Why even bother hiring me (1)

Why even bother hiring me!?

MY PALMS WERE SWEATING.  I COULD FEEL THE LUMP IN MY THROAT TIGHTEN AS MY FINGERS CLENCHED THE CORNERS OF MY BLOUSE.

Keep it cool, Jacquelyn. 

I straightened my back with the clearing of my throat and eyed his profile as he was reviewing the proposal.

They’re going to ask me, I silently cringed.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to respond if they did, despite the fact that the question had been plaguing me from the moment I set up my freelancing business in 2015.

In my mind, I couldn’t understand why a business would bother spending $__K/month on my services when – really – they could just hire someone in-house for probably less than that.

He closed the proposal with a nod, “Alright, so just to confirm this would include the copy as well? ”

After clarifying the details and agreeing to a non-compete with competitor brands, we shook hands and the deal was done.

“In my mind, I couldn’t understand why a business would bother spending $__K/month on my services when – really – they could just hire someone in house for probably less than that.”

Just like that.

If you’ve ever landed your own clients you’ll know what I mean when I say it’s one of the best rushes on this planet – a validation of all your efforts and work!

I was on cloud nine the whole rest of the day.

But – to be honest – it took me a few more years before I would fully understand why businesses would even bother hiring me when, oftentimes, the cost seems much higher than trying to hire internally.

WHY DON’T BUSINESSES JUST HIRE INTERNALLY?

The truth is there are different motives, depending on the size of the business. And there are pros and cons for both situations. 

For large brands – you know, the Nike’s of the world.  The reason they outsource to agencies is mostly due to something called Opex, which stands for operational expenditure.

These are basically funds used by a company to cover expenses such as wages, maintenance services, rent and utilities, and brands.  Directors are given budgets around these and – while you may think your agency costs the brand a lot more – many of these brands don’t have the budget bandwidths to add more staff to payroll due to Opex and CapEx (capital expenditures) restrictions.

A reminder here – as a former employer myself – I have come to learn through the years that staff are actually very EXPENSIVE.  They get sick, they take time off, they need training and go on maternity leave.  A $5K/month employee will cost a company a lot more than an $8K/month freelancer – who can fulfill work year-round and around the clock. A freelancer also gets more done in that 1-month timespan than an employee can who has to commute to you, settle into the office, leave for a lunch break, get back into the groove of things, and crash at 3 pm. Studies have shown that in the 9-5 work schedule the average “great” employee only gets 3ish hours of impactful work done a day…

But surely in the long run hiring internally is a much smarter idea?

Perhaps, but let’s have a look at why smaller businesses choose to recruit freelancers vs internal staff.  

Firstly – most businesses have no idea what they’re doing when it comes to anything digital marketing – let alone specific marketing activities such as video content and social media strategy. The platforms and tactics are so new and ever changing that, unless you’re on top of it all the time, you get left behind.

And the reality is that in order to manage staff, you need to have a concept of what needs to happen or how to know if they’re even doing a good job.

So for most entrepreneurs and business owners – trying to become an expert in something that would just consume a lot of their time makes no sense.

They simply don’t have the knowledge to even know how/who to hire for such a role nor do they have the time/patience to try and train/manage said individual(s) in their business.

Secondly – for most digital marketing services offered in the market – the skillset needed to complete the full picture often requires a whole range of skills. There’s a saying in the industry of “looking for a unicorn” and it’s not far off. You need a hybrid person of a graphic designer, marketer, strategist, data researcher, and creative content writer.

Take FB marketing, for instance,  in order to be a good FB marketer one must be able to:

  • Write copy
  • Have an eye for creative
  • Understand the potential of Reels and Stories
  • Have an analytical mind able to interpret data
  • Be a strategic and adaptive thinker

So you’re needing someone that can use both their left and right brain!  Not an easy feat as most of these people are already doing their own thing!

When a startup or small business wants to grow fast and has needs for competence, tapping into an agency means they essentially get the whole package – all the skills required – in what would otherwise oftentimes require three people internally to complete.

So – plain and simple – businesses just want the headache taken off their plate and want results. And they want a solution NOW.

PROS & CONS OF HIRING AN AGENCY – WHY BOTHER?

PROS

  • Fewer headaches
  • Faster results
  • Access to a bigger suite of skills
  • “Round-the-clock” service
  • Oftentimes cheaper than internal staff
  • My favorite… Less B.S.

CONS

  • Long term, once Opex stabilizes, wiser to hire internally
  • As your business scales this can get costly
  • Can’t treat like a slave (kidding, kinda…)

SO WHAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU?

Every business has different needs and will require different solutions based on where they’re at.  As a general rule of thumb:

If you’re still in a start up phase – hire the unicorn in small batches, not an employee. It’s the same premise as to why you would lease vs buying a building. It doesn’t make sense to put that overhead on your shoulders when you’re in a volatile and/or active growth stage of your business.

If you’re a well-established business that has had great results from your digital marketing activities already and are spending more than $15K/mth on an employee that you’re not happy with – it may be time to start shopping for your forever unicorn. Please note, to hire a competent full-time digital marketer/unicorn you’re looking at roughly $70K-$120K per year – so it’s not cheap either!

Grab a saddle, and meet your new unicorn!

Jacquelyn Tolksdorf
hello@unglitch.io

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You Can’t Afford to Not Invest in Social Media Marketing in 2022.

In 2019, 73% of small businesses used social media marketing to increase traffic, generate leads, and create strong connections with their audience. That number continues to rise today as the number of users has grown well beyond 3.7 billion. Read on for 4 ways you can expect to see ROI from social media!

INCREASE BRAND AWARENESS + RECOGNITION

Millennials and Gen Z go straight to social media if they’re interested in learning more about a brand they just discovered. 

But what about consumers that have never heard of your brand? Increasing brand awareness starts with meeting your current and potential audience where they’re already at. 

A solid social media strategy can help you create organic social media content and paid advertisements that put your brand in front of the right audience at the right time with the right messaging. When this happens time and time again, brand recognition is built and an engaged community begins to form. 

Don’t just take it from us, here’s what the stats say:

FOSTER AN ENGAGED COMMUNITY

A recent study found that 89% of people that follow a brand on social media will ultimately end up purchasing from that brand. How do we get these followers to stick around long enough to eventually convert?

The answer? Quality content and an engaging community. 

Why is fostering community important? Before you can convert an audience, you must come to know the audience and the audience must come to know you as the brand. When you show up consistently and provide value, users will share about you, resulting in more users coming to know you. Once they know you, they will start to like you. Once they start to like you, they will start to trust you. And where there is trust, there is a sale on the horizon.

Don’t just take it from us, here’s what the stats say:

INCREASE SITE TRAFFIC + SALES

Social media is an effective way to direct consumers to your online shop. Consider your social media like a digital handshake inviting users to your website. If consumers like what they see on social media, they’re likely to get to head over to your site.

Think about it like window shopping. Where social media is the window display and your website is the inside of the store. Your social media should be a beautiful sneak peek enticing people to come inside and see all that your website really has to offer. When you fully understand your audience and have a solid social media strategy in place, you can put together irresistible content.

Don’t just take it from us, here’s what the stats say:

IT IS COST-EFFECTIVE

Organic and paid social media tends to be significantly more cost-effective than “traditional” marketing methods, like television or newspaper ads. Plus, when you pay for social media management, you’re often not only paying for the content but also customer support and data analytics. Investing in social media creates a direct line to support customers’ needs and overall satisfaction with your brand through interpersonal dialogue.

Don’t just take it from us, here’s what the stats say:

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Why Surrender to Your Hired Expert

For anyone, it is an act of humility to surrender to what is. When we surrender, we turn our ego and self-will over to deeper wisdom and improvement. As a creative service provider, there are times when people reach out for Unglitch.io’s marketing strategy, branding strategy, or design expertise. Most are willing to accept they need to hire for what they cannot do themselves for their own business. But some, have trouble surrendering to their hired expert and releasing control. Why?

“It’s My Vision – No One Else Will Understand It!”

We invest a lot of energy into going after what it is we want, and when what we want to elevate our business -behind that energy is a deep longing for something. Success. Acceptance. Acknowledgment. Money. When we let go, stop pulling or pushing, or step away, we feel the impact of that—we might feel loss, grief, terror, or disappointment that someone else can do it better. The sensation of these feelings can be overwhelming and many of us weren’t necessarily taught how to express them; especially as business owners.

When you hire a trusted, proven expert the process only works when the client surrenders to the expert’s knowledge. You wouldn’t hire someone for marketing strategy and management and then undermine everything they do to boost your business because it’s not “your moves” or the path you would take. Your marketing expert has done research on the actual target market you need to serve (and in most cases…) – this is not the target market you had in mind. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that “everyone is my target market!”. That idea is simply not going to help your business grow.

So let’s say you’ve surrendered to accepting your (new) niche target market. Your strategist, designer, and promoter have presented you with the plan, content, and visuals to grow your brand and build a loyal audience-to-customer fan base. You don’t like it. You find the urge to go back to doing the same thing you have been doing all along by yourself. We all know the definition of insanity, right?

To simply think that your vision will not be understood by anyone else is a big red flag that in fact, is the case. Neither your current audience understands your vision either – because your messaging in your marketing reflects that and you’ve thought all along that you are marketing to please yourself and not your target customers.

“I’ve Been in Business for 20+ Years – Why Do I Need to Change Now?”

Pride, on the other hand, maintains our idealized self-image—the self we think we need to be for self-preservation. Pride presents itself as a kind of invulnerability, or a need to be right or perfect. Because surrendering to an expert is an act of humility and an acknowledgment that out of our perfectly imperfect humanness, our business may be out-of-date and out-of-touch. We’re losing old customers and we are gaining no new ones. In many cases, this is why. While change can be hard and it only gets harder the longer you’ve been doing what you’ve been doing – when questioning do you need to re-think or pivot your business strategies, branding, marketing, etc… The answer 99% of the time is always: “Yes”.

“I’m Not Going To Let You!”

The final point is that some people find pleasure (albeit negative) in not surrendering. The unconscious pleasure we get from holding on to something too long can be a real hard to let go. As I mentioned up top, I’m a creative service provider. As anyone who worked in customer service knows, some people just thrive off making others feel small.

I remember when I was in my early 20’s in this business, this would always ‘erk me the wrong way. I would be reeling from a client’s bad behavior in this arena for days, if not weeks. They would then go onto a naughty list of people I would never work with again. I still have a naughty list, but when you’ve been doing this as long as I have (12+ years), you start to realize that psychology plays a big part in providing anything to your clients.

We state in many new client contracts, that if you are not willing to surrender to what will better your business, you simply will not be able to be helped…but still be billed for our time…

Staying-Creative-&-Connected-During-the-Ever-Lasting-Pandemic

Staying Creative & Connected During the Ever-Lasting Pandemic

Ever since quarantine(s) started and things began to shut down all around us, I’ve found myself being faced with issues that I don’t have answers for. I am sure I’m not alone in thinking that I truly did not expect to be working more than much less, than not at all… While the state of the world remains clouded in so much uncertainty not too much has changed for me. I’ve always worked from home. Ironically I was about to purchase a studio before the pandemic because…I was sick of working from home. Surprise to me! Nevertheless, this is our current reality, and we must all find a way to adjust and adapt.

The Start

At the beginning of COVID, many businesses I’ve never worked with before realized the importance finally of their online presence and social media marketing. They needed to either be online or improve their online presence with SEO, social media marketing, and better websites. Thus, I was busy… Like I needed 8 clones of me – busy!

I started feeling guilty…

While other businesses had to close with the uncertainty of when they would re-open their doors. I remained opened and thriving…at first…

How I stayed creative: Well… I was busy! So it was easy!

The Middle

Once our economy began to tank and panic started setting in the brands that I work with on a regular basis stepped back from working and even marketing their brands for a bit. Understandable. We all had no clue what to budget for during the peak of COVID. Business slowed down and I got bored…

Something about me: If I’m not busy, I struggle mentally. I know it’s not technically healthy to have a go-go-go, hustle-hard frame of mind when it comes to your job. But I always have. When I had no work I sunk into deep deep depression just like so many of us. It was rough.

How I stayed creative: Reaching out and collaborating with others on projects is a great way to keep the creative energy going. I did just that and worked with brands who like me, are usually too busy to collab! Not then!

The End (Infiniate End of COVID)

And where I am now. A much better place mentally of course! And now that things are picking back and getting back to (semi) normal

How I stay creative: The importance of your mental health in these challenging times cannot be overstated. Looking after your own well-being is critical to the creative process, and meditation and mindfulness can be powerful tools for maintaining wellness. I’ve started taking yoga with Buti Yoga and even learned breathing techniques. I’ll continue to always keep my mental health flourishing to keep my creativity flowing.

Design-Trends

Design Trends Seen in 2021

Marked by a lovely pandemic (*eyeroll) that shattered our “normality”, 2020 and 2021 also saw unprecedented political, social, and environmental unrest. Many of us experienced a level of chaos we couldn’t have possibly planned for. Around the world, creative professionals have been operating on what feels like quicksand.

Because visual culture is intimately connected to lifestyle shifts, our design trends shifted as well.

Ethical Living

Environmental awareness peaked in 2020 and 2021. Moving forward, the interest in eco-friendly packaging will shape digital design. Biodegradable materials offer a great solution to a planet-ethical brand. Brands will be expected to operate with an elevated level of awareness in multiple respects going forward thus leaving designers to be inspired by the “going zero” movement and designing accordingly.

Example: FrugalPac & Food and Wine

Off the Grid

One of my favorite trends of the year; behold rebellious, brutalist graphics that defy the grid. Designs in this “Off the Grid” trend are an ode to asymmetry. Type pops up where you least expect it to, and when it does, it’s usually reverse contrast, wavy, or ransom-looking. When it comes to design, expect the unexpected.

Font on Creative Market – Click Image to Download

Here’s Come the 70’s Again

A big trend was bringing back the 70’s. No more pixel-perfect graphics and instead of a push to use more worn-out images (aka. 70’s photo quality). Analog techniques like risograph printing are making an important comeback in both physical and digitally-crafted graphics. I have a feeling this comeback was really stemmed from the calming, laid-back nature the 70’s appeared to be. Something we needed more of in 2021.

Design in every Color, Size, & Orientation

Now, this was way overdue. Strip down most design elements in marketing throughout companies and you’ll see a representation of who is on the team. It was time to change in both categories. Some Asian markets switched from showing only Asian models and people in their ads to those of all ethnicities. And of course, popular brands are highlighting women of color more and fashion and makeup brands are even embracing gender-neutral and LGBTQ+ models more than ever. Natural representation of everyday life in media… Finally! Diversity, beauty, and life all go hand-in-hand.

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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!