Let’s Party! A Colorful Explosion of Fun and Learning at Blogcademy Auckland.

Nubby Twiglet | The Blogcademy Auckland

Depending on how you look at it, one of the downsides of being a graphic designer is that it can be a very solitary existence. Like many creative fields, there’s a lot of time spent in front of a computer, on the phone and doing research — alone.

Looking back at the nearly 30 Blogcademy workshops we’ve taught around the world, the one thing that’s stuck with me most are the relationships. Getting out of my office and into the classroom has allowed me to meet women from all walks of life and I’m so glad to now call many of them friends. While forming relationships and learning online is great, nothing can replicate the energy that a face-to-face meeting brings and that’s why I love our live events so much.

Nubby Twiglet | The Blogcademy Auckland

Nubby Twiglet | The Blogcademy Auckland

Nubby Twiglet | The Blogcademy Auckland

When you’re teaching in a live setting, not every event runs smoothly but this one was a perfect example of the magic that can happen when all the variables line up. From the venue to the decor to the high energy, I kind of didn’t want it to end.

Nubby Twiglet | The Blogcademy Auckland

Nubby Twiglet | The Blogcademy Auckland

We taught at Biz Dojo and if you’re in Auckland and on the lookout for a co-working space, this place is awesome. It’s super stylish with the friendliest staff.

Nubby Twiglet | The Blogcademy Auckland

Nubby Twiglet | The Blogcademy Auckland

Nubby Twiglet | The Blogcademy Auckland

Nubby Twiglet | The Blogcademy Auckland

Without a doubt, this class tied with San Francisco as being our most colorful. This group of women had the most fabulous style, from candy-colored sneakers to beautifully embroidered caftans.

Nubby Twiglet | The Blogcademy Auckland

One of the most exciting parts of this class was having the opportunity to meet ladies I’d known online for years including Steff Metal. Though she’s legally blind, she’s written several books, officiates alternative weddings and runs a successful blog. I have one word to describe her: inspiring.

Nubby Twiglet | The Blogcademy Auckland

Nubby Twiglet | The Blogcademy Auckland

Nubby Twiglet | The Blogcademy Auckland

You know what makes me smile? Great decor. And Wink sure delivered. I mean, how can you go wrong with mini silver balloons spelling out B L O G and faux polaroids (including a snapshot of Chubs!) lining the walls?

Nubby Twiglet | The Blogcademy Auckland

Smiles! Palm Trees! Confetti!

Nubby Twiglet | The Blogcademy Auckland

Okay Auckland, you’d already won us over but you weren’t quite done yet! One of our lovely ladies in attendance, Te Kiira stood up at the end of class and sang us a song — we stood there, smiling from ear to ear as she belted it out. There’s a first for everything! New Zealand, I seriously love you. I’ve never felt so at home while being so far away from home.

Nubby Twiglet | The Blogcademy Auckland

Upcoming In-Person Classes

Since we aren’t doing as many in-person classes this year, make sure you don’t miss out! Next up is London in June at the beautiful Curtain Road Studios and it would be amazing to see you there. You can also grab tickets to San Francisco, New York City, Melbourne and Sydney.

Nubby Twiglet | The Blogcademy Auckland

Win a Copy of Blogcademy Online

That’s not all, folks! Right now, we’re running an Instagram contest for 5 lucky participants to win their very own copy of Blogcademy Online! To enter, just upload a photo of the place you blog / work from (could be your bed, office or favorite coffee shop) and tag it with #theblogcademy by this Wednesday, April 29th. Check out examples here to get inspired. Woohoo!

Photos: Bubblerock.
Venue: Biz Dojo.
Decor: Wink.

The Week In Pictures: 4.24.15

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

Did you have a good week? Mine wasn’t too shabby — my mom brought me cookies, I had a lot of laughs with my accountant (he always has the best stories) and there were some squirrel cuddles mixed in…so I can’t complain!

I’ve been in major spring cleaning mode at the office, shifting furniture around, figuring out the best configurations — moving in happened so quickly that I never took a time out to do it and I’ve definitely been getting inspiration from our new neighbors, Wide Eyes Paper Co. who just arrived from San Diego.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

It’s always so exciting (and unexpected!) when a client sends you a pile of inspiration in the mail. I love the mix this client pulled — clean, edgy and modern. All things I can get behind. 😉

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Trader Joe’s is the best place for flowers. Fresh and affordable!

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

This is very long overdue but I’ve been finally getting to work revamping the Branch media kit and website. A year and a half ago, we launched in 10 days flat and the polished, tight presentation I wanted was never quite there. I’m finally getting the vision out of my head and into the computer. But sometimes, after a day in front of the computer, it makes more sense to take over a wall and tape up your brand vision, piece by piece.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

Dream car status: this Citroen I spotted over the weekend. Such a beauty!

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

My updated life motto: Work hard, play harder. Life is too short to be unhappy, to feel stuck in a place you don’t want to be and to feel your dreams aren’t possible. On that note, I love this quote:

“Work hard for what you want because it won’t come to you without a fight. You have to be strong and courageous and know that you can do anything you put your mind to. If somebody puts you down or criticizes you, just keep on believing in yourself and turn it into something positive.” —Leah LaBelle

Have a great weekend, friends!

Link Love: 4.23.15

Nubby Twiglet | Link Love

• Feeling stuck on what to blog about next? Gala has 20 great ideas to get you going!

• On a super tight travel budget? Check out HovelStay, the cheap alternative to AirBnB. Peruse quirky options like my personal favorite, staying on an alpaca farm.

• Have you seen Barbie’s Instagram account? The attention to detail is amazing.

• Here’s what the earliest Apple homepage looked like.

• Amazon really does offer it all! Its latest addition? A goat grazing service!

• Sian has 5 great tips for creating your first business website.

• My most favorite bride of all time is Priscilla Presley. Love her look, too? Here’s how to get it!

• If you’re wondering what the best gold spray paint is, here’s your answer!

• Promise has some great advice on multiplying your productivity.

• Into The Gloss has rounded up 32 of the best natural beauty products out there.

• Demand higher standards.

Image: The Design Chaser.

Advice #58: 5 Tips To Jump-Start Your Design Career

Nubby Twiglet | Advice: 5 Tips To Jump-Start Your Design Career

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” —John Lennon

Your Question:

I qualified in design 13 years ago and had been a full time designer, but the market changed locally and I found freelance tricky to get paid. I’m currently working as the I.T. guy in a civil engineering firm, which I enjoy, although I miss the boom of satisfaction from working on a great design, and seeing it born into print or digital media.

I feel stuck in a rut. Many folks I know who were designers into our 30’s have drifted away from the industry, mainly for financial reasons but I don’t want to be one of them. The freelance angle is something I keep my hand in so I don’t lose my skills, but I’m unsure of what the break would entail, or how to start.

My Answer:

You loved design so much that you majored in it and carved out a career. But then, life threw you some curve balls. Clever and quick, you rebounded, finding steady employment in another field. It’s comfortable and it pays — on paper, shouldn’t that be enough?



If you’re not creatively fulfilled, that void will gnaw away at you every single day. How do I know? Because I’ve been there…and the only solution was to get back in the game.

When the economy crashed in 2009, design and advertising were hit especially hard. Budgets were slashed and work became much less steady. To make ends meet until the industry picked back up, I took on extra hours at my previous shoe store job. I’d never closed that door completely and it’s a great lesson to never burn your bridges! To keep my skills sharp, I picked up as much freelance as possible (no job was too small) and reminded myself that the position I was in would soon pass. And, it did. Within a year, the industry began to rebound and I landed a placement at a local design studio that soon stretched onto a year and a half of steady employment.

If you’re feeling stuck in your current position and want to get back in the design field, here are 5 tips I’ve personally used to build my career:

1. Befriend your design peers.

Sounds simple enough, right? Never underestimate how far being a nice person who is genuinely interested in others will take you!

Branch gets dozens of new client inquiries a week and for the ones we can’t take on, I immediately pass on a list of design referrals for other freelancers and studios. This list is made up of people I’ve met in person or people I’ve known online for years. Having that personal connection makes me trust the people I’m recommending that much more. I met half of the people on that list at Designer VACA.

Even if you aren’t able to hit up every event and convention, make a list of 10 people you admire today and reach out with a simple introduction. Once your relationship has solidified, let the designer know that if they have any work overflow, you’re available.

2. Create self-initiated projects.

One of the biggest complaints I hear from designers who’ve taken a break is that they’re not sure how to land the types of clients they want because they don’t have any of that genre of work to share in order to get hired. It’s a loop that can seem endless but there is a fix.

What’s your dream brand to work with? Whether it’s Anthropologie or Apple, you can create a fictional project to showcase your design chops as long as you clearly call it out as such. Even better, dream up a business of your own and then design it into reality!

Self-initiated projects do hold weight. When my brother was trying to get into Nike, he created his very own shoe design and ended his portfolio with that piece. It showed that he was serious about working there and took the initiative. He got the job.

Need more insight on self-initiated projects? Check out this post.

3. Brush up on new skills.

If you’re feeling stuck and uninspired, the easiest way to remedy that is to sign up for some new courses. My top picks are on Skillshare because some of the most talented designers in the world are teaching you their tricks of the trade for a reasonable price. Learn from the best and then show off those skills in some self-initiated projects!

4. Put up an online portfolio.

The easiest way to get more work is to share the work you currently have. The golden rule with sharing your work is that you only want to showcase what you’re willing to do more of. I have piles of work that I did for sports brands and the NBA and NFL but you’ll never see it in my portfolio. Instead, you’ll find work from creative, innovative small businesses because that’s what I’m most passionate about.

Allergic to code? No problem. Sign up for Cargo Collective, Squarespace or Behance and give yourself a deadline of a week to get your work together. No more excuses!

5. Share, share, share.

Wrangle an invite to Dribbble and also pin projects from your design portfolio to Pinterest. As a side note, I just had a project that got repinned 50 times from my Pinterest board — think about how many times it then got pinned from those 50 boards and it’s digital marketing gold. Finally, don’t be afraid to share those behind-the-scenes shots on Instagram — often, they’ll get more engagement than a finished project because people love to feel like they’re part of the creative process. Stay consistent, be relentless.

Remember, the right clients are out there, they just have to know how to find you. Give them the “in” that they need — and if you do a great job, they’ll refer you to everyone else they know! To this day, I can draw out a spider diagram from five core clients and everyone else I’ve worked with since literally connects off them. Even with the internet at their fingertips, people still value personal recommendations the most.

I hope these five tips help you jump-start your design career once again. It’s never too late to pick back up where you left off.

Your turn: Do you have any tips to add to the mix? Have you been in this situation and what were your solutions to remedy it?

The Week In Pictures: 4.18.15

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

First off, if you’re new here, The Week In Pictures is a column featuring photos taken throughout my week. As a self-employed designer, it’s all too easy to get wrapped up in client work and forget to take time out to experience the world around me. The blogs I enjoy reading most have a strong personal point of view and I want to do that once a week, essentially giving you a glimpse behind the curtain. Thanks for joining me…and you can check out the archives here!

Joey flew down to San Francisco this week so I spent a lot of time at home with my two fur-covered little ones, Rocky and Chubs. The above photo is the view from my couch — I’m waiting on a mirror to arrive and then I’ll give you the full tour. 😉

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

Standard desks never have enough space. I was always stacking everything, trying to keep my coffee, flowers and other odds and ends from flying off. After searching around and realizing that I’d need two desks or to build something custom, I found an IKEA kitchen table which is not only the perfect height but can easily seat 2 to 4 people. We’re setting up a work station facing mine next week and there should still be plenty of room to spread out.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

On the weekends, I’m always walking through different neighborhoods, visiting new coffee shops, taking photos of houses I love. It’s a good way to keep even the most basic of routines feeling fresh.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

Big, white walls in my office equal the perfect place to tape up current obsessions.

Nubby Twiglet | The Week In Pictures

This week has been really up and down but there’s a lot I’m looking forward to including a trip to Capri over the summer (I’ve never been to Italy!) and also, some remodeling projects around the house. Joey and I are throwing a backyard party for our 5th anniversary in a few months and considering that we never had a gathering in the first place, I’m looking forward to getting my family and friends all in one place. We have a lot of work to do to get everything looking good before then!

In the meantime, I’m having some quiet time with Rocky cuddled up next to me and hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend. xo

Link Love: 4.16.15

Nubby Twiglet | Link Love

Are you scared out of your mind yet? Good! You’re on the right track.

• When life throws unexpected curve balls your way, use them as a learning opportunity.

• So fascinating: the underground world of tunnels beneath Disney!

• Designing for yourself is hard work! I’m enjoying the process of the Observant Nomad rebrand.

• There’s something so old school cool about composition print and the graphic pattern has been popping up all over the place.

• When you’re walking around, ignore your smart phone for a second and look down — loose change is everywhere!

• Three quick links for search engine optimization.

• Now, this is a crazy film. No animals were harmed in the making of Roar…but 70 people were!

• Stop waiting to share who you are because things aren’t perfect yet. Remember, your content shapes what you do.

• Joy just rounded up 10 family friendly natural body products.

• Sometimes, it’s even more interesting to see what’s going on outside the crop of a photo.

• I really want to try out this eye manicure DIY!

Image: Twiggy in Vogue.
Check out even more Link Love columns here.

Blogging Changed My Life. Really.

Nubby Twiglet | Blogging Changed My Life. Really.

This week, as I wrapped up two sets of taxes, interviewed a potential intern and made my way through emails that seemed to reappear faster than I could respond and file them away, blogging felt very far away. These weeks happen where little things pile up in quick succession and it doesn’t matter how good your intentions are — carving out the free time to blog becomes nonexistent.

And while I’ve been purposely blogging less this year to focus more time towards new business ventures and client projects, as the days slipped by, it still felt weird to be parked in front of my computer but unable to post fresh content.

This unplanned break turned into a blessing in disguise; it was the perfect opportunity to think about what blogging means to me and why I do it. Just yesterday, I found myself idly staring out my office window and in a flash, I had a moment of clarity:

Blogging is important to me because it literally changed my life. And perhaps blogging has changed yours, too.

Here’s the backstory….

In 2001, I was 20 years old and living at my dad’s house in the suburbs outside of Portland. I didn’t have the money for the art school I wanted to attend so I went to a community college down the street. I hadn’t done much traveling so my social circle carried over from high school. Oh, and I had a lot of free time on my hands because I only worked during my summer breaks (damn, those were the days). When one of my friends told me about a free blogging platform called Live Journal, I figured why not?

Within the first year of blogging, I had a whole new social circle. I met people on the other side of the world — which at that time, felt very new and exciting when compared with my boring suburban existence. In quick succession, I met Star, Anna, Gala, Laurel, Bianca, Amy (and so many others who no longer have sites). Thanks to blogging, when I traveled to a new city, I already had a built-in network of friends. To this day, when I’m in New York, I sleep on Bianca’s couch. Star now develops websites for Branch. And Gala? We run a business together with our fellow blogging obsessed friend, Kat.

Besides friends, blogging opened doors to job opportunities I’d only dreamed about. During my interview for a design internship at Nemo, I told them about my blog. It just happened that Dave Allen (formerly of Gang Of Four) worked there and was just as obsessed with blogging as I was. Looking back, my design work was just okay but my blog is what helped seal the deal.

After switching from Live Journal to WordPress in 2007, I got even more consistent with sharing which included posting every good, bad and ugly design project. Within a year, companies like Forever 21 and Virgin Records were contacting me. For a 26 year old just breaking into the industry, this was completely life changing. It became immediately apparent that these huge companies only knew who I was because I blogged. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that this free marketing opportunity with a low barrier of entry was landing me freelance jobs at a few thousand dollars a piece while I was still in community college (design students, get thee a blog and online portfolio ASAP!)

In 2012, my dream job became a reality when I got hired on the spot to join the Cinco Design brand team. The calling card that got me an offer? My blog.

A little over a decade into blogging, I began to feel the itch — there had to be something more. I wasn’t ready to give it up but I WAS read for an evolution. And then, it fell into my lap during a Vegas vacation (because naturally, all the best things happen in Vegas). Five days in the desert turned my blogging for fun into a business opportunity. That August, The Blogcademy launched and by October, we were teaching a sold-out class in New York City. This strategy-based blogging course soon allowed me to quit outside work, travel the world and later, release an online version.

With a crazy travel schedule that made my former life at agencies impossible, I needed to carve out a way to produce design that fit in with this new normal. Branch was born. A day after our website launched, three clients had booked in. And, you guessed it! They found us through this blog.

Nubby Twiglet | Blogging Changed My Life. Really.

Okay, this post is getting long and the point isn’t to just share my personal blogging anecdotes (though I could easily talk about blogging all damn day). My goal is to demonstrate that while blogging isn’t a one-size-fits-all, linear path, if you stick with it, great things can happen.

These days, too many people look at blogging as a way to gain quick fame and fortune and it’s warped because when they don’t get what they want in fast succession, they give up. If this is the only reason you’re starting a blog, walk away now. You have to feel truly passionate about what you’re posting…and if you don’t, there are at least 35 other things you can do instead.

I know what you’re still thinking so I’ll just say it now. Yes, there are a million other things you can now do with your time online. So, why blog? My quickie response:

Blogging forges meaningful connections, builds career opportunities and gives you a place to go as deep as you’d like, whether you’re sharing new artwork or the gut-wrenching story of how you hit rock bottom. It’s all fair game.

So, what about you? Have you blogged in the past? Do you currently have one? How has it impacted you? If you have a blog, please leave a link in the comments so we can check it out!

Photos: Made U Look Photography.