Case Study: Annette Pedersen

Reaching a Wider Audience
When Annette Pedersen decided to become certified in The Emotion Code, an energy healing modality, she knew it would be necessary to reach out to a wider audience. In order to attain her certification, Annette would need to provide at least 40 pro-bono sessions ~ in person, locally, and by phone. For Annette to connect with that many prospective clients, she needed a way for them to learn about her and decide if The Emotion Code would work for them.

A Healing Solution
It was clear that a website could help Annette reach more people. While she had previously created free sites for herself in the past, Annette hadn’t been entirely happy with the results, and didn’t know where to begin with a new site. I had met Annette through social media, and was honored when she contacted Barry-Jansson & Associates to help her figure out the best solution that would be very cost-effective while she’s getting certified and building her business, but would allow her to grow a bigger site when the time was right.

After Annette contacted me, I interviewed her about all her preferences for the new site including color, layout, sidebar and blog features. She wanted something professional looking that would be easy for her to update. I recommended a free site that she would later be able to migrate when the time was right, that would connect to a branded Facebook business page. We also brainstormed site names and options. I took notes as Annette shared her preferences. Then, Annette sent me photos to use in the header and content of the site.

I searched template options that would work best, established the new site location, created the banner graphic using the colors Annette preferred. Some of the photos required photo editing including brightening and cropping. I created a profile image for the site as well as for the site’s favicon (that little image that shows up in the browser tab / navigation bar), for Annette’s blog icon, and for her new Facebook page. When I created the Facebook page, I adapted the existing site header to work as the new cover image.

By the way, the sweet calico kitty in Annette’s site header is very important, not only because Annette is able to help humans and animals. The kitty’s name is Dot, and she always sits with (or ON) Annette during The Emotion Code phone sessions! (Many animal healers report that they often have certain animals in the house who want to “help out” when they work.) Dot enjoys being Annette’s energy helper, so it made a lot of sense to include her in the header image.

Setting Her Up for Success
Based on our interview, I was able to guess many of the finer details, but I knew that Annette would have final say once the site was completed. I presented the completed site and FB page to Annette, and she was thrilled. Now all she had to do was add content!

To that end, I spent some time coaching Annette on creating new blog posts, adding new pages, tweaking her sidebars, and adding photos. Now she was free to move forward on her own. Annette reports that the site and FB page are working wonders for her connecting with potential clients. Coordinating her site and social media allows Annette to share healing success stories, and a way for potential clients to contact her easily.

What do you think? Visit Annette’s new site and click here to visit her Facebook page.

Get the Most from Creative Professionals, Part 5

This article is a continuation of the discussion from Get the Most from Creative Professionals, Part 4. The first post in the series is here.

Managing the project
Once you have briefed the creative, signed the contract, and paid your up-front fee, it is time to step back and let the creative person do their job. They should keep the project on track and meet your deadline without your provocation. If you hired the right person, you should now be able to fully focus your energies on your other projects and leave the professional to do their job. If you have to hand-hold or constantly check on the progress, you are either micro-managing (who, you?) or you have not hired a professional.

At the same time, the professional creative will always keep you informed about project changes, and will not contact you unless additional information is required or they have hit a snag. Let them do their job. That’s why you hired a professional in the first place.

If you are feeling the urge to constantly check in, you are disturbing the process for a professional and frazzling the nerves of a newbie. Put your faith in the professional, and if the deadline slips, it’s time to hire someone else!

When you hire a seasoned person, they have been in business and stayed in business because they met deadlines and satisfied their customers on a regular basis. Leave it to the professional, and if they fail to meet a deadline or fail to keep you informed about the project, then they are in breach of the contract. You can deal with that bridge, should you ever come to it, and if so you will be very glad you put it all in writing. If you hire the more experienced, seasoned professional, however, you are far less likely to ever see that bridge!

Pay Your Invoice on Time
This is the most often over-looked *tip* on how to find and keep the best creative people available for you. We all have expenses to pay, and creatives are no different. A client who routinely pays quickly and respectfully is noticed and remembered, and given preference over clients who hold off paying. There are some large corporations who believe it’s an *honor* for anyone to contract with them. I bet they scramble when they want to hire a seasoned professional who has the choice who to work for!

If a creative met your deadline, pay back the favor by making sure their invoice is processed in 30 days or less. Yes, you get brownie points for every day less than 30 that the payment is received. OK, maybe not. 😉 However, I guarantee it will get noticed, AND the next time you call with a tight deadline, you will be glad you did!

Have some comments about hiring professional creatives? Put your comment below…

Ask Questions!
If you’d like your question answered, please click on this link to submit your question via email. We look forward to helping you with your presentation and illustration questions!

Get the Most from Creative Professionals, Part 4

This article is a continuation of the discussion from Get the Most from Creative Professionals, Part 3. The first post in the series is here.

Get it in Writing!
Even if the creative professional is your sibling—or your twin, create a contract that contains all of the project specifics, including project milestones (deadlines) and the payment schedule. When in doubt, write it down. 99.9999% of the client/creative issues can be resolved at the very beginning when the contract is drafted and signed. Don’t start the project until you have signed (and agreed) to all the project specifics. You will sleep better at night knowing that you are both on the same page.

Pay Your Deposit
Most professionals will ask for a certain amount of money to start the project, usually 50% for smaller projects, and 15-25% for projects over $10,000. This ensures them that you are professional, serious about hiring them, have a legitimate budget, and intend to complete the project. Cancellation fees are standard, and usually include payment of work completed plus either a set amount or a percentage of the overall project. In some cases, it makes more sense to restructure the project and complete it than it does to cancel. Considering that creative people are professionals just like you, who also need to eat and pay their bills, then you can understand why this is now the industry practice and endorsed by the major creative trade organizations.

With the project discussed, a signed contract in hand, deposit payment made, the creative professional is ready to get the ball rolling. It’s your turn to relax or refocus your attention on other projects. You will hear from a seasoned professional only if they have questions. Know that you have set yourself up for success by taking the steps you have.

Have some comments about hiring professional creatives? Put your comment below…

Ask Questions!
If you’d like your question answered, please click on this link to submit your question via email. We look forward to helping you with your presentation and illustration questions!

Get the Most from Creative Professionals, Part 3

This article is a continuation of the discussion from Get the Most from Creative Professionals, Part 2. The first post in the series is here.

How much to pay?
Pricing is based on the experience of the professional you are hiring, the deadline, and the location in which you are hiring. New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area are among the most expensive areas to live in the U.S., so expect to pay more for these services than you would in less expensive areas. Afterall, if you want to create a long-term relationship with your creative professionals, wouldn’t you want them to be able to earn a living just as you do?

When you think about pricing, realize there is only one thing that is truly important: knowing your budget! Who cares how much the hourly rate is if the project will cost more than you have budgeted?!? Don’t be caught in the penny-wise, pound-foolish trap of asking for the hourly rate. Hourly rates are deceiving and mean NOTHING when you don’t know exactly how long the project will take that person or organization to complete. You may think something would take 50 hours to complete because that’s how long you estimate it would take YOU. A seasoned creative is likely to complete your project correctly and effectively in much less time. It is far more important to know your bottom line (budget) and work within that.

I learned this lesson the hard way when I first started my business. I used to work in banking and feel very comfortable around numbers, so I decided to handle my own quarterly taxes. I was also focused on saving money. Problem was, I kept coming up with different figures and I didn’t know which one was right. Twenty wasted hours later, I called an accountant, and she did it correctly in 1 hour. My twenty hours versus her one hour, it was actually costing me MORE to do it myself versus hiring a professional. I’ve been using that same accountant every quarter ever since, and I also have the benefit of her tax experience and advice. Lesson learned: Save money by hiring a professional and let them do their job!

Say, for example, that you have $1,500 budgeted to have a professional person design and print a promotional postcard. If you hired a cheap, inexperienced person who charges $20 an hour, you could afford to pay for a total of 75 hours. If you hired a seasoned person who charges $100 an hour, you could afford to pay them for 15 hours. Is it really to your benefit to hire the cheaper person?

A less experienced person is more likely to make a lot of errors, be learning on your dime, wasting your time with unnecessary questions and endless phone calls, stalling the project with technical problems, or worse…being unable to solve your problem while they’ve eaten up your budget. It may seem a no-brainer to you that choosing the less expensive person is the right choice, but the experienced person brings far more to the table than just their cost and is more likely to save you money and time. How? By steering you toward the less expensive options, connecting you with other seasoned professionals who will also save your time and money, knowing what to avoid and when, and by being prudent with your budget. All this is because they are building a relationship with you, with the intention of doing business with you for many years.

When you first contact the creative professional, tell them what you were thinking of doing and state your budget. A knowledgeable person will happily tell you what they can do for you within your budget, and you can decide whether that solution will work for you. Proceed with signing the contract, if it feels right to you. It’s as simple and straight forward as that!

Get it in Writing!
Even if the creative professional is your sibling—or your twin, create a contract that contains all of the project specifics, including project milestones (deadlines) and the payment schedule. When in doubt, write it down. 99.9999% of the client/creative issues can be resolved at the very beginning when the contract is drafted and signed. Don’t start the project until you have signed (and agreed) to all the project specifics. You will sleep better at night knowing that you are both on the same page.

Most professionals will ask for a certain amount of money to start the project, usually 50% for smaller projects, and 15-25% for projects over $10,000. This ensures them that you are professional, serious about hiring them, have a legitimate budget, and intend to complete the project. Cancellation fees are standard, and usually include payment of work completed plus either a set amount or a percentage of the overall project. In some cases, it makes more sense to restructure the project and complete it than it does to cancel. Considering that creative people are professionals just like you, who also need to eat and pay their bills, then you can understand why this is now the industry practice and endorsed by the major creative trade organizations.

Managing the project
Once you have briefed the creative, signed the contract, and paid your up-front fee, it is time to step back and let the creative person do their job. They should keep the project on track and meet your deadline without your provocation. If you hired the right person, you should now be able to fully focus your energies on your other projects and leave the professional to do their job. If you have to hand-hold or constantly check on the progress, you are either micro-managing (who, you?) or you have not hired a professional.

At the same time, the professional creative will always keep you informed about project changes, and will not contact you unless additional information is required or they have hit a snag. Let them do their job. That’s why you hired a professional in the first place.

If you are feeling the urge to constantly check in, you are disturbing the process for a professional and frazzling the nerves of a newbie. Put your faith in the professional, and if the deadline slips, it’s time to hire someone else!

When you hire a seasoned person, they have been in business and stayed in business because they met deadlines and satisfied their customers on a regular basis. Leave it to the professional, and if they fail to meet a deadline or fail to keep you informed about the project, then they are in breach of the contract. You can deal with that bridge, should you ever come to it, and if so you will be very glad you put it all in writing. If you hire the more experienced, seasoned professional, however, you are less likely to ever see such a bridge!

Have some comments about hiring professional creatives? Put your comment below…

Ask Questions!
If you’d like your question answered, please click on this link to submit your question via email. We look forward to helping you with your presentation and illustration questions!

Get the Most from Creative Professionals, Part 2

This article is a continuation of the discussion from Get the Most from Creative Professionals, Part 1.

How long should it take?
Ok, if you need your project completed tomorrow morning and it’s already 5:15pm, then you probably know that your deadline is insane. Unfortunately, everyone experiences this kind of insanity every once in a while. However, if this type of deadline is more the rule than the exception at your company, it’s time to get some better time management tools. With such tight deadlines, it’s best to call someone you’ve worked with before who can hit the ground running, and you should expect to pay a premium for a rush job. It’s the cost of doing business on the bleeding edge. If you need to save money, start by planning projects well in advance to keep costs down.

However, if you have no set deadline, but don’t want to be caught in a never-ending project, either, then start with a reasonable deadline for the project. Do some research or ask your seasoned creative professional what is a reasonable deadline to design, review, tweak, and have a final review for your project before you sign on the dotted line. They will be able to guide you to less expensive options, if the timeline works for you.

If additional outside services are required, such as printing, add the outside services to the project timeline. For instance, a brochure may require photography of your product first, then design, then printing, then mailing. Allow two weeks for the design and then add the time for photography, printing, and mailing. A seasoned designer already has photography, printing, and mailing house contacts they trust, unless you have specific companies you prefer to work with. If you have such preferences, let the designer know that when you first approach them for the project.

Also, if the designer estimates that the project will take 8 hours, do not assume that those 8 hours are consecutive (i.e., 8am to 4pm). The truth is, the creative process is rarely linear. First, it’s not uncommon for the creative person familiarize themselves your project, then they will go off and do something else, while having your project in the back of their mind. Psychologists call this subconscious processing. Most creative folk will think about your project, on and off, 24 hours a day, until they have met your deadline. Lucky you, you are only paying for the time when they have resolved the creative issues and actually put the pieces of the puzzle together for you!

The person who sits down and does only what you asked them to do in a consecutive timeframe, without any other creative input (such as a copy center employee), is a production person…not a creative professional. Expect to pay this person much less, and get much less, than the person who is adding value to your project by using their creativity.

Have some comments about hiring professional creatives? Put your comment below…

Ask Questions!
If you’d like your question answered, please click on this link to submit your question via email. We look forward to helping you with your presentation and illustration questions!

Get the Most from Creative Professionals, Part 1

As an avid networker, I belong to a variety of professional organizations and their email lists. Often, questions come across these lists that highlight how little is known about working with a creative professional. These tips are designed to help you decide who is the best person to hire, and how to get the best (creative) work out of them.

What to look for when hiring creative professionals
Creative professionals do tend to be right-brain dominant, so they think and work differently than those who are left-brain dominant. As a result, the creative process is quite often is non-linear. However, a good professional will not bother you with those details, and you will never have to worry about them managing their own creative process. Successful creatives regularly meet the deadlines and address your project objectives, regardless of how they work.

If you are going to pay someone good money to create for you, it makes sense to seek out professionals who have experience and have made a living doing this for at least a few years. Yes, less experienced creatives will be eager and charge less per hour, but that’s the catch: inexperienced creatives usually take longer and make more mistakes than a seasoned pro.

Like most professions, the longer you’ve done it, the more likely…

A.) You are going to continue doing that kind of work and be available in the future

B.) You have been there, done that, and learned the hard lessons

C.) You know the smartest and fastest way to accomplish the project objectives, and…

D.) You will be mindful of meeting your client’s needs within their budget and endeavor to establish a long-term relationship (because you intend to stay in business). That makes sense, right?

So, look for the seasoned person with experience using the skills you need. You’ll save money and headaches immediately, and in the long run. Keep in mind that a creative organization, such as an agency, may have been in business a while, but their staff may be full of newbies who are stumbling through the projects. Take the time to find out how long the people you are interacting with have worked in their industry.

When you hire seasoned professionals, you are also paying for all their experience, which is ultimately less expensive than having others learn their job on your dime.

Have some comments about hiring professional creatives? Put your comment below…

Ask Questions!
If you’d like your question answered, please click on this link to submit your question via email. We look forward to helping you with your presentation and illustration questions!