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5 Benefits Of Shared Community Office Space

One of the up and coming trends in the creative business world is the concept of shared work environments, and these wonderful collaborative spaces are changing the way we view and do our work. For a small monthly membership fee, you can have access to a professional office, take part in social and networking events, and even get deep discounts on classes and other programs to enhance your knowledge and further your career. And the best part of investing in a local co-working group is that you know exactly where the money goes and you know that your neighborhood friends and contacts will benefit from such a powerful collaborative force in the community. Many professionals and freelancers work from home these days, but they miss out on the benefits of office life like the chance to collaborate with others and skip the distractions. And coworking lets you opt out of the bad parts, like angry bosses and sad energy-sapping cubicles. Plus, when you throw in perks like free coffee and snacks, reliable high speed internet, conference room access, locker space, and hands-on instruction, it’s hard to justify sitting on your couch in your pajamas for even one more day. Take a look at our top five reasons to join our coworking community! Opportunities for collaboration You’re pretty smart. But you know what’s even smarter? 5 of you! When you share office space with other creative professionals, you can meet people who can help you brainstorm ideas, edit your content, offer suggestions, and make referrals. There is always something new and exciting to learn from your fellow coworkers, and you can have an opportunity to share your expertise as well. Chances are also that you will meet someone in the same industry or with similar interests, and they just might become your next business partner! Healthy work/life balance Anyone who works from home or on a freelance basis understands how hard it is to keep your work life separate from everything else. Gigs and projects tend to bleed into all hours of the day and night, and it can be tough to maintain a good schedule for optimal productivity and personal satisfaction. When you come to work in a community space, you will be able to leave the distractions and obligations of home behind for a while, and focus on your assignments. And when you’re done, you can pack up and return home to enjoy your family and your hobbies. Your spouse, children, or roommates will certainly thank you for investing in a healthy work/life schedule. Inclusion in creative community It can be lonely and even stifling as a creative entrepreneur, especially when you don’t belong to a collective of other talented and passionate people. So come join the group, and immerse yourself in ideas, life, and imagination. Contribute to something bigger than yourself. Be a part of an inventive cluster of individuals who want to grow their businesses, help others succeed, and change the world for the better. When passionate and motivated people come together, amazing things can happen everywhere from sales and development to design and marketing. Skip the hierarchy What’s one of the best parts of a coworking environment? That’s right, no bosses. No hierarchy. No strict schedule. You can come as you are and work as you need to- we’re not going to bother you about deadlines or emails. Chances are you are fighting to make your own way in the world as a freelancer or small business owner, so why would you want to go back into the domain of the corporate pecking order? When...

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5 Ways To Boost Your Resume With Adobe Illustrator

Let’s face it- today’s job market is tough. The credentials that would fetch a top-tier position a decade ago are now only delivering an entry-level one. Unemployment and unpaid internships abound, and there is a distinct trend that is emerging from this new market milieu. Those with the most well rounded resumes are the ones getting hired and promoted. The ambitious and creative few who take the time to flesh out their skill set and tack on certifications are the ones who bring the most usability to the job market. Utilitarianism has taken over, and employers are looking to stretch their new hires over several different professional fields. In this new minimalist market, if you can offer the skills and expertise of three people rolled into one, you’re miles ahead of the pack. The digital era is nothing new, but accomplishing design and marketing in-house is still relatively fresh. Many companies and startups are starting to make their own logos, brochures, websites, and other materials, utilizing their own limited staff. So if you are looking to get a leg up on the competition, or put your hat in the ring for a promotion, basic graphic design skills are pure gold on your resume. You don’t need any particular art background or drawing talent to become proficient in Adobe Illustrator, and it makes the ideal addition to any CV from any field- finance, education, nonprofit, tech…everyone benefits from savvy and sharp design. Adobe Illustrator classes are waiting for you to enroll, so here are just five great reasons why you should sign up today! Logo Design It’s amazing how one simple image can speak for an entire brand, provoking recognition and market power with just a small mix of colors and shapes. But the influence of logos is more and more appreciated, and more businesses are choosing to co-create their branding with their own staff to better reflect their ideas and values. Logos are one of the easiest things to create using Illustrator, and there is a huge demand for logo design in the market today. If you can show you have the know-how for this, you are bound to be more attractive to a potential employer or promotion manager. Infographics The general public is being more accustomed to having information fed to them in sharp, eye-catching graphic ways. Text doesn’t hold the power it used to, and more designers are funneling their facts and figures into colorful displays that are easy to digest and also easy to share via social media. Creating mathematically accurate and stunning charts and graphs is a staple of the Illustrator repertoire, and can boost your appeal especially in the education, nonprofit, and finance sectors. Custom illustrations The demand on the market now for unique and handmade illustration graphics is at an all-time high. Everyone is looking to create their own individual look on everything from business websites to kids’ birthday party invitations. Adobe Illustrator makes it simple to make a variety of graphics for a variety of purposes- you can even work off a base photo image if you aren’t comfortable with freehand. Having the skills to transform ideas into icons and images puts you ahead of the game in the working world. You can lend your expertise to website work, brochures, book publishing, and much more! Vector images In the digital design world, there are two basic types of images- raster and vector. The former type is the one most common in photographs and other shared media; these include your familiar jpg, gif, and tiff files. These are all comprised of a grid...

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5 Social Media Platforms To Boost Your Small Business

Today’s world is faced paced and new businesses have to jump in with savvy in order to survive. It doesn’t matter how amazing your product or service is if nobody knows about you and you aren’t making an effort to connect with the public. Here’s where social media platforms come in- the ability to insert yourself into the social sphere and be a part of your customers’ lives, both past and future. There are some basic advantages that social media platforms can bring to a small business, a few of which include: The ability to forge a brand “look and feel” The words you use and the graphics/photos you post say a lot about you and what you’re trying to sell The power to answer and address feedback/complaints Customer feedback is crucial to any growing business and social media gives you a way to interact with clients and publicly fix issues that may arise The platform to offer deals and incentives Discounts and special offers are hugely enticing to the general public, and having a strong online media exposure ensures those will bring in business The tools to grow your following and increase brand loyalty The digital age gives you the instruments to interact with your customers, expand your mailing lists, boost your affiliations, and add the personal touch While it may seem overwhelming, especially if you are just starting out and seriously understaffed (or underfunded), investing in a solid social media plan will pay you back over and over again. If you utilize social media efficiently and in a targeted manner (e.g. a photographer may find more success on Instagram than say, YouTube), you will find your business growing in both sales and popularity. So let’s explore the top seven platforms and how they can bring engagement and panache to your small business! Facebook It’s the #1 social media site in the world, and for good reason. With almost 900 million users, your customer demographic potential is huge and chances are, everyone you know has a page of some kind on this multitalented website. This should be one of your most important advertising avenues, second only to your own unique website/blog, and you should take advantage of the myriad of options. You can post writings and photos, create surveys and contests, plan and invite people to events, invite people to “check in” at your shop, embed videos and links, use hashtags, and so much more. Twitter 140 characters don’t seem like much, but they can be quite powerful when used regularly. Do some research into the best tags to narrow down your target market, and think long and hard about everything you post before posting it. You’ll quickly become savvy at saying a lot in a few short sentences, and gracefully entering conversations about topics and fields that are pertinent to your business. Twitter is great for following people you admire, networking with other people in your industry, and being found by people searching via hashtag or live-tweeting special events. LinkedIn It may seem static at first, since this site is basically a glorified online resume, but don’t be too quick to write it off. LinkedIn has almost 150 million users, and is set up to connect you to other people in your industry, as well as provide a “reference” of sorts to people searching you or your business. It only takes a few minutes to set up your unique page, and update it as your experience grows, so there isn’t a reason not to partake in this useful platform. Over time, you may find opportunities to collaborate,...

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5 Reasons To Use MailChimp For Your Business

In the frenetic world of online marketing, it can be challenging to stand out as a small business owner. You may be overwhelmed with all the options out there for promotion and find yourself confused on which avenues to invest in to bring in clients and sales. Luckily, as time goes on, more user-friendly and effective solutions are being brought to the market and with a little research and learning, you can grow your business with less effort and more style! One of the greatest ways to reach your audience is through email-based marketing. Let’s face it, most people are constantly connected to their email accounts throughout the day, tapping messages on their smart phones or toggling between browser tabs at work. It’s easy to bring your business to someone’s mind when all they have to do is open an email that is right in front of them. And hands down one of the best options out there today is MailChimp, featuring an easy to read interface, simplified design process, and sophisticated tracking options. If you are looking for a clean and simple way to send newsletters, coupons, and other offers, look no further than this amazing program. Here are just five perks you’ll enjoy when you use MailChimp for your small business. Save money There are a handful of different services to keep in contact with your customers, but most of them require subscriptions and can really eat into your profits, especially when you are first starting out. But MailChimp is absolutely free to set up and free to use if you have fewer than 2,000 subscribers! And for many entrepreneurs, it takes quite a while to build up that kind of subscriber base- so why not save money during those first slow months and put that cash towards inventory or other marketing? No design background necessary We are all aware of the impact of great design- we ourselves tend to only click on and peruse websites/newsletters/posts that are clean, colorful, simple, and easy to read. Other mail-integration marketing companies can make it hard to put together something that comes off as such, and you may end up with cluttered and archaic-looking emails that simply get deleted. Don’t waste that opportunity when your business is sitting in someone’s inbox by putting forth a substandard product. MailChimp is incredibly clean and simple, while allowing you to control things like color schemes and fonts, and brings appealing design to the forefront. Smaller time investment For a small business owner, every moment of every day is worth money and it’s hard to do it all and still maintain some semblance of work/life balance. So the less time you can spend cobbling together a newsletter or coupon, the better. Luckily with MailChimp, there are several pre-made design templates to choose from and you can simply click, insert a bit of text, add a picture or two, and you’re off and running! It’s also easy to create a custom, regularly-used template (think monthly newsletter) and save it for later- then when you’re ready to send a new campaign all you need to do is swap out your current info and media. Then you can use that time you saved to brainstorm new ideas, squeeze in a workout, or spend time with the kids. Tracking made easy Getting detailed feedback is crucial to learning what works and what doesn’t, anticipating your clients’ interests, and promoting your services. MailChimp’s integrated tracking reports allow you to watch everything from open rates and click rates, to when and where your clients are opening their email campaigns. You also...

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Top 3 Beginner Excel Mistakes to Avoid

When beginning to use Microsoft Excel, there are several key mistakes that all students should avoid in order to be successful for the long term of a project.  Depending on your industry and specific Excel needs, this list of pitfalls can certainly become a long one. I’ve narrowed down the top 3 mistakes that all beginning Excel users should avoid.   You didn’t set your workbook up for success When you start a Microsoft Excel workbook, you need to do a little bit of project planning. Ask yourself some key questions and you will be able to use the built-in features of Excel much easier.  Questions you should ask include: How much data do I expect to include in this project over the long term? If you know how much data to expect, in terms of columns and rows, it will drastically change how you may organize the workbooks to begin with. For example, if you have data based on a date, you might want to create separate worksheets for each month (12) and an annual summary worksheet for a total of 13 worksheets.  Using this method, your data will remain smaller in size, more manageable and your risk of human error will be much lower. How can I organize the data into the smallest meaningful values? For every field of your data, you should ‘normalize’ the information. Normalized means that your data is in the smallest meaningful values.  A classic example of normalization is how you are going to capture ‘Name’ data on a contact list.  If you accept both First and Last Name into one field called ‘Name’, then how will you sort by Last name in the future?  It will be very difficult.  However, if you break this into two distinct fields, First Name and Last Name, then you have the data normalized and setup for success. Is this workbook pertaining to one subject? If you’re creating workbooks on different subjects, then you should use separate worksheets or workbooks to keep the information organized. One of the worst mistakes in Excel is to try and combine a lot of unrelated data into one worksheet or workbook.  Using Excel formulas and references you can easily tie data together across worksheets, so you should use the tools given to you for better organization of the data. You are not using Excel references properly An Excel reference is simply a way to refer to a cell, worksheet, or workbook by location instead of using constant values. By using references properly, your spreadsheets stay dynamic and, most importantly, accurate.The most common mistake when using references is to not utilize ‘absolute’ references.  By default, all cell references in Excel use a type of reference called a ‘relative’ reference.  This is important to understand because, when a cell reference is relative, the cell reference will change automatically when you copy/paste.An ‘absolute’ reference means that you always point to the same cell no matter what, so copy/paste will not affect the references used.  This a key component of Excel spreadsheet building and you must understand how to utilize effectively to be successful in Excel. You are individually formatting cells When you have your spreadsheet data ready, you should then begin to format it appropriately. However, you don’t need to continually make the same formatting choices over and over.   When you format one cell or range of cells, you can copy that formatting using a tool called the ‘format painter’.  This is essentially a tool to copy/paste the formatting only.  Format painter is a huge time saver.An even more effective formatting technique is to utilize the...

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