Simple Ways to Impress Your Freelance Clients

written by Georgia Schumacher 5 May 2015

Simple Ways to Impress Your Freelance Clients

If you’re looking for a way to be your own boss and spend your days doing work you’re passionate about, freelancing might be the answer. If you’re working to get ahead in the freelance market, use the 10 ideas below to make a great impression on your clients.

1. Promptly Respond to Client Inquiries

When a potential client contacts you for more information, there’s a very good chance you’re not the only freelancer they reached out to. Respond to the inquiry as quickly as possible to show that you’re excited about the possibility of taking on their project. Not only does waiting too long make it seem like you don’t want the job, it also means the work is likely go to someone else in the interim.

2. Don’t Overpromise

As a freelancer, you always want to make the client happy so they don’t take their business elsewhere, but don’t make promises you can’t deliver. It’s much better to be upfront with the person if their expectations aren’t realistic or you simply don’t have the time to completing a project. Overpromise too many times and you can find yourself in danger of burning bridges.

3. Keep Up with the Latest Trends

Trends change at the speed of light. Whether you’re a freelance photographer, web designer, fashion stylist, or holding down any other type of creative job, it’s imperative that you stay on top of the industry’s latest big thing or you’ll risk becoming obsolete.

4. Exude Confidence

Why should a client trust you with their project if you’re not even sure you can handle it? It’s only natural to be a bit intimidated by big projects or new opportunities at first, but this is how you learn and grow your skills! Learn to emanate confidence, even when you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed. Impress your clients with your level of assurance to make them feel comfortable trusting you with this job and ones that come up in the future.

5. Never Miss a Deadline

Don’t agree to a project deadline unless you’re sure you can meet it. When you fail to submit work by its due date, you brand yourself as unreliable. This is not a way to retain clients. Earn bonus points by making a habit of submitting your work early.

6. Create a Robust Online Presence

There are lots of talented freelancers in your field, so stand out from the crowd by presenting yourself as an industry leader. Write regular blog posts about the latest happenings in your industry, frequently update your online portfolio with your latest work, and use your social media profiles to promote yourself and share updates relative to your field.

7. Go the Extra Mile

Sometimes it’s the little things that mean the most. Impress your clients and earn word-of-mouth referrals by making a point to go above and beyond what’s expected of you. You’ll outshine your competition and create loyal clients.

8. Conduct Background Research

Take the initiative to learn a little bit about prospective clients before meeting with them. This is a great way to show your enthusiasm for the project. It also allows you to be prepared with relevant ideas to present.

9. Be Open-Minded

The client has the final say. You may not agree with their ideas or love everything about the finished product, but, even after you’ve shared your recommendations, you may still need to compromise. While you may be the expert in your field, your client is the expert on their individual or business needs and goals.

10. Double Check Your Work

No one likes to receive sloppy work. Make a point to review your finished product a few times to make sure there aren’t any errors. Remember, a project filled with mistakes can make you look like an amateur and distracts from your hard work and talent.

For more information on freelancing in the creative arts, check out our past blogs on the topic: 4 Keys to Starting a Freelance Business and How to Grow Your Freelance Business.

5 Keys to Impactful Advertising Campaigns

written by Georgia Schumacher 28 April 2015

5 Keys to Impactful Advertising Campaigns

Ready to grow your audience? Creating an advertising campaign is a great way to get your brand name out there and generate a buzz. Of course, consumers are already inundated with advertisements for just about everything, so you’ll need to work extra hard to ensure yours makes an impact. Follow the five tips below to create an effective advertising campaign that really works for your company.

1. Clearly Define Your Target Audience

Even if your product or service is amazing, it’s not for everyone. Determine exactly who you’re marketing to, so you can focus on meeting their needs and reaching them with your message. When you know precisely who your target audience is, you can concentrate your efforts on forming a connection with them, so they feel drawn to your brand.

2. Set Goals for Success

Before starting your campaign, it’s important to know exactly what you hope to achieve with the finished product. Creating clear goals for the campaign helps you stay on track with your efforts and allows you to clearly determine whether or not the campaign was a success. When the marketing period ends, you don’t want to be unsure if your hard work paid off or not.

3. Effectively Deliver the Message

These days, there are countless marketing mediums to distribute your message, so you’ll need to decide which ones you’re using from the beginning. After making this decision, tailor the content that will be shared on each channel to meet the unique needs of the platform. For example, if you’ve opted to advertise on television, online, and on social media channels, you’ll need to approach each one differently or it won’t work.

4. Keep it Consistent

While you definitely do need to approach each marketing platform differently, it’s still imperative to keep your brand messaging consistent. You don’t want people to see your advertisement on multiple mediums and not realize it’s promoting the same product or service.

5. Evaluate Campaign Analytics & Performance Metrics

Creating a campaign is only half the battle, as you also need to make sure it’s working. Closely monitoring your campaign analytics and performance metrics allows you to identify usage trends, consumer behaviors, the most effective medium, and more. This information can help you learn more about your target audience, what they want, and how to reach them.

Want to learn more about Advertising? Considering a career in the field? Explore our programs related to the field at http://www.aionline.edu/degrees-in-advertising/!

7 Ways to De-Stress

written by Georgia Schumacher 22 April 2015

Feeling stressed about upcoming deadlines or a busy schedule at work or in your online classes? There’s nothing fun about being under pressure to complete a project. In fact, stress isn’t just unpleasant, it can also be detrimental to your health. Stress can have a negative impact on your body, mood, and behavior, so it’s important to find a way to combat stress before it takes it toll. We suggest using these 7 tips to de-stress and allow yourself to relax a little!

1. Get a Second Opinion

There’s nothing more frustrating than a strong case of creative block. You can spend hours staring at a project, willing a great idea to pop into your head, but that won’t make it happen. Step aside and ask someone who isn’t involved in the venture for their opinion. Sometimes a fresh perspective is all you need to stimulate your creative energy.

2. Take a Walk

When you’re on deadline, going for a walk may seem counterproductive, but it can actually be the opposite. Sometimes you just need a change of scenery for inspiration. You never know when you’ll pass something that triggers the great idea you need to pull your project together.

3. Block Off Time for Projects

It’s beyond stressful to keep losing great ideas due to constant interruptions. Avoid this by blocking off a set amount of time to work on projects. Unless it’s urgent, avoid all distractions and don’t respond to any calls or emails during this time period. Relax and enjoy the ability to see what you’re capable of creating when you focus on your work.

4. Switch Up Your Work Area

Whether you’re working in a dorm room, library, or a cubicle, it’s easy for your scenery to get a bit mundane. Reignite your creativity by making a few easy changes, such as moving your desk to the opposite corner, changing your screensaver, or hanging a new poster on the wall. Sometimes the little things can make a huge impact.

5. Visit with Friends

When you’re super busy with a class or work, you may inadvertently isolate yourself from your friends or family. This may add more time into your schedule, but it can also increase your stress levels. Spending time with your closest friends can reduce your production of cortisol, a.k.a. the stress hormone, so clear an hour of your day and meet your crew for lunch.

6. Turn Your Phone Off

Your smartphone is a constant distraction. Incoming calls, texts, emails, and social media notifications never stop, meaning you always feel pressured to check your device and respond accordingly. Put your phone aside and enjoy being present in your current situation. It’s a lot easier to relax when you can concentrate on the here and now.

7. Listen to Music

Pop your earbuds in and soothe your mind by listening to some music, as it fills your brain with neurochemicals like dopamine that help you calm down and unwind. Generally speaking, classical music is the most relaxing, but anything you enjoy will decrease your levels of stress hormones, slow your heart rate down, and lower your blood pressure.

Dead Can Dance: Grim Fandango Remastered, PS4, Review

written by Student 16 April 2015

Jay Haney By Guest Blogger, Johnathon Haney
Bachelor of Science, Media Arts & Animation Student
International Game Developers Association member
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division

Grim Fandango Remastered, PS4, Review

Contrary to popular myth, some works of art need time and distance to be appreciated properly. Movies are the most obvious example. Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo is now hailed as his greatest film, quite possibly by many of the same critics who lambasted it at the time of its release. It took the medium of television to transform the reputation of two box office bombs called The Wizard of Oz and It’s A Wonderful Life. So it is with one of the last great adventure games ever created by LucasArts, Grim Fandango.

While receiving initial critical acclaim and fondly remembered now by game enthusiasts, this game was, in fact, a financial disaster that helped to put an end to the adventure game era of the company. So it is quite surprising that the same game has now been re-released and updated.

The Plot

The story itself is amusingly engaging. You are Manuel “Manny” Calavera, an afterlife travel agent working off his sins. His particular office specializes in making sure souls get to the Ninth Level of the Underworld, a place of eternal bliss. It’s a journey that usually takes five years but, with enough of the right karmic credit, you can get there a lot faster…and in style. For such souls, the Number 9 train is the ultimate prize.

Unfortunately for Manny, he’s on a serious losing streak. All he’s been getting are middling clients that leave him without any commissions toward his time served. So he decides to take matters into his own hands via a little corporate skullduggery. The fallout of that reckless decision starts him on his own journey to the Ninth Level—and to discovering the real reason he hasn’t been catching a break.

The story itself references everything from The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca to Glengarry Glen Ross and the beat movement. You may not know what’s going to happen next, but you know it’s going to be outrageous and a blast to watch!

The Setting, Characters, and Interface

The setting of Grim Fandango draws inspiration from Día De Los Muertos (which itself is highly influenced by Mayan and Aztec cosmology) and film noir. Most of the characters are skeletons with distinct personalities and fully dressed in modern clothing. They’re juxtaposed with grand architecture that recalls not only ancient Central American civilizations, but also a bit of Art Deco. The exceptions to the character designs include the occasional demon, such as Manny’s vehicle-obsessed sidekick Glottis, who proves to be both help and hindrance on the journey.

The interface is simply elegant—the ultimate expression of Lucasarts’ trademark SCUMM engine. True to the original, if Manny can interact with something in the environment, he looks at it (something that was carried over to Konami’s Silent Hill series a few short years later). He keeps his entire inventory inside his jacket pocket, which the player can look at any time they choose. Best of all, there is no such thing as a wrong dialogue choice, and picking any dialogue option can give you the fun you want.

The Verdict

While the basics of this game are solid, it’s the innovations that were added that make it spectacular. At the time of the game’s release, it’s high-end hardware requirements kept it from being playable and thus sellable. So it’s ironic that innovations in lighting and graphics (which oddly needed little reworking) were a huge part of the re-release, and are actually instead showcase the PS4’s ability to create wonderful environments. Along with the director’s commentary and a concept art gallery, these impressive environments are what make the game worthwhile.

It’s rare that anything in the arts gets a second chance to make a first impression. But Grim Fandango has more than earned that chance. Any serious gamer who loves adventure games owes it to themselves to give it a shot!

Want to know more about programs in the area of Media Arts? Explore what you can learn at The Art Institutes and find out what school was recently named among the Top 5 Undergrad Schools To Study Video Game Design by The Princeton Review!

The information and opinions expressed and/or any artwork displayed herein represent the independent opinions and ideas of the individual faculty, student and/or staff and do not represent the opinions or ideas of The Art Institute of Pittsburgh Online Division.

See http://ge.artinstitutes.edu/programoffering/204 for program duration, tuition, fees, and other costs, median debt, federal salary data, alumni success, and other important info.

6 Newbie Graphic Designer Mistakes to Avoid

written by Georgia Schumacher 8 April 2015

Like any skilled profession, graphic design has a learning curve that can result in several common beginners’ mistakes. These gaffes may range from how you approach your design to the relationships you form with your clients. Here are 6 of the top major mistakes prevalent among young graphic designers, and how to avoid them.

6 Newbie Graphic Designer Mistakes to Avoid

1. Messy Design Elements

New graphic designers often go above and beyond to please new clients and showcase their talents. However, left unchecked, this eagerness can lead to overdesign and even a bit of chaos. So keep your focus on implementing a simple and clean design, unless your client specifies otherwise.

2. Failing to Sign a Contract

Unfortunately, graphic designers don’t always protect themselves with client contracts. Be aware that, without a contract, unscrupulous clients could short you or take your work without proper compensation. Although you may think that asking a client for a more formal agreement involving a contract might scare them away, it’s important to get one signed anyway.

3. Stock Image Overuse

As a web designer, it’s tempting to use simple stock photos. Unfortunately, the best stock photos are already being used across the web, which can detract from the originality of your web design. If possible, include your own images. Take them yourself, if feasible, or, if your budget allows, partner with a photographer you know and trust. Let your client know that you’re putting extra time and effort to deliver them personalized images, and they'll notice the difference.

4. Stale Designs

As a graphic designer, you may have a great sense of aesthetics, but it's also important to stay on top of the latest trends to make sure you offer something fresh. Creating a design that stands out from the competition can be one of the single best ways to keep clients happy.

5. Not Understanding a Client’s Needs

Always check and double-check that you fully understand your client’s needs before producing a design. Build a roadmap of your graphic or web design plan and make sure your client is on board. This will help you please the client the first time around and help you avoid costly redesigns.

6. Not Knowing Your Limits

You may want to take on a lot of work, but it’s important to set deadlines you can meet and tackle projects that are within your skill set. Over time, your knowledge of graphic design will grow and you’ll be more comfortable tackling more complex projects. Until then, know your limits.

Conclusion

Remember, everyone makes mistakes. It's an unavoidable and essential part of learning something new, but you can always learn from the mistakes of those who come before you! To really up your design game, consider earning a degree in the area of Graphic & Web Design. Explore our programs today!