Artisan Blog

Bilbo Baggins, Entrepreneur

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Bilbo Baggins, Entrepreneur

We recently came across an article about how starting a business is like The Hunger Games. We hope that is not the experience most people have. That book is pretty brutal.

At Artisan Creative, we think a lot about entrepreneurship and we think starting a business is more like The Hobbit. At least when it works. Further in and further up...

You start out on an adventure, on your own at first (don’t forget your pocket handkerchief), but soon forming a team with a single, clear mission. You don’t know each other very well and it takes a while to assess everyone’s strengths and weaknesses. You run into obstacles (trolls) pretty early on and could easily decide to give up and go home right there (the kettle is on the hob). It turns out that having a mentor is incredibly important (Gandalf).

As you progress, your team breaks off into smaller groups with specific tasks to achieve, each of which can make its own discoveries--maybe not a magic ring, but creativity breeds innovation and innovation can be magical indeed. You will need to be clever and brave and take risks.

You will have to do battle with the entrepreneur’s worst enemy: fear of failure (that fire-breathing dragon). Surround yourself with talent who will support and encourage you, as well as have the skills to swoop in and solve problems.

Leadership can come from the most unlikely sources and you never know who will be the hero of your journey, but keep your wits about you and the rewards could last the rest of your life.

Starting a business isn’t quite an Unexpected Journey, but the path you will take is unpredictable. Put the right people on your team, practice active listening with them and your mentors, take the surprising opportunities that come along and you, too, might go There and Back Again and maybe even come home with a little chest of gold.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Forge! 2013 by The Skool

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Forge! 2013 by The Skool

At Artisan Creative, we love to get involved with local events and network, especially when they’re targeted at women in business, so when we were invited to be on a panel of speakers at Forge! 2013, we jumped at the chance to attend.

Held at WeWork in Hollywood, Forge! is a conference aiming to coach budding female entrepreneurs in business, tech, creative and life skills and how they can apply them to their lives. The 2-day event saw demonstrations, pitches and talks from CEOs, Brand Strategists, Product Developers and our very own President, Katty Douraghy.

Katty spoke about the importance of taking care of yourself when you run a business, how you can implement a process into your schedule and what works for her. Whether you run an agency or you work full-time, setting dedicated time aside to work out or do something for yourself can be difficult. Here are some Artisan-approved tips that can work for you:
  • “Finding the passion and something that moves you is vital to success.” What do you enjoy doing? Katty found her passion in Zumba. See what’s local to you and try something new.

  • If you have a hectic schedule and a jam-packed diary, book a meeting with yourself. You'll never be double-booked!

  • If you’re stuck behind a desk all day, try taking a walk or going for a hike and enjoy the outdoors. A great suggestion from Forge! was Walk Beverly Hills. Instead of having a meeting at the office, they propose you take walking meetings instead.

  • Smoothies! Attendees were treated to a great demonstration by Whole Foods. Combining ingredients such as kale, coconut water, bananas and almond milk will not only save you time, but give you the much needed energy to get you through the day.
The Skool is a really great resource for people in the digital industry and for people who want to learn more about digital projects, sales and running their own business. Not only did we have the chance to meet some incredibly talented people and learn a lot, it was great fun, too. Check out their upcoming events and if you have your own tips for staying healthy, we’d love to hear them.

Laura Pell, Talent Acquisition

Networking After Networking Events

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Networking After Networking Events

Going to networking events--or industry events where networking is appropriate--can make all of us nervous at times. We feel like we need to have the perfect elevator pitch, the perfect outfit. We need to be outgoing but not overwhelming, interesting but not self-involved. Passionate but not too intense.

If you have managed to put all of that together and meet some people, the next steps may not be clear. Here are our tips for making that ten minute conversation the beginning of a real relationship:

  • Use your database--Whether you collected paper business cards or QR codes in your smartphone, add that information to your contacts and don’t forget to note where and when you met and a word or two about what you discussed.
  • Sort for follow up--Put each person you met into a category for a particular level of future contact. Do they need a simple “It was nice to meet you at…” or do they warrant an invitation for coffee or a request for an informational interview? 
  • Follow through--Did you offer someone assistance? Get in touch with them first thing the next business day so they know you were serious. And then follow through. It's very easy to let offers like this fall through the cracks, but those are missed opportunities. Think like an entrepreneur.
  • Send invitations--Invite your new contacts to connect with you on social media. Be sure to personalize invitations and remind them where you met and what you talked about. On Facebook, you can add them to a business-oriented list if you don't want them to see all of your personal posts, and then make sure you customize your posting status groups. Don't neglect LinkedIn!

Showing up at networking events seems like the hard part--and in many ways it is. But it can be a waste of time and energy to do all that if you don’t keep the real goal in mind--building relationships. 

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

5 Tips for Choosing Freelance Clients

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

As a freelancer, it is tempting to say “Yes!” to every opportunity that comes along, whether it's a graphic design job or a long-term marketing contract. After all, there are dry spells in every career. You don’t want to take the chance of having created one yourself. There are, however, times, when you should resist temptation and wait for the next project to come along. How can you tell what time it is?

  1. Too rushed--If your client doesn’t have time to give you detailed instructions, is too busy to get together to sign a contract or has a deadline that seems unreasonable, this might be a skip.
  2. Not enough money--Don’t sell your skills short. If a client is not willing to pay your usual rate, you will spend the whole project wishing you had said yes to the next one, the one you don’t have time for.
  3. Unpleasant manner--You don’t have to be friends with your clients, but if your impression is that you are not going to get along at all, trust your gut. Having difficult or even rude people around all the time affects your company culture. In a business world where we are all entrepreneurs, you are the company.
  4. Unappealing project--Being too picky could find you eating beans out of a can, but if you can’t think of one interesting or creative quality you can bring to a project, it might be better to wait for the next one.
  5. Big learning curve--Although we are in favor of learning new skills and keeping your current skills up-to-date, getting your education on the job--especially on a deadline--is a sure route to pulling your hair out.
Taking on a project that really isn’t right for you is definitely worse than having some free time between contracts and probably worse than getting a bit tight on funds. Pay attention to your instincts and you will know when to say “Yes, of course!” and when to say “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Announcing The Artisan Creative Weekly

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Announcing The Artisan Creative Weekly

We are publishing a newsletter

Artisan Creative invites you to subscribe to the Artisan Creative Weekly. We will be publishing links to stories about leadership, creativity, talent, job search, time management, design, marketing and entrepreneurship. Once a month, we will publish a newsletter on a particular theme. 

We are finding inspiration all over the internet and we want to share it all with you. We also welcome your feedback. Let us know what you think of the Artisan Creative Weekly and what you would like to see more (or less) of. 

At this time of new beginnings, we have one of our own. Hope you like it!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Think Like an Entrepreneur

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Think Like an Entrepreneur

Some of us are working for ourselves and some for others, but we are all using our skills to gain independence in our personal lives and striving for the freedom to do what we love, even if it is in support of someone else’s company.

In years past, entrepreneurs were more likely to “live to work.” Their own success was defined by the success of their companies, their profit margins, their organization’s annual growth. Those are valid measures of success, certainly, but today’s entrepreneurs--and entrepreneurial thinkers--are “working to live.” 

How can we think more entrepreneurially in a full time job?
  • Innovate--Tell your manager your ideas about new ways to solve problems. Make an appointment with her and use a professional approach and even a manager who is resistent to change might give your ideas a try.
  • Network--Set a goal to meet a certain number of new people in your field or industry every month or every quarter. Even if you are not looking for new clients, you are definitely looking for new connections.
  • Ask Why--Choose your moment wisely, but do question why things are done the way thy have always been done. And don’t settle for “tradition.” 
  • Be Fearless--Let your enthusiasm show and it will spread to others in your organization, just like it would to freelance clients. If you love what you do, show it.
  • Bounce Back--You will be criticized at times, especially if you are taking chances. Take something positive from every criticism and continue learning. Smile.
  • Take Charge--Once you have been in a role for six months, it’s time to make it into the perfect role for you. Evaluate what you want to do more of and what you would like to discard from your job description. Sit down with your manager and see if you can make any of those changes work for the company. The happier you are, the better you will fit and the longer you will stay--that’s the benefit to the company. Turnover is expensive.
The greatest benefit of entrepreneurial thinking is the feeling of empowerment you get from being more in control of your work and personal life. You can get that feeling no matter where you work.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

It's Not What You Start, It's What You Finish

Thursday, August 08, 2013

It's Not What You Start, It's What You Finish

Image by Jenny Spadafora via Flickr Creative Commons

Multitasking seems like a fact of life. Especially for entrepreneurs and freelancers, who are constantly both working on projects and building their businesses, it’s impossible to focus on one thing from beginning to end without interruption.

We don’t have to let the necessity for keeping all those plates in the air affect our productivity in a negative way. Here are our tips for effective time management and reaching that satisfying moment when you cross something off your to-do list:

  • Block out your time--If you know a certain two-hour span is reserved for a specific project, you can put everything else aside. Don’t check emails, put the phone on silent, be fully present for your project. If you set a timer for the end of your time block, you don’t even have to think about how long you’ve been working. Work until the bell rings. And then take a break--you deserve it!
  • Don’t take on too much work--We’ve all had those times when a favorite client calls with a rush job right when we are totally booked up. We want to do it but we really ought to wait a week or two so that we can give it our full concentration. Be honest and don’t get yourself overwhelmed. All of your projects will suffer and you might lose more than that one client in the end. There are ways to say “not right now, sorry” that will keep your favorites around.
  • Delegate--You probably know some freelancers in your field who could pick up the ball and take over some parts of your project if you need them to. Don’t hesitate to ask them for help in a tight spot. Only ask people whose work you can fully endorse. It would be even better to have someone already in your network for backup before the need arises.
  • Do sweat the small stuff--Correcting mistakes definitely takes longer than doing things right the first time. Don’t miss the trees for the forest. Pay attention.
It can be a challenge to focus on one thing long enough to get it done, but we’ve all had those days

where we feel like we finished nothing and have no sense of accomplishment. Good time management make you better able to finish a few things instead of starting a lot and not finishing any.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Are You Missing a Personal Branding Opportunity?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Are You Missing a Personal Branding Opportunity?

With more of us cutting the cord of our landline phones, freelancers are using their personal cell phones to take business calls, often from potential clients whose names won’t come up on the screen. Most of us were taught to answer the telephone with Hello?, but for those of us taking business calls on the same number as we take personal calls, it might be time to rethink our phone answering best practices.

What are your options?

Business name - Although it might confuse your friends for a while, they would get used to this option and your potential customers would be comfortable. A very professional choice, you will sound more like an office than a home office if you use your business name.

Your name - We hear it on TV all the time--first name or full name with no other greeting. It can feel a bit abrupt, but there is no mystery about who is speaking and that could put potential clients at ease where a more generic greeting leaves them wondering whether they’ve reached you, your assistant or your boss.

Stick with Hello - This is the most personal way to answer and arguably the warmest, but it doesn’t get your name or your business name to the front of your caller’s mind and might make them have to ask to whom they are speaking. Getting your caller comfortable quickly could be a major asset to your business.

Consistency is important if you want this level of nuance in your personal branding. If you are quick on your feet, answer one way when you know who the caller is and in a more businesslike way when you don’t or if your caller is a professional contact.. If you are more of a creature of habit, make a thoughtful choice and stick with it.

I’m going to go follow my own advice now and start answering my cell phone with “Hello, this is Wendy” and see how it goes! Let us know if you make a change and how you feel about it.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Top 10 Must Dos for Creative Freelancers

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Top 10 Must Dos for Creative Freelancers


As part of Artisan’s presentation at the recent SoCal UX Camp, we addressed the best ways Creative Freelancers should position themselves successfully in their field and how to best market their services to maintain a consistent pipeline of work.

  1. Design your Brand. Let your personal style guide the color palette, font treatments & images used to create your brand/logo. Utilize the same design, mission statement, service offerings & profile pictures across all print collateral & the web - including Business Cards, Portfolios, Social Media Platforms and Directory Listings/Ads.

  2. Perfect Your Portfolio. Be sure to keep work relevant & up to date, presenting your best pieces first. Work should also be well-organized with simple navigation and include a description of the project and your role.

  3. Be Specific. Focus your expertise on 1 – 2 areas only. These skills should be complimentary and stated clearing in both your resume and portfolio. Do not include irrelevant or outdated work.

  4. Become an Expert in your field. Join an online discussion, share articles, blogs or tweets, start your own blog or podcast, guest blog or write articles to industry publications – anything that will help establish your credibility and brand in your area of expertise.

  5. Fill the Downtime. Between projects is the perfect time to work on exploratory pieces for your portfolio, take a class, attend a conference, complete tutorials on new software or volunteer for an organization that can benefit from your services. All will help improve your portfolio/skillset and offer built in opportunities to network as well.

  6. Network – both in person and via social media. Create personal and/or business pages across social platforms, join social media groups and discussions, attend local business or industry events, take classes in your field and find co-working spaces

  7. Get Listed. Find Directories, Portfolio & Resume Portals as well as Local Organization Websites where you can list your work and advertise your services (often times for free!)

  8. Work with Recruiters. This expands your marketing efforts for free by enlisting teams of connected specialists who also benefit from you getting work. Recruiters also have access to opportunities that are not listed on job boards.

  9. Befriend Like-minded Creatives. By having counterparts who understand your industry, they can serve as your “team” when consultation is required, they can be partners for projects that require additional resources and be a great referrals to clients if have to say no to work.

  10. Never Stop Selling. Everyone you meet is a potential client (or knows someone who could be a client). Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with a stranger. Perfect your elevator pitch . And always be professional when conducting business in public places – because you never know who could be listening.

How is your business performing? Could you be doing something better? Do you do something in your business that we’ve forgotten on this list? Let us know!

And, if you missed our full presentation at SoCalUX Camp, check out our Top 10 recommended resources for keeping freelancers efficient, effective & excited about business.

Jessica Bedford, Marketing Manager

Dog Days of Summer

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Dog Days of Summer

If you are a dog person, you know the benefits of having a furry companion at home. Dog owners recover more quickly from being sick, suffer less frequently from depression and loneliness, and have a built-in conversation starter. But there are also some benefits to bringing your dog to work or encouraging your employees to do so:

  • Attract and retain quality candidates—A “dog friendly office” is an appealing perk to a job seeker and a tough perk to walk away from once hired.
  • Improved Morale—Dogs don’t just make their owners smile, they increase levels of the brain chemicals that make us happy and calm. Plus they are pretty entertaining!
  • Increased Productivity—Letting dogs come to work will keep your employees at their desks until a project is finished, since they don’t have to be home to walk or feed their pet. Dog owners also miss fewer days of work due to illness.
  • Team Building—Dogs don’t just help you get dates, they also help you build connections with co-workers.
Freelancers are accustomed to having their dogs with them while they work. Full time employees would love to have the same opportunity to bring a little bit of home with them to the office. Have you ever worked for a dog-friendly company? We would love to hear about it! And have a terrific Take Your Dog to Work Day on Friday, June 21st!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative


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