Jul 14 2015

Planning and Standing Out for Business Success

Melissa from Wedbrilliant invested in a powerful ecommerce site in order to help her business stand out and grow.

If you run a small business in the crowded Portland market, standing out from the crowd is an important aspect of your business success! Making sure the public knows about the amazing services you provide or goods you make is an important part of making your business dreams happen.

Here are some things to consider when planning your small business and orchestrating future growth!

1.) Need It For Your Business? Get It Done Right.

You may be tempted to cut corners when planning your business, especially if your dreams bump up against the reality of your budget. If that’s the case, it’s important to prioritize. Some things may be free, but that doesn’t make them come cheap by default!

Investing in quality is important across the board, and it provides you the foundation you need to build and expand once you’re more successful. You’ll need to have many major puzzle pieces in place before you launch your business, not after. This means knowing your business, your competitors, your advantages, your budget, and your own commitment to the journey!

Try putting your ideas in front of friends who are supportive, but also fiscally conservative — if they buy it, you’re probably onto something!

event poster featuring animals and a food bowl.

We support local initiatives every year such as the Bowlful of Heart food drive.

2.) Give, Support, and Share First.

Organizations, groups and individuals will remember you in much more favorable light if you take the time to offer something before asking them for their support. Try donating your goods or services to a local non-profit for their annual fundraiser. Give away some samples to your friends, family, co-workers and other associates. Reach out to community organizations and offer your support. Connect with complementary businesses and industries, to help create a network of support and sharing.

Here’s just one example: if you make jewelry designs, you could speak to fashion and photography professionals you admire and let them know you love their work. Then, you could offer to have them borrow pieces for their next photoshoot. This works for other industries too: Do what you can to create a network of emotional investment in your success.

3.) Don’t Be Afraid to Grow!

Becoming successful isn’t a specific point in time — it’s a gradual thing, and it’s dependent on your goals. You may find that in order to grow to the place you want, you’ll have to step away from the front lines a bit, so you can look at the bigger picture issues. Or, you might realize you need to make a financial investment in your business such as moving, rebranding, opening another location, or scaling up staff or product lines.

This can feel very intimidating, but it’s also exciting: this is exactly what you’ve been working towards! Still, it’s important to make rational and valuable decisions, and not just shopping based on price. Buying the more expensive website or sewing machine, or hiring the more experienced front desk manager may seem like a stretch for your budget, but it’s these choices that mean the difference between encouraging growth, or limiting it. For the right investment, you might even want to consider financing for your business. Online lenders such as Kabbage can be  good place to start looking for small business loans to boost your marketing budget.

Stay away from making impulsive decisions: think it through, talk to some trusted advisors, look at all the options, and then make your choices!

If you’re interested in leveling up your branding, photography, social media or web design, you can start by talking with us here at Upswept. We’re here to help!

Get in touch>>

Jul 01 2015

Open Source Bridge Day 2: You Are Not Your User

Day Two of Open Source Bridge encouraged us to look beyond our own experience, and try to see the world through a different lens. Not only does it help us be more compassionate as people, but it also helps us create and code better design and user experiences for everyone we want to reach.

Algorithms Can Have Powerful Consequences

Open Source Bridge Keynote: Carina C. Zona talks about using data insights responsibly.

Carina C. Zona talks about using data insights responsibly.

Carina C. Zona opened Day 2 with “Consequences of an Insightful Algorithm” and talked about the incredible number of things we can learn about people through data, and subsequently, the potentially hurtful actions that can stem from it. Zona brought up several examples of big-name companies who have used their data less-than-responsibly, such as FitBit’s public exposure of sexual activity on profile statistics, or even more disastrous, Target’s advertisements towards pregnant women exposing a teen pregnancy. Big companies can learn a great deal about their customers by gathering and analyzing customer data, but they can easily fail at using that data responsibly.

Inadvertent algorithmic cruelty–a phrase coined by Eric Meyer–is, “what happens when code works in the majority of cases, but fails to take other use cases into account.” These types of things often happen because the consequences of how data is being used aren’t being thoroughly considered, which is easy to do when you assume that your customers and users are similar to you. That means that people outside of the assumed majority can get hurt.

We all have biases, whether we’re aware of them or not, so it’s important for us all to consider what motivates our choices, and how that can affect others who don’t share our biases. Data can be an extremely powerful tool, but it’s up to us to be honest and trustworthy, to use data responsibly, and to actively counter the biases that exist in ourselves and our culture.

Good User Experience Means Seeking Other Perspectives

With the Day 2 keynote fresh in my mind, I attended multiple sessions that encouraged all of us in tech to reach outside of our own perspectives, to think and learn about users who are different from us, and use that knowledge to create better user experiences for everyone.

Amelia Abreu facilitates a session about creating better design with user research.

Amelia Abreu facilitates a session about creating better design with user research.

Amelia Abreu and Rachel Shadoan facilitated a longer-form session, Dog Food is for Dogs: Escape the Crate of Your Perspective with User Research,” which focused on escaping the limitations of our own perspective through user research. We know our own projects inside and out, but our users don’t have that same advantage, so it’s part of our job to do the research and learn more about the people we’re designing for.

The session focused on a couple of different strategies to help us learn to see beyond our own experience: first, we looked at a photograph and brainstormed about everything from the circumstances and feelings of the people in said photo, to potential solutions to their problems. Later in the session, we broke up into several groups and explored different scenarios, so we could strategically think about the different types of people who might work with our projects, what’s exciting them about our work, and what their struggles might be.

The clear message here was that we need to consider a variety of people when we create user experiences. People tend to congregate with others who are just like them, so that can easily lead us to assume that our experience is the only one that matters. Our user scenarios should be based on field research, or we risk falling into tropes and our own biases.

In a similar vein, David Newton tackled the topic of making web design more inclusive in Universal Web Design: How to create an awesome experience for *every* user.” Newton looked at successful examples of universal design in the real world–such as curb cuts to improve accessibility for wheelchairs, strollers, and bikes–and then expanded on the concepts of universal design and how they can apply to Web Design.

Creating web design that’s intuitive, flexible, and easy to use in a variety of situations was a big topic here, and it’s one that I loved talking about. A good universal design works for us, and we don’t really think about it until it’s not there when we need it. No matter what type of web site we’re building, be it business, personal, or community, our number one goal? We want people to use the site. If you have a web design that’s confusing, or that isn’t easy to use for all of our users, then your web site is falling down on the job.

Newton went into a detailed run-down of tips, concepts, and best practices for making web designs more accessible. And, he also stressed the importance of listening to and considering a variety of users. Diversity is not only about the user, but also how they access the web, what devices, connection speeds, and so forth. We were encouraged to listen to our users, respond to their email feedback, do focus groups, and do our best to learn what they need, so we can create a better web site experience for everyone.

In short: “Remove barriers. Make things easier for users, even if it’s a little harder for us [as designers and developers].”

Did you miss out on the conference? Look back at Day 1 of Open Source Bridge, and take a look at some of our photos on Facebook.

Jun 25 2015

Open Source Bridge Day 1: Everyone In Tech Matters

We’re spending a big part of our week at Open Source Bridge, both taking in wisdom and taking photos! On Day 1, I spent a lot of time wishing that I could be in multiple places at once, but I did make it to a couple of different talks which drove home the message that tech needs to strive to be more inclusive, more socially aware, and more collaborative.

Stepping Towards True Diversity in Tech

Kronda Adair opened the Open Source Bridge conference by talking on what we really need to do to encourage diversity in tech.

Kronda Adair opened the conference by talking about what we really need to do to encourage diversity in tech.

Kronda Adair kicked off Open Source Bridge with “Put Up or Shut Up: An Open Letter to Tech Companies Seeking Diverse Teams,” which gave direct talk about the problem of diversity in the tech industry, an industry that continues to be dominated by white males. One startling statistic: “50% of women in tech quit the industry within 10 years.”–not simply their jobs, but the entire industry. Hiring more women and other underrepresented demographics into tech companies does help, but as Adair stated, it is simply not enough.

Adair emphasized the importance of companies throughout tech stepping up and putting real weight behind their stated desires for diversity.  Empathy is key to creating an environment that is welcoming to all, and a supportive work environment is key to retaining people from those underrepresented demographics.

In short, it’s important to create a space that’s safe for everyone, and that allows diverse groups to flourish. It means not allowing members of your company or community to act badly without consequences. Value interpersonal skills as well as technical skills. Give access to tools and education, and inclusive healthcare. It can even be as simple as taking the time to learn an unfamiliar name. When you think on diversity, don’t simply wonder, “how do I add diversity?” but ask, “how do I make things better for everyone?”

When Fear Takes Hold, Reach Outward

Adam Edgerton shares what happens when fear hits on a project, and how to handle it.

Adam Edgerton shares what happens when fear hits on a project, and how to handle it.

In an afternoon session, Adam Edgerton looked at what happens when the project management cycle gets scary in “Project Fear.” He touched on the very real issues of burnout in all facets of tech–Edgerton suggested that burnout is one major contributor to why people quit the industry–and the feelings of uncertainty that come with joining a new project or a new company. “Impostor Syndrome is most strongly associated with high achievers,” so even those who are expert and capable, and performing well, may feel the fear that comes with uncertainty

New hires can take anywhere from 6 months to a year to gain the background knowledge about a company that’s needed for them to perform well, so patience is key. Edgerton suggests reaching outward to help combat uncertainty–asking questions and doing research to gain the background you might be missing can help you find the “a-ha” moment of understanding. It’s also important to balance your gut feelings and your logic, much like our friends Kirk and Spock. And, allowing yourself to talk about struggle and share it with others can help relieve the pressure that leads to burnout.

Your Job Impacts Your Community

Kelsey Gilmore-Innis talks on the surprisingly long reach of tech dollars in politics.

Kelsey Gilmore-Innis talks on the surprisingly long reach of tech dollars in politics.

An afternoon session with Kelsey Gilmore-Innis, “Your Job Is Political,” dove into the long reach of tech dollars in politics. Using her knowledge of tech leaders in the Bay Area, she went into extensive detail about venture capitalists in tech, the surprising number of tech companies they’re tied to and invested in, and most importantly, where their political interests lie–and subsequently, where their millions of dollars are going.

A sad truth of our political system is that money continues to command a great deal of power, and the work you do as an average tech worker contributes to advancing political interests that you may not support. If you don’t take a position, but your bosses invest revenue from your labor in politics, you are not impartial. Be aware of who is at the top levels of your company, and what they are doing (or not doing) to benefit your community.

Jun 12 2015

4 Reasons Why Hackers Might Target Your WordPress Web Site

Your web site is vital to your business. It connects the world with your work and gets your audience energized, and every minute you’re without it, you could lose out on a new client who’s ready to love what you do.

fdc306ab69d77553fed031f79794122fDoes a web site hacker care about any of that? Well, you can probably guess the answer to that! There are a few different reasons why a hacker may target your web site. Fortunately, if you have a WordPress web site, there are simple ways you can protect yourself, or at the very least, make it harder to break in.

You’re using default settings.

When you first set up your WordPress site, you might have gone with the default settings–“admin” makes sense for a username, so why not? The problem is, because it’s the default setting, it’s very easy for hackers to guess.

Instead of using the default, choose a username that’s unique to you. If hackers don’t know your username, it’ll be that much harder for them to break into you site.

Your password is too easy to guess.

You have enough to remember on a normal day, so it’s tempting to pick an easy-to-remember password. That could sink you, though: your dog’s name may be easy to remember, but it’s also easy to hack.

Is it possible to make a password that you can remember AND that keeps your web site secure! Yes! Here’s a great article from Lifehacker on how to do just that. Now, go update all of your passwords!

You don’t have any protective plugins installed.

One of the great things about WordPress is that it’s pretty simple to install plugins. So, it’s easy to add plugins that will help protect you from anyone who tries to spam or break into your web site.

Just a couple of good (and free) options:

  1. Limit Login Attempts: this plugin stops them from using your login if they enter the wrong password more than 3 times. So, malicious users can’t keep trying to guess your password over and over again.
  2. Google CAPTCHA: this plugin adds an extra bit of security by requiring a validation code to be entered whenever someone fills out a form on your web site. It’s intended to prove that the person filling out a form is human–not a robot that wants to spam or hack your web site.
  3. Wordfence: this is a popular plugin that includes scanning of your web site files, real-time blocking of known attackers, and enforcing strong passwords for all of your users.

You’re using plugins with known vulnerabilities.

The WordPress community has awesome plugin resources for you to take advantage of! Unfortunately, not every program is perfect, and some plugins have vulnerabilities that make it easier for hackers to get in. Revolution Slider, for instance, was a popular photo slider plugin, but when hackers discovered a vulnerability in it, sites using Revolution Slider were more open to attacks.

Fortunately, developers working for powers of Good are keeping track of which plugins will leave your site vulnerable–there’s even a plugin you can use that will tell you if any of the plugins you use have vulnerabilities! Try using Plugin Vulnerabilities on your WordPress site, and see what it tells you.

Wait! I’ve already been hacked! What can I do?

Restoring your web site after it gets hacked can be a gnarly proposition. There are a few steps you can take right away, to help you start getting things back to normal, and keep it from happening again.

  • Contact your web host and ask if they have any backups of your web site from before were hacked. If they do, it’ll make cleaning up your site easier–they may even help you restore the site!
  • Change your passwords for both your WordPress login and your web hosting account.
  • If your WordPress Dashboard login is under username “admin,” change it to something unique.

It’s hard to make your web site bulletproof, but there are simple steps you can take protect yourself from attackers. If one or a few of the issues above describes you, take a few minutes to fix it! And if you need help, get in touch–we’re happy to help you with the things you don’t quite feel up to tackling.

May 28 2015

WebVisions PDX: Design is about People

I got to drop in on the WebVisions Portland conference earlier this month with a longtime collaborator, Jen Barth of Big Small Brands. The conference was a multi-day affair, but even a one-day peek felt like time well spent!

The two talks I attended on Friday morning weren’t especially similar, but they had one very important thing in common: they were people-centered. A design can be the most aesthetically pleasing thing in the world, but it won’t be successful if it doesn’t consider the people involved in making it, and the people who will be using it.

It’s All About The Interface.

Sarah Hall talks at WebVisions about how design affects people, and how people can inspire design.

Sarah Hall talks at WebVisions about how design affects people, and how people can inspire design.

Sarah Hall talked about “The Science of Art,” and got nerdy about the way our brains work, and how we can use that to make better design. The human brain has a variety of ways to perceive and interact with the world, and good design considers how people will respond to it.
Why are we so obsessed with Web Design and UI? Hall summed it up wonderfully: “Your interface affects how you understand and process the world around you.” So, if you want your work to be understood, you need design that helps the people you want to reach understand what you do, and reach out to you.

How You Connect People and Ideas Can Make You Memorable.

Ultimately, design is about connecting, and connecting isn’t just about person-to-person, either–it’s about how our brains connect and relate things together. Sometimes, things that might otherwise be completely unrelated feel like a natural connection, in your own mind. One of the roots of creativity, as Sarah Hall put it, “is divergent thinking, and how you make connections between disparate things.” When we consider how the people we want to reach will link one idea to another, we can make design that’s easier to understand, or design that catches the user’s attention and becomes more memorable.

Good Design Means Working Together.

Adam Connor’s talk, “Working Better Together: Characteristics of Productive, Creative Organization” was focused on the creative team, rather than the end user, but the people-centered approach still rang true. He talked about how each person’s role in a project can overlap, and stressed the importance of understanding each person’s role, looking for shared values, and building trust within the team and with the client.
One thing we do a lot of at Upswept is encourage our clients to give good, honest feedback, and Connor’s approach is similar: he encouraged everyone to be involved in the design process. Each person is important to making the end product Awesome, and having everyone–even the client–involved makes that final result even better.

Good Design Thinks About The Next Step.

Another comment from Adam Connor that really hit home for me is that, “real design does not have an end point. It is infinite; it is iterative.” It makes perfect sense for our clients, too, in my mind: your business is always growing, changing, and evolving, so your design should grow and change with it.
Don’t get me wrong: this doesn’t mean having a web site that’s constantly under construction, or ordering new promotional flyers every other day. But, the web site or branding that’s perfect for you today probably won’t fit you so perfectly a few years from now. Your business depends on how people respond to it, and your design should reflect that.
So, when you’re thinking about the next steps for your business, think about how that might affect your design needs, and plan for it. Even a great design can be improved, whether it’s right now, or sometime in the future.


May 19 2015

Catching up with jewelry designer Fresh Tangerine

portland-jewelry-photographer_fresh-tangerine-lookbook-2012

from one of our early lookbook photoshoots with Fresh Tangerine

It’s been a busy Portland May, but we’re excited we got a chance to catch up with our friend Kimberlee Kogane at Fresh Tangerine! Fresh Tangerine makes beautiful handmade jewelry with a Pacific-NW-inspired feel, and has grown from a one-woman show to a team of makers.

We were fortunate enough to connect with Kimberlee and get to know her work during the early stages of her business, and her combination of bold colors and shapes with delicate details was fashionable, wearable, and memorable. She came to each shoot with a bold statement piece at the ready, and left our studio feeling a little extra-sparkly by the end. And we do mean literally–the glitter on our floors was a daily delight for weeks afterwards. 😉

Kimberlee first gave birth to Fresh Tangerine here in Portland, and she has since moved northward–if you’re in Seattle, pay them a visit to see their gorgeous work up close!

Can you sum up Fresh Tangerine for us, in a sentence or two?

Kimberlee working in the studio

Kimberlee working in the studio

Kimberlee Kogane: “Fresh Tangerine is first and foremost a jewelry brand that aspires to create beautiful and unique pieces that are affordable and can be worn every day. We also want to inspire people to be creative, take risks, and pursue their dreams.”

What was it like starting Fresh Tangerine? What parts of it did you love, and what were your struggles?

KK: In the beginning it was all about putting the hours in. It was hard at first to make the choice to stay home and work instead going out with friends, but I had a goal in mind, and knew that I wanted to make my business succeed. Now I’m transitioning from doing everything myself, to trying to lead a team of people which presents a whole new set of challenges.

What has Fresh Tangerine taught you – personally, or businesswise?

KK: One thing that I never expected was just how much owning a business challenges you as a person. I feel like I’ve had to face so many fears, and you have to accept those things that you might not be so good at. I’ve learned a lot about myself and a lot about business along the way.
Creating beuatiful jewlery is a team effort!

Creating beautiful jewelry is a team effort!

Where do you think Fresh Tangerine will go next?

KK: I would love to see Fresh Tangerine carried by a larger retailer. I want to grow our team, get our name out there, and continue create jewelry that is affordable and well made.

Thank you Kimberlee! We look forward to seeing you continue to grow!


May 06 2015

Don’t Get Left Behind – Get Your Web Site Mobile-Friendly for Google!

Upswept Creative is Mobile Friendly!

Upswept Creative is Mobile Friendly! Are you?

What’s invisible, super powerful, and affects us in Portland as much as people on the other side of the planet? Climate change? No, it’s the Google search algorithm. The most powerful search engine in the world is doing it again: changing the way sites get ranked! Not as bad as climate change by a long shot, but hugely impactful for everyone who relies on search traffic, especially from mobile devices. Roughly 1/3rd of internet traffic now comes from mobile devices (including tablets), so it was already a good idea to have a mobile-friendly site, but with this announcement, it’s even more important.

What It’s About

On April 21st, a Google algorithm change was announced for mobile users, meaning that, when we use Google search on our phones, we’ll see different search engine results on mobile than when we use Google on desktop devices.

How are these results different? Well, for searches coming from mobile devices, Google is now making “mobile-responsiveness” a ranking factor. If a site is mobile-responsive (also known as mobile-friendly), it’ll show up higher in a search performed on a mobile device than a site that isn’t, even if all other factors are the same. As of right now, this doesn’t make a difference when searches are made from desktop and laptop devices, but this may come in the foreseeable future.

What It Means

This is great news for many of our clients who’ve already invested mobile-friendly sites: it means they’ll rank higher than any competitors. But, if you’re concerned that you might not be among them, you can run it through Google’s mobile friendly test, which takes only a couple of minutes. If your site is not mobile friendly, you’ll want to make sure it is before you see a dip in revenue. Even if you’re not yet working with us, we can help you sail through this change. We’ll adapt your existing site to keep you up-to-date and running smoothly!

Get Our Mobile-Friendly Special »

 

Apr 29 2015

Athletes into Superheroes: Conceptual Photography

Photography is a powerful way to make an impression, and creating unique conceptual art is just one way of doing it! A couple of years ago, I absentmindedly scribbled down the idea of shooting skaters from the Rose City Rollers’ all-star team, the Wheels of Justice, in superhero-inspired poses and settings. Seeing these people as heroes wasn’t much of a stretch, in my mind: at that time, I was a Fresh Meat skater without a team to call home, and I’d go positively starry-eyed watching these top-tier athletes do amazing, powerful, even gravity-defying things on skates.

So, when the team announced a “Heroes’ Ball” Fundraiser Party and Art Auction, it felt like the perfect opportunity to donate my time to support this team of inspiring women, and bring a concept to life. Over the course of two short weeks, we photographed four different Wheels of Justice skaters in unique Portland settings, and then edited and designed them into posters inspired by movie posters and superheroes. I researched and scouted locations all over Portland, recruited helping hands for lightning-fast lighting setup, and made the shots happen in record time. Together, we explored rooftops, busy downtown streets, and deserted industrial neighborhoods, and each skater brought grace and enthusiasm to the set.

We printed out the final posters at 18″x24″, framed them and had them autographed (both by the skaters and the artist), and they were then put up for as one-of-a-kind auction items at the fundraiser. The super-excellent DJ Agent Meow even queued up the appropriate superhero theme music as the posters were unveiled! I was excited to learn that the posters raised ~$1000 for the team at the fundraiser party and art auction, and I’m SO happy to help them on their way to becoming world champions.

The Wheels of Justice will be showing the world what they have to offer at The Big O tournament in Eugene this weekend, and I’ll be cheering my face off for them from Portland! We owe a big thank you to each of these skaters, for inspiring us and for making time to work with us. Now go get that Hydra! 😉

Chestnut #127 as Batman

Chestnut #127 as Batman

Scald Eagle #50 as Captain America

Scald Eagle #50 as Captain America

Moffatt #2 as the Incredible Hulk

Moffatt #2 as the Incredible Hulk

Gaither #26 as Superman

Gaither #26 as Superman


Apr 22 2015

Upswept Creative at the ACT-W Conference in Portland!

Conference Sticker from ACT-W

ACT-W: Disrupting Tech with Diversity

Last weekend, we had the awesome opportunity to attend the ACT-W (Advancing the Careers of Technical Women)  conference in Portland and we had a great time! As I wrote about fairly recently, the gender gap in tech is pervasive, and ACT-W is doing its part to help support women entering into and working in tech positions. Now in its third year, the conference is growing rapidly, as the Portland tech industry continues to flourish. Here’s a run down of what happened this past weekend!

Friday

Friday Night was the kickoff to the event, and featured a rad kick off party at Smarsh – with awesome catered food from Nicholas’ Restaurant, an open bar and plenty of engaged conversation. I arrived fairly late to the game, but still got a chance to sample some fine food, have a relaxing beer and check out the new Smarsh headquarters while reconnecting with friends who were also attending the conference.

Saturday

Saturday began bright and early at 8:30am – (but not as early as the conference organizers, who were up and running at 7!). We made it downtown for the limited seating breakfast keynote, which touched on being a minority in big tech companies, strategies to interrupt sexism and work, and encouraging diversity in a homogenous industry. The main floor keynote, delivered by Kristin Toth Smith, CEO of Code Fellows, was a great talk on how unconscious biases come in to play in tech workplaces, and offered ideas about how we can all make tech more inclusive!

Upswept Creative on the roster!

Upswept Creative on the roster!

After the keynote, it was time for the lightning talks – a series of 5 minute mini talks on different topics. The talks ranged from UX design to transphobia at work, and were all super compelling, and quite diverse. I was excited to be presenting a lightning talk myself – a short introduction to  the 1960’s, which was the era when my mother got into tech, as a computer operator on an IBM 360/30 mainframe with no prior experience in tech. The audience was super supportive, and I got a ton of great feedback after my presentation!

The rest of the day featured a ton of great workshops on leadership, freelancing, Open Source,  and more, as well as a popular tabling/booth area complete staffed by companies such as CDK global, Simple and Appnexus, as well as organizations like Chicktech, and Lesbians Who Tech with mock interviews. This is the area where Sarah spent most of her Saturday, as Upswept Creative was on hand to offer free headshots to conference attendees!

After Saturdays’ jam-packed schedule, Esri hosted a limited space after party – unfortunately I was unable to attend this or the Sunday workshops, but I am sure they were an awesome experience!

Overall, the conference was a great way to spend a weekend and an important resource for women and girls to be exposed to tech, as well as fostering diversity in a collaborative and meaningful way. Until next year!

 

 

 

 

 

Apr 06 2015

Pro Tips: Making the Most of professional services

Professional level work means professional level attention to detail.

Professional level work means professional level attention to detail.

It’s spring in Portland! And what says spring more than flowers and hayfever? Spring cleaning. Now is the time to dust off your website, or start that business you have been dreaming of. And when you do so, these Pro Tips will make make sure you have the best experience you can possibly have.

While this isn’t the first time we’ve touched upon how you can make the most of the services you pay for, for the rest of spring we’ll be focusing on bringing you more pro tips and real-life case studies from those who made it work! We’ll tell you exactly how to plan out your first steps towards a successful website (especially if you’re new to the game), what to expect from a branding or website redesign, secret tips on having an (even better) headshot experience, and more!

Getting Ready to Pro-Level It

Many of our clients’ businesses started small – a hobby, a desire to break out of corporate culture, to become a successful model, real estate agent or actress, or to work independently. If your business is only just starting out, you may be hesitant to make an investment in getting a professional to design your logo, create your website, or photograph your product.

Many of us know a friend who takes “pretty good” photographs, has a printer that will print business cards just fine, or a buddy who built a website for his band back in the day. Why spend money when you don’t know if your venture will be successful – especially if money is thin on the ground? Once you start making money, then you’ll hire someone to do the logo, the design, and the business cards.

This logic is flawed – and much less likely to lead to success. Let me tell you why!

The trouble with hiring “friends” who will work for free or very little is that while intentions are often good, time is often hard to come by. You may find that if a lucrative job offer comes along, or the baby gets sick, it’s your project that ends up at the bottom of the to-do pile, leaving your business stuck in the starting blocks while others already finished the race.

A professional photographer, designer or social media manager does this for a living, and will do what they can to make sure your product is delivered on time and on budget.

 

The colourless green logo went through many different revisions until we and the client were happy with the final version.

Good design takes time! The Colourless Green logo went through several revisions, until both we and client were happy with the final version.

Additionally, if your talented friend delivers a less-than-stellar product, or even just something that’s very different than you expected, you may find yourself in an awkward situation: now you’re stuck with something you got for “free”, but isn’t what you wanted or expected. Maybe you don’t even want to use it at all! All of a sudden, your relationship is affected, and things feel hard to reconcile, and “Free” is no longer “free of trouble”.

A professional is there to do her job – and that job is to make you, paying customer, happy with the final result. We expect revisions, and we expect critique. No hard feelings!

 

Professional Headshots don't necessarily mean dull and serious

Professional Headshots don’t necessarily mean dull and serious.

Having a hobby that you want to turn into a professional business is a wonderful place to be – you have passion for a specific idea, you know the market, you know your future clients. But, transforming a side business into a sustainable, viable, thriving business needs more than just passion and some inside knowledge – it requires the ability to evaluate things critically,  and to make decisions that are less driven by emotion, and more by what is good for business.

Any successful professional will give you their feedback on what they think you need to be successful, where your brand direction is on point and where it is lacking. Your success is our success.

 

If you are about to invest your time and energy into a project, your project is much more likely to be successful if supported by professional level branding, design, and marketing. Investing in the services of a professional means taking your business seriously, and giving it the best possible chance at success.

Ready to talk about making your passion project a success? Get in touch with us!