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Best Online Collaboration Tools 2018:
Best online collaboration tools 2018:

We are in the age where everything happens on the online platform. We meet, greet, buy, sell, learn, study – anything and everything can happen online. And especially with the boom in e-commerce, impactful presence online is equally important. We…

How To Improve Your English
How to improve your English

Having trouble at pronouncing your words, right? If English is not your mother tongue it is only natural to experience difficulty while speaking it. Pronunciations errors are bound to occur. Here are a few tips to improve your English. It's…

Awesome Gift Ideas For Designers
Awesome Gift Ideas For Designers

With Christmas just around the corner, there are plenty of people out there looking for last minute ideas for the graphic designers on their list (and many graphic designers making lists). So today we thought we’d feature a few fun…

How To Deal With A Client Who Wants It Cheaper
How To Deal With A Client Who Wants It Cheaper

We’ve all been there. You take the time to sit down with a client and discuss their needs and then worked hard to craft a well thought out quote at a fair rate, then the client says “Can’t you do…

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Best online collaboration tools 2018:

Best online collaboration tools 2018:

We are in the age where everything happens on the online platform. We meet, greet, buy, sell, learn, study – anything and everything can happen online. And especially with the boom in e-commerce, impactful presence online is equally important. We have the freelancing industry that is heavily dependent on the online mode of communication. In such a scenario, most of the communication happens online, and there’s practically nothing in person. This brings into picture Online Collaboration Tools. Want to have a quick meeting with your employees scattered all over the world? Well, there are a host of tools to effortlessly help you conduct conference calls. So let’s take a look at the available options when it comes to online collaboration tools:

tools

Skype:
Well known and loved all over the world for one main reason – Its free! Communicating becomes a lot easier as Skype allows interaction via multiple devices at the same time. Network issues may have marred your Skype experience sometimes, but it’s still the best bet!

Google Hangouts:
Another excellent option for online collaboration, Hangouts lets you chat, send messages and even video call. The best feature of hangouts is that you can connect it to whichever device you want, all you have to do is log in to your Gmail account, and you are all set. Hangouts on Air is one main feature which gives Hangouts an edge over other tools. Personal chats and group chats both are possible via Hangouts, making it a smooth, go-to option for many.

GoToMeeting:
It is an excellent tool for those video conference calls, that too, in HD quality. Meet anywhere, everywhere on any device! Keeping in touch with your team becomes a lot easier with GoToMeeting. Plus, they have a whole set of options that allow you to customise as per the needs of your team and organisation.

Mailbird:
Mailbird is an email management tool, and unlike Outlook (which takes a lot of time to learn), Mailbird can be absorbed very quickly in a short time span. Various features such as a one stop for all your inbox related issues, app integrations, customisation, multi-language support that is available 24/7 are few which help Mailbird make a mark.

Slack:
A cloud-based collaboration services provider, Slack is becoming increasingly popular by the day. It is probably the best team messaging app out there with a bunch of features that make communication among your team easy and practical.

Zoho Project manager:
Seamless collaboration is what Zoho offers. Adopt Zoho in your organisation and get all your work done on time. It helps you to manage meetings, documents and integrate with your favourite apps. And it is already gaining popularity.

Hope this helps you to zero down to the alternative that is best suited for you and your organisation’s needs.

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How to improve your English

How to improve your English

Having trouble at pronouncing your words, right? If English is not your mother tongue it is only natural to experience difficulty while speaking it. Pronunciations errors are bound to occur. Here are a few tips to improve your English.

  1. It’s often difficult to hear pronunciation errors in your own speech since you are concentrating really well and communicating rather than the sound you are making. In the event that you can’t hear your pronunciation problems, it’s hard to correct them. Take a stab at recording your speech with your smartphone or PC and making a note of specific areas you have to improve on
  1. Numerous English learners think that speaking fluently implies they have to talk fast. This isn’t right. Speaking too fast reinforces negative behaviour patterns and makes the speaker sound nervous and indecisive. Speaking slowly will give you an opportunity to breathe appropriately and think about what you need to state straightaway. Since it gives you an opportunity to think while you are speaking, you’ll feel more relaxed and have the capacity to concentrate on making your English sound fantasticspeak
  1. Close your eyes and think about how to make a sound before saying it. Visualize the movement of your mouth and face. In the event that you have contemplated with the phonemic chart, think about the sound you are making and how it identifies with other English phonemes. In the event that you have utilized diagrams of the mouth and tongue, think about the shape you have to make inside your mouth on the off chance that you need to make the sound correctly.
  1. Pronunciation is a physical skill. You’re teaching your mouth another approach to move and utilizing different muscles. Notice difficult sounds every day. Experiencing difficulty with ‘th’? Put your tongue between your teeth (don’t clamp down) and blow out some air of your mouth. Feel the air move over the top of your tongue.
  1. Stand in front of a mirror to see the placement of your tongue, lips, and shape of your mouth when you make certain sounds. Compare what you see with a video of a native-speaker saying a similar thing.
  1. There’s no replacement for learning pronunciation from the experts or native speakers. So, listen! Listen to English radio programs and stare at the television and movies in English. Copy what you’re hearing regardless of whether you don’t know what they’re saying yet.

  1. Pronunciation problems hold on the grounds that we’re reluctant to commit errors. Make scenarios meeting someone out of the blue, ordering at a restaurant, requesting directions and then showcase the discourse without anyone else’s input. Try not to be bashful.
  1. Getting criticism from an outside observer is crucial. Discover a companion who’s also interested in improving their English. Have a go at exchanging recorded messages so you can listen closely to each other’s pronunciation.
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Awesome Gift Ideas For Designers

Awesome Gift Ideas For Designers

With Christmas just around the corner, there are plenty of people out there looking for last minute ideas for the graphic designers on their list (and many graphic designers making lists). So today we thought we’d feature a few fun gift ideas for designers and other creatives. Or, if you’ve been too naughty to get presents, you may want to buy them for yourself.

Fun Stuff:

Pantone Mugs

A great present for color lovers and design nerds alike. Available in many colors and as sets.

Pantone Notebook

What better way to take notes while sipping coffee from your Pantone mug than in your Pantone notebook?

Adobe App Pillows

For those who eat drink and sleep Adobe.

Lego

The best toy ever and a great way to get the creative juices flowing.

Mighty Muggs Customizable Figure

Design your own action figures! Tons of fun.

Photoshop Magnet Set

Make the photos on your fridge look like they’re being tweaked in Photoshop with this fun magnet set.

Photoshop Picture Frame

A fun gift for both photographers and designers!

Useful Stuff:

Moleskine Notebooks

I think all creatives love the classic Moleskine notebook. Classy and useful.

Moleskine Folio Tablet Cover

It will go so nicely with their pile of Moleskines!

Wacom Pen Tablet

A very natural-feeling way to design, particularly for those that like to sketch.

Subscription To Lynda.com Software Tutorials

Lynda is a great, self-paced way for designers to upgrade their skills and learn new ones.

Livescribe Echo Smartpen

Automatically records your client meetings while you write. Later, you can review the audio from any part of the meeting by tapping the notes. Never miss a detail again!

Books:

The Pantone Guide To Communicating With Color

A great book about color psychology and how to use color more effectively.

Stylepedia

An excellent resource for ideas and inspiration.

Logo Savvy

An invaluable resource for designers that work with logos and branding.

Movies:

Helvetica

A classic documentary about a classic typeface.

The Mystery Of Picasso

A very cool documentary that lets you watch Picasso’s paintings as they progress.

Art School Confidential

A funny and slightly misanthropic look at creative development.

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How To Deal With A Client Who Wants It Cheaper

How To Deal With A Client Who Wants It Cheaper

We’ve all been there. You take the time to sit down with a client and discuss their needs and then worked hard to craft a well thought out quote at a fair rate, then the client says “Can’t you do it cheaper that that?”. You sigh. What do you do? You want the work, especially since you’ve already invested time into quoting them. There are a variety of ways you can deal with this situation. My favorite is this five step approach.

Step 1: Confidently Say No

The first step is to confidently and clearly say “no” or “I’m afraid not”. This is important because it asserts that your pricing is what it is, and is not open to negotiation. If your no isn’t confident (“um… well, I’d really rather not”) then an aggressive negotiator may take advantage.

Step 2: Reassure Them

Some clients ask for a better price because they don’t have a lot of experience with designers and are afraid of being taken advantage of. You can help to assuage this fear by reassuring them that you have provided them with the best quote you can. Even if their motivation isn’t fear, this helps reinforce that you’re quote is non-negotiable. Want to know more about reassuring clients? You can read more here at FTAdviser

Step 3: Offer To Reduce The Scope

If the client continues to ask for a better price, offer to reduce the scope of the project in order to meet their budget requirements. If the client truly can’t afford the full project, this gives them an option to still work with you. If the client is merely negotiating for the sake of negotiating, they will likely accept your full quote in order to get the work they want done.

Step 4: Offer To Do The Work In Stages

If the client needs the full scope of the project, but still insists that they can’t afford your quote, offer to do the work in stages to give them time to get the additional funds together. If they choose to go this route, be sure each phase is paid in full before moving on to the next.

Step 5: Be Willing To Not Get The Job

The key to successful negotiation is to be wiling to not get the job. This isn’t just a mind game. Unless you’re desperate for the work, it’s rarely worth taking a job at a reduced rate. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard many designers expressing regret after accepting reduced-rate jobs. If, having gone through steps 1 through 4, the client still says they can’t afford the job, it’s time to politely send them away. Michael Harder, a mortgage broker in Adelaide notes that he actively chooses to filter out potential clients when they show they’re heavily influenced on price, instead focusing his energy on higher value clients which increases his overall business profit.

Conclusion

This five step process is very effective for dealing with hard-nose negotiators while accommodating those who genuinely don’t have the budget for the process. Most importantly, it allows you to negotiate with dignity and establishes your rates as fixed.

Here’s an example of how these steps work in practice:

Client: Your quote is just to high. Can you do it for less?

You: I’m afraid not. I always quote with the best price I can. If it’s outside your budget, we could skip the brochure you’ve asked for and just do the business card and letterhead.

Client: No, I really need the brochure, too. It’s a big part of my sales process.

You: OK, maybe we can do the business card and letterhead now, and then start on the brochure in a couple of months once you’ve had a chance to get the funds together.

Client: That’ll work.

OK, so it may not always be quite as smooth as that, but give it a shot, it works pretty well.

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Inspiration: 10 Crafty Looking Websites

Inspiration: 10 Crafty Looking Websites

In the slick, pixel-perfect world of the web, designing with texture and crafty styles can really make a site stand out. Be it hand-drawn elements, paper textures, or illustration, a little craftiness can bring a whold new dimension to a website design. Here are some examples to use for inspiration!

  1. The Electric Company
  2. Hugs For Monsters
  3. Island Vacation
  4. Neolab
  5. Phillips Beer
  6. Wedding Cakes Australia
  7. Monmarthe
  8. Vinamation
  9. Voodoo
  10. New Belgium Brewing
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5 Ways To Deliver Big Design Files

5 Ways To Deliver Big Design Files

File management can be a big deal for graphic designers. Low-resolution proofs are easily sent by email, but when it comes time to deliver big press-ready files, email usually won’t cut it. File management becomes an even bigger issue when you’re collaborating remotely with other creatives. Here is a quick look at some of the options for transferring big files.

FTP

Setting up an ftp account on your website was the de facto method of large-file delivery for a long time. It has the advantage that it remains entirely within your control, but it also has the disadvantages that you need to maintain user accounts, periodically clean out old files, and it can be confusing for clients that are not very tech savvy.

Yousendit.com

One way around the responsibilities of ftp is to use an ftp service like Yousendit.com. With yousendit.com you simply upload the file you need to send, add the recipient’s email address and a short message, then send. The recipient then receives an email with a link to download the file. It’s very easy and it’s free for files up to 100MB.

Skype

Another option is to send files via Skype. This has an advantage over most services in that it doesn’t have a file size limit, but it has the limitation that you need to connect with the recipient on Skype in order to send it.

Dropbox

Dropbox is a service that a syncs a local folder on your computer to one on the internet. It can be a very handy way to collaborate on a project because any changes you make to the file will automatically be reflected on the online version (assuming you’re connected to the internet), and you can give your collaborator access to your dropbox folder.

Dropbox also has a feature to email a download link for an individual file, meaning you can deliver files up to the size of your account (2GB for free, paid plans offer larger folder sizes).

File Dropper

File dropper is a similar service to Dropbox in that it acts as a form of online file storage and transfer. File dropper doesn’t offer a free account, but it’s paid accounts are a little more affordable than Dropbox’s are (50 GB for $5/month). If you need more than a couple of GB of storage, than File Dropper may be a better option. Otherwise, you’ll probably want to stick to the free account on Dropbox.

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Winning New Clients With A Polished Elevator Pitch

Winning New Clients With A Polished Elevator Pitch

Many graphic designers, when asked what they do, will either answer with just “I’m a graphic designer”, or they’ll ramble a little about the types of projects they do. There’s nothing wrong with either of those responses, but there is a way to respond that is more likely to get you clients, and that’s with a polished “elevator pitch”. This is especially important for freelance graphic designers, but I’d recommend it for designers who work with agencies as well.

What Is An Elevator Pitch

Simply put, an elevator pitch is a 30-60 second commercial about yourself. The idea is that if you were in an elevator with someone and they asked “what do you do?”, you should have an answer ready that tells all the most important details of your business before the elevator ride is through. If your elevator pitch is good, when you meet a potential client at, say, a networking event, you can have them interested enough to contact you within a very short conversation. Sydney Mortgage broker George Poullos notes that in his frequent networking events, almost three quarters of participants don’t know how to provide an elevator pitch or short message which conveys what they do and how they can help you, leading to lost potential business and contacts.

What You Need To Cover

In our post 3 Questions All Marketing Needs To Answer we talked about how important it is for a business to answer the questions of who they are, what they do, and why potential customers should care. The fact is, you’re in business too, so the need for those questions also applies to you. If you cover these three points well, you will have a successful elevator pitch.

How To Write It

Get out a piece of paper. Now, write down what you do. There’s a bit of a balance here, because you want to be specific, but at the same time succinct. Treat it as if you you were making this list for someone who has no idea what a graphic designer does, but try to limit yourself to 3–4 items on your list.

Now, make a separate list of the 3 top reasons why a client should hire you rather than someone else. This can include your specialties, your experience, your training, or any other highlights of why you are a great designer. With these two lists, you now have all the points you need for an elevator pitch.

How To Use It

I don’t recommend memorizing your pitch word for word, because you’ll sound like you’re reading the script for an advertisement. I do, however, recommend memorizing the bullet points from your list, and practicing saying them in a friendly, casual manner that isn’t too boastful. Here’s an example of an elevator pitch answer to the question “what do you do”:

“I’m a freelance graphic designer. I specialize in marketing materials for small businesses: logos, brochures, websites; that type of thing. I have a background in marketing, so I can offer business owners a strategic approach to design and ensure that their materials are both attractive and effective.”

Now all you need to do is start using it! Get in the habit of answering the “what do you do” question this way, regardless of who’s asking. In a networking situation it can win you clients, but it’s even good in a social situation because it’s clear and effective communication. The people you’re talking to will have a better understanding of you and your career because of it. Plus, you never know when that person you meet socially might need a graphic designer!

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