I Gotta Guy

Wishlist Wednesday: I Gotta Guy

It’s been a little over 2 months since I’ve been able to call myself a Floridian (transplant) – well maybe a Philadelphloridian. A few years back, my family and I decided to relocate from Philly to Florida. It was literally 4 years in the making. After years of saying ”we’re moving to Florida,” we went silent about our plans in the final year because of all of the negative feedback we were getting. “Do you even know anybody down there?” “Don’t you need a job?” “You’re going to die from a hurricane (seriously).” With the stress of moving our family of four and all of the planning we had to do (including sell our house), it was better if we did it without the nay-sayers in our ears.

August 2, we left on our journey down the east coast to our new home with help from my dad and brother. My dad has been my life line for many years. My car would break down, dad and his trusty cape were there. Weird sound coming from the engine? Dad would fix it! What was I going to do without him? I felt so raw and exposed to a world without help.

As we were moving in, my neighbor, Thomas, across the street came over to introduce himself. “Anything you need, let me know.” This tends to be something nice people say because they know in reality, the person rarely takes them up on the offer. I later learned that Thomas wasn’t one of those people. He offered so much information about the state, our gated community and so much more. Soon, he was coming over weekly telling me he “has a guy” for this and that.

This is where I got the idea for “I Gotta Guy.” Statistics show about 1,000 people move to Florida per day. 1,000 people per day (in case you missed that). What if half of those people had no one here either? And not everyone is lucky enough to live across the street from Thomas, or someone like him. 

But Isn’t This Just Like Craigslist or Angie’s List?

Let’s say these two had a baby in Florida – that would be I Gotta Guy! With Angie’s list, the rated contractors are listed on the site for you to sift through. On Craigslist, you can post as either a contractor or client. Chances are, you’d be going to the contractors to see what they had to offer – not the other way around. With I Gotta Guy, solely focused on Florida for now, people will be able to post their needs on the site and contractors can come to them! They will be able to list the services they need and their budget for the project. There will be no open bidding, but clients will be able to choose which contractor they want to work with.

How Can I Determine If the Contractor is Good Enough to Work with?

At the end of the business transaction, both contractor and client will be able to leave each other ratings. While people decide if they will do business with a contractor based on ratings, a contractor can also decide if he/she will do business with a client based on past reviews.

What Will It Cost?

Memberships to the site are completely free, as well as posting jobs. If a client would like their job to stand out, a small fee will be required for featured postings. Also, if a contractor would like to stand out, they can purchase ad space on the site.

Do I Have to Pay for Services through I Gotta Guy?

No. Exchanging of payment is between the client and the contractor. I Gotta Guy is simply a site to connect the two – meaning IGG will not be liable for non-payment or other discrepancies between contractor and client.

After observation, I noticed that Floridians tend to hire people to do things, rather than do them for themselves. It was truly a land where people with a hustle could take advantage of multiple opportunities – including changing light bulbs in vaulted ceilings for the elderly. I started this idea to help the thousands of people that move to Florida every month, but also for those that live here and continue to look for contractors.

I hope that you believe in me, my vision and the purpose of this website enough to help me bring it to life. Any small donation helps and I am truly appreciative of those who have already contributed. I will not let you down!

Codecademy

What if you could learn how to code for FREE?

As some of my prior posts will show, I am an avid believer in education after graduation. So many graduates are already drowning in debt and refuse to fork over another penny to add onto that debt – myself included. So many go without any further education when it is clear that this is not a field where you can afford to be left behind. Exactly how many things are free these days? That 2-hour-old sample your local grocery store employee is handing out. Water from lime-ridden fountains in the front of Walmart. Maybe even a penny on the sidewalk that you can take home and throw in your student loan jar with the $1.16 in change you’ve managed to save up throughout the year? In the United States, it’s very hard to find a quality education that’s free.

 

Codecademy TestimonialWhile reading an article on Yahoo, How to Turn Your Kid into A Coder, I came across Codecademy. The purpose of this site is to teach the world to code… for FREE. While I swear by CourseRA and Udemy, I always welcome new, FREE methods of learning – especially online and at my own pace. Codecademy offers users the chance to learn HTML, CSS, interactive website design, Ruby, AngularJS, SQL, Javascript, JQuery, PHP, Python and much more. Yes, not only can you learn all of this online for free, but there are apparently teens learning to code as well. And I cannot stress how easy the team over at Codecademy has made it to learn some complicated processes online.

 

Coding is done completely online, in the same window the instruction is given, along with your resulting “design.” Before the lesson starts, there is a breakdown of terminology and definitions for those just starting out. The lessons are simple and each stage consists of smaller chunks of code to keep the user from getting discouraged. The interface is truly so well-thought-out that a child (familiar with some coding) can understand and interact with the elements. Throughout your lessons, you achieve points and badges to mark stages of completion. I hope to see a badge with fireworks, people dancing and a pretty wicked light show when I earn my final badge for my first completed course. (Perhaps I’ll code my own when I’m done.)

 

Codecademy

 

While the membership to Codecademy is free, there is also an option to upgrade to the Pro plan. This is a more personalized plan that feels more like a classroom setting, but without the hassle of learning within a specific timeframe. With the Pro plan, you can get exclusive content, live help from the Codecademy experts and a personalized learning plan. While the plan is priced at $39.99/mo, it may be a cheaper option for those actually willing to put out some cash to build on their post-graduate education or those seeking an alternative to paid academic courses. When it comes to $480/year compared to $480/course or credit, I’m sure some would not object to the price of the Pro plan.

 

Thanks to folks like those who brought us Codecademy, people who want to improve themselves through education don’t have to spend thousands and tens and thousands of dollars to learn a new skill. There are plenty of testimonials on the site that exhibit how eclectic their clients truly are. From those looking to start a new career to children looking to advance their knowledge of code to produce awesome games and robots, anyone can learn through this simple software.

 

 

If you have any free opportunities to learn, please feel free to share them in the comments!

 

Painting a rose

15 Amazing Realistic Artists to Follow on Instagram

Instagram is the perfect platform to display your work as an artist and gain inspiration from the many talented creatives that share some of the most amazing pieces from the depths of their imagination. By using #art, or any other specific tag you may be looking for, millions of results from artists all over the world are at your fingertips. I find myself scrolling in awe and it can be very hard to return to serving as a productive member of society. Here is a list of 15 Instagram artist accounts to follow and keep you from productivity:

 

1. @hum_art

Illustrated whiskey bottle

 

2. @giorgioart

Illustration of converse sneakers

 

3. @cheshirecloud

Digital art

4. @cnursey

Illustrated sneakers

 

5. @xxmmkoxx

Jennifer Lawrence illustration

 

6. @memoespino_art

Walter White illustration

 

7. @nestorcanavarro

robin Williams illustration

8. @nikkixart

Woman with water on her face

 

9. @unnabananart

Bob Marley illustration

 

10. @navasy

Little girl portrait

 

11. @c_bell_myers

African tribe member illustration

 

12. @joelrea

Wave painting

13. @abbinkowski_art

Steve jobs illustration

 

14. @gioacchinopassini

Painting a rose

 

15. @adelerenault

Elderly black woman

 

 

Special FX

Wishlist Wednesday: Digital Juice – “It’s like Netflix for creative content”

My morning ritual consists of hitting snooze the 3 times I allot myself, cracking my eyes open to my Bichon staring me in the face, happy that nothing ate us overnight, and scrolling through my emails. This morning, I had an email from PaperSpecs that began with “Introducing Digital Juice…” How could I not click on something that said “Digital Juice?” The email introduced a creative content service that was free for life – and not to mention it had some pretty flashy graphics that made me curious enough to follow the link. And this is my inspiration for Wishlist Wednesday…

So what is Digital Juice anyway?

Digital Juice - "It's like Netflix for creative content"Digital Juice is precisely how its tagline describes it – “like Netflix for creative content.” Depending on the tier purchased, as a lifetime member, you have access to stock photos (with and without transparency), high-res graphic backgrounds, textures and patterns, frames and borders, animations, animated backgrounds, wipes and transitions, overlays, stock footage, animated mattes, After Effects/Final Cut Pro/Sony Vegas Pro projects and templates, special FX, layered Photoshop files, drag and drop footage and more! With all of this at your fingertips, it cuts your average production time for each project drastically.

There’s an app for that!

Juicer AppJuicer, with all of its delicious content, made it easy for its users to access its content from almost anywhere. There is an app for your desktop for both Windows and iOS platforms, as well as for your iOS/Android phone or tablet. Let’s say you’re with a client, brainstorming ideas on your iPad. By clicking the cloud icon, you can download the content into the format you need and send it right to your computer! This is a brilliant addition to the membership benefits because making it accessible on the go is perfect for presentations.

New content added EVERY DAY

whatsnewNot only does Digital Juice offer you a plethora of content, but they update it and add new content daily! While cruise the site, I scrolled down to the “What’s New” section and I just kept scrolling. It seemed to never end – in fact, I got tired of scrolling!  There are so many categories to choose from and you can search by stores specific to your field of interest or zones that concentrate on a certain subject. I can only imagine how much the library grows if added to every day!

So how much will all of this amazing content run me?

Consider being a lifetime member and not having to deal with monthly or even yearly fees. As a designer, I see many monthly, quarterly and yearly fees for subscriptions and memberships. But to have unlimited access to such an amazing amount of creative content for Digital Juice’s membership fee seems so worth it. There’s an introductory price (that hopefully will be extended) that starts at a one-time fee of $249. I have not come across a membership this good in a long time!

Digital Juice Pricing

 

Watch the video below to learn more about getting started with Digital Juice, or go to their website to learn more about what they have to offer!

Confused

To SPEC or Not to SPEC

Khalil Gibran QuoteAs a designer, if you haven’t already, you will experience the very controversial world of SPEC work. SPEC work is when a designer is tasked with creating something to bait the client into a paid project, but very often never leads to that. Working in the publishing industry for many years, I’ve designed my fair share of SPEC ads. The sales team would go out, grab a business card or jot some illegible information down on a piece of scrap paper, later staple it to a SPEC sheet and it was my job to decipher their hieroglyphics and find the proper imagery to create the ad. I remember a very small percentage – and by small I mean possibly 1 or 2 out of one hundred – of those ads actually making it into the final production layout. At most, it was a way to remain productive during slow periods.

A few years ago, I decided to try my hand at 99 Designs. I had read a couple of articles from designers that were up-in-arms about the site, but I had also seen some designers that had positive feedback as well. I didn’t quite understand the concept, but I was looking to create some new portfolio pieces and I thought I’d give it a shot. There were contests for so many fields! I signed up and entered a few, confident that my design would be chosen for at least one of these, but the sad reality hit that I was competing against so many other designers with equal or better skills. I wasn’t about to give up.

I started looking at the contests with smaller prizes and less entrants to try to win my first contest. I would make it past the first round, the client would request changes upon changes, I would post the new ideas and I’d never win. I found myself creating many projects without ever earning a dime. It was a very frustrating process that began with such high hopes and ended in a painful fiery crash.

Do Clients Know It’s An Online Sweatshop?

Counting MoneyTo the client, 99 Designs is an amazing experience – if they have the proper budget. Who wouldn’t want to spend $250+ and have access to thousands of designers willing to compete to make a logo? You get endless options from fresh perspectives. You also get to command the entire process while creatives claw to win your approval and the cash prize. It’s a win-win situation. Right?

Let’s say a designer charges $95/hour. Your contest prize is worth $250. Consultation is usually free to better understand the scope of the project. The time it takes to brainstorm the logo runs 1-2 hours alone. Sketches about another 1-2 hours. Digitally rendering the best sketches can turn into hours. Keep in mind, that those rendered options can become even better ideas once created in a program and even more options are explored. By the time the designer produces 3-5 of the best options, it could be 10 hours into the logo design process. That’s about $950 worth of work so far. Then one of those design makes it to the next phase, but the client would like to see more options. So the designer spends another 2-5 hours giving the client more options from the one design and none of those are chosen to make it to the final round. By then, the designer has lost over $1000 in production time for a nice portfolio piece.

The True Purpose of SPEC Work

SPEC work is supposed to wow the client enough to want to spend money and work with the designer. So back in the beginning of time, who’s idea was it to begin with – the client or the designer? It’s truly a chicken or the egg situation. The client may ask the designer to “mock up” an idea. The designer may try to land the client’s business by flashing some visual candy with their brand or logo on it.

To the client, SPEC work is an easy way to see what the designer has to offer. But it is also a FREE means of new, fresh ideas. I’ve had people ask me for ideas, then take what I created, show it around and ask others to design another variation. That was the very young and inexperienced designer in me. But to the client, they feel justified in shopping for designers through FREE SPEC work and eventually landing with the designer who will give them the better price – not necessarily the better design. Does this sound a bit like 99 Designs, but with a set price?

The Word “Contest” Should Give It Away

When we are kids, we enter coloring contests, drawing contests, races, etc. We enter them for the prizes that are promised at the end. While there is no guarantee we will ever win, we still compete because there’s no real cost to losing. But as an adult, time and money are almost always sacrificed to enter a contest. We must use our own resources and money, take time away from work or family and sacrifice many hours to win what we are competing for. And if we truly wish to win, we pour blood, sweat and tears into the project to ensure victory.

99 Designs promotes “contests” that have various professionals compete to earn prizes. There is virtually no difference between the art contest in the newspaper and those held on 99 designs. They don’t hide the terminology. “Contest” is plastered all over the site, so no professional can mistaken that money is guaranteed for your design.

One could make the argument that this is the same as when professionals bid for a client’s business. However, usually at the conclusion of the meetings, a designer/firm is chosen rather than the client asking each bidder to produce more work to try to win their business. And in this situation, the designer/firm is allowed to chose what price they are willing to work for (the bid). All of the variables are taken into consideration when creating this estimate, including time, revisions, meetings, etc. In a contest, no such freedom exists. The price is set, so it is up to the designer to decide if they would like to take the chance of offering multiple completed pieces to potentially never earn a single dollar during the process.

So Should Designers Do SPEC Work?

Make Things Happen Post-ItTo answer this question, you would have to ask yourself multiple questions. Do I need to update my portfolio? Is the client a sure thing? Will this take away from other paid projects? Was this my decision to offer the SPEC work or the clients?

I will never do SPEC work for a client that requests it, just as I would never expect a client to give me free products because I asked to test them out. It’s about respect. I respect my skill set, the money I paid for my education and my time enough to not offer free design work for the sake of client wanting to prove my worth. I have compiled both a digital and physical portfolio for those reasons. If my skill level can not clearly be proven in the work I have displayed, I will have to work to change that, but not because a client would like to see their brand and logo on something I took the time to produce for free. If I find that I have down time, and I am fishing for some new clients, I would open myself up to producing a SPEC piece to bring them on board. Again, this is because I, as the designer, made that decision and could potentially benefit from it in other ways (a new portfolio piece).

I would not encourage professionals to do SPEC work when it is requested by the client, however, I would encourage them to weigh the cost and the benefits. As a new designer, you may find yourself being asked to produce SPEC pieces for clients to test your skill level. If you find yourself in this predicament often, I’d say you need a stronger portfolio that shows your range of talent. Clients are more inclined to not ask if they can see clear examples of what they’re looking for in your displayed work. But if you need to build a portfolio, I encourage you to flip through some publications or scroll some websites, find some logos, ads or sites that are displeasing and redo them to make them more appealing. You can take the final product to the business to try to win them over, or change some information to turn it into a fictitious portfolio piece.

What is your take? Would you or do you create SPEC work?

2014 Cannes Jeep Deer Ad

Inside JEEP’s “See Whatever You See” Campaign

As a young Graphic Designer, ad design taught me so much about the print world – mostly the importance of hierarchy. What information is the most critical? Does the imagery convey the proper message? Does the ad communicate to the right audience? Are the proper colors being used? There are plenty more questions that make up the ad design process, but this is a pretty good start. Once the designer is comfortable mastering these rules, they can be pushed to the side to focus on attractive, eye-catching design, mixed with cleaver marketing tactics. The idea is to create something the reader will never forget, or want to share with others.

I was cruising the internet for websites dedicated to print and I came across this brilliant ad campaign by the Leo Burnett Agency in Paris, France. The campaign was to promote Jeep’s free-roaming ethos with the tagline “See whatever you want to see.” Below are examples of ads within the campaign that depicted various animals, that when flipped, became something completely different.

2014 Cannes Jeep Elephant Ad

2014 Cannes Jeep Swan Ad

2014 Cannes Jeep Deer Ad

2014 Cannes Jeep Seal Ad

2014 Cannes Jeep Giraffe Ad

2014 Cannes Jeep Penguin Ad

IMG_0818.PNG

The Importance of Education After Graduation – Student Loan Free!

It was June of 2004 and I had just graduated college and earned my first Graphic Design job at a local weekly newspaper. My daily responsibilities included page layout, light ad design, and minor IT functions because we lacked an IT person to fix our outdated equipment and programs. That job was validation that I actually did learn something in school because I was able to use Quark with ease. I was a new graduate with updated knowledge of the latest programs and design practices – seemingly ahead of those that studied Desktop Publishing.

Fast forward over 10 years later and I realize I knew absolutely nothing. Well, to give myself a little credit, I knew about a drop in the ocean of the creative world. And now, to all of the new graduate Graphic Designers, I am the “Desktop Publishing” major I spoke about earlier. The design world is forever changing and new baby designers are being raised by these new rules and advancements. Believe it or not, 10 years is a long time to go without education in the latest design programs and practices. In fact, there have been so many changes, a Desktop Publisher would probably think we were living in 2050.

Working with other designers at an early age brought about inspiration. Not only was it good to bounce ideas off each other, but we taught each other things as well. I started to notice that not many people were familiar with web design. I had taken web design classes in college, but I’m pretty sure my young slacker mind shut down after a while when the complicated things like coding came along. Nevertheless, I still seemed to know more than my counterparts. I knew this was a sign that I should begin soaking up as much know,edge before I became obsolete – or better yet, replaced by a new grad that knew more. 

With my old student loan debt looming, I attempting to return to school for web design, but later realized that we live in the Information Age, and just about anything could be learned online for free, or that didn’t require a student loan. I took to watching YouTube videos to learn new techniques. I acquired many books from Amazon to teach me the latest programs and program languages. I even picked up a mentor to help me when I hit roadblocks. While a degree helped me land jobs, I noticed that it was experience and design knowledge that really propelled my career. 

 Course RA screenshot

A couple of years ago, I was introduced to Course RA. While I’ve never truly had the time to complete an entire course, I found the FREE courses to be refreshing and teach me plenty that I was unfamiliar with. Again, the only problem I had was time. Courses are generally 4-6 weeks long and working and martial arts classes prohibited me from having the proper time to complete assignments. I didn’t take that as failure, I just knew I was the kind of student that needs a learn-at-your-own-pace schedule.

If that’s the kind of student you are, I would recommend Udemy. There are lots of paid courses, but there are also plenty of FREE ones as well. I find that the content of the free courses various slightly to that of the paid content. So far, the paid courses I’ve taken had been a bit more juicy, while the free courses were amazing, but seemed to lack some of the more interesting tips. I cannot honestly say that all free courses are this way because I have not taken them all. But for the free courses I’ve taken, I’ve walked away with more knowledge than I started with, and after all, isn’t that the point? 

There are plenty of free ways to continue your education. Remember not to get too comfortable with your career if it means more than just a job to you. Each day there are new designers, developers, photographers, markers and more being made to replace you. With free educational materials available to learn a new skill and earn more money, there are little excuses not to better yourself. 

getmoreteaser

Book Review: How to Get More Customers From Google, YELP & Yahoo: Local Web SEO

How to Get More Customers From Google, YELP & Yahoo: Local Web SEOAs a small business owner, you tend to not be too engulfed in your online presence because you’ve got a million other things that need your attention – unless you have a media-related business. While you are concerned about where your business shows up on local search engines, sometimes it’s easier to pay someone to do the job for you. If your business is a start-up, this may not be an economical choice.

I recently read a book for “busy entrepreneurs” called How to Get More Customers From Google, YELP & Yahoo: Local Web SEO by Kat McDivitt. It was an easy read and the average, avid reader can finish the book in about an hour or less. Kat did an exceptional job in understanding that business owners don’t have the time to focus on their online presence, but also don’t ave much time to read a book about improving it as well. I downloaded the book for free on my Kindle app and read it every chance I had a break throughout the day. Not only was it well-written, but it was easy to understand. The average web-user can easily follow Kat’s tips and advice.

This book addresses free ways to improve your business’s web presence through local search. It helps you to better understand how local search works and also how to utilize it to promote your business. It also adresses the necessary role of customer reviews when trying to build your web presence.

Take the time to download this book and dedicate the hour or less to reading it. It’s one of the best, free, informational publications available for business owners who are trying to be a contender among local businesses.

Click here to download a PDF version of the book or click here to download the Kindle version of the book on Amazon.com.