The Week + Links: 6.12.16

Nubby Twiglet | The Week + Links: Miami

Hi everyone! I hope you’re having an awesome weekend. I’m later than usual posting this week’s link round-up because I’ve been on a very last minute trip to Miami. And…honestly? It’s totally worth being behind on everything right now for this experience. It’s my first time here and I’m LOVING it.

Two weekends ago, I got a text from Gala: “Want to go on a trip soon? A little getaway to somewhere warm?”

We quickly decided on Miami. But then, the usual list of apprehensions popped into my mind.

Quarterly taxes were due. There was a stack of client projects I needed get done. Last-minute airfares are usually inflated. It would take 7+ hours to get there. I’d miss my husband and pets. The list of excuses went on and on.

And then, I switched back to the positives — I thought back to this friendship post and before I could say no, I said YES.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week + Links: Miami

A few days later, we booked our tickets over a series of excited texts and I put in a few workdays that stretched on until 2 am. The tiredness was real and 2 cups of coffee on Wednesday wasn’t curing it. But, the excitement of visiting somewhere new kicked in and I did a big final push before boarding an overnight flight.

I slept all the way to a layover in Chicago, grabbed a chai latte and hopped the final leg of my flight to Miami.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week + Links: Miami

When I arrived, I still had no idea to expect — until our cab pulled up at The Raleigh. It was perfect. That art deco pool. The white bikes. The quaint 1940s room. The striped poolside umbrellas. All of it.

As soon as Gala arrived, we hit the ground running. Visited a rainbow bowling alley. Watched a couple drunkenly ice skate. Crashed a party. Visited a psychic tarot reader. Stocked up on oils and stones at a metaphysical shop. Drank out of a copper pineapple. Helped a guy convince his wife we were in a punk band called Ribbon Knife. Gorged ourselves on truffle pizza. Stayed up till sunrise chatting with Kat on the other side of the Atlantic. Watched the most amazing breakdancing routine. Got caught in torrential downpours. Set up still lifes by the pool. Drank lavender infused cocktails. Discovered a golden mammoth skeleton. Ate rosé popsicles at the Yacht Club. Everyone we’ve met has been incredibly friendly and it’s been nonstop fun.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week + Links: Miami

This trip has reminded me once again of the importance of nurturing friendships. The importance of travel, exploration and discovery. The importance of remembering that sometimes…everything else can wait.

Time with a friend is just what I’ve been missing and needed so much right now. Tonight is our last night so I’m off to make the most of it.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and I’ll have a Miami travel guide to share soon! xo

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THE LINKS

• Joy is a successful entrepreneur but openly admits the things she is super lazy about. So refreshing!

• I love the idea of getting focused and single-tasking. What about you?

• Putting yourself out there is always worth the risk. Alex’s personal story of how she made a close friend is a great reminder.

• Selling your services with confidence doesn’t have to be difficult.

• Feeling down? Here’s 5 ways to turn it around today.

• Taking styled photos can be improved with a few simple steps.

• If you’re designing an e-commerce site, here’s a ton of inspiration!

• Reduce the amount of junk mail you receive with a few simple steps.

• I didn’t know that Creative Mornings has a podcast!

10 packaging and branding trends every designer needs to know.

Creative Chronicles: What’s Your Story?

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: What's Your Story?

As a designer, your portfolio is important because it helps potential clients connect with your visual style. But beyond that, there’s another key part to standing out: telling your story.

About pages have been on my mind A LOT lately…because I desperately need to re-write mine. It’s so easy to procrastinate and push these kinds of things to the bottom of the list because you may be like me and find creating visuals much easier than writing.

For a lot of creatives, images flow easier than words. Sometimes, you just don’t know what to say. That’s compounded even more when you’re asked to write about yourself. Maybe you’re convinced that you’re happier saying less anyway. Maybe you think your work can do all the talking.

Whatever your reasoning, people are more likely to hire you if they feel a personal connection.

Nobody said it was easy but learning how to convey who you are in words can help you stand out in a crowded market. Never underestimate the power or telling your audience who you are and what you stand for. Remind yourself that people might not remember every project you’ve created…but they will remember a great story.

So, how do you get started? When I’m feeling stuck, I love looking at the about pages of people I admire and learning from them. Some are short, some are long, some are funny and some are surprising. The key is that each fits their unique personality.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: What's Your Story?

5 Great About Page Examples

1. PAUL JARVIS

Key to standing out: relatablility and humor

Never underestimate the power of being funny! Writing a bio (let alone reading it!) can get boring really fast so spice it up with some fun, random facts to add dimension and show who you are beyond just your job.

Excerpt: “Never someone to sit on his laurels (what are those “laurels,” anyway?), Paul has also been a touring musician, veterinary assistant, paperboy, and ad agency monkey. He began working for himself full-time in 1998, so he’s pretty much unemployable now – and that’s a really good thing.”


2. SIAN RICHARDSON

Key to standing out: personal design flourishes

One of the reasons I admire Sian’s design style so much is that she’s brilliant at piecing together images and type. When you look at her page, there’s a depth that immediately comes through. It’s simple yet exudes an edgy style.

Excerpt: “Once upon a less-than-awesome time, I worked in an office 9-5 as a graphic designer. My day-to-day projects were a mashup of snooze-worthy deliverables: car decals, banners for banks, casino promos… yawn. Before long, it hit me: I was not cut out for cubicle nation. I spent most of my days staring out the window at the beautiful sunshine of Sydney, Australia (where I’d moved to start my career), and a whole country waiting to be explored. Why the hell was I locked inside for 80% of the week, designing pieces that weren’t exactly fulfilling?”


3. MARIE FORLEO

Key to standing out: making you feel like her success can be yours, too

Marie is massively successful but her about page comes across as welcoming instead of intimidating. Sure, there’s candids alongside Oprah and Richard Branson (no big deal — ha!), but she tells her story in way that makes you feel like somehow, you could do the same. And with all her accomplishments including founding B-School, that’s no easy feat.

Excerpt: “After several failed attempts at corporate jobs and a lot of angst trying to choose just one thing to be in life, I realized that my unusual combination of interests and skills was a strength, not a liability. I gave up the security of the 9-5, began bartending and waiting tables and doing a multitude of odd jobs to keep a roof over my head while slowly building a coaching business from the ground up. I later coined the term “Multi-Passionate Entrepreneur” because I just didn’t (and never will) fit into a conventional box.”


4. ALEXANDRA FRANZEN

I adore Alex’s about page is because it’s very clear and direct, just like her copywriting. There’s a conversational tone that comes across as approachable, like you’re having a good chat over a coffee date with a friend. It’s positive, inspiring and has a few funny moments woven in…like the one below!

Key to standing out: a warm, conversational tone

Excerpt: “I started my “writing career” with a self-published coloring book about flying unicorns, which I photocopied and sold for 25 cents a piece to my 3rd grade classmates. It was a big hit! Sadly, the project got shut down by a teacher who felt that charging money for my book was not appropriate. (In my defense: I was merely responding to market demand…)”


5. DANIELLE LAPORTE

Okay, so Danielle’s about page is really long. But, everything she says flows and makes you feel like you’re on a mini journey through her life. The #1 thing I LOVE about Danielle’s about page is the timeline, hilariously titled Creative Highlights and Lowlights. Take a journey back to the beginning and find out what went right (and what went terribly wrong).

Key to standing out: going big and sharing it all

Excerpt: “I think the best self-help is self-compassion. I hear a variation of this all the time — when I get off stage, from readers, through friends of friends: “It was 11:30pm the other night and I needed something [soul salve, a kick in the ass, wisdom for a friend, a confidence boost for work…] so I went to your site and got what I needed. Really, I just wanted some encouragement.”

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: What's Your Story?

5 Quick Tips

1. Great about pages don’t feel sleazy or sales-y. All of the above examples were written by successful entrepreneurs yet they feel genuine and even relatable.

2. Always look at about pages outside of your niche. It’s important to get a broader perspective and the best ideas often come to you from beyond your chosen industry.

3. Not sure how to start off your bio? Use Alexandra Franzen’s free template. SO GOOD.

4. There is no such thing as a finished About page. I’ve rewritten mine at least 10 times since starting this blog. It’s meant to grow and evolve so let it go.

5. If you need more help and want even more about page examples and templates, You In Words is brilliant.

And with that….go forth and write! Share your story.
You never know who will stumble across it…or where it will take you.


Your turn: Any tricks for writing an awesome About page? Let us know in the comments!

Photo: Made U Look.

The Week + Links: 6.3.16

Nubby Twiglet | The Week + Links

THE WEEK

Happy Friday, friends!

I hope you had a good week. The first few days back at work and blogging after a long, relaxing holiday weekend always feel a little off-kilter for me and I’m still struggling to get back into a regular routine. I hope things are faring better for you!

I want to do things a little differently today and share a story to remind you to keep on going, even if you’re feeling tripped up over something seemingly small.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week + Links

Last night, I got on a bike for the first time in years. When I was younger, I used to ride a bike every single day and it was as second nature as walking at the time.

For some reason, as I rolled down the slope of my driveway, I felt unsure of myself and it immediately came through in a lack of coordination and balance. I had barely started moving yet I felt like I was going to fall. Instead of keeping the momentum, I hit the brakes and completely froze.

Riding a bike takes trust, knowing that as you move forward, there’s a split second to throw your feet on the pedals and you’ll take off…yet something wasn’t clicking. I quickly gave up, turned around and went back inside, feeling really embarrassed.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week + Links

Looking back, I’m now reminding myself of the obvious: next time, just keep on going.

We all have those moments of wanting to give up because something isn’t as easy as it should be. Why do some things seem so effortless but others feel so hard?

I don’t really know.

But, I do know that giving up isn’t an option.

Whenever you’re feeling stuck on writing your next blog post, tripping up over your next piece of art or frustrated because the vision in your head isn’t matching what’s flowing onto your paper, remember that on the other side, there’s something brilliant waiting that deserves to be shared.

“What winning is to me is not giving up, is no matter what’s thrown at me, I can take it. And I can keep going.” —Patrick Swayze

Nubby Twiglet | The Week + Links

Photos: 1. My little guy, Rocky hanging out in our living room. Awww. 2. Chandeliers and mirrors at the freshly revamped Portland Anthropologie. 3. Stopping to enjoy the flowers on my morning walk. 4. Swooning over this packaging.


THE LINKS

• Jane just shared her guide for a weekend in Portland and it’s so good!

• What should you do when you have too many ideas?

• I love Alex’s post about remembering to celebrate the tiny things.

• Have you seen these cool coloring posters? Doing these would be such a fun weekend project!

• 5 easy ways to make your brand more personal.

• Discover the 60 best iPhone apps for designers.

• Here’s how to actually create some work-life balance.

• Designer Mike Fischer weighs the pros and cons of freelancing.

• How often do you blog?

• The art of taking a selfie has now been immortalized….in a $35,000.00 bronze statue!

• You deserve a break .

• Thoughts on the creative world’s bullshit industrial complex.

• Breaking your nail biting habit is possible.

• 7 types of online workshops you can host.

Currently Reading: Lost in The City Travel Guides

Nubby Twiglet | Lost in The City Travel Guides

One of my passions is collecting magazines and books. Nothing can quite replace that feeling of holding a printed piece in your hands. There’s a special connection that happens when you flip through the pages of your favorite book, escaping into another world while bookmarking the parts you love along the way.

Lately, I’ve been getting more into travel books. Reading blog posts about specific locations and searching Pinterest is great but I dream of having a bookshelf full of inspiring places to visit.

One of the coolest series I’ve come across are the Lost In The City Travel Guides. With a mix of recommendations gathered from bloggers, journalists and photographers, they’re written from a local’s perspective which adds to the charm.

Nubby Twiglet | Lost in The City Travel Guides

The book designs all feature big, bold type across the covers, bright splashes of color and simple layouts. I know they say to never judge a book by its cover but the design is so inspiring.

The books are a nice, compact size and weighing in at 70 pages, a quick afternoon read. Right now, there’s guides dedicated to Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Frankfurt, Ibiza, London, Los Angeles, Milan, NYC, Paris, Stockholm and Vienna and I hope they keep expanding.

The Lost In manifesto sums up the excitement of visiting a new place best:

“Getting lost in the city is not about throwing away the map. It’s about surrendering yourself to the essence of the place. The sights, smells, flavours and sounds that make it unique. The photography, the art, the creativity that provide its individual inspiration. Getting lost is diving headfirst into what makes each city its own.”

Totally agreed.

P.S. I picked up my copies at Anthropologie.

An Inside Look at the First 3 Years Of Running A Creative Business

Nubby Twiglet | An Inside Look at the First 3 Years Of Running A Creative Business

It feels like just yesterday that I started running a creative business full-time….but it’s already been nearly three years! Time flies.

When running a business, beyond the usual ups and downs, I’ve noticed a specific trajectory over the last few years and wanted to talk about that today in the hopes that if you’re thinking of starting a business of your own or in the early stages of running one, you can start imagining what the future will look like. The more you can visualize and plan, the better.

Your first three years in business will probably look like this:

Year 0: The Preparation

Year 1 :Work, Work, Work

Year 2: Attract and Repel

Year 3: Diversify, Baby

Let’s dig in…


Year 0 — The Preparation

This ain’t gonna be easy.

Leading up to starting your own business, you have to prepare. Ideally, six months to a year in advance, you’ll be tallying up your monthly expenses and visualizing what your working environment will look like.

Do you plan on working from home, in a co-working space or in an office that’s all yours? What do your rates need to be like to afford your new lifestyle? How will you find new clients? And….what’s your plan if it takes a few months (or longer) to land that steady stream of clients?

I first started freelancing on the side back in 2006 while still in school. While my side business steadily grew, I began freelancing at agencies and worked a few full-time design jobs in-between to pay the bills.

This went on for years….and looking back, there was no balance in my life whatsoever. To be completely honest, I had no life. I held out way too long because I was afraid of how I would pay my mortgage without a steady gig. I was afraid I wouldn’t have enough clients. I was afraid of what would happen if things slowed down. Fear kept me hanging on by a thread, even though I was completely exhausted.

The tipping point came in the form of a small business class about 6 months before I left my full-time job. Our teacher asked us to write our worst case scenario on a piece of paper if our dream didn’t work out.

As soon as I wrote mine down, I realized it wasn’t as bad as I thought. My plan was to find a corporate gig for a year and then try my dream out again. The writing was on the paper, literally: I had to push the fear of the unknown aside for good because my lack of confidence was holding my dream up.

After that class, I slowly built momentum through trademarking my business name, working on the branding, building a media kit and designing a very basic website.

A few months later, I gave my notice and walked into my new life which was set up in a spare room across from my bedroom. My dream was 5 steps from where I woke up but the best decision I ever made.

Advice: Only prepare as much as you need to….and then go live your dream. Gaining life experience is infinitely more powerful than sitting around and reading about it.


Nubby Twiglet | An Inside Look at the First 3 Years Of Running A Creative Business

Year 1 — Work, Work, Work

Work all day. Work all night.

The first year in business tends to boil down to taking on any and every project you can get your hands on to gain some stability.

When it came to bringing on clients, I definitely went for quantity over quality because I just wanted to keep working and build a cushion. If I wasn’t working, I felt guilty, like a backwards slide was imminent. In this case, the irrational fear wasn’t all bad because it kept motivation strong. But once again, I was exhausted. So many small business owners burn out because they’re afraid to give themselves a break.

The first year went well but in hindsight, I worked way too hard for too little because I was still figuring out what made my business unique and how to actually convey that. Easier said than done, right? Still, I felt relieved making it through and supporting myself. Because man, that first year is scary.

Advice: Don’t overthink things. Do good work for good people, stay true to your ethics and word of mouth will spread. Reliability, honesty and friendliness are everything.


Year 2 — Attract and Repel

Make what you want more of crystal clear.

The first year in business was all about doing the work (and doing a good job) while the second was all about getting clear on who I actually wanted to do work for.

I’d grown Branch just enough to finally feel a sense of stability which led to me signing a lease on an office space. I was on the fence…but my mom convinced me to do it and moms know best. Getting an office changed everything for the better because I felt like I had a home life again.

Even better, having a space to show up to every morning and set up however I wanted created an ideal working atmosphere and the good vibes drew in more clients.

As the business grew, I quickly learned the value of attracting and repelling. There weren’t enough hours in a day to be everything to everyone and I found that path mentally and physically exhausting. Instead of trying, I re-wrote sales copy. Reworked packages. Focused in on creative small businesses. Brought in a design assistant to help out.

The clearer I got on what I wanted the studio to work on and the more effort I put into our portfolio, the better the fit new clients were. It was really as simple as that.

Advice: Figure out who you are, reflect that in the work you produce and share it consistently.


Nubby Twiglet | An Inside Look at the First 3 Years Of Running A Creative Business

Year 3 — Diversify, baby

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Year three for me has been all about diversifying.

By now, you’re going to be more established and have a core client base that appreciates what you do and keeps coming back for more.

While I am super happy with the mix of clients I’m working with, the biggest issue with running a service-based business is that your income is directly limited to what you can produce in a set amount of hours.

A reality check came earlier this year when I ran a report and realized my #1 client was my own product. Project Prescription held the top ranking, even though I spent 90% of my time on client work. Moving forward, my goal is to maintain current client work while slowly diversifying offerings through digital products.

Diversifying in your business is smart because if one area drops off, you’ll still be okay. I’ve learned from some personal experiences that panicking about how you’re going to pay the bills destroys creative mojo in a second flat.

Advice: Find ways to diversify so you can work smarter, not harder.


It’s your turn:

Do you run your own business?
Is it something that you’re interested in doing? Any questions for me?
Let me know in the comments!

The Week + Links: 5.27.16

Nubby Twiglet | The Week + Links

THE WEEK

I’m excitedly gearing up for a nice, long holiday weekend here and looking forward to no traveling and no real plans which is so nice for a change. What about you?

Over the weekend, I finally had the chance to visit Pine Street Market but it was much too busy to snap any new photos — if you’re visiting Portland this summer, definitely add it to your list! There are so many great local food choices inside.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week + Links

The highlight of my week was going out to lunch with my grandparents. As they’re each nearing 90 and have had health scares over the last year, I know it’s important to make time to catch up with them. Sometimes I get on the phone with my grandma and an hour will fly by — her stories are legendary. Can you believe they’re on the verge of celebrating their 67th wedding anniversary?!

Nubby Twiglet | The Week + Links

I’m going to sign off for the weekend and relax! Hope you have a great one and enjoy the links below!

Photos: 1. I’m obsessed with this Elle cover featuring Bella Hadid. So striking and beautiful! 2. The beauty of having my own hangout room at home is…that I can kick my feet up on the coffee table whenever I want! 3. I love this type. 4. The basics: good reading and a cozy blanket.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week + Links

THE LINKS

• Is your reliable day job holding you back from diving full-time into freelancing?

• Stop over apologizing for everything.

Swiss Miss was one of the first blogs I ever read and today is its 11th anniversary! Wow!

• You’re killing me with your picnics. Haha.

• Check out your internet download speed….because you can.

• Sagmeister Walsh is looking for a photo / styling intern.

• 3 tips for making a great bouquet every time.

• Creativity is more than just 10,000 hours of deliberate practice.

• 11 great wallpaper options.

• The 100 greatest American films of all time.

• 13 things to remember when you love a person who has depression.

• Here’s a look into what it’s like to be 13 years old right now. All I can say is…I’m glad I grew up without a cell phone.

• 5 great camera options for bloggers.

The Benefit of Longer Term Self-Initiated Projects

Nubby Twiglet | The Benefit of Longer Term Self-Initiated Projects

When most of us think of self-initiated projects, branding for imaginary companies come to mind — maybe you’ve built out a visual system for your dream client to round out the mix in your portfolio. This was always my focus when I worked on self-initiated projects but there’s another option.

Creating a series around a specific theme that is produced on a longer term basis can can be even more beneficial because it has the ability to grow your audience and get tons of fresh eyes on your work.

Self-initiated projects are great because as they evolve, they give your audience a reason to check in regularly. Even better, they give people a reason to share your work because there’s nothing cooler than seeing a themed body of work grow week after week.

Another benefit of longer term self-initiated projects is that they clearly demonstrate a sense of consistency. You’re showing up, putting in the work and over time, your audience will take notice which in turn, will hopefully grow your freelance clientele.

5 Self-Initiated Project Examples

If you need a starting place, here are five awesome examples to get your creative juices flowing:

1. The Moody Project by June Letters

I’m a super fan of digital mood boards and first learned about Jess’ work by clicking on one of her beautifully composed collages on Pinterest. This series shows off her eye for design and flair for color.

2. Branding 10,000 Lakes by Nicole

I followed this project a few years ago and it was so interesting to see how the name or location of a lake could provoke a unique, branded outcome. This project was great because it showed Nicole’s breadth of branding ideas through simple concepts.

3. Poster A Day by Alex Proba

I’m obsessed with the crisp compositions of these designs paired with hits of bright pastels. Alex’s eye for clean, modern design could easily translate into a line of actual print pieces.

4. Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische

This self-initiated project helped launch Jessica’s career. She posted a new letter each day or so, created in an ornate style that showed off her love of hand lettering. She’s since illustrated everything from postage stamps to best-selling book covers.

5. A Poster Everyday by Furqan Jawed

Another daily poster project, this was created by a design student in India as a way to explore his love of typography. I love the simple, editorial-inspired style of this series.

Go Forth And Create!

When you think about it, the ideas for these types of projects are endless. You could create a series of book covers, artwork for your favorite albums, t-shirt designs, perfume labels, logos for makeup brands or even a collection of stamps.

It’s always great to tie these projects into a personal passion so you have that extra creative spark as the series continues on.

P.S. If you decide to create a long term self-initiated project (or already have!), let us know in the comments!


Top image: Poster A Day by Alex Proba.
Read even more Creative Chronicles posts here.