End of the Year #AskmeAnything
How in the Holy Heck is 2018 over already? Well not yet, officially… but in 5 short days it will be 2019 and I truly can’t wait to see what this new year will bring! Yesterday on my #desIGnLIVE, (my weekly-ish instagram live series where I talk all things branding and entrepreneurship) I did a little #askmeanything and took your questions about starting my biz, adobe creative cloud, Pinterest boards, etc. Since I did not pull together a ‘2018 Year in Review’ Blog this year, I am opting for this as a blog instead! SO… without further ado… Here are your Qs & my answers!
Q. When did you know you were ready to start your business?
The answer is… I didn’t really. I actually started MKW Graphics way back in 2014, during the summer between my Junior and Senior year of college (at the University of San Diego). I had already taken Design Fundamentals class where we were introduced to Illustrator as part of my major (Fine Arts & Art History). Although it wasn’t love at first use for me and Adobe CC programs, I did love how graphic design was very problem-solving-oriented.
I took a job on campus (the Creative Zone for you USD peeps) where I was creating posters and flyer designs for events like the Homecoming Concerts, Sporting events, Student Government Elections, etc. This is really where I learned the most about Illustrator. I watched more Youtube Tutorials than I can even begin to explain and googled everything until I started to get a feel for the tools.
Here’s some super cringe-y works to remind you everyone’s gotta start from somewhere!:
The best part about ‘starting my business’ was that because I was doing it part time, and during school, I didn’t feel the financial burden of making it my full time gig (yet). I got to start small, CHEAP ($15/hour) and grow my portfolio and client list without feeling the pressure to make ends meet. Once I graduated, my parents graciously let me live at home for the first 6 months after graduation while I grew my business to a point where I could cover rent payments and groceries for myself LOL.
This being said, since I started at such a small scale, I didn’t do a lot of the ‘business set up’ stuff that I now recommend to my clients. Co-writing the Small Biz Start Up Guide taught me sooo much more about business ownership. For example, formalizing my mission statement, vision statement, ideal client, entity formation, operating accounts, etc. are all things that I am now just starting to cross off the list in my FIFTH year of business.
Q. How long did it take you to master Illustrator?
I would absolutely not consider myself a master of Illustrator! Illustrator and the rest of the Adobe Creative Cloud Programs are so robust and powerful that I really don’t think anyone has a full grip on their capabilities. That being said, the more you use them, the more you learn. I would be lying if I said I knew what all the tools were called or what they do.
On top of that, Adobe CC is really good about rolling out updates that are super user-friendly every few months. This is great because you can learn as the tech evolves. I always try and watch the new tutorials as they come out to get a better understanding of what the tool is/does.
The best way to learn if you’re starting out is to watch, and play. I learned SO MUCH from watching @dazey.la ‘s instagram stories (when that feature first came out) and how she created hand drawn elements within the programs. My best advice would be to follow designers that share their process, show you how they do things, and then try and learn from what they show you. (Which is why I even started doing #desIGnLIVE in the first place!)
Q. Did you have a lot of content/blogs ready to go before you started your business?
Nope! I didn’t really start blogging until year 3-ish of my business? My website was previously hosted on Wordpress, which I found to be really difficult to navigate. Once I made the switch to Squarespace, I found that I had a much easier time blogging.
I have a love/hate relationship with blogging. Although I absolutely see the value in writing consistently and publishing high quality content in blog format, I find that writing blogs takes me 5ever and I usually get held up when I don’t feel like the graphics or content are edgy/artsy enough, which leads me to an endless list of blog topics in my drafts folder (like they are right now).
All of this to say, this is (again) why I am LOVING going on #desIGnLIVE. I can talk through something like ‘Best Practices for Authentic Instagram Engagement’ much faster than I can blog it. (Hence, why you’re also getting this blog now).
HOWEVER, if you are going to be launching your small business soon (heeeyyy 2019!) I think it’s a really great idea to batch write some blogs that you can keep on stock pile and post over time. Make sure that your blogs are:
delivering useful content to your audience
give them an option to subscribe (peek mine below)
offer a content upgrade (free download or purchase related to topic)
never end in a ‘dead end’ … Your blog should encourage action, conversation, or sharing
Q: Do you require that your clients collaborate with you on their Pinterest boards?
Or do you just show it to them for feedback?
This Q is most likely pertaining to my Onboarding Process Blog in which I outline how a client goes from total stranger to totally ready to deep dive into the brand design process.
The answer here is: no. I don’t require my clients to collaborate with me on their Pinterest Board because I like to stay in control of what’s on my Pinterest in all honesty. I use Pinterest in two ways:
As a means of collecting Inspiration for a project
As a way to display the final versions of that project when it wraps
By doing this, I am making sure that my content (linked to my website) is discoverable alongside similar images and inspiration. You can see examples here:
You’ll see that I create sections in the boards to the content I want my client to see when we are in the ‘inspiration phase’ and then I go back and pin all the final graphics in the main section of that board. I also make sure that the board descriptions and pins are keyword rich so that my content gets repinned by others!
Q. Has anyone ever not signed a contract because they only wanted a logo and not a brand?
Again, great question, but the answer is probably no. I can tell right away from my contact form if someone knows the difference between a logo and a brand. Need a refresher? Read: The Difference between a Logo and a Brand Explained in Cake, or Why a Logo is Just not Enough for your Small Biz.
You’ll see on my contact form that I give a checkbox for “I am interested in:” and the only options are BRANDING, REBRANDING, WEBSITE, OTHER (please explain in message), & a pat on the back and a hearty handshake (a long standing Dad-ism in our family). When someone checks ‘branding’ but then types in the message that they only need a logo, this is my opportunity to EDUCATE.
I can explain to them how I am more of a brand designer than a logo designer in that I am considering how the logo works with and plays off of the colors, fonts, supporting graphics, photography, etc. You could have the best logo in the world, but if it is not serving your ideal client, it’s kind of for not.
My ideal client is likely providing a service, and not only a service, but a luxury service. These are the coaches, trainers, designers, event planners, nutritionists of the world, who are speaking to a specific person and offering a specific skillset in exchange for money.
With this in mind, it makes sense to have a whole system that is supporting that small business idea to not only look professional, but bolster their reputation as someone who CARES about these kinds of details.
If a potential client still insists that they ONLY want I logo, I pretty much let them know I am not going to be the right designer for them! However, more often than not, when I explain all of this to my client, they say something along the lines of “okay yes this is what I need! Let’s go!”
Q. Where is your sweater from? 😂😂😂
Legit got so many compliments and questions on my sweater from yesterday! Here it is:
I think that’s all for now folks! I would LOVE if you could leave me a comment below if ya learned something here! Would love to hear about what your goals are for 2019! As always if you have more Qs for me, feel free to hit me up on any social media you can find me, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org :) Toodles!