Aim for the goal, shoot for the stars and adjust as you go...
Obviously there is need to be in touch with reality, but this statement is meant to rally.
A business in peril that isn’t adjusting… HECK, any business that isn’t adjusting as it goes forward is going to crash and burn. Just because you have a plan doesn’t mean you don’t tweak it. That’s why you don’t plan everything to the ‘Nth” degree before you start moving. You plan enough, but not the whole shebang. You can’t predict everything that’s coming from moment to moment.
Be dynamic. If you approach your business, your launch, your product, your writing, your life in an adjustable way, you’ll have a chance.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’m doing it by hand! Writing that is.
Do you have trouble writing, but you really want to? I do. But I found a way thats working, perhaps it can work for you too.
Write it by hand.
It’s been researched and tested that writing down notes by hand will improve your comprehension of information because you’re having to summarize what you’re writing, but what about just improving your writing in general?
The connection between thought and hand is real. Writing by hand can help you slow your thoughts down and form better and more complete sentences. I’m typing this text, versus writing by hand (which I did earlier) and I can tell a difference. As I type, I find that I have to pause to catch my thoughts and then start up again. Writer Susan Sontag would always write her first drafts by hand because she liked the slowness of it. Truman Capote wrote his first and second drafts (perhaps more) by hand. Writing by hand does make you a better writer (with continual practice).
If you’re just getting into writing (like me), one thing that can happen is your mind races so fast that you can’t record your complete thoughts and furthermore have trouble forming your thoughts into a body of language that makes sense. This happens to me often, so I decided to make a practice of writing by hand first. I’ve been doing this for the past week and I can tell it’s helping me slow my thoughts down. I’ve taken it a step further with a morning writing practice.
I began a handwritten free writing practice every morning. I sit and write three full pages by hand right when I wake up. It has a meditative effect, where concerns, floating ideas, and random thoughts flow out of my head and onto paper. Over the course of the day, I find my anxiety level is lower (for the most part) and my mind is clearer. It’s fun too.
Writing by hand can reduce distraction. If you’re writing by hand and your computer screen is put to sleep (or not in front of you) there’s immediately fifty-billion less things to distract you from writing.
No Grumpy Cat I’m busy right now.
On the computer my mind wanders to far off cyber lands. Before I know it my fingers have tapped and taken me to Pinterest and Twitter for an eye candy free-for-all of design bits and snarky memes and even snarkier tweets.
Addictions aside. The point is, writing by hand with pen and paper (in a relatively quiet space) works. Better writing, less stress, more focus.
Give it an honest trial.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.