Resource Centre

A carefully curated collection of articles, books, tools and galleries.

Topics for 2019 include visual trends, graphic design, strategy, creativity and inspiration; web design, development and seo; email marketing and copywriting; marketing, advertising and social media. If you have a resource you'd like us to consider adding to the list, email it to us or if you're interested in adding a resources module like this to your website, let us know.


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How small businesses can do branding like the big guys


When Beata Tolley and her husband, Chris, launched their Okanagan Valley, B.C. winery in 2004, their focus was the product. It was only several years later that it occurred to them to look closer at their brand. “Our most important concern was the quality of what went into the bottle,” she says. “But we realized that the way our wine was being presented to the world didn’t match our intention behind it—or the wine itself.”

Like many smaller businesses, the Tolleys had treated branding as an afterthought rather than a priority.

What the pair learned is what marketing specialists want to shout from the rooftops: For even very small businesses, good branding matters, from your name to the colour of your logo to the copy that ties everything together. “A strong visual identity sticks in a customer’s head,” says Erin Bury of Toronto’s 88 Creative communications agency. “It provides consistency and a differentiator in the market.” After all, it doesn’t matter how good your business is if people can’t find or remember it.

Wayne Roberts of Blade Creative Branding in Toronto encourages companies to treat branding as an investment, not a cost, and to embrace the process rather than thinking of it like, as he puts it, “having a tumour removed.” Business owners who don’t believe in the critical importance of branding, he adds, fail to understand basic human behaviour. “People are not rational; they are rationalizers,” Roberts says. “We’re always trying to rationalize the way we feel about things, and branding makes people feel a certain way.”

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How interviewing our top 10 clients helped us grow & improve our business

by Lou Levit

When you learn about your customers, you can give them exactly what they want. And the more you do that – the more you grow.

Like Pat, I realized that it’d been a while since we interviewed any of our customers at Reliable PSD (our web development company).

We’d grown quite a bit over the past couple years, added new team members, updated our workflows & processes, and increased our customer base, but one thing we hadn’t done in a while was get on the phone with the people we enjoyed working with most and have been our best clients.

You see, what your customers think, feel, and believe is a gold mine.

Getting in their heads and really figuring out what drives them and motivates them to make the decisions that they make is invaluable to your business and directly translates to increasing your profits and attracting more of the exact kinds of people you want to work with.

It’s simple: The better you know your clients, the more targeted you can make your own business and marketing, and as a result…

Your business will grow.

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This new workflow gets our agency faster client approvals

By David Tendrich

Our agency’s workflow used to look like this, and while it went well most of the time… it also led to heartache, never-ending projects, and early-onset baldness due to pulling all of our hair out:

  1. Conduct all research
  2. Create copy & design, obsess over it, make it perfect
  3. Show client & hope for the best

Why was this a disaster?

In all honesty, projects went well most of the time. And maybe you’ve experienced the same.

Clients come to us because they trust us and love our aesthetic, so they typically love what we create.

But there’s a big risk in doing things this way: We put a lot of our eggs in one basket for step #2. But what if the client hated it? What if the direction was all wrong? What if they wanted / expected something completely different?

We’d have to go back to square one after putting in the sweat, blood, and hours that go into a final proof. Or, we’d have to spend hours in back-and-forth justifying our decisions to the client and ultimately getting them to sign off on something they just didn’t like.

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97 Habits Of Insanely Profitable Designers

If you want to be insanely profitable doing what you love (that’s design by the way) then you need to find a happy balance between art and commerce. Basically, you need a head for business and a mind for design.

On the surface, profitable designers aren’t that different to unprofitable ones; the one real difference is that insanely profitable designers have developed specific habits that allow them to succeed.

8 years ago I was financially stressed, I couldn’t pay all my bills on time, I had nightmare clients; some who wouldn’t pay me on time, I couldn’t find good staff, I was working 16 hour days and my business was sucking all my time and every last ounce of energy I had… but for very little return.

Are you feeling the same way right now?

If you want to create a business and life you love, these 97 habits will be the key to your liberation… and your profits. 

Remember you don’t become a freelancer just to create a job for yourself, you freelance to create a lifestyle. Don’t be the technician buried in the trenches, become the entrepreneur. Start with these 97 habits and you’ll transform your business and your life…

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5 Design Jobs That Won't Exist In The Future

By John Brownlee

Organ designers, chief drone experience designers, cybernetic director. Those are some of the fanciful new roles that could be created by the global design industry in the next few years.

But what about current design roles? How will they favor over the next 15 years? Will every company by 2030 have a chief design officer, or will they all go extinct? Should a generation of creatives who grew up worshipping Apple's Jonathan Ive put all their eggs in the industrial design basket?

We talked to a dozen design leaders and thinkers from companies such as Frog, Artefact, and Ideo to find out which design jobs could die out in the next 15 years, and which could grow. There's no empirical evidence behind these picks, so they shouldn't be taken too seriously. Still, they represent the informed opinions of people who get paid to think about the future.

Design jobs that will die:

  • UX Designers
  • Visual Designers
  • Design Researchers
  • Traditional Industrial Designers
  • Chief Design Officers

Design jobs that will grow:

  • Virtual Interaction Designers
  • Specialist Material Designers
  • Algorithmic/AI Design Specialists
  • Post-Industrial Designers
  • Design Strategists
  • Freelance Designers

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Essential Steps to Making a Killer Portfolio

A primer on planning, presenting, and posting your best work. 


You have the ability to capture the attention of a creative director in a single glance of your portfolio, so it’s vital to get the details right. What is the most compelling way to curate your images? How do you best present your designs? And what are the important mistakes to avoid?

Since Behance launched in 2006, we’ve seen a lot of portfolios. The website has 7.4 million members who post 12,000 new projects every day and draw a collective 200 million page views each month. That can make it difficult to stand out, but it’s worth giving your portfolio a polish and shine in an effort to do so. Think of it like this: We all tend to eat with our eyes first. If a dish looks good, we’ll be that much more eager to want to devour it. The same idea applies to your work. If your projects are stylishly presented, the chances are likely better that people will want to check out your work — which is the first step to getting more opportunities. 

To help you stand out, we’ve asked Behance’s Brand Director Mark Brooks what one should (and shouldn’t) do to create an eye-catching portfolio. He walks us through the planning, presentation and posting stages of the process.

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295 Marketing Mentor Podcasts

Ilise Benun, founder of and author of 7 books, including The Creative Professional’s Guide to Money, interviews her clients and other successful creative professionals about what’s working when it comes to the latest marketing tools and pricing strategies. Ilise’s conversational style is friendly and engaging as she presses her interviewees to reveal the details that you don’t hear anywhere else about what exactly they are doing and how it is working. 

Each episode is a no-fluff chat about the nuts and bolts of how designers, copywriters, photographers and other creatives are doing to grow their business to get better clients with bigger budgets. Topics covered include taking control over your business, ending the feast or famine syndrome, finding your niche, identifying the ideal clients who value your services and can pay what you’re worth, developing your own marketing style and cultivating relationships that will last. 

For more, sign up for her Quick Tips at


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The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More By Managing Your Time, Attention, And Energy

by  Chris Bailey

A fresh, personal, and entertaining exploration of a topic that concerns all of us: how to be more productive at work and in every facet of our lives.
Chris Bailey turned down lucrative job offers to pursue a lifelong dream—to spend a year performing a deep dive experiment into the pursuit of productivity, a subject he had been enamored with since he was a teenager. After obtaining his business degree, he created a blog to chronicle a year-long series of productivity experiments he conducted on himself, where he also continued his research and interviews with some of the world’s foremost experts, from Charles Duhigg to David Allen.

Among the experiments that he tackled: Bailey went several weeks with getting by on little to no sleep; he cut out caffeine and sugar; he lived in total isolation for 10 days; he used his smartphone for just an hour a day for three months; he gained ten pounds of muscle mass; he stretched his work week to 90 hours; a late riser, he got up at 5:30 every morning for three months—all the while monitoring the impact of his experiments on the quality and quantity of his work. 
The Productivity Project—and the lessons Chris learned—are the result of that year-long journey. Among the counterintuitive insights Chris Bailey will teach you: 
·         slowing down to work more deliberately;
·         shrinking or eliminating the unimportant; 
·         the rule of three; 
·         striving for imperfection; 
·         scheduling less time for important tasks; 
·         the 20 second rule to distract yourself from the inevitable distractions; 
·         and the concept of productive procrastination.
In an eye-opening and thoroughly engaging read, Bailey offers a treasure trove of insights and over 25 best practices that will help you accomplish more.

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Shoe Dog: A Memoir By The Creator Of Nike

In this candid and riveting memoir, for the first time ever, Nike founder and board chairman Phil Knight shares the inside story of the company’s early days as an intrepid start-up and its evolution into one of the world’s most iconic, game-changing, and profitable brands.

Young, searching, fresh out of business school, Phil Knight borrowed fifty dollars from his father and launched a company with one simple mission: import high-quality, low-cost running shoes from Japan. Selling the shoes from the trunk of his Plymouth Valiant, Knight grossed eight thousand dollars that first year, 1963. Today, Nike’s annual sales top $30 billion. In this age of start-ups, Knight’s Nike is the gold standard, and its swoosh is more than a logo. A symbol of grace and greatness, it’s one of the few icons instantly recognized in every corner of the world.

But Knight, the man behind the swoosh, has always been a mystery. Now, in a memoir that’s surprising, humble, unfiltered, funny, and beautifully crafted, he tells his story at last. It all begins with a classic crossroads moment. Twenty-four years old, backpacking through Asia and Europe and Africa, wrestling with life’s Great Questions, Knight decides the unconventional path is the only one for him. Rather than work for a big corporation, he will create something all his own, something new, dynamic, different. Knight details the many terrifying risks he encountered along the way, the crushing setbacks, the ruthless competitors, the countless doubters and haters and hostile bankers—as well as his many thrilling triumphs and narrow escapes. Above all, he recalls the foundational relationships that formed the heart and soul of Nike, with his former track coach, the irascible and charismatic Bill Bowerman, and with his first employees, a ragtag group of misfits and savants who quickly became a band of swoosh-crazed brothers.

Together, harnessing the electrifying power of a bold vision and a shared belief in the redemptive, transformative power of sports, they created a brand, and a culture, that changed everything.

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How New Yorker Cartoonists Generate 500 Ideas a Week


"The trick is to not wait for the moments of inspiration, but to be working and let those moments happen while you’re working."

Every Tuesday the 50 or so freelance cartoonists for the “New Yorker” submit their weekly batch of drawings for publication consideration. Some email them in and others travel to the magazine’s office at One World Trade Center to personally hand in physical copies. But all of the cartoonists have one thing in common: They’re facing terrible odds of success.

Each cartoonist submits up to 10 sketches, so there can be 500 entries competing for approximately 12 spots in the magazine. “On a good week, you might sell one of your batch of 10,” says cartoonist Matt Diffee. “That is 90 percent rejection.”

This is the same problem every creative faces—on steroids: tight deadlines, a crazy competitive environment, a discerning audience, and uncertain pay. If a cartoonist fails to impress, he will miss out on a high three- to low four-figure payday.

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The Merits of Giving Up on Your Ideas


Don't judge your ideas through a lens filled with beat-tired late nights, sacrificed paychecks, and all the other trademarks of building something from scratch. Instead, view them as investments, so you can better gauge when to move on from a loser.

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6 Bad Habits to Avoid When Writing Proposals

Written by 

Writing proposals -- whether responding to lengthy RFPs or pitching new services to existing clients -- is a responsibility that most agency execs would rather avoid. I’ve noticed a series of bad habits that, if broken, would make proposals not only easier to write but also more effective at what they’re meant to do -- win you more business.

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This “To-Go Box” Method Saves Us Tons of Time & Energy With Clients

by David Tendrich

I was eating at my favorite restaurant the other day (Harlow here in Portland!) when I looked across the room and noticed something brilliant.

It’s something I’ve seen about a hundred or so times before, and didn’t really think much of it.

But when I looked at it the other day, I had a huge “Aha!” moment. It was genius.

Here’s why this is genius, and how mastering this concept is going to save you tons of time and energy with your customers:

How many times do you think Harlow was asked, “Hey, can I get a to go box please?” before they implemented this system?

Hundreds? Thousands?

How many combined hours did their staff spend stopping what they were doing to go fetch a box for a customer?

Now, think of how much time they’re saving by just putting up a new stack every week or so. 

Think of how much energy they’re saving.

Suddenly, those to go boxes are pretty brilliant, right?

That’s because they’re just one example of a system Harlow implemented to free their staff up to focus on their most important jobs.

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Bad, Crazy Clients Will Make You Rich

by David Tendrich

Sounds crazy, right? But looking back, I can attribute any and all success I’ve had to what the title of this post is saying.

Bad, Crazy Clients Will Make You Rich

I can also attribute people staying in place, not growing, not succeeding, not achieving to the same exact thing.

I’ve never read the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad but I get the gist—“rich” people and “poor” people encounter the same situations, but it’s their reaction to them that makes one rich and one poor.

While I think life is more complex than that—and not all rich people are these “enlightened” decision makers and people—I also think there’s a lot of truth to it that I’ve experienced myself.

A smart guy I know recently told me, “There’s no such thing as a bad client. There are only bad processes.”

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Daily wisdom from founders

Founder Mantras shows mantras, quotes, and other wise words from a huge variety of startup founders. You can subscribe to the daily mantras, or you can submit your own if you're a founder, owner, or independent creator. Each quote also includes some brief info about the founder who said it.

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Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of the Creative Mind

by Biz Stone (Author)

Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter, discusses the power of creativity and how to harness it, through stories from his remarkable life and career.

From GQ's "Nerd of the Year" to one of Time's most influential people in the world, Biz Stone represents different things to different people. But he is known to all as the creative, effervescent, funny, charmingly positive and remarkably savvy co-founder of Twitter—the social media platform that singlehandedly changed the way the world works.

Now, Biz tells fascinating, pivotal, and personal stories from his early life and his careers at Google and Twitter, sharing his knowledge about the nature and importance of ingenuity today. In Biz's world:

  • Opportunity can be manufactured
  • Great work comes from abandoning a linear way of thinking
  • Creativity never runs out 
  • Asking questions is free
  • Empathy is core to personal and global success 

In this book, Biz also addresses failure, the value of vulnerability, ambition, and corporate culture. Whether seeking behind-the-scenes stories, advice, or wisdom and principles from one of the most successful businessmen of the new century, THINGS A LITTLE BIRD TOLD ME will satisfy every reader.

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What I learned from getting designer bids and being the client

by Preston D Lee

Recently, we redesigned the Millo logo with the help of Dina Rodriquez at Lettershoppe. Getting our logo redesigned put me in a really unique situation: normally, I’m the creative and I’m working with a client. But this time, I was the client. And it was my job to get a new logo designed.

In today’s post (and in a few subsequent posts to follow) I want to share lessons I learned as a client that will help us all:

  • work better with clients,
  • land more gigs, and
  • find more success as a freelancer.

There was something that really set Dina apart from the competition.

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Inside Design: Treehouse

Founded in 2013, Treehouse set out to offer kids and adults all over the world an affordable way to learn how to code. The online interactive education platform has a library of over 1,000 videos that teach everything from business to web design, and students put their new knowledge to the test through quizzes and code challenges.

Their dedication to education and great design makes us so proud to have them as part of the InVision community.

We sat down with Treehouse Product Designer Klare Frank to discuss collaborating with remote teams, the value of designers knowing how to code, and designing for success.

Do you think that designers should be playing a bigger role in developing business strategies as a whole?

The most successful organizations have had designers playing a role in business strategy. Designers think more closely to the user base of a product, so they can have valuable insights into what sort of things an organization should be focusing their goals on.

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“We got so deep into content marketing, that we forgot to mention what we actually do.”

by Christopher Butler

“We got so deep into content marketing, that we forgot to mention what we actually do.”

Sounds crazy, right? Well, not really. Just the other day, I was speaking with an agency principal about her firm’s website. We had been talking about what she has observed over the past five years or so of doing what she called “more aggressive digital marketing,” when she made that startling admission. In that time, she and her firm had created a ton of content: blog posts, white papers, case studies, you name it. After stabilizing their content production, they even smartened up a bit and organized it based upon the stages of the buying cycle, making sure to differentiate between content written for prospects who were in early stages of solution research and later stages of evaluation. After that, they revised their calls to action to better speak to prospects in each stage, and made sure to use them in the right places.

And you know what? It worked. They got more leads. But as we talked more, she described the strain that put on the person handling their sales (you guessed it: her). Despite creating so much content that described her firm’s expertise, she found that her sales conversations still began at square-one and required just as much time to inform and orient prospects to engagement possibilities as they had before they’d done all that fancy content marketing. The problem was, her phone was ringing much more now.

I smiled and said, “Don’t worry, you’re halfway there.”

She asked, “What do you mean, halfway?”

I explained that a few years ago, we spent most of our time helping agencies simply get up to speed with content marketing. We helped them break the habit of over-showing on the web by refocusing their websites on telling — namely, what they do and how they do it using actual words — instead of assuming that a glitzy portfolio in an even glitzier container would win them business. But for those whom we converted to the content marketing way, there was more work to do.

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The designer's guide to making budgets work

Smart budgeting: 11 financial tips from the world's best design studios on how to turn creativity into cash.

There's an old-fashioned rule of thumb in the restaurant trade on how to price a dish: take the cost of the ingredients, add tax and times it by three. The creative trade, by comparison, is about as simple to 'price' as a Jimmy Five Spice menu. Each 'ingredient' in a creative project is almost impossible to cost tangibly, meaning the industry is doubly liable for undercharging for expertise, and overcharging for time. 

The result can equate to cashflow problems at best, and in worst case scenarios, trading-deficit and outright bankruptcy.

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How Web Designers & Developers Work Best Together


The process of becoming a designer and developer can be excruciating and quite exhausting. Each of these fields has such a depth of study with a lot to earn. And becoming proficient in just design or development can be hard enough. Often times it is easier to pair up and work with a designer/developer for your own projects.

But what are the easiest methods for handling such a relationship? I want to share just a few ideas on how designers and developers can work best together. If each person at least has an understanding of what the other needs to do, it will become a much simpler experience. These two job types should be guiding each other down the path towards creating a wonderful final product.

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Four Examples of Great Interactive Annual Reports

As more companies begin to go beyond print-only and compliment their annual reporting by presenting this information online, one of the first questions that may come up is "How do you make an interactive annual report?"

Many companies—from Facebook to Proctor & Gamble—host their annual reports online in straight-forward, archival pdf format. This direct strategy makes annual reports easy-to-download and simple to search; however, going with the pdf format limits what can be added with ease in the future and many times it doesn't taking advantage of the Web's interactive capabilities.

Some innovative companies incorporate online technologies to create engaging presentations of their annual report content, often creatively using responsive designs and embedding video. This trend is growing. According to Savage Brands, "electronic/online annual report budgets increased 30% over 2010," and "online tracking of [annual] reports has increased 60% between 2008 and 2012; 80% of those that track do so to improve the follow year's budget."

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Five reasons why projects fail

As a founder of multiple startups and current COO of Hightail, I’ve led many projects, from launching new websites to rebranding a multi-billion dollar global company. While I’ve had some great wins, I don’t mind admitting that there have also been a few disasters.

A runaway success often seems like the result of some arcane alchemy, but in my experience failure is rooted in the same recurring problems. I’m going to highlight five of these mistakes and the lessons I’ve learned about avoiding them in future projects.


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Writing an Effective Design Brief: Awesome Examples And a Free Template To Get You Started


You’ve gotten a lead on a really sweet client.

The kind that makes you do a happy dance. You quickly research their company, their branding and their social media outlets. You’re ready to make a Skype date to talk about their needs and goals. You usually grab a pen and pad and scribble notes while talking with them. And you’re so excited about the project, ideas are already flowing that you can’t wait to start. But what happens when you get off that client call and realize you forgot to ask some important questions? You don’t want to start your design only to discover that what you thought they wanted and what YOU wanted are two different things. Or worse, you thought you knew what they wanted, submitted the designs, and it wasn’t what they needed; you’re not only back to the drawing board, but you may have lost credibility.

That’s where a detailed design brief would set you up to create great design. It answers all of the questions you’ll need for the project — and you won’t have to email the client to ask them questions you should’ve gotten up front. It’s a definite blueprint for the project, with a clear set of expectations and goals.

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RRSPs And Tax Breaks For The Small Biz Owner | Canada

The abbreviation “RSP” stands for “retirement savings plan". Canadian citizens have access to two different types of RSPs:

  • Registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs). RRSPs are legal trusts that are registered with the Canadian Revenue Agency. Funds placed in RRSPs are subject to certain limitations, but get a number of tax advantages.

  • Non-registered retirement savings plans. Non-registered RSPs have no contribution or income limits, but they don't get the full tax benefits of RRSPs. Non-registered RSPs can be opened by anyone in the form of savings, checking and money-marketing accounts.

The focus of this article is on RRSPs, though you may want to familiarize yourself with the best way to use both types of accounts to supplement retirement benefits that may be available through the Old Age Security (OAS) program and the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP).


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10 Essential dos and don’ts of branding your solo business


As a creative entrepreneur, sometimes it feels like you’re supposed to be automatically awesome at creating a stellar brand for your solo business.

The truth is, perfecting your own brand is the hardest job – with the toughest client – you’ll ever face.

So while you may feel like the only designer, illustrator, or artisan out there who’s struggling when it comes to branding your solo business: you’re not alone. All of us have spent long nights brainstorming the perfect brand, and all of us should remember the following dos and don’ts when creating – or refreshing – our business’s brand.

Today’s post will get you started on the right foot. When branding your solo business…

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Three Post-it productivity tricks

In an age of efficiency-inducing digital apps, the physical Post-it note remains a powerful productivity tool. Here are three ways that Post-it notes help people communicate and create more effectively every day.

  1. Give each project a Post-it
  2. Put your Post-its on display
  3. Make Post-its part of the team

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The 3 most important factors in naming your business

by April Greer

Naming your business is probably the single most challenging task in creating a business – and career – you love.

Despite an internet overflowing with business naming advice and a wealth of creative ability, most of us creative entrepreneurs (myself included – read my naming story here) struggle, fret, cry, lose sleep, and admit utter defeat before finally finding the perfect name…sometimes months or years later.

And for many of you, I know you’re still hunting for the perfect name that fits everything you hope your business will achieve.

So while you’re brainstorming your new business name, keep these three essential factors in mind:

  1. Easy to say & spell

  2. Something you absolutely love

  3. Not already taken

Pro Tip! Ask an 8 year-old and an 80 year-old to say your potential business name out loud. If they struggle with how you want it pronounced, keep working on it!

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How to compete with big agencies as a freelancer


There are established agencies in your town. They get business probably every day of the week. They earn hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars per year. And then there’s you. The lone freelancer. Maybe you’re just starting out. Maybe you’re just getting your bearings.

Or maybe you’re well-established, but you’re still in these other agencies’ shadow (possibly without even realizing it).

What do you do? You start following these 3 tips as fast as you possibly can…

  1. Let NOTHING (n-o-t-h-i-n-g) slip through the cracks.

  2. Refine your brand and sales messages to the T.

  3. Have personality.

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Real-World Networking Tips from Top Design Leaders

by Eric Sams

Each new year is a time for reflection on what you've done, how you've gotten there, and who helped you get there. In 2015, maintaining and growing your personal network is vital to your career development. We want to encourage each of you to take a step in the right direction with these networking tips from innovative and creative leaders. 

Scroll through to read tips from John Maeda, Debbie Millman, Hani Hong and Noreen Morioka. May their words of wisdom guide you into an enlightened and creativity filled 2015!

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What I Learned About Life After Interviewing 80 Highly Successful People

by James Altucher

Over the past year I interviewed about 80 guests for my podcast. My only criteria: I was fascinated by some aspect of each person.

I just wanted to talk to anyone who made me curious about their lives. I spoke to entrepreneurs, comedians, artists, producers, astronauts, writers, rappers, and even this country's largest beer brewer.

Here is some of what they said:

A) A life is measured in decades.

Too many people want happiness, love, money, connections, everything yesterday. Me too. I call it "the disease." I feel often I can paint over a certain emptiness inside if only...if only...I have X.

But a good life is like the flame of a bonfire. It builds slowly, and because it's slow and warm it caresses the heart instead of destroys it.

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5 Graphic design tips to shave hours off your work week

If you work in graphic design, you’re probably only too well aware of the value of good time management.


Graphic designers are required to work tight deadlines and navigate around very busy schedules to get projects completed. Shaving even a couple of minutes off design time here and there can benefit your ability to apply yourself fully to a project.

What if we were to tell you that there are ways of shaving a couple of hours off your busy schedule every week?

We’ve got five great graphic design tips that could end up saving you hours – take a look!

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Case Study: Kraft Foods using Pinterest for Business

Kraft Foods provides millions of families around the world with the staples they need to make delicious meals. The brand adds thousands of recipes to Pinterest, the greatest source of referral traffic back to

Kraft wants to make it easy for people to discover and share everyday, achievable meals. They joined Pinterest in January 2012 because the service reached Kraft’s desired audience and had significant scale. It also helped that recipes were already one of the most popular interests on Pinterest.

Now, Pinterest has transformed the way Kraft thinks about its content marketing.

Kraft's “Christmas Recipes” board takes advantage of the many searches for recipes during the holiday season.

Kraft learned that well-lit, appetizing food visuals with some color contrast are the most often repinned. Recipes tied to seasonal and social events also perform well. saw a significant traffic lift after testing and optimizing their pins.

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Want Serious Growth? Get off the dance floor and up on the balcony.

By Peleg Top

What if I told you that the more time you spend away from your work the better that work will be?

Remember the last time you went dancing at a dance club? It's fun to be on the dance floor, to lose yourself to the music, to interact with other people and to lose track of time. And then there's the moment when you need to rest for a bit, to take a breath, to regain your energy. So you go up to the balcony, have a drink and watch the people dancing down below.

When you travel up to the balcony, you can lean over the railing and observe the dance floor from this new vantage point. You can see the entire dance floor as one moving piece, and you are separated from the experience. You gain a new perspective. And this is exactly what your business needs from time to time.

Healthy leadership requires moving from the balcony, to the dance floor (your daily activities and operations) and back again-a constant shift in perspective so that we not only understand the big picture, but also our individual role in the actions we take and how they impact the world around us.

Once a year I give myself some "balcony time" - where I get off the dance floor and get up on the "balcony" to watch the dance and get better perspective on what's really going on. I take myself on a personal retreat where I step out of my day to day activities, unplug from technology and gift myself time to think, reflect and create what's next for me and my business. This time is not a vacation. It's essential to the growth of my business.

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Inside the Design Team at BuzzFeed

by Connor O'Driscoll

Today, we’re talking to Allison Chefec, web designer at BuzzFeed, an online media company. We chatted with Allison about why you are not your work, her process of creating new features at BuzzFeed, and what challenge has her design team most focused.

BuzzFeed is a social news and entertainment company. Essentially, we do a lot of everything: news, entertainment, video, long-form journalism. In broad terms, we’re a media company, but we’re continuing to explore what that means in this day and age. It's an incredibly exciting time to be at BuzzFeed, as we're growing in so many ways right now. We’re expanding our international presence, building out different areas of our organization, as well as constantly experimenting with new formats for our readers to love.

I’m a web designer on the Product Team here at BuzzFeed. I work on a wide variety of projects that span both desktop and mobile web. I design a lot of the user-facing elements and products on the site, as well as help flesh out and design new features for our CMS.

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The Importance of Corporate Identity

At some point in time, the word “branding” began to be used interchangeably with “logo”. While brands are far more than logos, for many marketers the discipline of creating visual identity has been reduced to mere ornamentation.

Basically, corporate and brand identities are an expression and reflection of an organizations’s culture, character, personality, and its products and services – inspiring trust with consumers, employees, suppliers, partners and investors. In the middle of the 20th century, the development of visual identity systems became mainstay in almost all branding initiatives. Some examples that come quickly to mind are iconic brands that have stood the test of time – Coca-Cola, IBM, Mercedes, Ford, Levis and McDonald’s.

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The end of advertising as we know it--and what to do now

By Rei Inamoto

AKQA’s Rei Inamoto argues that the thing we call advertising is over and offers four guidelines for moving into the next era, when 365-day connection, people-focused stories, and business invention will be key.

"How are we supposed to judge a creative idea versus a product idea?"

This was a question that surfaced during one of the many long judging sessions last week in the South of France where I got to preside over the Mobile category, one of the 16 categories at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

It caused quite a stir in the jury room. Some strongly argued that creative ideas and product ideas should not be in the same category, while others countered that real users don’t necessarily differentiate the two. Whether it’s a campaign or a product, brands are vying for people’s time. Another juror posed a slightly more existential question: Why would we assume campaign ideas are creative and product ideas are not?

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5 Timeless Marketing Lessons for Today's Brands from Visionary Designer Paul Rand

By Hugh Hart

On the re-issue of Thoughts on Design, Pentagram's Michael Bierut outlines some of Paul Rand's key lessons--still blindingly relevant for brands.

"For an advertisement to hold its own in the competitive race, the designer must steer clear of visual clichés by some unexpected interpretation of the commonplace." That's legendary designer and art director Paul Rand writing in his remarkably prescient 1947 book Thoughts on Design about the value of surprise in marketing. A master of advertising, editorial design and brand identity--his logos for ABC, IBM, UPS and Westinghouse are still in use some five decades after their creation--Rand inspired and influenced everyone from George Lois to Steve Jobs and Jonny Ive. And after a long period out of print, his seminal book, which captured his design philosophy and approach, is available again.

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The ultimate list of mobile business apps for freelance designers

Being a freelancer you’re able to work anywhere you choose, and sometimes you can’t always be tied down to your home setup – but with the help of your mobile device(s), you can work virtually anywhere!

Whether you’re going on vacation, riding the train, or sitting in a coffee shop – your freelance business doesn’t have to be put on hold.

Aside from the regular social media apps almost all of us already have installed (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), here is the ultimate list of mobile apps for freelance designers in alphabetical order:

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Amateurs Get Angry With Clients. Professionals Educate Them.

by Paul Jarvis

As most experienced freelancers know, sometimes we have to fire our clients, for their benefit and ours. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

I used to think dealing with frustrating clients was just part of being a creative. But then I realized while, yes, there are frustrating parts of any relationship, frustration should be the exception rather than the rule.
There are certainly times when we want to turn into the freelance version of Donald Trump, screaming “You’re Fired!” at everyone we disagree with. But the truth is, we deserve the clients we get. Bad clients aren’t the result of some cosmic force working against us, they’re more likely the result of our own actions.
Frustrating clients are the result of some misstep we’ve made along the way. To do our best work and work with the best people, we need to be diligent in our relationship with our clients.

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SUCCESS STORY: Lowe’s Inspiring home improvement on Pinterest
Industry: Retail
Pins about: Home Improvement, DIY, Design

A big part of Lowe’s marketing strategy is helping people feel like they can take on home improvement projects on their own. To share project possibilities, they added a Creative Ideas section to their site. Because Lowe’s has the Pin It button installed on their site, people who browse Creative Ideas can pin projects they want to take on later. Once these projects are on Pinterest, other pinners can discover and pin them, too!


Lowe’s also created a few Pinterest boards dedicated to smaller home design and decor projects. Their most repinned pin—a create-your-own colorful doormat project—has gotten more than 200,000 repins so far, and has helped Lowe’s understand that their strategy of helping people DIY is a sound one.

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100 Unused Logos and What they Reveal about my Design Inclinations

This past Wednesday I gave a presentation at the HOW Conference in Atlanta, GA. As a respite from the pristine show and tells of finished work sprinkled with anecdotes that support the fabulous work on screen I wanted to focus on the unglamorous side of graphic design. The endless revisions, the variations, the changes, the odd requests — “I like turtles, can my logo have a turtle?” — and the inevitable doom of much of the work we do as bezier- and pixel-based compost for piles of archived CDs, DVDs and 200-gigabyte hard drives.

For my slide show I went through almost ten years of archives looking for all the files that never quite made it… the good, the bad and the ug… nay: The tired, the poor, the huddled files yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse, the homeless and, yes, even the tempest-tost. (With apologies to Miss Liberty).

For a section called “75% of your files are trash” I specifically looked for 100 logos that were never selected — or never actually used if they were selected. This is not a Best Of selection. Some of the logos are embarrassing: Half-cooked, half-assed, off-topic ideas with sloppy kerning and poor execution. Equally, there are some very competent logos in there, ready to be printed and shipped. Most of these, if not all actually, were shown to a client. Some were mocked, others praised and a few more ignored.

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Pixar: How to Create a Creative Culture

by Stephanie Kaptein

Ed Catmull, cofounder of Pixar, shared with Harvard Business Review how to create a work environment that encourages creativity in everyone. The interview is long, and well worth the read, but his three main takeaways are:

Anyone can talk to anyone: Individuals from every department should have the ability to speak with each other without having to ask for permission. Keep the communication lines open so people can learn and be inspired by each other.

Everyone has ideas: Learn to give and receive feedback in a positive way on unfinished work. Early criticism provides the freedom to try new things because it doesn’t have to be perfect the first time. Ensure that every department, regardless of discipline, has the opportunity to comment.

Build subcultures: Break up formal departments by creating new ones. Pixar University offers classes for people to try a new discipline or something unrelated (like pilates or yoga). You never know what may come from a chance encounter with another department.

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7 Ways to Boost Your Creativity

by Gregory Ciotti

Creativity can seem innate, but like many things, it is actually a delicate balance of nature and nurture. In other words, creative thinking can be enhanced by external forces, and isn’t necessarily reliant on “good genes” or natural ability.

Luckily, new research points the way to a variety of mental and environmental approaches that can help us improve our creative output

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A Look Inside Design at Houzz

By Amanda Hackwith

We're tracking down InVision users inside the world's most amazing companies to discover their favorite tools, inspirations, workspace must-haves, and the philosophy behind what makes them so awesome.

This week, we chatted with David Anderson, UX Designer at Houzz, the popular home remodeling and design platform that CNN calls the “Wikipedia of interior and exterior design.” Its founders were frustrated by the lack of resources and inspiration available to help them articulate a vision for their home and to find the right professionals, so they created Houzz to help make the building, remodeling, and decorating process more fun and productive.

Today, 200 employees power Houzz’s apps, website, and online community, which cater to more than 20 million monthly unique users interested in architecture, interior design and decorating, landscape design and home improvement as well as over 400,000 home remodeling and design professionals.

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Anna Kendrick - 8th Most Creative Person in 2014

By Josh Eells

For knowing that her best role is herself.

Each of the actresses in Kendrick's loose cohort has forged a connection with her fans in her own distinct way. Lawrence does it by charming talk-show audiences with embarrassing anecdotes and navigating awards-show red carpets like they're filled with marbles wrapped in banana peels. Dunham does it with her brilliantly honest HBO show, Girls, and her liberty with her body. And Kendrick does it via the Internet.

If you scroll back through Kendrick's online history, a few themes emerge. Dogs. Baked goods. Jet lag and/or hangovers. Sweats, Snuggies, and other comfy clothes. Game of Thrones. She also has a few social media rules she thinks everyone should abide by, about which she is surprisingly passionate. Two Instagram photos a day, max. ("I've got a really itchy unfollow button.") Links, @ and # signs, and quotation marks should be avoided. ("It looks like I'm reading fuckin' code.") Melancholy is okay on Instagram, but not on Twitter. ("Just say something funny.") And above all, never, ever overpromote. "That's one of the things that annoys me most," says Kendrick. "When my entire time line gets filled up with actors being like, 'Check out my short!' or 'I'm on Craig Ferguson!' It's just bad business."

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7 Habits of Incredibly Happy People

by Gregory Ciotti

While happiness is defined by the individual, I’ve always felt it foolish to declare that nothing can be learned from observing the happiness of others.

In our day-to-day lives it is easy to miss the forest for the trees and look over some of the smaller, simpler things that can disproportionally affect our happiness levels. Luckily, we can go off more than just our intuition; there are lots of studies that aim for finding the right behavior that leads to a happier life. 

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10 Creative Rituals You Should Steal

by Sean Blanda

Benjamin Franklin made sure to end every day by asking “What good have I done today?” Maya Angelou only wrote in tiny hotel rooms. Jack Kerouac made sure to touch the ground nine times before writing.

Sustained creativity doesn’t come from a flash of brilliance or a single afternoon of inspiration. It comes from a consistent routine that serves as the bedrock for getting things done. At 99U we’ve spoken with dozens of entrepreneurs, researchers, and creatives about their unique routines. Below are some of our favorites.

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Likeable Business: Why Today's Consumers Demand More and How Leaders Can Deliver

by Dave KerpenTheresa Braun , Valerie Pritchard

It pays to be LIKEABLE!

You can have a rock-solid business strategy, unlimited resources, and the most talented people on staff. But only one thing is guaranteed in today’s hyperconnected society: if your business isn’t likeable, it will fail.

Dave Kerpen knows how important it is for a business to be liked—by customers, employees, stakeholders, and the general public. He wrote the book on it. His groundbreaking bestseller Likeable Social Media changed the way businesses interact with their customers on a daily basis. Likeable Business lays out 11 strategies for organizations of all sizes to spur growth, profits, and overall success. Dave Kerpen reveals the remarkable returns you’ll get when you gain the trust of your customers and stakeholders. In today’s social media world, it literally pays to be likeable.

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Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace

From Ed Catmull, co-founder (with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter) of Pixar Animation Studios, comes an incisive book about creativity in business—sure to appeal to readers of Daniel Pink, Tom Peters, and Chip and Dan Heath. Forbes raves that Creativity, Inc. “just might be the business book ever written.”

Creativity, Inc. is a book for managers who want to lead their employees to new heights, a manual for anyone who strives for originality, and the first-ever, all-access trip into the nerve center of Pixar Animation—into the meetings, postmortems, and “Braintrust” sessions where some of the most successful films in history are made. It is, at heart, a book about how to build a creative culture—but it is also, as Pixar co-founder and president Ed Catmull writes, “an expression of the ideas that I believe make the best in us possible.

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Three Digital Marketing Trends for 2014 and Beyond


Earlier this fall, I keynoted at Lee Jean’s Digital Days, a day long event for Lee Jean’s marketing teams and their agency partners. They asked me to share a few digital marketing trends that were beyond the tipping point. I discussed three: Real-Time Marketing, Creating Youtility, and Empowering Employees & Fans.

The term Real-Time Marketing is overhyped. I’m sure a few of you are rolling your eyes right now. I get it, but I don’t think we – in the digital marketing industry – have really defined it and provided the rationale for a more steady state of Real-Time Marketing.

What does Real-Time Marketing mean?

Real Time Marketing is using data analytics with a process flow to shift marketing messaging in real time or near real time.

The key words in my definition are really process, flow, and shift. Real-Time Marketing isn’t going to work without a documented and blessed process flow. If there is no shift in your marketing messaging, then there’s no “real-time” element.

You can call it whatever you want if you think the term “Real-Time Marketing” is too limiting or overhyped. Call it Agile, Marketing in the Moment, Engagement Marketing…

Really, at its core, it is simply Marketing.

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My 9-Step Guide To Attracting “A”-level freelance clients

By Bianca Board

Difficult clients suck. They crush your creativity, make you second-guess your ability and give you headaches you don’t need. Not to mention put a massive time drain on your resources.

I’ve had my fair share of them from 10 years in business. I’ve learned over the years however to spot them a mile off and I have some built-in receptors on high alert to send smoke signals to my team when they approach.

But what if I told you there was a way to avoid clients like that?Not all of them (hey even I’m not bulletproof) but there are ways you can protect yourself from the pain and ordeals caused from less than ideal clients. Well there is…

Welcome to my 9-Step process for attracting ‘A’ class clients (without offending those who aren’t).

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A Look Inside the Design Team at Happy Cog

By Amanda Hackwith

We're tracking down InVision users inside the world's most amazing companies to discover their favorite tools, inspirations, workspace must-haves and the philosophy behind what makes them so awesome.

This week, we chatted with Jason Dziak, design director at Happy Cog, an award-winning web design, development, and user experience consultancy with offices in New York, Philadelphia, and Austin. Founded in 1999, Happy Cog now has 30 employees working on clients such as MTV, Ben & Jerry’s, and AMC Theatres.

What separates a good designer from a great one?

It’s important to understand and accept the contrasts that exist in design. Right now there's a big trend towards patterns and using frameworks, and there's a lot of efficiency in that, but I think that can be at the cost of innovation. Relying on design patterns leaves no room for true innovation. You have to balance that and figure out ways to use that to your advantage. Innovation is as important as pattern, emotion as important as logic, dark as important as light, variety as important as consistency. Design should be logical, but it also should connect with people on a human, emotional level.

As a designer, you can’t be afraid to completely start over when something isn’t working. Sometimes to get to the right solution you have to throw out things you thought were really important but at the end of the day were becoming a roadblock.

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Storytelling and Real Storytelling

By Bill Baker

Bill Baker (no relation) is nicer than I am, so don't pin any of my introduction on him. I recently spoke to an auditorium of C-level executives, and the title of my presentation was long but revealing: "The Happy Death of Branding, the Next Fad of Storytelling, and the Hopeful Rise of Alignment."


I guess that expresses my view of branding: there are a few firms really doing it, and the rest (and majority) aren't doing anything differently than they did before, but now they are calling it branding because it sounds upstream. There was no training in marketing, no classes, books, or even real processes. The typical four circles with the ubiquitous use of alliteration doesn't count and should be taken off your website.

Regardless of whether or not you agree with my view of branding, it clearly is yesterday's news, and storytelling comes up frequently. Rather than being marginalized even more, I think we ought to jump on this one early so that we don't relieve the word of even more meaning.

Bill (disclosure: a client) is one of the very few people really doing story telling. While the concept has been around since people wrote on cave walls, modern storytelling was really maximized by E+S (Envisioning and Storytelling) in Vancouver roughly three decades ago, a place where Bill was Chief Strategic Officer. Now, under BillBaker&Co he continues that great work with clients like GE, Relais & Chateaux, Johnson & Johnson, The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, etc. Here are some of his thoughts on the difference between faux storytelling and real storytelling. Real storytelling is a very complex skill, and I can sit for days listening to Bill point out the subtleties involved. This is just the outer layer.

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33 Experts Share Their Secrets For Improving Reader Engagement

By Adam Connell

A while ago I published a huge article on reader engagement which featured not only tactics, but also tools and examples of great reader engagement and the post did really well in terms of traffic, shares, feedback and all that fun stuff. (If you’d like to check out that post, you can find it here).

That got me thinking – how does everyone else increase engagement with readers on their own blogs?

More specifically – other industry leaders and experts.

Reader engagement is a topic that isn’t anything new by any means but it’s not talked about all to often in comparison to other topics.

So I set out on a quest to approach a number of industry experts and influencers and ask them exactly how they do it and then collate their answers into a group interview.

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Facebook in 2013: More Growing Pains Ahead

By Chris Taylor

We'll get to our Facebook predictions for 2013 in a minute. First, here's a pertinent prediction from 2011.

In January of that year, when Goldman Sachs had just become an investor, Facebook could do no wrong. Business blogger Albert Babayev made what was seen as a sensible, middle-of-the-road prediction about the social network's value, one which presumed it would grow linearly, not exponentially. By 2013, he estimated in a comprehensive spreadsheet, its market cap will be around $224 billion, give or take.

Facebook's market cap this week, as we head into 2013, is $55 billion, give or take.

How did analyst expectations underperform by anything like $175 billion in corporate value? What happened? The answer, in four numerals: 2012. I've been wracking my brain, but I can't remember a comparable year in which events went south this fast for a technology company.

It was supposed to be Facebook's coronation year. Hard to remember now, with all that frenzy over the IPO, but plenty of folks felt we were on the edge of enjoying another publicly traded tech titan, a growth engine to rival Google or even Apple. 

Facebook had the pulse of the planet. It was social media. True monetization of that capital, solving the ad problem, solving mobile, was all just a matter of time. Why wouldn't the IPO go well?


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10 Best Practices to Help Big Brands Get Started on Twitter

by Shelley Pringle

While a relatively small percentage of the adult population is active on Twitter, there are still plenty of solid business reasons for brands to engage on this social media platform.

Consumers may be conversing about your brand—in either positive or negative ways. Competitors could be active on the platform, dominating your category with their 140-character tweets. Twitter is also the place to reach people who have influence elsewhere, including relevant bloggers and even traditional media contacts.

However, it is not wise to start tweeting up a storm without thinking through your goals or how to measure your activity.

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Content Marketing Advice from 17 Online Marketing Experts

By Steven Sefton

Content marketing is becoming an increasingly sought after skill in the world of online marketing. Traditional link building for SEO purposes is becoming a riskier business, and with the amount of online noise, it is harder than ever for your content to stand out from everything else that is happening on the internet.

From 6 second vines to 30,000 word guides, content marketing principles can be applied to just about anything that you need to promote online, regardless of the medium. has some of the best online marketing related content around, shared by some of the best online marketers around. I asked 17 of the top rated members of this question: What is your best content marketing tip? And here’s what they had to say…

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Why Use Google Plus? A Quick Guide and Glossary to Google+

By Kristen Curtiss

Google Plus remains a mystery for many small business owners and nonprofits. Why? People feel that there are so many social networks to choose from. They also can’t seem to find the benefit in starting a completely new presence on yet another completely new platform, especially when they don’t know ANYONE else using Google Plus.

Here’s a quick guide and glossary that will explain why you should use Google Plus, the benefits of using it, and what you need to know to get started.

Relationship building is key

Creating relationships with industry influencers (who may have big followings on Google Plus) might not seem that important to your business, until you realize that those relationships could extend your reach and help you become visible. Let’s say you run a flower shop in Topeka, Kansas, and you’ve nurtured relationships with national brands and/or influencers who live in another area. Who do you think those people will recommend when one of their thousands of followers need flowers while visiting Kansas? No, not your competition down the street…you! They know you, they trust you, and your name comes to mind first because they have held conversations with you.


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21 Simple Ways to Get More Followers for Your Google Plus Business Page

By Stephen Walsh

Google Plus has more than one billion registered (and 359 million active) users, as well as some of the most business-friendly features of any social network, this is the time to start building out your business page, if you haven’t done so already.


As additional incentive, Google Plus has been shown to dramatically improve search engine rankings, which, in itself, is a sufficient reason to join the platform. By building your brand through this social media channel, you will be able to boost your SEO efforts and increase your business’s online exposure.

So, let’s jump in and take a look at some of the awesome ways to increase your exposure on Google Plus.

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The Fastest Way To Track Time and Invoice Your Clients

FreshBooks is simple and intuitive, so accounting isn't intimidating. Plus you can talk to a real, live person anytime you have a question, 9am-6pm EDT, Monday to Friday.

Work Anywhere

With FreshBooks, your business is accessible from any computer or mobile device (iPhone, iPad and Android), and your data is always backed up and secure.

Save Time Billing

FreshBooks is built for small business owners to get organized and get paid. You'll be tracking timelogging expenses andinvoicing your clients in no time.

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15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly

by Brian Clark

We’re big advocates of conversational writing that’s engaging, persuasive, and fun. So that means it’s perfectly fine to fracture the occasional stuffy grammatical rule (and many times it’s preferable).

On the other hand, making some grammatical errors just makes you look bad, and hurts your effectiveness. Sometimes we even misuse words simply because we hear others use them incorrectly.

So, we’ve assembled the 15 most egregious grammar goofs into one helpful infographic. With this handy reference, you’ll never look silly again.

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How to Stand Out in a Crowded Market by Forging an Emotional Connection With Your Prospects

Standing out in a crowded marketplace. That's one of the biggest challenges most of us face today as freelancers and solopreneurs.

How do you cut through all the noise? How can you become the obvious choice?


We've addressed this issue a few times in the last few months. But in this week's episode, you'll learn a different way of looking at the problem.

My guest David Tyreman, founder of World Famous Company (yes, that’s his company's name!), will show you how to become the obvious choice in your field by forging an emotional connection with your audience.

David is an engaging speaker with a powerful rags-to-riches story. I think you'll really enjoy what he has to share. And you'll walk away with some actionable, game-changing ideas.

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4 Myths About Apple Design, From An Ex-Apple Designer

by Mark Wilson

Apple is synonymous with upper echelon design, but very little is known about the company's design process. Most of Apple's ownemployees aren't allowed inside Apple's fabled design studios. So we're left piecing together interviews, or outright speculating about how Apple does it and what it's really like to be a designer at the company.

Enter Mark Kawano. Before founding Storehouse, Kawano was a senior designer at Apple for seven years, where he worked on Aperture and iPhoto. Later, Kawano became Apple's User Experience Evangelist, guiding third-party app iOS developers to create software that felt right on Apple's platforms. Kawano was with the company during a critical moment, as Apple released the iPhone and created the wide world of apps.

In an interview with Co.Design, Kawano spoke frankly about his time at Apple--and especially wanted to address all the myths the industry has about the company and about its people.

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Why Branding Is An Artifact Of The Past

By Brian Millar

A short while ago, I wrote an article on this site suggesting that you can’t build a brand simply by setting out to build a brand. And in fact, thinking too much about brands can actually get in the way of the real business of your company. I suggested that you try an experiment: Stop talking about brands for a month, and see what happens. The article got a lot of attention on Twitter, and provoked a lively debate in the post’s comments section.

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Richard Branson on Dealing With Setbacks

By Rod Kurtz

For many around the world, Sir Richard Branson has become the puckish face of entrepreneurship -- a high-flying daredevil who takes about as many risks in business as he does kitesurfing across the English Channel or attempting to circle the globe in a hot-air balloon.

Yet, when you see the iconic founder of Virgin Group sitting with his feet up, in a First Class seat on one of the many airliners in his global fleet, it's easy to forget that those same risks have resulted in a number of near-disastrous setbacks along the way.

Virgin Records may be part of entrepreneurial lore, but who remembers Virgin Brides? (No, it's not what you're thinking -- Branson launched a since-shuttered chain of bridal shops in the mid-1990s.) And, of course, there's Virgin Cola, the billionaire's attempt to dethrone Coca-Cola -- for which he famously drove a tank into Times Square to announce -- that he admits is perhaps his biggest business stumble.

But Branson hasn't wasted much time letting the missteps or naysayers get to him. He found his entrepreneurial calling early, starting a magazine called Student in his friend's basement at age 16. When he quit high school to pursue it full time, his headmaster famously wrote him, "Congratulations, Branson. I predict that you will either go to prison or become a millionaire." That prediction was wrong by a few zeros: Branson eventually sold his edgy record label for a cool billion in 1992, using the funds to stave off a threat to his startup airline, Virgin Atlantic, and help propel the Virgin empire to some 400 companies today.

We recently sat down with Branson to talk about (mis)adventures, the joy of setbacks and how to compete in a world of Goliaths.

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35 Ways to Make Your Business Look Bigger

By Scott Steinberg

Current lack of budget, manpower, and resources aside, you know your bedroom start-up has what it takes to compete with industry leaders. But do your customers know that?

If you're not doing it already, it's time to start dressing the part.

What follows is a list of cost-effective tech tools that will help you look bigger and more professional—without the crippling overhead.

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10 Essential Tips for PDF Comments

Written by Mike Rankin

When you have to communicate with colleagues about the content in a PDF, it’s much more efficient to put comments in the PDF itself rather than in an email or elsewhere. So here are ten essential tips for working with PDF comments in Adobe Acrobat or Reader.

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How-to: Package Your Services Like a Pro

by Justine Smith

Service providers sometimes find it tough to actually sell their services, especially when it comes to selling them online. The services offered may, in fact, be the best in the industry, or even in high demand, but people just aren’t clicking to buy. Why is that? 

Most often the issue is something simple: it’s the website copy. The copy is failing to give potential clients clarity on just what the service provider can do for them and how it will benefit them.

It’s much easier if you’re selling your services face-to-face, since you’re working from a real conversation with the client where you can build rapport, and then probe for their pain points. From there, you can make best-fit suggestions for each client, and then even up-sell to offer a more complete solution. But when you rely on your website to generate leads or sales, your copy needs to do the face-time for you. So, where to begin?

For starters, many businesses will offer either too many service options, or too few. It’s easy for service businesses to fall into the trap of offering an extensive, laundry list of “things you can do” for clients and leave it at that. The common mentality is that the more options there are, the better, since there’s “something for everyone” on your list.

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Act like an expert, not a designer

by Mark Busse

As a young design producer I was convinced my job was to keep clients happy. To service them to death. To deliver what they asked for on time, on budget, and with a smile. I also thought it wasn’t my job to do sales. I was wrong. 

I recently read a powerful book called The Challenger Sale and attended a workshop presented by the author Matthew Dixon, executive director of strategic research at the business performance consulting firm Corporate Executive Board. Based on extensive study of sales professionals, their customers and the buying process, Dixon has turned the conventional view of business development and sales on its head. Turns out most of us have it all wrong.

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Pinterest Marketing: Using Pinterest for Business


Pinterest is the world’s fastest growing social network and thus many companies are adding Pinterest marketing to their overall strategy. Having achieved 2000% growth in 2012, with 28 million US visitors as of December, up from 25 million in September, Pinterest is achieving a trajectory comparable to Twitter a few years ago.

However, for businesses it has not been the easiest social network to get to a grip on. They recently launched Pinterest for Business, but they are still holding back on unveiling a long awaited public API.

The Hidden Value of Pinterest Marketing

According to the LA Times it is “ranked by Experian as the third-most-popular social network behind Twitter and Facebook.” Its real strength for businesses lies in the demographics. Forbes reports Pinterest is very popular with “college-educated females between the ages of 25 of 44.” Known as a ‘sweet spot’, for brands, due to their purchasing power, and prolific use of e-commerce and social networks.

Wired notes that “a Pinterest user is 72 percent more likely to have found an item to buy on the site than a Facebook user.” If you are an e-commerce company, or drive any significant amount of your revenue from these demographics, then marketing Pinterest for your business is something you are going to want to dedicate time to in 2013.

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The 9 Must-Have Components of Compelling Email Copy

by Corey Eridon

Email marketing has come a long way in just the past few years, but with all the fancy new functionality brands are utilizing, you know what’s kind of funny? A well-written plain text email can perform just as well, if not better, than a highly designed email with tons of bells and whistles. In fact, no matter how fancy your marketing emails look, if they’re devoid of well-written content, your subscribers will stop opening and start deleting your messages, and your list will quickly dwindle in value.

So how do you write a great marketing email? It all comes down to a few copywriting best practices that you should apply to both the subject line of your message, and the message body itself. Next time you draft a message for a lead nurturing campaign or just a one-time email send, ask yourself whether your copy meets all of these guidelines first.

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The Resume Is Dead, The Bio Is King

by Michael Margolis

If you’re a designer, entrepreneur, or creative – you probably haven’t been asked for your resume in a long time. Instead, people Google you – and quickly assess your talents based on your website, portfolio, and social media profiles. Do they resonate with what you’re sharing? Do they identify with your story? Are you even giving them a story to wrap their head around?

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How NOT to write a personal biography

by Jacob Cass

Most of us have written a description about ourselves before, whether it be on TwitterFacebookGoogle+LinkedIn or our CV. It’s not an easy task but it needs to be done, and it should always be evolving. Your bio should sell yourself and your story. It should show your credentials, your passion and expertise. It should be unique to you and you only. It should not be copied & handed out at whim.

Wouldn’t you agree?

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How to Write an Attention-Grabbing Professional Bio

by Alyssa Gregory

A professional bio is simply a story-based version of the information you would typically include in a résumé. The format is less formal, and it gives you an opportunity to highlight some interesting facts about yourself while injecting a little of your personality.

The main goals of a bio are to give the reader an accurate sense of who you are and what you do, to establish expertise and credibility, and to qualify your experience and background. All of these elements combine to develop trust in you and your brand.

Even if you maintain a current résumé, there are many situations when you will need a bio, including:

  • Posted on your website and blog
  • Included in your marketing materials
  • Provided with proposals to clients
  • Submitted for speaking, presenting or teaching applications
  • Included in any books, ebooks, reports or professional documents you develop

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Let Your Personality Get You Noticed

by Julie Bateman

My email inbox is out of control. So is my mailbox. And there’s that pile of newspapers and magazines sitting over there…

Some days I can barely skim the subjects of my emails, or flip through my mail. It makes me wonder if my email and marketing messages are getting read, or lost in someone else’s stack.

Whether you’re sending out a marketing message, or simply corresponding with a client, your message has to get read. But how?

It’s your personality.

Most of the copy I read is full of jargon and lacks warmth. The images used are often cliché or over used. They don’t mean anything to me. It doesn’t pull me in or engage me, so I don’t read very far.

The messages that stand out to me have a different tone to them. That difference is personality. What moves me, makes me stop and listen, no matter what the subject, is a genuine voice.

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The Four Benchmarks for the Business-Generating Independent Agency Website


Are you happy with your website? 

If you're like most small agency principals (owners of agencies with fewer than 100 full-time employees), I know the answer is probably no. The typical agency principal is unhappy with their site.

But why is that, and what's the fix?

I don't know if it's something in the water or what, but the theme of 2013 so far seems to be "all or nothing." It feels like a high-stakes year, and this is a high-stakes topic. There's only one thing that I think will make and keep you, the small agency principal, happy with your site: money.

If you know that your site is generating business, you're going to be happy with it. If it's not, you won't be. Sure, you were excited when you put your new site live, but you never were completely happy with the design, were you? Furthermore, the web is a shrine to entropy — what's revolutionary today is dated tomorrow, and I know that agencies feel the burn of this as much as anyone...

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TIME Magazine Unveils Redesigned Website

By Jillian Wong

TIME Magazine has unveiled its new redesigned website, which rolled out on Wednesday night and will continue throughout Thursday. 

The redesign features a new interface designed for mobile users, which make up half of the website’s traffic. 

The left side of the homepage has a scroll bar that houses breaking news, while the center features ‘The Brief’ containing 12 of the most important news stories of the moment. Columns, interactive features, graphics and photography spreads are located on the right side of the page. The website also incorporates responsive design that changes to accommodate viewing on computers, smartphones and tablets.

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Best practices to help Google find, crawl, and index your site

Following these guidelines will help Google find, index, and rank your site. Even if you choose not to implement any of these suggestions, we strongly encourage you to pay very close attention to the "Quality Guidelines," which outline some of the illicit practices that may lead to a site being removed entirely from the Google index or otherwise impacted by an algorithmic or manual spam action.

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5 Easy Tips for Maintaining a Great Website

By Rebecca Rockafellar, as seen in Dynamic Business

During the current economic climate, small businesses need to be able to communicate their brand values and unique selling points successfully, and an engaging and easy-to-use website is key to this.

The key points – whether in text, image or video format – should be made prominent on the page, while at the same time you should look at creating room between elements and scatter images throughout.

Click here for five tips for creating and maintaining a successful website at an affordable cost.

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Quick tips for writing cleaner copy

By Laura Aiken

Whether you’re a writer, marketing professional or graphic designer, you’ll inevitably go through the process of merging words and design. 

One of the most common grievances between writers and designers is the struggle for clean copy. Making text changes at the design stage is time consuming for everyone and every change is an opportunity for new errors.

Working with error-free copy at the production stage is always the goal but it’s easy to underestimate how difficult that can be. Here are a few easy ideas to help create cleaner copy.

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How to Keep your Content Current - and Why You Should

 by Julie Bateman

Content marketing is the new buzz word—but it’s not just a fad. Search engines have moved from being focused on keyword density alone to refreshed content—the more current content you have on your page, the higher your page will be ranked in Google.

What is content?

Content can include everything from the words on your home page to blog posts—the more often you update your website with fresh content, the better. The idea of content also includes social media, especially if it is linked with your website. Not only can you have a direct link from your website to your Facebook page (therefore capturing traffic and converting them into “likes”) but you can have a Twitter feed that appears right on your site.

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Design trend predictions for 2013

By Rob Carney

When some creatives hear the word 'trend' they back into a corner, refusing to acknowledge these 'trends' dictate what they do. And it's true that following trends consciously can be a bad thing to do. After all, if you're not innovating and pushing yourself, your own work will never reach its full potential.

But at the end of the day, clients want your work to be at the height of trends - so having a handle on what is going to be a popular style, or way of working over the next year will only improve your chances of getting better client work.

We've asked a number of top creative professionals, from animators to illustrators to app and editorial designers, to see what they predict for 2013. 

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Is following design trends good or bad for business?

By Ben Brush

Design, like most everything else, changes with the times. There are landmark art and design movements that we are taught about in school. These come about as there are massive shifts in technology and popular culture.

There are also more fleeting, yearly and even monthly design trends that can be a lot tougher to keep up with.

So should you even try to keep up with the latest trends?

Keeping up can be a very positive thing. It makes the work you do seem cutting edge. This in turn keeps your clients on trend which will no doubt keep them happy.

That being said there are a few things to keep in mind before trying your hand at the latest and greatest design trend.

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