Artisan Blog

A Freelancer’s Guide to Expert Client Communication

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

 

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20 years in staffing and recruitment and over the years we have learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 407th issue of our weekly a.blog.

Any freelancer will know that running your own business requires a broad set of skills and the ability to wear many hats. In addition to doing your job well, you have to manage clients, invoices, new business development and a whole host of other responsibilities. To be a successful freelancer involves satisfied clients with repeat business. With this in mind, how do you please clients and how does good communication affect your business?

Establishing good communication from the start is the pathway to successful projects. By keeping an open dialogue, building rapport and ensuring mutual understanding, clients will want to continue working with you. Revisions and misunderstandings are lessened, which means everyone involved will be satisfied with the outcome.

Listening vs. Talking

Initial stages are all about the client and their needs. Most often clients are coming to you because they have a problem and they need you to solve it. This is your opportunity to listen by giving the client ample time to speak and express their vision.

Project Intake

Managing new clients can be tricky and if you’re busy or feeling stressed it’s easy to miss the all-important details. Create a standard project intake form with key questions to ask each client. Your methodical approach towards taking on a new assignment will be noticed and ensures that you’ll never forget to ask a crucial question.

A Consultative Approach

Clients are hiring you because of your expertise and they’re trusting that you will do what is best for their business. They value your input, so be confident, speak up and offer advice when it’s needed.

Never Assume

The quickest way to a misunderstanding is by making assumptions. If you’re unsure, get clarification. The old adage of “measure twice, cut once” rings true here.

Put It In Writing

If you are taking lots of calls with your clients, always follow up and summarize what you discussed. Whether it’s revisions, project scopes or fees, send a confirmation via email so everyone is on the same page. Better yet, create a project scope form, and a change order form to manage deliverables and edits.

Response Time

As a rule of thumb, aim to respond to a client within 24 hours. Set expectations and deliver to those standards. Unless you’re on instant messaging such as Skype or Slack, clients will appreciate knowing they can expect your response within a set time allocation. If you’re unable to keep to a 24-hour timeframe, let the client know your schedule and that they are a priority. Ask clients for their schedules so you’ll know when to expect feedback and revisions too.

With a few minor processes added to your freelance workflow, you can minimize misunderstandings, enhance productivity and align communication. Focusing on client satisfaction will ensure you are always successful.

What additional experiences can you share with other freelancers?

 

 


Integrating Action Into Your Goal Setting Process

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20 years in staffing and recruitment and over the years we have learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you.   We hope you enjoy the 406th issue of our weekly a.blog.

You’ve set your goals, created your vision board and have gathered all the momentum and excitement you can muster to get everything accomplished right now…. so how do you keep your determination going to see your goals come to fruition?

Once you set your broader vision for the year, the next step is to break down each goal into actionable steps. Otherwise,  just the thought of how to get started can rapidly become overwhelming.

Below are 5 tips to help integrate action into your goal setting process.

1. Work with the end goal in mind.

What action steps are needed to happen daily or weekly in order for the goal to be accomplished? For example, if your goal is to learn a new language, the actionable steps may be:

  • research online classes or sign-up for physical classes
  • download the Duolingo app
  • study
  • join a meet-up/group

2. Be Specific: Add a timeline or date for accomplishing each step.

For example:

  • research and sign up for onlineor physical classes by 1/15/17
  • download the Duolingo app by 1/5/17
  • study 1 hour per day ( or 7 hours per week) at 4 pm each day
  • research meet-up/groups by 1/10/17, join a group by 2/1/17

3. Protect the time on your calendar.

It’s easy for urgent matters to take over what is important. Schedule time for the important items, otherwise the weeks will fly by with little attention to the steps needed to attain your goals. Make an appointment with yourself and set a reminder!

4. Get an accountability partner.

Share your goals with friends and co-workers. Ask one of them to be your accountability partner and plan a monthly check in with them.

5. Celebrate your wins along the way.

Be proud of your accomplishments—no matter how small… as long as they are on the right path to help you accomplish your goals, then it’s worth a celebration.

An action plan and timeline for accomplishing each step will put you on the right path to accomplish your goals

Please share any tips on how you set goals and develop plans for accomplishing them.

How to Invest in Your Team

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20 years in staffing and recruitment and over the years we have learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 403rd issue of our weekly a.blog.

 

In the 20+ years of meeting and interviewing talent, we’ve learned that a primary reason people are looking for a career change is often growth opportunity—and growth opportunity does not necessarily mean salary increase.

We hear from talent willing to make a financial lateral move when there is an opportunity for advancement, additional responsibility, learning, and overall personal and career development.

Here are 3 tips to help nurture your existing talent so they are more likely to stay and grow as your organization grows.

Continued Education

Continued education classes are a win-win for both employer and employee. Courses from Lynda.com or General Assembly foster new skills and improve work performance, while giving employees an opportunity to learn and grow. Consider flex time to attend classes or subsidizing a course cost.

Develop Careers From Within

Ongoing training, frequent touch points and an extended on-boarding program helps to start your employees on the right track, and when done regularly, will keep them motivated and better engaged over time.

Encourage opportunities to spearhead a task team, lead a project or mentor a new employee.

Invest in leadership training, management courses and mentorship opportunities with senior level talent.

Encourage lateral movement so employees can formally apply to new positions within the organization.

Invest in Your Employees’ Well-being

Large companies have the luxury of access to features and benefits that small to midsize firms dream of.

If your company is an entrepreneurial boutique firm like Artisan Creative, you will have to be more creative here. Some examples of non-work related investments are subsidizing gym memberships or a wellness program, paying for and rallying around a passionate cause your team believes in, journaling or vision boarding classes.

Another option is to host Lunch & Learn quarterly in the office where you can bring in a subject matter expert on a variety of topics such as Nutrition, Health or even Mindfulness.

At Artisan we wanted to learn how to play to our team member’s strengths and brought in a Strengths Finder facilitator for the day. Not only was this great for personal development and growth, it was also a powerful team bonding and communication experience.

We also offer our an annual stipend to our internal a.team to be used for heath and wellness or personal development. Our team has taken advantage of this stipend for fitness or art classes, Toastmasters, second language courses and personal interest seminars. We also hold an annual vision boarding session to share and focus on non-work related goals and aspirations.

If done right and with purpose, engaged employees have a higher retention rate than those who stare out the window wondering what else is out there and eventually leave for an opportunity to grow personally and professionally elsewhere.

What tools or tips can you share to increase employee engagement and retention?


Three Ways Recruitment Agencies Support In-House HR Teams

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


At Artisan Creative we believe in creating relationships based on trust. Our role is simple:

  • Support and complement internal HR and recruitment teams
  • Find the most qualified candidates in the shortest amount of time
  • Act as an extension of your team

This is how we partner:

Experience

Our 20+ years in the creative & digital marketplace has built deep relationships across the industry. Connectedness and enduring working relationships set our search protocols apart.

We have dedicated recruiters assigned to a specific search, and leverage our connections for referrals. We review hundreds of resumes and portfolios to select the best for you. By implementing targeted search plans, we save internal teams hours upon hours of reviewing profiles that may not be right.

We’ll take care of screening & qualifications. We’ll ask the tough interview questions, check references and conduct background checks -- giving you the bandwidth to manage the most valuable resource on your team: the human resource.

Focus

We know how to efficiently handle multiple requisitions across multiple teams and skill sets. The strength we add is our laser-sharp focus on one thing—finding the best candidate for the best company.

Cost

Initially this may seem counter-intuitive, however there is a bigger cost for missing a deadline, losing a client, or a potential burnout of your existing team. The strength we bring to our clients’ internal hiring teams is to find qualified, vetted candidates --whether it's for a quick freelance assignment or a full time hire. We recognize human capital is the most valuable resource of any company.

We’d love to find out more about your needs and share our screening process in detail.

Have the a. team build your dream team! Let’s connect.

The Competitor in Us All

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Olympics bring out the best in everyone— from pride, to perseverance to passion for the competition.   Those stories about athletes who overcome personal and professional obstacles to make it to the games inspire many.

Time and time again, as these athletes compete, win or lose, they get back in the game, proving that a defeat is just that—a momentary loss.  Of course, it’s painful to lose, however, the one constant is getting up, dusting off and trying again.

We are all competitors—whether we recognize this or not.  We pitch to the same clients, we apply to the same job boards, we compete for the same RFPs, and we look for the same talent skill set.

How can we best adhere to the same competitive principals, as we tackle goals and challenges that arise in our daily lives or work? 

Here are 5 lessons we’ve learned from the Olympics:

  1.   Even though you compete in the same arena & in the same game, the mindset you bring is yours and only yours.
  2. You enter the track with many other competitors— the preparation you do beforehand is yours and yours alone.
  3. You may experience a defeat, or miss a target by .003 seconds— your reaction, acceptance and perseverance to come back the next time is your decision.
  4. You may fall down — the decision to get up is yours
  5. You may work long hours to pursue your goals, train hard, have a coach, have an accountability partner— how you apply the lessons learned and improve your game is up to you.

 What do you do to stay in the game and create a winning mindset?

How to Create a Strong Workplace Culture

Wednesday, May 25, 2016
company-culture

Although managing a team might come naturally to some, retaining a team is another story. Building employee retention in a creative environment is key to keeping a strong creative team together. Happy and engaged employees are motivated, productive and have a positive impact on company culture. Below are some best practices to foster a good workplace culture for creatives:

Cultivate shared values and a strong mission. Hire and work with people who demonstrate your shared company values. Doing so helps support your company culture and gives employees a stronger sense of investment in their jobs. This is especially true for the millennial workforce, who want to know their work makes a difference. Have a purpose that’s bigger than the company, and be mindful of seeking to do good when you can.

Allow for employee empowerment. Micromanaging doesn’t help solve problems. Give your team the autonomy to resolve issues and express themselves. Consider an open-door policy so everyone’s ideas feel respected, and each team member can impact the company in a positive way. Besides, you never know when the next big idea could come to someone!

Give -- and ask -- for feedback. Yearly reviews are fine, but weekly, monthly, or quarterly check-ins can help prevent your creative team from feeling disconnected. A regular check-in can help smooth over any miscommunication, improve workflow procedures and create overall engagement. In addition to giving feedback, ask for some of your own. It’s a commitment to honesty and transparency that’ll open up communication between you and your team.

Engage with each other. If you’re quickly growing or offer the opportunity to work remotely, it’s essential that your team interact via Skype, GChat, Slack, or some other form of daily or weekly communication. Not only does this strengthen connections, it also helps everyone contribute to the overall mission. Team collaboration and engagement is key to creating a positive, open work environment.

Embrace your team’s passions. Encourage team-building opportunities. For instance, have an “art sale” for your graphic designers and let them share their work with the rest of the company, or start committees that bolster community and show off skills, like a baking club, community service opportunities, employee-led fitness classes, or a meditation group.

Celebrate successes. If your team wins, celebrate! Everyone wants to feel a sense of accomplishment when they achieve goals. Recognition, and an opportunity to celebrate a colleague is key to building a strong team.

Perks are great, but there is more to creating a happy work environment. Listen to your team, nurture their passions, and support the company culture to keep creatives on board for years to come!

Looking for great creative talent? Talk to us and we can help!

How to Build a Creative Team

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

What’s the secret to building a great creative team? It’s a combination of professional skills, creativity, diverse personalities, strong communication skills, collaboration, and a good leader.

When bringing together a creative team, start by with expertise and core competency. You’ll want a team that has:

  • A big picture strategic thinker who asks “why” questions and looks beyond the short term

  • A tactical person who can execute the “why” into a “here’s how” plan, complete with deadlines, resources, and budget requirements

  • A person who can communicate the message and connect your big idea to your audience

  • A person to keep everyone else accountable, and keep the project on track

  • A copywriter or content manager, who can distill ideas into their essence and put it into impactful words for your audience

  • Someone who to present your ideas visually through compelling design and imagery

  • A leader who can manage and motivate the team to accomplish the company’s long-term goals

These additional questions are key to building a successfully aligned and productive creative team:

  • Does your team have the technical skills and expertise?

  • Do you have the flexibility to staff up or down?

  • Is your team productive and efficient?

  • Are they passionate and creative?

  • Are targeted deadlines and goals clearly defined?

  • Is team leadership clearly communicating objectives to inspire greatness?

If you’re looking to build to add to your creative team on a short-term or long term basis, Artisan Creative is here.  Let us know how we can help.

How to Let Go of Fear

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


 

Why does it become hard to let go of some things? 

From the "Don't do that!", to "Watch out!" and the "No"s, that were fed to us on a daily basis as children; to what is pushed at us via numerous information outlets, fear often becomes deeply ingrained within our survival instinct. An instinct that is always on to save us from ourselves, is what makes it hard to let go.

Over the years we tend to hold on to a collection of "fears" that accumulate over our lifetime. It's only when we let go of these "fears", that we move forward and actually do the things we enjoy the most out of life. So the choice comes down to holding on to what's keeping us back, or finding the courage to get uncomfortable and let go. 

I recently had lunch with a cousin who'd just gone skydiving, even though she was afraid of heights. Once they were at 12,000 feet,  she wasn't going to go down without a fight, as she defiantly stood her ground. Finally, her instructor took control and out they went. As she screamed (first in fear and then in joy) all the way down, she realized that she has lost her fear of heights and with a big smile across her face they glided down with tranquility, their chute spread wide open.  

Since I often drive down to see her, and now that she was fearless, I asked when she would next come up to see me and she answered: "We'll I'm a little bit afraid of driving around on your LA freeways!"  

How do you let go of what's holding you back?

Jamie is the founder of Life Work Integration, a process that integrates passion with purpose and vision. You can reach him at jamie@lifeworkintegration.com & via Twitter @jdouraghy


When Bad Habits Creep Back In

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

bad-habits

How many times have you started a new project or committed to an important change in your life, only to fall back on things you were going to "stop doing", overwhelming those good habits you were developing?

Our brains are sometimes just like that garage above. We simultaneously store a lot of valuable information and junk that we will someday want to use. When we feel stuck, or have too much on our minds, we commit to clearing that garage out. And we've all been to many a garage sale in our lives!

To change any habit it takes a minimum of 90 days. At the 45-day mark, we are halfway to where the opportunity for real change is just starting to take hold. At the same time, this is when many of us feel that transition is just not going to happen, so we slowly let our old road/mental blocks creep back in again.

Here are a few things to work on to become aware of what I call " the slide back 45".

Keep a brief journal. Then take a look back to see where you’ve come from, what progress you’ve made, and look forward to where your commitments still lie.

When the slide back starts to take over, recognize it and squash it!

If need be, go back to the basics and start over.

Some basics:

Decide on what you’re going to stop doing before you start doing anything new.

Find an accountability partner other than yourself.

Develop a flexible blueprint, then commit to a plan and live by it.

Take small steps first, then build momentum.

Be patient with yourself.

Know that you have to want to do this, even more than you need to do it.

Celebrate your successes along the way. Use these moments to raise the platform for your next move, one that will be up and away from where you used to be.

Keep in mind that on average it takes about 90 days for good habits to take hold, (after all, you’ve spent several years building up the bad habits in the first place!)

 What pointers to stop bad habits from creeping back in can you share?

 Jamie is the founder of Life Work Integration, a process that integrates passion with purpose and vision. You can reach him at jamie@lifeworkintegration.com & via Twitter @jdouraghy


Knowing Where You're Going

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

 

On a trip to Washington DC, I noticed this group of sailors walking up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with a sense of purpose. I could see this with the pace they were walking at and they way they were speaking to one another. Clearly their destination had lot to do with it, as did their proximity to their goal for the morning. 

Once inside, what had started as animated conversations quickly turned to hushed voices, combined with thoughtful reflection. Their short journey up the stairs was complete and they could now fully take in and appreciate the moment in front of them.

 

 A few thoughts on the importance of knowing your way every day:

     Know your purpose, you'll know what direction to head in and WHY
    When you know your WHY, you'll know your WAY
    A plan will put you on the right path
    You'll spend less time waiting and more time doing

As the baseball sage Yogi Berra once said:

"If you don't know where  you're going, you'll end up somewhere else!"

Do you know where you are going  and how you're going to get there?

 Jamie Douraghy - Artisan Founder


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