I'm such a procrastinator when it comes to filing my taxes. Mostly because I'm a full-time employee with a side gig so at the end of the year I have a lot receipts to add up to enter all my deductions. I used to be HORRIBLE at keeping organized but along the years I've discovered ways to make the process a lot less painful, thanks to technology. If you're not a numbers person and are having a hard time like I did, here are a few tips to help you stay on track.
Hope you're having a great week so far. As for me, I'm drowning in numbers and paperwork at the moment and I'm telling you, save yourself - don't be like me!
I totally dropped the ball this past year and didn't keep up with my bookkeeping. It's April 13th now and guess what? I haven't filed my taxes yet - yikes!
So in the middle of reviewing my paperwork in preparation to file my taxes, guess what I did? I took some time to reflect and make a short list of things you can do to prevent being in my shoes next year come tax time again.
Keeping your creative business tax-ready in 4 easy steps
Well, duty calls...gotta get back to those numbers and spread sheets, but I'll be back next week with a few stationery design tips so stay tuned! I'll also be back in the "Training Field" with my Bootcamp students, ready to answer your questions and release a couple of new lessons - yay!
Have a great week.
Your Design Coach,
Today I want to talk about a minor mistake I made when I first started my journey as a stationery designer.
I had this client I met through a local wedding mixer. She was an event planner who hired me to design her wedding invitations.
"Sweet!" I thought, knowing that if I did a great job on her wedding stationery she'd refer me to her clients, so I was very excited to begin on this particular project.
Her budget was $200 and she only needed 12 invitations. Yep, 12. She was was having a destination wedding in Ireland inviting only a few family members and close friends. She bought silk boxes before she hired me which were to enclose the invitations I would design.
I had a high quality laser printer which I used to print her invitations, allowing us to put most of the budget toward design, details and manual labor assembling layers of beautiful paper to create her one-of-a-kind stationery set.
Everything was perfect, except for one small detail. She specified she wanted brown metallic reply envelopes on which I had to print her mailing address. Since black ink from my laser printer wouldn't show on the brown envelopes, I printed the address on gold foil address labels and presented her with a proof. She LOVED everything in the mockups except for the envelopes. And I don't blame her...everything was beautiful except for that fancy foil "sticker" with her mailing address. She didn't approve the stationery for production and requested that the envelopes be printed in gold ink.
"The stickers are not acceptable" she said.
So I did as she requested and sent the envelopes to the print shop. They came back looking great with gold ink and a thermography finish. Her stationery set was now perfect and I couldn't wait to meet up with her so she could approve the entire ensemble for production.
The day came and I happily presented the mockups along with the price list. I was so used to having happy customers all the time, that I felt myself turn pale when she exclaimed "I am NOT going to pay $70 for 12 envelopes!!!"
Aaack! I felt like someone punched me in my stomach. I just took a deep breath and I explained that she had already declined to approve the previous option and in order to give her the gold ink she requested, the envelopes HAD to go to the print shop, which came along with print shop pricing. She still refused to approve the ensemble so we ended up switching to pearlized ivory envelopes which I ran through my laser printer and printed with brown ink.
I had a knot in my stomach for a week. Thing is, I included the reply envelopes on the estimate AT COST. I wasn't making any money on them, AND I had already paid the $70 for the envelopes and thermography printing. Now I had to eat that cost, which was really upsetting considering that was almost 50% of her original budget.
My mistake was that I focused so much on giving her exactly what she wanted that I proceeded to follow her instructions without further discussing the consequences of her request. A mistake I never made again because it helped me develop a process supported by a set of documents that I used on each and every project thereafter.
In the end, she was BEYOND satisfied with her stationery, and I was happy that she was happy, but I was also pretty darn disappointed in myself for not having known better.
And you know what? This was just ONE of the many mistakes I made at the beginning of my journey. But I must say, a $70 mistake is NOTHING compared to my $800 printer mistake. But I'll tell you about that one another time. I just know that both mistakes could have been avoided if I had some sort of mentor at the time, someone to introduce me to the tricks of the trade and guide me through the process. Instead, I had to discover things for my own, which is okay, but not as smooth of a ride as it could have been.
You on the other hand, HAVE that opportunity today. Along with the opportunity to save $20 on Stationery Boot Camp when you use your Early Bird coupon code: SBCFORLIFE2016
Coupon expires today (Saturday, March 19, 2016) at 11:59 p.m.
If you're still on the fence, I'm hoping the following questions will help you decide one way or the other.
I leave you with these words from one of my students who enrolled last summer:
"You have no idea how valuable this course has been to me. I was very very very lucky to have stumbled upon your website at the perfect time for me...
Thank you Kimberly for this wonderful testimonial, and a big thank you to those who have enrolled this week and are already devouring the content. I will be answering your questions soon and uploading those video tutorials I promised.
And thank you, my blog readers and email subscribers, for allowing me into your inbox to share with you every now and then a little bit of wisdom and knowledge gained from my 20 year long career. (Yikes! feeling old now...)
Join the mailing list to receive graphic design tips, guidance and inspiration that will help you excel in your new career as a custom stationery designer.
What do you say when someone casually asks you to work on a logo or draft up a few layout ideas for a marketing piece? You channel Jerry Maguire, of course - but much more tactfully!
This is the quick and short version of a more extensive client qualification process. But if they show interest after you mention the process stated above, then they are ready for a full-blown consultation where you will discuss the project goals in greater detail and fill out a creative brief (step 3).
Today, I just wanted to remind you not to fall for the old "design something, and if I like it, I'll buy it." If they hesitate or decline to follow your process, it just means they weren't ready to work with a professional. This is good news for you, because it will free up your time to work with someone who truly values your work and appreciates your talent and professionalism.
Join the mailing list for more design and business tips delivered right to your mailbox. Please feel free to leave your comments or questions in the comments section below.
If you're looking for a fun and affordable way to liven up and/or add more personality to your invitations, envelope liners will always do the trick! You can use anything to line them with such as maps, wrapping paper, comics, music paper, wall paper - any kind of paper that adds interest to the design and reinforces the mood or theme you are trying to bring forth through your design.
Just make sure there's enough contrast between the two. If you're using multi-colored or heavily patterned liners, opt for a minimalistic invitation design for best results. And if your invitation design is very intricate, then you'll be better off using a liner that is more subtle.
Sure, it might take a bit longer to sit there an manually line the envelopes, but if you're a true paper lover, you'll enjoy the working with the paper in your hands and transforming each individual individual invitation set into an individual piece of art.
Hi there! I was out on vacation since last Wednesday through Saturday. I had one day to settle in at home, and absolutely no time to settle in at the office. Within minutes after walking through the door, my boss asked me to join him, the CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors in a meeting to discuss a Save the Date card I've been working on the last couple of weeks. In the 5 years that I've been employed at this place, I have NEVER been in the same room with these three gentlemen at once. I was nervous, but confident and excited for the opportunity to talk directly to the man who will ultimately approve the project I'm working on - the Chairman!
Every time I begin a project for my design studio, I start with a creative brief where I have an in-depth conversation with the client about the project and their vision. I ask questions like: What is the project for? Who is the target audience? What kind of event is it? What type of mood are you trying to evoke? What message are you trying to convey? And so on. The more information you obtain at the beginning of a project, the better! You'll save so much time in the proofing stages because you'll be able to start the project with a clear understanding of the client's vision, which will lead you to accurately translate it onto ink and paper.
THE CHAIN OF COMMAND IS SOMETIMES "NO BUENO"
Unfortunately, when you work for a company where you follow the chain of command, you're not always able to sit down and discuss the project with the one person who gets the final say. We designers get the watered-down version of whatever communication took place amongst department leaders, which will often keep the project in the revision phase for a few days - even weeks!
This is why I was excited to go into the meeting on Monday morning and get right to the point. I was nervous however, because I had been gone for a few days and I had no clue if anything had happened during my absence.
As it turns out, the issue with the layout was the performer's face. Yep, his face.
(You have my permission to "Lol") The Chairman made it very clear that he didn't like the performer's face because it looked like he'd had a lot of work done. "It doesn't even look like him!" he exclaimed. (YouTube showed me otherwise, but um, okay...)
Yes, it was a relief that my work wasn't being critiqued in a negative way, but the "issue" at hand struck me by surprise. Every performer sends us approved images to use in our marketing materials so there was no other image I could use. It was understood that the artist had to be featured on the cover, but not his face. Not as much of it, anyway.
I tried to gather more information from the Chairman as far as what he liked/disliked from the previous two layouts I had worked on to see what I can focus on instead. The first draft was too modern for him (our company caters mainly to senior citizens), and the second draft was not approved because of "the face" still being too dominant. I was asked to shrink the picture and to "just pick a color" to make the card more festive. There wasn't any more information to extract from him despite several of my attempts. Only vague directions to pick a color and shrink the performer's face. And just like that, I was back to square one.
A COMPLETE REDESIGN
Below are a couple of quick sketches illustrating how the layout changed from the 1st to the 2nd draft:
Here's what I hope you learn from my experience:
• THE CREATIVE BRIEF: Always, when possible, interview the client on many levels regarding the project. As you talk to your client you will begin to see images and designs forming in your mind. As these images enter your mind, ask more questions to see if your vision aligns with theirs. Remember, you are the expert. Even if it doesn't align 100%, take as much information from them as you can so that you can bring their vision to life, but use your expertise to enhance that vision. If you can't talk directly to the person who will be making the final decision, extract as much information as possible from the project manager.
• CRITIQUE: Never take a critique as a personal attack. A critique no matter how harsh or inappropriate, is never about you. It's about a communication gap. You are a visual communications architect. The client provides some tools and direction, but often times they are communications challenged. It will take patience and guidance from your part to extract their vision and goals in a clear and concise way that will allow you to transform the information into a kick-ass visual communications piece.
• YOU'RE AWESOME!: Many think of us as "simply" artists, but graphic/stationery designers are a pretty awesome breed! We bridge communication gaps, we are problem solvers, we make things look pretty, we are tech savvy - there is so much more to our job than just art! Even more so if you're planning on operating your own design studio. So don't become discouraged when you encounter a difficult client. I admit, I was a bit frustrated yesterday after my meeting. I came back to work after my vacation expecting to get approval on the save the date card, not to spend another day on a redesign. But guess what? Had it been approved, it would have meant nothing to me. But because I put so much effort into solving an issue I felt I had very little control over, I felt pretty good about myself when I figured out a way to please the Chairman without sacrificing design. Because at the end of the day, you have two main goals to achieve, #1) make the client happy, and #2) put out work that you are proud of.
Talk to you soon!
The previous two layouts featured the performer as the main focal point, but now I had to rethink everything and come up with an entirely new color scheme.
SO HERE'S WHAT I DID
I had recently purchased a set of gold style swatches from Creative Market that I was dying to use. Also, I've noticed that whenever I want to get anything approved around this place, all I have to do is use the color blue, so I searched Shutterstock for a blue and gold background and found the one shown below - it was perfect! The wreath hints at the holidays that will be soon approaching around the time of our gala and it also highlights the copy inside of it creating a new focal point – yay! I can't show you images of the approved save the date card, especially because the information hasn't been released to the public yet, but below is a rough sketch of the third and final proof that solved the "face" issue.
I used the Shutterstock background shown below on the left along with the wreath, and I applied the gold styles to the "Save the Date" wording on the left of the card so that it matches the gold wreath. The artist was still present on the cover, but because of his placement he was no longer dominant in the layout. I strategically placed his face over the wreath, so it blended-in even more, making his face less noticeable. It turned out perfect and I am proud to say that the card was approved within minutes after I submitted the redesign. Whew!
PS - I know you're busy, so I'll try to make it shorter next time ;)
Hi - I'm Dio!
🎨 💄 Designer/Lettering Artist
and LipSense Distributor, on a mission to color your world!
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