A Seattle local who is doing it right. Chase Charvis, awesome photographer. This is a video of his keynote at the PhotoPlus Expo last month, don’t matter if you’re not a photographer — if you’re passionate about what you do, watch this and be inspired.
Is this a rant or a pep talk? I don’t know – maybe a little of both. Been reading for the Pagebreak Podcast, been talking with people who are doing some awesome things that are making them very happy and also been talking with people who aren’t doing much and can’t figure out why they aren’t happy. It’s all got my brain lighting up… So how can you change the world and get rich doing NOTHING?!?!!???
It was not that long ago when the adage “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know ” really held a lot of weight. The gatekeepers of industries held futures in their hands and success in some areas was widely dependent on getting that “big break” or “being discovered.” Once you got that then you would “make it.”
At this time, right now… all of these concepts seem so dated to me, yet so many still hold them as truths and use them as essentially as an excuse for why they can’t do what they really want to do, why they have no power and why they are unhappy with life.
Is it just that it will take a longer time for these old ideas to die out or are people clinging to them because doing so means they can ignore the new reality?
We live in an age where the internet has afforded anyone with a connection a voice. If you have something remarkable to share with the world and you can (are willing to) dedicate your time and energy into sharing this remarkable thing with as many people as you can by cultivating a community, you have power. No one gave people like Perez Hilton or Gary Vaynerchuk a “big break,” and these guys are no where near superstars – but they’re something even better. They are putting out into the world something authentic to themselves, they are doing what they want to do in life and they have created it on their own by working hard, being real and genuinely caring about what they do.
If you are reading this and thinking “They got lucky, not everyone can do that,” well — you’re right and wrong. No, not everyone can create their own celebrity gossip empire, Perez did. If you can do it better than him, do it! If you can’t — I bet there is something that is unique to you, that YOU can do better than anyone else, do that.
So you can listen and decide to use all these amazing opportunities available to you to your advantage, or you can continue waiting for someone to give you that “big break.” It’s your choice.
Just realize that if you choose the later and you are never happy and you never have power and you never effect any meaningful change in the world around you — you have no excuses and no one to blame but yourself.
Yesterday I was featured on Web Design Ledger amongst 50 Web Designers and Developers to follow on Twitter. Someone finally clued me into this when I noted what a random occurance that I had such an unusual amount of new followers that day.
First, I want to say thanks to Thomas Hardy who including me on that list. There’s so many faces and names included that are people I admire, who have been both supportive and entertaining members of the web design community — so to be bunched into that group is flattering in the extreme.
Second, thanks to any new people who are finding this blog now because of that post! Welcome! In a nutshell, I’m a (still barely) 20-something internet nerd and crazy cat lady who resides in Seattle, WA where I run a one woman design studio. I specialize in Web Design and WordPress, but I have a full background in branding and print work — so i do all that stuff too. CMD+Shift Design is all about delivering work I am proud of to business that I want to see succeed. This blog aims to help other designers, developer and small business owners to learn from some of my experiences.
Lastly, I just want to say that I’ve met so many cool people just by publishing what I write here, so both new visitors and regular readers — thank you thank you thank you for being a part of this blog with me!
Sorry for the lull in posting lately. Last week I spent a quick (but very fun) visit down to San Francisco to see my nephew graduate from High School. I was only in town for less than 30 hours, but managed to pack every second with laughs and food consumption (it’s what me and my brothers do best!)
Upon my return to the office it was time to wrap up a project I started a few weeks back with a local non-profit organization called, The Healing Center. I usually don’t post on my blog about client projects, but I’m mixing it up a bit and also this is inspiration for a post I want you guys to help me out with!
It was a great experience working with The Healing Center, they are a grief support community for children, teens and familes in the Seattle area and their founders are a group of creative and hardworking women! Check out their brand spankin’ new site and if you have a little love to share (in the $$$ form, send it their way – they will put it to good use!)
Have you done any work with a non-profit or charity organization (either pro-bono or at a discounted rate.) Send me links or images of the finished project and share with us about the experience!
Submit your responses via this Wufoo form and I will compile them all into a post later this month! :)
Art, at least art as i define it, is the intentional act of using your humanity to create a change in another person. - Seth Godin, Linchpin (page 99)
Today my client and friend Laura Marchbanks invited me to attend Visitors Day with the Networking group she is a part of (The Northstar chapter of BNI.) It was by far the best experience I have had at a networking event! I met some very friendly people, had a few laughs and ended up running out of business cards! I have not made any decisions about weather this group is something I want to make an ongoing commitment to — but it was a great way to spend this Tuesday afternoon and it got me inspired for some new blog material! So here we go…
If you are looking to get more involved in face-to-face business networking, you first will need to decide what type of group will best suit your needs, your brand and your business. There is no real right or wrong on this, it just has to do with what you are looking to put in and what you will be expecting to get out, so here is the basics on the 3 different types of face-to-face business networking groups that you might find out there.
Social groups are pretty standard fare, and probably what most of us have had experience with when it comes to business networking. These are usually non-structured gatherings set in a social setting like a bar or party. The social business group is all about “mingling” or “schmoozing”, you “work the room” and meet various others that may or may not turn into business leads. These can be fun or painfully awkward depending on your personality type. I tend to not enjoy these that much since most of my experiences at these include people who aren’t having very genuine exchanges, they feel cheesy a lot of the time… but perhaps I just haven’t been to a good one yet.
Examples of Business Networking Social Groups and/or where to find out about them (some of these are local to the Pacific Northwest of Seattle, but it gives you an idea of what I am talking about): Your local Chamber of Commerce, Girl Power Hour, Biznik…
The main focus of this type of a referral group is to generate leads for your fellow members. These are often set up as non-compete groups – meaning every niche is only covered by one person in each group. (one tax attorney, one massage therapist, etc — you get the picture!) They are also very structured because they’re all about business! These types of groups can be good for those of you who enjoy structure, their clear cut agenda makes the socializing come easier – you know everyone there is there because they want to learn about you and your business and they want to talk about theirs. Plus the structured atmosphere gives you a sense of urgency about networking — if you know you have 20 minutes to meet the newcomers, you make it a point to talk to them, but when you have 2 hours to “work the room” you may end up migrating to a circle you already feel comfortable with.
Examples of Business Networking Referral Groups and/or where to find out about them (some of these are local to the Pacific Northwest of Seattle, but it gives you an idea of what I am talking about): BNI, I Take the Lead, Local Business Network, LeTip…
These groups are targeted to your industry. You see these a lot on sites like Meetup.com and they can be more social but tend to be more of a business support group of sorts. You meet for breakfast with 8 other local Freelance WordPress Developers and you can advise each other on client matters, marketing strategies, new technologies and all sorts of things you may not hear from other business owners who are not in your particular industry.
Examples of Business Networking Trade Associations and/or where to find out about them (some of these are local to the Pacific Northwest of Seattle, but it gives you an idea of what I am talking about) (for designer/developers/freelancers): AIGA, GAG, Mediabistro…
If you’re a designer and you have not heard about Dribbble, you must be living under a rock! The community has been abuzz about this new online design network for weeks now. Dribbble is an invite only design critique community, similar to ConceptFeedback.com and as of yesterday, I was finally “drafted” off the bench!
Now — so far, it seems like a fun community to be a part of, but what has been most interesting to me is how everyone who isn’t a part of it yet is hurting for an invite! I was whining on Twitter for several days before I got one. In fact, in the early stages of the sites launch when people started talking about it, I wanted in before I was even 100% sure what it WAS! What is this? I don’t know, but someone invite me! All I knew was a lot of cool designers were a part of something and I wanted in!
The power of exclusion is pretty amazing, people want what they can’t have (or so they say.) I think I understand Dribbbles reasons for their set up, closing the site to be invite only puts the power of who is part of the group into the design community itself, possibly cultivating a higher quality of users — however, I can’t help but think in other ways all it really does is run on that Junior High “popularity contest” rule. Making it invite only doesn’t nessecarily mean the most valuable designers get drafted, people will draft their friends.
What are your thoughts on this? Have you used Dribble? Are you looking for an invite? (I don’t have any yet!) What do you think of the “invite only” policy — is it about quality, exclusion, or just a marketing scheme?
I have had bad issues with Network Solutions over the past 6 months dealing with security and their ability (or willingness) to take whatever steps nessecary to insure security. I have never said a bad word of them in public, I’ve given them second and third and fourth chances.
Yesterday my static portfolio website got compromised AGAIN, and I am finally speaking up in the HOPES that maybe my someone at Network Solutions will listen up and step up their game on making sure this site can stay secure for me and my clients and for all of you!
I’d love if any of you want to send them a Twitter message and let them know we are counting on them to help this site stay safe! (@netsolcares) by sure to mention me, @cmdshiftdesign in your message!
Yesterday I contacted them via Twitter and got some good talk from the customer service rep. I asked that a server support agent CALL ME within a day and they agreed to arrange that.
When my site was flagged by Google this morning, I DM’d @netsolcares again about it and within a couple hours someone called me. Great! Except, this was not a server specialist, this was another customer service rep. (No hate to you Customer Service people, I’ve been you before – you guys deserve love when you do your job well!) I was frustrated that I couldnt talk to someone who could really discuss the issue with me.
The rep told me she was going to put in a request for their technicians to scan my site for malicious code, I told “I have done this already myself – and removed the injected problem. What I would like you to request please is for your technicians to examine the server my files are on to make sure it is up to date with all security patches, and to let me know why this breach happened and what they have done specifically to assure it will not happen again.” She agreed to this and we hung up. It’s now 10:30 at night, Google has finally rescanned my site and the blockade has been lifted! But… I guess we’ll see tomorrow when I hear from Network Solutions.
<3 you guys! Thank you for all the Tweets of concern and support today about the site being down – I do appologize and I am doing all I can to make sure this won’t happen again!
“I own and operate a one-woman design studio,” that is part of my elevator speech, when people outside of the freelance community ask what I do – this is usually what I tell them.
As time goes on, I steer further away from using the word “freelance”, because of what it communicates. Freelance refers to a self-employed individual who does not have a work agreement with any one company, but has free range to work for multiple businesses for varying lengths of times. This does not describe me, I do work for only one company — CMD+Shift Design.
I know some of you who are involved in the freelance community are not working as true free agents, but running small (but well oiled!) design firms. What do YOU think of the word “Freelance?”
Many of you may already know that I spent my weekend flipping through books, talking to artists and meeting Sci-Fi celebrities at the annual Seattle geekfest known as the Emerald City Comicon* .
It was a really fun weekend and extremely inspiring! As many of you who are creatives, you might relate to this, except for a few of my buddies who share some of my nerdisms – I am so rarely surrounded by a group of people who will laugh at the same subversive jokes as me and where the more you embrace your geekery, the “cooler” you are.
No doubt, times have changed. The blockbuster super hero movies and the mainstream adoption of the internet has made a lot of things that once were reserved for the uber-nerd much more socially acceptable — but there is still a line between those who will shell out $8 to go see Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man at their local Cineplex and those who will spend a wad of cash, an entire weekend and several hours of waiting in lines to attend a Comicon. Being a part of the weekends festivities, I took away a few freelance related lessons to share!
Being nice is really under estimated, and in todays world, it is really unexpected when people are nice, so it means a lot. I met a few cast members from The Guild, and was really surprised at how genuinely happy they were just to chit chat with some fans of the show and how appreciative they were of the support.
When you’re building a brand on the internet, your power is in your audience — without them, there is nothing to save you! You can apply this to building your blog or even in a design studio — your clients are all that is standing between you living your entrepreneurs dream or going back to the daily grind working for someone else. So be nice, show people the respect and appreciation they deserve!
It’s an adage that gets a lot of flack, “just be yourself,” but I think people misunderstand this. I don’t take it to mean that if sitting in your room alone doodling in your sketchbook and watching old episodes of Shera make you happy, do it and expect to succeed. I see it as, take what you love and work your damnedest to embrace that and make it your life!
The other cliche, “life is too short.” It ain’t. Life is long. Unexpected illness and traffic accidents excluded, chances are – you are going to be on this planet for a long while — so how do you want to spend that time? Life’s too long to spend it trying to fit into someone elses mold of success, so define it for yourself and live it!
This weekend made me feel really good about pursuing my creative career and also made me realized that I wanted to branch out my social network of other creatives. I love web design, but design and business lessons can be learned from writers, crafters, and comic artists – so open your creative circle!
* note from liz: If you’re not into comics, give them a chance! They aren’t all for kids and they aren’t all super powers and capes. There are books out there of all different generes from mysteries to sci-fi to romantic comedies. You can get into a series, try out some graphic novels, or subscribe to a web comic. It’s a great entertainment and art medium and if you don’t know much about it, give it a chance — you will not regret it.