Graphic Designers may or may not be wizards. I’m kind of leaning towards “may”; we literally create something out of nothing every single day, and that’s basically magical.
As fun as this industry is, it takes years of hard work, practice (and more practice), determination and focus to succeed. If you’re in the process of diving into the wonderful world of design, take a look at these popular myths.
Graphic Design Myth #1: It’s easy
This may very well be one of the biggest myths about graphic design. Looking at iconic logos like Nike, Adidas, BMW, and Apple (to name a few), it can be easy to see why their simplicity may be incorrectly seen as the result of a simple effort. Taking a design from conception to execution can be relatively straightforward sometimes, but it’s a process that involves several steps. Just because we’re in front of the computer most of the time (if you’re like me, maybe you’re in your PJs or on the beach), it’s easy to think graphic design is a stress-free cake-walk.
The truth is, this is a fast-paced industry where time rules everything; juggling multiple tasks within fixed time frames while having to ensure quality isn’t foregone is undeniably stressful. We are problem-solvers; and when you’re unable to deliver what your client envisioned, you may probably lose sleep over it. Fun times, folks. Fun. Times.
Graphic Design Myth #2: You have to spend your life’s savings on tech
You don’t need to spend the equivalent of a mortgage payment on a computer. No, seriously. As alluring as that brand spanking new iMac Pro looks, if it’s out of your range, don’t think a career in graphic design is entirely out of reach. I do all of my work (I use Photoshop, Illustrator, AfterEffects and InDesign) on my 17” Dell Inspiron. Is it ideal? Not really, but it’s what’s available at the moment! I’m in the process of eyeing my next buy; another Dell. Because design tends to be RAM-heavy and demanding on your processor and graphics/video cards, a solid gaming computer will do the trick. I’m currently checking out Dell’s Inspiron Gaming Laptop series. They pack a mighty punch without doing mortal damage to your pocketbook; sounds like a win to me! Next post, I’ll share some of my favourite design software resources.
Graphic Design Myth #3: You need a degree in Graphic Design
Before the era of the Internet (yes, there once was a time the WWW did not exist), most designers went to school to learn their craft. Me? Entirely self-taught. To be completely candid, I simply could not afford the cost to enroll in a university for the pursuit of a Graphic Design degree. I would have given my left kidney (hey, right kidney, luh you!) to attend AI, but it was out of the question. Instead, Google (hi, Bae!), YouTube (although I much preferred reading blogs), Amazon (books, y’all!) and my soon-to-be peers lit the way. The process of learning anything, especially teaching yourself, is full of stops and starts – don’t be discouraged if things aren’t clicking right away, keep trying until you get it right and most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask others for help (that includes me!).
An interesting thing happened during my journey to becoming a graphic designer; I learned the way I learn is not the way I was taught in school. This made me realise that I could have been an even better student during my school years (Chemistry, we could have had it all) if I was being taught in a way that’s compatible with how I learn. I learn by reverse-engineering. This meant taking already assembled files and taking them apart one layer at a time, one asset at a time, to learn how they fit together. I’m doing this now with motion graphics, btw!
Graphic Design Myth #4: Ongoing education is unnecessary
Uh…yes, it is! Whether you’re a graphic designer, a rocket scientist or a magician with a residency contract at a top-rate hotel in Vegas, you need to stay on top of trends, changes, and updates in your field or else you put yourself at risk of becoming obsolete. How? It’s easier than you may think: subscribe to podcasts, newsletters, magazines (digital or print), attend webinars and network with peers so you can keep abreast of industry changes that may impact your business
Graphic Design Myth #5: We can read minds
Despite what you may think, we can’t read minds (well, maybe except on alternating Thursdays and only when there’s a full moon). Communication is essential, and clear communication is priceless. You and your clients will save a great deal of time and money if you’re able to communicate effectively with each other.
Sometimes, it’s easier to communicate your plans with sketches, charts or presentations for a client who may not be able to understand concepts on a computer. Don’t be afraid to step outside your normal workflow; it may make life easier for everyone.
Graphic Design Myth #6: You have to design on a computer all the time
Don’t underestimate the power of the doodle! Whether you’re in a creative rut or just beginning a project, picking up a pencil and paper can be an awesome way to let your brain free-wheel and allow ideas to flow. Some of those initial ideas might not be quite what you’re looking for, but keep going and let those creative juices get a-flowin’.
Nicky is our Creative Wiz! She's a self-taught graphic designer with a life-long love affair with the beach and large bodies of water. A professional Netflix binger and full-time toddler-wrangler, you can find her devouring the latest episode of The Walking Dead in her down time. Also, caramels > chocolates.
For many small business owners, Instagram may seem intimidating or maybe even "irrelevant" for your brand. According to Instagram, 80% of users say they follow at least one business on the app, with 60% hearing about a product and service through the platform. Chances are if you are trying to appeal to a younger demographic, it's essential to make your mark in the "IG" World. Instagram can be a powerful tool for marketing your business while giving your potential customers a bit more personal insight into your brand. This tool can also be used to gather information on your target audience. Here I'll lay out 7 go-to tips to get your Instagram for Business journey off to a strong start and get you on the way to securing Checkmate. Read through till the end, I have a little bonus for you !
Converting to an Instagram business account has several benefits for your brand. As with most aspects of your company, measuring stats and numbers might be high on your priority list to ensure you’re delivering quality products and services to your clients. Online content should be the same. With Instagram for Business you get access to analytics about your followers and posts, the ability to promote Instagram posts as ads and a more professional looking profile.
Know your Audience
Before getting into the swing of producing awesome content, it’s first super important to know who it is you’re creating this content for. This premise not only applies to Instagram but to any other platform and marketing venture. Knowing your target audience makes it way easier to create and curate content that is tailored to their needs, as well as, to increase the likelihood of you “making that sale”. Creating a brand persona, coupled with paying close attention to those awesome insights Instagram provides you with, can really help to keep you on the right track.
Gone are the days when Instagram was just a platform for scrolling through a bunch of images. Users of instagram are constantly looking to be engaged with. Providing them with ways to do so with your brand is a great asset to your business! Engaging with your audience not only boosts your chance of being seen in user timelines, it also gives your business a more human feel.
Your engagement can start with a simple comment, reply or post like from a follower, which you can then leverage and begin to interact with that fan. You’ll never know where that interaction could lead you, they could become your next client or best referrer! DMs, mentions, shout outs and replies are a few ways to engage with your audience but when engaging be mindful not to come off as too “robotic” or dry. Invest time in engagement, add a little wit and warmth to it, that’s how you build relationships with persons who are likely to invest in your brand.
There are several methods to creating engagement opportunities! I'll talk a bit more about that in a future blog!
Instagram is all about the visuals, so investing time to capture or curate quality imagery is a definite win for your business. Having the perfect picture doesn’t necessarily mean hiring the most pricey photographer to get images or spending thousand of dollars on stock photography (unless you’re a photographer or stock photo provider).
While visually appealing images are a must for effective Instagram marketing, keeping those images true to your brand while appealing to your intended audience is equally as important. That’s where the perfect comes in. When posting think about the who, what, why and when. Even when reposting, be sure to be mindful of the effect it might have on your “grid appeal”. Will it add value to your overall page aesthetics? If so, go for it! You also want to make sure your images are simple and not too wordy (copy heavy).
Here are a few pages with awesome grid appeal.
Captions are Key!
Your caption is where your potential customers get a bit more context about the product you’re introducing or just your overall tone of voice. Wording is key here. Just like your images/video, you want to ensure you’re speaking to the right persons in a way they’ll understand, while encouraging them to talk back or take an action.
Make your captions more appealing with emojis! There's no doubt that Instagram is a visual platform, this includes your captions! Adding an emoji only adds to your visual appeal as well and makes users feel a bit more connected to your message. According to Engadget, nearly 50% of captions and comments on Instagram contain at least one emoji so go for it, but don't over do it!
#Hashtags are your Friends
Instagram allows you to list 30 hashtags…. Use them! While 30 hashtags might seem a bit much, it’s a great way for your content to get seen through a wider cross section of timelines organically. When done right, hashtags can even garner more engagement than a poorly boosted post. But before you go attaching all the words you can think of to your posts, you have to be strategic here as well.
Time it right
As a general observation across most social media platforms, engagement is typically higher first thing in the morning and after 6pm with a slight spike between 12pm to 2pm daily EST. This can be a bit difficult for businesses working 9 to 5 as there’s a smaller window for them to get messages out in time for peak viewership.
The new algorithm Instagram has implemented can actually help you to get over that hump. You might have noticed in your own personal feed, that sometimes you’re fed content as far back as 4 days ago (or more in some instances). If you time your posts for peak engagement times, use the relevant hashtags and garner enough engagement during those key moments; you have a better chance of your content being fed through timelines for a longer time! Mind blowing right? It's all about timing and strategy.
NB. A great way to keep on track with posting is with third party Instagram scheduling tools. It always helps to plan and schedule in advance. I'll list my faves in an upcoming blog!
Get creative with Instagram Stories
A great way to get people to see your content is through Instagram Stories. The Stories feature can give even more insight into your brand through creative “storytelling” while allowing you to get insight into the behaviour of your audience through features like Instagram Polls. Stories are also a great way to bypass the timeline and avoid over posting or spamming users.
According to Instagram, Instagram Stories has helped to increase the amount of time people spend on the network. Users under 25 years old spend more than 32 minutes a day on the platform, while those over 25 spend more than 24 minutes a day. Here are a few simple ways to make your stories interesting.
Instagram has over 800 million monthly active users. This is definitely a market you want to tap into if you are looking to engage a wide network. With several useful and regular updates there's always an opportunity to find a method that works for engaging your target audience and to make it work for your business!
Meet The Author
Chauntae is our Digital Content Queen. Her alter ego is Nefertiti, she loves kids and binge watching Netflix series. If purple were a planet she would rule it. As a Chic Chick, she's constantly searching for new ways to represent @be.business.chic .
Yep, she's on Instagram! @chauniebu
Here are the rules we follow when developing content for ourselves and our clients. They aren't in any particular order and ought to be practiced with fluidity. Just go with the flow man. :)
Rule #1: Tell a Story
It's important to really figure out what the story is that you're trying to tell. In doing so, you have to also understand who you are speaking to. Your target audience can be one particular type of person or several types of people. In telling your story, imagine what that person not only wants to hear, but needs to hear.
Rule #2: Be Consistent
Consistency is key! In developing and scheduling your content, you want to ensure you are not only consistent in look and feel, but in substance and also in the time in which you post. In developing your network, you want your fans to develop a KNOW, LIKE and TRUST for you. Being consistent on all levels helps this to happen, that much faster.
Rule #3: Be Strategic
Every piece of content must have an objective. Your objectives can be anything from getting engagement, to visits to your website, to building your email list, to developing influence. This makes your development of content much more intentional, think before you post and always know what the end game is.
Rule #4: Be Relevant
Relevancy isn't only just about being current, it speaks also to remember who your audience is and what they want to hear. Being relevant to them, can be something as simple as a motivational post on a Monday to start the week to something more detailed and complex like a cheat sheet or work book to help them beat the Monday Blues.
Rule #5: Have an underlying Theme
A theme helps to keep your story on track, but it also helps your audience to identify you from a far. Developing a theme can follow things like your brand colours, to themes that fall within your brand's story. For example, for us we like to focus on Digital Marketing, but we also have a theme geared towards female empowerment.
So you want to get into Digital Marketing?
Digital Marketing is a fairly broad field and can vary in specialization from Search Engine Optimization (SEO), to Content Marketing, Social Media Management to Email Marketing & Lead Generation.
Kick-starting a career in Digital Marketing doesn't have to be complicated. First, ask yourself is what area of Digital Marketing will suit your personality more? Are you a more social creature? Are your strengths in developing copy or do you prefer to build strategy? Do you prefer to be behind the scenes or do you wish to become a thought-leader in the industry? Depending on your answer, that will lead you to which area you will not only be most suited to, but the area you will enjoy the most.
Regardless of the area you choose, I would suggest signing up for newsletters and becoming a member of sites like Mashable, Social Media Examiner, Social Media Today, Sprout Social, Hubspot, Buzzsomo. Begin to comb through the blogs, find what area you gravitate to the most and do some more research. Digital Marketing is FAST CHANGING, it is important to keep up with what is trending.
Lastly, sign up for a FREE Course with a site like Udemy.com or Coursera.com in Digital Marketing to see if you are further inspired. You can then delve further with courses on Lynda: Online Courses, Classes, Training where you can learn more about your preferred field and then from there its all about putting the theory to practice.
Feel free to check out my latest eBook; My Top 5 Tips to Social Media Success #ShamelessPlug ;)