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So far Artisan Creative has created 270 blog entries.

Coffee Shop Etiquette

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014|

Even if you work from a home office, it’s nice to get away on occasion. If you need internet access, a coffee shop with wifi is the logical choice for many freelancers. These establishments expect to have some customers bring their laptops along and stake out a claim, but some people take advantage of the conveniences and think of coffee shops as their personal space.

How can you be a great coffee shop patron while you work?

Buy something–The coffee shop/work relationship shouldn’t be one sided. Spend a little money when you arrive and again later if you stay a while.

Tip the staff–Especially if you are a regular at that corner table. You are taking up space in a restaurant and the barista is your server.

Share power–You’re probably already scoping out the location of the electrical outlets, but make sure you’re not blocking one if you’re not using it and offer it to the people next to you if you’re the one with the best seat.

Go home–Just because you could stay all day doesn’t mean you should. The coffee shop really isn’t your office for an entire workday.

Be polite–Loud phone conversations and poor table manners won’t make you any friends. You’ll probably be seeing those people again next week–don’t make them groan when they see you coming.

I usually work from a local coffee shop one morning a week, just to get a change of scene and a little bustle to keep me motivated. How about you?

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

A Summer Job Search

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014|

A persistent job search myth: No one hires in the summer.

The truth is most companies hire at about the same rate in summer as they do the rest of the year and summer can be the best time to look for a new role. If you spend your time wisely, you still might be able to fit a couple of beach days in.

Why is summer a good time to look for a new job?

Time for onboarding and training–While many companies may have fewer projects to work on in the summer, they can take the time to interview, hire and train new employees without a lot of the stress of deadlines that come around during the rest of the year.

 

Temporary work–While some permanent employees are on vacation, companies can bring in new people on a temporary basis to try them out before hiring. As a potential candidate, you can show them how you work and how you would fit into their culture on the spot.

 

Less competition–Because other job seekers will believe the no-one-hires-in-summer myth, there are fewer candidates with whom to compete.

 

More relaxed–We are well trained to change our mindset in the summer to a calmer, less worried one than in the fall. Being more relaxed–as long as you are still prepared–can only help you in your interview process.

 

Fall is coming–The busier season will soon be upon those potential employers and if they want to have new, trained, skilled workers at their desks in September, they have to start the process in July or August.

 

Summer is when quality time management comes into play in your job search. Don’t spend all day, every day sending out online applications–get some recreation time in, too. But equally don’t give up your job search for the warmer months. Recruiters and hiring managers are looking for talent–help them find you.

Wendy Stackhouse, for Artisan Creative

Your First "Real" Job Interview

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014|

Although you probably have had jobs during your high school and college years, if you are graduating from college in the next few weeks, you may be having your first “real” job interview in the near future. We hope our job search tips for graduates helped you land that interview. Here are our tips for your first time sitting across the desk from a hiring manager in your field:

Do some research–You might think you are done with research after you throw your mortarboard in the air, but all that work at school was preparing you for the research you need to do throughout your career. Look up that company you are interviewing with next week on LinkedIn and read everything on their website. Know their mission and everything you can learn about their culture.

 

Get a great outfit–You might be reading articles about how everyone these days has tattoos and wears jeans to work, but that hiring manager isn’t your friend yet. Dress up more than absolutely necessary and keep your individual style down to an accessory that shows your personality. You will have a better idea of what is acceptable at the company after your interview and may be able to be more casual at your second interview. Bide your time.

 

Practice–Can’t say it too many times! Don’t just think about your answers to typical interview questions, practice them out loud with a trusted friend. You need to know how to keep your answers to a good length, know your stories well enough to keep eye contact while you are talking, and get some feedback. If you have some options for “What is your greatest accomplishment?” or “Tell me about yourself,” a mock interview is the perfect place to give them each a tryout.

Everyone gets nervous before interviews, even those more experienced than you. If you know you are as prepared as possible, you will get into the zone quickly and be able to establish a real connection with the hiring manager and maybe it won’t take you too long to land the perfect first job after graduation.

Wendy Stackhouse, for Artisan Creative

Fun in Freelancing

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014|

There are lots of positives about being a freelance creative, but one that often gets overlooked is the fun of starting something new in a new place more often than people with permanent jobs. If you can look beyond the anxiety inherent in lots of “first days,” you can appreciate the great things about new starts:

Make connections–Like to make new friends and network? Short-term freelance jobs let you meet new people often and show them what you can do. You can never meet too many people, especially in your field.

 

Learn something new–Every project has unique challenges. Embrace them and you can keep learning throughout your career.

 

Explore neighborhoods–When you work in the same place for a long time, you can get comfortable, but you can also get bored. Ask one of your new friends to walk around with you on your lunch breaks for a few days. You never know what you might find.

Discovering a hole-in-the-wall restaurant or park isn’t the only perk to that walk. We came across a study from Stanford University this week that showed that “walking boosts creative inspiration” by as much as 60%.

So, when you start that new freelance gig, don’t be shy about walking around on breaks or at lunch. Ask your co-workers for the best places in the area to eat or read. Find outdoor spaces you’ve never seen before. You might find yourself an expert on parts of your city no one you know has ever seen, and you might also find it makes you more creative and more successful.

Wendy Stackhouse, for Artisan Creative

5 Job Search Tips for Graduates

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014|

Getting graduation announcements in the mail these days? All of those newly-minted diploma holders are about to enter the workforce in droves and the job search environment is still in a tenuous recovery. Here are some of our tips for landing that first job after graduation:

Think long-term: Your short-term goal is to get a job, but don’t neglect to think about where you want to be next year, five or even ten years from now. You can’t make a solid plan, but you can figure out some routes and take your first steps along one or more of them.

 

Get in touch: Now is when you should be connecting with friends you made in classes ahead of yours in college or graduate students who have moved out of academia and adding them to your network, not to mention letting anyone you worked with as an intern during school know that you are ready for the job market.

 

Set up informational interviews: Ask your parents’ friends and colleagues and anyone else you can think of. They really are a way into the hidden job market.

 

Keep learning: Yes, you just finished school, but your education doesn’t end there. Read the latest books in your field, take a class. Whatever you learn now will make a great interview topic.

 

Practice interviewing: Most likely, you’ve never taken a course called Job Interviewing 101. Get together with other recent graduate friends and do some mock interviews, critique each other’s stories and get into the zone. Here are some great questions for practice.

If your job search takes longer than you would like, you’re not alone. Find a non-profit organization you are passionate about and offer your skills as a volunteer. Volunteering keeps you busy, keeps your skills up-to-date, gives you great networking opportunities, provides you with stories to tell about your summer, and may even lead to a paying job.

Congratulations on a great achievement! Now get out there!

Wendy Stackhouse, for Artisan Creative

Freelancing and Sick Days

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014|

Illness comes upon us all on occasion. No matter how we eat or exercise or how many times a day we wash our hands, we get sick. But for freelancers, getting sick has an added bonus: no paid sick days.

Many freelancers will work on days they would take off if they worked in corporate jobs. Missed deadlines and unhappy clients are bad for business. Here are our tips for working when you’re under the weather, without missing part of your paycheck:

Don’t push yourself–Today is not the day to tackle a big project that isn’t urgent, even if you planned to. Your best work may be unattainable and you might end up having to do things over again later. Take it easy, slow and steady.

Let your clients know–If you get to the point where you really have to stop for the day and rest, communicate that. Most people are understanding–they’ve been there, too.

Keep it simple–Make a list of what really needs to be done today and another of what can be done tomorrow. Stick to today’s list.

Put it off–If there is flexibility about when your work gets done, put it off for a couple of days until you feel better. Working on Saturday may not be the most fun, but if it means you can take a nap on Thursday, that might be the best thing.

Do you work through illness or take time off? Let us know in the comments!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Distractions Can Be a Good Thing

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014|

Are you easily distracted? Distractions can work for us–or against us, depending on what we are trying to accomplish and what kind of distractions they are. Here are some pros and cons of distractions and some ways to use them to your advantage:

Your Smartphone:

Notifications interrupt you all day long–Facebook messages, emails from co-workers, texts from your spouse, requests from your manager.

 

Pros: The communications you receive during your work day from team members, colleagues and managers may be interruptions that clarify the project you are working on or improve collaboration. They could also offer valuable suggestions. These interruptions could improve productivity, rather than damage it.

 

Cons: Off-topic notifications can disrupt your work flow for no good reason.

 

Solution: Consider turning off notifications from social media during working hours and let your friends and family know that you will get back to them when you take a break (you are taking breaks, right?). Set up an emergency code with your spouse and children for things that need to be taken care of immediately and let the rest of the personal communications wait a little while.

Email:

 
An email might be urgent to the sender but not to you.

 

Pros: Email is a great timesaver–no need to walk over to your colleague’s office to chat about your project every few minutes, email also keeps a good written record for later evaluation of your process.

 

Cons: All of our Inboxes are filled with emails we will never read or can read after the workday is over. But if we see them, we will click on them.

 

Solution: Spend some serious time creating filters for your Inbox so that you will see the emails that you need to see right away, but only see the less important missives when you have time to choose.

Wandering Thoughts:

 

Can’t help them, but you can stop beating yourself up about them.

 

Pros: Letting your mind wander can lead to creative ideas that might never have occurred to you if you were plugging along, trying to stay on task.

 

Cons: Letting your mind wander for too long can make you miss your deadline.

 

Solution: Schedule break times during your workday. Read 10 pages of a novel. Think about what you want to make for dinner. Give yourself time to let your project marinate in the back of your mind instead of the front. You might come up with something truly innovative on that wandering path.

Welcoming distractions is counter-intuitive. Focus is easier to see as a positive. But if you embrace the distractions that work for you, it might improve your work product–and your productivity!

Wendy Stackhouse, for Artisan Creative

Coming in Second

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014|

Does coming in second feel like failure? It shouldn’t–but sometimes it does. Psychology Today recently wrote about how people react to getting a Silver Medal in the Olympics and I spent last weekend in Nashville, Tennessee with over a hundred teenage performers who ended the weekend as First Runners Up with remarkable nonchalance. There are many people, however, who torment themselves with the “what ifs” and have a hard time with just missing that brass ring.

It happens in job searches and at work, where we can be a hiring manager’s second choice or be second in line for that promotion. Coming in second can feel like failure–so close and yet so far.

What many of us do when we come close to winning is imagine what would have happened if we had done something differently. Psychology Today calls it “counterfactual thinking.” The “what if” scenarios imagined by Third Place winners are generally positive, but those of the Second Place finishers are more negative, even though they were clearly almost at the very top of their field.

Counterfactual thinking can be helpful after a near-miss since it helps us come up with alternative behaviors or better choices we might make next time out. Perhaps it was one of your interview questions or answers that made the difference, or something about your presentation which was was less than stellar.

The trick is to make sure you also think about what definitely worked in your favor. Don’t forget to praise yourself for that story you told exactly the way you wanted to, the research you did about the company that surprised the hiring manager, and the relationships you started building with the people you met. It is all too easy to focus on the mistakes you think you may have made, rather than the things you did well.

The high school students I was with last weekend know that they did as amazing a performance as they could possibly have done and their First Runner Up was not because they didn’t do their very best work, so they can be proud regardless of their placement. They have no regrets. There is no shame in coming in second. Making the choice to see it as a top-tier finish will set you up well for your next opportunity to shine.

Wendy Stackhouse, for Artisan Creative

Spring Cleaning Your LinkedIn Profile

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014|

Spring is here even in colder climates and it’s time to clean out your LinkedIn Profile as well as your closet. You should be revising your resume every quarter, listing new accomplishments and adding job responsibilities, volunteer experience, and of course proofreading again. Your LinkedIn Profile could probably also use a fresh eye.

Summary

Make sure your summary reflects what you are passionate about now, not what you were doing last year. If your focus has changed, it’s time to rewrite.

Files

LinkedIn lets us add files, photos and videos so if you have some more current writing samples or other work product, post it now.

Experience

Freelancers have probably worked for new clients in the last few months. Make sure you add those clients to your experience on LinkedIn and your resume.

Skills

Added anything to your skillset this winter? Add it to your list. When you add skills to your list, your connections can give you new endorsements. And if you haven’t learned anything new lately, go do that!

Connections

Take a few minutes to send invitations to the people you’ve met over the winter. They will be happy to have some fresh faces in their connections, too.

Landing a new job isn’t the only time to revise your LinkedIn Profile, and it is easy to let it get stale. Open the windows and shake out the dust!

Wendy Stackhouse for Artisan Creative

Tax Tips for Freelancers in 2014

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014|

More and more of us are freelancing in 2014 and the numbers are expected to go up dramatically in the next few years. Freelancing brings its own tax challenges that some may have not encountered before. We are not tax experts or CPA’s at Artisan Creative, but we do keep track of tax issues for freelancers and there have been some changes this year that might affect you.

If you were already freelancing in 2013, we hope you took our advice last year and:

  • Tracked your mileage
  • Created a dedicated office space
  • Kept receipts for business expenses
  • Saved
  • Made a list of clients who should send you a 1099

What’s different this year?

Home Office Deduction

In 2014, this deduction is simpler–still based on the square footage you use for your home office, now the IRS uses a flat $5 deduction for each square foot up to 300 or $1500. Much easier than figuring out the percentage of your household expenses for the year, but it may be less for you since it is capped.

High Earners

If you earned over $200,000 last year as a freelancer, congratulations! The downside is that you will pay a 3.8% Medicare surtax on your income. But you did well!

Reducing Your Liability

Personal exemptions, allowed contributions to IRA’s, and contributions to health savings accounts were all raised for this tax year.

If you get to the end of the year owing self-employment tax, you should be paying that on a quarterly basis, so be sure to do so if you are having a great year or don’t have many deductions.

And if you get one, Happy Refund!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative