Tag Archives: Advice

Streamline Design Processes With Project Prescription + A Special Discount!

Nubby Twiglet | Streamline Processes With Project Prescription

The word “process” is so unsexy. But oh, is it necessary when you’re trying to make a living as a creative.

I learned the value of having a process the hard way because it wasn’t something we dug into at school or at most of my corporate jobs.

So, when I went out on my own, there was a lot of learning to do. As these things usually go, in the beginning, it was difficult, painful and resulted in unhappy clients. I always knew it wasn’t the work I was producing but how I presented and delivered it.

Clients first take notice of your work but your process is what keeps them coming back for more. On nearly every call I’ve had since starting Branch, I explain our in-depth process and it almost always seals the deal. Your goal as a designer is not just producing awesome work but also making your clients feel comfortable and at ease. The more at home you make them feel, they more likely they are to stick with you.

What Is Project Prescription?

I’ve joined forces with fellow freelancer Paul Jarvis to produce a set of digital documents that enable you to bypass the trial and error of developing a process of working with clients.

As we explain, “This isn’t theory about what might work, it’s hard data from the trenches on what does work. And now we’re sharing exactly what you need to do the same in gorgeous documents, checklists and processes.”

Nubby Twiglet | Streamline Processes With Project Prescription

What Documents Are Included?

Part 1: Exposure

Use these documents to bring in a steady flow of interested clients.

1. Media kit: Showcase your brand, skills, clients and success stories. This is the first time I’ve ever offered a pre-designed media kit template and trust me, the price is worth just this alone!

2. Getting Started Guide: Automate how you take clients from interested to hired with project links, testimonials and an outline of how you can work together.

3. Potential/Signed Leads: A simple spreadsheet to help you keep track of project bids you’ve created and won so you know where you stand.

4. Bookkeeping: Track money coming in and going out so you know where your budget is going.


Part 2: Onboarding

Take your clients from interested to signed off on.

5. Questionnaire: This is formatted with questions to ask your client about their project so you’re well informed.

6. Estimate: A list of deliverables, pricing and timing of a potential project for approval.

7. Onboarding steps/process: This simple chart helps you educate and design the experience of working with you from start to finish.

8. Project Checklist: Keep track of what’s needed to start each project so there’s no last minute scrambling.

9. Project Proposal: A standard terms and conditions document to make sure you’re on the same page with your client before the work starts.


Part 3: Project

Once you’re hired, it’s important to make sure the project stays on track and runs smoothly.

10. Invoice: We’ve included the information you need to get paid quickly and easily.

11. Client Evaluation: Use this internal document to figure out if a client is a good fit.

12. Feedback Guide: I wish I had this when I was starting out! This sheet teaches clients how to give you the feedback you want and need.

13. Presentation: This has a bunch of pre-formatted page templates to help you present work that gets signed off on quickly.

14. Post Launch Questionnaire: Learn what went right (and didn’t) and mine for testimonials.

15. Follow Up: This document outlines a schedule for staying in touch.

There you go! There’s a lot of documents in this pack (and by no means do you need to use every single one of them) but we want you to be prepared as your business grows.

As I mentioned last week, having a solid process was the key difference between just getting by as a freelancer and growing my studio into a six-figure business. My goal with these documents is to take the guess-work out of designing a process that works.

PROJECT_PRESCRIPTION_3

Special Offer

We’re running an introductory offer of $69.00 for Project Prescription, no promo codes necessary. Just click through and buy! In less than a week, the price will return to $89.00.

Once again, thanks for your support during this launch and I hope these documents help you grow your business. If you have any questions about Project Prescription, let me know in the comments! -Shauna

Creative Chronicles: Streamline Processes, Teach Clients How To Treat You and Charge More with Project Prescription

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Streamlining Processes and Teaching Clients How To Treat You with The Project Prescription

When I started freelancing ten years ago:

1. I assumed that my creativity alone would be enough to stand on.

2. I thought that my great ideas and follow-through would be enough to earn a full-time living.

3. I assumed that by saying nothing, my clients would automatically know how to treat me.

And….then I learned the hard way that none of the above were true.

Does earning a living as a freelance designer feel like an uphill battle but you’re not sure how to transform your career into something more lucrative? I feel you — because I spent years in the same boat, trying to figure out what I was doing wrong.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Streamlining Processes and Teaching Clients How To Treat You with The Project Prescription

The Process Problem

From the beginning of my career, I had a strong sense of style but no matter how creative my ideas were, at times I struggled to get work approved and even worse, to charge what it was worth.

Designers can be a sensitive bunch and when things didn’t go my way, I often took the rejection personally.

My issues had nothing to do with creativity or talent and everything to do with teaching my clients what to expect. My creative work wasn’t falling flat….but my processes were.

As you navigate the tricky world of running a freelance business, one thing becomes very clear: producing creative work is only half of the equation. The other half is less obvious but it’s just as important.

Processes are everything. Without them, you’re missing the opportunity to increase your output, get treated fairly and earn what you deserve.

Having a process wasn’t always clear to me and for good reason: nobody likes to openly discuss their internal processes.

And, can you blame them?

It’s their so-called “secret sauce” and if they give it away, they’ve essentially handed over what makes them unique. While design style is important, how you present it and convey your value to clients is what makes you a living.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Streamlining Processes and Teaching Clients How To Treat You with The Project Prescription

The Shift

What finally changed for me?

I worked at a lot of studios, attended plenty of workshops and retreats, asked a ton of questions and swapped ideas with fellow freelancers. I kept digging until I’d cobbled together a process. Then, I launched Branch and tested it out a few dozen times, making tweaks along the way.

Once I was happy with my process, I started thinking: if I struggled for so long with this, there has to be others who feel the same way.

And, let’s be honest here: processes can take a lot of time to develop. When you have projects to get done, the last thing you want to do is dump a bunch of time into something you’re not sure will even work.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Streamlining Processes and Teaching Clients How To Treat You with The Project Prescription

The Simple Solution

I had an idea to share ready-made process documents but knew it could be better so I reached out to Paul Jarvis. He’s worked with the likes of Marie Forleo, Danielle LaPorte and dozens of others over the last 17 years and, as you can guess, his process is SOLID.

With our partnership, Project Prescription was born: a set of 15 fully customizable documents so you can quickly add your branding, colors and fonts to a pre-set formula and get back what you love — the creative side of things.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles: Streamlining Processes and Teaching Clients How To Treat You with The Project Prescription

Interested?

Sign up for our mailing list for an exclusive download of two free documents plus a specially priced offer when Project Prescription launches.

Developing a process for your creative business doesn’t have to be intimidating and full of unknowns. Project Prescription launches February 7th and I genuinely hope it helps you level the playing field and grow your business.

Thanks for reading and I’ll be back next week with more specifics about the documents and how to put them to work for your creative business! -Shauna


Fine print: To customize Project Prescription documents, a basic knowledge of InDesign is recommended. Documents are built on the Adobe CC Suite. A trial version of InDesign can be downloaded here.

Questions? Email us at us@theprojectprescription.com.

Creative Chronicles #10: 5 Things To Share On Your Instagram Business Account

5 Things To Share On Your Instagram Business Account

As a creative, social media is one of your most powerful marketing tools. The premise is simple: the more work you share, the more work you’ll get. My earliest freelance opportunities came to me thanks to Flickr and as the platforms have evolved, I’ve done my best to keep up.

Today I want to share a short but sweet post on Instagram since that’s where a lot of the social action is these days. I’ve had many client inquiries lately with specific mentions of discovering my studio on Instagram so I’ve been dedicating more of my efforts specifically to that platform.

Running a personal account is pretty straightforward — selfies, vacation photos, latte art, your killer new shoes and photos of your cat all pass the test. But what about business? When you have a business account, there’s more pressure to step it up and yes, be on brand. I hate to even say those two words because they’re so overused but it’s true — the more polished and pulled together your brand is, the easier it is for a potential client to feel at home and hire you.

Like many of you, I’ve struggled in the past with what to post to my business account. Through many trials, I’ve defined five key things that work well and are easy to produce.

5 Things To Share On Your Instagram Business Account

1. Inspirational Messages

Everyone loves a positive message and an inspirational story, especially when they’re having a bad day. The key is to make the graphics your own. Don’t just grab them from Pinterest and re-post without attribution! Use your fonts, brand colors and any imagery or patterns to pull in your brand style. I format these in bulk in InDesign and then share one a week under the hashtag #branchquotes.

5 Things To Share On Your Instagram Business Account

2. Work From The Archives

If you’ve been producing creative work for awhile, chances are that you have some rarely seen pieces and / or plenty of rejected client concepts. Instead of letting them gather dust, brush them off and share the story behind them! What was your process? What did you love about this particular project? Remember, much of your audience hasn’t been with you since the beginning so this “old” work is all new to them! I love this page from a portfolio I designed for Luke Copping a few years back and will be sharing it soon under the #wearebranchfiles hashtag.

5 Things To Share On Your Instagram Business Account

3. Workspace Still Lifes

Make the objects you already have in your office work for you! I often spend 10+ hours a day at my computer so to switch things up, I’ll pull together simple still life compositions. The art of arrangement helps you think in a new way and work with your hands. I’ll often share these on Instagram to break up the monotony of just posting work.

5 Things To Share On Your Instagram Business Account

4. Work In Progress

What are you working on right now? Do you have a project that you’re super excited about? People love to see what you’re up to! One of my current favorites is a branding project for Kate Eckman ( I LOVE her — more about her story and project soon!) and though we aren’t wrapped yet, I got permission to share her brand icon. Sharing work is also a great way to tag your clients and give them a shout-out.

5 Things To Share On Your Instagram Business Account

5. Travel Photos

Of course, you can’t spend all your time hiding in your workspace — you’ve got to get out and live! I love sharing photos that remind me of my brand when I’m traveling because it gets me inspired and thinking of ways it can evolve while also allowing my audience to discover somewhere new. The Parker Palm Springs was a defining factor in the visual style of Branch so I tend to share photos every time I’m there. Ask yourself, “What places feel in line with my brand?” Is there a coffee shop, store, park, restaurant or something else that sums it up perfectly?

I hope these five tips help you get the creative juices flowing for your Instagram business accounts!

Your turn: What kind of content do you find works well on your account? Any themes, tips or tricks you swear by?


For even more Creative Chronicles, please click here.

Creative Chronicles #9: Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number. Use It To Your Advantage!

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles #9: Age Ain't Nothing But A Number. Use It To Your Advantage!

Over the years, so many emails have landed in my inbox with variations on the same theme:

“I’m [insert age here] and just realized that I’m meant to be a designer. Am I too old?”

Those emails always sting big time because they hit so close to home. I wish I could meet each and every single one of you who write me those messages, give you a big hug and tell you that it’s never too late. Instead, I’ll have to do it virtually, right here.

If you’re contemplating a career in design, it really isn’t too late.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles #9: Age Ain't Nothing But A Number. Use It To Your Advantage!

Ignore your age and get to work

I now spend my days running a graphic design studio but it wasn’t always that way. During high school in the late 90s, I was a late bloomer and had no idea that being a graphic designer was a viable career option.

Unsure of how I would make a career as an artist anyway, I went to school for business which was super practical but completely crushed my creative spirit. After graduation, I worked some stints in offices but those those so-called real jobs I thought I was supposed to have as an adult left me feeling empty and hating life.

After I met a few graphic designers in my early 20s, it was a wake-up call. I knew I was definitely in the wrong profession. By the time I got into a program at my local community college in 2006, I was 25 years old and mostly surrounded by a bunch of fresh high school graduates.

Instead of feeling old, I used my life experience to my advantage and poured it into every single project. Why? I knew that age was just a number and was well aware that many people who are now the best known in their professions also got a late start:

1. Oprah Winfrey’s talk show didn’t go national until she was 32 years old.

2. Debbie Harry didn’t release her first album with Blondie until she was 31 years old.

3. Jon Hamm debuted as Don Draper on Mad Men at 36 years old.

4. Julia Child published Mastering The Art of French Cooking when she was 49 years old.

5. Martha Stewart founded her catering business at the age of 35.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles #9: Age Ain't Nothing But A Number. Use It To Your Advantage!

Being older is an asset

By the time I graduated and got my first full-time design job, I was 27. In the grand scheme of things, that isn’t old but designers at the studios I worked at that were the same age often had 5 solid years of experience under their belts while I was just scratching the surface. Instead of feeling bad about where I was, I decided that I would work harder to catch up and spent most nights and weekends working on any project I could get my hands on. I actually still do that!

Trust me, your age can actually be a huge asset. These are 4 reasons why breaking into the design industry when you’re older is beneficial:

1. You’re more focused.

All that background noise is long gone. When I started my program at 25, there were a handful of students who were older than me and their work was the strongest in the class by far. They showed up on time, did the work and gave every project their all because they were serious about wanting a design career.

2. You have more life experience.

This trumps everything. You can only learn so much in school but real world experience is where serious growth comes in. When you go back to school as an older student, you’ve worked at a larger variety of jobs. You’ve traveled more. You may have a family. You have a firm sense of who you are as a person. Life experience gives your work depth, grit and provides a sense of perspective.

3. You know yourself better.

Knowing yourself on a deeper level develops naturally with age. As you discover more of who you are, your personal style becomes more defined — you’re able to draw a line in the sand, assert yourself and that confidence shows. Period.

4. You’re more driven.

As you get older and work more jobs, it becomes clear that you’d be happiest supporting yourself doing something you truly love. A few bad job experiences will propel you on the path to search out a career you actually like. Before I got into the design world, I worked in an accounting department, did a bunch of other entry-level office jobs and worked retail at a few shoe stores. The second I got my first design job, I felt like I’d finally found my home.

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The only obstacle is you

Once you’ve made up your mind to be a designer and attend school at an older age, there’s no reason to hold yourself back. Trust me, once I made the decision, I had to push off a constant barrage of questions from well-meaning people who were concerned about me racking up more debt and another degree. I was lucky to land a full-time design job as soon as I graduated and paid off my student loans two years later. Nine years after enrolling in that design program, I’m happier and more fulfilled than I’ve ever been.

Quotes about doing what you love fly around so often now that it feels like a bit of a cliche but you really have to do what makes you happy. There’s no point in going through life feeling miserable and looking back, wishing you’d given your dream a real shot.

The truth is, nobody cares how old you are except you…so get started.


Photo: Shell de Mar Photography.

What Would Happen If You Dared To Dream Big? Write A Letter To Yourself.

Nubby Twiglet | What Would Happen If You Dared To Dream Big? Write A Letter To Yourself.

If you could accomplish anything in 2016, what would it be?

Putting a pen to paper makes it more tangible and therefore, more likely that it will actually happen. I’ll admit, there’s something a bit scary about committing to writing your future accomplishments out — when dreams come true, your life will change and big shifts can be really uncomfortable.

Familiarity is smooth because it’s what we’re used to. A shake-up causes excitement but can also bring along a sense of uneasiness.

I’m ready for a little shake-up in my life and business and to make it happen, I have to get past any fears and dream big.

Will you join me in doing the same?

As the year came to a close, I had a call with my client and friend Ellen. We chatted about how we planned to spend the holidays and then, she had a simple yet poignant suggestion: to write a letter to myself, listing all the things I’d accomplished and dating it for the final day of the year, December 31st, 2016.

A few days later, after the holidays wound down, I started writing. I listed the things I’d accomplished, one by one and I included specifics: business goals, amounts of products sold and new house plans.

My Big Goals

I won’t bore you with my entire list but here are three big big goals I have:

1. Purchase land in Palm Springs with Joey so we can start building our dream home. We’ve been saving for the last year and doing a lot of research. While it might take a few years to build things exactly the way we want, securing the land and permits are the first steps towards making that dream a reality.

2. Launch Project Prescription with Paul Jarvis. We’ve partnered to create a bundle of must-have documents every creative freelancer needs to run their business like clockwork. I’d had this idea taped to my wall for a few years and decided to approach Paul, a designer and entrepreneur I’ve long admired. We’ve been finalizing the last few documents and it will launch very shortly. I’m not shy about numbers — I want us to sell a minimum of 500 in the first year.

3. Expand retainer clients with Branch from one to three. Going into the third year of running my design studio, I’m seeking more stability. We’ve moved into working with more lifestyle, beauty and food clients and the portfolio feels in line with the boutique studio I’ve always dreamed of running. Now that the creative client base is there, I’m looking forward to having a more firm foundation so the ups and downs that can hit from month to month won’t be as big of a deal.

My letter to myself ended ended up stretching on for a page and a half. When I was done, instead of saving it down into a random folder on my desktop, I printed it out and taped it to my wall.

Having a letter of accomplishments you’ve listed as already happening staring down at you day after day is bound to give you the kick in the ass you need. As I type this right now, I can see the letter out of the corner of my eye.

Challenge Yourself

This week, join me in writing a letter to yourself. Be direct in your goals. Nobody has to see this letter but you so there’s no need to be afraid of asking for exactly what you want. Date it December 31, 2016. Keep it somewhere you can see every day. Think about either printing it out or setting it as your phone or computer wallpaper. We’re in this together — let’s see how far we can get this year!

Hoping things will happen is not enough. First, you have to decide exactly what you want. Then, you have to commit to them so fiercely, it’s like they’ve already happened. And finally, it’s time to put in the work.

Writing a letter to yourself is simple, free and powerful.

Here’s to having a super satisfying, fulfilling 2016.


Photos: Made U Look Photography.

Creative Chronicles #8: Develop A System To Keep Client Files Organized

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles #8: Develop A System To Keep Client Files Organized

As the year winds down, it’s the perfect opportunity to get super organized. I’ve been in full-on organization mode all this week, cleaning out random junk that’s piled up around the office and once that’s done, I’m moving onto cleaning up our digital files — because let’s face it — when you’re in the midst of juggling multiple client projects and tight year-end deadlines, things can get messy. Fast.

When you launch your freelance business, chances are that it’s just you and therefore….who cares if your files are a little messy? Who cares if your desktop looks like a bomb went off? Who cares if your files are named with some variation of “Untitled” every single time?

Probably nobody.

Things start to change very quickly as your business grows. The second you have more than a handful of open projects, these messes can compound big time.

When I started freelancing in college, I had one big folder on my desktop of client projects (please tell me I wasn’t the only one). I knew that what I needed at any given time was in there. And as you can guess, it evolved into a hot mess that involved plenty of late night tears.

I finally got my system together when I started designing professionally and working at larger studios. File organization suddenly became super important because we were all working from the same sets of client files on the same server. If one of us saved a file under a random name or dropped it into the wrong job folder, it really impacted our deadline. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to sort through someone else’s mess, especially when a project is due.

When I started Branch, it was such a breath of fresh air. All my old messes were safely saved to an external hard drive and I had a digital rebirth of sorts with a fresh install on my computer. Sweet relief.

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles #8: Develop A System To Keep Client Files Organized

I want to share my studio system with you in the hopes that it can help you keep your client files in tip-top shape:

On the top level of our studio server, there’s a folder called !!_USE_THIS_STRUCTURE with a clean set of our filing system. Make a habit of copying this folder every single time you book a new project. Always start with the job number, then the client’s name and a brief project description. Here’s an example:

BRNCH_000_CLIENT_NAME_DESCRIPTION

For instance, a new issue of Rock n Roll Bride Magazine might be named BRNCH_256_ROCKNROLLBRIDE_MAG_ISSUE_6.

Inside each folder, we always use this system of six folders:

1. Client Questionnaire

Before we begin the design process, we have new clients fill out a questionnaire. This reminds us of what the client is hoping to achieve with their business and how our design solutions can best help them. We like to keep it in this easy-to-find spot as we move along with their project.

2. Feedback

Whenever a client sends us feedback, we save it down into a text document and file it in this folder. That way, whoever picks up the project is aware of what the client specifically asked for.

3. Assets

In this folder, we store fonts as well as visual research, stock photos and related assets.

4. Concepts

This is where we save our rounds of work. Each round gets a subfolder inside of here (example: R1, R2 and R3) so we can quickly backtrack and make design updates if they’re referencing multiple rounds during feedback (for example, they loved the branding option of direction 1 in R1 and would like to combine it with direction 1 in R2).

5. Presentations

We save all of our presentations in here inside labeled subfolders (example: R1, R2 and R3). There’s always a working InDesign file for each round as well as a web-ready PDF to send off via email.

6. Sent Files

This is the place to keep all of your clean, completed files. Once a client has signed off on final concepts, we save all of the assets we’ve sent them into this folder so if they ever need any changes, we aren’t digging through old rounds of work.

That’s it! It’s a pretty basic setup and you may feel the need to tweak it, adding and taking away folders to make the system work for your business.

I can’t tell you how much time has been saved by having this system in place over the last few years. As Branch has grown, the number of completed projects on our server has ballooned to a few hundred. When a client emails us asking for a specific file, if this system wasn’t in place, it could literally take hours to find what they need. When you’re running a business, time is money. And, customer service is super important — the sooner you find that client file, the happier they’ll be.

I hope this system helps you get organized for the new year!


For even more Creative Chronicles, please click here.

Creative Chronicles #7: How Do You Land Your Dream Design Job?

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles #7: How Do You Land A Job?

This post is a little different today. Instead of offering advice, I need your help!

The premise is simple:

You’re learning how to be a designer.

But who’s teaching you how to take your design degree and actually get a job?

Like many of you, I went to school for design with the goal of getting hired once I graduated. After spending years in school, I was anxious to get going with my career and earn a decent living. Even though I was creative and very driven, I constantly questioned myself.

I wondered:

• Was my portfolio good enough?

• Did I have the right mix of work?

• Did my resume convey the right experience?

• Would I answer the interview questions right?

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles #7: How Do You Land A Job?

Landing your dream job takes much more than just having a compelling visual style. But, what else is there? What’s the strategy to make it happen? I asked myself that same thing. After landing a bunch of industry jobs and working at a half dozen studios before starting my own (where I am now on the side of interviewing), I have a pretty good idea of what it takes. And, if you’re interested in finding a job in the design industry, I want to share that knowledge with you.

Business strategist Ellen Fondiler has joined me to build a course that helps you land your dream job in the design industry. We have a content outline but I want to make sure we haven’t overlooked anything. After all, the goal of this whole project is to help people like YOU find a job.

To ensure that we’ve made the content as well-rounded and helpful as possible, I need your help.

Please copy, paste and answer the below questions into the comments section and include your email address. As a thank you, I’ll draw one person at random next Wednesday and you’ll win a prize pack loaded with Nubby Twiglet and Branch goodies, some of which are super rare!

Nubby Twiglet | Creative Chronicles #7: How Do You Land A Job?

Please answer the following:

1. What are you currently struggling with when it comes to finding work as a designer? 

2. What is a product you’re pining for? What do you wish someone would create?

3. What are you sick of seeing and reading about? 

4. Which of these course topics would be helpful to you? List the letters of any and all that apply:

A. How to build a compelling portfolio
B. How to write an attention-grabbing resume
C. How to ace your job interview
D. How to work your connections to find a great job

Thanks in advance! —Shauna


Photos: Made U Look.