Creative Market and Logo Design

Creative Market and Logo Design

In the Logo Design module of the Bucketlist Bombshells’ Design Skills Course, Cassie mentions Creative Market as a great place to buy unique fonts for logo design. I was already familiar with Creative Market, and for a good reason:

They give away design elements every single week!

I don’t always remember to download the files before the week ends and the 6 (yes, SIX free items every week) items are replaced by new options. But over the past couple years I’ve amassed a pretty large library of graphics and fonts that I can now use in my design business!

You’ll want to read through the license terms pretty thoroughly to make sure you’re using the files legally, but you can use the free items and any ones you purchase for clients. They offer bundles all the time, so you can get a great deal and support other creatives at the same time!

But the free items generally are full and complete versions, and you can build beautiful things with them in Adobe Creative Suite.

Thanks to the BB course module on logo design, I was itching to try making a new logo for this site! So I installed some of the free fonts from Creative Market that I thought might be a good fit. I also tried matching them with a few different free Google fonts, with the idea that I could use that font on this site for a more cohesive look. One of the fonts even came with some watercolor elements!

Here’s what I came up with:

I used the Island Style font from Creative Market, and paired it with the Merriweather Sans Serif Google font. I then added a watercolor element that came with the Pleasures font from Creative Market. All free!

That isn’t the final version of Create Wherever’s new logo, but it was really fun to make, and I can’t wait to try out new variations!

What is your favorite place to find new fonts?

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Introduction to Skillcrush

Introduction to Skillcrush

I’ve mentioned Skillcrush on this site a few times, and it’s about time that I introduced you to this wonderful resource! Before I heard of Bucketlist Bombshells, or even much about this whole digital nomad idea, I came across Skillcrush, and it’s where I have invested most of my time and effort toward gaining digital skills so that I can build a business.

Skillcrush offers three-month online tech courses they call blueprints. Each blueprint focuses on a particular career path and has three three-week classes or apprenticeships (a few have a bonus 1-week class on Git). Different blueprints may have overlapping classes or build on previous classes, and they just started a new all-access membership with all classes.

I don’t remember how I first heard of Skillcrush. It was most likely a Facebook ad, or someone referenced the company in an article or on Twitter. I just know that around May 2015 I signed up to get their emails, which were full of great info and links to their blog.

One entire year later, after my finances had recovered from my trip to the UK, I signed up for my first Skillcrush blueprint, Visual Designer, and was part of that blueprint’s inaugural class. I then took their Front-End Developer and WordPress Freelance Developer blueprints, which I still need to fully complete. (Interestingly enough, those same three blueprints, in a different order, are now bundled together into their 9-month WordPress Bootcamp.)

Rather than focusing on the possibility of using tech skills remotely, Skillcrush trains women (and men) of all ages to be tech professionals. Alongside the solid instruction in coding and design are plenty of guidelines for working with teams, preparing documents correctly, setting up a developer environment, and doing things in the right order.

Side note: What my INFP brain tells me is the right order and what other people tell me is the right order often differs. That led to some frustration with a few of the challenges within the Skillcrush blueprints. I did rearrange a few things and skip ahead to a different section when I was feeling stuck, which helped. It was also very encouraging to watch a video of Adda Birnir, Skillcrush’s founder, as she tweaked and shuffled through code for a project, instead of the sanitized step-by-step process presented in the lessons.

Skillcrush does present freelancing as an option and the ideal place to get started, but roughly half of the courses’ focus is on getting a job with a company, often as part of a larger team so you can expand your knowledge.

The blueprints run about $400, or $450 with a three-month payment plan. While you have lifetime access and can work at your own pace, the blueprints are structured to follow a set schedule so that you can be at the same place as the rest of your class. It usually follows 3 weeks (Monday-Friday) of lessons and a 1 week break for each of the three classes. The extra week gives you time to catch up, and there is sometimes an extra project you can do as well. I generally found the first week to be very easy, the second to be more challenging, and the third to be very hard and time-consuming.

Concepts are presented and demonstrated in short videos, and explained in more detail with text and screenshots. Lessons have a few challenges, some with typing code directly into the class website, others done with outside programs and you upload screenshots or share links. You can interact with instructors and fellow classmates in a Google Group for just your class (all starting the same day with the same blueprint). There are also group office hours via video chat that you can join.

One of the best parts of Skillcrush is saved for the very end. After the three months are up (even if you haven’t quite finished all your classes), you are able to join the Skillcrush Slack alumni group. I’ll have more details about that in a future post, and will also compare it to the Bucketlist Bombshells community.

Bottom line, Skillcrush is one of the best and most thorough ways to learn tech skills. I’ll provide more information about the individual blueprints I’ve taken in separate posts!

What is the most important thing to you about an online course? What would cause you to choose one course over another?

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On Saying No to Clients

On Saying No to Clients

This week has not been a great one at my day job. (I was going to say 9-5, but I work 8-5.) And it has been almost entirely due to one customer making sudden paperwork demands that I have been required to meet.

Is there any benefit to me in meeting this customer’s demands? Not at all. I don’t get any bonuses or commissions. Yes, the company has a better chance of retaining this customer, and appreciates my efforts, but it has been a whole lot of stress for nothing.

This situation has really made me long for the days where I can be in control of my own business, and choose which client requests I will meet, and how much I will charge them for my extra work.

I’m not a person who naturally says no to people (though I am better at it than some people I know). But saying no to clients is a crucial part of any functional business. Otherwise, you will be overrun, overworked, and underpaid, as revisions and requests eat up valuable time and energy.

However, how do you combine saying no to clients with being a great team player and an asset to your client’s company? With boundaries and expectations.

A clear onboarding process and/or contract is vital to making sure your clients don’t ruin your life and business. Outline exactly what you will do for them, and set limits. If they want to exceed those limits, set a price tag. Because most of the time, you would be completely happy with the additional requests if they made you additional money. It’s not telling your client no, it’s saying, “Yes, if . . .”

Build an escape hatch. Imagine your worse possible client. How would you protect yourself if you had to work with these types of companies? First, you should build something that would make it so you won’t have to – a vetting process to screen out the truly incompatible, a non-refundable deposit to prevent clients that don’t pay, and a time limit so WIP projects don’t keep going for years.

Next, go through your workflow process (don’t have one yet? Write down all the steps you take for each type of project, and continue to edit and refine – it will be super helpful, I promise!) and think of how a terrible client could ruin each step. What could you do ahead of time so that won’t happen? Build it into your contract.

Yes, you will know more about how to set up strong contracts after you’ve dealt with a few difficult clients. But you can relate your other experiences to your business to think of possible scenarios your contract can prevent. Like with my experiences with my day job’s difficult customers. If a client makes a request that will cost me time and effort outside of the scope of their project, I want to be able to refuse it or charge them a fee.

Obviously, you are not going to want to nickel and dime your clients with constant fees. So one thing to do is build some buffer time into any contract, because there will always be unknown things that happen. If it helps, track that “extra” time, because little things can add up, and it will help you budget that in future contracts.

What is the worse experience you’ve had with a customer or client?

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On Quitting Your Job: Courage vs. Responsibility

On Quitting Your Job: Courage vs. Responsibility

I’m not quitting my job.

Not walking out. Not putting in my two weeks’ notice. Not saying, “Bye, Felicia.”

Not yet at least.

As a part of so many travel and freelancing/solopreneur groups, it seems like every day I hear about someone is quitting their 9-to-5 to pursue their passion, the open road, and creativity. This move is unanimously praised as the right thing to do, as a huge courageous step.

It is especially prevalent in the Bucketlist Bombshells Tribe Facebook group (one of my favorites), for several reasons. First, because the group is about both travel and building your own business. Second, because that’s exactly what both co-founders of the group did – quit their jobs and moved to Mexico (as discussed in their recent Forbes article)!

Third, because their target audience is millennial women. In particular, ones who can see themselves traveling the world, which says two things – their ties to their current location are limited (often they are single and don’t have children) and they have, or aspire to have, disposable income that they want to spend on travel.

That is a broad generalization that of course doesn’t apply to everyone in the group. It does, however, apply to me.

The main tie I have to my current location is my family (parents and siblings, along with their families). I am one of nine children, and my parents and all but two of my siblings currently live within a half hour drive. I rent a place with one of my sisters. My brother, sister-in-law, and their two children (who will turn 7 and 3 in July) live 4 minutes away.

While technology has made living apart from family easier, it still would be hard to be away from them most of the year, especially my nieces, who grow and change so quickly. It would also be difficult for the sister I live with to find an affordable rental on her own.

Shared living costs is one aspect of the responsibility I feel about keeping my day job – especially since I just signed a year lease. Even if I would spend most of my time abroad, I would need a space to store my stuff and a place to stay when I’m hear (if I was only coming back a week at a time, I could stay with family, but I’m guessing trips home would end up being a month or so, and I need my own space). $300/month wouldn’t be too bad to keep paying, since a storage unit would be $50-$150/month anyway. I would need to see how much I’d be home after the lease was up.

Another responsibility is my car. I live in an area where a car is needed to get around. Fortunately my car is fully paid for. I could perhaps get a sibling to cover my auto insurance costs in exchange for using the car while I’m gone, or severely reduce my plan, or even sell the car and use a rental whenever I’m in the area.

My health insurance is covered through my job, and I don’t have to pay premiums. But I have Hashimoto’s, a thyroid autoimmune disorder, so I need access to medicine and infrequent blood tests to monitor my levels. If I quit my job, I’m stuck paying for health insurance on my own. It seems like many younger millennials would be able to get back on their parents’ health plans (or perhaps they are already on them?) if they quit their jobs spontaneously.

I also have cash invested into my vacation in September. Plane tickets, some non-refundable rooms, tours, and long train journeys have already been paid in advance. I will be using 9 of my 10 vacation days for my work year of May 2017-May 2018, which means if I leave before spring 2018 I may have to pay some of them back. However, paying a couple hundred to quit my job earlier would not be terrible. Since I know this vacation will be pricey, I suspect that I won’t be able to save much for a transitional buffer until the trip is over.

I definitely would be leaving my company in the lurch if I quit suddenly, even with 2 weeks’ notice. Right now, the company has a skeleton crew, with many people doing multiple jobs, and I know my leaving will put extra work on the shoulders of my already overworked coworkers. I am, however, a bit frustrated with the company – I have been asking for 2 months to have a conversation about salary, and it hasn’t happened yet. Two months ago I was in the middle of a big project and my confidence level was high. Now I’m between projects, so my value to the company isn’t as visible, even though I have plenty of tasks I am still doing.

The bottom line of this discussion the fact that I need to be making money with my fledgling business before I even make plans to quit my job. I have too many responsibilities that need cash. Maybe these women who are quitting their day jobs don’t have as many responsibilities. Maybe they have a safety net of moving back in with their parents if things don’t work out. Maybe they have a nice lump sum in the bank.

Or maybe they have decided that it is time to be courageous.

I’m not there yet. Call it fear, call it preparation, call it realism, but I know quitting my job right now is the wrong thing. But I’m hoping the time will soon come when it is the right thing, and I can finally embark on my digital nomad adventure.

Bye, Felicia!

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Methods of Online Learning

Methods of Online Learning

To become a digital nomad, you need to be able to do money-generating things remotely. For some, they can use the skills they’ve already gained to jump right in. For others, they will need to learn new skills or brush up on some old ones. For everyone, the fast-moving world of tech and the ever-changing trends of design means that learning should become a way of life.

Fortunately, it has never been easier to learn things online! This training can come in a variety of forms, and some of the best online courses combine all forms for all types of learners.

Text

Not regulated to simply books, text can be found everywhere on the web, because the web was built in text. From ebooks to blog posts to email courses to intelligent chatbots – you can easily learn almost anything in text. It’s especially good for print learners (me!). One hidden benefit is that text is the easiest form to translate – so learning can reach people in any language! It is also great for bite-sized learning and learning in places where sound is not allowed or hearing is impossible.

Pictures

Worth a thousand words, right? Sometimes some things are just easier to understand when you can see a picture or a diagram. Great option for visual learners, but most often . . .

Text and Pictures

These two combine to make learning twice as effective, and for me, this is my favorite form of learning. I can’t always grab a pair of headphones and devote my whole attention to something. Also, having a text/pictures option is very helpful for trying to actually do a difficult task while you follow along – no need to pause or rewind, just flip between the screens or have them side by side on your desktop. Screenshots are a great use of images, and adding gifs (moving images) takes things to a whole new level. Great for text and visual learners.

Audio

This is one area of learning I haven’t explored much, since most of what I want to learn has a visual aspect. But podcasts are still immensely popular, and you can find great ones about almost every topic. Great option for commuters and auditory learners. I’m definitely not one, and since I can read faster than most people speak, audio learning feels very slow and I’m easily distracted.

Video

Currently, video is the most popular learning method, and sites like Udemy, Lynda, and Skillshare use it almost exclusively. It’s easy to see why – it works for most learning styles (some better than others, depending on the type of video) and for both complicated and simple subjects. It also feels more premium than other types of learning (since it can take more effort to create) and therefore people are willing to pay more for classes that offer a video component.

 

What type of learner are you? What is your favorite method of learning online?

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FileMaker Development

FileMaker Development

I have my day job to thank for reviving my interest in making digital things. My company uses a program called FileMaker for most of its day-to-day record keeping. I had never heard of this program before starting there, and since they were in the process of switching to a different system I didn’t use it at all until after I’d been there several months when they decided to switch back and update. Now I am the most skilled person in FileMaker at the company.

FileMaker was developed by Apple (which sadly means that, although there’s a PC version and has been for years, they have no plans to move to Android) and is a robust, highly customizable database management system. I’ve used a lot of different systems at my various jobs, but FileMaker is the first one (other than WordPress, which is a whole different thing) I’ve been able to dive into and modify on my own.

Most of my coworkers had used FileMaker for years before the failed transition to our sister company’s data system (with a DOS-like interface that made me feel like I was visiting the 80s). I was given some brief instruction on how to use FileMaker for various tasks, and since I had used many other systems in the past I was able to pick of the logic of the program quickly.

Two things rapidly accelerated my FileMaker experience within my first year using it. One, I found and asked the company to purchase an in-depth manual on the program, and I read that 900-page book from cover to cover. Two, I was asked to join in on discussions about upgrading the system with our outside development team.

Those discussions almost became an apprenticeship for me in FileMaker. Since I was the one using FileMaker every day for the exact functions we were refining, I would beta test any changes made. I understood the underlying logic of the system and my company’s requirements, so I was able to pinpoint errors. Often, the outside developers would remotely connect to my computer to make changes, generally while they were on the phone with me. I watched how they did things and asked questions. I made small design changes, then minor changes and additions to the system, and now have gotten to the point where I built a custom system for payroll for my supervisor.

I also dived into scripting for FileMaker, building off the JavaScript classes I was taking with Skillcrush. I created a printing script that saved our plant manager hours every month.

I’m hoping to use my FileMaker skills in the future remotely – connecting to clients’ systems and updating things as they need me to. Unlike Photoshop or HTML, FileMaker development is more of a unique skill to offer as a digital nomad – one that I am hoping will help me stand out and gain clients.

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Entrepreneurial Roots

Entrepreneurial Roots

I’ve never been much of a salesperson. I’m quiet, not pushy, and if someone declines politely I generally never ask them again. However, for most of my childhood I didn’t have an allowance, and for a good portion of my adulthood I didn’t have a full-time job, so when it comes to making money, I’ve learned to be creative. Here are a few things I’ve done over the years:

Household Chores

My siblings and I each had our own list of chores growing up, but there were a few things we could do above and beyond those to earn cash. For a bit, it was ironing. I could iron 12 pieces of clothing for a dollar. Needless to say, I did not get rich off this.

Bread Business

While I’ve never been a great cook, baking has always come easily to me, so in high school I started selling bread to earn a little cash. I sold a bit to people at church, but the majority to my dad’s coworkers. I would spend most of a day baking, and Dad would cart the boxes into his office and come back with the money I’d earned – usually around $20 after I’d paid my parents back for ingredients. In retrospect, I should have raised my prices, since the same people were going to buy a loaf or two regardless if they were $2 or $4.

Selling on eBay and Amazon

Pretty self-explanatory. I dealt mostly in used books, so I generally didn’t make much.

Online Research

This is one clear case where more assertiveness could have led me down a completely different path in life. I did some work online for a recruiting company – mostly resume mining and database cleanup. A coworker offered to train me to be a recruiter, but barely out of high school me was terrified of talking on the phone, especially to strangers. A more writing-based version of recruiting may have suited me, but I let the opportunity pass by and gradually they needed less and less of my help.

Book Reviews and Articles

Thanks to some review opportunities at my local bookstore, I began reviewing books for a couple small magazines. The pay was generally a free book, but the magazine connections did lead to a few articles that actually paid cash. I also started a book blog, and later a TV blog, and made a few pennies in Google Adsense revenue.

Database Work

One of the websites for which I reviewed needed help entering book information into their website database. The owner received the first chapters of books in Microsoft Word from the publishers, and needed help formatting each one for the web. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was my first coding job, as I manually inserted HTML tags throughout the text before uploading it and some metadata to the database. And this and my resume mining job were my first taste of Virtual Assistant work – though I don’t think the term had gained traction at that point.

Magazine Writing

My experience and connections in the book industry led to one of my most lucrative ventures to date – writing for an online magazine as a contributing editor. I was in charge of two different genres, and I interviewed authors via phone or email and created an article from the interview. It was awesome getting to talk with some of my favorite authors, and I would generally try to read some books by the authors I didn’t know before the interviews. I also gathered industry news into another column, and several times was asked to write an additional feature piece.

Avon

I sold Avon for a while in my early 20s, then stopped since I wasn’t making money with it. Some coworkers encouraged me to sign up again more than 3 years ago, and I’m still selling it. Most of what I make is due to one steady customer, so if they stopped purchasing, I likely wouldn’t make a profit and discontinue selling it. As it is, I make a little for my travel fund and get clothes and beauty products at a discount.

 

What jobs have you done in the past to earn money? Can you use the skills you’ve learned from them to help create a location-independent business for yourself?

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Language Learning

Language Learning

One consideration when traveling to a different country is that the people of that country may not speak the same language as you. As an English speaker, I am fortunate to know a language spoken in many parts of the world. But even if most of people you encounter on a journey know your native language, it’s helpful to at least learn a few words in the local language to be considerate and in case you come across someone who doesn’t speak your language.

It’s also good to invest in learning at least one other language. While it doesn’t give enough training to make you fluent in a language, Duolingo is a great way to start learning one. You can even try out several different languages if you’re unsure which one you want to learn.

I have been learning German with Duolingo for almost a year now. I have studied it quite casually, taking just a couple minutes a day, and I now know over a thousand words.

I chose German because of my family history. Most of my heritage is Germanic – from Germany to Prussia to Bavaria to Switzerland. My dad’s family were among early colonists to Pennsylvania in the 1700s, and my mom’s family immigrated to the US in the 1800s.

And it just so happens that I will be visiting Germany for the first time on my next trip! Germany is also one of the European countries more friendly to creative freelancers from the US, and offers a freelancer work visa.

Do you speak more than one language? What other languages do you know or want to learn? Do you have any special reason for learning that language?

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BB Design Skills Course: Module 4

BB Design Skills Course: Module 4

Module 4 of the Bucketlist Bombshells Design Skills course introduces students to logo design. This is the module I was most excited about while I was considering purchasing these courses, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

This module consists of 7 videos for well over an hour of instruction. It starts off with an introduction to logo design, then provides several tutorials on how to find fonts and colors for your logos.

I wish that Cassie had explained a bit more about font permissions for students that might not be aware of the differences. She downloaded a free font in the tutorial but didn’t mention that it was for personal use only and therefore would need to be purchased for client projects. This is especially important in logo design. Also, the font installation instructions only applied to Macs, so they might be confusing to PC users unfamiliar with the differences.

After that, there were two longer videos where Cassie demonstrated her exact process for creating both a simple and a more advanced logo. It was very cool to see her turn some sketches into a full-fledged logo. Her process was truncated a bit for the tutorial, as she generally tries out more options and gives clients a choice between several variations.

I was hoping that the advanced logo would have a bit more icon creation instead of just adding ornamentation to a simple logo. I wanted to see more of how Cassie used the various drawing tools in Illustrator, and it would have been also neat to see some text manipulation. In future updates of this course, it would also be helpful for students to hear some of the thought process behind the sketched ideas and how Cassie narrows down her selections before presenting to the client.

Some of the super helpful takeaways I got from this module:

1. Always design in black and white first before adding color. That helps you see if a design can stand on its own. Cassie even presents the black and white logos to clients first so they won’t be distracted

2. Never throw anything away as you’re designing! Just drag it off to the side so you can refer to it later if needed.

3. Textures can add beauty to a font or image.

4. Walk away from your work and come back to it later. You’ll see things you missed and get a better feel if the design is actually working.

5. You don’t have to be great at sketching to be a great designer.

Want to hire me as a Pinterest Designer and Manager to help you get more traffic, leads, and income for your blog or business? Check out this page to see what I can do to help you grow!

Do One

Do One

About a month ago, I received an article in my inbox that stuck with me. Paul Jarvis referenced the iconic John Hopkins teaching method of “See one, do one, teach one”, and explained that most people are too quick to pass over the middle step – do one. He noted that it’s especially visible within the booming online courses industry, where people learn something new and sometimes immediately churn out a course of their own on the subject.

It caught my attention because I love to share new knowledge I’ve gained, and I was trying to figure out if I could create my own course based on what I know. My brain is stuffed full of all sorts of things, but it was hard for me to come up with something that people would actually pay me to teach. I thought perhaps it was a lack of confidence in my own abilities, but in fact, it was a lack of experience (a la my last post, Confidence and Courage).

I’ve never been much of a doer. As a print learner, I grasped things best by reading them passively. I shared them with others via writing. It means I generally do well with text-based things. But if something doesn’t have the thrill of learning something new, or the thrill of helping someone figure something out, I lose interest. Which is why I can be very smart but also very insecure about my abilities.

So, right now I’m trying to work on the doing part. It’s why I’ve committed to writing a blog post every day in May. It’s why I’ve set aside the idea of creating a course, for now at least. It’s why I’m taking these skills courses – even though more learning fits in the “see one” box, all the mini projects and the whole setup of a service-based business is about doing.

Yes, doing is the boring bit of the journey that most people skip over. ***insert training montage here*** But doing is going to give me the confidence to get to the exciting part!

What is something you need more practice doing?

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Confidence and Courage

Confidence and Courage

As part of their 7-day challenge, Bucketlist Bombshells founders Cassie and Shay recently shared a live video discussing confidence and courage (you can watch a replay within the private and free to join Facebook group, Bucketlist Bombshells Tribe).

They described confidence as coming from experience. You can be confident in your ability to do something when you’ve done it before. I absolutely love that. This view of confidence also explains why confident people aren’t as fazed by setbacks. If you are baking bread and have done a decent job at it 3 times, but the 4th time it flops, you don’t consider yourself a failure at baking! You try to figure out what you did differently this time or what outside circumstances affected the outcome.

This also means that when you are doing something new, you aren’t supposed to feel confident about it! You don’t have the experience to give you the confidence yet! For something new, what you need is courage. Courage to step out and take the risk of failing so that you can gain experience. Because if you don’t try something new, you will only have the chance to be confident in the things you are doing now.

So what do you want to be confident about? Traveling to a different country? Working with a client? Giving a public speech? Leave your answer in the comments!

But what if you don’t have the courage to make that leap into doing the thing you want to be confident about? Here’s a secret – your confidence doesn’t have to come from exact experiences. You can “borrow” confidence from related experiences, add in a little courage, and move closer to your goal!

That’s what I’m doing with travel. I traveled with friends to NYC and ended up being the person who figured out how to navigate the city, which gave me confidence for other large English-speaking cities. So I added that confidence to some courage – courage to try solo travel and international travel. Now I’m taking the confidence I’ve gained from my trip to the UK and adding a little courage to visit Germany and France!

While breaking down leaps of faith into smaller steps can be helpful, don’t use the steps as an excuse. If you keep doing similar things to build experience/confidence, but there is no courage involved, you are falling into a rut. Sometimes you need to jump.

Action is the key principle here. Look at where you want to be. Can you leap there now with the courage you possess, or do you need more confidence/experience? If you can, leap. If not, take a smaller step of courage to something that will build your experience, give you confidence, and set you up for an even greater jump.

As one of my favorite movies says: “Keep Moving Forward!”

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BB Design Skills Course: Module 3

BB Design Skills Course: Module 3

I am enjoying BB’s Design Skills Course more and more every module! This one is all about creative briefs and mood boards. If you’ve ever wondered how designers go from getting hired to figuring out what their clients really want in a design, this gives you an inside look and a blueprint for your own initial client interactions!

The module contains 4 videos 10-15 minutes long, adding up to almost a full hour of instruction. You start out by being introduced creative briefs – a survey-like document you send to your client to fill out about their tastes and preferences. Cassie suggests using a shared Google Doc for this so you don’t have to keep emailing back and forth, and the course gives you a creative brief template you can customize for your own business!

You then learn how to analyze the creative brief, and then move to creative research – which is super fun since it’s done on Pinterest! Cassie walks you through setting up a secret board on Pinterest for the project. I was a bit concerned about copyright issues with using Pinterest images, but since the mood board is only supposed to be a reference point for both you and the client, not something you publish and make money from, it seems to fall under fair use (according to what I’ve gleaned online, I’m not giving legal advice). I do like that you can keep the project board to help track down the source of the images if you need to later (like if a client loves a particular texture and wants to use that exact one).

After using the words from the creative brief to pin a number of images to your board, you look for similarities, save the best images, and arrange them artistically in Photoshop. Cassie provides a tutorial on how to do this, then it’s your turn! Students are given a creative brief from a fictional company, and tasked to create a mood board that meets the company’s requested aesthetic.

The mood board I created had pops of fuchsia and teal mixed with gold and white. Cassie gave students 3 mood board templates to choose from, so you just had to place embedded images and create clipping masks, as well as pull colors from the images for your palette. That made the project simple enough for beginners and reinforced commonly-used Photoshop tools, but since the images and arrangements are your own, the project wasn’t cookie-cutter. I had seen several mood boards within the Facebook groups for the same fictional client before reaching this module, and mine was able to be its own thing.

I finished the module excited about doing design work in the future and even wanting to figure out how to create my own mood board template!

 

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GGB Challenge Day 1 – Reasons Why

GGB Challenge Day 1 – Reasons Why

It’s so serendipitous how this worked out – yesterday I listed all my obstacles to becoming a digital nomad. Today, Globetrotting Girl Bosses (update: now Bucketlist Bombshells Tribe) started their 7-day challenge asking us to write down the reasons why we want to work online! So I am sharing that with you here! (Also, the order suits my personality – I always want to get the bad stuff out of the way first so I can focus on the positive! So you might think I’m a pessimist if you only talk to me for a few minutes or read the first part of a blog post, but I’m really not!)

Freedom to Travel

This is the biggest reason why I want to become a digital nomad – I got bit by the travel bug 2 1/2 years ago, and one trip a year is not enough! I used to think that I need to wait to travel until I was married, or had a lot of money, or had a big group of friends going. Now I know I can figure out most curveballs travel throws my way, and in fall 2017 I’ll get the chance to try a new challenge – solo travel in a country where English is not the primary language! I always try to see far too much in my limited time traveling – I want the freedom to linger. I want to spend 1-2 weeks (or more) in a city, not 1-2 days.

Freedom to Set My Own Schedule

I am not a morning person. My brain just doesn’t work well in the mornings – no matter how much sleep I’ve had the night before. I hate working 8-5 (though I know others have even earlier schedules), and I live for Friday and Saturday nights where I can stay up being creative (if I haven’t deprived myself of too much sleep during the week). My ideal schedule would be staying up till 4am and sleeping in till noon (I’ve even worked second shift before and done this). But I also want to be able to spend time with family and friends some evenings.

Freedom to Be Creative

While my job does allow for some creativity now that I’ve studied FileMaker and can do some development work, most of my tasks are boring and repetitive. I do know that there will still be some repetition in any job, but if I am my own boss I can outsource and automate any tasks I don’t want to do over and over. I can say no to projects. I can set things aside and come back to them fresh. I can figure out new and better ways of doing things.

Freedom of Unlimited Earning Potential

As a solopreneur, I will be in charge of how much money I make. I won’t be at the mercy of working a year or more before I get a couple more cents an hour. If I don’t have enough clients, I can hustle and find some. If I have too much work, I can raise my rates. I can develop products that earn me money while I’m out exploring castles and dreaming of ways to expand my business. And I can help others earn money as well – whether cross-promotion, team-ups, long-term partnerships, or even employees.

Freedom to Foster Community

I love how supportive people can be in the tech/design community and in the travel community. I want to have more time to build and grow that community. I’m the type of person who sees a request for help or advice, and if I know anything related to the topic, it’s like catnip and I can’t help but try to assist them! I’ve spent hours researching problems and solutions for others for free. I want that to be part of my day-to-day workflow without feeling guilty about not doing “real work”. It will be my real work.

Freedom to Be Me – Confidently

I’m not the most confident person. I am always second-guessing myself and thinking that others are better than me. Building a business will give me something to look and say, “I did that!” whenever doubts come in. And I can create it my way, building on my strengths and eliminating the things that tear me down. I can spend my time working with and for the people who bring out the best in me. I can wander through new cities and build new friendships based on who I am at that moment and find more to like about myself every single day.

Want to hire me as a Pinterest Designer and Manager to help you get more traffic, leads, and income for your blog or business? Check out this page to see what I can do to help you grow!

Digital Nomad Obstacles

Digital Nomad Obstacles

It’s really easy to get discouraged when you are pursuing a dream – especially when you don’t have a clear picture of what that dream is and what steps you need to take to reach it.

I have loved the idea of moving to Europe and/or becoming a digital nomad with frequent stays in Europe for years now. But it always seemed impossible. And wouldn’t I find the guy of my dreams sometime soon? Better not make any concrete plans, since Prince Charming would find me soon and we’d travel the world together.

Well, Charming is still MIA, and I realized I could do this travel thing myself. I also realized two weeks of vacation a year is not nearly enough for all the travel I want to do, and I was spending 25-30% of my budget just getting to Europe, plus the days of jet lag. So I started taking courses to up my digital skills to help make a nomad life possible.

But I still have many obstacles in my way.

Money

I know I will need a solid buffer of cash before I will feel comfortable leaving my fulltime job. But I am also making far less than I’m worth at the company, and a discussion about salary hasn’t happened 2 months after requesting it. Coupled with depleting my savings to help my sister buy a car (she’ll pay me back eventually), my upcoming 2-week trip to Europe, and spending money on training, and my finances, while not terrible, should be healthier. Once my trip happens in early September, I can start putting aside that money for a much longer trip!

Housing and Belongings

I just signed a year lease. My sister and I moved to a new place so that a good friend could move in with us (and we could potentially add a 4th person later on). That makes my rent actually quite reasonable, but still something I would have to pay, even if I’m not here. At the end of the lease I would still need somewhere to put my stuff if I wasn’t living here. I can see getting rid of some things, but I don’t think I can pare down my 75ish boxes and furniture to a couple boxes in someone’s basement. Having a home base here in the States wouldn’t be a bad thing, but it would drain my money faster.

Family

One of the reasons why I can see myself keeping a home base here is that most of my family is in the area. I have 8 younger siblings, and my parents and all but two are in the area – and it would be especially hard to leave my two nieces. So I can see myself splitting my time between here and Europe – coming home for a month or two at a time would be much nicer if I had my own place. But still, money – for keeping a room in an apartment and plane tickets back and forth.

Visas

Depending on where I want to live in Europe, it may be impossible to work there legally. Most digital nomads aren’t in one place for long enough to worry about that, and just stay on tourist visas (but moving from place to place can be a lot more expensive). I was thinking this would kill my dream outright, until I found out about a freelancer work visa in Germany that is difficult, but not impossible to get. While living in the UK or Ireland would have been preferable (hello, English language!), Germany is a great alternate choice for me, for several reasons. One, since most of my ancestry is German (various branches of my family immigrated to North America between 1700 and 1900), I’ve always been interested in the country and culture. Two, due to this, I’ve actually been studying German, so this would help both my comfort level in the country and improve my skills with the language. Three, it is very centrally located for exploring the rest of Europe. Four, I love castles, and Germany has many beautiful ones to visit!

Current Job

I’ve been with my company for three years now and my skills have improved greatly during that time. I also have a casual dress code, short commute, and great coworkers. While my salary and vacation time is lacking, this job does give me more time and emotional freedom to pursue freelancing on the side that a stressful new job with a longer commute would not. It would be great to work for my company remotely in the future, and they have approved my trip to Europe, so I am reluctant to leave, even for a job that may pay a bit better and help me save money.

Business Under Construction

I have not officially launched my freelance business and have therefore earned $0 with my new skills. Will I be able to make a living as a freelancer? The last freelance money I earned was writing for a magazine 4+ years ago, and that was just a couple hundred extra a month. I will want to be fully established with several clients before I can even think of moving it to fulltime, not to mention the needed money buffer.

Conclusion

All of this points to it being at least a year until I make the leap to digital nomad. But here are some steps I will be taking:

  1. Launch my business so I can start earning money and paying myself from it
  2. Start saving more every month
  3. Get rid of more stuff
  4. Use my trip to evaluate where I would want to live in Europe

What obstacles to becoming a digital nomad do you face?

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BB Design Skills Course: Module 2

BB Design Skills Course: Module 2

This module of the Bucketlist Bombshells’ Design Skills Course introduces students to Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop. I was very much looking forward to this module, and it did not disappoint!

Like the previous module, this one consisted of three videos and nothing else (actual projects will begin later in the course). However, each of these videos last a half hour or longer, giving more than 100 minutes of instruction total!

InDesign

The first tutorial was InDesign, which I though was odd because most instruction usually starts with Photoshop as it’s the most popular. But, Cassie explains that as a designer, she primarily uses InDesign and Illustrator, and only occasionally uses Photoshop. I didn’t mind starting with InDesign as I had really enjoyed using it within Skillcrush’s Visual Designer Blueprint. As someone who has tried to create newsletters and other projects in Microsoft Word, the ease of formatting with InDesign is amazing and a great time-saver.

Cassie gave a basic overview of the toolbars and layout in InDesign and many of the tools. Even with my previous introduction to InDesign, I learned a lot. Her teaching style, while a bit repetitive when teaching from a slide deck like in the previous module, really shines in these tutorials. She makes using these programs seem fun and easy, and my mind was churning with different ways I could apply the uses of the different tools to my own projects.

Illustrator

Next was Illustrator. I hated Illustrator while using it in Skillcrush – the bezier curves were pure evil and I could never get my drawings to look clean and smooth. As someone who was never good at drawing realistic images, I was hoping it would be easier on the computer, but the Skillcrush Blueprint made me think that wasn’t the case. I don’t think I’ve opened Illustrator since finishing that class.

But Cassie makes Illustrator seem effortless and fun to use. She showed different ways to create and smooth out a design, and introduced Adobe’s library of brushes and other cool tools to use when creating images. I’m excited to try some of them out!

I did notice that Cassie seem to refer to opacity in opposite terms – when an item becomes more opaque, it becomes less see-through, not more. But since you generally only mess with opacity when you are decreasing it for a project, it’s easy to misunderstand the meaning. This is my only criticism on her teaching for the entire module, which says a lot! Very impressed by this module.

Photoshop

The last video was all about Photoshop, with which I am most familiar out of Adobe’s products. Cassie did a run-through of almost every tool in the regular toolbar, explaining their differences and similarities, and saying why you might use one over another. She showed their effects on one image, and gave a bunch of examples of different cases where you might need to use each tool. It was also helpful to see speed vs. accuracy with using different tools over the other, depending on the contrast in an image.

Cassie only briefly touched on layers and organizing your workspace, which was something the Skillcrush Blueprint spent a lot of time on. Since I am taking both, this is giving me a more well-rounded education in Photoshop. I do think Cassie’s design approach fits my style more – I like jumping in with both feet, playing around with a project, and looking up stuff when I get stuck.

This module excites me a lot for the rest of the course. I can’t wait to start working on actual projects!

Want to hire me as a Pinterest Designer and Manager to help you get more traffic, leads, and income for your blog or business? Check out this page to see what I can do to help you grow!