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 27 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 /degrees-in-advertising/!

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!

The Beginner’s Guide to Hospitality and Culinary Management Careers

written by Georgia Schumacher 24 March 2015

If you are a natural leader, enjoy helping others, and want to work in an energetic, upbeat environment, a career in hotel, culinary, or event management might be the perfect fit for your personality and skill set! Hospitality and culinary management careers can give you a chance to meet new people, travel extensively, and improve other people's lives.

Hotel photo

A degree or certificate program in the area of culinary or hospitality management can prepare you for a variety of jobs managing events, overseeing restaurants, or moving all the way up to managing a top-tier hotel. It all depends on what you want and what you’re willing to work toward! Here are three common career areas in which you may decide to take your future!

1. Hotel management

As one might expect, many hotel management graduates opt for careers in the hotel industry. As a hotel manager, you'll interact frequently with guests and employees and be responsible for ensuring that the hotel service, appearance, and revenue meets expectations. New graduates may start as management trainees, eventually moving into supervisory and management positions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for lodging managers was $46,810 in 2012.

2. Culinary management

Culinary management is a fast-paced industry in which you will have a chance to work with employees and the public as you plan and manage a business in the culinary field. Your responsibilities can range from purchasing and cost control, to training and supervising workers, to overseeing quality standards in food preparation. According to the BLS, management occupations in restaurants and other eating places had a median annual salary of $58,640 in 2013.

3. Event management

Event managers are responsible for planning and creating successful events such as weddings, conventions, and trade shows. As an event manager, you should be ready to juggle multiple responsibilities! You'll set up schedules, approve event marketing strategies, supervise decorations, book entertainment acts, and finalize catering menus. The BLS estimates that jobs in this field will grow 33% from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average 11% growth for all occupations.

At The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division, we offer 4 programs in the field of Culinary Management, including the Bachelor of Science in Culinary Management and Bachelor of Science in Hotel & Restaurant Management. Our Certificate programs include Event Management and Food & Beverage Operations. Explore our programs, or request more information today!

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The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division does not guarantee employment or any particular level of compensation following graduation. See aiprograms.info for program duration, tuition, fees, and other costs, median debt, federal salary data, alumni success, and other important info.

7 Tips for Getting Started in the Creative Arts

written by Georgia Schumacher 5 January 2015

ImageryThe New Year has officially arrived! There’s no better time to evaluate your current situation and set goals for the year ahead. If you’ve been dreaming about a career in the creative arts, make 2015 the year you turn your vision into a reality.

Use the following 7 tips to jumpstart your future in the creative arts this year.

1. Volunteer Your Time

Gain valuable experience and help out a great cause by volunteering your services to a charitable organization. Use the work you do for the charity to build your profile and establish a name for yourself. This is also a great way to make valuable connections that could help to advance your career.

2. Join Relevant Professional Associations

Many professional organizations offer discounted memberships to students, so this is your chance to start networking! Join as many relevant organizations as you can and attend their networking mixers, workshops, and other events to build your professional network.

3. Seek Internship Opportunities

An internship is a great way to gain on-the-job experience in your field. Some companies may pay you for your time, while others will not, but the chance to gain real-world experience that you can put on your resume is invaluable. Many companies even extend full-time job offers to interns that make a great impression! Current students can use our Career Resources to get started.

4. Find a Mentor

Is there a seasoned professional in your field that you really admire? If so, ask them to be your mentor. Meet with the person every opportunity you can learn more about becoming successful in the industry and gain useful insights on your work that can help to boost your career. Your mentor can also serve as a valuable connection during your job search.

5. Create a Robust Online Presence

Position yourself as an up-and-coming professional by maintaining a strong online presence. Create a personal website or online portfolio showcasing your work and your unique skillset. Make sure to include your contact information so it’s easy to get in touch with you. Use popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to market yourself and connect with other industry professionals. Students at any of The Art Institutes schools can use Behance to share their work – learn more here.

6. Tailor Applications to Fit Each Specific Job

Go the extra mile when applying for jobs or internships and customize your application to fit each specific position. Try to find the name of the hiring manager to personally address your cover letter, include the exact job title, and explain why your creative skills would be an asset to the organization.

7. Stay True to Yourself

It takes a lot of time and energy to build your personal brand, so don’t be afraid to turn down work that doesn’t align with your values. When you’re just starting out, it can be tempting to take on any project you can get your hands on, but that isn’t necessarily the best approach. It may take a little longer to build the right client base, but patience is a virtue when your professional reputation is at stake.

9 Interview Questions You Can’t Afford to Answer Incorrectly

written by Georgia Schumacher 10 December 2014

Answering questions

In studying the creative arts, you may not have thought much about formal interviews. However, if you want to earn a living creating and working in your field, you'll need to be just as prepared as you would for any other career.

Know what common questions to expect and how best to answer them so that your personality and talent shines through. With a bit of preparation, you can look like a superstar in any interview and find the right organization for your artistic career goals.

1. Tell us about yourself.

With this likely being the most common interview question, your answer isn't the time for a full recounting of your life history. Focus on your craft, as that’s what the interviewer is interested in learning about. Briefly explain how long you’ve been an artist and share any artistic achievements relevant to the position.

2. What do you know about us?

This question is checking to see how much you prepared for the interview. You aren't expected to know every detail about the company or organization, but a basic understanding is necessary.

3. Why do you want to work here?

Answering "because I need a job" isn't what the interviewer is looking for. This question often follows the previous question. Convey your genuine interest in the company and explain why you believe your artistic skills would be a great fit for the organization. Explain your excitement at the thought of putting your creative talents to work for a company you truly believe in.

4. What are your strengths?

The interviewer wants to know your work-related strengths and weaknesses. Be prepared to back up your strengths. If you call yourself a problem-solver, make sure you have an example in mind of a time you solved a important problem and how this impacted your project.

5. What are your weaknesses?

Be honest with your weaknesses, but also explain how you overcome them. If you explain that you're a perfectionist, explain how you don't let that keep you from meeting deadlines or performing your job.

6. Describe your creative process.

This behavioral interview question allows the interviewer to gain an understanding of your work style and to determine whether you would be a good fit for the company culture. Practice articulating your creative process so you can describe it in a brief, easy-to-understand manner. Remember, the company isn’t just interviewing you - you’re interviewing them to see if you would want to work there. Be honest about your true creative process, rather than saying what you think they want to hear, because you want a job where you have the freedom to express yourself.

7. What media or methodologies have you used or do you use?

You may be asked as a general question: What methodologies do you prefer to use? Or, you may be asked while looking at a piece from your portfolio: What medium did you use? Either way, keep your explanation simple and refrain from using technical jargon unless the person interviewing you is using it. This is often a way to assess your skills and understanding of specific techniques.

8. Describe your creative inspiration.

This is another commonly asked question that allows the interviewer to gain a deeper sense of your personal values, personality traits, and genuine passion for the job. You’ll make a great impression if you can explain with confidence exactly what inspires you to do your best work. However, if you appear stuck when trying to identify a solid reason you enjoy your craft, the interviewer may question your dedication.

9. What type of work have you done in the past?

An interviewer wants to know that you have the creative skills needed to produce top-quality work for the organization. For this line of work, it’s not enough to simply discuss your past achievements - you need to showcase your talents by bringing your portfolio along. If possible, include pieces in your portfolio that are relevant to the specific job, to prove you have what it takes to shine in the position.

Discover Career Opportunities in Interior Design

written by Georgia Schumacher 8 August 2014

Interior lighting choicesSo you're interested in crafting and selecting window treatments, lighting fixtures, materials, and room designs? You're in luck: if you pursue a career in interior design and are looking at interior design schools, you're headed for one of the most versatile career paths there is. When you pursue a career in the interior design field, you can choose from all sorts of specialties. What you choose will depend on your passion. Here are a few careers to consider.

Go green

Did you know that over 70% of consumers consider the environment when making a purchasing decision? That may be the reason that careers in sustainable and green interior design are taking off in a big way. As a green designer, you'll translate your appreciation for the Earth into a career, selecting fabrications from more sustainable materials and working with professionals who are passionate about green building techniques.

Stomach appeal

Love the kitchen? Maybe you should pursue a career as an interior designer specializing in kitchens. It is common knowledge that kitchens sell houses, and with interest in cooking and food higher than ever, everyone is looking for a kitchen that warms their heart, fills their bellies, and adds to their home. Why not specialize in this challenging but growing field?

Home away from home

Hospitality is big business—in fact, the global hotel industry is projected to rake in $550 billion by 2016. Hospitality projects are not only about designing gorgeous hotel rooms. Hotels and other tourist attractions need designers with sweeping, grandiose visions and a creative touch to turn common spaces, restaurants, and living spaces into areas worth visiting.

Center stage

As residential real estate recovers and first-time homebuyers prepare to enter the market, home staging is taking center stage in interior design. Buyers and sellers alike are looking for homes that are prepped for sale with attractive designs that play up a home's benefits and minimize its flaws. Best of all, as the market picks up, interior decorators looking to stage will find lots of opportunity and plenty of ways to flex their design muscle.

You decide

Whether your passion lies in commercial spaces, cozy homes, or anything in between, there's an interior design school and career for you. Follow your passion and you're sure to find a career that plays off your personal interests and takes advantage of your design education.

7 Things to Never Do in a Job Interview

written by Georgia Schumacher 3 July 2014

Many people say that first impressions are the most lasting. In a job interview, this is doubly true. Job interviews are your chance to make a stellar first impression in person. At this point, the interviewer knows a lot about your art school education, technical skills, and work experience from your resume and application, so it's time to put a face on that information. Make it count by avoiding these pitfalls.

1. Don't leave your cell phone on.

Before the interview, turn the phone off, or, if possible, don't bring it at all. Receiving calls or texts during an interview tells the interviewer that you have better things to do and that the job you're looking at isn't a priority.

2. Don't badmouth current or former employers.

First of all, ranting about a previous employer is unprofessional. Second, you never know how this company might be related to your former employer. Perhaps that company is a valued client, or maybe the interviewer's spouse works there. Play it safe and stay professionally neutral about entities with which you had a bad experience. It'll show that you're above emotional reactions in the workplace, as well as avoid starting off with any poor relations.

3. Don't forget to research the company.

Solid candidates do their due diligence before the interview by getting acquainted with the business, their products or services, what makes them unique in the industry, and other pertinent information. Go in with a good idea of what the company does, how they do it, and where they are headed.

4. Don't be late.

Being late sends off a bad vibe. The perfect time to arrive is about ten minutes prior to the appointment time. This tells the interviewer that you are punctual but not desperate.

5. Don't lie.

It's tempting to tell a little white lie to land a job you are confident you can excel in. Don't. Even if your job performance is outstanding, a company can fire you years later for lying on your initial resume, application, or during the interview.

6. Don't talk about money or benefits.

The interview is the midway point of the hiring process -- between the initial contact of submitting your application and the end point of receiving a job offer. Keep the interview about your qualifications and what you have to offer the company, as well as what they have to offer you in experience and upward mobility. Save the negotiations on pay and benefits until they have extended you an actual job offer.

7. Don't forget to bring an extra resume.

Always have an extra resume on hand in case the interviewer didn't get a copy, misplaced theirs, or needs a clean copy without their scribbled notes. Even if your resume includes a link to your online portfolio, don’t forget to bring a physical copy if at all possible so that you can better discuss your natural talent as well as show the creative work you completed in art school and past jobs!

Why You Need an Online Portfolio

written by Georgia Schumacher 1 July 2014

Online PortfolioThere are many reasons why you, as an art school student or graduate, should have an online portfolio, but finding jobs and landing project work are certainly two major reasons to make sure yours is up and running. It doesn't matter if you're a freelancer trying to fill your schedule with client work or a career creative working your way up the corporate ladder--an online portfolio is one of the most important assets you can have. Here's why:

Freelance Creative Professionals

As a freelance creative professional, you're asking clients to take a chance on you. Until you have a reputation for delivering quality work, your portfolio is the only thing they know about you and your services.

Take photography for example. Today, everyone has a friend or family member with an fancy SLR camera that seems professional. However, not all of these photographers compose professional images or have studied photography at an art school. An online portfolio helps clients figure out who can deliver top-notch work versus those whose pictures are less polished. The same is true of other creative services where the lines between amateurs and true professionals can be hard to see without work samples.

Creative Careers and Job Searching

Sticking with the photographer example, it's easy to throw the title “photographer” on your resume. Anyone with an SLR camera and a single paying client can call themselves a professional photographer. This makes it difficult for hiring managers to differentiate between the top talent and relative beginners. However, one look at your online portfolio will let an employer know exactly what type of work you can deliver.

Even better, having your work show up in search results can yield unsolicited calls from staffing companies looking for your skills and services. Rather than plastering your resume all over town, create an online portfolio and employers can contact you directly.

These same ideas apply to all art school students and creative professionals, including web designers, game designers, photographers, interior designers, animators, graphic designers and all manner of creatives. Starting an online portfolio will help you:

• Land freelance gigs.
• Find side projects.
• Get in front of interviewers.
• Have your projects appear in search results pages.
• Land the job you've always wanted.

People need to see what you've created if they're going to hire you for their next project, and an online portfolio is one of the best ways to display your talent for prospective clients. Get started on yours today!

Interested in attending a creative arts school? Learn more about The Art Institutes!

Essential Advice for Pursuing a Creative Career

written by Georgia Schumacher 3 June 2014

Person Starting a New Career

You're a creative person, and you've always wanted to pursue your passion as a career, which is exactly why you came to art school. When you have that special combination of talent, passion, and a drive to succeed, an art school education followed by a creative career is an obvious choice.

You bring a lot to the table as a creative individual, including innovation and a unique way of looking at challenges and tasks you encounter in a day-to-day workplace. With the possibility of automating more menial tasks in many industries, employers look for employees who have strong critical thinking skills, interesting perspectives, and thought processes that can't be replicated by a computer—employees like you. However, to set yourself up in a creative career that is fulfilling and financially stable can take hard work and dedication, so here are some techniques to get you started.

1. Market yourself

"Show your work" is a common adage in the arts, and it applies just as well to creative careers. Learn how to sell yourself. Your business skills are arguably as important as your creative talent, and if you can't market yourself, it doesn't matter how good you are at what you do. Learn how to reach clients through social media profiles, maintaining a blog, and creating an online portfolio so you can easily show it to companies looking to hire. These skills serve you well whether you're after a job at a corporation or agency, or you want to end up creating a thriving freelance business.

2. Bolster your network

The next essential is networking within your industry. Many jobs are all about who you know, and in the creative field, that means who you sees your profile and portfolio. Stay in touch with the people you went to art school with and get to know other alumni. Talk to people about your work, attend trade shows, conferences, and directly visit businesses that hire for the type of work you're looking for. You want to get to know people, companies, and the movers and shakers in your field.

3. Plan your progress over time

It’s always good to dream big, but you’ve got to plan a path to reach your end goal and accept that working your way up will likely take time and hard work. Remember, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities only come around, well, once in a lifetime!

You may not end up in your ideal job immediately after graduating from art school, but as long as you're actively taking steps towards career progression you can build up to the position and salary you desire. Two ways to move forward in your career after art school include taking freelance jobs to expand your network and your professional portfolio, and applying for jobs across a variety of industries that may be interested in your particular creative flavor.

Resources

12 Practical Tips for Those Pursuing Creative Careers 
9 Dream Jobs that Actually Pay