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 a 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?

 

 


Visual Goal Setting

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


Artisan Creative is celebrating 20 years in staffing and recruitment and over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 405th issue of our weekly a.blog.

As part of our annual goal setting, each member of the Artisan Creative a.team creates a vision board and presents it at our first meeting of the new year. Our boards are a collection of short and long term goals that include both personal and professional aspirations.

Presenting it to the team develops accountability and enables the group to learn more about each team member’s ambitions, hopes and dreams. Some people set a theme for their board/year—others use inspirational quotes. What they all have in common is the shared use of imagery that inspires, tells a story and conveys a message to create a powerful visualization tool.

In addition to sharing our visions and goals with the group at the onset of our new year, we review our boards mid-year, and also share a recap at our year-end meeting. This sense of accountability and the revisiting of our goals helps keep us on track. This activity in one of our strongest team-building exercises, as it stays “evergreen”.

Here are 5 tips to create your great vision board and get 2017 off to a good start!

  1. Select words and images that inspire and are true to your core values.
  2. Create positivity and inspiration. Have fun…imagine the integrated life/work you want to build out.
  3. Create an integrated board where elements from both your personal and professional aspirations are represented.
  4. Keep the board where you can re-visit it daily—read the inspirational messages out loud— and often!
  5. Share your hopes and dreams with others. Having an accountability partner will help you get closer to achieving your goals.

Tools needed:

  • A large poster board to give you plenty of space to visualize your year, yet small enough to hang on your wall. We use the 22 x28 size available from Staples.
  • A good pair of scissors and a strong glue stick!Make sure you invest in good glue so the pictures stay on all year long.
  • Variety of magazines to look through to find those inspiring words and pictures. 
  • (Optional) Markers/stickers to write or embellish your board.
  • Patience and Creativity!

Although electronic versions such as Pinterest also work, going old-school where you physically search for and cut out imagery and words from a magazine and decide where to place them is in itself an opportunity to reflect and plan via a very tangible exercise.

What is your goal setting process?

Happy New Year!



Our Favorite Apps of 2016

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

 


Artisan Creative is celebrating 20 years in staffing and recruitment and over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 404th issue of our weekly a.blog.

Our constant use of apps has greatly impacted how we complete tasks, stay in touch with our network and run our business. The variety of iOS and Android apps available and our reliance upon them increases exponentially year over year. For 2017, the number of smartphone users in the United States is estimated to reach 222.9 million, with the number of worldwide users forecasted to exceed a staggering 2 billion users.

Smartphones graduated from being a tool for texting and calling, to serve as an access point for managing a wide array of crucial life and work events, from job applications to house hunting, banking and healthcare.

At Artisan Creative, staying connected with our a.team and to the outside world is vital to our day to day interactions. With this in mind, we thought it would be interesting to share the apps our team felt they couldn’t live without. We’ve included everything from meditation, time management and those all-important delivery services.

Headspace

An app that makes “meditation made simple.” Headspace is your personal brain trainer that allows you to take a time out anytime, anyplace and anywhere. They already have 5 million users and you can tailor your meditation to fit with your lifestyle and schedule. It’s surprising how much calmer you feel after a 10-minute time out.

Be Focused


The Pomodoro Technique used in this app is a simple time management process that tells you to take a 5-minute break every 25 minutes. After you’ve worked four consecutive pomodoros, you’re rewarded with a longer break. Frequent breaks coupled with periods of focused attention on tasks enable you to do more and work smarter.

1Password

Protecting your identity online is every internet user’s concern. 1Password consolidates all your passwords and keeps them safe with strong encryption. It also creates difficult passwords for every site that requires a login. It integrates with desktop and mobile, meaning you never need to remember or worry about your passwords and personal information again.

Wunderlist

A cloud-based and collaborative task management app that allows you to edit, share and collaborate on your to-do list. It also sends you notifications which is handy if you are forgetful.

Slack


Slack is our go-to team communication tool. We use the desktop version every day and as we’re often running to meetings, the mobile version means we can be communicative with the team while we’re on the go.

Venmo


Owned by PayPal, Venmo is the easy way to send money to friends and family. We wouldn’t recommend sending large sums of money through the app, however, it’s a quick and painless way to split lunches, cab fares or send birthday money.

Postmates

Choosing our favorite delivery app was a tough decision for the team. Postmates comes out on top thanks to its ability to choose whether you have groceries, takeout or personal items delivered to your door in less than an hour. A new level of laziness or absolute convenience? Try it out and let us know.

Do you use any of the apps that made our list or do you have any you’d recommend to our team? Let us know in the comments below.

 



Play to Your Strengths

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

We hope you enjoy the 401st issue of our weekly a.blog.

In our 20 years of running a successful creative staffing agency, we’ve met some companies who spend a lot of time and money focusing on an employee’s weakness and helping them overcome those weaknesses through ongoing training.

At Artisan Creative, we decided to focus on our team’s strengths instead. We believe the best way to keep team members engaged and productive is to develop and invest in their individual strengths. By consistently playing to everyone’s natural talents, our team has become better at collaborating and communicating with our clients and talent.

This year we selected StrengthsFinder to create a common platform to build and communicate from. Each team member first took the on-line test and with the help of a certified coach, we reviewed the finer details during an in-person session to help find and align the collective strengths of the team.

This created an open line of communication within our A. Team and has enabled us to better understand ourselves, our behaviors and reactions to situations.

Here are a few pointers from StrengthsFinder that we now use on an ongoing basis:

1. Know your own strengths.

To best develop other people’s strengths, we must first understand our own. Only then can we help our team develop theirs. This applies equally to the candidates we screen and help throughout their careers.

We each have our own unique strengths and no two people are identical — and everyone is at their best when there is a focus on a strengths-based approach to working.

This practice fosters an environment where people feel comfortable discussing their strengths authentically. It also helps recognize team communication, natural strengths and how to maximize those strengths.

2. Understanding one's own strengths gradually leads to effective use of those strengths in the workplace. 

We can help our team understand and utilize their strengths in internal communications with other members and external communication with vendors, talent and clients.

By building on one another's strengths and accepting and accommodating differences, teams gain a keen awareness of how their strengths support their peers.

3. Help people who aren't using their strengths.

When people don't apply their strengths to a task or revert to focusing on their weaknesses instead, we can redirect attention to what they do best naturally to create their best pathway for success.

4. Harmonize team strengths.

Any team can be positioned for success when team members understand and leverage one another's strengths. We can further optimize groups by bringing together teams with complementary strengths to balance and improve performance.

5. Keep strengths top of mind.

At Artisan, we review and recap instances where a strength was beneficial in a given situation: For example, how did someone’s strategic talent provide input for a new marketing initiative, or how another team member’s “developer” talent helped one of our talent in their career path.

Understanding one another’s natural strength has enabled us to stay connected, communicative and collaborative.

What strengths do you focus on?

 


Reasons for Being Grateful

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20 years in staffing and recruitment and over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you.

 

This is the time of the year to reflect on the past year and look forward to new opportunities and adventures ahead.

As Shawn Achor states in his popular Ted Talk and best-selling book “The Happiness Advantage” one of the ways to create happiness and positive mental change is to express gratitude on a daily basis.

Here at Artisan Creative, we are grateful for so many things and wanted to share a few with you.

We are:

  • Grateful to celebrate 20 years of creative staffing & recruitment.
  • Grateful for the incredible, dynamic a.team. Always giving, always striving to be at their best.
  • Grateful for our amazing talent who continuously push the creative envelope.
  • Grateful for our long lasting client relationships and for the opportunity to help grow their teams.
  • Grateful for our furry 4-legged friends who keep us company at work.
  • Grateful for the opportunity to write the 400th issue of our weekly a.blog today.

Below are additional gratitudes from our a. team:

Laura
  • Grateful for my family and their health, support and love.
  • Grateful to work for a company I love.
  • Grateful that I get to spend every day with my husband.

Stephanie

Grateful that I live in Los Angeles. I'm grateful for my health, home, and to have worked with a great company for 10 years.

Margaret

Thankful for my family and friends, my wonderful husband and my "a" recruiting team who comes ready to work every day and is so dedicated.

Jen

  • Grateful for a supportive and passionate team that pushes me to my full potential every day.
  • Grateful for the ability to work from home.
  • Grateful for my husband who caters to my every pregnancy craving and mood swing.

Regina

I'm so grateful for my job! I am so happy every day.

Ana

I am grateful for my family that supports each other through thick and thin, for my long time friends that are like extended family, for my employers that provide an environment to live a balanced life and for my excellent health!

Cammy
  • I am thankful for the privilege of becoming a new aunt to my amazing nephew.
  • Also my family, everyone's health, and good food!

Jamie

  • Working with a dynamic and committed team on a daily basis for over 20 years.
  • The opportunity to learn something new every day.
  • Simplicity in life and communication.

Katty

  • Grateful for the amazing a. team.
  • Grateful for family, friends, health and love.
  • Grateful to learn and grow every day.

What are you thankful for this holiday season?

 

 




Creating and Nurturing Company Culture

Wednesday, November 09, 2016


 

At Artisan Creative, we believe in creating long lasting relationships—with our talent, with our clients and most definitely with our team.

Engaging in an integrated life-work philosophy and staying true to our core values has always been how we conduct business and have maintained our culture here at Artisan. We believe this is one of the reasons for our success over our past 20 years in this business.

We also believe that culture must be nurtured, cultivated and cared for.

As our California-based company has been virtual for over 7 years, we’ve learned to do things a little differently that allow us to continue to build a strong culture for our team members who all work remotely.

Many of our client companies have offices in multiple locations, and the tips we employ with our virtual staff can easily be applied to teams in remote locations as well as virtual teams.

Below are 5 tips for creating and nurturing company culture in a virtual work environment.

 

  1. Befriend Technology! Use Slack, Yammer or any other team communication or collaboration tool to stay connected. We hold scheduled daily Zoom video huddles to brainstorm and share ideas, and use Slack to review assignments and execute our search plans. A good CRM system keeps track of communications, meetings, appointments and client and talent information.

  2. Communicate metrics and expectations clearly— review them daily/weekly. Communicate the vital short-term goals.

  3. Create a transparent environment so people understand their value and contribution.

  4. Come together often. We have in-person team meetings once a month, and team members meet up for talent interviews and client site visits throughout the month.

  5. Meet socially! We have team activities ranging from potlucks, paint nights, bowling and dinners out. We include spouses and partners in the social outings.

Please share any best practices for growing culture within your team.

 


Body Language - What Does It Say?

Wednesday, November 02, 2016


The expression “actions speak louder than words” is often true when it comes to interviewing. Body language expert Amy Cuddy states in her TedTalk “our bodies change our minds, and our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes.” So what does this mean when you’re going for that all-important job interview?

Interviewees must walk a fine line during job interviews. How do you convey confidence, without gloating; friendly but not overbearing; talented but not arrogant?

What are you revealing with your body language and how can you make sure your messaging is what you want it to be? Using a few simple tricks and tips can impact the outcome of your interview and help forge relationships.

Direct “face” contact: We’re often told that direct eye contact is key to building relationships and showing that you’re actively engaged. Research shows that this is not accurate. Our eyes instinctively wander around a face, jumping between a person’s eyes and mouth. Do what comes naturally to you and don’t get hung up about staring at your interviewer.

Be expressive: Sitting on your hands or staying too still can be a sign of nervousness or insecurity. Use your hands and arms to express yourself. Showing your palms can be interpreted as a sign of engagement and honesty, too. However, watch the over-gesturing.

Good posture: There are few things more unnerving than interviewing someone with bad posture (see also: limp handshakes). Sit upright in your chair, but make sure you’re comfortable and not too rigid. Lean in every now and then to show that you are engaged, but remember to be mindful of your interviewer’s personal space.

Mirroring: You may be familiar with mirroring and how it shows that someone is subconsciously interested in you if they begin mirroring your body language. This works in reverse, too. Mirroring your interviewer can help create a sense of ease and maintain rapport.

You and your interviewer are relaying more information to one another non-verbally than verbally. If you are paying attention, you can understand the information being shared and influence the information in your responses.

Do you have an upcoming interview? Check out our interview advice on the Artisan Creative website.

One-Two-One Onboarding

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Best Practices for onboarding new hires and making them feel welcome

20 Things to do at Your Next Job Fair

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

 

 

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20 years of recruiting and being part of the Los Angeles creative community this year. In this time we have learned a thing or two that we’d like to share with you in the first blog of our 20/20 series.  20 blogs celebrating 20 years of creative recruiting!  Enjoy.


Do you find job fairs are a whirlwind of elevator pitches and business cards? You’ve given your pitch to an employer, now what? We’ve put together a checklist to guide you and ensure you get the best out of the day.


This Saturday, Artisan Creative will be joining TechJobsLA for a job fair aimed at creatives and developers. We have sponsored and participated in this event for the past several years and look forward to seeing you there.


411 on TechJobsLA


TechJobsLA is a specialized job fair aimed at designers and developers including a series of incredible workshops and speakers.  This year Artisan Creative’s founder, Jamie Douraghy will be holding a workshop on Discovering your Why.  We all know what we do, and how we do it...do we know why we do what we do?  Come join us.


TechJobsLA is an opportunity to meet recruiters, hiring managers, startups and companies as well as a chance to network and learn new skills. This year’s event will have a dedicated digital entertainment panel. They’ll be discussing trends and answering questions. Artisan Creative founder, Jamie Douraghy will be holding a Discover Your Why Workshop.


Here are 20 tips to prepare for this and any future job fair:


BEFORE:

  1. Modify your resume so you have tailored versions to suit specific industries and companies.

  2. Print out your resume. Make a lot of copies, and we mean a lot! Keep them in a folder.

  3. Make a one-sheet of your best projects to go with your resume.

  4. Research beforehand to see what companies will be there.

  5. Dress well. Dress as if you’re going for an interview. We’re in the creative industry -- suited and booted isn’t always necessary, but do dress well.

  6. Be early.  Get there early so you can mingle before the crowds come in

  7. Volunteer.  Where possible volunteer to help out during the day.  You’ll get a first chance to meet the exhibitors, have one one one conversations, and make an impression.


DURING:

  1. Skill match. Each booth has a focus. If a booth doesn’t match your skills thank them and move onto the next one.

  2. Open jobs. At each table, ask about their open jobs and see if there’s anything that’s a match for you. This is a perfect opportunity for face-to-face time with hiring managers and recruiters.

  3. Collect business cards to keep track of who you have met. If you work in design, make sure your card is unique. At the last TechJobsLA, Artisan Creative received a scratch and sniff card! Loved it! How’s that for making an impression?

  4. Have your elevator pitch! Don’t be vague when you’re asked: “What is it that you do?” Give a concise and clear answer e.g. “I’m a visual designer specializing in entertainment and technology. I’ve worked with XYZ and now I’m looking for a senior position.” It’s much more valuable to both you and the employer.  

  5. Attend workshops. What you can learn from workshops can be invaluable to your personal and professional development.  

  6. Ask questions of the speakers and companies - it’s an easy way to stand out.

  7. Take a notebook to jot down any job leads and next steps.

  8. Handshakes & Eye contact. Be firm. Make a connection.

  9. Phone usage to be kept to a minimum. Emails and Instagram will have to wait.

  10. Be friendly.   Talk to the other attendees.  You never know where your next job lead can come from.


AFTER:

  1. Follow-up b y emailing a copy of your resume and thanking them for their time.

  2. Jobs Alerts.   Sign up for RSS feeds and job alerts of companies you met.

  3. Reflect on the day and what you did well.


Are you attending this Saturday's TechJobsLA at BLANKSPACES DTLA? Come and have a chat with us at our table.  Please review our open jobs page ahead of time, and follow us on social for tips on interviewing, resumes and job search best practices.   

How to Get The Most Out of Working From a Coffee Shop

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

One of the joys of freelancing or working remotely is not having to work inside a typical office setting. While you may have an office that serves as your home base, working from anywhere means you get to be one of those folks working in a coffee shop in the middle of the afternoon. Being productive and focused in a public setting takes skill, though. We are after all sharing the space with others.


Take these tips with you the next time you set up shop in your favorite brewhouse.


Keep your voice low. If you’ve got a meeting or have to take a call, step outside, or use your headphones to hold the conversation and speak quietly. Long, loud or extended cell phone conversations about a client, the job, money or the deadline aren’t fun for anyone sitting near you--and can be disruptive to those around you.


Be a good guest.  Buying one cup of coffee for several hours of table usage will not make you endearing to the staff. If you’re going to be showing up there more often, get in the good graces of baristas by learning their names and building a connection. If you plan on staying awhile, buy a scone or a snack! And tip generously for their use of Wi-Fi.


Invest in noise-canceling headphones. Coffee shops often play loud music that you may or may not want to hear, especially if you’re trying to concentrate. Noise-canceling headphones will allow you to listen in on meetings or block out noise without the distraction of the coffee shop noise. Plus, what if you’d rather listen to your own music that day?


Share. Is your laptop charged? Let someone else use the outlet. Are you taking up an entire table with your work? Move it over and let someone else sit there. Be respectful of your surroundings and fellow co-workers and karma will pay off.


Focus.  Don’t get distracted trying to strike up a conversation or make friends a few chairs over. Be friendly, however you’re there to get to work! It’s easy to get side tracked every time someone walks in.  Sit with your back to the door or face the wall. You’ll be mad at yourself later if you miss that deadline.


Where is your favorite local hangout and what are your tips for working in a coffee shop?


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