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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 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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3 Reasons To Bring Your Mom to DWC

In today’s fast-paced and ultra-connected world, technology is what holds us together. It drives our commerce, supports our social lives, and is the tool we use to create our futures. The amazing thing is that computers haven’t even been around that long- it wasn’t until the late 1980’s that most families owned their own desktop, and it would be almost another two decades before smart phones became a thing. If you’re under the age of 30, chances are you’re extremely comfortable with technology and can traverse the digital terrain with no problems. But many older people are just now entering the personal computing market, or have been struggling to catch up with their now-outdated technologies. Some of our parents and grandparents may be feeling lost or left out in the data-driven modern life, but luckily there are people and places out there that can help. At Digital Workshop Center, we offer several classes that can help our community elders master the latest and greatest smart phones, tablets, and computers. Here are just three great reasons to bring them in and sign them up today! They can harness their email with Computer 101 There are few places that still offer the most basic of computer classes, which is a shame considering how many people could still benefit from them. In our Computer 101 course, we can teach anyone how to be comfortable with the day-to-day functions of their laptop or desktop including, but not limited to: Organizing files and folders Browsing the internet and saving bookmarks Composing and filing emails Sending and receiving photos and videos We have courses in both Mac and PC applications, taught by our resident computer gurus, which are perfect for anyone who is new to computing or simply making a transition from one system to the other. They can stop sending embarrassing texts with iPhone/iPad 101 Many of us may find humor in reading the latest “texts from my mom” memes that are floating around the internet, but secretly we hope that will never happen to our own parents. Help them avoid a technology gaffe by bringing them and their new iPhone or iPad into Digital Workshop Center for our intro class. In only 3 hours, this course can help anyone master their shiny new Apple product by teaching things like: Downloading, deleting, and using apps Checking weather, email, and news Finding files, music, and photos Navigating the internet browser Sending text messages or photos Whether you’re 60 and you got a new iPad for your birthday or you’re 30 and just switched from an Android to an Apple phone, this is the class for you! Learning the ins and outs of any piece of technology is a worthwhile investment, as it will save you time and effort the more you use it. And not to mention, save you from any embarrassing fumbles. They can capture memories with Digital Photography Classes Digital cameras are everywhere these days, but many people still struggle with understanding all the complicated settings and gizmos that make them work. Everyone can appreciate the importance of photography, especially when it comes to preserving family memories and exploring new hobbies. People over 50 are one of the fastest growing groups purchasing new digital cameras, and we’re here to help them get started taking photos painlessly. Just a few of the things we can teach them include: Using both auto and manual shooting Settings for shutter speed, aperture, and ISO Basic composition Importing image files onto a computer We offer basic courses in getting to know either your digital SLR (DSLR) or point...

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More Options to Break into Digital Home Recording

[Originally published in The Coloradoan on 5/31/12] Being a musician and computer guy, I often face a difficult dilemma when listening to studio music recordings. On one hand, I’m a music purist who loves the sound of analog recordings. There’s a certain warmth to the sounds of the older ways of recording, pressed onto vinyl and reel-to-reel tape. Some of my favorite music comes from eras when instrument tracking was a crazy, new technology. On the other hand, I love what digital technology has brought to the music industry. It has revolutionized how music can be recorded and listened to. Between portable music players such as iPods, and unbelievable software like Pro Tools, there are new opportunities for everyone to create and listen to music like never before. The methods available for recording are also more intricate, while the cost of recording high-quality work has dropped significantly. So, how does one get started with some home recordings today? To balance the old and the new sounds, it’s important to find a way to use analog equipment to capture the older warm tones that analog provides, but ultimately store the music digitially. For the average musician, there are now more opportunities than ever to try home recording. One great example of this is the M-Audio M-Box. The M-Box is a simple, user-friendly piece of hardware that allows a musician to plug in a few channels depending on the size and model of the M-Box directly into an input. It typically comes with some simple recording software such as Pro Tools LE or Ableton Live. You can use MIDI, XLR or quarter-inch input channels with the M-Box, which allows you to connect a variety of instruments or outboard equipment. The M-Box is an amazing tool for anyone looking to get started. But, you may ask, “How do I record so the music doesn’t sound so digital?” Well, this goes back to my original problem. You need to find a way to incorporate some analog equipment before it gets to the M-Box and, therefore, the computer. Using analog pre-amps, compressors, and mics before you send a signal to the M-Box should give you a nice blend of the analog and digital. Of course, the more you’re willing to spend on high-end equipment, the better it will sound. The M-Box is a great way to get started with home recordings, so find one today and get started! Stu Crair is owner and lead trainer at The Digital Workshop Center, providing digital arts and computer training instruction in Fort Collins. Call him at (970) 980-8091 or send email to stu@...

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Is A Used Or New Computer The Right Choice For You?

[Originally published in The Coloradoan on 5/18/12] One of the more common questions I get is “should I buy a new or used computer?” It’s always a tough one to answer, but with some simple guidelines, you can probably narrow down your decision quickly. First, you need to be forward thinking with your decision and recognize the endgame of your computer situation. Will you be using this computer for personal reasons or for business? Or both? Ask yourself, “what are the main functions I use my computer for?” Will you need to store a large amount of movies, music or other multimedia? Once you have thought about these questions, you can start to organize what kind of technical specifications you need. For example, someone who is going to be actively downloading a lot of music will need much more hard drive space to be able to store this information. Talk to a computer professional if you have questions as to what specs are right for your needs. A general rule is that a brand new computer will be out of date in approximately three to four years. However, with technology so rapidly increasing these days, the average user can often stretch that just a little bit further. A used computer will most likely cost you less today, but since it is typically going to be a slightly older model, you will probably not get as much life from it. As with many financial decisions, this comes down to the cost value of your money today vs. the future. If you are on a tight budget but find you need a computer upgrade, a used computer is a great choice, knowing that in only a couple of years, you might need to buy a new one. If you can afford to spend a little more today, you will get much more value for your money and be able to use that computer longer. Of course, there are no guarantees with either purchase. A computer, being made of plastic and metal parts, is destined to fail at some point. This failure can come sooner rather than later, but I have computers I have owned for more than seven years. So, spend some time doing your research and considering your options before making your purchase, and you will be much happier with your new or used machine in the end. Stu Crair is the owner and lead trainer at The Digital Workshop Center, providing digital arts and computer training instruction in Fort Collins. Call him at (970) 980-8091 or send email to stu@...

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