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I was aGraphic Design Efficiency Expert for an eCommerce brand a few years ago…

I was aGraphic Design Efficiency Expert for an eCommerce brand a few years ago…Here’s what I found…

Back in 2018, a catalog company that sold gift baskets, sweet treats like chocolates, nuts, meats and cheeses, and other gifts needed a design overhaul. I was hired as a freelancer to take over their seasonal catalog design. Create a clean, precise layout for over 50 pages and set it up for the marketing department as a template so they can easily keep the designs in place and accurate. Aside from that, I oversaw all new photoshoots for their products.

Now if you were just a consumer of this magazine you may have noticed that previous Halloween or Christmas issues looked outdated, but you may not have been able to put your finger on why…

I was hired in early Spring to re-brand the business – then re-do the Halloween and Christmas catalog. This project was penciled in to take 4-6 months. It took 1 month.

I was surprised when I got there that they already had a small team working on these upcoming Summer versions of the catalogs while I worked on the future catalog for Halloween and Christmas seasons. Why did they need me?
Their team of 8 was full-time while during my time there. I worked only 15 hours or less a week. They got paid 3x less than I was per hour. Of that team of 8 the Creative Director and 1 other employee actually had a graphic design background and a degree in Graphic Design. The Creative Director up to this point was really the only one tackling any creative projects with success as the rest of the team felt overwhelmed (or so they said).

So given that the projects were completed 3-5 months early, the Creative Director felt embarrassed that she had clearly scheduled out a project based on her current team’s efficiency. She felt bad I wasn’t going to have as much work anymore so she asked me to be a sort of undercover Efficiency Expert and get to know her staff. This is not something I usually do. Nor did I enjoy this as I end up looking like a bad guy who just waltzed into their company to snitch on their team.

I haven’t talked about this story as it always feels like a brag. But I recently have been getting asked by many companies who already have small design teams to take on over-flow projects and subsequently the rest of their team’s projects. Here is why a freelancer designer might get more done than your staff and why the catalog company was lagging behind.

Expertise

The #1 issue I see always in companies like this is the staff’s training. The world of Graphic Design careers has changed drastically in the last decades. In the 90’s a graphic designer was a rare employee. A hard find to employ. Many companies hired people to teach them basic software skills for their business’ marketing or design needs. However, they never taught basic principles of design or urged them to keep up with design trends and new knowledge. You’ll find older companies staying loyal to employees who have been using design software for a decade or two, but never having professionally designed anything yet. I’m all for employee loyalty, but at what point is an old dog not going to learn new tricks?

9-5 Workplace Culture

In the era of COVID I’m glad more businesses are finding the 9-5 workday is not efficient. Think of it. You get in at 9am, chat with co-workers for a bit and then settle in. By 10am you’re starting to work, but by 11am you slow down as to not get too far into something before lunch. 1pm hits if you were lucky enough to get an hour lunch break and now you have to get back into the rhythm you were in before. And then that dreaded 3pm energy crash hits. In a poll done in 2019, 89% of employees produce little to no work from 3pm-5pm for this reason. Now math isn’t my thing, but if you’re a full-time 9-5 employee that’s 2-4 hours of quality work in an 8 hour workday… No wonder your team isn’t where it should be.

While at their department location, I often looked like some kind of weirdo introvert as I didn’t want to chat with them for 15 minutes a day about myself. I’m not here for that. I have a job to do so I get paid and my client is happy. I’m not an employee, however, so I got to come and go as I please – often working more either before employees came in the morning or after they left for the day. I get no benefits and have a contract and a deadline. But I’m a happier creator compared to them and my client was happier with me than their team of 8. I don’t work 9-5. I sometimes don’t start my day until 11am! I rarely end my day at 5pm though as well. As a freelancer, you are paid more to get it done faster and better.

Wages vs. Hourly Rates

So let’s talk about that…
Say your employees are getting $15/hour in the graphic design department. They take home a $1000ish check every 2 weeks for a fourth of the output (refer back to that 2-4 hours of quality work they are getting done each day).

Now as a freelancer — I get paid $30/hour for 15 hours a week. If we take the catalog project for example; I got paid $1800 for the project (plus a bonus for early completion) so let’s round that up to $3000. The project was completed ahead of time vs. leaving it to their team for 6 months which would have cost them $96,000, in the end, to pay their employees to only do this project and being that very few of the team had graphic design skills, that $96,000 could have left the company with a poor quality catalog still.

How to Fix This

Now if you’re reading this as a business owner you can see why hiring a freelancer may be more beneficial. But what about a business owner who already has a team they don’t want to fire just to pay less and get more?
What could you do?

  • Invest in Graphic Design Training for your non-trained Graphic Designers
  • Re-Organize Your Current Team into other positions and hire skilled Graphic Designers or a Freelancer to take up the slack
  • Re-Organize your Workplace Culture:
    • Pay More
    • Be More Flexible w/ Your Employees Hours (ex. If an employee can work 8 quality hours from 6pm-2am at home…let them!

If you’re a startup wondering who to hire and what team members you need onboard first, start with a freelancer. I’m always happy to take on more happy clients at Unglitch.io and happy to show you where to get the more bang for your buck!

 

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How You Can Use 360° Photography for your eCommerce Store

Let’s go over how you can use 360° Photography product photos in your online store!

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Why Use 360-Degree Images on Your Website

This would enable visitors to rotate the product around to see it from every angle. It’s safe to say that 360-degree or interactive pictures on a website are something of a novelty unless you’re frequently visiting sites within certain niches. However, this isn’t due to a lack of support in modern browsers.

You might not know that regular file types such as JPEG or PNG work perfectly for panoramic or 360-degree images. The two main differences between 360-degree images and “regular” ones are:

  • Resolution. As you might expect, 360-degree images use drastically different resolutions than regular pictures.
  • Lack of interactivity. With a normal PNG or JPEG, you can’t “move” the image around to see new parts of it.

WordPress

Of course, most professional developers love WordPress because there are no limits on what you can create website-wise. To add 360° spinning product images. The best way to do this is:

Using the Algori 360 Image Plugin for WordPress – This is a free plugin that supports VR (virtual reality). Algori 360 adds a new block to the block editor. You simply upload your 3D image to this block. Note: You can’t use this plugin with the classic editor. Also, you can only add one 360° image per page. First, you need to install and activate the Algori 360 plugin. Upon activation, simply edit any existing post or page or create a new one.

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Shopify

The best plugin to use for adding your 360° product photographs to your Shopify website, is Magic360. You can learn how to do so here. Like all extra features for your Shopify eCommerce website, you will have to pay for this plugin. Currently, the plugin costs a one-time payment of $169 to use the app on your website.

Other CMS Platforms

Weeby – You will need to use Sirv to house your 360° photos and then add them to your Weebly store. Thanks to Square, you can add your product photos for free! See the full instructions here.

Wix – Again using Sirv, you can add your spinning 360° photos to your Wix site.

GoDaddy Website Builder – Since GoDaddy Website Builder is a limited platform designed for beginners to be able to quickly and easily put up a basic website, it currently does not support 360° photos for products. 

Need someone to photograph your products and make them spin!? Unglitch.io is offering this service – feel free to see the pricing here. With the technology and the apps that Unglitch.io uses you get seamless product photography at every angle – don’t want to monkey with adding each image to your website — Unglitch.io can also help with that. Get in touch if you want to chat more!

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Set Goals for Your Social Media Marketing Strategy

A succinct strategy will help your brand tackle its goals with a sense of purpose.

That’s why I’ve put together a comprehensive guide to creating a social media marketing plan from scratch.

Set goals that make sense for your brand

Let’s kick things off with a quick question: “What do you want from social media, anyway? Social media strategy planning starts with your goals.

Increase brand awareness. Gone is the day of SELL! SELL! SELL! Now it’s about getting your name out there. To create authentic and lasting brand awareness, avoid solely publishing promotional posts. Instead, focus on content that emphasizes your personality and values first.

Generate leads and sales. Whether online or in-store, followers aren’t going to make social purchases by accident.  For example, are you about alerting customers about new products and promos? Are you not providing your clientele with promos or discounts? Well, that’s another issue to tackle all together… Better start doing that.

Grow your brand’s audience. Bringing new followers into the fold means finding ways to introduce your brand to folks who haven’t heard of you before.

Digging through your social channels is nearly impossible without monitoring or listening to specific keywords, phrases, or hashtags. Having a pulse on these conversations helps you reach your core audience much faster.

Boost community engagement. Explore ways to grab the attention of your current followers.  This means experimenting with messaging and content. Pay attention to your viewers and their interests. Reach them that way.

Even something as simple as asking a question can increase your engagement rate. Your customers can be your best cheerleaders, but only if you’re giving them something to do.

Drive traffic to your site. Simple enough. If you’re laser-focused on generating leads or traffic to your website, social media can make it happen. Whether through promotional posts or social ads, keeping an eye on conversions and URL clicks can help you better determine your ROI from social media.

When in doubt, keep your social media marketing strategy simple rather than muddling it with too many objectives that might distract you. Pick one or two and stick with ’em.

Now it’s time to create engaging content based on these strategies. Still have no clue where to start? Unglitch.io is here for you! Unglitch.io offers 1-Month social media takeovers that go overs your strategy, a 1-month content calendar, unique graphics, and more – learn more on the Marketing tab!

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Case Study: Skylight Autism Center

1. The Overview

Skylight Autism Center focuses on Applied Behavior Analysis in the Weston, Wisconsin autistic community. Upon the center launch, a logo and website were needed.

2. The Context and Challenge

With this industry-specific challenge, every design element needs to rely heavily on color psychology and subconscious items hiding in designs. Color is important and in my target market research for the autistic community, I was kind of surprised that many popular brands in autism aren’t creating elements for the kids or parents to calm, comfort and educate with their vibe. They use bright, energizing colors.

1. Project background and description — This project had a deadline for everything (logo, website, social media) to be ready before the open house of the facility. I was able to keep this project within budget and on time so that the center had a pretty good presence in the town way before the official launch.

2. The problem — Parents of kids and adults on the autistic spectrum need as much info up front and need to feel relieved when considering Applied Behavior Analysis to tackle some hurdles that come with autism. Not having an in-depth website and established brand was not an option to reach parents.

3. Project goals and objectives — What was the goal of Skylight Autism Center? To drive awareness of Applied Behavior Analysis and that this is an option to people in the Central Wisconsin community for their children.

3. The Process and Insight

My process with a new startup is always to address the branding. You need a logo, but you also need to know where that logo is going, what you stand for and what you want to say with that logo. The logo design process with me takes usually 3-10 days as we go back/forth with unlimited concepts before “the one” emerges.

Next, (after final logo approval) I address the website. This process is much more detailed and for the start combines the parent’s needs, autistic child’s needs, facility needs, and founder preferences. This can be anything from wording choices to features for scheduling. This could also be small thoughts from layout (no sharp edges) for children viewing the site to parent’s (hierarchy of info).

4. The Solution

5. The Results

Skylight Autism Center gets an average of 650 views a month. 86% of that is from people googling keywords like “autism centers”, “autism Wisconsin”, and many more.

Of the average 950 Activity, an average of people who visit the website:

  • Call the Center within 3 minutes after viewing the website – 77%
  • Go Back to the Google Listing to Get Directions – 23%
  • View more than 80% of the photos on the website – 89%
  • Visit 4+ Pages on the Website – 92%
  • See Homepage Only – 1%
  • Visit All Pages – 7%
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10 TIPS FOR WEB CONTENT WRITING (FOR DEVELOPERS & CLIENTS)

When we talk about web content writing what exactly do we mean?

Recently I got the chance to design and develop for a great blog community and soon to be an online retail shop, Plum Nation.

This uplifting and knowledge-packed source founded by 2x cancer survivor and her nutritional business partner goes through the many different fruits and veggies and their nutritional properties that combat things like cancer, depression, IBS, high blood pressure, diabetes, and so much more.

While they had all the info for their blog posts, they had no idea where to start in terms of writing it for the site or adding value to the content’s SEO. So here are some good tips/rules for writing great web content if you are struggling with that too. Whether it’s for a blog or just general content on your site, this is a must-read for anyone having trouble understanding how it all works.


1. START WITH KEYWORD RESEARCH

For SEO purposes it’s essential to jam-pack your blog posts and website content with keywords that people are Googling. Now some people spend thousands of dollars on Google AdWords to drive more traffic to their websites when the right content can get the same amount of visitors at no extra cost.

Keyword-rich posts in blogs as well are a factor as you want people to find your post and share it on social media; piquing interest in your business.

2. DON’T OVER-DO IT THOUGH

While dropping keywords here and there in the copy of blogs and web content is #1, don’t over-do it. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen small firms who advertise that they do both design, development, and SEO and see SEO as the all-powerful tier of that web project that overdoes it with keyword after the keyword in a sentence turning a sentence into almost jibberish.

A side note of this rule is spelling. While the majority of the population googling something is not spelling it correctly and waiting for Google to auto-correct their spelling – this does not mean the keywords you add to your copy include both the correct spelling and incorrect.


3. CATER TO THE READER, NOT YOUR EGO

The best part for the website owner writing their own website content and blog posts is sometimes they get to brag about their skills and services in that copy. That’s fine! But do not fill your content with heavy, specific jargon that your reader might not understand just to look superior in your field.

Make your reader happy! The best way to create viral content is to tap into the reader’s emotions, make certain parts of the copy funny, and/or have a personal touch. Enliven a topic that might be dull to some, fun to read for all.

Always end on a positive note too!


4. HYPERLINK YOUR SOURCES

If you are pulling content and knowledge from other online sources link their name or buy editorial links sections of the added text back to their website. Don’t be concerned about the possibility that they may leave your site, head to the link, and never return. Besides being the right thing to do in citing your sources, it can also help you with backlinks on your own site.


5. ACKNOWLEDGE A SAD FACT ABOUT SOCIETY

When writing the Great American Novel, end paragraphs where a pause seems natural. In web content writing realize that people just don’t have the time or patience for all this reading anymore. Keep it short.

Along with this, (and it pains me to say this) keep the reading level low. Like middle school level low. Don’t assume the level of the vocabulary of all your viewers. A great tool to use is the Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease to score your content for this very thing.


6. UPDATE ALL THE TIME

Don’t ever assume you can just write something, publish, and then forget about it. Always be updating links in your posts or other page’s content.

In addition, constantly be setting reminders for yourself to re-share on social media. Wait a month or so and re-share an old blog post.

Add content to those old blog posts. Sometimes we get carried away with the fun of writing and forget about the nitty-gritty of SEO. Don’t worry just go back to old blogs and pop some keywords and some links to others sites.

Re-share. Re-share. Re-share.


7. WEB SITE OR WEBSITE OR WEB SITE?

Which one is it! “Web site” was once acceptable in the late 90’s into the 2000’s, but saying it that way now only points out how you may have removed yourself from certain technologies and modern web surfing. Please call it a website in your copy of web content, in your blog posts, and pretty please; in emails to your designer/developer!


8. NEVER SELF EDIT YOUR OWN WRITING

While this may not be ideal, do not prove or edit your own writing. If you must, don’t do it on the same day. The best way to do this if you have no one with an understanding of SEO to proof your copy is to write your content, set it aside, and pick it up another day to proof for SEO and grammar. There are freelancers out there though who can do this for you fast and efficiently. There are a million sources for this.


9. DICTIONARY(GOOGLE): YOUR FRIEND

We all do it! Spell something wrong or use the wrong grammar. I’m guilty of it too and aside from a few grammar nazi type-a’s out there, you will too! Don’t sweat it and go old school with a dictionary or thesaurus or simply just type in your version of a word and let Google search correct that for you!


10. “WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?”

Go back up to the first section of this post before the start of each tip/rule. Always ask yourself before writing content on a page or blog post, “Why should you care?” about what I’m about to write. Tell them at the beginning. No one will waste their time reading on if you don’t.

Add value and meaning to your content. Don’t just put out there useless info that only makes you feel good about writing it. (See #3).

Also, have fun with this. While the SEO part may seem scary, don’t worry there are plenty of freelancers out there who can help with the fun part and the gritty SEO part.