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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 Easy Steps to Get Started Blogging in WordPress

Even though the initial blogging fever of a decade ago has cooled off, it’s never out of style to create a blog of your very own. The great thing is: now it’s easier than ever to get set up and started writing, and there are a variety of platforms out there to launch your musings into the electronic world. WordPress is a classic and established choice, having been around long enough to have fine-tuned the art of the blog, so naturally I wanted to highlight them here. There are only five easy steps between you and your very own professional writing space, so let’s get started!   1. Clarify your purpose I know this isn’t a technical step, but in my opinion, it’s the most important one. Why do you want to blog? Is there a particular subject you are passionate about or have experience with? Is this blog going to be for your business, your family, or just your personal thoughts? Make sure you sit down and brainstorm a clear direction and “theme” before you go through the actual set-up process. Trust me, it will save you a headache later and will increase the likelihood that you’ll stick with it!   2. Decide whether you need WordPress.com or WordPress.org Yep, you have two main choices here and they are quite a bit different in terms of use. To build on the simple graphic above, I highly recommend you do some research on which version will suit your needs the best. There are a variety of articles out there on the web, as well as the pros at the Digital Workshop who can point you in the right direction! But to give you a brief sum up: Choose WordPress.com if you want something that’s free, simple, and requires very little maintenance. This is the best choice if you’re on a budget, don’t care about too much fancy personalization, or are just writing for the fun of it. Choose WordPress.org if you have a business, an established social media following, or want to create revenue off of your writing. This isn’t free (you need to pay for web hosting and domains), but does offer the perks of plugins, customization, and ad sales opportunities.   3. Register Come up with a blog name that you really really like, because you can’t change it later! Whether or not you choose to go with a custom domain (www.bloggingisfun.com) or let WordPress handle that (www.bloggingisfun.wordpress.com), it’s important that you find a name that sums up the results of your brainstorming session from step #1. For example, if you want to blog about sports, choose something like “Rebecca’s RBI Rundown” instead of something like “Rebecca Writes”. Remember, you want to attract readership and most of us navigate through links of related content. If I want to read about cooking, I am going to click on a blog with a clear culinary focus. Once you decide on a name that is available, it’s as simple as clicking on “create blog” and following the instructions sent to your email address. Then you’ll be directed to your very own Dashboard, which will serve as your home base and is the launching point for writing, changing appearance, and viewing comments/statistics.   4. Fine Tune Once you have an official WordPress site, you can choose and activate a theme. There are many to choose from with a variety of colors, patterns and layouts, so pick one that suits your style and content matter. You can change this later (and however often you’d like) so don’t fret too much! If you...

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Top-Visited Sites Reflect Our Increased Web Usage

Looking back at 2012, it’s amazing to think about how much time I spent using technology. The average American spends an hour a day on the computer and almost two hours a day watching television, according to Comscore.com. In fact, according to one study by Education.com, 65 percent of Americans spent more time with their computer than their spouses in 2012. I know I’m well above that average, spending more like five to six hours per day on the computer. I can’t help but think, what was I looking at all this time? Alexa.com releases a list of the top 500 used websites for the year. At the top, there are few surprises. Google, Facebook and YouTube all come in the top three spots, respectively. These sites have become synonymous with the Web during the past several years. Google has even transformed from solely a company name into a verb. “Google it” is a common phrase when searching for information on the Web. Facebook and YouTube are also mainstays in our popular culture. An estimated 45 percent of all Web visitors in the past year made a stop on Facebook, according to Alexa.com. And Youtube actually received more search hits than Google last year, although it may not be as widely used, since Google has much more to offer than just a Web search. Many of the next sites on the list come from Asian and Indian markets, including massive Chinese language search engine sites Baidu.com and QQ.com. Yahoo and Wikipedia also rank among the most-visited sites. Yahoo has been a Web mainstay for years, providing tons of content in a centralized location. Wikipedia.com is a free, user-generated encyclopedia site providing unique content. Its content is sometimes mistaken for pure fact, but instead should always be tempered with the knowledge that the content is posted by users and can sometimes be inaccurate. Other notable sites in the top 20 include Amazon, Twitter, Blogspot, LinkedIn, MSN, ebay, and WordPress. No matter how you spend your time on the Web today, there are limitless possibilities to find the information you need. As new trends emerge, 2013 will provide a new list of top sites and new technologies. As you embrace or ignore what comes next, please remember one basic piece of advice from me: Talk to your spouse more than your computer. You can thank me later. Stu Crair is the owner and lead trainer at The Digital Workshop Center, providing digital arts and computer training instruction in Fort Collins. Reach him at (970) 980-8091 or stu@fcdigital workshop.com. [Originally published in The Coloradoan on...

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