Artisan Blog

Freelancers: Use Online Marketing to Kickstart 2012

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Freelancers: Use Online Marketing to Kickstart 2012

 

We are about to go into a quiet time of year, whether you choose to work less or there is just less work, and so it is a good time to think about what you can do to get a jumpstart on your freelancing in 2012.

With today’s technology, it is easy and cost-effective to do some online marketing for your career as a freelance entrepreneur. Let’s look at some ways to make online marketing work for you:

  • Social Media Profiles - Now is a great time to take a look at all of your social media profiles to make sure they:
    • Reflect most recent work experience
    • Are Consistent
    • Tell your story
    • Use keywords to help search engines find your skills
    • Have been carefully edited for professional purposes
  • Facebook Timelines - You’ve probably heard that Facebook profiles are changing into timelines, but you might not know that you need to go to your timeline and make sure there is nothing posted there from the past that you don’t want potential clients to see. You might not have been as careful in 2006 or ’07 about the photographs you posted and Timelines make it much easier for people to see your posts of long ago.
  • New Platforms - While you have a couple of free hours, set up your Google+ Circles and start getting comfortable there. Still new-kid-on-the-block, Google+ may very well be a big player in 2012.
  • Build or Tweak Your Website - If you are a Designer, you have a website, but maybe you haven’t had time to update it for a while. If you are in other creative fields, it is great to have a website of your own and there are free and inexpensive places to host. A domain name only costs $10 a year and Google Sites is one place where you can build a site easily without any knowledge of coding.
  • Start a Blog - Since you are an entrepreneur, you own a business—you! Your business needs a blog where you can talk about recent projects, things that inspire you, link to articles that are interesting and give the world your take on current creative trends. Give blogging a try, it’s fun!
  • Comment - If you’re like me, even on your downtime you’re surfing the web for interesting information. Now is the time to take a moment to comment on relevant articles in your field or in LinkedIn Group discussions and build your credibility. If you add a link to your website or blog, you might increase your own traffic as well.
See, you thought you had nothing to do over the holiday break! Get to work!

Wendy Stackhouse
, Consultant for Artisan Creative


To Work or Not to Work, That is the Question: Freelancing over the Holidays

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

To Work or Not to Work, That is the Question: Freelancing over the Holidays

Photo by hartlandmartin via Flickr Creative Commons

If you are like me, you are busy with holiday preparations while still maintaining a busy freelance work routine. There are a lot of extra things to do this time of year: shopping, baking, social events, writing cards.

Even volunteer opportunities abound at this time of year, with everyone holding holiday fundraisers and toy drives.

It’s easy to look forward to some quiet time when everything closes down for a few days of family celebration, but for a freelancer, there’s no such thing as a paid holiday. It can be hard to relax when you know your income will be affected by your time off.

Here are some ways to handle taking time off without worry:
Plan Ahead
It might be too late for this year, but next year you can be mindful about putting some money aside so that you can take a couple of weeks off for the holidays.

Reach Out

If you want to take on some extra work or try to keep busy, get in touch with your clients and make sure they know you’re available to do last minute projects or pick up projects that have stalled because their regular staff is on vacation.

For creatives, now is a great time to come up with a new graphic design or image to put on a holiday ecard and send it out to your network!

Schedule Your Free Time

Everyone deserves a break this time of year, so carve out some specific time for yourself and quality time with your family and friends. If you look at your calendar and it says “Christmas Party, 7-11pm” you won’t feel guilty when you walk out the door!

Post-Date Some Blog Posts

If a holiday falls on a day when you would normally publish a blog post for yourself or a client, write a holiday-themed post in the days leading up to your day off and schedule it to post on the day you plan to be roasting chestnuts.

Here’s the most difficult task, though.

Don’t feel guilty!

If work slows down, try to think of it as a gift. Appreciate the precious time you have with your loved ones. Use it to play board games, cook together, spend time at home doing that you don’t normally have time for, but that don’t cost a lot. Walk around and see the holiday lights in your neighborhood. Think up projects for the new year. Watch old movies and drink lots of tea.

Everyone at Artisan Creative wishes you and yours a wonderful, relaxing and guilt-free holiday season!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative


Managing Your Brand

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Managing Your Brand

 

Not only are you an entrepreneur, you are a brand. If you are participating in social media, your brand has a logo, a mission statement, and work product that other people might want to buy or invest in. Or it should!

It is important to make sure that your brand is consistent and sending the messages that you want it to send across your entire internet presence so that no matter where a potential client might look, he or she will find the information needed to decide whether they want to start a business relationship with you.

Here are some things to think about when managing your brand online:

On Facebook
Especially important if you are a freelancer, have a Facebook Page for yourself as a Business Person as well as a Profile for your personal friends. This gives people you don’t know a window into your work if Facebook is their favorite social media platform.

This Page is a place you can put links to your blog, your work from your online portfolio or interesting news about you and your business life.

Don’t forget to keep it updated!

Your Logo
The image you use in your profile on any platform is your logo. For some with an actual company or brand name – this should be your designed logo. For others – your photo is the perfect representation of your brand.

If using a photo, it should be close-up enough for someone who’s meeting you at a coffee shop to recognize you when they get there. It shouldn’t be your cat or your baby - cute as they are. Save that for your friends. Use the same photo across all social media platforms. If you want to be creative with it, you can make your photo seasonal, but, again, be consistent and change it everywhere.

Mission Statement
Your Facebook Page Info tab, your LinkedIn profile and your Twitter profile all provide a place for you to put your mission statement.

Don’t think you have a mission statement? What are you passionate about? Why do you do what you do? Why are you so committed to your work? Your mission statement can be found in there. Once established, it’s important to keep your mission statement consistent across platforms.

Links
Be sure to provide links to your pages, profiles, feeds and portfolio wherever you can: email signature, business cards, ecards for holidays, resume, everywhere. Make it easy to find you, find out about you and contact you for work!

I’ve had quite a few potential clients find me through blog posts, Facebook updates and LinkedIn group updates for my current clients. They are comfortable with me even before we meet because they have seen my work, are familiar with my “voice” and can assess my communication skills. Consistent branding has led to a good “Return on Investment” of my time capital and it will for you, too!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative


Time Management Tips for Freelance Entrepreneurs

Friday, November 18, 2011

Time Management Tips for Freelance Entrepreneurs



“Freelance Entrepreneur” might sound like an oxymoron, but freelancing is entrepreneurship at its most basic. Entrepreneurship means taking risks with your income, your career, your security in the service of innovation. 

As a freelancer your capital isn’t money, it’s time.

As a Freelance Entrepreneur you offer your capital to others to help complete their projects. How you spend that capital is up to you. You choose what projects you want to work on, you choose with whom you work, and you choose when you want to do the work.

If you think of your time as capital, you can also think if it as an investment. Then it becomes very clear that your time needs to be managed well in order to make it grow. We would all like the time we have with our families or the time we spend pursuing our passions to be greater. The more successful our investments, the more rewards we will reap.

Here are some tips for managing your capital:
  1. Start with a plan. Whether you plan a week in advance, the night before for the next day or in the morning before you jump into the day’s work - plan your time. Although you need to be flexible—you never know when a client will call with an emergency—try to stick to the plan.

  2. Set goals for the day. You will never feel like you accomplished anything if you don’t know what it was you set out to accomplish.

  3. Set an ending time for work. You will be more productive if you know when you’re going to step away from the computer. Without an end time, there is a greater temptation to continue working on things you don’t need to and, therefore, never accomplish what you set out to do. 

  4. Take scheduled breaks. Walk away. Stretch. Look at something other than the screen. Go outside. When you plan out the day, plan your breaks too.

  5. Track your time. This is easy to overlook. If you set a specific amount of time to work on something – make sure you keep to that schedule. If you need more time – and have to push something else back – make up for it tomorrow. By knowing how much time you work on projects – you can also better manage your time on future projects that are similar in nature.
I’m not always good at following my own guidelines, but I’m resolved to try. When I plan my day and know that I spent enough time on each project, I don’t feel guilty when break time comes and I get to spend a relaxing evening with my family. And isn’t that the real reason we’re freelancers?

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative


Are You an Entrepreneur? Yes, You Are!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Are You an Entrepreneur? Yes, You Are!



No matter what industry or field you work in, whether you work for a multinational corporation, a mom-and-pop storefront or in your home office, you are an entrepreneur. Congratulations!

Today’s workforce will have a completely different career experience from their parents and grandparents. Gone are the days of getting an entry-level job out of college, moving up, and retiring, all in the same company. Also gone are the days of having one career your entire working life, even if you change employers.

Today’s workforce is will change jobs every 3-5 years. Today’s workforce will have between three and seven entirely different careers. Whether you work for yourself or for others, if you think of yourself as an entrepreneur, you will succeed at life as well as work.

Entrepreneurs start new ventures despite the risks. Are you an Entrepreneur?

I work in an office. How am I an Entrepreneur?

You are a person with skills, providing a product. You take risks by spending your time on someone else’s projects in the hope that they will give you more business and eventually give you the opportunity to start something new. You are an entrepreneur.

I work in retail. How am I an Entrepreneur?

Working in a retail business doesn’t feel like entrepreneurship, but you can think of it as an internship by immersion. If retail is where you want to be, you can use this experience to learn the business from the bottom up and pick up lessons you could never learn any other way. You take the risk that the time you spend training will be valuable when you start your own new venture. You are an entrepreneur.

I am an artist. How am I an Entrepreneur?

If an artist does not think like an entrepreneur, no one will ever see their work. Artists are not traditionally comfortable with the business aspects of their careers, but without sales, all you have is living room full of paintings. Without auditions and demo tapes, you’re just singing in the shower.

Artists are familiar with risk and being accountable only to themselves. All they need is to put some of their drive into making art a business. If you are not thinking about marketing, you are missing out on a big part of your career. You are an entrepreneur!

I am a freelancer. How am I an Entrepreneur?

This one is easy! Your business is yourself. You develop a brand, a list of customers and a marketing strategy. You are out there scratching for more business and making connections to broaden your customer base. You are taking a risk every day that you might not have a steady income stream. You are clearly an entrepreneur.

I read an article on the Entrepreneurs’ Organization website called “What’s Your Personal Culture?” It really spoke to me about how to achieve an entrepreneurial mindset. If you have a clear mission, make smart business decisions about where to spend your time, and develop and implement a marketing strategy for yourself, you are indeed an Entrepreneur.

Wendy Stackhouse, Entrepreneur and Consultant for Artisan Creative


Global Entrepreneurship Week 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

 

This week entrepreneurship is being celebrated in 123 countries engaging more than 10 million current and aspiring entrepreneurs worldwide during Global Entrepreneurship Week.  Entities such as The Kaufman Foundation and EO are helping the world learn how entrepreneurs are driving the change we need to overcome these challenging times.  By coming together to share their collective experience, participating entrepreneurs will inspire and support the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Kiva is just one prime example of how a small group of entrepreneurs can positively impact a much broader base of global ones, by giving them the opportunity to build something that will return on their investment.  Who knows the impact a week like this will have on the entrepreneurs of tomorrow!

Whether by necessity or choice, the entrepreneurial spirit comes from within, and in many ways the freelancers our company works with are entrepreneurs.  By running their own business every day - selling, marketing, creating, invoicing and collecting - freelancers face the same business challenges that entrepreneurs do.

I encourage each of our freelancers to spend some time this week learning about what it takes to change your community and the world as an entrepreneur!

Jamie Douraghy, President


The Pros and Cons of Being a Creative Freelancer

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Pros and Cons of Being a Creative Freelancer



According to MSN Money this week, freelancing is “the future of work.” 

New employer businesses have declined 27 percent since 2006, but if you count newly self-employed people in the sample of startups, the numbers have stayed the same and, in some cases, even increased. Many of these self-employed talent have been freelancers all along, but there are large numbers of unemployed creatives taking their skills and starting their own businesses. 

Technology and globalization have made it possible for “solopreneurs” to launch their own businesses with greater ease. And in today’s job market, especially for recent grads and older workers, “solopreneurship” might be the best option for making a living.

But freelancing is not for everyone. Whether freelancing is the right option for you depends on a lot of factors, some of which are very personal.

Here are some of the pros and cons to help you figure out whether the freelancing life is right for you:

Pros:

Flexibility – Want to work mornings and evenings, but not afternoons? Need to take care of your children or want to volunteer twice a week? You can make your own schedule if you work for yourself. If you want time to work on your personal projects, you can fit those in, too. Flexibility usually means a better work-life balance.

Environment – Working from home allows you to work where you’re most comfortable and with all of your favorite equipment, software and set-up. No commute means you also lower your carbon footprint.

Fill in the gaps on your resume – If you’re looking for a full time job, freelancing is a good way to keep your skills up-to-date and keep your resume from developing a lot of white space. Partnering with a freelance recruiting firm that specializes in your area can help add potential clients and projects to your resume as well.

Save money – Gas, wardrobe, lunches – all things you don’t have to purchase often when you’re working for yourself. There are also many great tax benefits available, depending on how you set up your business (we advise that you see a Tax Specialist who has worked with Independent Contractors or Sole Proprieters for more information).

No micromanagement – With no boss looking over your shoulder, you can have less stress and be more focused on the project at hand.

Choice – As the sole creative in charge of your craft, you have the freedom to work on only the projects that inspire you. Never again do you have to accept projects that you find tedious or unpleasant.

That all sounds great, doesn’t it? However, there can be a downside to freelancing:

Cons:

No benefits – When you’re not working – you’re not getting paid. No more discounted or free health insurance or 401K contributions. These items are all out of pockets expenses for which you are now directly responsible.

No steady income – If you are providing a valuable service and marketing yourself well, you should be making money. But it can take time to build a stable of clients. And even then, your clients’ needs can change during certain times of the month or seasonally. If that makes you nervous, you might want to keep your cubicle for a while longer.

No accountability – While to freedom to self-manage is great, if you have trouble staying on-task or delivering to deadline when not managed, you will have trouble being a freelancer. Excellent discipline and time-management skills are key to keeping your clients happy!

Interruptions – Anyone who has worked from home and has a family or roommate can tell you stories about how they are always interrupted. Setting boundaries with those you live with is essential to successful freelancing.

The buck stops here – If your clients need something right away or there is a problem with something you have produced, it’s your job to take care of it. Sometimes that means late nights or early mornings to ensure everything is done on time.

Bottom Line:

If you enjoy working independently, can handle a little uncertainty and are comfortable marketing yourself for new work, freelancing could be a great choice for you.

If you like a lot of guidance or interaction, need steady income and/or want to close your laptop every day at 5, keep looking for that traditional role.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative


The Benefits of Giving (both personally and professionally)

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The Benefits of Giving (both personally and professionally)

"Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give. " Eleanor Roosevelt

Giving back isn’t just something we do at Artisan. It’s a core value for both our company and our staff.Over the next few months, we’ll take a look at the way our team members are working to make their local, national and global communities a better place.

This week we start with our President, Jamie Douraghy

“Over the past few years, I've been asked to join several boards to help guide a variety of non-profits to achieve greater success in everything they do.

They range from the industry-related creative organizations (AIGA LA), to alumni groups, to remotely-located entrepreneurs, to helping grant wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses (Make-A-Wish LA).

What I found was that in order for me to give my best, I had to uncover the relevancy for what I was about to undertake. I did not want to enter into a commitment half-heartedly and not deliver to their expectations.

Through my involvement with these organizations and my leadership at Artisan, I was able to facilitate the growth of these groups, help promote their events and assist with their fundraising initiatives.



What surprised me about my work on these boards, however, was that my involvement didn’t stop there. By working with these non-profits myself, I was inspired to motivate others - my friends, employees and extended network – to find their passion and to give back.

Additionally, I wanted Artisan Creative to do more. As a result, we selected Kiva as our charity of choice to make regular contributions. We liked the fact that they are helping build local communities on a global level, supporting entrepreneurs as far as Tanzania and as close as Detroit.

So far, Artisan has already made six loans to aid Agricultural efforts in Ecuador and Rwanda as well as craftsmen & dressmakers in Peru.



You can help Artisan raise more Kiva funds here.

What I learned through giving back:
  1. Make sure the cause resonates with you personally. If you’re not passionate about the initiatives you support, it becomes more difficult to remain motivated and involved.
  2. Find a purpose within the volunteering you do. Remember that giving is a commitment not a convenience.
  3. Be open to change (both within and without) as a result of your engagement. You never know how helping others will help you, too."

Jess Bedford, Marketing Manager


The relevance of getting involved personally vs. digitally

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The relevance of getting involved personally vs. digitally

 

Over the years, with a quick hit of the "Accept" button, I've seen my digital network expand rapidly.  Beyond  "Recommendations" and "People you Might Know", I wanted to dig a little deeper as to "the why".

What I found was interesting: my network actually grew once I put myself out there physically and joined more groups such as the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO).

The more I participated physically in that group - joining the local board and eventually becoming chapter president - the more I discovered my digital network was rapidly growing as well.  For me, the correlation between the two was clear - as my human connections increased, so too did my virtual network.  Simply put, the more I gave, the more I got in return.

My tip this month: If you want to grow your digital network - start by participating in more actual events and activities!

Jamie Douraghy, President


Welcome to the Artisan Blog!

Friday, July 01, 2011

Welcome to the Artisan Blog!

Welcome to the newest version of our Artisan blog.

With so much information flying around these days, we decided to only bring you information and ideas that will focus in the four areas we feel most relevant to the work we do together:

  • creativity
  • staffing / job seekers
  • entrepreneurship
  • giving back

Our goal is to keep it simple and provide something of value each time you log in, read and reach the final sentence.

Thank you!
Jamie Douraghy, President



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