actual snippet from a brand strategy presentation of mine.
I’ve spent a lot of time the past couple of months experimenting with new or updated additions to my design process. And as promised, I’m ready to share some of what I’ve found with you all, starting with the importance of brand strategy. This is something that I’ve struggled with for years, mainly because I wasn’t sure how far to go. I saw some designers keeping things simple with a short (but important) list of questions for their clients to answer, while others spent months digging in and getting to know their clients inside and out, complete with an elaborate presentation, all before the actual design began. Everyone has their own way of doing things, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned about branding a business, it’s this: the better you understand your client and their business, the better you are as a designer. It’s as simple as that. If you are genuinely invested in your clients and doing what you need to do to understand their goals, it’s going to be THAT much easier to help them create a brand that works + lasts. So what exactly do I do? Here’s a step by step overview:
After working with my friend Jen on the Be Free, Lance workshop for over a year now, I thought it would be fun to share some tips (and apps!) I’ve picked up on to help make collaboration a breeze. Working with someone else can be an amazing and insightful experience, but if you aren’t organized or on the same wave length, it becomes that much more difficult to operate. So why not make life easier?
GOOGLE DRIVE One of the first things we did when starting our collaboration was to create a shared Google Drive folder specifically for our project that we could both access. Within that folder, there are OTHER folders (surprise surprise) that help keep everything organized. We have a section for course content, finances, and a few other things, too. This way, we can both update documents at the same time, collaboratively edit, and not have to send files back and forth, which is a major time saver.
DROPBOX Jen and I are both synched up with DropBox, so that we can access our files absolutely anywhere (highly recommended). I signed up a little late in the game, but after I got myself situated, Jen invited me to her “Be Free, Lance” folder and everything has gone SO much smoother since. Now, instead of having our own folders on our respective desktops, we see the exact same things. If I edit a file, Jen automatically has the updated version. Or if Jen creates a new folder and fills it with important files, I’ll be able to see it as well. I can’t tell you how slick this is. I’ll never go back. ;)
SPLIT TASKS Whenever you start a new collaboration, it’s important to talk about who does what. Assess each of your individual skills and assign different tasks so that the work is split up evenly. For example, I have more of a background in website development, so I handle a lot of the “tech” stuff related to the BFL website. And since that takes time, Jen has stepped in to be the main designer on our website and marketing materials, as that’s something that takes time as well. Other little things, like who posts to what social media outlets, can (and should) be discussed!
TODOIST So you’re already sharing files seamlessly and have decided who does what. But how do you create a plan and system so that you’re both aware of what’s happening at any given time? This is where ToDoist comes in for us. Inside ToDoist, we have a specific BFL folder where we can list tasks, assign them to a certain person, and set due dates. We started off sharing timelines in email, but those quickly got buried or lost, so this has become a lifeline! Now, we know exactly who needs to do what and when they need to do it by. And when a task is complete, we simply check it off and move on! I’m completely obsessed.
COMMUNICATE Despite having all of these cool apps and feeling organized, it’s still extremely important to make sure that you’re always communicating. If you have an idea that you’re not sure about, share it! That’s what collaboration is all about … working together to create something BETTER than you could do yourself. Or if you feel like there’s too much on your plate, speak up! Open + honest communication is the backbone to a successful collaboration. If you have that, you’re already ten steps ahead. ;)
PS Registration for our second Be Free, Lance workshop is only open until this coming Monday!! Our private facebook group is already buzzing around with new relationships and introductions, and I’m excited to see how it flourishes from there. We hope you can join us!
GOOD NEWS!! Registration for the second Be Free, Lance workshop is now open. :) We learned a lot through the first round, and have been working really hard over the past few months to make some substantial additions to the course as a whole. PLUS, we also redesigned the website (to be a one pager) and our branding, so that was fun. You can check it all out right here and learn more about the BFL community in general.
So what can you expect this time around? Well, all of the existing content is there, but we’ve made some exciting new changes, too. First, there are now templates for designers to download and use as a guide for getting started (think: media kit, project proposals, and invoicing). Then, there are also a few screencasts, where Jen and myself walk you through some of the most important parts of the design process, like project management and finances. Beyond that, there are new interviews, 12,000+ new words (that was fun to count), and the continuation of our amazing online community filled with friendly + helpful designers, just like you.
Out of everything, I think our private Facebook group was my favorite part about the first experience. Everyone was able to connect, learn from one another, and even establish new relationships, which is pretty cool to witness. Jen and myself have always wanted this to be a warm community, and we’re excited to see how everything grows from here. Registration will be open until May 18th, so if you’re interested in joining us, make sure to sign up soon! We hope to see you there … the more the merrier. :)
PS. We are also offering private consultations this time around for designers who are looking for a little something extra. To learn more about this, click right here. But hurry! There are only 5 spots available …