How to survive a lull

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5 ways to stay calm during a work drought 

You know how it is, the beginning of the year is always full of hope and full of work, your calendar and white board is booked up for months, you are panicking thinking how are you going to get through all this work...then April comes and goes and so does the work, I call it the “Great Dry May”. For me it’s always May! Back in the day I used to panic and think I used to think this is the end...I’m doomed! 

But not anymore, I’ve been in business 9 years this year and survived just as many “Great Dry Mays”! I now use the great dry may to plan ahead with when thing inevitably ramp up again. 

Here is 5 ways I stay calm in a work drought.

  1. It’s all those blog post you wanted to write all year but haven’t had time. (Like this one). Get some topics written a schedule them in to publish over the next few months so you don’t have to think about it when work picks up again.

  2. Update your website with new work, maybe change a few things up, keep it fresh. I’m going to change a few images and add some new work to my portfolio that I never have time to do. Don’t forget to update the years you’ve been in business for of years of experience.

  3. Make a social media plan, break it up in to events for each month then break it down again in to weeks of days, like the blog post, schedule these to go out so you don’t have to think about it. TIP: you will get a better reach to schedule direct from the app rather than using a 3rd party app. 

  4. Update your skills and learn something new. That’s one thing that no one can ever take from you is knowledge. Udemy have some great short corses so you can learn something that will benefit your business. Skillshare is also great. I use Lynda.com a lot and if you have a library card you can usually access it for free. I’m actually taking it one step further and I’ve signed up to do History of Art and design through open university. I can’t wait! It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.

  5. Contact some past clients and ask them if they need any help or know someone that does. It can’t hurt to send out a newsletter to let people know that you have a rare clear calendar and recommend clients get in touch before things pick up again in the new financial year.

Just remember things will pick up again and try to relax, get some exercise and enjoy the downtime while you have it. 

*Disclaimer: I'm a great graphic designer, not a copywriter - spelling and grammar is not my thing. See this post for what it is...An extremely passionate graphic designer, that wants to share her knowledge with you (possibly with a couple of spelling mistakes)!

My logo design creative process.

I often get complemented on my process so I though I would share it with you so you can see how special it really is. Its taken me a few years to perfect and Im quite proud of it.

Step 1 - Initial contact.

When it comes to money, I don’t like surprises, so Im very clear upfront how much your investment is, I do this is the form of a proposal that explains my fees and terms and makes everything really clear before we even start work on your new branding.

Step 2 - the design brief.

This is the fun bit, I give clients a compressive questionnaire to fill out that asked lots of relevant questions. Like who your target audience is? and a little bit about your business? I will also ask about what kind of logos appeal to them and the most important question…what they don’t like! I can get more info out of that one question than any other. At this point you will also have a option to book in for a zoom meeting (or phone).

Step 3 - research and development.

This is when I sit down with a cuppa and go through your answers, usually with my iPad so I can sketch up ideas as I go. I will also research your business competitors and your target audience to see whats trending and how to stay fresh with in your industry. At this point I will usually want to have a quick chat with you so we can discuss your answers and answer any questions that may not have been clear.

Step 4 - iPad to computer

Once I feel like I have everything I need, I will revisit the sketches I did while I was on the phone to you. I will transfer them to the computer… this is my favourite bit. I LOVE seeing them come to life. I will usually have a few ideas, some will work and others wont. The trick is knowing what works and that takes experience.

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Step 5 - does it fit the brief?

Once Im happy about 2 of the designs (This is the important bit I never have a favourite). I always ask myself these questions:

  1. Does this logo fit the brief?

  2. Would I be happy if you chose either of these logos?

  3. Would I put it in my portfolio?

If the answer is No to any of these questions I will start again! I'll never present a concept that I’m not happy with.

Step 6 - presentation

The presentation is were things really get exciting. I use the logo concepts Ive created for you and mock them up into real life situations for you. So you can see how your logo concept will look on business cards or on the side of a car. This really helps to make your decision easier and usually minimalists any changes. I'll include a rational of why I have designed what I have and why I have chosen the colours etc. The presentation will be sent to you for feedback.

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Step 7 - refinement

I'll ask you to chose your favourite and encourage you to provide feedback or any changes.

Step 8 - Final Artwork

Once the refinements are done and you are 100% happy with your new logo. I will finalise the logo files and get stated on the rest of your branding. You can start showing off your new logo design!


To discover what I can do for your business book in a FREE 20 minute consultation today or if you want to take things a little slower - fill in the form!

*Disclaimer: I'm a great graphic designer, not a copywriter - spelling and grammar is not my thing. See this post for what it is...An extremely passionate graphic designer, that wants to share her knowledge with you (possibly with a couple of spelling mistakes)!

Celebrating 9 years.

My honest recount of starting a business without any clues

This was my first logo Donnas Creations…seemed fitting at the time.

This was my first logo Donnas Creations…seemed fitting at the time.

9 years ago I decided to start my own business. In hindsight was a crazy thing to do! I had 2 little boys 3 and 1 and was expecting my 3rd in a couple of months time. 


To be perfectly honest I didn’t really take it seriously at the time, it was just something for me to do while I had babies. I always planned on going back to the workforce it was my way to stay current as a graphic designer - that was my biggest fear! Technology in the design and graphics world changes so quickly I know I would have found it really difficult to reenter the workforce after having time off to have children. Mothers guilt was huge… Not to mention trying to balance a 5 person family (3 under 4).



It was around the time that Facebook had just started to explode, it made the world a much smaller place, I could easily reach clients all over Australia and overseas, real clients that wanted my help creating flyers designs and a few logos. It started out small but then those clients recommended me to their friends or people they knew and before I know it I was busy, like really busy! I worked when I could… usually, after the kids had gone to bed or on the weekends when my hubby was home. I was stressed, I was exhausted! My business was running me! It was around this time I decided to rebrand myself, I decided I really wanted to focus more on branding and logo design for small serious business (like mine). I reassessed my pricing structure stopped working weekends/evenings and my business started to work for me. I only work for clients that I want to work with and that have similar values to me.


Now after 9 amazing years I can honestly say it the best and the most challenging thing I have ever done. And I pretty sure I can proudly say that I run a successful graphic design business! It's taken me a while but I do now consider it a serious business and never a hobby! 


I have worked with hundreds of clients over the years, most of them are still clients to this day. I love it when a past client gets in touch and wants to rebrand and thought of me or say "hey do you remember me?".... of course, I remember each and every client I have ever worked with and grateful and excited when they want to work with me again. 


Thank you to every single one of you. XX

Cheers

Donna

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To discover what I can do for your business book in a FREE 20 minute consultation today or if you want to take things a little slower - fill in the form!

Alternatives for horrible fonts

It's no secret that I LOVE fonts! Fonts are kind of like shoes, and I LOVE shoes too! Different uses for different situations. You wouldn't wear sneakers to a formal event, just like you wouldn't wear heels to the beach!

Now, this post is not going to be a font bashing, as I said, I love all fonts, but I am going to suggest some alternatives to some of the most talked about and disliked fonts in the industry. These are common fonts, standard to most computers. I'm sure you have heard about them and probably used them. 

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Comic Sans

All primary school teachers will be familiar with good old "Comic Sans". It's such a fun and casual font and 100% appropriate if that's the message you want to portray. It's a very popular font for people working with children because it's easy to read. However, The reason it's so un-liked in the design community is because of it's passive aggressive nature and Its overuse in getting a serious message across is quite comical. For example using it for a WARNING sign!

Before you select comic sans for your next project, try one of these alternatives first.

Action Man is a great alternitive to comic sans. Use it for main heading only - not body text. Remember it is a fun font so use it in a fun way! If you have a serious message to get across dont use this font!

Action Man is a great alternitive to comic sans. Use it for main heading only - not body text. Remember it is a fun font so use it in a fun way! If you have a serious message to get across dont use this font!

Gosmick sans is also a great alternative to comic sans. Its still fun and you could get awsay with using this for larger text areas. 

Gosmick sans is also a great alternative to comic sans. Its still fun and you could get awsay with using this for larger text areas. 


Curls Mt

Hmmmmm...what can I say? Look let's be honest here...we are amongst friends. And friend don't let friends use Curls MT...there is NEVER a reason! Its been overused so much, don't worry I've used too (but I was in Collage and it was the 90's...that's my excuse!), if you feel you HAVE to use this font...like its the only font you have...FOR THE LOVE OF GOD don't use it in all caps

My mum always taught me, if I don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything...

So here are some alternatives to try before you are tempted to select Curls MT! 

 
You want something curly...you can still have curly! This is a much better alterntive to "you know who"! 

You want something curly...you can still have curly! This is a much better alterntive to "you know who"! 

 
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This is a lovely script font and a great alternative to Curls MT. Like I've said 1000s of times, don't ever use it in all caps. and body copy, but headings and logos are fine. 


Papyrus

Wow, ok...Papyrus! I always crying when I see this font and even more so when I see it used in inoproprate ways! I actully saw this font in a logo for a womens fashion boutiqe in a VERY expensive area!  

You may think this is an innocent "earthy" font with its rough edges its a popular font for creating an healthy image. But seriously its been done to death! There is soooooo many other fonts you can use top get the same message accross!

Consider these for your next healthy project! 

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This is a great alternative it you want an earthy hand drawn font feel, there is so many better fonts out there than Papyrus.

This is a great alternative it you want an earthy hand drawn font feel, there is so many better fonts out there than Papyrus.

Papyrus was actually created to mimic the letter forms of ancient parcment paper, so if thats the look you are going for, try this font for your next project. 

Papyrus was actually created to mimic the letter forms of ancient parcment paper, so if thats the look you are going for, try this font for your next project. 


There you go guys, some alternatives to some much despised fonts! Now there is no excuse and you can delete them from your system so you don't accidentally use them. 

All of these font alternatives I have sourced form one of 3 websites. You can read more about where to get free fonts here: 3 BEST FREE FONT SITES

*Disclaimer: I'm a great graphic designer, not a copywriter - spelling and grammar is not my thing. See this post for what it is...An extremely passionate graphic designer, that wants to share her knowledge with you (possibly with a couple of spelling mistakes)!

How to spot a fake.

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I'm constantly seeing people offering logo designs for ridiculous prices. I get it! It's totally tempting! Its "just" a logo right? Wrong..a logo is one of the most important aspects of your business, It can make or break your business, especially in that fragile first year, I understand that costs are tight, but if you are going to put all your trust in an amateur you better understand what you are getting into and why this could be a costly mistake.

Here are a few questions to ask your "designer":

1. Where does your designer work? What country? Are the timezones the same? Will you have difficulty communicating? 

2. What qualifications or experience do they have? When you engage a designer you are getting the years of acumulated experience and qualifications. This can amount to significant expertise to make your experience worry free, from designing branding to magazine layouts to dealing with printers - this could save you lots of headaches in the future.

3. What questions are they asking you? A good graphic designer will give you a list of questions about your business and your target market? Who your competitors are? They will get to know you and get to the soul of your business. A graphic designer is NOT a mind reader but an experienced one will get in your head, know the right questions to ask and create the perfect logo that will appeal directly to your ideal customer. 

4. What file types are they going to give you? A sure way to spot an amateur is if they can only provide you with a JPG image or some other raster file of your logo or there are images in your logo. Images in your logo are going to cause you problems later if you need to enlarge your logo, print it or use it anywhere that it wasn't originally intended for.  Ideally, you want your logo to be supplied as vector PDF and an EPS, Click here to find out about raster and vector files.  

5. Find out what program they will be designing your logo in? If its anything but Adobe Illustrator you are dealing with an amateur. Adobe Illustrator is the professional standard for creating logos and any other vector graphic.

6. Do some research, read their reviews check out their portfolios. Make sure their values align with yours and most importantly - you like their work. Make sure, their logo designs don't have a "cookie-cutter" feel to them, you don't want to end up looking like everyone else.

7. If you can, have a chat with them to see if they know their stuff. Any good graphic designer would love to have a chat with you about graphic design and what to expect, In my case I'm so passionate it's all I talk about!

Those are the questions I would recommend asking before you engage a "graphic designer". 

I'm always happy to chat over a virtual coffee. Click below to go directly to my private calendar and book in a time. 

*Disclaimer: I'm a great graphic designer, not a copywriter - spelling and grammar is not my thing. See this post for what it is...An extremely passionate graphic designer, that wants to share her knowledge with you (possibly with a couple of spelling mistakes)!

 

 

Design no nos!

This blog post is going to take me all the way back to 1998 when I was a student of graphic design. Listening to my lecturer bang on about design rules.I clearly remember him saying to us - "There are rules in design!" He encouraged us to break these rules...But he said you need to know them first before knowing when to break them. I'm going to share with you some of these rules that are NEVER EVER to be broken!

 

Squashing or stretching a font or Logo!

This is NEVER acceptable and I'm pretty sure a designer dies every time you do it! Please don't do it, choose a different font! This is a sure way to tell an amateur from a professional. As for a logo, a designer has spent hours designing the perfect logo for your business. It's never cool to try and fit a logo that has been designed to be horizontal into a square space. Most awesome designers would have given you a few different versions of your logo. If not, ask your designer to recreate one that will fit in the space you need it to fit. Or contact me and I will do it for you.

Perfectly formed letters of Ariel V's a horrible stretched version.

Perfectly formed letters of Ariel V's a horrible stretched version.

Again, perfectly designed logo V's a horrible squashed version.

Again, perfectly designed logo V's a horrible squashed version.


Bad Kerning!

What is kerning I hear you ask? Kerning is the space between letters. Most good fonts will consider the letter spacing when it's designed. You usually won't need to worry about it, but some free or cheap fonts can be really bad and needs to be kerned by eye. Check out these hidious examples of really embarrasing kerning fails below. Click here for this great game to test your kerning skills - its fun, comment below what score you got! http://type.method.ac

Little less space between the E and the R would of done the trick here! Photo credit:https://imgur.com/AZeDmcm

Little less space between the E and the R would of done the trick here! Photo credit:https://imgur.com/AZeDmcm

Some more space between the S and E would of made all the difference. Photo credit: https://imgur.com/N7qE1Hh

Some more space between the S and E would of made all the difference. Photo credit: https://imgur.com/N7qE1Hh


microsoft word for design!

Microsoft word is amazing and its no surprise that its one of the most popular programs. What's it's not, is a design program!

For reasons I don't understand there are options in Word to use "Word Art"...no don't do it! If you are or have tried to design a logo or anything for that matter...you really need my help! Please get in touch and suffer no more!

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Clip Art.

Like Microsoft Word, click art has its uses. When I say clip art I don't just mean those you can freely get from any Microsoft program, I also mean images you have found on the internet (just like fonts, always check the licensing).

And it looks ugly!

And it looks ugly!

Clip art is NEVER to be used in a logo. For a few reasons;

  • They are public images, meaning anyone can use it.

  • It's not unique to you or your business.

  • There is nothing stopping someone else (like a competitor) using that exact same image for their logo too.

  • You cannot trademark it.

  • If you have found it on the internet, it may be someone elses work and covered by a copyright, therefore illegal to use, it's considered stealing!


Too Many fonts!

I've actually covered this before in a previous blog post. But it doesn't hurt to go over it again. You can get a refresher about consistancey here.

I like to use 2 maybe 3 max that complement not compete with your logo. And it would usually be from the same font family. Like a regular and a bold or a regular and italic or all 3. Check out Open Sans to see what I mean about font families (it's also referred to as styles). By sticking to the one font family you are guaranteed to look professional. Avoid using anything too light because it will be difficult to read if it's going to be printed.

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Script fonts in all caps!

Oh I almost forgot about this one, but its the one rule that really grates my goat! So many people make the mistake of doing this, I see it way more often than I would like! Script fonts are ornamental in nature and the way they are designed to work, is with a lowercase letter. Displaying them in all caps is a sure way to spot an amateur and make your text illegible and quite horrible. The exception to this would be with a monogram. Monagrams are designed to work together as initials and not as a word.

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CENTRED text

This is an interesting one, because sometimes even I am tempted to centre text, but as a rule its considered a "NO NO", unless you are designing a certificate or maybe, if appropriate, a menu. Centred text looks amateur and it's ugly and worst of all it's difficult to read. Text alignment is important for guiding your reader through the text.

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If you are still not sure if you are breaking any design rules, I'm always happy to help. :)

*Disclaimer: I'm a great graphic designer, not a copywriter - spelling and grammar is not my thing. See this post for what it is...An extremely passionate graphic designer, that wants to share her knowledge with you (possibly with a couple of spelling mistakes)!

How to keep your branding consistent. - Consistency is key!

The biggest mistake some business' make is not being consistent. Being consistent can come in loads of different forms. From keeping your pricing consistent to keeping your branding consistent. I know a lot about branding so this post is going to focus on branding consistency!

If you have had a logo designed by me I would have provided you with a style guide. Any awesome graphic designer should have given you something like this. Your style guide is used to keep your branding consistent. Little things like facebook ads and supporting images you should (if you have time) be able to do yourself. The style guide usually includes the colour breakdowns for your website and other branding. Also a suggested supporting font, that goes well with your logo and branding.

Example of a style guide.

Example of a style guide.

I know fonts are awesome and I know, there are so many choices. BUT DONT DO IT! You already have your awesome logo, that should be the star of your branding! By using a "hey look at me" font you are taking the attention from your logo and confusing the message. I like to use 2 maybe 3 max that complement not compete with your logo. And it would usually be from the same font family. Like a regular and a bold or a regular and italic or all 3. Check out Open Sans to see what I mean about a font families (its also referred to as styles). By sticking to the one font family you are guaranteed to look professional. Avoid using anything too light because it will be difficult to read if its going to be printed.

It's really easy to look super "profesh"!

Ok, so I'm going to give you a few tips to make sure you always look professional. Like I said before, a lot of the small things like facebook ads etc you can (if you have the time) do yourself in some awesome online programs such as Canva or my favourite Adobe Spark. If not, you know I'm always happy to help. :)

 

KEEP IT SIMPLE

Don't pick 6 different fonts and 20 different colours, because you think they look good. Choose 3 colours from your logo and stick to them... If you don't have a style guide and you are not sure what colours are in your logo, there is a great tool you can use for that called: Pick Pick (mac) there are plenty of others, but I like that one. It gives me the breakdowns of the colours in CMYK, RGB and the hex codes.

 
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If consistency is your pain point and you are just not sure how to keep your business branding consisting. I'm happy to help. Click below to go directly to my private calendar and book in a time for a chat. 

*Disclaimer: I'm a great graphic designer, not a copywriter - spelling and grammar is not my thing. See this post for what it is...An extremely passionate graphic designer, that wants to share her knowledge with you (possibly with a couple of spelling mistakes)!

3 best free font sites

Choosing the right font for your branding is important business, especially when there are soooooo many choices.

Where to get more fonts: There are a lot of free font website that you can view and download your favourite font. But beware, there are a few things to keep in mind when you download a font from the internet.

Sometimes they can carry viruses with them so make sure you have some virus protection installed on your computer.

They could be "FREE" but subject to a licensing agreement that says for personal use only... you cant use them for commercial use. Which means a logo or on your website or anything to do with your business. Remember, the person that designed the font needs to make a living somehow too.

The 3rd thing to remember is as a designer, I have bought (yes bought!!) hundreds and hundreds of fonts over the years, I have bought them so that I can use them in clients logos and branding etc, however Its illegal for me to distribute those fonts. If a client wants to use them on their marketing material etc, they will need to buy them themselves.

 

Some of my favourite (almost) free font websites:

 

www.fontsquirrel.com

Font squirrel is a great one, apart from having a super cute name most of the font on here are not only free they are commercial free, meaning you can use them for your business. Its super easy to use and the search is great and you can be as specific as you like. It also has a really great "testdrive" feature ao you can test out your font before you download it. 

Front-page of fontsquirrel.

Front-page of fontsquirrel.

You can also use a "test-drive" feature to see how your font will look before you download it.

You can also use a "test-drive" feature to see how your font will look before you download it.


Google fonts

I'm loving google fonts, not only is it super clean design its really easy to use. All the fonts on here a free and commercial free, meaning you can use them for any project you like. The search feature is great, it can be narrowed down to find the font that you need. You can view a sample of your font right there in the window without having to select it, change the size and font weight right there. Also you can change the background colour so you can see how the font will look when it's revered or on yellow...That's pretty cool! 

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DA FONT

Da font is another great one, this one has been around forever, I remember using it when I was at collage 20 years ago, unfortunately back then there were very few font available for a mac, but that's not the case anymore, most fonts can be used on any platform. 
Is probably not my favourite site anymore, but it does have some wild and wacky font to choose from. I like that the categories are along the top so you can quickly get to the exact font style you are looking for, and the subcategory is great too, for example you wanted a script font that has a graffiti look to it you just click that category and you get loads of choses. 

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So that's my favourites free font sites, whats your favourite font website? Comment below and don't forget to LIKE this post. :)

 

please remember to always check the licencing fine print before you download a font just to make sure you can use them for your project.

Vector v Raster

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Vector V raster...who would win in a fight? Well, I'm sure the photographers out there will disagree when I say VECTOR for the win! Now you're probably thinking what the heck is she talking about raster? vector? 

Ok, so I'm sure you have heard of pixels? So pixels are what raster images are made of. Raster images are mostly associated with files like .jpgs or .tiff or .psd files, also photo editing programs such as Photoshop or Lightroom etc work using pixels. Think of a pixel as a dot! Raster images are made up of lots of different coloured dots to make an image. If the image is enlarged so are the dots! You might have heard the word pixilated before? Well that's what happens to an image if it were made too large and you can see the pixels. 

YUCK!! nobody likes exposed pixels!  

YUCK!! nobody likes exposed pixels! 

Ok so let's talk about what a vector image is, unlike raster images vectors are not dependent on pixels, they don't need them. Vector images are infinitely scalable to any size without quality loss or pixelation to any size! And amazingly the file size will stay the same whether its the size of a logo on a business card or a logo on a 30 metre billboard! AMAZING!! Vector images are traditionally created in professional drawing programs like Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw or an oldie like Macromedia Freehand. You can pretty much do anything you want with vector files. If you want t-shirts printed or you car wrapped, the printer will ask you for a vector .eps version of your logo. Same with business cards, the printer will want a vector .eps or .pdf file. 

Ooooooo so smooth!

Ooooooo so smooth!

 

One thing that's important to know about vector v raster is you can convert a vector image to a raster (.jpg, png, bitmap etc) But you can't go the other way! 

If you only have raster versions of your logo or you're not sure what you have, click below to get in touch so we can chat about your options.