Get Your Small Business Questions Answered LIVE with Project Prescription!

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Processes, processes, processes. Who needs them?

Creative small businesses, that’s who.

When I started freelancing a decade ago, I was full of creativity but came up short on knowing how to manage client expectations and deliverables. Everything looked good from the outside but on the inside, my business was a mess. The turning point was when I launched Branch. I took the time to build out process documents that took potential clients from interested to signed with very little effort and since then, my business has grown massively.

Nothing changed about the work I produced but everything changed about the processes I used. It worked so well that I partnered with Paul Jarvis to create Project Prescription.

When it comes to running design studios, we’d like to share what we do, how we do it, and most importantly, why — as well as answer any questions you’ve got TODAY at 1pm PST.

You can watch us LIVE and ask us questions right here.

See you soon!

2010 Till Forevs: The Palm Springs Vow Renewal Part 02

Nubby Twiglet | The Palm Springs Vow Renewal

Spring has finally sprung but I’m not so secretly counting down the days until my Palm Springs vacation with Joey and Rocky in 3 weeks so it feels fitting to be posting the second part of our vow renewal shoot today.

Nubby Twiglet | The Palm Springs Vow Renewal

Back in October, Joey and I rented a house to celebrate our 5 year anniversary (and if you missed the first set along with the story behind the shoot, read that first).

Nubby Twiglet | The Palm Springs Vow Renewal

Nubby Twiglet | The Palm Springs Vow Renewal

Nubby Twiglet | The Palm Springs Vow Renewal

This second look was less stressful to shoot because we knew the “wedding look” for our Rock n Roll Bride Magazine feature was out of the way. We could have stopped there and called it a day but when you have a few extra hours left with some super talented photographers and a change of clothes, you push on!

Nubby Twiglet | The Palm Springs Vow Renewal

Nubby Twiglet | The Palm Springs Vow Renewal

I already had the dress on-hand, a full-length halter style by Vince Camuto that I’d spotted on a mannequin in Nordstrom two years earlier. I’d only ever worn the dress on past trips to Palm Springs because it was on the formal side and the open back was ideal for warmer weather. I also wore my original wedding shoes from the first look so it required nothing new.

Joey kept the same look as before but just switched out his tie. A few weeks before the shoot, I began to get nervous that we’d never find a match to the neon chartreuse stripe on my dress because it was so specific. I googled away, just trying to find something, anything that would work. Finally, I came across Zazzle and they had the exact color for custom ties. Score!

Nubby Twiglet | The Palm Springs Vow Renewal

For this set of photos, since we didn’t need anything specific, we took it easy and walked around the grounds of our rented house with Rocky, definitely wishing it was ours. Ha!

Nubby Twiglet | The Palm Springs Vow Renewal

Nubby Twiglet | The Palm Springs Vow Renewal

Lemon trees are still such a novelty to me. In Portland, we can grow meyer lemons but big, beautiful lemon trees like this just don’t happen. I felt like a citrus fruit goddess for a solid 5 minutes. 😉

Nubby Twiglet | The Palm Springs Vow Renewal

Nubby Twiglet | The Palm Springs Vow Renewal

As the morning turned into afternoon, I kept thinking about how glad I was that we’d invested in photos so we could look back on our 5 years together. Our time in Palm Springs flew by but thanks to the photos, our memories will last forever.

Nubby Twiglet | The Palm Springs Vow Renewal

Issue 7 of Rock n Roll Bride Magazine is now on sale and features a 10 page layout of our vow renewals. One feature I especially love is the “Steal Their Style” section at the end of every wedding that pulls together the details so you can source similar items with very little effort. Kat totally nailed ours!

Thanks for virtually coming along and reliving our special day with us! xo

Nubby Twiglet | The Palm Springs Vow Renewal

Photography: Made U Look
Location: Private residence, Palm Springs
My hair: Nathan at Salon 119
Joey’s look: Suit from Italia Suits, vegan Dr. Martens Gibson, Zazzle tie
My look: Vince Camuto dress, Camilla Skovgaard heels

The Week + Links: March 4, 2016

Nubby Twiglet | The Week + Links

THE WEEK

I hope you’ve had a good week! Mine has been really mixed but it’s ending on a high note — let’s dig in!

First off, I want to talk about blogging. These days it takes a lot of effort, especially when there are much easier ways to get your message out to the world. Sometimes, it feels like everyone has given up on it, even though I know that’s a total exaggeration. So many of my favorite blogs now go months in between updates or have ceased updating all together and I completely understand why. So…why do I keep at it?

To me, this space has always been a passion project. I started writing and sharing stories as a creative outlet, not to make a living. Now clocking in at nearly 9 years here, I’m excited to see things coming full-circle. So many of the bloggers I’ve followed for years are getting back to their roots.

Money changes everything and we all have to make a living but my situation was a little different because I never had to earn my primary income from this space. Back in 2007, I was finishing up a design degree and after graduating, transitioned into working full-time at a studio. Freelancing on the side rounded out the mix. Everyone’s situation is different but I’m glad things worked out the way they did because I was able to keep this space nearly free of ads and sponsored posts. I dabbled here and there with mixed results but overall, it never felt right.

The blogs I love the most are the ones that are able to share personal experiences. I don’t enjoy cooking, I tend to avoid DIY’s, but I do want to know more about you. After all, your personal stories and experiences are what make you unique.

That’s why I’m so excited to see bloggers I’ve followed for years wanting to get back to making things more personal including Gala, Kelsey, Megan & Mike, Bri and more.

This week, I want to remind you to keep sharing more of who you are. Share your stories. Show up everyday as yourself. It’s up to you to make your own rules and create the existence you want because you only have one shot at life.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week + Links

I was just reminded of that a few days ago when my Grandpa Haider had a minor stroke. He’s back home and doing okay now (and literally the toughest old man I’ve ever met) but for awhile, I was scared that this might be the end. If that had happened, I thought back to 3 weeks earlier when I skipped out of a busy day at work to meet him and my grandma for lunch at a dive bar in S.E. Portland. We sat around the table for an hour sharing a pizza and telling stories.

Before we walked out, I had this photo taken. I’m so relieved he pulled through (and at close to 90, his favorite hobby is still chopping wood). Go, grandpa!

Have a great weekend, friends. Live it up and do exactly what you want to do with your time off. Life is too short to do it any other way.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week + Links

P.S. Portlanders, if you’ve ever wanted to pick up any of the Olivine Atelier products I designed, the Bridgeport Village Anthropologie carries most of the line in-store! Spray and sniff before you buy! 😉


THE LINKS

• I love, using Mailchimp for my mailing lists (and recommend it to all my clients) but there’s so much I don’t know when it comes to making it work to grow my business. That’s where Chimp Essentials comes in. As Paul says, “Having MailChimp costs you money, knowing Mailchimp makes you money.”

• Designers, bookmark this color thesaurus so you have the names for your next palette at your fingertips!

• I love a good hat and here are some hairstyles that work well with one!

• It’s not hard to see why positive work environments are more productive.

• You should spend your money on experiences, not things.

• 9 ways to streamline your social media profile and attract more clients.

• Richard Branson is such an inspiration. I love his mindset. As he says, “Business isn’t really business. Business is creating something you believe in.”

• A visual survey of New York City’s disposable coffee cups.

• As a creative, ask yourself one thing: what do you want to be known for?

• Ha! If the election doesn’t go your way in November, here’s how to move to Canada.

• This post is a great reminder that your day job doesn’t make you any less of an entrepreneur.

• I am jumping up and down over the announced collaboration between Marimekko and Target!

• Geometry Club is a collaboration of precisely aligned architecture photos from around the world. Add your own to the mix!

• 7 ladies-only resources for growing your career.

Creative Chronicles: The 3 Best Places To Find Stock Photos

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: The 3 Best Places To Find Stock Photos

Sometimes, stock photos are an absolute necessity. Whether you’re a blogger who needs a very specific image for a post or a designer who needs to make an impact with a client presentation, they can set the exact mood you’re tying to convey.

The problem is, there are more bad stock photos out there than good: think of the typically cheesy, overdone 90s-era variety of people in ill-fitting business suits shaking hands or awkwardly composed family photos with fake smiles.

I’m always looking for great stock photos and in an effort to help you find what you need quickly, here are my top 3 picks (two of which offer free downloads):

1. Death To The Stock Photo

I’ve been subscribing since the very beginning because this site offers a free download pack of 10 high quality photos from a guest photographer every month when you join their list. The variety is truly awesome — everything from creative work-related setups to flowers to beautiful landscapes round out the mix. If you want instant access to older photo sets, there’s also plans for that.

2. Stocksy

Hands-down, for creative photos, this is the best paid stock photo site out there. The pricing is very straightforward (no confusing credit plans needed) and allows you to buy small, medium or large sizes for set rates. One feature I love is that when you click on an image, it shows you the exact gallery it’s from directly below so you can find similar styles from the same photographer. One thing that’s also worth mentioning is that if you buy a smaller image size but need to upgrade later, just log into your account, click on your purchase history and pay the difference. No starting over! Genius.

3. Unsplash

This site offers gorgeous, high resolution photos that are completely free and you can do whatever you want with them. Simply click the download button underneath each photo and you’re set! Plus, you can subscribe and get 10 new photos delivered directly to your inbox each week. Unsplash has a variety of photos but the standouts are the natural scenery and modern architecture. The mix is truly eclectic because the number of pro photographers submitting their work is massive.

I hope these three recommendations help you find some beautiful stock photography for your next project!


Photo: Death To The Stock Photo.
Check out even more Creative Chronicles posts here.

2010 Till Forevs: The Palm Springs Vow Renewal Part 01

Nubby Twiglet | 2010 Till Forevs: The Palm Springs Vow Renewal Part 01

It’s hard to believe that these photos were shot back in October. Time flies! We had an exclusive with Rock n Roll Bride Magazine and now that the issue is available, I can show you EVERYTHING!

Nubby Twiglet | 2010 Till Forevs: The Palm Springs Vow Renewal Part 01

Nubby Twiglet | 2010 Till Forevs: The Palm Springs Vow Renewal Part 01

Joey and I wanted to do something special for our 5 year anniversary so a few weeks after throwing a party at our Portland house for family and friends, we packed our bags and flew to Palm Springs to celebrate.

The Backstory

Nubby Twiglet | 2010 Till Forevs: The Palm Springs Vow Renewal Part 01

The celebrating part this time around was important because we never had a honeymoon. In September 2010, just 9 months after meeting Joey for what I thought would be a one-time drink, we got married. Yes, it sounds crazy, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I’m an all-or-nothing sort of person and I didn’t see the point of waiting…so we took off to Vegas! Our only guest was my BFF Bianca and we lived it up.

Looking back, we had a tiny budget and planning a big wedding sounded like an absolute nightmare on top of my freelance schedule at the time so I was totally happy with our decision.

Five years later though, we wanted to do something special to commemorate the occasion. Plus, any excuse to visit Palm Springs (where we’re buying a place soon) is always a good idea. We simply secured our photographers, booked a beautiful house on Air bnb and booked our plane tickets. No stress.

The Look

Nubby Twiglet | 2010 Till Forevs: The Palm Springs Vow Renewal Part 01

The biggest expense for clothing was Joey’s suit, which he found at Italia Suits in Hollywood. The guy sized him up the second he walked in, pulled out the perfect skinny black suit and sent him down the street to an alterations place. It was literally that easy! He paired it with vegan black Dr. Martens and a tie he already had.

On the other hand, I wore my original dress from our Vegas wedding five years before, a total steal from Etsy that cost me less than $100.00. I’m still as obsessed with it now as I was then! I paired it with my original wedding shoes by Camilla Skovgaard, my favorite Forever 21 choker and some bracelets I’d found at Zara.

My style icon for the day was 60s-era Priscilla Presley who slayed with her long, dark back-combed hair and graphic eye makeup. Like Joey and I, her and Elvis had married in Vegas and then honeymooned in Palm Springs (remember the photos taken in front of their amazing hideaway?)

The Setting

Nubby Twiglet | 2010 Till Forevs: The Palm Springs Vow Renewal Part 01

I’ve had mixed experiences taking photos at hotels and other private properties around Palm Springs and didn’t want any stress with moving from multiple locations so I booked a house matching the color scheme we wanted with a large pool, lemon trees and a light-filled open floor plan. I highly recommend it (and check out that beautiful Tiffany blue room below!)

The Bouquet

Nubby Twiglet | 2010 Till Forevs: The Palm Springs Vow Renewal Part 01

I never had a bouquet at my original wedding so this time, I wanted to do something special. A few weeks before the shoot, I called Palm Springs Florist, hopped on Pinterest and emailed them some inspiration. The day of, they delivered the most perfect, spot-on bouquet.

Nubby Twiglet | 2010 Till Forevs: The Palm Springs Vow Renewal Part 01

I don’t recall exactly how much it cost ($170.00 or so including delivery?) but it was worth every penny. The succulents were such a nice touch and it held up all day. I couldn’t bear to throw it away so I packed it in our rental car, shooting as many photos with it over the next few days as possible.

The Invites

Nubby Twiglet | 2010 Till Forevs: The Palm Springs Vow Renewal Part 01

You probably know what I’m going to say next. No, we didn’t have invites for our original wedding (because we only had one guest!) so I wanted those, too. I’m OBSESSED with letterpress so I designed a simple invite for our backyard shindig a few weeks earlier and took the design to Darling Press who not only did a perfect printing job but also color painted the edges to match my second look, a dress with a chartreuse stripe. I still have one hanging up next to my desk! Invest in those keepsakes, friends.

The Veil

Nubby Twiglet | 2010 Till Forevs: The Palm Springs Vow Renewal Part 01

Of course, I didn’t have a veil for my original wedding, either. Are you sensing a theme here?! LOL. Anyway, my timing for the vow renewal was perfect because my BFF Kat decided to release a veil collection with Crown and Glory.

Nubby Twiglet | 2010 Till Forevs: The Palm Springs Vow Renewal Part 01
I snapped up the custom slogan veil (emblazoned with FOREVS) and my absolute favorite, a pom pom trim version. SO GOOD.

Continue reading

The Week + Links: February 26, 2016

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THE WEEK

Spring is in the air and the sun is rising earlier which means it’s been easier to get out of bed in the morning. Joey and I have been taking Rocky on longer walks and I’ve been getting to the office feeling more relaxed, even though this has quite possibly been the busiest month I’ve ever had work-wise.

I’m the first to say that being “busy” isn’t good — life is meant to be enjoyed and I’ve been through enough ups and downs to know that work and belongings come and go but relationships are what matter most. But, it is what it is and I’m thankfully working on the most fulfilling mix of projects of my career so it’s all about finding that sometimes tricky balance for now.

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Since I’ve been in the office a lot, I’m constantly looking for easy ways to spice it up and add new visual interest. This week I revamped the inspiration board and as you’ve gathered, I’m having a serious love affair at the moment with white tulips. I also just used a gift certificate leftover from Christmas and ordered this marble tray.

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I buy a lot less clothing these days but just found an affordable Spring-worthy jacket that I’m loving. I know it’s hard to see in the photo because I’m wearing a black shirt under it (haha) but it’s perfect for a simple work look so I thought I’d share!

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When work picks up and life feels a bit chaotic, it can be hard to make time to focus on your own internal projects so I’ve been carving time out on the weekends to sit in my office with email turned off, reworking things that make me feel more prepared and confident to grow as a designer. A recent project was revamping the Branch media kit and then, in 2 weeks the site is undergoing a refresh.

I’m signing off to finish up some projects and head home early today so I hope you have a great weekend ahead.

P.S. The new issue of Rock n Roll Bride Magazine featuring my vow renewal with Joey is now available for pre-sale and I’ll be sharing the first set of photos next week — finally! 😉

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THE LINKS

• Jessica Hische has the best resources page I’ve ever seen. If you’re a creative of any kind, you’re bound to discover something new and helpful.

• Yes, it’s possible to have a selfie become your preferred latte art.

• For big changes to sink in, think about overcompensating. This doesn’t sound logical at first but the accompanying illustrations drive the point home.

• 10 books every aspiring blogger should read.

• An earlier demo of Michael Jackson’s Thriller had a different name and Rod Temperton explains why.

• Cereal is in a huge decline and the reasons may surprise you.

• I love this article about embracing a more minimalist life so much. The suggestions to streamline are rooted in actual things the author tried which make it feel more relatable.

• 10 things you need to know about Japanese street fashion in 2016. So interesting!

• These photos are a great reminder of what peaceful borders look like.

• Researchers have discovered a much faster way to develop new skills. I’ll take any help I can get!

Creative Chronicles: 5 Tips To Pinpoint Your Digital Product Offering

Nubby Twiglet | 5 Tips To Pinpoint Your Digital Product Offering

A few years ago, I started noticing that digital products were becoming a hot commodity and as someone who runs a service-based business, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to keep the same pace of offering custom design solutions forever. My dream has always been to run a small, efficient studio that allows me the flexibility to spend more time with my family and travel often so having a massive staff (with the overhead that goes with that) and more than the few dozen regular clients we regularly work with wasn’t in the cards.

Simply put, a digital product is anything you can offer in a digital format, usually as an immediate download. Think along the lines of e-courses, e-books, digital templates, design assets, MP3’s and so on. Most of us probably bought dozens of digital products last year without giving it a second thought.

I had two key reasons for wanting to dive into the world of digital products:

1. One-on-one services only allowed me to help a small group of clients at once. Finding ways to serve a bigger audience was important to me. There had to be a more efficient way to help a larger audience reach their goals.

2. The hours in a day limited my earning potential. We all have a cap on what we can realistically output and even with more help, I still didn’t feel like Branch was able to reach the demand. Dozens of inquiries came in each week, yet we passed most of them off to referrals because we were booked out.

The tricky part was, I had no idea what I could offer. Do you have those days where it feels like everything has literally been done? I did…but I felt like those days stretched on for a few years. I’d designed dozens of hugely successful digital products for clients but I never felt like anything I thought of was good enough. I was too deeply entrenched in the middle of it all, surrounded by what my clients were doing PLUS seeing new launches pop up every day from people I followed on social media. There was too much noise.

If you’re feeling this way as well, first of all, give yourself permission to dream and explore. The best ideas are usually right in front of you.

Nubby Twiglet | 5 Tips To Pinpoint Your Digital Product Offering

5 tips to pinpoint what your audience wants

1. Check Google Analytics / Your Most Popular Posts

I know this might seem obvious but people are telling you exactly what they need in their search terms. When I looked at my stats for this blog, informational posts about processes, designing great portfolios and media kits were at the top. What topics are you naturally interested in and already talking about?

2. Use Pinterest Sources To See What’s Trending

Since commenting on blogs has declined, if your site is more visual like this one, it can be hard to know what’s resonating with your audience. I’ve found Pinterest to be a valuable resource for sorting out what my audience is drawn to and it’s super easy to do.

Go to pinterest.com/source/yoursiteurl.com/. For instance, this blog would be:

https://www.pinterest.com/source/nubbytwiglet.com/

What does your audience pin over and over directly from your site? What colors, styles and topics do they love? After a quick scan, I can see that my audience is drawn to creative resources, unique design layouts and interestingly enough, travel posts.

3. Do A Survey

Go straight to the source and ask your audience what they want — they’ll gladly tell you. I’ve done surveys about upcoming digital products here and I’ve also asked the Branch mailing list. The honesty in the responses I got was refreshing — people were clear that they wanted all juice and no filler. They wanted to know how to improve their portfolios, how to land new and better career opportunities and how to build their client base.

4. Define What You’re Struggling With

What have been the biggest hangups in your own career path and personal growth? Chances are, if you’re struggling with something, others are, too. Think of how you solved your own issues, whether it was finding your niche, building a thriving freelance career or getting over your fears. How can you use your unique perspective to offer a value-packed product that directly helps your audience?

5. Ask Yourself What Could Be Simplified

Does something that you do seem way harder than it needs to be? In my case, I’d personally struggled with having a defined process for client work at the start of my freelance career and it really held me back from earning a decent living. Based on that experience, I collaborated with Paul Jarvis and we poured our results-driven studio processes into a set of fully editable documents called Project Prescription. If you can find a way to make people’s lives easier in some way, they’ll be interested.

How It’s Working

Based on the 5 tips above, my digital offerings have been going well so far.

Project Prescription launched February 7th and has since sold a few hundred copies — it’s affordable, helpful and customizable which I think all contributed to its success.

Next up is a course called Future So Bright launching later this Spring. Career strategist Ellen Fondiler and I are addressing one of the biggest issues new design graduates face — finding a well paying, meaningful job in the industry. There are dozens of freelancing courses out there but not everyone can make a full-time living as a freelancer right out of school, nor do they want to. Full-time gigs have tons of benefits but knowing how to find the opportunities, build a killer portfolio AND interview properly can be intimidating — I still cringe at some of my own interview experiences! Once again, this was a struggle we knew existed so it makes sense to fill that gap.

Pushing Fear Aside

Beyond these two courses, I have a few more concepts in the works but it took getting over my fear of the unknown. I constantly wondered if my ideas were good enough. Worse yet, what if I did follow through and it failed? What if…[insert concern here]? WHO CARES. Once you push your ego aside and honestly ask yourself how you can serve more people, the answer usually presents itself.

If you’re still unsure of what you can offer, fill in the blanks:

I’m a [insert what you do here] and I notice that my audience is struggling with [insert issue here] and my personal experience can help them overcome it by [name what you’re going to offer] so they can [insert outcome here].

Here’s my answer using Project Prescription as an example:

I’m a graphic designer and I notice that my audience is struggling with their client processes and my personal experience can help them overcome it by developing a set of pre-made, editable documents so they can get back to work quickly and charge more.

When it comes to developing digital products, my advice is simple: start small and focus on what you know. Don’t overthink it.

By offering your personalized expertise, a good value and accessibility, your digital product has the ability to do really well.


Photos: Afsoon Zizia.
Check out even more Creative Chronicles posts here.