Category Archives: Advice

Creative Chronicles #2: 5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Media Kit

Nubby Twiglet | 5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Media Kit

Do you offer services or advertising in your business model?

If you answered yes, then you should probably have a media kit.

The term media kit has been around for a long time but the truth is, I didn’t really understand what it meant until 2007 when a client with a print magazine approached me, asking me to design one. They sold advertising spots and needed to convey to companies why they were worth the investment.

To get me started, they sent over a bundle of media kits they’d gathered, mostly for large print publications. As I dug in and started researching the format, I began to realize that although they targeted completely different audiences, the content was basically the same.

Nubby Twiglet | 5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Media Kit

They all contained some form of the following:

1. Branded front cover
2. Intro / mission statement
3. Stats and / or notable accomplishments
4. Notable clients
5. Services offered
6. Rates
7. Process / how to book
8. Testimonials
9. Frequently asked questions
10. Contact info

I got to work and once the project was finished, added it to my portfolio. Soon, all sorts of businesses were booking me in for media kits. Bloggers, photographers and creative entrepreneurs from all walks of life realized that they could take that basic format and tweak it to sell their ads, sponsored content and services.

Over the last eight years, I’ve designed a few dozen media kits, including plenty for myself. And, that’s what we’re going to chat about today: how creatives can leverage media kits to grow their own businesses.

As soon as I launched Branch two years ago, the first thing I did was design a media kit and it’s become my most important selling tool. Why? Because when you’re dealing with a potentially worldwide audience, it’s not always possible to be there in person to sell in your services. A media kit is able to do that for you.

Nubby Twiglet | 5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Media Kit

Nubby Twiglet | 5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Media Kit

Here’s the process of sending out a media kit:

1. A potential client contacts Branch.

2. Within 48 hours, our project manager responds with an introduction and attaches a PDF media kit to the email.

3. The client follows up with which package they’re interested in and we set up a call to discuss their specific needs.

The media kit is a great tool because it essentially gives them all the information they could possibly need in one easy to navigate document while often cutting our correspondence time in half because it’s already answered most of their questions.

Nubby Twiglet | 5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Media Kit

Nubby Twiglet | 5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Media Kit

Five reasons why you should have a media kit

1. It does the talking for your business when you’re not able to meet in person. This is especially important for those of us who have businesses with an online following.

2. It explains packages, processes and rates in more detail. Some of this information is very in-depth or sensitive and it’s easier to format it in a nice document versus clogging up your website.

3. It builds a dialogue. If a potential client emails you for a media kit and then drops off, you can follow up to find out if they have everything they need and if the rates work for their budget. From there, you can work to meet their needs.

4. It’s easier to sell larger offerings. By showcasing a menu of services / packages, clients can compare pricing and what they receive much easier because the value is clear. For instance, instead of a logo, they may decide to invest in a brand platform when they understand the benefits.

5. It shows you care. By laying out the information a potential client needs and thinking of all the answers before they even ask a question, a media kit positions you as a pro and makes it clear that you’re invested in the best possible outcome of their project.

Nubby Twiglet | 5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Media Kit

Nubby Twiglet | 5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Media Kit

As a reminder, media kits can be formatted to market nearly any business. Whether you’re a blogger, writer, photographer or designer, a media kit is simply a way to explain what you offer in a streamlined, informative document. The easier you can make it for your clients to understand what you’re offering and how to book you, the more successful your business has the potential to be.

I hope this post has demystified the content and process of media kits a bit more and if you have any further questions, please feel free to ask me in the comments!


For even more Creative Chronicles, please click here.
Featured media kit: We Are Branch.

Creative Chronicles #1: Dealing With Negative Feedback and 6 Tips To Overcome Self-Doubt

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles

If you want to grow your audience and clientele, you have to get comfortable with sharing your work. The more work you share, the more likely you’ll get hired for future projects. Unfortunately, that is easier said than done. Have you ever been afraid to share an outcome? Me, too.

I remember project critiques in college well. We sat around in a semi-circle with our freshly printed work taped to a wall. I was never self-conscious about sharing my work in this closed environment because I knew I’d given it my best shot and my class was super tight-knit, with maybe 20 students.

Early on in critiques, I began to notice something: a positive comment would elicit more positivity. The more someone raved about a particular design solution, the more the rest of the class would chime in because they began to see the same thing. Positivity bred positivity.

And, when something didn’t quite work with a composition and someone was brave enough to point it out, the same thing happened but in reverse: constructive criticism, while good natured, often opened the floodgates for negative feedback.

Being a creative, whether you’re a writer, fine artist, designer or photographer, requires a really thick skin. Whether your project is self-initiated or paid work for a corporate client, each is a piece of your soul that you’re bravely standing up and sharing.

I’ve been sharing my design work online for over a decade now and luckily when I started, I had a nearly non-existent audience and social media wasn’t really around yet. There was no pressure since nobody was watching, which I now see as a huge benefit. What started out with fooling around with a digital camera and Photoshop brushes in 2003 led to me enrolling in a design program in 2006. While I sometimes cringe when I come across that early work, I’m still proud of it. It shows an evolution and with each project, I learned something new.

A decade after sharing those early projects (which elicited a mix of good and bad feedback, I might add) I run a thriving design studio. Even today, while some of the projects I share produce a ton of leads, others, even though I’ve given them the same care and effort, fall flat. Not everything you produce is going to be a winner but what matters most is that both you and your client feel great about the outcome. Everything else is just icing on the cake.

Dealing With Negative Feedback and 6 Tips To Overcome Self-Doubt

If you’ve ever gotten negative feedback, it can be hard to stomach sharing more work but I want to encourage you to keep going.

Here are 6 tips to overcome self doubt and get back out there:

1. Practice, practice, practice.

Your first piece of work will never be your best. And, that’s just more of an incentive to keep trying new things and evolving. Always date the work you create (if it’s digital, add it to the file name) and look back at it on a yearly basis. It’s amazing how much you can grow when you devote yourself to your craft every single day, even if it means setting aside 15 minutes on your lunch break. Get those 10,000 hours in! And, if someone starts digging in and criticizing you, ask yourself: have they dedicated themselves to 10,000 hours of anything? Probably not. Then, get back to work!

2. It’s easier to criticize than create.

By sharing your work, you’re being brave and you deserve credit just for that alone. While you might have spent days, weeks or even months producing a piece you’re proud of, it only takes someone 10 seconds to leave you a nasty comment. How does that really measure up? If you let negativity silence you, it’s only going to hurt your career and prove the negative commenters right. Instead, use it fuel to push yourself to create even more amazing work.

3. Develop a support system.

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been sharing your work — negative feedback can still really sting. That’s why it’s important to develop a network of close friends and industry peers that believe in what you’re doing. I have a few friends I reach out to when self-doubt starts to creep in. Sometimes, all it takes is a shift in perspective. Instead of wallowing in sorrow and beating yourself up, reach out — the sooner you do, the sooner you can move onto creating your next piece.

4. For every hater, there’s a lover.

Truly great work doesn’t elicit a “meh” reaction. It attracts and repels in equal measures. Think about creatives from all walks of life including Damien Hirst, Marilyn Manson and Robert Mapplethorpe. People have strong reactions about all of them.

5. Know that you did your best.

If you feel that you’ve given a project your best shot, then why does the negative feedback even matter? Remember that people don’t always know what’s going on behind the scenes. There’s a story beneath the surface of the work they’re viewing. Deadlines, client feedback, process sketches, meetings, piles of revisions….these all play into the completed piece. You have to remember that a reaction is often tied to a quick glance at the outcome. You know what you put into a project and take solace in knowing that you gave it your all.

6. Separate constructive criticism from meanness.

This is a tough one but often, there’s a kernel of truth even in negative feedback. It’s not always apparent when it’s laced with venom but if you set it aside for a few days and let your emotions die down, you can often improve upon your original project. Of course, there’s a big difference between being downright mean and offering constructive criticism. Some of the best feedback I’ve ever gotten was from my creative directors at the studios I worked at based on mistakes I’d made — to this day, I still use it when I’m working through a project. Is the type on my business card designs at least 6 points? Is the body copy on my page layout easy to read? Did I print out my work and proof it before sending it off? Find people you trust to weigh in — that feedback can take a project from good to great, before you release it.

It’s your turn! Do you have any tips of your own for handling negative feedback?

15 Tips To Rock Your Stay at Designer Vaca!

Nubby Twiglet | 15 Tips To Rock Your Stay at Designer Vaca!

Four years ago, an email landed in my inbox for a new retreat, Designer Vaca. Held annually in Palm Springs, the all female gathering for creatives quickly grew from a group of 25 to close to 200 attendees. Every year, though very different from the last, has held one central theme: openness. No matter how many ladies attend, a sense of friendliness and a willingness to share stories and ideas resonates and that’s what keeps me coming back.

I talk about Designer Vaca a lot because it really shifted my career by giving me the confidence to drop all outside gigs and trust that I could be my own boss. I went from being scared shitless the first year to having my own studio the second. Meeting other women doing the exact same thing made me feel less alone. It also provided me with a strong support network — ladies I’d only knew online became close friends and that makes all the difference when you’re working for yourself, unsure of what each day holds.

Showing up to Designer Vaca has taught me a lot and if you’re considering attending, I wanted to share some tips to make your time there as smooth as possible:

1. Register Fast

When tickets go on sale, things get crazy and they are usually completely sold out in 1 to 2 days. Even if you’re on the fence about attending, just buy the damn ticket! Worst case scenario is that you can always sell it to a friend or offer it up in the private Facebook group. Sign up to the mailing list to be the first to find out when registration re-opens.

2. Stay Late

The retreat flies by and it can be a little overwhelming networking when you’re still trying to get your bearings. Whenever I’ve left as soon as the retreat was over, I’ve regretted it big time. An extra day or two allows you to get to know more ladies on a deeper level without the set schedule — it’s the perfect time to hang out by the pool or go on group trips to Joshua Tree and Salvation Mountain. Your post-retreat time is sacred. It’s the ideal time to discover, explore and most importantly, relax!

3. Fly Into LA

Palm Springs has a teeny, tiny airport that’s quite expensive to fly into. The most cost efficient way to get to the retreat is to fly into LA and then drive to Palm Springs. Depending on traffic, it’s about two hours from LAX. And, there’s plenty of fun stuff to see on the way like the Cabazon Dinosaurs!

4. Carpool

Tons of the girls attending Designer Vaca are California natives and have extra room in their cars. If you can get to LAX, chances are that you can hitch a ride to the retreat! My friend Pam carpooled this year and had the time of her life with a group of ladies in a rented yellow Camaro. Once you register, you’ll automatically be added to the private Designer Vaca Facebook group and you can hook up with a carpool in there.

5. Pair Up With Roomies

Whether you’re trying to save some money or just want to make some new friends, partnering up with roommates is a great option. Between hitting the talks, dinners and pool, the time you spend in your room is so little, anyway! To find roommates, join the Facebook group.

6. Hot Tub After Hours

This is a big one! Everyone is always exhausted from traveling but the real magic happens at night in the hot tub. I always have the most memorable conversations (from Burning Man to weird celebrity trivia, all bases are covered) and though I’m tired the next day, it’s nothing a strong cup of coffee can’t cure.

7. Focus on Quality Over Quantity

With 100+ women to see and meet, it can be difficult to even scratch the surface. When our group was just 25 ladies, I walked away knowing everyone on a more personal level. But with the growth, it’s just impossible to meet everyone. Instead, I’ve started messaging ladies on Instagram that I really want to meet and then letting the rest of my interactions happen naturally. This year, I made so many new friends just by joining different groups and eating lunch by the Ace pool.

8. Pack Business Cards

I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it again: BUSINESS CARDS ARE NOT DEAD! Some of the interactions you’ll have are in packed, loud rooms. It’s impossible to understand your contact information when you’re shouting it out — save everyone the trouble and hand out cards. Since this is a design-focused retreat, it’s also the perfect opportunity to show off your skills. A lot of the girls Instagram the cards they’ve gotten afterwards so once again, it’s a great marketing opportunity. Based on the cards I gathered this year, most of us are using Moo Luxe.

9. Be Fearless

This year, I read so many Instagram updates from new ladies who were very open about how nervous they were to attend Designer Vaca. Whenever you attend something new, that’s totally normal! Nerves kick in, you wonder if you’re too old or too young, you wonder if your website looks good enough and if your outfits are cute enough. Seriously, throw all that out the window. I felt that exact same way the first year and within a day, I was over it. Don’t waste your time or energy second-guessing yourself. Instead, use that energy to go out of your way to make someone else feel welcome. If you see a lady standing by herself on opening night, say hello. This is not the time to be shy — everyone is there to network!

10. Use The Photo Booth

Every year, I drag all my friends into the Ace Hotel photo booth and every time, I’m so thankful that I have those memories. Swipe that card a few times — the photo strips are perfect for your inspiration board back home. Even better, scan the strip and email it to everyone in it. I did that the first year and it definitely made me more memorable to my new friends.

11. Rise Early

The sunrises in Palm Springs are some of the best in the world. There’s nothing quite like being in the desert…so don’t miss out! Also, the main restaurant at the Ace, King’s Highway, gets packed in the mornings before we head to the 10 a.m. talks. Getting food, let alone the check can take forever. Get a move on it and beat the crowds.

12. Keep It Casual

While it’s nice to dress up on opening night (the atmosphere is like a casual cocktail party), the rest of the time is super laid back. Most of our time is spent attending talks or lounging by the pool so keep it simple. Just don’t forget to pack a swimsuit, sunscreen and sunglasses!

13. Leave The Compound

While staying at the Ace is fun, Palm Springs is full of amazing hotels, restaurants and sights. My favorite places to eat are Las Casuelas for Mexican and Lulu’s California Bistro for a bit of everything — this is a total crowd pleaser, no matter what your dietary restrictions are. I also like The Avalon for poolside drinks, Birba for pizza and Cheeky’s for brunch.

14. Chill Out

Designer Vaca is fantastic for networking but at the end of the day, don’t forget to relax. There’s nothing worse than leaving a vacation feeling totally exhausted! The scheduling at the retreat is purposely minimal so you have time to hang out, get some sun and recharge. Let things happen naturally — there’s no race to the finish line!

Nubby Twiglet | 15 Tips To Rock Your Stay at Designer Vaca!

15. Be Yourself

There’s no reason to put on a show — everyone who’s new to the group feels just as self-conscious and as worried as you. Vulnerability is encouraged — the more open you are, the more likely you’ll draw in your ideal tribe of new friends. During Designer Vaca, I’ve seen tears shed and we’ve all confessed moments of complete failure. These are the stories that bring us together because we are all human. We all have ups and downs. If you want to connect on a deeper level, you have to be willing to open up. The support system I’ve gotten from these ladies is unreal.


I hope these tips help you have an amazing time at Designer Vaca. And if you have any questions, let me know in the comments below!

A Little Reminder: There’s Beauty in Simplicity

Nubby Twiglet | A Little Reminder: There’s Beauty in Simplicity

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” —Leonardo da Vinci

There’s so much beauty in simplicity.

In daily life, we have a habit of overcomplicating even the simplest tasks. Even this morning, I was trying to connect the dots on a new project I’m pitching and even though the concept itself was really simple, the details felt muddy and tangled in my head.

I had to stop and remind myself that what I wanted was totally possible and tripping myself up was just an excuse to procrastinate and not follow through. Do you ever feel that way, too?

Nubby Twiglet | A Little Reminder: There’s Beauty in Simplicity

These images are from an in-progress project. Of course, I was trying to make the outcome much more difficult than it had to be but when I stopped overthinking it and instead started scanning in the beauty that was already around me, things finally started taking shape.

Nubby Twiglet | A Little Reminder: There’s Beauty in Simplicity

There’s clarity and confidence in simplicity. Sometimes, the answer you’re looking for isn’t as hard to find as you think. It’s right in front of you — you just have to be willing to listen.

You Have to Dream Before Your Dreams Can Come True

Nubby Twiglet | You Have to Dream Before Your Dreams Can Come True

This week has been very full-on as my studio wraps up the newest issue of Rock n Roll Bride Magazine. The whole thing was redesigned from scratch over the last two months and even though it’s the largest scale project I’ve ever personally taken on, it’s also been one of the most rewarding. Editorial design for me doesn’t really feel like work in the same way other genres do and that’s partly because it’s like an old, dusty dream finally coming to life.

When I was a teenager, I read Vogue and Bazaar as I sat in history class (and that’s exactly why I know most fashion designers on a first name basis while my history knowledge completely sucks). My dream was to work at one of the big, glossy magazines in New York but I don’t think I’d quite figured out what job I’d actually have there because my discovery of graphic design as a career was a ways off.

Even with blogging and agency life over the next decade, the thought of working at a magazine never really left. At my jobs, I always took on the lifestyle campaigns and anything with print was my jam. Life was good but the thing with dreams is that they never really go away. Sometimes, they just manifest instead in unexpected ways.

When I first started working with a British wedding blogger named Kat in 2010, it was first on a logo project and then a blog revamp. A few years in, she mentioned needing a brochure to hand out at a wedding fair and even though I knew I’d be taking on a lot more work for the same pay, I volunteered to turn that brochure into a 40 page magazine. That magazine turned into a print run of 1,000 copies and within a few weeks, they were completely gone.

Nubby Twiglet | You Have to Dream Before Your Dreams Can Come True

That eventually led to an annual self-published magazine. And finally, here we are producing a 160 page magazine with distribution across the U.K. including newsstands and supermarkets. I never thought something I designed would end up on the rack sitting next to the big guys I’ve long admired. As we get ready to send the files off to the printer in a few days, the nervousness is kicking in as I roll through the spell checking and print production. This is real life.

If you have a dream, always keep an open mind and look out for opportunities to make it a reality, even if things unfold differently than you imagined. My dream of working at a magazine got put on hold for a decade while I worked a variety of other jobs and then, with Kat’s small project, I saw an in. I had no idea it would turn into something much larger and in a way, that was a godsend because there wasn’t the pressure of expectations.

Keep a flexible attitude with your dreams because sometimes, the reality turns out to be even better.

“You have to dream before your dreams can come true.” —A. P. J. Abdul Kalam


Images: Rock n Roll Bride Magazine, Issue 4.

10 Lessons in 10 Years: My Biggest Takeaways During a Decade of Graphic Design

Nubby Twiglet | 10 Lessons in 10 Years: My Big Takeaways During a Decade of Graphic Design

Ten years ago, in 2005, I took on my first freelance project. Though the project was very small, it was a start.

I put aside my fear of not being good enough and just got going and as you know, getting started is sometimes the biggest hurdle. Once you believe in yourself enough to try something new, doors will slowly but surely begin to open.

In the time since, I’ve been fortunate to work at ad agencies on projects for Fortune 500 companies and now, I spend my days running a design studio, collaborating with dozens of small businesses to make their brand visions a reality. While that’s a short and sweet overview, the learning curve has been ridiculously steep. With the good comes the bad and with the career highs come plenty of lows. Having a creative career is a nonstop roller coaster and through it all, subjectivity plays a big part in what we do.

I’ve always felt that we can learn from one another’s experiences, both in an effort to improve ourselves and also to avoid the same pitfalls.

So without ado, these are 10 lessons I’ve learned during my first 10 years as a graphic designer:

1. Trust your gut.

That old adage trust your gut gets thrown around a lot. I used to get annoyed when I heard it, partly because I didn’t fully understand what it meant. Later on, I found myself in plenty of positions when I just knew. That general uneasiness? That feeling of being pushed into a corner? That knot in your stomach that just won’t go away? Simply put, your body is telling you to trust your gut.

It doesn’t matter how badly you want to work with a company, it’s important to pay attention to the signs. If they have issues communicating during basic email introductions, balk at your contract, flake out on calls or contact you only to disappear for weeks on end, it never ends well.

An email recently popped into my inbox from a massive toy manufacturer whose products line the shelves of every big box store in the U.S. After some quick back and forth, the contact blew off our call, then rescheduled and missed a second one on the same day. They then promptly disappeared, only to pop up two weeks later with an unplanned phone call, asking if we could push aside my studio process to start the project right away. The warning bells went off and after I politely declined, they promptly hung up on me. Crisis averted!

Nubby Twiglet | 10 Lessons in 10 Years: My Big Takeaways During a Decade of Graphic Design

2. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Start where you are, right now. No excuses. With consistency and drive, you can build an amazing company, brick by brick. The reality is that when you’re starting out, you probably won’t have a fat bank account to keep you afloat for months on end while you design a custom website with finely tuned copy, create letterpress business cards and decorate a big, modern, all-white office. And, that’s okay. Don’t let a lack of anything hold you up, ever.

I started experimenting with graphic design from my childhood bedroom and when I couldn’t afford art school, I enrolled in a community college program. My business really took off in the spare bedroom of a house I bought with my brother and it wasn’t until I’d been freelancing for nine years that I finally signed the lease on a dedicated studio space.

Even though my first real portfolio was a basic template hosted on Cargo, that was good enough to bring in steady clients until it was time to take the leap to launching Branch. Oh, and that website has never been perfect because it was literally designed and developed in 10 days flat. Only now am I going back and refining my brand with a completely new site that’s launching later this summer. Wherever you’re at right now, good enough is good enough.

3. Being “the best” is a losing battle.

Instead, strive to be original. While it’s inspiring to look at the work of creatives you admire and use that as fuel to improve your craft, I’ve learned that being the best at what you do is completely subjective. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Not everyone is going to love what you do so trying to please a massive audience is a sure-fire road to mediocrity.

If you’re struggling to find the originality in what you do, start small. Before you share a piece of work, step back and ask yourself if there’s a final, unique touch you can add to the mix. Those small details are what make your work stand apart from the rest. If you’re having trouble finding your voice, start by writing more personal Instagram captions and tweets. Eventually, those snappy one-liners will grow into stories. Your voice and visual style are already in there but you have to flex your creative muscles every day to make them stronger.

4. Word of mouth is stronger than Google.

Some of the project inquiries I get are directly from Google or Pinterest but believe it or not, the majority these days are from good ol’ word of mouth. I recently did a spider diagram and was shocked at how many of my clients crossed over — most of them knew one another. Good, reliable help is harder to find than you might think so if you do a fantastic job for a handful of people, they’ll be more than happy to recommend you to their friends. Take good care of your core group of clients and in return, they’ll take good care of you.

Nubby Twiglet | 10 Lessons in 10 Years: My Big Takeaways During a Decade of Graphic Design

5. Middle-of-the-road is career suicide.

I’ve always been an all-or-nothing type of person which can be intense and draining but it does have its benefits. Coasting along in a creative field just won’t cut it. Whether you have a full-time position or work for yourself, you have to be willing to hustle big time. Your ideal projects won’t just get handed to you out of thin air — competition is stiff and there’s some truly amazing talent out there. If your burning desire to create has softened, it may be time for a reboot. Read Damn Good Advice by George Lois (one of the original Mad Men) whose drive and chutzpah can inspire just about anyone.

6. Define your voice and style.

Focus on developing your personal style along with the way you package and sell your services. That packaging coupled with your unique voice is what’s really going to make you stand out from the 1,000 other choices your customer has at their fingertips. It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking you’re really no different from everyone else but the fastest way to climb out of that hole is to refine your voice and vision.

Not sure what your style is or where to start? Spend the weekend looking through the websites of your all-time favorite designers. Take screen shots and pin the best snippets of visuals and copy to a private Pinterest board. What is it about their style that feels cohesive? Do they gravitate towards hand-lettering, botanical prints, punchy colors, a lot of negative space or something else?

Even more importantly, subscribe to the blogs and Instagram accounts of the folks you admire. Now, comb though each and compare how they share their portfolios and their services. What feels the most natural and non-sleazy to you? I call this exercise market research — and remember, everything you need to know is out there!

7. Only share what you want more of.

The beauty of being online is that people only see what you choose to show them. This might sound deceiving but I assure you, it’s not. If you work a day job doing graphics for big box sports stores (I’ve been there!) but don’t want more of this type of work in the future, don’t show it. I used to show everything I worked on — the good, the bad and the questionable were all fair game. At the time, I needed the work and the work came flowing in by the bucketload. The only problem? It was a strange brew that I didn’t necessarily love.

Once I started Branch, I tightened my focus towards small businesses with an emphasis on fashion, beauty, food and do-gooders (those who are dedicated to making a difference in the world). All the stuff that equaled a good paycheck but left me unfulfilled got axed. By only sharing the projects I feel most passionate about, there’s been a huge domino effect of like-minded folks reaching out.

Nubby Twiglet | 10 Lessons in 10 Years: My Big Takeaways During a Decade of Graphic Design

8. Bigger isn’t always better.

When I began freelancing, I knew I eventually wanted to run my own studio but beyond a few sets of helping hands, I never aspired to have a massive company. Why? Because I once worked at those big agencies and the people around me were never content. There was a feeling of more, more, more with no end in sight. More clients meant that there needed to be more employees to do the work. And naturally, more employees equaled more overhead. It was a never-ending cycle and I always felt a bit lost in the mix. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to grow your business — in fact, I encourage you to because you’ll never know if it’s a good fit if you don’t try. But, the key is to figure out what your goal for earning more money truly is. Not sure? Read Sian’s post.

9. Pitch, even if you’re scared shitless.

It doesn’t matter how popular someone is — they’re still a human sitting on the other side of the screen. Reach out and make a good pitch but always remember the golden rule of letting them know what the’ll get in return. The worst thing that can happen is that they say no and a no at least means that you stepped outside of your comfort zone and tried.

At the beginning of this year, I taped a list of goals to my wall. Six months later, two of the goals felt completely insurmountable on my own — I couldn’t seem to find the time or gather the resources so I regrouped and came up with another angle. I knew the ideas were too good to throw away so I gathered a list of creatives I could pitch my ideas to. Now, I’m working on two courses with businesswomen I admire and the ideas will be so much stronger thanks to their knowledge. If I’d never pitched, the ideas would still be there, gathering dust. Go forth and send at least one scary email today — it could change your life.

10. Stay humble.

Have you ever worked with someone who made everyone’s life around them a complete, living hell? Yes? It sucks, doesn’t it? Please don’t be that person. No matter how talented you are, nobody wants to deal with an asshole.

Kindness goes a long way and can shape a designer’s future. I still remember how unsure I was of myself during my first internship but through it all, the designers around me were so patient and helpful. We all have to start somewhere and it’s so much easier to grow into your full potential when you’re placed in a nurturing, nonjudgemental environment. Now that I have my own interns, I’m always thinking of new ways to show I care and checking in regularly to see if they have any questions. It’s cool to be kind.

There you go! 10 lessons in 10 years. The best learning happens on the job so here’s to 10 more! Thanks for reading!

Your turn: What’s been the biggest lesson you’ve learned during your creative career?


Photos: Afsoon Zizia and Shauna Haider.

Give Yourself Permission

Nubby Twiglet | Give Yourself Permission

Give yourself permission to explore personal interests. Even if it’s just for 15 minutes a week, you deserve the chance to discover something new.

What do you love to do outside of work?

What makes you really happy?

Go do that.

Wait. Let’s back up for a second — I know that’s easier said than done. Pinterest and Instagram are full of inspirational messages, encouraging you to do what you love and to love what you do. But, what if you really don’t have any extra time? What if your life is so full that adding one more thing “just for fun” will make you topple over?

If you’re feeling frustrated because the one thing that you really want to explore keeps getting pushed to the back burner, I understand because I was in the same spot. Sitting behind a computer all day, every day made me want a creative release and I naturally gravitated towards piecing together still lifes (also sometimes known as flat lays). I loved the art of organization and grouping items by theme and color. It was a fun little exercise but technically, not part of my job.

When you work for yourself or freelance on the side, it’s hard to shut off. There’s always another client project and another side-hustle. Doing things “just for fun” starts to feel like a luxury. Or at least, that was my mindset. I soon fell into the trap of “there’s no time so I just won’t do it.” We all know that’s a self-fulfilling prophecy because there’s never going to be time unless you give yourself permission to carve it out.

Nubby Twiglet | Give Yourself Permission

Late last year, I finally gave myself permission and started a new project called Still Life Friday. Every Friday, I’d take 15 minutes to come up with a new composition and Instagram it. The progress was slow but steady. I created still lifes in my office on Friday nights before the sun went down. On cafe tables in Portland. On apartment balconies in Rome. On brightly tiled tables in Marrakech. On the floor of my spare room at home. Not every photo was perfectly lit, not every one a masterpiece. But instead of giving into perfection, I just kept going.

Now, we are halfway through the year and I have no intention of giving up. When I write out my weekly calendar, I automatically add “Still Life Friday” to my list. No excuses.

Today, I hope you’re reminded that having that one little thing you want to explore is okay and it doesn’t have to take over your life. Fitting it into your schedule in bite-sized pieces not only makes it more manageable but also more likely that you will follow through.

Want to join in the fun with me? Hashtag your still life compositions with #stilllifefriday so I can check them out!

Your turn: What hobby do you want to make time to try before the end of the year?