Tag Archives: belzer

Why pretty graphics make a difference for your business (and how to make yours look good)

gimmespace!

OK. I have a bone to pick… PLEASE STOP POSTING CRAPPY GRAPHICS!!

I know, I’m a total design snob.

Being a designer for 15 years will do that to you. I also just like to look at pretty things in general. I’m very sensory oriented.

But, snobbery and eye candy aside, there is good reason for this demand.

Back when I was a designer full time, my tagline was ‘Making the world a better place, one design at a time.’

There is so much truth in that sentence, regardless of who is making the graphics – you or a designer.

Pretty things make people happy and happy people do awesome stuff. They’re more creative and inspired and motivated to do the things that change the world.

And in the online world these days, awesome stuff is also what goes viral and gets shared all over the internets. And the stuff that gets shared millions of times IS WHAT CHANGES THE WORLD the fastest!

Whether or not someone has a trained eye for design,
they pick up on crappy looking design.

Except, the non-trained eye clicks away because they feel uncomfortable. And because they didn’t realize it was that distorted, pixelated image on your site that made them feel uncomfortable, they might think that… {GASP}… YOU make them uncomfortable.

Let’s just sit with that for a moment…

Crappy looking materials for your biz make people
project that crappiness onto you.

(click here to tweet that!)

Ew. We don’t want that.

The good news is that YOU ARE NOT CRAPPY!!

YOU ARE AWESOME!!

And there is an easy way to fix this… make your biz look HOT with badass images!

Hey guys, look at my mandala!!

Umm, it's kinda blury .................... AHHH, MY EYES! .................... OOOO! That's PRETTY!
gimmespace!

Here are a few simple tips for creating pretty graphics:

1. Handle image size in the proper ways.

Photos are not infinitely scalable or stretchable. They are made of tiny boxes called pixels and when you scale an image larger, the program you’re using has to guess what would fill the extra space you just made, which is why it ends up looking pixellated. Also, there can be a tendency to stretch or squish an image to make it a certain size.

To avoid this… use crisp, clear images that are large enough to do what you want with. Always scale the image proportionately – if you need it to be smaller, crop away!

Where to find these crisp, clear photos? My favorite stock image site to peruse is veer.com.

OR

Use your own! I use my iPhone and she takes lovely pictures. Here’s a fun little course if you’d like to improve your iPhonography skillz. 

2. Use PNGs when posting on Facebook.

For whatever reason… Facebook makes JPG images with text look funky, whenever possible, use the PNG format instead.

3. Edit your photos.

An easy way to make your images look good is to edit them. You don’t need fancy editing knowhow or software to do this. Even though I’ve been a designer for 15 year, I just use my phone these days!

It’s easy to make any photo look more interesting with some filters and text. Here are my fave apps to use:

  • Instagram – Tip: If you put your phone on airplane mode, you can apply filters without actually posting the image to your feed. Go through the entire process of posting – the post will fail because you’re in airplane mode and will store your filtered image in the Photo Album. Then you can continue to play with that, sexy looking image in…
  • Afterlight – Has filters and some basic editing features. But I love it for the frames! They come come in all sorts of shapes – hearts, stars, every letter of the alphabet etc etc etc. Also has some fun options to add light leaks which can make your images more ethereal.
  • A Beautiful Mess – Use this to add text and doodles to your images! It also has some backgrounds to choose from if you just want to do
  • Over – Another text and doodle/drawings app. This one has loads of fonts to choose from!
gimmespace!
My photo + Instagram + Over
gimmespace!

4. Hire a designer

If you’re not artistically inclined and/or don’t enjoy making the arts, it pays off to hire someone to do it for you. Seriously, your bottom line will thank you in more time to do YOUR thang, less frustration struggling to make things look pretty and, well, keep reading…

BUT! Before you do ANY of this, you need to…

*** Find your brand STYLE so you can create unique, on-brand images. ***

Embodying the proper energy for your business makes your brand look sexy and your audience TAKE NOTICE!

Like anything, designs carry energy with them and the energy you want people to see and the energy your business is actually exuding should match.

You wouldn’t design materials for a university in the style of a preschool, right?! Well, the same thing is true for your business – people really pick up on the subtle nuances of what you put out there. The more cohesive of a brand image you create, the more magnetic your brand’s voice gets.

If people aren’t paying attention, how are you going to change the world?!

So yea…

1. Find your brand style

2. Make your brand LOOK as hot as it REALLY IS

3. Change the world

The end.

gimmespace!

Don’t know your brand style? Weird Heart/Wild Heart will show you!

And also, I’m raising my rates! I have a few spots left in each of my programs at the old rates and then they DOUBLE in investment – check it out here.

gimmespace!


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It’s OKAY to change your mind. And your focus.

I got my first graphic design job in 1998, the summer after my junior year of high school. I went on to be a yearbook editor, major in media art, design for ad agencies and creative direct for a print house. But a few years ago, I started to question whether design was really for me.

I just wasn’t all that happy doing the work. So when I started my own business, I forced myself out of being a graphic designer…

I changed my LinkedIn profile.

I took all the design offerings out of my programs.

I sent out an email to everyone I know announcing my new biz.

I was so happy to tell the whole world what I was up to. I announced it all over the place – on Facebook, Twitter, in workshop forums. I had new programs that were 100% coaching. It felt amazing. I felt free! I didn’t have to do this thing that felt draining.

Since I had decided to ditch what I had been doing for the last 14 years of my life, I embarked on a “find my purpose and passion journey.” Much to my frustration, design kept popping back up for me…

In journalling for workshops I was doing.

In my obsession with pretty things.

All over the life story I wrote out to see what skills, interestes, and experience I had to draw from.

In client and friend reactions to my ditching design – “Congrats! Awe, are you sure? You’re so good at it!”

I tried my hardest to push it all away, but it was a part of me. So I took a look at what had really been making me unhappy. And I realized, it wasn’t the design! It was that my work wasn’t always helping people.

I saw the jobs I enjoyed most were for the clients who used nicely designed materials as well thought out tools to further their message. The rest of the clients meant well but hadn’t fully hit on their message yet. Which also meant, they were kind of a nightmare to work with because they had no idea what they wanted and were never happy with the end result.

There it was:

The prettiest designs in the world can’t help us if we don’t know what we’re trying to do! And the best designer in the world can’t make us the thing that perfectly represents us if we don’t know what we’re trying to represent.

So, with my new understanding and renewed love for design, I’ve put together a program that combines getting super clear on what your biz is all about, the experience you want to create for your clients AND a kick-ass web suite to match.

Introducing Jumpstart!  (Check it out!)

Alter egos.

This concept of an alter ego has been appearing in my travels.

First it appeared in a thread on a workshop forum. One of the wonderful ladies in the workshop shared her alter ego. She’s a talented poet and I absolutely LOVED her name. (Maybe she’ll grace us with her presence in the comments)

Then it appeared again in my horoscope for the week:

“Modest and chic, you tend towards the understated, but this full moon prods you out of your shell. Let your secret wild side emerge in the spirit of legendary Capricorn David Bowie and his alter ego Ziggy Stardust. Embrace the summer’s neon pink trend and rock it like it was your sign’s signature neutral hue.”

I’ve always been a little turned off by the idea of the alter ego. It seemed like people trying to be something they’re not. And that felt fake.

I hate fake.

But the more I think about, the more I realize that if you it feels good and right, then it’s not fake. It’s a real part of us.

We tend to use all the stuff we’ve experienced to make up the person we’re being. A lot of it we picked up when we were kids and have gotten so used to it, it’s become the normal us. That me has some pretty solid ideas of what I can and can’t do. What I am and am not. Sometimes those are limitations, sometimes they’re pieces of my personality that I like.

But being someone other than who I normally am is kind of scary. It would be so much easier if someone came along and was all “I give you permission. Let’s get CRAZY!”

Having an alter ego seems like that person – a short cut to funneling out a hidden part of me that doesn’t include any of my self-imposed bullshit. It sounds awesome and I’m intrigued.

I’m summoning you, alter ego… who are you? Let’s hang out.

Do you have an alter ego? Tell me who she (or he) is and how you two met!

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Experimenting with self-imposed structure and schedules

I’m what you might call a free spirit.

I’ve never been one for strict schedules.

I don’t like parameters.

They’ve always made me feel boxed in and under pressure. And, I’ve discovered that feeling pressured is my number one creativity killer.

Forced creativity was the hardest part of my former profession of being a graphic designer. Graphic design is what I would call a reactionary profession. A client comes to you with a specific design need and you create it for them based on their timeline.

This process was really stressful for me.

So, when I started my own business, in lieu of structure, I opted for more of a follow the bouncy ball approach. The ball being creativity. Happily chasing after it until the bounces got smaller and smaller and the ball eventually stopped. This approach seemed like living the dream of true creative freedom.

Each new idea started with me throwing the (proverbial) ball at the ground as hard as I could and bouncing along with it until it stopped. At which point, I would pick up the ball and bounce it again.

But, I’ve come to realize that my new focus – marketing mindset work – is what I would refer to as a visionary approach. In guiding others through the blazing of their own trail, I’m creating from scratch. I’m not just following along. I’m leading now, instead of reacting. I’m responsible for throwing the ball. I also have a choice in how and where it bounces and what happens when it starts to slow down.

I’ve been sticking to a reactionary schedule in a visionary setting, thinking that’s where my creativity thrives. But, sometimes the ball bounces off the ceiling and hits you in the face or scoots under the fridge and you just don’t feel like chasing after it. This leaves me in pain, disoriented or with a total loss of momentum.

I’ve started to get curious… can all of that discomfort can be avoided if I choose to catch the ball and start the game over before things get out of hand? Do I have more control over my creativity than I think? Will building a structure for my time create a space, backed by intention, for creativity to flow into?

This deep curiosity to see what happens when I assign blocks of time for specific tasks has led me to fill up my calendar with colorful boxes that tell me what to do, when. Will this approach unleash epic creativity and productivity? I’m itchin’ to find out! Stay tuned for my report on how it all pans out.

How do you set up your schedule and why? What are the pluses and minuses?

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