Artisan Blog

How to Network on LinkedIn

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

networking-linkedin

In terms of networking for business, LinkedIn is the clear winner. Whether you want to recruit talent, grow your personal brand, explore interesting content, or find job opportunities for yourself, LinkedIn enables you to build a powerful network of professionals. However, you have to know how to network in order to make the most of it. Here are some tried and true best practices for growing -- and keeping -- your LinkedIn network healthy and happy.

Treat your profile like a snapshot of your professional life. This is your first LinkedIn impression, make it a good one!  Add relevant and current job information. Post an appropriate profile image. Much like your resume, portfolio, or social media accounts, use it to put your best foot forward.

Get people to recommend you! The best people to endorse you are those that have actually worked with you. They’ll be able to speak about your skills and experience in glowing terms and with specificity that can’t be matched by tenuous LinkedIn connections.

Recommend others! Writing valid and relevant recommendations for other people will help you get back in touch with colleagues who you could connect with later. Besides, it’s a nice thing to do! Remember the golden rule!

Ask for connections from people you know. Former colleagues, old friends, and new acquaintances all build towards a great network. However asking for connections from strangers won’t help much. If you don’t know them, explain why they should want to connect with you with a personal message crafted just for them instead of a standard one.

Be part of groups -- but choose carefully. Being part of a LinkedIn group can help you join up with other professionals in your area, or connect with others in your business. Pick groups that are most relevant to your interest, and stay active by posting introspective responses to interesting discussions. Leave the ones that don’t lead anywhere or aren’t fulfilling.

Contribute to more than yourself. Starting a discussion or posting a link should give value to your profile, your groups, and the community at large. You want to relate to and identify with your network. Don’t just use LinkedIn for self promotional purposes.

Relationships, including online ones, take time to develop. If you want to become closer with someone via LinkedIn, then invest time. Setup a professional meetup to talk shop, or find out what common ground you have based on your profiles. What can you offer these connections? How can they reciprocate?

Are you following Artisan Creative on LinkedIn? Get the latest job updates, exclusive content, and more!

Managing Your Inbox to Inbox Zero

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Email is still an extremely useful and essential tool to stay in touch quickly and conveniently. Yet email can also get in the way of being productive. If you’re reading and responding to every message that zooms into your inbox, it can end up wasting a lot of hours in the work day.

Moreover, an inbox that’s filled with old or unimportant messages creates digital clutter that distracts and prevents from maximizing your time. The following “inbox zero” strategies can help “detox” your inbox and restore its health and productivity levels.

  • Set aside specific times to read and respond to email. Don’t leave your email open all day. Turn off incoming messages on your phone. Block out times during the day -- such as late morning, after lunch, and an hour before the work day ends -- to check and respond.

  • Organize your inbox with labels and categories. Prioritize your email into various groups, use filters  and file messages away once they’re read so they’re out of your inbox. If you need to refer to them later, you can always search for them.

  • Unsubscribe. Promotional emails are just clutter! Clean it out by hitting the unsubscribe button.

  • Does this email need action? After you read an email, decide ASAP what to do. Either delete it immediately, delegate it, reply and send, or file it away in one of your inbox categories.

  • Not every email is a task. Only some of your emails actually need an answer or some kind of action taken. Figure out what needs a longer or more thoughtful response, then set time aside to answer later.

  • Use filters. Most email service offers some kind of filter section to help sort incoming mail automatically. Learn how to use yours to block unwanted senders, sort or reject junk mail and spam, and sort real emails into your categories and other folders.

  • Write a telling subject header. In your email, use the subject field to inform your receiver what your email is about. It makes it easier for you and them to organize, archive, and search for later.

  • Delete Spam and Trash folders. Set aside time every few weeks to permanently delete spam/junk or trash messages.

  • Don’t use email as a to-do list. There are plenty of apps, and good old fashioned pen and paper, that can help you create a great to-do list. Email is a communication service. Use it as such!

Establishing a routine for email habits will help you stick to them. Got any other inbox zero suggestions? Tell us on LinkedIn!

5 Ways to Unblock Creative Blocks

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

For creative professionals, creative blocks are not just a moment of unproductivity. They can be frustrating, maddening stretches of time, potentially affecting deadlines and deliverables.  As a creative you can’t afford to run out of ideas!  It can happen to anyone!  However, not all hope is lost. Here are five ways to help jumpstart your creativity again:

  1. Stick to a routine. If your schedule has been off recently, it might be keeping your brain too busy to let creative thoughts flow naturally. Commit to at least one routine thing, such as waking up at the same time every morning, meditating for 15 minutes a day, or cleaning up your work space.  A cluttered desk can lead to a cluttered mind.  You’ll be surprised what great idea might pop into your brain when you’re concentrating on mundane, uncreative tasks instead.

  2. Go for a walk. Sometimes the best thing you can do is walk away -- literally. Take a walk around the building, in the park, by the beach, or wherever you like. Don’t think too hard about anything when you do. Put headphones on and listen to your favorite music or some podcasts. Let whatever thoughts you want enter your head without judgment. And if you can’t get outside, just step away from your desk and give yourself a break.

  3. Stay motivated. Inspiration comes from all kinds of sources. Look beyond your own work and colleagues into other creative work. Listen to new bands or rediscover old ones. Study fashion, photography, art pieces, and film. Go beyond your comfort zone and seek out completely new artistry.  Look at illustrations, design, branding, packaging, typography and more from a variety of industries. Let nature inspire you. What strikes you as interesting? What gives you that “eureka!” moment?

  4. Keep a swipe file. Austin Kleon talks about having a “swipe” file at the ready so you can “steal” ideas, or jot down new ones. It doesn’t matter if it’s a physical notebook or a digital one, so long as it’s something you can access easily and carry all your ideas in one place. Designers and illustrators might want to consider carrying a sketchbook so they can sketch out ideas instead of just making a note of them.

  5. Explore all options. You may be looking at a problem from a familiar perspective. Don’t make assumptions or let your inner critic stop you from coming up with another approach. Look at the issue from every angle. Train yourself not to run away from ideas that may not seem to fit right away. Instead, see if there’s a way to turn it into something. It’s not about getting a square peg into a round hole -- it’s about shifting your concept of pegs and holes altogether.

How do you get past creative blocks? Connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter, and share how you overcome blocks to find the best solutions to your creative needs.

4 Ways to Turn a Challenging Day Into a Good One!

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Having “one of those days” where everything is feeling out of control, is really about how quickly you can recover. You can write the day off, or you can turn things around with a new game plan. It’s mostly about managing your attitude.

  1. Take a break. Sometimes things only seem bad, and a moment away from the center of chaos (also known as your desk) can help you see everything clearly. If you freelance, extend your lunch break by a bit longer to give yourself some well-deserved “me” time. Or, if you’re in the office, take an extra moment out of your day to take a quick walk to clear your head.

  2. Get ideas out of your head and on to paper. Create a to-do list and set realistic goals for accomplishment. Stress can make a challenging day worse. Identify what you can do quickly and take control of your day. For example, “I have to respond to this email by lunch,” or, “I need to come up with three more ideas in the next hour”. This motivation will help you see past the bad day blues and get your mind back to work.

  3. Ask for help. When you are in a challenging situation set time limits for your tasks, delegate where possible, and prioritize. Ask your boss or your co-workers for a helping hand. Collaborating and working together, gets more done!

  4. Eat! Make sure you have good nourishment. Feeding your mind and body is essential to how you deal with difficult situations. Avoid sugar!

Some days are more challenging than others, with events seemingly beyond our control. However our attitude is entirely in our own control. How we deal with a stressful situation, handle ourselves and treat those around us, is our responsibility. Find a way to get a quick attitude adjustment when it’s needed.

We’d love to hear any tips you can share on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook!

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.

Tax Tips for Freelancers in 2016

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Did you know 38% percent of millennials freelance? That means twenty and thirty-somethings who work differently from their parents, also need to do their taxes in a very different way from their folks.

While freelancing offers flexible work hours, creative opportunities, and a level of independence, it also means having to become your own HR department. Although tax season is several months away, freelancers can start preparing now by organizing expenses, 1099s, and more. Check out these tips and tools to make your 2016 tax season a breeze:

Determine what kind of return you need to file. Are you a freelance business as an LLC, or are you an independent contractor? Or did you work as a W2 with staffing agencies like Artisan Creative? Make sure you find the correct forms to file based on your business, as well as corresponding state and local forms.

$600 or more means you need a 1099. If you earn $600 or more from any one client, you need to report that income on your tax return using a 1099-MISC form. So if a client has yet to send you these forms by February 2, contact them and request one.

You need to pay both income tax and self-employment tax. While this may come as a surprise to freelancers, you are essentially taxed twice -- once as yourself, and once as a 1099 contractor. However, half of your self-employment tax is deductible as a business expense. If you haven’t set aside enough money to cover the cost of your taxes, start saving immediately so you can pay off at least some of your owed taxes. And if you determine you need to make estimated tax payments, make quarterly estimated tax payments on estimated income tax, including estimated self-employment tax.

Research tax breaks. The IRS offers a substantial number of tax breaks, which give freelancers a wonderful chance to get some additional deductions they’ve spent on their business. Deductions change from year to year, so look up common ways to determine your deductible expenses. For example, if you work from home, you can deduct the cost of your Internet bill, as it’s used while you work. Freelancers Union helps sort through this in its in-depth tax blog.

Set reminders. Do not wait until the week before April 15 to file your taxes unless you love stressing yourself out! Use calendars -- from Google to iCal to the Sunrise app and more, there are plenty of online choices to keep track. Set aside enough time to complete a set of tasks, like determining deductions or adding up your total income or expenses from 2015. Filing taxes is a pain, but it’s an even bigger pain to do it under a tight deadline.

Organize receipts and expenses. To help maximize tax deductions and keep the IRS happy, it’s best to stay organized and keep updated records of receipts, expenses, and payments. Have all these things stored and easily accessible to reduce the stress of filing. For instance, if you’re creating a digital archive, Shoeboxed is a great app for storing, processing, and organizing pictures of receipts on your phone.

Get help from a seasoned tax professional. Because tax deductions change so often, it may be best to hire a CPA to help so you can take advantage and save money. NerdWallet is an excellent educational blog to help you make smarter financial decisions, and can tell you which tax breaks you’re qualified for.  Just make sure if you hire a CPA, they are accredited and come recommended. The last thing you want is someone who’s untrustworthy handling your tax information!

Set yourself up for next year’s success. If you find that this year’s filing has been stressful, help take out some of the work for 2017 by setting yourself up to function more as an independent contractor next year. Create a separate bank account for your business to funnel payments through that account as well as pay any business expenses like insurance and tech maintenance through that account. Then use your organization system to keep track of receipts and such, as well as how much you think you’ll need to set aside to pay next year’s taxes.

With these tax tips, your freelance tax season will be the most time-saving -- and money-saving -- one you’ve had yet!

Are You Overqualified for That Job?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Have you ever been told you were told you were “overqualified” for a job?

Overqualified?! What does that mean? Can someone really have too much experience? Surely that must be a positive thing, right?

When a job seeker is considered overqualified, it means there is not a right match between the available position and that person’s experience level. For example…

  • The candidate may have more experienced than the supervisor
  • The candidate’s experience may be intimidating to others on the team
  • The candidate’s years of experience may warrant a higher salary than the company is able to pay
  • The candidate may not be challenged by the job in the long run
  • The candidate may get bored and leave the role (this is a big reason why hiring managers are cautious of hiring someone with more experience than the role warrants)

However, you’ve worked hard to gain valuable experience you can apply in a myriad of roles. Your skills are likely transferable from one industry to another, especially in the creative industry, so if you are going to accept a role more junior than your skill level, be honest with yourself as to why you want this position.

And if you are truly interested in a specific role, even if you are more experienced than the job description indicates, then you can highlight your experience so it is an asset:

  • Update your resume to highlight relevant experience specific to this role
  • Write a cover letter that expresses why you’re genuinely interested and excited for the role, even if it seems like your career is further along than the position would require.  For example, if this allows you to learn a new industry, or learn a new skill
  • Highlight how your experience can be an asset and help the team or manager

Keep in mind that your resume and cover letter are just tools to help you stand out among a sea of candidates also applying for the same position. Once you are granted an interview, the real work begins.

Looking for work? Make sure to follow us on social media and check out our open job listings for freelance and full time roles in a variety of industries!

10 Best Practices for Your Resume

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

We’ve talked at length about the things to include on your resume. However there are  just as many things to avoid if you want to land an interview. Given that you’ve a mere few  seconds to impress a hiring manager, your resume needs to stand out! Here are 10 things to eliminate from on your resume in order to highlight your work experience, skills, education, and achievements to be distinctive:

1. Objectives. These descriptions at the top of a resume not only feel antiquated, but they don’t add anything to your resume. Moreover, they focus on what want rather than what you can offer to the company. If you feel this job is the best next step for your career, talk about it in your cover letter.

2. Photos. Unless you’re auditioning for a TV pilot or modeling gig, don’t include your photos.  Chances are your online portfolio, website, or LinkedIn profile already includes your photo.

3. Subjective traits. You may feel you possess amazing leadership skills or are an innovative thinker in design, however employers ignore these subjective traits because they can’t be measured. Instead, focus on objective facts and metrics If you really are an amazing leader, include how many team members you’ve managed, or include a quick example in your cover letter explaining how you’ve led your team to success, or achieved ROI in a campaign.

4. More than one page. We’ve debated this, but the short answer is--either in OK.  It all depends on your work experience, whether you have been freelancing at multiple places or been at the same company for several years.  The key is to include relevant, accurate and current information.

5. Salary history. This is a major faux paus, as well as a bad idea, as it compromises your ability to negotiate for a higher salary later! Leave it off so you can have some negotiating power later.

6. Short-term jobs. You don’t want to come across as job-hopping, so make sure to emphasize freelance or contract in the job title.

7. Leave out overused words. Here’s just a sampling of words that are redundant and don’t give employers concrete information: capable, skillful, effective, hardworking, innovative, and motivated are all qualities they hope you already have without you having to say so. Instead, search for synonyms that more closely fit your personality. For instance, as an “effective” employee you “engage in creative tasks”.

8. “References Available Upon Request”. If an employer wants references, they will ask. Save precious resume space for other accomplishments rather than including this sentence at the bottom.

9. Education. If you’re just out of high school and applying to your first jobs, it makes sense to include the information. Otherwise, focus on college and graduate information as well as degrees earned.

10. Misspellings, grammar issues, and typos. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again -- proofread, proofread, proofread! Nothing can make the resume  less professional than resume errors.  

A resume is a snapshot of your work experience -- not only should it be well written, it should highlight the best possible version of your experience and how you will be contributing to a new team. Take out irrelevant information, and polish up your resume so represents your experience in the best light possible.

How to Take Time Off from Freelancing Over the Holidays

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Maintaining your freelance work during the holidays can be really stressful. Along with holiday shopping, travel, social events, volunteering, and so on, you have to juggle multiple clients and projects that may very well be likely wrapping up by the end of the year.

The challenge and beauty of freelancing is that it is unpredictable. It may be hard to predict when the next assignment will take place, so how can you enjoy the holidays without worrying about the bottom line?

Schedule moments of free time: Carve out specific calendar time for yourself, family, and friends throughout the holiday. You’ll feel less guilty about taking off an evening for a party or running errands if it’s been scheduled as time off already.

Post date all your work: Schedule social media, blogs, and emails in advance. Use tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, and Boomerang to take care of emails to clients or tweets for the company in advance.

Take advantage of free time: If work slows down on its own, consider it a gift of time to spend with your loved ones. Even if your cards are mailed and your cookies are baked, you can still enjoy other festivities or just take some time for yourself!

Work on next year’s work: Chances are your clients are out for the holidays as well, so use the quiet time to do things such as updating your portfolio, sprucing up your website, or working on personal projects. You’ll get a head start on your New Year’s resolutions without worrying about taking time away from work!

Plan for another time: It might be too late to take time off this year, but you can make a plan to take a vacation during the winter, spring, or next holiday. Figure out your expenses to cover the costs of your travel or time off, and then put a plan in action to make it happen. You deserve a break, even if it’s not during the holidays!

From all of us at Artisan Creative, have a wonderful and merry holiday season!

Tips for Working With Recruiters To Find You a Great Job

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Recruiters are here to support your job search, but it’s like they say in Jerry Maguire: “Help me, help you.” Here are some tips on how to work with recruiters so they can help you find the perfect role:

Recruiters have a good insight into a company’s open roles.  Recruiters are a great source of knowledge about openings in the industry.  They also have specific insight into what a hiring manager is looking for, so if you aren’t considered for a role, it’s because you’re not the best fit according to the hiring company’s needs.

Include an intro letter. A short email introduction highlighting your skills, leadership qualities and why you’re interested in the position is a good way to get yourself noticed. If you have a website or online creative portfolio, include the link.

Apply to local jobs. If a job posting includes the phrase “local candidates only” or something similar, the company needs an employee to start immediately or will not pay for relocation. Look for local jobs or wait to relocate before applying -- otherwise it will be a challenge for a recruiter to convince the hiring company you’re a great candidate.

Find positive spins for unemployment. If you’re currently unemployed, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, it’s always better if you can fill in the gaps.  Use your time to try consulting, working on freelance projects, taking a class, starting a blog, volunteering for a cause or organization you’re passionate about. Alternately, create samples for the types of jobs you want (like copywriting samples or mockups of websites).

Make it easy to find you. Let’s say you’re not the right candidate for a particular job, however you want to have your profile discoverable by future employers. Create a website or creative portfolio, social profile and samples so your recruiter can better promote your skills.

Trust the recruiter. Don’t contact the employer directly -- that’s why they hired a recruiter in the first place! Trust that they’re doing everything they can to put you in that great position. Moreover, recruiters are experienced, so if they advise something like fixes on your resume or an improved online portfolio it’s likely your chances of landing a great gig will increase!

Build a relationship. Even if a recruiter isn’t able to place you immediately or your find an ideal job on your own, maintain the relationship and check in on occasion. You never know when you can use their services again--either as a candidate or as a hiring manager.

Recruiters are invested in your success. As long as you know what you want and how you best fit into a job, then it’ll be easier for a recruiter to assist you. Follow these tips, and you’ll be on your way to a new job!


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