HubSpot Inbound Marketing Certification

Completed the HubSpot Inbound Marketing Course, passed the final exam, and I’m now Inbound MarketingCertified! Learned a completely new customer centric marketing approach. Did I mention that it’s free?

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Content Management 101

Content Management is a key element for any business, especially in today’s modern connected world. From blogs, social media, and video production, it’s difficult to know where to start and how to manage it all.

Have a CMS

Buffer-Hootsuite-Sprout-Social-1.jpgMake your job as a content manager easier and more efficient by setting up a Content
Management System
(CMS). If you search for Content Management Systems on Google the results will be endless, but there are some leading CMS platforms that most businesses utilize: Hootsuite, SproutSocial, and Hubspot.

Have a Posting Schedule

After you have a CMS platform set up then you need to start planning a posting schedule. Each day should have a different goal: engagement, promotion, education, humor, etc. In order to build a following, you need to supply your audience with content that is relevant to them and their interests. No one wants to follow or support a company that is in it for simply self-promotion. Care for your customers and they will care for your business and products. 

Variety is the Spice of Life (and Content)

In order to keep your audience engaged, you need to supply content that is varied, interesting, and engaging. Share pictures, videos, articles, and ask questions. The more you do this, the closer you get to understanding your audience and their interests. This will lead to more consistent, relevant, and engaging content production.

Practice to Improve 

“Practice makes Perfect” is a saying that I’m sure EVERYONE has heard at one time or another. As someone who struggles with being a perfectionist in most aspects of life, I am constantly having to step back to remind myself that practice leads to improvement.

One comparison that supports this is through painting. No piece of artwork is ever truly complete. There’s always something else that could be tweaked or more time devoted to the overall image. An artist that obsesses about perfecting a piece will struggle to finish it. This is where we, as creators, must learn to accept that a finished piece doesn’t always mean perfection.

As an art student, each new assignment was an obstacle. In the brainstorming stage, I would think of ideas and then become dissatisfied because I’d also be aware of certain problems with those ideas. Eventually, I would have a breakthrough, settle for one idea, and like what I was producing. This cycle was exhausting. I couldn’t understand how my classmates appeared to come up with a topic so easily and be content in their decision.

This struggle stems from the saying “I’m my own worst critic,” which definitely rings true. I don’t have this mindset when working in a team environment though and I would much rather create something with someone else in mind. Since realizing this about myself, I’ve devoted my creative gifts to helping others with their design projects.

My advice for others is to have faith in your own creativity, in your gifts and talents. Practice for perfection and it’ll be difficult but practice to improve and you will.

3 Awesome Design Resources

Every designer has a bag of tricks, a collection of resources that they use during their creative projects. Just like in painting, high-quality art materials can affect the appearance of the final product. Don’t make that mistake. The following are 3 awesome design resources that are also FREE!

Creative Market

Creative Market acts as an online art community where creatives can share and sell art source files. Best feature is the Free Goods promotion the site has every week!

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Adobe Kuler 

Adobe Kuler is a great resource for finding that
perfect color palette. This resource also comes in a nifty mobile app version. So you can reference your favorite photos for color inspiration!

kuler

Pexels

Stock photos can be great when you need images for a project that you aren’t able to have taken professionally or take them yourself. While there are some great stock images out there, they can be expensive. Pexels is a site that provides free stock photo images.

pexels-stock-photos-b3d10c31f607f9971c55287b4518b7374d8f82fee1246c1baba546d922688265

5 Social Media Video Tips 

Social Media is a great way to increase brand exposure, grow a dedicated following, and ultimately drive traffic towards your website. What is the best content to share? What is most engaging? That answer is simple: videos. The following tips are what I’ve discovered to bring success in online videos.

1. Keep it Short

When you analyze the audience retention rate on Facebook or Youtube, you’ll find that bjhwq38cqaew2smost viewers only stick around to watch the first 5 seconds of a video. This gives them enough time to decide if it’s worth their time. So as the content creator, you only have 5 seconds to convince them that your video is worth watching from start to finish. Keeping a video just under a minute is the best practice. A minute should be enough time for someone to convey a message without losing the audience’s attention.

2. Keep it Simple

Along with keeping the video short, make sure it isn’t complicated. The more that’s going on, the less likely the audience will be to stick around and try to decipher it. So showing the product or main topic of the video within the first few seconds is the best way to grab the viewers attention. Not only should the video content be simple, but the description and video title should also be kept short and concise. Let the audience know what the video is about but still leave a little mystery so they will want to find out more.

3. Use Subtitles

Part of making a great video is taking how subtitles-are-important1.jpgyour target audience will be viewing into consideration. I know that if I’m scrolling through a page online in public, I don’t want to play videos with sound. I still want to watch them but if the only way I can get the information is by turning the sound on then I will leave that video and look for an article instead. By including subtitles you make sure that your audience will be able to watch the message you have for them no matter what the circumstances might be.

4. End with a Branding Slide

At the end of the video include a slide that shows your logo and other important contact information. This is a good time to give a shoutout to all your other social media sites: Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. This slide acts as a conclusion to the video story. It helps point your audience to more ways they can keep up with your brand’s awesome content!

5. Promote! Promote! Promote!

After launching your video on one channel, continue promoting it through the rest of your online social channels. Be careful not to do this too often, though; you don’t want to bore your following with the same content.

Creativity, Communication, Critical Thinking, & Collaboration 

Over the past few years, I’ve discovered that there are four main contributors to a successful design project: Creativity, Communication, Critical Thinking, and Collaboration.

Creativity & Critical Thinking Begin with You

Of course, with any art related project, one must utilize creativity. You don’t have to be a professional artist working in traditional mediums to be creative. The key to creativity is constant exposure to stimulating visual content for inspiration. So start researching artists and designers that have a design style that YOU admire and truly appreciate! This research will give you more understanding of your own creative style: anywhere between classically clean or more abstract and modern. Knowing your style will enable you to be a better designer for yourself and, of course, your clients.

Being able to think critically towards a design problem is also important. Part of the battle is knowing what tools you have, understanding how those tools work, and when they are best utilized.

Through constant research and inspiration you will begin to think more critically and creatively when faced with a design problem.

Communication is Crucial

The professional relationship that exists between designer and client is dependent on communication. A designer should keep the client updated throughout the design process with regular progress reports and updates.

banner1_writing-an-effective-design-brief-thumbnail-1x1In my own work, I do an initial design brief. This brief outlines what I plan to do for a specific project and what will be required from the client to achieve the goal design (this also ties in with the aspect of collaboration).

Once the design brief is completed the designer can begin working on a proof (essentially a first draft of the design).

If there is a breakdown in communication then that will show through the design process. This miscommunication will make for a difficult project, one with increasing design time and multiple proofs.

The brief aims to cut down on design time and make the design process easier for both parties involved.

Creativity & Collaboration Work Together

The third aspect that creates a successful design is collaboration. Yes the client is essentially coming to the designer to provide a service and the designer should be an expert in the service they are providing. That being said, if you were to look up the word “expert” in a dictionary, mindreader would NOT be a synonym.

best-ideas-light-bulb-574wDesign work requires a “meeting of the minds.” Much like the purpose of the design brief,
collaborating with the client will cut down on the guess work involved for the designer.

Imagine you want a birthday card designed, in this scenario let’s make it for your son, Hunter. The designer asks the When, Where, Who, What Time questions. You answer all and are told to expect a proof the following day. Before leaving you mention that your son loves the color blue.

You receive the proof the following afternoon and are disappointed. The color scheme is in shades of light blue but your party decorations are shades of dark blue. Now this won’t be difficult for the designer to change but could’ve been avoided during an earlier stage of the process by either party (designer asking a more specific question, or the client stating the use of a particular color instead of simply saying”his favorite color is blue.”

JPG vs PNG

One thing that I frequently have to explain to clients is the importance of understanding which files should be used for certain mediums.

JPG (lossy compressed file)

Files saved in jpg format are best used for printing purposes. Jpg files can be saved in CMYK or RGB.

If you were to place a CMYK jpg file on a website, for example, the colors will not be the same in comparison to a printed copy.

Files to save in this format:

  1. Photographs
  2. Realistic images

PNG (lossless compressed file)

Files saved as a png are more suited for web purposes. Once again, png files can be saved in either CMYK or RBG color formats but they are also able to be saved with a transparent background. This makes them better suited for overlaying pictures on websites.

Files to save in this format:

  1. Line drawings
  2. Vector graphics
  3. Text


Watch a brief video for more info on JPG vs PNG