The Struggle Seems Real: An Internal Conversation Between Heart and Brain

My brain and my heart have been grappling lately.

Are you going to do it? Are you not going to do it? Or, back burner it for a different time?

That last one always gets me. 

I know that timing is important and some things need to wait, but I find myself using it as a crutch.

A crutch to put things off. 

Put the things off that I want to do, but am scared to do or that’s hard to do. 

Put off drawing. 

Put off sharing my work. 

Put off exercising. 

Put off getting up early. 

Put off saying what I really wanted to say…

I’m a designer. I like it. It’s how I make a living. 

I want to be known for more than that. I don’t know what I would call it except to describe it this way: I want to jar people into feeling shit with words and shapes and experiences. I want to express myself in ways that (i feel) only the category of ‘art’ would appropriate…

How in the hell, do I even begin to approach this?…

I used to make things all the time. I used to paint, sculpt, form, draw, carve linoleum block prints, screen print. Then I decided to become a ‘minimalist,’ I started working as a freelance designer to support myself and stopped doing all of the other things. 

Even though I have this feeling of overwhelm. I know the answer is to start and keep doing it and share it.

Success On The Terms of Others Is A Lie

I forget that I’m still new at this. I want to be one of the people who’ve been designing and concocting for 20 years, so I can say.

“Hey everyone, I’ve been doing this for 20 years, listen to what I’m saying. I know what I’m talking about. Look over here!”

7 years doesn’t have that same weight to it.

I look at Milton Glaser, Massimo Vignelli, Gary Vaynerchuk, Paul Jarvis… Beyonce

I admire these people for their talent, their perseverance, and how they've turned their ‘thing’ into their livelihood. And after my admiration clears, I realize I’ll never be like these guys.

Sometimes that thought makes me feel down about where I’m at in life and what I’m doing...

Then a glimmer of light peaks through the clouds above my head and my inner hero says, “GOOD!”

“Good cuz you’re not them. Their not Vince.”

“It’s your job to be Vince. The Vince who cares deeply about design, drawing weird things, lettering sassy song lyrics, being an ethical human, and spitting mad snark.” (humans are funny creatures)

“You’re not them, and it’s GOOD!”

It’s unhealthy to place the burden of being just like the people we look up to upon ourselves. It’s an impossibility.

Yes, we can pick up traits inspired by them and strive to be better people from their lead, but we can’t BE them.

Facing this is hard.

It means that I’ve created my meaning of success based on vanity. I know that’s what I did. It’s based on how I perceive public figures that I look up to.

It means that I have to reevaluate what success is to me. Base the definition on my own values.

I encourage you to do the same.

 

— Vince

Stop Making Ugly Ass Sales Pages… Please?

A helpful rant about sales page design.

I’ll admit it. Sales pages aren’t about being pretty. They’re for selling things. But my purpose as a designer and an artist is to inform and delight people so...

DO BOTH!

Source: Reddit

Source: Reddit

Don’t get mad Charlie, we’re on it.

Make them functional and beautiful. Take the necessary components (according to Copyblogger writer, Dave Navarro)

  • Headlines that scream your value proposition and turn heads
  • Draw them in with the supporting paragraphs
  • Stories throughout that connect you to your potential client
  • Subheads that tap scrollers in the face (in a good way)
  • Social proof aka Testimonials
  • Specific examples of how the thing you're selling benefits people
  • Make the offer
  • A strong guarantee
  • A strong call to action to get visitors to buy

 

And make a sales page that sings (not literally… unless you are a singer). Make it so people will want to lay their eyes upon it. Make it easy for people to consume your writing. Make it interesting, use pictures, illustrations, videos and gifs to inject even more personality and clarity onto the page. After all if a picture is worth a thousand words, a gif is worth two thousand and a video is worth a bazillion.  

But don’t clutter it up. Make it CRYSTAL CLEAR. Each section has a purpose, and they’re strategic.

Constrain your use of font’s to 1 or 2 and be intentional with font weight variations and the use of italics. These variations can add visual personality into the copy.

Keep all writing between 50 and 75 characters per line (CPL) for ultimate readability. This includes spaces and punctuation. It’s semi-scientific according to Christian Holst. Some people disagree with this, but you try reading a full page of super long lines and tell me if you don’t get a massive headache.

Don’t write a fucking book of a sales page. The more concise the better, just make sure it has the necessary components listed above.

Source: hello-cole

Source: hello-cole

Write how you talk. This isn’t college english Louise. Nuff said.

The call to action. It’s not necessarily always about the color of the call to action button (although it can be in some cases). A lot of it has to do with how different it is from it’s surrounding. Make sure your call to action and the button your visitor needs to click to buy stands out from the rest of the elements on the page. If your sales page uses a lot of green, make your call to action button a strong orange, if your sales page is all black, gray and white, choose a bright accent color for the call to action.

Source: Hubspot Blog

Source: Hubspot Blog

Use color strategically, no matter if you’re using the rainbow or a single color plus black and white.

If you’d like to learn more on the psychology of color in marketing and branding. Read this awesome article from Gregory Ciotti on the Help Scout blog.

Alright. Enough of my ranting.

Have a badass Tuesday!

Like when Alyson Hannigan walks down any street.

Source: fairiedepp

Source: fairiedepp

— Vince

 

How To Give Good Feedback To Your Freelancer

Feedback is an important part of any process. It’s important to the success of a project to your business and to the success of your designer’s business. Get the most out of giving and receiving feedback.

Give good feedback by being things… Descriptive, Constructive, Prepared and Present. That doesn’t make a cool acronym, but these things make good feedback.

Be Descriptive

It IS HELPFUL to describe what the original or standing objective of the design is, describe what you see your designer has presented to you and then if something is off or totally missing, ask them to come up with ideas to solve it. You could tell them exactly what to do, but most likely they will come up with something even better than what you thought of. So if you can stand it (and please do) leave it up to them, you hired them for a reason.

Be Constructive

This tactic carry’s the process at a high level and allows for and open atmosphere where great ideas can surface and flourish. Great ideas can come through a silly thought or even a ‘bad’ idea. Just because someone mentions something, doesn’t mean it’s inked into the plan. Approach the situation from a position of play. Don’t shoot. Shooting ideas down, sucks the energy right out of the process. Nothing good comes from this.

Be Prepared

Take the time your business deserves to really go through a proposed design solution. Read through the design reasoning notes or email that accompany the design. Let it sit, see if you can step into the shoes of your designer based on the information you provided them before they designed it. Let it sink in, step away and do something unrelated and then return to it. At that point go through and make your notes, the things you’d like to see different and the things you’d like to see stay. Having these notes by your side as you give your feedback are an amazing help.

Be Present

The phone is ringing, the emails are flying in, Facebook and Twitter are notifying you every 2 minutes, there’s hustle and bustle all around you as you sit down to work. Find a way too tune it out while you're giving feedback. Maybe you take some deep breaths, perhaps you find a quiet corner, or even step into your car for a minute (providing your near a wifi signal or if your car has wifi these days). It’s important to be present, be there with your designer whether you're on the phone or actually physically in the same space. 

Whether you’re working with a designer, a copywriter, developer, illustrator, the list goes on. Being descriptive, constructive, prepared and present should yield a better result and a better relationship with one another.


It will only work if you put it into practice. Next time you’re giving feedback, be these things.

— Vince

Rocking Your Online Business With Cinemagraphs

You may know about these already, but they're so awesome, I had to make them the subject of this email. In case you don't know: A cinemagraph is a still photo in which one part of the photo is animated. Like this.

I saw them earlier in 2014 and then hadn’t seen them for a while. For an upcoming project we need some motion elements without using much video. I could use gifs, but it seems cinemagraphs have this sophistication that many gifs (as I know them) lack.

Note that cinemagraphs are saved in gif file format, but when I think of a gif, I think of something that has a clear distinction of beginning an end or cut as the gif loops.  Something rough and hilarious or cutesy.

 

Source: catleecious

Source: catleecious

The cutest cat ever! It's clearly in shock and thinks it's a monkey.

... and I'm back.

I knew cinemagraphs could be used on websites and social media sites, but I wasn’t sure about paid Facebook ads and Instagram posts. My upcoming project is going to utilize these platforms to drive traffic to the website.

"I hate it when that happens" Source: rcinemagraphs

"I hate it when that happens" Source: rcinemagraphs

As it turns out the answer is YES! According to an article by Garett Slone, a contributor for Ad Week, cinemagraphs will work as paid ads and promoted posts because Facebook and Instagram allow autoplay on their ads. This feature is needed for a cinemagraph to work appropriately. I mean, it wouldn’t be cool to have to click on a play button just to see Nina Garcia’s hair blowing in the wind, it should just automagically flit away.

Subtly animated cinemagraphs are practically hypnotic.
— - Garett Slone

I think there’s going to be a lot more of these being used to represent brands this year. Offering an evolution to beautiful professional photos, cinemagraphs a mesmerizing motion factor of a little motion. They're not loud like video, but they catch your attention like one. They're not visually loud like a gif (as we know them), they’re more refined and visually specific. Perfect for marketing campaigns, to pimp out your website, and just for fine crafted, nerdy fun.

"Farewell..." Source: rcinemagraphs

"Farewell..." Source: rcinemagraphs

— Vince

Doing The Work Will Get You There

Confession time. I can be a bit of an ease dropper (an inherited trait) and I always find what other people are doing is AWESOME! But, sometimes I need to reel myself into what I'm doing and focus. Do you ever find yourself getting way into what other people are doing? 

When you’re running your own business. Sometimes you can begin to focus on what everyone else is doing rather than on what you’re doing and what you should be doing.

That person is working on that awesome comprehensive website project they landed, another person is about to finish up an awesome full brand identity project, and one of your friends is making sales hand over fist with their custom illustrations… What are you doing while you sit and envy your colleagues? NOT A DAMN THING.

You’re putting all of your attention towards things you don’t have, that you don’t get to work on, contracts that you don’t have instead of the projects that you do have. Your clients deserve your full attention on their project, even if it’s not a super exciting one. You have a business to run and envy has no place in it. If you’re being envious, you’re void of gratitude.

Being grateful acts as a springboard that helps you climb higher. Use it.

Use it to do the best job you can do for your current clients. This requires doing the work. It requires you to put your head down, use your noodle, solve the problems set before you and deliver your work on time. All the while remaining connected to why you chose to do what you're doing and how you’re thankful for the things you’re working on. Yes, great businesses are built by striving to work with the best of the market you pursue, those ideal people you really want to work with. Good businesses are also built on delivering what you say you’ll deliver, on time. It’s tricky to maintain these two fields of vision at the same time (or at least alternating between them quickly and frequently).

Because you’re running your own business, you have to keep an eye on the future and an eye in the present and another eye on near upcoming things, a fourth eye on your friendships a fifth on your family… We need so many eyeballs. But, for right now, while you have these projects to do, zero in on the solutions. Make that wireframe sing solution after solution. Give that logo design the most perfect kerning (character spacing) you’ve ever done.

Do it! Do the work. It’s how you’re going to get to where you want to go.

 

This article was first seen on my email newsletter, The Tuesday Post. To see my articles before everyone else, sign up for The Tuesday Post emails.