By Stephanie Design

My Advice for Aspiring Graphic Designers

Business, DesignStephanie Hamilton2 Comments

Many of the posts on this blog are geared at potential clients, such as How to Make a Media Kit That Sounds Out, How to Choose the Perfect Color Palette for Your Small Business, and How to Create Your Signature Brand Style, but I thought it would be beneficial to share little bit of my own background in the field of design for those new to the blog and may be interested in transitioning into a creative role. 

Upon graduating from design school I immediately accepted an internship at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia in their design/production dept. It was my first taste designing a cohesive visual identity across all platforms and mediums for a large brand.

After that I held at role at a marketing agency, working on various campaigns for small to medium-sized businesses before starting my own freelance business for small business owners in need of graphic design services for their brand. 

Whether you hold a 4 year degree or are self-taught, I really think there is room for everyone with a passion for design to pursue it. So if you're just starting out in the field of graphic design and looking for some advice, I'd come up with a few key takeaways from my years of experience in the field you may benefit from.. 

 

My Advice for Aspiring Graphic Designers - By Stephanie Design

Always Start With the Fundamentals 

Design is all about communication. You should always strive to effectively communicate the right message to a viewer, foremost. 

With the technology right at our fingertips, it's easier than before to dive right into these programs in hopes of creating pretty things we think will resonate with our ideal customer.

Before you get occupied trying to learn the latest version of Adobe Creative Suite, it's really important to have the basics of design in your back pocket. 

Have you ever viewed a magazine and thought the layout just didn't 'flow' in a way that is natural, or thought a logo or website didn't accurately reflect a business' mission? 

Designers solve complex problems visually through the use of fonts, colors, graphics, illustration, and patterns. 

If you're interested in learning more I suggest starting with the principles of Visual Hierarchy, Color Theory, and Typography to hone your skills. One you understand the reason why certain colors work together, why a pair of fonts compliment each other so nicely, and why certain layouts contribute to a better user experience for a website, you'll be able to clearly communicate your design decisions to clients and build credibility with clients. 

Related Posts: How to Chose the Perfect Color Palette For Your Small Business


Foster Postive Client Relationships

When a customer takes the leap to invest in their business with me, they are entrusting me to help establish their online presence. I don't take that investment lightly. whether it's a purchase in my shop, or a brand design package

Clear and easy communication is therefore essential. In order to clearly visually communicate the mission or purpose of a brand, I have to understand the business behind it. The best way to do this is to ask as many questions as you can upfront before the design process begins, ensuring you and the client are both on the same page. 

I have an in-depth questionnaire I give to all branding design clients, and I make sure to check in with them throughout the design process for feedback and input. Once the project wraps up clients are welcome to email with with any questions about their brand or advice, as well. 

With my online store I've gotten numerous requests for tutorials to walk customers through how to edit the templates in Photoshop, so I've since implemented a video tutorials section that helps them easily navigate Photoshop and make adjustments to their template. 

Listening to customers can take many different forms for your business, but I'd start by clearly laying out your design process, create in-depth questionnaires, and being receptive to feedback throughout the process. The more clarification you have upfront, the more the design process and client relationship will the built on trust, honesty, and respect. 

Want to make sure you're hitting every mark of the design process? Download my FREE design process cheatsheet below and make sure you're including them in your brand design process. 


Build Your Portfolio 

If you're just getting off the ground, utilize the time you have building up your business by developing a portfolio of the work you'd like to do. If you don't yet have paying clients, create your own hypothetical design projects. I'd suggest sticking to a timeline when creating these projects, that way you have a realistic picture of how long it will take you to complete and can accurately estimate when your paying clients come. Don't be afraid to put these projects in your portfolio, as these self-initiated projects are still an example of the quality of work you can deliver. 

Related: Mark Bowley has penned an excellent article on preparing and talking about your design portfolio.


Done is Better Than Perfect


As designers we tend to be perfectionists. While this can be an asset, it can also hinder you in many ways, too. If you've ever struggled with finding a stopping point with a project because you think there's something missing or it can be better, you know what I'm talking about. 

This is another benefit of adhering to a timeline and having designated steps within your design process - it forces you to utilize your time wisely, do a great job, and leave the endless tweaks and adjustments by the wayside. 


Show Confidence 

It's important to note that even designers that been through rounds of critiques in design school, have field experience, and hold a degree even have bouts of self-doubt at times. This uneasiness can show through and affect how seriously a client takes you.

This feeling of uneasiness will dissolve with time and experience. Looking at the examples above of how to foster a positive client relationship is one jumping off point. You should do everything you can to show the client their in good hands, including educating them throughout the process, explaining your concepts, and helping them through decisions, showing confidence in your own abilities even in times when you're not 100% feeling it yourself. 


Continue to Learn 

The only constant about the design field is change! Just when you think you've learned every software, tool, or trick of the trade, something new comes along to keep you on your toes. By staying up-to-date and adhering to these new methods of learning it's so much easier to stay inspired and avoid burnout. So subscribe to design blogs, take a class and learn a new skill, or simply update your software or download that new app to keep your skill set current.

 

I know I only brushed the surface of what being a Graphic Designer entails, so I'd like to take some of my own advice and ask fellow designers if you have any advice of your own you'd like to add? 

 

KEEP ON READING

 

 

 

 

How To Make A Media Kit That Stands Out

Design, BusinessStephanie Hamilton14 Comments

You put a lot of work into producing high quality content for your business and blog so when the time comes that a potential client asks for all you have to offer, the best way to seal the deal is always through a media kit. 

Many people assume to media kits are only for bloggers with very large audiences - but that couldn't be further from the truth! That's really only half of the equation when brands look to partner with you.

If you focus on creating high-quality content, and develop a personal brand that establishes your credibility in the industry along with strengths apart from your business, companies will take notice.

So, how do you broach the conversation of sponsorships? A media kit is the simplest and most effective way to get started.  

how to make a media kit that stands out - by stephanie design

 

 


First, What is a Media Kit?

Let's begin with the basics: A media kit is a document that encapsulates who you are and what your blog is all about. In the same way a resume presents your experience in your chosen field, a media kit is essentially your 'blog resume,' allowing you to put your best foot forward and show advertisers how they can benefit from working with you! 

You can use your media kit for a variety of means, such as to help sell ad spots on your site, write sponsored posts, offer product reviews, receive publishing offers, and create brand partnerships. 


Second, How Do You Make a Media Kit?

Since media kits are comprised mostly of text, I use Adobe InDesign to create mine which allows you the most range of tools to fully-customize it, but you may also use Photoshop or Canva. 

 


What Should You Include in Your Blog's Media Kit? 

 

Logo:

That beautiful new logo you had created should make an appearance in the header of your media kit to establish professionalism and memorability. 


Headshot: 

It's a good idea to have a professional portrait at the ready so brands can readily identify you and put a 'face to the name.' 


Purpose of your blog:


The Who, What, Where, and Why's you want to answer. If you don't want to bucket yourself in a niche, strive for finding and honing your voice and stick to that. Make note of how you are different and what makes you unique! You don't necessarily have to specialize in one topic (ex. bloggers that cover a lot of topics such as travel, fashion, lifestyle, fitness, career are a prime example). In any case feel free to be personable - brands like when they feel they can relate and connect with you! 


Short bio about yourself:  


Marketers need to know more about the person and blog reaching out to them. Things to include in your bio include how old your blog is, what kind of topics you write about, and any special info that would appeal to that advertiser. Again, any details that make the advertiser read your bio and think "Hey! They'd be an excellent fit!" 


STATISTICS:

 As with any business that wants to get results from working with you, statistics help paint the desired outcome. As I mentioned before, they don't encapsulate the entire picture, but they give you an indication of your audience and reach. For statistics I recommend including the following: 

  • Your subscribers: RSS, social media, etc.
  • Monthly pageviews
  • Monthly unique visitors
  • A quick overview of demographics of your readers, which may include age range, gender, etc

List of brands you have worked with: 

If you already have some collaborations, then be sure to include them. This can take the form of their brand logos or more complex such as a case study from a previous collaboration. Be sure to note the results of the collaboration, such as giveaway entries received or clickthrough received. This will show you have the experience and give prospective collaborators an idea of what to expect when they work with you. 


Services provided: 

This is where you can list all the ways brands can work with you! Common options include:

  • Sponsored Posts
  • Giveaways
  • Sidebar Ads
  • Social Media Promotion
  • Product Reviews

Contact information:

Last but not least, don't forget to include contact information so that the brand can easily get in touch!

 

Now set some time to create a quality media kit! Your blog and brand is so worth it! 

 


Shop Media Kit Templates!


media kit templates - by stephanie design

"As a blogger, Stephanie’s media kits are super useful. They’re easy to use — you just input your brand/blog info using Photoshop. These media kits are also the perfect tool for brand collaborations or simply keeping track of your personal brand and its growth. This is my favorite media kit template and I’m obsessed with this business card template. Love!"

These customizable designs were created to be simple, yet beautiful and can stay with you as your business and brand continues to expand and grow! 

- Suzannah, Style & Beauty Blogger
With Love, Suzannah Hyche


RELATED POSTS:

How to Edit the Colors & Fonts of a Magazine Template in Photoshop (+ FREE Photoshop Shortcuts Guide)

TutorialsStephanie HamiltonComment

Photoshop is one of the programs of the Adobe Creative Suite that I seem to get the most use out of. Not only does it have top notch photo editing tools, but I create almost all templates in my store using this handy program (+ alittle help with Illustrator occasionally for vector illustrations).

So if you're just starting out and aren't sure how to navigate this robust program - have no fear! I have a series of video tutorials that will allow you to Leap into Photoshop with confidence. The first in the series is How to Create a Clipping Mask in Photoshop.  If you notice at the bottom of this post I also included a free Photoshop Shortcuts Guide for you to download, too!

And today I'd like to show you how to easily make use of the Library Panel in Photoshop to change the colors and fonts of a template. For an extensive document like a magazine, this will not only cut down on the time needed to edit, but allow you to save and transfer these assets when using other Adobe programs such as InDesign and Illustrator.

 

how to edit the colors and fonts of a magazine template in photoshop - by stephanie design

How to Edit the Colors & Fonts of a Magazine in Photoshop


 

 

Also, since many of you use Photoshop for a variety of needs, I've put together a Keyboard Shortcuts Guide to help you speed up your workflow and work more efficiently in the program! Grab your FREE download below! 

Grab your Free Photoshop Shortcuts Guide!

Shortcuts

Sign up to have it sent straight to your inbox!

Powered by ConvertKit

 

DON'T FORGET TO FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM FOR GIVEAWAYS & MORE!

 

 

 

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10 Steps to Rapidly Grow Your Pinterest Traffic

BusinessStephanie Hamilton15 Comments

It's no secret Pinterest is a major game changer for blogs and businesses looking to stand out and get more traffic to their websites. As of right now Pinterest accounts for over half of my overall traffic and contributes heavily to my email list growth. So today I'm sharing a few tips that will help you leverage Pinterest successfully as a business owner and blogger to kick up your traffic and readership. 

 

10 steps to rapidly grow your pinterest traffic - by stephanie design

 

1 | Convert to a Business Page

The major advantage of using Pinterest as a business owner is you're able to verify your site (allowing Pinterest users to view your site as a trustworthy source), and more importantly you're able to take advantage of Pinterest analytics! It's here you're able to see what is being pinned from your site, how many people are repining images, and gauge the interest of your pinners. This is beneficial as I can see which pins I should be pinning to Group Boards at a later date to maximize my traffic! 

It's also mandatory to have a business account if your ever want to run Promoted Pins. 

Watch the video below for an overview of Pinterest Analytics or download a detailed how-to guide:

Just click here to either sign up as a business or convert your account! 


2 | Organize Boards 

People are busy so I like to keep my most relevant, on brand boards first. If my aesthetic doesn't capture their attention at first glance, chances are they won't scroll down to the rest of them. If you have to, delete boards that aren't relevant to your blog or business niche, Keep your ideal audience in the back of your mind - what kind of boards would appeal to them? How are your products or services related to those topics. And don't forget if there's something you've been brainstorming and don't want your ideal client to see just turn it into a 'secret' board and they won't even know it exists. 


3 | Make New Relevant Boards

Long before I started up my business I pinned anything that piqued my interest - regardless of whether they coincided with my business. I've since chosen boards that are a great representation not only of my design tastes and aesthetic but are a good reflection of my blog/business. And, of course, the first couple boards are showcasing my items exclusively. 

As you begin to organize your boards you may realize there are boards that you should have but don't! Make a list of 5-10 boards that are your best ideas and then create them! Spend some time pinning atleast 5-10 images to them to keep them from sitting vacant. 

 

 

how to increase traffic from Pinterest - by stephanie design


4 | Update Cover Boards

Once I have the foundation laid I like to go through and update the cover image of each board to reflect my products and offerings. Once again, I try to convey a similar vibe across your account that all relates back to my brand message. Pinterest is an extremely visual platform so high-quality images and a similar theme will go along way in attracting your ideal client and increasing click-throughs. 


5 | Apply for Group Pinterest Groups 

If you're just starting out and want to get your pins out there and seen, I'd highly recommend joining a few relevant group Pinterest boards. Try to only join boards that are relevant to the content that you want to post and where content that is posted gets re-pinned. 


6 | Allow Readers to Pin Directly From Your Site

If you share great content, chances are visitors would want to pass it on, so make sure to enable the Pin-it Button for images. This small hover link makes your site 'Pinterest friendly,' 

For Squarespace users, you can enable the 'pin-it' button under Settings > Share Buttons. If you're using Wordpress or Blogger, you can find instructions for adding a Pin It button to your site here.  

I've also recently installed the SumoMe Social Sharing Widget which I've heard many positive reviews about. Any means of making it super easy for visitors to share your stuff is worth it. 


7 | Create original pin-worthy images and graphics

I know I'm more likely to re-pin an image that is well-designed an eye-catching over a myriad of options that flood my feed, so keep in mind to create high-quality images that grab user's attention when developing your social media graphics. Colorful images and pictures with a background are often a hit on this visual platform, so taking time to craft them is well worth the free marketing Pinterest offers. 


8 | Make Boards Titles & Descriptions SEO-friendly 

Many people lump Pinterest into platforms like Instagram and Facebook, causing them to view it as another social media platform. This can sometimes skew their Pinterest strategy, though.  Pinterest is like a mini search engine (you may have heard of Search Engine Optimization) - keep in mind the words and key phrases that your ideal client would enter to arrive at your pin. Make sure each board includes a relevant keywords, and your board description is filled with words you'd find yourself searching for most for the topic. And don't forget to take advantage and write lengthy, keyword-filled descriptions: think 2-4 sentences that someone would search for in relation to your pin. 

Also, when user's pin images directly from your site the name of the image appears in the pin description so make use of this prime real estate when uploading blog post images by entering a descriptive, keyword-rich phrase.


9 | Pin Consistently 

The more consistent I am with pinning the more I show up in people's feed and, hence, the more people  that will see my pins. I try to make it a point to pin 10-15 new, high-quality pins a day to help out other businesses and grow my following while Boardbooster is running the rest of the work on autopilot. 


10 | Sign Up For Boardbooster!

Finally, once your finished with the initial setup it's time to run it on autopilot! Boardbooster has saved me so much time in Pinterest and has rapidly grown my followers on average over 50% each month. It schedules, loops, and basically runs the show for you once you set yourself up in their system. It's definitely a tool I'd recommend for those that want to cut down time spend on social media. 

 


What Pinterest tips have you found most helpful in driving traffic back to your site? 

 

 

RELATED POSTS

How To Use Clipping Masks in Photoshop (+FREE Photoshop Shortcuts Guide!)

TutorialsStephanie Hamilton2 Comments

Amongst the many tools in Photoshop I use in my everyday, one of the more important features I find myself using are clipping masks. They're an excellent way for bloggers and business owners to enhance their blog post graphics, collages, and other design needs. 

how to use clipping masks in photoshop + free photoshop shortcuts guide

 

Luckily, their super easy to use, and in this video tutorial I'll show you how to create a unique shape to a layout using clipping masks...

 

It's also worth mentioning that if you need to remove a layer from a clipping mask, right click and choose "Release Clipping Mask." This command removes the selected layer and any layers above it from the clipping mask. 

Also, since many of you use Photoshop for a variety of needs, I've put together a Keyboard Shortcuts Guide to help you speed up your workflow and work more efficiently in the program! Grab your FREE download below! 

Grab your Free Photoshop Shortcuts Guide!

Shortcuts

Sign up to have it sent straight to your inbox!

Powered by ConvertKit

 

Are there any techniques in Photoshop you'd like to learn? 

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Photographer Templates: Holiday Mini Session Templates for Photographers

Shop, DesignStephanie Hamilton4 Comments

With the holidays right around the corner capture the attention of your ideal clients with professional marketing templates! I released this recent Holiday Mini Session Marketing Set to showcase your work and maximize sales around this time of year! Enjoy! 

Holiday / Christmas PSD photo card templates
Holiday / Christmas PSD photo card templates
Holiday / Christmas PSD photo card templates
Holiday / Christmas PSD photo card templates
Holiday / Christmas PSD photo card templates

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THE HOLIDAY MINI SESSION SET INCLUDES
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- a template set to customize on your own

-1 5x7 Mini Session Template
-1 5x5 Mini Session Template
-1 5x5 Trifold Card
-1 5x7 Holiday Card
-2 Round 3x3 Stickers
-2 Facebook Timelines

DETAILS: 

- Back illustration is rasterized (not editable)
- designed to be printed at any local or online printing lab, or at home.
- recommended online print labs: Miller's Lab (www.millerslab.com) & WHCC (www.whcc.com)
- free fonts
- 300 dpi

Here are some recent reviews from customers! 

"Beautiful work! Thank you for making my job easier!"
- Kira Sue

"This was such a great marketing tool! Super easy to use, professionally looking and easy to make my own."

"Classy look, easy to use, matches almost any elegant branding! Thanks!"
- LeShayne

"Great customer service. Visually pleasing design. Thank you!"