott Beale for many years. As the creator and founder of Laughing Squid, a web hosting company and “online resource for art, culture & technology,” Scott’s an amazing source for finding out about the rise of blogs and blogging platforms. We discussed his company’s origins (including its unusual name), the backwards way he got into blogging, and how to grow a blog when you want to write about all sorts of things, not just a single niche. “Not everyone’s going to like every post, and that’s the way it should be with us,” he says. Check out the rest of our half-hour talk below:
Experts seem to agree that no one ever got big by being all things to all men–as one marketer says, “You’ve got to be perceived as the best at something.” Inc. magazine has more tips on narrowing your target market.
Fast Society is a buzzy Android and iPhone app that lets you corral friends, family, and colleagues into groups that you can contact at the same time, either via a conference call or a text message. More here.
Did we miss an interview question that really torques you off? Put it in the comments. And if you found yourself looking for “all of the above,” check out our recent roundup of advice on interviewing effectively.
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