Tuesday, March 29, 2011

which hat are you wearing today?

If you're a freelancer or entrepreneur, running your business from a home office or studio, you tend to wear many different hats during the week. This is definitely true in my case. It can be so frustrating when you have to change your hat many times during the week or even in one day. It's days like those when I truly wish there were two of me!

Here are seven tips that have helped me tremendously in running my design business:
  1. Hire a great CPA to handle all of your financials. Not a good one but a great one! Someone you can trust completely with all of your personal information. I don't know what I would do without mine because he's been wonderful with handling all of the financial stuff that I know nothing about. And I also have learned a lot from his guidance and that's one less hat I have to wear!
  2. Organize your work space so you know where everything is and are not wasting time looking for a misplaced receipt or invoice. With that said, have a proper place such as a binder to keep all your receipts, bank statements, invoices, paystubs, etc. even if you keep tract of finances online—your CPA will love you!
  3. Set aside only one day a week (or two at the most) for meetings. I try to only schedule meetings one day a week because if I had them every single day, then I would not get anything else done in the studio. I know this is impossible at times because on top of meetings, I might have a photoshoot or press check during the week but that's part of my life as a designer so I have no control over those.
  4. Set aside time on a certain day for paperwork such as invoicing and paying bills. It should only take a few hours if you do it every week instead of waiting until the end of the month when you have a huge pile to sort through.
  5. Stay focused by scheduling time each day to call new prospects or clients, checking and sending emails, tweeting, blogging, etc. I like to start each day by checking my emails and twitter and then make my phone calls. Then I can concentrate on my design projects. When I'm really focused, you will not see any tweets from me!
  6. Team up with the best people in your field who can give you a hand when necessary. There are times when I'm juggling many projects and I might bring in a copywriter or illustrator to help out with a special one.
  7. Learn to say "NO". This one was the hardest for me since I'm always eager to please and want to help everyone. But it's impossible to do everything and attend every networking event. I found this out quickly! Only join groups that you feel passionate about. And that goes for networking events also. Only attend the ones that will benefit you and don't conflict with your workload or family life. It isn't worth going if you have to stay up until 3:00 a.m. getting a project completed. Just say no!
How do you manage your schedule when you have to wear many hats?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

designer turned stylist for a day

I was a prop stylist for a day while also art directing a photo shoot for one of my clients. This doesn't happen that often. Normally, a professional stylist is hired for the shoot, but due to a tight budget, my client wanted me to shop for props for a "modern cool" look to go with his beautiful bamboo shades. Since I love to shop for unique things for my studio and home, how difficult can shopping for props be? So I did quick sketches, made a list and then ventured out to two of my favorite stores, TJ Maxx and Marshalls. What began as a fun shopping spree quickly turned into a very long afternoon. I now truly understand why stylists charge what they do because it's more work than you would think! And Emily Henderson from "Secrets of a Stylist" makes it look so easy! My final selections are shown above with the color palette I was going after.

My goal was to add contrast and color to the dark bamboo shades along with telling a story for each widow vignette that was shot. There wasn't much wall space so the artwork wasn't even used. Overall the shoot went well but if I had to do it over again, I would have layered each shot more with texture and colors. And a chair or bench would have been perfect to use for layering accessories but I had no more room in my SUV! The final photos are shown below and will be used only on the web site. They still need some minor retouching and brick will be added to one of the bottom shots to give it more of a loft feel. Isn't photoshop wonderful!

What would you have done differently?